Pokémon players have a special connection with their starters. Of all Pokémon, players are most likely to keep their starter all the way to the Elite Four, beating out even legendaries for the spot. Starter Pokémon also commonly show highly ranked in popularity polls and frequently appear in fanart. The first generation starters are probably the most recognizable Pokémon in the world next to the franchise's mascot, Pikachu. Heck, a Holographic Charizard from the card game can go for up to $1,500. People like their starters, is what I'm getting at.
But sometimes it feels like some Pokémon get a pass just because they are starters, while others get criminally overlooked. Every one of the main series titles offers you the same basic three type choices: fire, water, and grass. Yet while some our starters evolve to the top of their respective types, some just kind of coast by with mediocre abilities. Or maybe they just look weird. Or are just a lazy ripoff of a previous gen's starter. Those are also offenses that we need to call our starters out on.
Meanwhile, there are starters who look awesome, evolve into powerhouses, and are completely original, and for some reason we have collectively decided to give them the cold shoulder.
Here are the 8 worst Pokémon starters and why you should never pick them, and 7 that you should give another look at next time you start your Pokémon adventure.
15 Worst - Chikorita
Chikorita is adorable, and unlike a lot of other cute Pokémon it doesn't turn butt ugly as it evolves. So it has that going for it, at least.
Fortunately, as the grass-type starter of Gen 2, it has a few problems. Unlike Bulbasaur, who could help new players through the first two gyms of his games single handily, Chikorita actually has a type disadvantage to the first gym leader, the flying-type master Falkner. Not only that, but his stats even in his final evolution are only okay at best and he remains a pure grass-type throughout.
If you really need a grass-type in the early game, Bellsprout can be caught very early on, who is both a grass and a poison type.
14 Underrated – Oshawott
Put together a sea otter and a samurai and you have Oshawott. This is most noticeable in his second form, Dewott, where his stance looks like he is constantly at the ready to draw his sword. His final form, Samurott, is even a play on the word.
Samurott's type is 'Formidable Pokémon' and for good reason. He has high base Attack, Special Attack, and HP. In addition to powerful water type moves such as Aqua Tail and Hydro Pump, he also learns Fighting and Bug type moves. He is only single-typed, but the water type has only two weaknesses so he's actually one of the safest starter picks around.
Also, it wears armor and attacks with a sword. Cool points.
13 Worst – Chimchar
Quick, name a Fire/Fighting type starter! Did you just name Blaziken, the final form of Torchic? Most trainers likely did as well.
For some reason, when coming up with a fire starter for Diamond/Pearl, it was decided to give it the same sub-type as the previous generation. It's not even a particularly originally designed Pokémon, as by this point we've already seen a number of monkey Pokémon, including the fighting-type Mankey/Primeape.
As far as stats goes, Chimchar's line represents a typical glass-cannon style with high speed and attack stats but poor defense. Not terrible, just feels lazy and unoriginal. If you need a fire-type to round out your party, just hold out for a Ponyta not too far into the game.
12 Underrated – Piplup
Okay, firstly, look at this thing's adorable face. It's the kind of thing that makes you want to go out and hug a real life penguin. Piplup's final evolution, Empoleon, goes from adorable to totally badass with his trident face-guard making him look like the king of the sea.
Piplup is the complete opposite of Chimchar. He's a complete original, both with his type (evolving into the only Water/Steel type in the franchise) and with his design. Not like the Pokémon world is flooded with penguins.
Empoleon is a tank. His high Special Defense means he can suck up hits from some of the scariest attacks in the game, and the addition of steel to his types means he is resistant to more than half of all damage types while having only a few weaknesses. But he's not slouch on offense either; he even has a few flying-type moves just for good measure.
11 Worst – Tepig
Is this yet another fire/fighting-type evolutionary line? You bet it is! I'm not sure what exactly sure what was going on behind the scenes but there seemed to be a long period of time in which no fire-type starter could be pitched without tacking on the fighting subtype to the evolutionary line.
