As of Generation 9, there are 28 Pokémon starters in the core series games, including Pikachu and the three newcomers. At the start of each game, you’ll have three starters to choose from, and each has its own strengths and weaknesses. Whichever starter you pick pretty much sets the entire journey for you and determines how easily you’ll progress throughout the game. If you’re in it to win, choosing a Pokémon starter can be quite daunting. But don’t worry, because we’re here to help. In this guide, we list all Pokémon starters in order and help you choose the right companion for each mainline game.
Inside This Article
- All Pokémon Starters Ranked
- Generation 1: Squirtle/Bulbasaur/Charmander
- Generation 2: Totodile/Chikorita/Cyndaquil
- Generation 3: Mudkip/Treecko/Torchic
- Generation 4: Piplup/Turtwig/Chimchar
- Generation 5: Oshawott/Snivy/Tepig
- Generation 6: Froakie/Chespin/Fennekin
- Generation 7: Popplio/Rowlet/Litten
- Generation 8: Sobble/Grookey/Scorbunny
- Is Pikachu a Starter Pokémon?
- What is the Ugliest Pokémon Starter?
- What is the Rarest Pokémon Starter?
- Are There Generation 9 Pokémon Starters?
Below, we list all Pokémon starters and rank them by generation. We don’t include the Generation 9 starters in this ranking as very little is known about them as of this writing. We also didn’t include Pikachu since it’s the lone starter Pokémon in the games it’s in.
Bulbasaur is the best starter Pokémon you can pick if you at least want the first stages of your Kanto playthrough to be a breeze. Early in the generation 1 games, you’ll be battling rock-type Pokémon, which grass-type Pokémon like Bulbasaur are very effective against. But besides that, Bulbasaur is also the best pick among the trio because it reaches its final evolution much faster than the other two Pokémon starters. This makes battling through the middle part of the games easier. It also helps that it has well-balanced stats, with killer special defense and special attack stats. You will see Bulbasaur struggle a bit in the latter part of the game, but by this point, you’ll for sure already have other Pokémon to help you finish strong.
Charmander comes second as it does struggle considerably in the first two gyms. However, it is a pretty good choice for a starter in the long run, given that Charizard, its final evolution, is one of the strongest Pokémon in the core series games. It has both Gigantamax and Mega Evolution forms, which makes it an absolute beast during gym battles. On top of that, its access to a wide range of move types is another huge plus.
Squirtle ranks lowest in the gen 1 trio, but that doesn’t mean it’s an abysmal starter Pokémon. Like Bulbasaur, Squirtle is a tough contender in the Pewter City and the Cerulean City gyms, thanks to its water typing, and it fares well against Pokémon in the last three gyms. However, it does have a much harder time fighting off the electric-type and grass-type Pokémon in the Vermilion City and Celadon City gyms.
Both Totodile and Cyndaquil are great choices as Pokémon starters. That said, Cyndaquil has a slight edge over Totodile because of its killer moveset, which focuses on offense. Plus, it transforms into its first evolution form four levels earlier than the other two starters. It does struggle a bit in the first gym battle, where it goes head-to-head against flying-type Pokémon. However, it more than makes up for it in the second gym battle against Bugsy’s bug-type Pokémon. To add to that, its final evolution form, Typhlosion, is a powerful special attacker with incredible stats. It also helps that it has Eruption, a formidable STAB move, in its arsenal.
Totodile is a close second and will give you a relatively easy time in the first five gym battles. However, you’ll notice it struggles a bit in the last three gym battles as it fights off steel-, ice-, and dragon-type Pokemon.
Chikorita, on the other hand, is a whole other story. You’ll have a hard time fighting off foes in most of the gym battles if you pick this Pokémon as a starter. Its stats are middling at best, and its movesets aren’t all that impressive. It can deliver as a support Pokémon, but it just isn’t a strong enough contender against the gym leaders.
