A Starter Pokemon, or Starters, are the Pokemon a trainer selects at the start of their adventure and are the main protagonists of the Pokemon franchise of games. In every Pokemon generation of the main games, a set of Starter Pokemon are accessible for new trainers to pick from in sets of three: the types that make up these sets are Water, Grass, and Fire and each of them has three evolutionary forms.
Here is a complete list of all the Starter Pokemon from Gen 1 to Gen 8:
Gen 1 Starters
Pokemon Blue and Red
Squirtle, Charmander, and Bulbasaur – the three iconic Pokemon that would play an important role not just in the Pokemon games, but also in Ash Ketchum’s rise to greatness in the animated TV series. The player can only choose one Pokemon and the other starter Pokemon cannot be encountered in the wild. This means the start of a trainer’s adventure begins with one important decision that will shape up the outcome of the rest of the playthrough.
Unlike the other generations, the Gen 1 Starter Pokemon are all feasible for the entire Pokemon Red|Blue run. Squirtle prevails in the early Gyms and is an impressive choice in the late game, but is overshadowed by other more powerful Water Pokemon before he evolves into Blastoise.
Choosing Charmander can be a bit problematic in the early game but will receive a huge power boost once it evolves to Charizard. Probably the best all-around Starter Pokemon in Gen 1 is Bulbasaur. He is strong against most Gym leaders and has an impressive moveset that can carry any team during the early game. However, Bulbasaur and its final form Venasaur don’t excel during the Elite Four battles because of it having a weakness to Dragon and Ice moves.
For Pokemon fans who watched the animated TV series first before playing the games, it was such a letdown to learn that Pikachu wasn’t even a starter in the main games. In Pokemon Blue and Red, Pikachu can only be encountered and caught in the Viridian Forest or the Power Plant, and the chances of meeting the Pokemon was only a frustrating five percent.
For a time, it appears that Pikachu fans’ dreams of recreating Ash’s journey to becoming a Pokemon Master would never come true. Luckily, it didn’t take long for Nintendo to realize the mistake and launched Pokemon Yellow.
In Pokemon Yellow, trainers will now start their adventure with Pikachu as their Starter Pokemon, just like in the anime. Unlike the other Pokemon games, players will not be able to choose their start Pokemon in Yellow.
Players will be stuck with Pikachu, although eventually, they can acquire Charmander, Squirtle, and Bulbasaur later in the game. And just like in the animated series, Pikachu will doesn’t want to evolve into a Raichu. It is worth noting that Pikachu is an awful starter Pokemon since it struggles against a lot of Gym leaders in the game.
Gen 2 Starters (Silver/Gold/Crystal)
The Gen 2 games introduced dual-type Pokemon – monsters that had weaknesses and strengths of two different types. The dual-typing system introduced great depth and diversity in Pokemon battles, upgrading it beyond the simple rock-paper-scissors gameplay of Gen 1.
Peculiarly enough, none of the three Starter Pokemon in Gen 2 have dual-typing. Chikorita is a Grass-type, Totodile a Water-type, and Cyndaquil is a pure Fire-type. This means they have lesser weaknesses compared to Pokemon with dual-types, but also had less capability for growth as their single typing would restrict their move sets.
Specifically, Chikorita has been considered one of the worst Starter Pokemon in franchise history because of changes in how critical hits work.
Gen 3 Starters (Emerald/Sapphire/Ruby)
Gen 3 had an impressive set of Starter Pokemon. Mudkip and Torchic’s evolutions work well from the beginning until the late game. Their power curves are quite the same, so players can’t go wrong with choosing either.
Mudkip has slightly better stats and fewer weaknesses, so he’s a bit better than Torchic. Mudkip is also a lot more powerful in Emerald since the Champion uses Water-type Pokemon which is Torchic’s natural weakness.
Treecko is the only Pokemon with single-typing in the Gen 3 Starter Pokemon. Even after evolving into Sceptile, he stays as a pure Grass-type, which restricts his move set. However, he’s not a bad Starter Pokemon by any means, but Torchic and Mudkip are so powerful that it’s difficult to advise choosing Treecko over them.
Gen 4 Starters (Pearl/Diamond)
Similar to Gen 3, Pearl and Diamond gave fans two remarkable Starter Pokemon and one underwhelming option. This time around, the Water-based Starter is the runt in the collection.
Turtwig is the first good Grass starter Pokemon since Bulbasaur from Gen 1. With its impressive Strength growth and high Defense, Turtwig is a bona fide tank that never goes down easily. He might be a bit slow, but his strong moves that deal massive damage makes up for it.