Tepig is… a pig. He's kind of cute in his first form, but as he evolves into Emboar he becomes a fat, lumbering pig man, like something that Ganon would turn himself into. He looks more funny than intimidating.
He has high HP and good attack stats, but despite having that Fighting subtype he only naturally learns two fighting-type moves. Hardly seems worth the additional weaknesses to Psychic and Flying moves. Combined with poor defense and you have a Pokémon who is pretty easy to take out.
10 Underrated – Fennekin
The X/Y starters don't get a lot of love, with the possible exception of Froakie due to his evolution, Greninja, appearing in Super Smash Bros. Wii U/3DS. Fennekin broke the running obsession with Fire/Fighting starters by gaining the Psychic subtype with his evolution. In his final evolution, Delphox, he stands on two legs and wields a flaming stick like a magic wand. That's right, he's literally the party's wizard, casting fire and psychic type spells.
Unlike many other psychic types, Delphox actually has a fairly high speed stat. Combined with a great special attack stat and he's ready to take out your enemy's Pokémon before they even have a chance to act.
9 Worst – Pikachu
Okay, so technically in the one game in which Pikachu is a starter, Yellow, you aren't given any other options. You are stuck with Pikachu. Doesn't mean you have to be happy about it.
As the mascot of the series, the overly cute electric rat is shoved into players' faces all the time. He's been in every version of Super Smash Bros., he's the player character in Poképark Wii, the star of Hey You, Pikachu!, and that's not even getting to his anime and manga presence.
As a starter, he's pretty bad. For one thing, he refuses to evolve. To make the game more in-line with the anime, they prevented you from using a Thunder Stone on your Pikachu, meaning you are stuck with a fairly low-stat electric type for the entire game.
And he judges you. Yeah, I kind of wish we had some other options.
8 Underrated – Treecko
Treecko has the disadvantage of being the only one of the gen 3 starters to not get a secondary type in his evolutionary line. But it doesn't really suffer from its lack of type, in the long run.
Its final form, Sceptile, has the highest base Speed and Special Attack stats of all Grass-type Pokémon. He'll blitz your enemy before it even gets a chance to make its first move and hit it with a powerful Leaf Storm or Mega Drain. Plus, it just looks cool, like some kind of cocky green samurai waiting for a fight.
Oh, and about not having a secondary type: since the introduction of Mega Evolutions, it does gain a secondary type as Mega Sceptile–Dragon. That's right, he becomes part dragon. How cool is that?
7 Worst - Turtwig
At first glance, Turtwig looks like a cheap knockoff of Bulbasaur: a dinosaur with plants growing out of its back. You're wrong, though: he's a turtle, not a dinosaur. Still, he looks very similar, and the two Grass-type starters' evolutions also look very similar. Toreterra, the final version of Turtwig, has a tree growing out of his back instead of a flower.
Torterra gains the ground subtype, which gives him immunity to electricity, but at the cost of increasing his weakness to Ice to a 4x weakness. He has the lowest base speed stat of any fully evolved starter Pokémon as well as fairly poor special defense. If he somehow manages to survive one of his many weaknesses in the opening volley, he also favors Attack over Special Attack, meaning all of his strongest Grass-type moves are less effective than they should be.
Basically, he's worthless.
6 Underrated – Popplio
Yes, Popplio looks goofy as hell. He looks like the clown of the sea. He looks like he should be following other Pokémon around with a whoopee cushion and laughing way to hard when they sit down on it. But he evolves into… well, Primarina still kind of looks like a clown. But a really majestic clown. A clown mermaid that serves in the court of King Triton himself.
As Primarina, it gains the recent Fairy subtype, giving it a couple of new resistances and complete immunity to dragon-type moves. It also has the highest base Special Attack of any fully evolved starter Pokémon. That means when it hits you with a move like Hydro Pump or the fairy-type Moonblast you are going to feel it. It's a bit on the slow side, but with a decent Special Defense and only a few type weaknesses, chances are it will stand to exchange blows, and get the better of the tradeoff.
