Top 10 Best Starter Pokemon

Updated on September 5, 2018
Jeremy Gill profile image

In between Pokémon journeys, Jeremy enjoys working as a pharmaceutical chemist and campus manager.

What Is a Starter Pokemon?

Although Pikachu stars in the anime, in most Pokemon video games, trainers begin their journey with a tough choice between three initial monsters: one Fire, Water, and Grass type. The starting trio form a rock-paper-scissors triangle, with each bearing an advantage against another, and your rival will typically choose the unit that trumps your own.

Although starters are on mostly equal footing when it comes to stat totals, the way those stats are spread changes drastically between monsters, and some starters (for better or worse) gain second elements upon evolution, further adding diversity between the types. Throw in movepools, potential abilities, and mega evolutions, and it's safe to say not all starters are created equal. But with dozens of companions introduced throughout the years, which classic Pokemon reign supreme? These are the ten strongest starters (through generation 7) of all time!

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Treecko, Grovyle, and SceptileMega Sceptile
Treecko, Grovyle, and Sceptile
Treecko, Grovyle, and Sceptile
Mega Sceptile
Mega Sceptile

10. Treecko/Sceptile

Type: Grass, Grass/Dragon (Mega Sceptile)
Base Stat Total: 530
Generation/Games: 3/Ruby, Sapphire, and Emerald

A nice deviation from the slower, bulkier Grass starters of Kanto and Johto, Hoenn's Treecko develops into the speedy Sceptile, assaulting foes with its impressive Special Attack stat. Back when it debuted, all Grass moves were indirect, making good use of its best attribute, but now you'll need to be more careful when selecting techniques, as many of Sceptile's learned moves (like signature Leaf Blade) are physical in nature. You'll also want to stay alert for physical attacks, which will smash through Sceptile's low Defense.

Luckily, Sceptile can mega evolve into the Grass/Dragon Mega Sceptile. This form is even faster and stronger than before, making it a great indirect sweeper, and with its new Lightning Rod ability, it's a superb partner for Electric-weak allies in multibattles; just watch out for an unfortunate quad weakness to Ice. Although it will need TMs and other tricks to make use of its Special Attack, Treecko remains one of the best forest monsters that proved Grass isn't just for defense and healing.

Torchic, Combusken, Blaziken, and Mega Blaziken
Torchic, Combusken, Blaziken, and Mega Blaziken

9. Torchic/Blaziken

Type: Fire/Fighting
Base Stat Total: 530
Generation/Games: 3/Ruby, Sapphire, and Emerald

Another Hoenn option, Torchic first morphs into Combusken, then the fierce Blaziken, kicking off a long tradition of Fire/Fighting starters. Thankfully, it's a good typing, bearing four weaknesses but five resistances, including a quad resistance to Bug and a useful Rock balance (which Fire normally suffers against). Blaziken's stats veer towards Attack and Special Attack, letting it assault foes with both direct and indirect moves, and it bears unique strikes like Sky Uppercut.

Mega Blaziken receives an increase to just about every stat, particularly Attack, letting you ravage foes with contact moves for incredible damage. It also enjoys the Speed Boost ability, gradually increasing Speed to ensure you're able to strike first each turn.

Chespin, Quilladin, and Chesnaught
Chespin, Quilladin, and Chesnaught

8. Chespin/Chesnaught

Type: Grass/Fighting
Base Stat Total: 530
Generation/Games: 6/X and Y

Often ridiculed for its goofy second stage, Quilladin's evolution nonetheless offers fierce power. Chesnaught's stats emphasize Attack and especially Defense, absorbing physical blows with ease. It also learns a healthy variety of attacks while leveling, from status debuff Leech Side to HP-equalizing Pain Split to the unique Spiky Shield move, one of the best attacks in the game.

While Grass/Fighting offers an impressive coverage offensively, it's also Chesnaught's biggest failing, as the blend bears six resistances but also six weaknesses, including a quadruple weakness to Flying. This vulnerability, plus a lack of mega evolution and alternate abilities, keep it from the top of the list, but Chespin's evolution chart offers a surprisingly strong set of fighters.

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Froakie, Frogadier, and Greninja Ash-Greninja
Froakie, Frogadier, and Greninja
Froakie, Frogadier, and Greninja

7. Froakie/Greninja

Type: Water/Dark
Base Stat Total: 530
Generation/Games: 6/X and Y

While it's physically frail, suffering low HP and Defense stats, Greninja compensates with sweet Special Attack and Speed, making for another good indirect sweeper. It also has a nice typing, carrying five weaknesses but six resistances, plus a complete immunity to Psychic.

Water/Dark also provides wide coverage on offense and gives you two elements to select from when accessing STAB (same-type attack bonus) moves. Finally, Greninja enjoys several potent ability options, from the default Water starter Torrent to its unique Battle Bond. This lets your aquatic frog morph into Ash-Greninja after defeating a unit in battle. Ash-Greninja's stats improve (similar to a mega evolution) and its signature Water Shuriken attack increases in power, so it's well worth the effort to upgrade your agile amphibian.

