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Pokémon Go’s 151 catchable monsters, definitively ranked

Olivia Harris/Getty Images

As you go out into the world of Pokémon Go, you may be wondering what Pokémon you should be looking for. Thankfully, I’m here to help. With extensive research and science, I have created the definitive ranking of all 151 Pokémon in the game.

This is not a list of which Pokémon is strongest. (The answer is always Mewtwo.) You can find something closer to that at Smogon, the competitive Pokémon website, for the handheld games. But we simply don’t know enough about all of the creatures in Pokémon Go and their in-game traits to create a definitive power ranking for that.

Instead, this is a list of which Pokémon are best and worst based on an array of totally subjective yet crucial factors — cuteness, coolness, their impact on the franchise, and so on.

Before you question the rankings, just know that I have put my opinions through the high scientific rigor this kind of arbitrary ranking calls for, thinking about my choices for at least seconds at a time.

So here are Pokémon Go’s 151 catchable creatures, scientifically ranked from worst to best.

151, 150, and 149) ZubatPidgey, and Rattata

Pidgey. Pokemon.com

Zubat, Pidgey, and Rattata are the bane of any Pokémon player's existence. Not only are they flat-out boring — they’re wholly based on real animals (a bat, pigeon, and rat, respectively) — but they are also way too common. At least half of your experience in Pokémon Go will be spent hoping the Pokémon that pops out of that rustling grass isn’t another one of these.

148) Paras

Paras is at least an attempt at an invention: What happens when you merge a cicada with mushrooms? The problem is no one had that question before Pokémon for good reason — the result is obviously hideous. Also, in the original games, these things are way too common, and they’re fairly weak even after they evolve.

147) Porygon

Porygon almost destroyed Pokémon. In the TV show episode that starred the polygonal cyberspace creature, there were scenes in which bright colors flashed very rapidly. This caused hundreds of people in Japan to experience seizures, launching a big panic that ended up with the show — a crucial part of the franchise — on a four-month hiatus. So, yeah, nearly killing the franchise you exist within is worthy of a dismal ranking.

146) Jynx

Jynx. Pokemon.com

There is simply no way around this: Jynx is racist. In the first depictions of this Pokémon, her skin color was black, so she looked like a person in blackface. Nintendo likely didn’t intend anything negative, since blackface has different cultural meanings in Japan. In later generations, Nintendo changed Jynx’s skin color to purple to try to address its mistake. But the racist undertones of Jynx remain, making it one of the worst.

145) Spearow

Like Zubat, Pidgey, and Rattata, Spearow is based on another boring real-world animal (a sparrow) and is far too ubiquitous. But at least it has a little menace to it, so it’s not quite as bad as those bottom-ranked three.

144 and 143) Metapod and Kakuna

These Pokémon are literally useless in battle, because they’re incapable of anything except boosting their defenses. No one likes them.

142) Ditto

Ditto’s only ability is to transform into other Pokémon. If even it isn’t satisfied with itself, why should any of us be?

141 and 140) Voltorb and Electrode

Voltorb. Pokemon.com

Voltorb and Electrode are literally Poké Balls with faces, and their special ability is to blow themselves up in hopes of taking out their opponent with them. Terrorism is bad.

139) Krabby

Krabby is a crab. There’s not much else to say here.

138 and 137) Omanyte and Omastar

The one thing you need to know about Omanyte and its evolved form, Omastar, is that to get them in the original Pokémon games you have to choose them over Kabuto and its evolved form, Kabutops. So you can pick a shellfish with weird tentacles (Omanyte and Omastar) or a shellfish with scythes for arms (Kabuto and Kabutops). The choice is obvious, making Omanyte and Omastar eternal losers.

136 and 135) Goldeen and Seaking

Goldeen and Seaking are just fish with horns. I’m happy for them that they found a niche with those horns, but they’re still very boring. And they’re pretty weak in the original games.

134) Ekans

Ekans is literally "snake" spelled backward. That’s just how much thought went into this Pokémon.