To the surprise of absolutely no one, Mudkip is our top pick out of the gen 3 Pokemon starters. Not only that, but he’s arguably the best starter in all of the core series games. You won’t even need to catch that many Pokémon if you start off with Mudkip by your side, which is great if you’re a first-time player. For one, it’s super effective against the rock-type Pokémon in the very first gym. On top of that, this Pokémon has one of the strongest HP out of all the starters. As such, it can endure battle for a long time, even if it’s up against powerful Pokémon. Its evolution line also has very few weaknesses, and its final form, Swampert, has incredible stats as well.
Torchic comes in second place for its well-balanced stats and incredible speed and special attacks. Its evolution forms are formidable as well, especially Blaziken, which has Speed Boost as its hidden ability. However, its fire typing does mean it will have a difficult time against the rock- and ground-type Pokémon in the first gym.
Treecko is the weakest of all of the gen 3 starters, but it’s still pretty usable. Going through the first gym will be a breeze with Treecko since it’s super effective against rock- and ground-type Pokémon. However, it will begin to falter moving forward. Unlike the other two starters, it stays as a purely grass-type Pokémon the entire game, even when it evolves. Plus, its defense stat is abysmal, so you can’t expect it to last long in battle.
Chimchar does have a hard time facing off with Roark’s rock-type Pokémon in the first gym. That said, it’s still the best gen 4 Pokémon starter mostly because of its final evolution, Infernape, which is one of the most powerful Pokémon in the entire franchise. And even if it’s not in its final form yet, Chimchar is still a great pick, seeing as it’s incredibly fast and has overall well-balanced stats. Plus, after you’ve survived the first gym battle, it’s mostly smooth-sailing from there.
In second place is Piplup, which is a strong contender against the Pokémon in the first few cities. It also boasts remarkable special attack and special defense stats and decent HP, attack, and defense stats. It’s also a huge plus that its final evolution form, Empoleon, is incredibly versatile and has access to a diverse range of moves.
Turtwig is still a good starter Pokémon, although it’s not as good as the other two. With Turtwig, you’ll find the first gym battle a breeze, thanks to its grass typing, but the next gym battle won’t be as easy. On top of that, its speed stat is also not the best. But apart from those weaknesses, Turtwig has decent defense and attack stats, so it can be a contender if trained right.
Generation 5 probably has the worst lineup of Pokémon starters, but out of all of them, Tepig is arguably the best. It’s strong against more gym leaders in the Unova Region than the other two starters. Plus, its high HP and attack stats will help it last longer during gym battles. That said, its other stats are incredibly low, and its evolution into a fire/fighting type later on doesn’t do much to fend off enemies, either.
Snivy proves to be a lot less useful against the gym leaders in the game. Although it does have some cool grass-type moves in its arsenal (like Giga Drain and Leaf Storm), it still doesn’t quite measure up against other Pokémon. It also doesn’t help that its base stats are lackluster at best and that it stays as a grass-type throughout the game.
You’ll probably have the hardest time making it out of gyms in the Unova Region with Oshawott. Its special attack is quite good, but the rest don’t really stand out. Like Snivy, it also sticks to being a pure water type even after evolving, which means there’s not a lot to choose from when it comes to moves.
Froakie tops our list of the best gen 6 Pokémon starters. Besides being able to easily fight off the Pokémon in Cyllage City, it also has the huge advantage of evolving into Greninja, which is also one of the strongest Pokémon in the core series games. Plus, Froakie’s remarkable speed stat ensures that you’ll always be able to attack first. Its special attack and attack stats are great as well, and its HP and defense are decent. On top of that, it can learn a wide variety of moves, including dark, ghost, and flying moves.
Fennekin is also a good pick, although it definitely isn’t as strong as Froakie. It starts off with decent attack, speed, and special defense stats, but by the time it reaches its final evolution, Delphox, these stats can get pretty high. Because of its dual fire and psychic typing, Delphox also has an advantage over most Pokémon in the Kalos Region.
Chespin is unfortunately at the very bottom of the list. Although it, later on, evolves into a Pokémon with dual typing, that doubles its weaknesses more than its strengths. It also has an abysmally low-speed stat, so the opponent is likely to deliver the hit first. That said, it can breeze through the first few gym battles in the game, and its attack stat is quite high.