5 Worst – Litten
Litten is what happens when Pokémon's developers design yet another Fire/Fighting starter and then, at the last minute, suddenly realize that they had already done that three times before and suddenly slap their creation with a Dark subtype instead. Seriously, it goes from a passive looking kitty cat to a wrestler with a championship belt. For its Z-Move it summons a wrestling ring and does a massive flying tackle. It looks more like a fighting-type than most fighting types.
Stat-wise, he's pretty well rounded and has good attack growth. The addition of the dark subtype gives him good resistances and an immunity to Psychic moves. But I just can not get over his design. There are so many ways they could have evolved the fire kitty, particularly if they always intended him to be a dark subtype, but instead we get another fighter design. Not even a cool one, Incineroar looks like someone doing fanart for a Thundercats 'original character.'
4 Underrated – Bulbasaur
As a Gen 1 starter, Bulbasaur is one of the more recognizable Pokémon and the first thing most trainers will think of when thinking of a 'grass-type starter.' But compared to his two more popular comrades, he seems to wind up at the bottom of the barrel.
This is a shame because Bulbasaur is fantastic for what he does–provide an easy entry into the series for new players. With his type advantages he makes the first two gyms a breeze and gives you plenty of time to build a diverse party. Plus, as Venusaur he remains useful with great stats and a good moveset.
In the end, Bulbasaur suffers a similar fate to many of the other grass-types: the fact that you can usually catch a decent grass-type in the wild earlier in the game than a water or fire type.
3 Worst – Snivy
Snivy is a snake with legs. Which you would think makes him more like a lizard than a snake, but he is listed as a 'Grass Snake Pokémon.' He evolves into a slightly larger snake with legs known as Servine, and then finally loses his legs in his final evolution, Serperior. And that's pretty much all there is to his design. Serperior is called the 'Regal Pokémon' and has a few crown-like patterns on its body, but really its just a 10-foot long freaking snake.
It is fast, by far the fastest starter of its generation. However, speed doesn't mean much if you can't do anything with it, and Serperior suffers from fairly poor Attack and Special Attack growth, so it's not going to hit very hard. Combined with the fact that it remains a pure-grass type and has all the weaknesses that it implies and a lack of variety in its moveset, and it's tough to think of an area in which it proves useful.
2 Underrated – Mudkip
Somehow, poor Mudkip wound up as the joke of the Pokémon world. He was the center of memes and was probably the most mocked Pokémon until Bidoof hit the scene. And that is a shame, because Mudkip is actually pretty freaking good. Sure, it isn't as cute as most starter Pokémon are, nor does its final evolution look particularly badass. But it is very good at what it does.
Starting with its first evolution, Marshtomp, it gains the ground subtype. This removes water's weakness to electricity by making him completely immune to electric moves. Actually, it leaves Mudkip with only one weakness, grass, and while this is a 4x weakness, the fact that it is its one and only weakness should not be ignored. Having ground attacks also means Mudkip is ready to take on steel and poison type Pokémon.
So try to look past the memes and actually like Mudkip!
1 Worst – Chespin
On the one hand, it was nice that we finally got a starter Pokémon with a fighting subtype who isn't fire. On the other, the grass/fighting combination is not a good one when it comes to resistances and weaknesses. Chespin's evolution, Chesnaught, has a whopping six type weaknesses, including a 4x weakness to flying. It does not make up for this with a particularly good array of resistances, either. Combined with a mediocre Special Defense and you have a Pokémon who most enemies will have some tool to deal with.
It's really a shame because he has such a cool design. Chespin's a goofy, smiling hedgehog/pinenut combo. He evolves into the goofier, bloated version of himself, Quilladin. Then finally he turns into the badass looking Chesnaught, who kind of resembles an older, veteran warrior in heavy armor. That armor is reflected in a high Defense stat. If only it also provide Special Defense…