133) Raticate

Raticate. Pokemon.com

Raticate is a hamster, yet its name implies it’s a rat. That’s fraud, and no one should be happy with it.

132 and 131) Pidgeot and Pidgeotto

Pidgeot and Pidgeotto are cool-looking birds. But once again, they’re just birds. Boring.

130) Beedrill

Beedrill is a bee. Although they get a bad rap for stinging people, bees do a lot to make our wonderful planet’s ecosystem function. But managing the stability of the ecosystem is not a trait I care for in a Pokémon.

129, 128, and 127) MachopMachoke, and Machamp

Machop, Machoke, and Machamp are that dude at the gym that makes way too much noise. Give it a rest already.

126) Weedle

Weedle is a worm, but he’s kind of cute.

125) Persian

Persian. Pokemon.com

Persian is basically a cat. While cats are amazing and weird, they’re a boring choice for an enslaved animal fighter in a world with dragons and psychic trees.

124) Weepinbell

A weird-looking plant, worse than both its evolutionary predecessor (Bellsprout) and its final form (Victreebel).

123 and 122) Koffing and Weezing

Koffing and its evolution, Weezing, are literally balls of gas. Pollution is bad, and so are these two.

121) Vileplume

A talking flower.

120) Diglett

The fundamental problem with Diglett is its evolutionary form, Dugtrio, is three of it combined. Why would you take the one when you can have three?

119) Parasect

Parasect is just shady. What is under that mushroom? The world wants to know.

118) Pinsir

Pinsir. Pokemon.com

Pinsir is absolutely horrendous-looking, and it’s not particularly strong. But at least it gets some points for not looking like anything you would typically run into on Earth. At least, I hope not.

117 and 116) Nidorino and Nidorina

Nidorino and Nidorina are the awkward teenagers of Pokémon. They’re right between their very cute lower forms — Nidoran (male) and Nidoran (female) — and badass final forms Nidoking and Nidoqueen.

115) Magmar

Magmar is a duck that’s on fire. Poor Magmar.

114) Staryu

Staryu is a starfish with a diamond at its center. Points for that diamond, but the only reason for Staryu’s existence is to evolve it to the much cooler Starmie, which is one of the stronger Pokémon in the original games.

113) Electabuzz

Electabuzz. Pokemon.com

Electabuzz just looks like he’s trying too hard to be cool. Even if he does look kind of cool, we can all tell he’s just far too desperate for recognition.

112 and 111) Seel and Dewgong

Seel and its evolution, Dewgong, are just seals with horns. They’re pretty cute, but just not very exciting.

110) Golbat

Golbat is a giant face with wings — more face than bat. That makes it far more notable than Zubat, but it’s still damaged by the fact that it comes from a wretched Zubat.

109 and 108) Doduo and Dodrio

Doduo is two heads, each with a different personality. And when it evolves into Dodrio, it gets a third head and another personality. This raises a lot of metaphysical questions, but it makes for a pretty cool, if otherwise unremarkable, Pokémon.

107) Moltres

Moltres. Pokemon.com

There are many ways to make a phoenix-like creature really cool. Moltres is not one of them. But points for being one of the three legendary birds among the original 151, along with Zapdos and Articuno.

106) Hitmonlee

Hitmonlee is basically a head with small arms and huge, long legs, because its specialty is kicking the shit out of people. It’s also named after Bruce Lee. Despite that, it’s still a pretty plain-looking Pokémon, and not particularly strong.

105) Graveler

Graveler is a rock with arms and legs — a clear downgrade from its lower form, Geodude, which is a floating rock with arms.

104) Sandshrew

Sandshrew is based on a pangolin, but closely resembles an armadillo. Fun fact: Armadillos are apparently the only non-human animals that can transmit leprosy.

103) Victreebel

In the TV show, Victreebel frequently tries to eat its owner, James. That’s not something you really want from a Pokémon.

102) Venomoth

Venomoth is a pretty cool moth.