Fennekin, Braixen, and Delphox
Fennekin, Braixen, and Delphox

6. Fennekin/Delphox

Type: Fire/Psychic
Base Stat Total: 534
Generation/Games: 6/X and Y

Evolving from Delphox and bearing an impressive stat total, Delphox favors Speed and Special Attack like Charizard, but it's also surprisingly competent in Special Defense, so if you need a speedy indirect unit, Serena's companion is the mammal for you. Five weaknesses to watch out for on this Fire/Psychic blend, but thankfully no quads, and Delphox offers seven resistances to endure against many elements.

Almost all of Delphox's learned damaging attacks are indirect, making good use of its best stat, and its types provide strong coverage (the less your elements overlap offensively, the more types you can hit for double pain). I'd like to see more ability options for Delphox as well as a mega evolution or Battle Bond form, but for now, it remains one of the best Fire starters yet, and we can thank for breaking the stagnate Fire/Fighting trend.

Mudkip, Marshtomp, and Swampert
Mudkip, Marshtomp, and Swampert

5. Mudkip/Swampert

Type: Water/Ground
Base Stat Total: 535
Generation/Games: 3/Ruby, Sapphire, and Emerald

Yet another impressive generation 3 starter, Mudkip morphs first into Marshtomp, then the daunting Swampert, bearing a stat total that eclipses even Charizard. Second attribute Ground makes a good partner for Water, completely shielding against otherwise super-effective Electric attacks; in fact, in addition to its Ground immunity, Swampert resists four elements and it's only weak to one type: Grass. Unfortunately, it's a quad weakness, but thankfully Grass isn't the most common offensive type; as long as you can avoid nature's power, you're in good shape when tanking hits.

Swampert's impressive stats are well-rounded, favoring HP and Attack while disfavoring Speed (which is usually the least-needed stat anyway), and it maintains a useful STAB for Ground, one of the best offensive types available. Finally, Mega Swampert's evolution increases both defensive stats and skyrockets Attack, pummeling foes with its steroid-infused body. Its low Speed can now be improved with the Swift Swim ability, which will double your nimbleness during the rain weather condition. Unlike most Water Pokemon, Swampert doesn't have to worry about Rain Dance's risk of making Electric-attack Thunder an automatic hit, as its Ground element will negate any such attempts.

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Bulbasaur, Ivysaur, and VenusaurMega Venusaur
Bulbasaur, Ivysaur, and Venusaur
Bulbasaur, Ivysaur, and Venusaur
Mega Venusaur
Mega Venusaur

4. Bulbasaur/Venusaur

Type: Grass/Poison
Base Stat Total: 525
Generation/Games: 1/Red, Blue, and Yellow

Classic Grass starter Bulbasaur remains the only option across all games to initially bear a dual element. Thankfully, Poison is one of the best defensive elements in the game, rendering Bulbasaur immune to the poison status condition, improving the hit rate of Toxic, and providing several resistances. More specifically, it's got four weaknesses, but five resistances (including a quad shield against its own Grass type), making for a good pair.

Evolving from Ivysaur, Venusaur's one of the most well-rounded final starter evolutions, slightly favoring Special Attack and Special Defense, though its BST is unusually low. Venusaur's proficiency with moves with Toxic and Leech Seed allow it to play a stall game, while its indirect power also lets it hit hard. Mega Venusaur adopts the handy ability Thick Fat, reducing the power of Fire and Ice used against it (both of which would otherwise be super-effective), and increasing its stats all-around. Finally, note that Grass trumps the elements of the first three gym leaders in Kanto, meaning most trainers consider Bulbasaur FireRed and LeafGreen's easy mode.

Piplup, Prinplup, and Empoleon
Piplup, Prinplup, and Empoleon

3. Piplup/Empoleon

Type: Water/Steel
Base Stat Total: 530
Generation/Games: 4/Diamond, Pearl, and Platinum

Prinplup's evolution Empoleon lags in Speed but offers formidable Special Attack and Special Defense, and its Defense isn't atrocious for a stat that it doesn't focus on. More than than, Empoleon can tank hits like no tomorrow thanks to one of the game's best defensive pairings: the Water/Steel type combination is weak to three elements but resists ten (including double barriers to Steel and Ice) plus an immunity to Poison! Even if two of this penguin's vulnerabilities are the common Fighting and Ground types, that's a huge assortment of defenses that force your opponent to scramble to find a chink in your armor.

Empoleon admittedly bears a lackluster moveset, but you can compensate with TMs and Move Tutors, so it's a negligible issue. The hidden ability Defiant would normally be quite handy, boosting Attack two stages whenever a stat is lowered, but since Empoleon emphasizes indirect moves, you'll likely have few physical attack options in your limited four-move set. Even without the best ability options or a mega evolution, Sinnoh's aquatic Piplup offers arguably the best starter typing we've yet encountered.

