Best Pokémon: Top 5 Iconic Pocket Monsters Ranked By Experts

The Pokémon media empire began in 1996 with the release of the video games “Pokémon Red” and “Pokémon Blue” as well as the wildly popular Pokémon Trading Card Game. Since that time the $92 Billion dollar brand has delighted wave after wave of kids and gamers of all ages. Our list of the top five best Pokémon is a ranking of beloved fan favorites.

Pokémon’s adorable monsters are divided into a total of nine generations that each have a unique region as of 2023. Each of the series regions is roughly analogous to real-world locales. The first four generations took place in fictionalized regions of Japan and included Kanto, Johto, Hoenn, and Sinnoh. Subsequent generations would be based the United States in Unova and Alola, the  France-inspired Kalos region, the United Kingdom as Galar, and the Iberian Peninsula reimagined as Paldea. This trend has added an additional international element that only enhances the series’ international appeal. With each generation, certain Pokémon, like the ever-present Pikachu, would rise to the top as absolute fan favorites.

In 2019 Pikachu would even star in his own feature film “Detective Pikachu” voiced by Canadian actor Ryan Reynolds. This film, while panned by critics, was box-office success earning over $450 million. Other animated films in the Pokémon were also multi-million dollar earners at the box-office though none would surpass the sales of “Detective Pikachu.” Pokémon and the individual monsters of the series are cutie-pie money makers that have inspired every form of merchandise from coffee mugs to sports car wraps.

While some ‘mons like the above-mentioned electric mouse are household names, Pokémon merchandise includes a slew of the series lesser-known 1,020 unique monsters. With so many fantastic creatures to consider, we needed to turn to expert sources to rank the top five best Pokémon. Let us know your favorites in the comments below!

a group of generation 8 pokemon figurines Photo by Halfcut Pokemon on Unsplash
A group of generation 8 Pokémon figurines (Photo by Halfcut Pokemon on Unsplash)

The List: Best Pokémon, According to Fans

1. Pikachu

Pikachu is easily the most famous Pokémon in the storied series. This endearing rodent is the red-cheeked mascot for all things Pokémon. GameRant praises, “The most iconic and well-known Pokémon by far Pikachu. Even if you hardly know Pokémon at all, it’ll be shocking if you’ve haven’t heard of the cute electric yellow rodent. Pikachu has been part of Ash’s team ever since day one. And even if they get off to an extremely rocky start, with Pikachu being badly injured by a flock of Spearow.”

Pikachu Pokémon card
Pikachu Pokémon card (Photo by Steven Cordes on Unsplash)

“Pikachu is undoubtedly the most iconic Pokémon in Kanto, as well as in the franchise itself. Thanks to being chosen as Ash’s Starter Pokémon in the anime series, Pikachu quickly gained popularity and became the mascot of the franchise. The Pokémon had so much popularity that Game Freak even made an exclusive Generation 1 game called Pokémon Yellow,” details CBR.

“Who else could make the top of the list but Pikachu? Serving as the mascot for the entire Pokemon franchise, the most famous version of this creature journeys with Ash Ketchum in every region of the anime. Over 20 years after its inception, the Electric Mouse Pokemon is inarguably the most recognizable creature in the Pokemon catalog. Pikachu even got a Gigantamax form in Pokemon Sword and Shield, paying homage to its original design, which was far rounder than the icon we know today,” according to Press Space to Jump.

2. Charizard

The final evolution of Charmander is Charizard, the most iconic Pokémon fire type that just happens to be a full-on dragon. This majestic creature has been a powerful and attainable addition to any well-rounded Pokémon team since generation one. ScreenRant explains, “Charizard not only is a huge part of the gaming series but the anime as well. Therefore, it has become a legendary figure from… generation [one], which warrants it a spot here. Charizard is a monstrous flying beast that possesses an array of powerful fire attacks. What also helps its case is the fact that it also has the ability to fly, which strengthens his success in battle. It simply is one of the best from the whole series.”

“Charizard became a fan favorite during his run, being disobedient to Ash in the anime, ignoring the young trainer who is deemed as unworthy. This mirrors how Pokémon behave in-game if a player doesn’t have enough badges to control them. In 2020, one of the rarest cards, the 1999 ‘Shiny Charizard’ (First Edition Shadowless holographic Charizard #4), sold for over $220,000,” expounds Collider.