101) Golem

Golem. Pokemon.com

Continuing the tradition of Graveler, Golem is a rock with arms and legs. But as the evolved form of Graveler, it also gets a full head. Wow!

100) Hypno

Hypno looks like some dude who just picked up a pendulum to bore people into falling asleep. It’s kind of a creep.

99 and 98) Tentacool and Tentacruel

While Tentacool and its evolved form, Tentacruel, are perhaps the coolest jellyfish in all of video game history, jellyfish are still pretty lame.

97) Kingler

Kingler is essentially a crab, but he’s bigger and cooler than Krabby, not least because the spikes on his head look like a crown. Hence, Kingler.

98) Rhyhorn

A rhinoceros made out stone is a pretty cool idea, and Rhyhorn pulls it off all right.

95) Seadra

When I think of seahorses, I think of cute little fish that look like ponies. Seadra is just a little too vicious-looking to match the look. So based on science, its rank is meh.

94) Bellsprout

Bellsprout. Pokemon.com

Bellsprout is a plant that can walk. That isn’t normal, but no one’s judging.

93) Drowzee

Although Drowzee is a tapir-like creature with psychic powers, the most interesting thing about it is that its skin color (or fur; who’s to say, really?) looks like it’s wearing pants.

92) Slowpoke

Slowpoke’s entire schtick is that it moves and thinks slowly. I suppose that’s funny to some people.

91) Kadabra

There’s nothing really wrong with Kadabra. The problem is that it’s the evolved form of the very adorable Abra, and the unevolved form of the cooler, stronger Alakazam. So it just fades away in the background, like many of our dreams since we first played Pokémon.

90) Venonat

Venonat is a mix between a furball and a strange bug. It’s pretty adorable.

89) Caterpie

Caterpie. Pokemon.com

At first glance, Caterpie seems like just a slightly weird caterpillar. And it sort of is. But in the TV show, it’s absolutely adorable, with its relentless drive to prove itself and find love from its master, Ash, and friend, Misty.

88, 87, and 86) PoliwagPoliwhirl, and Poliwrath

Poliwag and its evolutions, Poliwhirl and Poliwrath, are Nintendo’s interpretation of a tadpole and frog.

85) Wigglytuff

Wigglytuff is the disappointing result of evolving the iconic Jigglypuff. It’s still fairly adorable, but it’s just not Jigglypuff.

84) Sandslash

Sandslash is what Nintendo apparently thinks happens when you evolve a pangolin-armadillo. It’s pretty badass, following the classic video game logic of "more spikes equals more awesome."

83) Fearow

Fearow is a scary-looking bird with a matching name to boot: Its name literally has "fear" in it. It’s also one of the few evolutions of the way-too-common, based-on-real-world-animals Pokémon that’s pretty cool.

82) Gloom

Gloom. Pokemon.com

Gloom, as its name suggests, is quite gloomy, constantly frowning and drooling on itself. The big question: Is Gloom allergic to itself, or is it high on itself?

81) Flareon

Flareon is pretty cool for a little pup based on fire. But it’s the most disappointing of the Eevee evolutions, leaving it in much lower ranks than its Eeveelution counterparts.

80) Grimer

Grimer looks like it’s in a constant state of shock, which makes sense since it is literally a pile of garbage. Still, it gets points for evolving into Muk.

79) Tauros

Tauros is just a bull. But in honor of ending bullfighting forever, I have ranked it better than it actually deserves. The liberal media strikes again.

78) Tangela

Tangela is literally a tangled ball of vines. What is behind all these vines, though? The mystery is worth thinking about. (Not really.)

77) Hitmonchan

Hitmonchan. Pokemon.com

Hitmonchan is the cool boxing-based counterpart to Hitmonlee, so it uses its fists instead of its legs. It’s also named after Jackie Chan, who’s both cooler and funnier than Bruce Lee.