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Charmander, Charmeleon, and CharizardMega Charizard X and Y
Charmander, Charmeleon, and Charizard
Charmander, Charmeleon, and Charizard
Mega Charizard X and Y
Mega Charizard X and Y

2. Chamander/Charizard

Type: Fire/Flying, Fire/Dragon (Mega Charizard X)
Base Stat Total: 534
Generation/Games: 1/Red, Blue, and Yellow

Classic Charmeleon morphs into the imposing Charizard, bearing an impressive BST that orients towards Special Attack and Speed. Flying is a nice second type for Fire, as it renders Ground (which Fire would be weak to) useless! In fact, Charizard bears only three weaknesses but six resistances (including quad resistances to Bug and Grass) as well as its Ground immunity! The one glaring issue is a double weakness to Rock, one of the most common offensive types, particularly problematic when facing the entrance hazard Stealth Rock.

If you can avoid its Achilles heel, Charizard rewards you with a wealth of attacks and resistances as well as not one but two powerful mega evolutions. Mega Charizard X trades Flying for Dragon, reducing its Rock weakness and bearing a more-balanced stat total. Mega Charizard Y further improves its Special Attack and Speed, becoming a lethal indirect sweeper, and it possesses the awesome Drought ability, automatically summoning a harsh sunlight weather condition (which strengthens Fire while weakening Water) when called to battle. A strong repertoire, but note that Charmander struggles against Kanto's first couple gyms, making it a tough choice for casual fans only interested in completing the story.

Popplio, Brionne, and Primarina
Popplio, Brionne, and Primarina

1. Popplio/Primarina

Type: Water/Fairy
Base Stat Total: 530
Generation/Games: 7/Sun and Moon

Reminiscent of Emploen, Primarina bears a stat spread that lacks in Speed but favors Special Attack and Special Defense. However, Primarina's traits skew more towards its specialties than any starter evolution; in fact, it bears both the highest Special Attack and Special Defense of any starter yet, making it a superb indirect sweeper. Also resembling Empoleon, it wields a formidable type pairing, as Water/Fairy resists six types plus an immunity to Dragon, and its three weaknesses aren't commonly seen on offensive (especially Poison), granting this graceful ocean-dweller plenty of survivability.

Primarina puts its best trait to good use with its wide array of indirect moves learned while leveling, and the Fairy attribute also helps offensively with powerful STAB Fairy attacks; as great as Empoleon's metal armor functions defensively, Steel's just not a good offensive type, makings its STAB less useful. While Primarina's overall stats are slightly lower than some of its peers, Alola's Water companions offers incredible focuses, awesome typing, and strong coverage, making it our best companion yet.

Which starter line do you prefer?

See results

Future of Starter Pokemon

After Nintendo's stagnant trend of three Fire/Fighting types in a row (Blaziken was fun, Infernape decent, and Emboar stale), GameFreak has learned from their mistakes and done a better job offering varied type combinations, seen in new pairings like Incineroar's Fire/Dark and Decidueye's Grass/Ghost.

Still, we've got plenty of type options still yearning to be explored, and I look forward to encountering Nintendo's next Pokemon type fusions. But for now, as we eagerly await upcoming sets of video games to once again let us nickname our unfortunate companions (I choose you, HM Slave!), vote for your favorite starter family and I'll see you at our next Pokemon countdown!

Questions & Answers

  • What is the weakest starter Pokémon?

    Going off the "main" starters (no Pikachus or whatnot), Torterra's up there. Grass/Ground is a bad typing with a quad weakness to Ice (a common offensive element) and few resistances. Meganium's not great either, and both lack mega evolutions.

  • Which is the best starter in Pokemon: Bulbasaur, Charmander, or Squirtle?

    If you count evolutions, Charmander (as Charizard) has the most competitive usage, especially with two different mega forms. However, for casual players, Bulbasaur is often best, as his type works well against the first three Kanto gym leaders.

© 2018 Jeremy Gill


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    • profile image


      8 weeks ago

      it's very good ranking but frokie is the best and then is treeko is the 2 best

    • profile image


      8 weeks ago

      My Ranking:




    • profile image


      2 months ago

      Nice ranking. Of course Charmander would be top lol

    • profile image

      good things 

      6 months ago


    • profile image


      9 months ago

      First preference; Cyndaquil.

      Second Preference; Charmander

      Last preference; torchic

    • profile image


      10 months ago

      my go-to pokemon are always Primarina or Swampert. and i didnt know why. i never believed in grass type pokemon tbh.

    • profile image


      12 months ago

      Popplio is a beast!! XD

    • TepigTheBeast profile image


      14 months ago from Connecticut

      Mudkip for the win!!!! XD


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