If you look up lists for best Fire-type Pokemon on the internet, Chimchar would definitely be on the top part of that list. Generally the direct opposite of Turtwig, Chimchar has horribly low Defense but its raw Speed makes up for it. As Chimchar evolves, he becomes a Fire/Fighting-type – a fatal combination with few weaknesses.
Piplup begins as a pure Water-type Pokemon but ultimately gains a Steel-typing. Its most significant weakness is, shockingly, its speed. Though Turtwig is still slower, Piplup doesn’t have Turtwig’s super hard Defense stats to atone.
Gen 5 (Black/White)
Alongside the new region of Unova, Black and White introduced 156 new Pokemon, seasons, Triple and Rotation battle modes, as well as an impressive story that grazes on shockingly mature themes. For these reasons and a lot more, Gen 5 is universally considered as the best generation in the Pokemon franchise. Sadly, it also has the worst Starter Pokemon in the series.
Oshawott, Tepig, and Snivy feel almost like remakes of starters from past generations. Snivy is a pure Grass-type Pokemon that barely takes off even after evolving to its final form. Oshawott is considered as one of the worst Water-type Starter Pokemon of all time because of its low HP, slow speed, and decent damage.
Even Tepig, the best of the three Starter Pokemon of Gen 5 is derivative and boring. Tepig has a Fire/Fighting-typing which has a really slow speed that makes Pokemon battles a chore.
Gen 6 Starters (X/Y)
Pokemon X and Y go away with the franchise’s tradition – the Starter Pokemon is not given by a Pokemon professor but from the protagonist’s neighbors.
Chespin is a Grass-type Starter Pokemon that ultimately evolves into Chesnaught – a Grass/Fighting powerhouse and a physical damage absorber. It has exemplary Defense, high health, and chaotic attack. It is a remarkable rotational choice for taking on enemies that dish out massive physical damage, but Chespin is weak against special attacks. Chespin and all of its evolutionary forms are utterly slow, so players who choose him will have to deal with a few hits at the beginning of every battle.
Fennekin is initially a Fire-type but ultimately becomes a Fire/Psychic-type. Its strengths are its Speed and Special Attack, and similar to Chimchar, Fennekin excels in making the first move and ends battles quickly. Fennekin also has high Special Defense but is weak against physical damage.
Froakie is the clear favorite Start Pokemon from this generation. While Fennekin is as quick, Froakie is made for speed. Its moveset combined with decent Attack makes Froakie a glass cannon – it deals decent damage but can’t take punishment.
Although Speed is regarded as the most essential Pokemon stat, the real reason Froakie is regarded as the best Starter Pokemon of Gen 6 is its Hidden Ability, Protean. Protean change’s the Pokemon’s type to the type of whatever move it does. With the right moveset, you can totally dominate the enemies, no matter what their type is.
Gen 7 Starters (Sun/Moon)
Pokemon Sun and Moon introduced the franchise’s 7th Generation that divided the Pokemon gaming community. Entire blogs and articles have been written to justify why Pokemon Sun and Moon has the worst Pokemon in the whole franchise.
In the meantime, Pokemon user forums are filled with fans arguing about why the Gen 7 Pokemon looks the worst or is the best generation of all time. No matter which side a player is on, everyone can agree that the Sun and Moon Starter Pokemon are boring since they look like regular animals.
Rowlett is a Grass/Flying-type with decent stats across the board. It performs well in the early parts of the game against Grass and Water-type enemies. Once it evolves into a Decidueye, it can even learn Ghost moves.
Considering Litten’s low base stats and slow growth, it makes it a bad choice for a Starter Pokemon. For a long time, Litten has been regarded as a weak Pokemon, because of its inefficiency to single-handedly take on battles.
It only finds atonement on the competitive side of the game, where its evolved form, Incineroar, would become one of the best competitive Pokemon for three years in a row now. This is because of its impressive support skills, cementing its place as one of the greatest Doubles mode partners in the Pokemon franchise.
Popplio doesn’t do well in the early stages of the game, but as it evolves, it ultimately becomes the Starter Pokemon with the best Special Attack and Special Defense. It has an impressive move set that compliments all of its strengths such as a myriad of strong Water-type attacks that can send enemies packing.
However, its low Defense and Speed, and useless Hidden Ability makes it feasible only in certain conditions.
Gen 8 Starters (SwordShield)
Lastly, the most recent generation was introduced in 2019’s Pokemon Sword and Shield. These games are the biggest in the Pokemon franchise yet, adding a bunch of amazing features and a massive new region inspired by the United Kingdom. It also revamped Pokemon for an entirely new generation and brought a true single-player experience to the Nintendo Switch for the first time.