76) Exeggcute

Exeggcute is a pile of eggs apparently linked by some sort of psychic connection. The strange thing is some of the eggs are clearly broken, yet they don’t seem fazed by it. Also in the later games, these eggs hatch from a Pokémon egg. All of this mystery — and the amazing thing they evolve into — make them pretty cool.

75 and 74) Magnemite and Magneton

In the words of the remarkable scholars that make up Insane Clown Posse: Magnets, how do they work? While I am the thousandth person to make this joke, it’s the only way I can make the blurb for these middle-of-the-pack Pokémon interesting, so there you have it.

73) Shellder

Shellder is deceptively cute. (For why he’s deceptive, see Slowbro’s entry.) But he’s still adorable. How can you look at that big tongue and not smile?

72) Rhydon

Rhydon is a full-fledged bipedal rhinoceros made out of rocks. I don’t have to say more.

71) Kangaskhan

Kangaskhan Pokemon.com

Kangaskhan is a pretty rad kangaroo, with a cute baby in its pouch to boot. One downside is it’s named after one of the biggest war criminals in world history.

70 and 69) Dratini and Dragonair

Dratini and its evolution, Dragonair, are just vastly overshadowed by their final form, Dragonite. While their final form is the cutest dragon ever, they’re just weird water snakes. ¯\_(ツ)_/¯

68) Lapras

Lapras is an invaluable source of Surf, which is needed to swim in the original Pokémon games. Otherwise, eh.

67 and 66) Cubone and Marowak

Cubone and its evolution, Marowak, are freakish creations. Cubone is actually wearing its dead mom’s skull on its head. And Marowak is what happens when the skull is on for so long that it literally becomes a head by itself. Yet somehow, they’re pretty adorable.

65) Scyther

Scyther. Pokemon.com

Scyther is quite possibly the most badass bug to ever exist in any piece of fiction or nonfiction — it has scythes for arms. Unfortunately, it’s held down by its incredibly annoying shrieking voice on the TV show.

64) Horsea

Horsea is, for the most part, just a seahorse. But it’s cute.

63) Gastly

Gastly is one of the Pokémon that makes a trio of ghosts in the TV show’s funniest episode — mostly because of all of the ghosts’ antics. But it simply doesn’t hold up in comparison to its evolved forms, Haunter and Gengar.

62) Alakazam

Alakazam is just badass. He’s one of the strongest Pokémon in the original games (and until very recently), and he has one of the best mustaches in the history of existence.

61) Arbok

Arbok is a cobra. Its name is even "kobra" spelled backward, presumably because K is obviously better than C. Also, the way it says "Arbok" as "Chaaarrrbaka!" on the show is so perfectly over the top.

60) Golduck

Golduck is pretty cool for a duck, but he’s an eternal disappointment since getting him means you have to give up Psyduck.

59) Butterfree

Fun fact: The TV show episode in which Ash, the main character, gives up his Butterfree made me cry as a kid. Never did I know a butterfly could hold so much emotional sway. For that, Butterfree is the highest-ranked bug on this list.

58) Slowbro

Slowbro. Pokemon.com

Slowbro raises a lot of metaphysical questions. It is apparently the result of a Shellder biting a Slowpoke’s tail, according to the Pokédex. But this raises the question: Who is the Slowbro, and who is in charge of its thoughts — the Slowpoke or the empowered, psychic Shellder? And why is no one concerned that this Shellder is apparently eating a Slowpoke alive? (In fact, for Slowbro’s mega evolution — added in later generations — it seems the Shellder has won entirely and begun fully devouring the Slowpoke — to a point that the Slowpoke is visibly unhappy.)

Mega Slowbro. Bulbapedia

57 and 56) Mankey and Primeape

Mankey and its evolution, Primeape, are described as pig-monkey Pokémon. So what happens when you merge two of the cutest animals alive? Yeah, you get something adorable.

55) Oddish

Oddish is the happiest damn plant in the entire world. It brings joy to all the other plants.

54) Geodude

Geodude is a floating ball with muscular arms. Yes.