“The cover mascot for Pokémon Red, Charizard was one of the most prolific Pokémon during the original trilogy. Ash’s Charizard was featured heavily in the anime, its defiant attitude used as an example of what happens if you don’t have enough gym badges to earn the respect of your Pokémon. Charizard is one of the only Pokémon to have two Mega Evolutions, one that keeps its same typing while the other turns into a Fire/Dragon… Charizard may seem like a giant scary dragon, but for many people this was the first Pokémon they ever fell in love with,” fondly reflects Paste.

3. Mewtwo

Mew’s powerful psychic clone Mewtwo was one of the first Pokémon that was cool rather than cute. Ranking right behind Pikachu and Charizard is this fearsome fella. GameRant writes, “Mewtwo is one of the most powerful Pokémon in all of Gen 1. This Pokémon is a clone of the Mythical Pokémon Mew. As scientists found a fossil of this rare Pokémon and managed to extract DNA from it. And using this DNA they managed to create a clone/new form of Pokémon, and this was Mewtwo. The scientists were funded by Giovanni, the eighth gym leader and the leader of Team Rocket, so he owned Mewtwo, and he used this special powerful Pokémon to become unbeatable.”

Mewtwo and Sonic figurines
Mewtwo and Sonic figurines (Photo by Ryan Quintal on Unsplash)

“Mewtwo is as popular of a Legendary Pokémon as it is an iconic Kanto Pokémon. Mewtwo made its debut in the original Pokémon games ‘Red’ & ‘Blue’ and could be found in the Cerulean Cave. Even at the time the lore and mystery surrounding Mewtwo were absolutely incredible. However, no fan was ready for the jarring and incredible film ‘Pokémon: The First Movie,’” offers CBR.

“Few Pokémon have an entire movie dedicated to them, but those that do often leave an impression. No Pokémon left as big a mark thanks to its silver screen appearance as Mewtwo. This first-generation legendary Pokémon served as the main antagonist in Pokémon’s first movie in 1999, with fans lauding the Psychic type for its power and representation in both the games and film,” explains Press Space to Jump.

4. Rayquaza

Rayquaza from generation three’s “Pokémon Emerald” is a legendary sky serpent. This stunning black and gold version of the elusive ‘mon was recently released for the 2023 Pokémon GO Fest much to the delight of fans. “Playing an important part in the Hoenn region’s lore, Rayquaza seems to have amassed quite the following over the years. Being on the cover of Emerald might’ve helped it out significantly. Like most legendaries, it isn’t easy to track down, and its limited availability might be one of the things that make it so popular,” writes The Gamer.

Wonderlist adds, “Rayquaza is a legendary Pokémon and is one of the strongest in the game [‘Emerald’]. It’s a Dragon/Flying-type Pokémon, and is known for its powerful Dragon moves. Rayquaza is also able to Mega Evolve, further increasing its already immense power. While Rayquaza is unquestionably a powerful Pokémon, it’s not the only one that can hold its own in battle.”

Sportskeeda offers highest marks placing Rayquaza in the number one spot. Why? “‘Emerald’ was the first game that many long-time fans started their journeys with. As such, they are going to have fond memories of the creature that was showcased on the box art for this game, Rayquaza. Being the peacekeeper between Groudon and Kyogre, the Legendary Pokemon also made an appearance as a fightable boss in the story mode of ‘Super Smash Bros. Brawl.’”

5. Mew

Mew was one of the series’ first so-called “secret” Pokémon. Unlocking this powerful and tiny Pokémon was a true achievement for many young gamers. Game FAQs offers, “[Mew] ended up getting a spot in the first Pokémon movie, where he was cloned, but that didn’t go as well as planned, resulting in the creation of Mewtwo. Mew helped bring Mewtwo around and turned him into a caring, kind-hearted Pokémon. Both of them were also featured in the TV show’s intro as well.”


“Mew, the 151st Pokémon, the super ultra rare mythical Pokémon that was supposed to be extinct. However, in ‘Pokémon Red’ and ‘Blue’ Mew was rumored to be underneath a hidden truck… Sadly, this was a red herring. The only possible way to get Mew is via a Gameshark code,” states GameRant, revealing that the only way to get Mew was to cheat.

“Mew costarred with its clone in the first ‘Pokémon’ movie and fans who waited in line were given a special Ancient Mew card to mark the occasion. It also served as the ‘boss’ in Pokémon Snap, using a force field to keep the camera from catching it. While it is uncertain whether Mew was the ancestor Pokémon, it was the first trademark that Game Freak ever filed,” recalls Paste.

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