Grookey is the Grass-type counterpart of Chimchar – powerful and agile. As a matter of fact, Grookey has the highest Attack stat among all Starter Pokemon in this list. Its Hidden Ability, Grassy Surge, also makes it hard to take down as it restores 1/16 of Grookey’s Max HP each turn. Grookey is best effective as a utility role thanks to moves such as Drum Beating, which makes all of its enemies slower.
Scorbunny is one of the fastest among all Starter Pokemon with a power curve and evolution line identical to Froakie. In spite of a strong Attack stat, Scorbunny as well as its evolutionary forms have a limited physical attack pool. With its hidden ability, Libero, it turns all of Scorbunny’s into STAB attacks, this Pokemon really comes into its own.
Sobble begins the second-best Special Attack and Speed of any of the Starter Pokemon. Sadly, its limited move set and single typing put a cap on its versatility quite early on. Its STAB attacks are impressive but are restricted to Water-type attacks. Even its Hidden Ability, Sniper, can’t save Sobble because it only improves the critical hit of one move, Snipe Shot.
Best Pokemon Starters of All Time
Turtwig is one of the better Gras Pokemon starters in the franchise. It eventually evolves from Grotle and then into the Grass/Ground Pokemon Torterra. As usual, dual-types have advantages as well as disadvantages.
However, Turtwig becomes a Pokemon that trainers will have to depend on in battle thanks to its tanky defense. Not only will it not be likely to get knocked out, despite its extremely slow speed, but it also has an acceptable attack stat as well.
The first Grass Starter Pokemon, Bulbasaur, can really be difficult to deal with thanks to the fact that he is both a Poison and a Grass-type. Bulbasaur has several moves that can put a devastating effect on an opponent’s status such as Sleep Powder and Stun Spore. This makes the Pokemon one of the best picks when capturing other Pokemon in order to complete the Pokedex.
While Bulbasaur does have a few hard-hitting moves, it still has a really great Defense and Special Attack that get pretty high when it evolves from Ivysaur to Venasaur.
Perhaps the only disappointing thing about this Starter Pokemon is how long it takes for it to become a great Pokemon. They can become quite a valuable asset in the team, but the Pokemon needs a lot of work to get to that point.
The stats for Cyndaquil when it evolves from Quilava into Typhlosion are similar to those of Charizard, but unlike Charizard, it retains its pure Fire-typing. This means it has lesser weaknesses, but at the same time, its move set is a lot more limited.
Charmander has become extremely famous due to him evolving from Charmeleon into the Fire/Flying Charizard. However, its fame has overshadowed the fact that it is certainly the best Starter Pokemon in existence.
Charizard has acceptable and well-balanced stats all around except for its Speed and Special Attack stats, which are absolutely its two highest stats. Charizard’s Special Attack is very handy, especially in later games when he gains access to powerful Fire-type moves such as Flare Blitz and Inferno.
Mudkip really begins to shine when he evolves into Marshstomp and finally Swampert thanks to its Water/Ground typing. His Ground-type really helps the Pokemon defend itself from its greatest weakness – Electricity. In addition, Steel, Rock, Poison, and Fire-type Pokemon will have a difficult time doing any damage to this Pokemon. The only disadvantage is this starter’s extremely bad speed stat.
Mudkip can learn several earth-shattering moves, both Ground and Water, such as Earthquake, Rock Slide, and Muddy Water. Swampert’s high physical attack and high health make this Pokemon a powerhouse that can’t be taken down easily, especially since the only type that can hurt it is Grass.
Electric moves won’t make Marshstomp or Swampert move. So Pikachu better watch out, because this Starter Pokemon will kill you with just one Mudshot or Mud-Slap.
Froakie, which evolves into Frogadier, and eventually turns into the extremely popular Water/Dark Greninja, is arguably the best Starter Pokemon around. Aside from the fact that this Pokemon utilizes its tongue as a scarf, it is also one of the most used Pokemon in competitive tournaments.
Its speed is sky high, pretty much ensuring that it will make the first move in battle, balancing out well with the fact that it has extremely low defense. Both of its Attack and Special Attack Stat are decent, with an acceptable Special Defense and Health stat.
Froakie and its evolutionary forms have a lot more weaknesses compared to Swampert, but it also has a lot of types that it is super effective against. Also, Psychic moves have no effect and deal no damage to Greninja. Froakie will also be able to learn a variety of moves such as Night Slash and Hydro Pump.