53, 52, and 51) IvysaurCharmeleon, and Wartortle

Nobody really likes Ivysaur, Charmeleon, and Wartortle. As the awkward teenagers of the starter Pokémon’s evolution lines, they’re just a sad transitioning point where you are moving from something adorable to something badass.

50) Raichu

Raichu is fairly adorable. But it means giving up a Pikachu. That’s just unacceptable.

49) Venusaur

Venusaur is the worst of the three starter Pokémon’s final forms. While Charmander turns into a flying dragon beast and Blastoise turns into a huge turtle with cannons, Venusaur is just a bigger version of Bulbasaur with a blooming flower instead of a bulb. Still, it holds its own.

48) Articuno

Articuno. Pokemon.com

Articuno is quite possibly the most beautiful Pokémon. But it’s held down by its overall weakness — it’s by far the weakest of the three legendary birds.

47) Zapdos

Zapdos is not just the only legendary bird who’s fairly powerful, he also looks pretty cool.

46) Clefable

Clefable falls into the same trap as Raichu and Golduck: It’s fairly adorable, but it means giving up a Clefairy. Nuh-uh.

45 and 44) Nidoran (male) and Nidoran (female)

These two were actually the series’ first explicitly gendered Pokémon. (Later on, the series would gender every Pokémon for the sake of breeding.) But more notably, these two evolve into two of the best Pokémon of the original 151: Nidoking and Nidoqueen.

43) Farfetch’d

An otherwise unremarkable duck, but its cool name — a brave use of an apostrophe! — and stick give it a lot of character.

42) Blastoise

Blastoise is a big turtle with cannons.

41) Vaporeon

Vaporeon. Pokemon.com

Vaporeon is absolutely glorious. This almost makes up for how weak it is in the game. Also, it apparently caused a stampede among Pokémon Go players in New York City.

40) Jolteon

Jolteon has a lot going for it: It’s cool, it’s powerful, and it makes a pretty impressive showing in the TV show. That earns it the top rank among the Eevee evolutions.

39) Starmie

Starmie is a psychic starfish. To top it off, it has a diamond in the middle. And it’s pretty powerful. And its noise in the TV show is apparently a woman saying "huh," because why not.

38) Growlithe

Growlithe is what I would imagine dog people would resort to in the world of Pokémon. He’s a great pup.

37 and 36) Ponyta and Rapidash

Ponyta and its evolution, Rapidash, are literally horses that are on fire. I mean…

35) Vulpix

Vulpix. Pokemon.com

Vulpix is glorified in the TV show for its astounding beauty. And you know what? It deserves the praise. I’m still jealous that you caught one, Kim.

34) Arcanine

My husband forced me to rank this one higher than I would otherwise, because he really likes it. But I guess he’s pretty cool; he’s just a big, scruffy, fiery dog.

33 and 32) Kabuto and Kabutops

As I said above, these are shellfish with scythes for arms. Since Pokémon is a franchise about enslaving animals and forcing them to fight, you really can’t ask for more out of a shellfish.

31) Gyarados

Gyarados is the incredible result of the deceptively useless Magikarp, a Pokémon that's only capable (seriously) of splashing. It’s well worth the effort: Gyarados is a big flying water snake.

30) Aerodactyl

Aerodactyl essentially brings Jurassic Park, one of the best movies of all time, into the Pokémon franchise: He’s a pterodactyl made out of rock, and he’s revived by taking a fossil’s DNA. How amazing is that?

29) Ninetales

Ninetales. Pokemon.com

Just look at Ninetales. Just look at it.

28 and 27) Nidoking and Nidoqueen

Nidoking and Nidoqueen are well-deserving of their names. They’re just raw, dinosauric awesome.

26) Lickitung

Lickitung is something straight out of a Lovecraftian nightmare. Its tongue is almost longer than the rest of its body. It’s amazing.