Rowlet is definitely the best among the gen 7 Pokémon starters. Its being a dual grass and flying type may seem odd, but it does mean it has an advantage over the flying, ground, and rock Pokémon in the first phases of the game. Its dual typing also gives it access to a wide variety of moves, including Leaf Blade, Brave Bird, and Sucker Punch. Plus, of the trio, it has the most well-balanced set of stats, with remarkable speed, attack, and special defense.
Litten is also a great starter in the gen 7 games. However, it is mediocre in terms of speed. Its defense and special defense stats are middling too, but it picks up the slack in terms of its HP, attack, and special attack stats. Plus, its hidden ability, Intimidate, reduces the damage it receives from an opponent.
Popplio is the weakest of the three gen 7 starters. However, that doesn’t mean it’s completely useless. Its strength lies in its special attack and special defense, and its HP, attack, and defense are decent, too. That said, it is an incredibly slow Pokémon, which means it takes more hits than it deals. Its access to good water moves is also limited, and it only has one powerful fairy-type move: Moonblast.
Grookey and Scorbunny are both great starter picks for early progression. That said, Grookey takes the top spot for its incredibly strong final stage evolution, Rillaboom. Grassy Surge, its hidden ability, makes the Pokémon automatically self-sustaining from the start of the battle. Plus, with both Wood Hammer and Drum Beating at its disposal, Rillaboom is practically unstoppable, offense-wise. But in its base form, Grookey proves to be a contender as well. Attack and speed are definitely its strong suit, and its HP and defense stats are also pretty high.
Scorbunny comes second — but only by a margin. Even in its base form, its speed and attack stats are already impressive. But when it reaches its final form, Cinderace, these stats will only go higher. As such, it’ll be a force to be reckoned with in the latter part of the game. That said, it isn’t just great at offense; it also offers support to its teammates with moves like Court Change. However, Scorbunny’s HP and defense aren’t the best, and it only has access to a limited number of attack moves.
Sobble comes last in the ranking because it struggles against the Pokémon lineup in the early battles. Its is mediocre when it comes to attack, defense, and special defense. However, its special attack and speed are pretty high, with decent enough HP. And although Sobble doesn’t fare well in the early gym battles, its evolved forms can deal considerable damage in the Hammerlocke and Circhester gyms.
Pikachu doesn’t quite fit anywhere in the Water-Grass-Fire type pattern that Pokémon starters have followed since the beginning. That said, the much-beloved electric-type Pokémon is still considered a starter. It only appears as a starter in one of the core series games: Pokémon Yellow. It’s also a starter in Pokémon: Let’s Go Pikachu, which is the remake of Pokémon Yellow. In both of these games, Pikachu is the only starter Pokémon available.
However, Pikachu isn’t exactly one of the strongest starters; it doesn’t evolve in-game and only has middling stats. As such, you’ll have to make sure to catch and train as many wild Pokémon as possible early in the game.
Design-wise, Chikorita is one of the most adorable Pokémon starters. That said, it’s possibly the worst starter you can pick. From the very beginning, Chikorita already has a type disadvantage against Falkner’s flying-type Pokémon. Its stats are also mediocre throughout its evolution line, and it remains a pure grass type. While this means it doesn’t get additional weaknesses, it also means that its access to moves remains limited. Chikorita’s moveset is already awful to begin with; the best it can do with those moves is support others in the team.
There’s really no single Pokémon starter that’s rarer than another. That’s because they’re all extremely rare in their respective games. Most of the time, the only way you’ll get a starter Pokémon in-game is by taking one before or as your adventure starts. Throughout the game, it’s impossible to catch a starter Pokémon that you didn’t pick in the wild. But if you’re really determined to have multiple starter Pokémon in your Pokédex, the best thing to do is to trade with another player or import it from another game.
The Generation 9 Pokémon starters are Sprigatito, Fuecoco, and Quaxly. Like the Pokémon starters in the earlier core series games, they follow the classic water-grass-fire Pokémon type pattern. Other than their design, their typing, and their physical characteristics, not much has been revealed about these newest starters yet. We’ll most likely know more about them as the release date of Pokémon Scarlet and Violet draws nearer.