25) Magikarp

For many children, Magikarp is a crucial lesson in the power of patience. When you get this dumb-looking fish, it is possible of nothing more than splashing around. But if you persist, you get a Gyarados — an amazing flying sea snake. For this crucial lesson for our children, Magikarp earns a spot in the top 25.

24) Exeggutor

Exeggutor is a psychic tree. Again, it is literally a tree with psychic powers.

23) Clefairy

Clefairy. Pokemon.com

There is just something so great about Clefairy. Maybe it’s that it’s star-shaped — a crucial hint to its extraterrestrial origins. But if that doesn’t explain it, just watch this video (really, the whole thing):

22) Cloyster

Cloyster is the most sinister-looking clam to ever exist. Plus, its horn can shoot lasers. I bet you don’t have a horn that shoots lasers.

21) Dugtrio

Dugtrio is a wonderful mystery. Nobody actually knows what lies underground, below its head — though many have devised some (NSFW) guesses. And although it’s not very strong, its simple, cutesy charm and mystery make it well worth a catch.

20) Onix

Onix is a giant snake made out of rocks. Do you really need to know more?

19) Muk

Muk is literally a pile of garbage. You just have to reward something that makes such a bold, brave fashion stance. And in the TV show, it’s oddly adorable when it tries to hug and greet Ash.

18) Gengar

Gengar is among the three ghosts that star in the TV show’s best episode. But it also holds its own quite well: It’s one of the strongest Pokémon (to date!), and it just looks cool.

17) Abra

Abra is, weirdly enough, one of the trickiest Pokémon to catch in the original games due to its propensity to teleport out of battle. This forces you to take precautions — like putting it to sleep — to secure a catch, which is interesting game design. But it also gives Abra a lot more flair than an unevolved Pokémon would otherwise have, signaling that this thing truly is special — and it certainly turns out to be when it evolves into Alakazam.

16) Eevee

Eevee. Pokemon.com

Eevee is the Pokémon of opportunity. It is the first Pokémon that could evolve into several different ones, with the three choices of Jolteon, Vaporeon, and Flareon. Since the first generation of games, they’ve added many more options — it can now evolve into nine Pokémon, all based on a different type. This ability to really follow its dreams and do whatever it wants in life leads Eevee to truly represent American ideals of doing anything you put your mind to, even choosing to become a fire, water, or electric type.

15) Bulbasaur

Scientifically speaking, Bulbasaur is the worst of the three starter Pokémon. Still, it is very cool: It has a lot of spirit in the show, and it’s a dinosaur.

14) Charizard

Charizard is the perfect final form for the (spoiler!) best of the starter Pokémon. It is a classic fire-breathing, flying dragon. In the show, it also makes a mockery out of Ash by blatantly disobeying him — but eventually shows the kindness of its heart by helping out Ash when he really needs it.

13) Snorlax

Snorlax represents what many of us wish we could all be. It eats and sleeps all day — one of its strongest moves literally makes it fall asleep. It's also one of the strongest in the original games, which is pretty impressive for something named after snoring and relaxing.

12) Dragonite

Dragonite. Pokemon.com

The cutest dragon to ever exist, with the added benefit of kicking ass in later Pokémon games.

11) Squirtle

At first glance, Squirtle seems like just a turtle — making it the least innovative of the starter Pokémon. But then you watch the TV show and realize that this turtle runs an actual gang called the Squirtle Squad. Don’t fuck with Squirtle unless you want to get fucked up.

10) Meowth

Meowth. Pokemon.com

In the TV show, Meowth is one of the very few Pokémon that can talk. This, along with its partnership with the very clumsy villains of the show, Team Rocket, gives it a lot of character — making it one of the most iconic characters in the entire series.

9) Mr. Mime

Mr. Mime. Pokemon.com

Mr. Mime is Nintendo weird at its best. It’s basically a human mime shrunk into a short Pokémon. This gives it a vibe that’s just a little too close to the clown in It. These may sound like negative things to you, but Nintendo is known for doing some weird stuff in its games — like, say, all of The Legend of Zelda: Majora’s Mask. Mr. Mime is a great continuation of that tradition.

8) Chansey

Chansey. Pokemon.com

Chansey is eternally happy — the perfect trait for a Pokémon that’s all about nursing people into care. Given how much we all appreciate the Pokémon Center’s ability to heal all our Pokémon to full health, we should all appreciate Chansey.

7) Psyduck

Psyduck. Pokemon.com

Psyduck is a hot mess of a Pokémon. It is apparently constantly suffering from a vicious headache — a headache that, at least in the show, empowers Psyduck with super psychic abilities if it's bashed in the head, but also makes it seem kind of … dumb. Psyduck is a key source of comedic relief on the show but is also remarkably brave: When its trainer, Misty, gets kidnapped by Team Rocket, Psyduck bravely steps up to the challenge of rescuing her, eventually getting its head so hurt that it manages to save the day with powerful psychic abilities. What an underdog story.

6) Mewtwo

Mewtwo. Pokemon.com

Mewtwo is by far the most powerful Pokémon in the original games. This makes it the perfect reward for essentially beating the game — and that’s exactly what the original games do. It’s hard to measure just how much delight this Pokémon brought to the kids who caught it and went on to absolutely trounce their friends with such an enormous powerhouse. But that earns it a spot in the top 10.

5) Jigglypuff

Jigglypuff. Pokemon.com

After Pikachu, Jigglypuff is probably the most widely known character from the games. That’s largely because of its funny TV show persona: In the show, it constantly sings to crowds of people — unaware that its voice has the power to put people to sleep — and gets furious when its audience dozes off. These TV show appearances and its total adorableness made Jigglypuff so iconic that this Pokémon would eventually end up in other Nintendo games, such as Super Smash Bros.

4) Haunter

Haunter. Pokemon.com

Haunter isn’t the strongest of the three ghost Pokémon; Gengar, its evolved form, is. But it is clearly the star of the ghost trio that makes up the funniest Pokémon TV show episode. Just look at this ridiculous scene and tell me Haunter isn’t the best:

3) Charmander

Charmander. Pokemon.com

As the best of the three starter Pokémon, Charmander is many people’s introduction to the franchise’s world. It’s actually the hardest Pokémon to start with — because the first gym is made up of rock Pokémon that counter Charmander’s fire type — but it is so worth it in the end because Charmander is just so awesome. It really has everything going for it: It's cute, has a unique design, and eventually evolves into a mighty Charizard. Bonus: Even its cry in the show is adorable. (But its death scream in the special Pokémon miniseries is the stuff of nightmares.)

2) Mew

Mew. Pokemon.com

Mew is the original Pokémon that you’re not even supposed to know exists. When the game first shipped, it was widely advertised as only containing 150 Pokémon. But as kids do, there was always speculation that there was a secret 151st. For once, the speculation turned out to be right — and Nintendo eventually gave out Mew in special events.

It’s all of this mystery, speculation, and intrigue that makes Mew so special: It made you feel like the world of Pokémon was big — bigger than you can imagine — and still desperate for someone to go out there to discover it all. And Nintendo proved that feeling right by suddenly introducing a new, elusive creature to the game.

1) Pikachu

Pikachu. Pokemon.com

Pikachu is the face of Pokémon. More recognizable to millennials than America’s vice president, Pikachu is up there with fictional characters like Superman and Mario in terms of cultural impact. Not only is it a star in the TV show, but it alone inspired spin-offs of Pokémon games — one in which, like the TV show, you start with a Pikachu instead of the original three starter Pokémon. Pikachu is also so special that it's allowed to constantly bend the rules of his abilities — like when Nintendo gave it the powerful abilities to fly and swim by creating Flying Pikachu and Surfing Pikachu.

It is truly difficult to envision Pokémon as a cultural phenomenon without Pikachu. Its adorableness rocketed the series to the mainstream — and it has continued to act as the franchise’s mascot ever since.


Watch: Pokémon Go’s massive popularity, by the numbers