With so many types of Pokémon out there, it's tough to pick only 20 for this list. When you add in all the games, TV shows and movies, there's a lot of media to take in. About 20 years worth of media. There's also all the different ways you can judge them. Base attack/special attack power, best all around, best at competition battling, or looks as well as concept behind it. That's a lot. In this list, we tried to incorporate a little bit of everything. Some on the worst list are universally hated and that's why they made it, while some on the best list some are universally loved. I'm pretty biased (who isn't when it comes to Pokémon?), so take it as you will. Some I won't argue and if it's your favorite, then it's your favorite.
This list is also a compilation of evolutions, so your favorite Pokémon that doen’t evolve obviously didn’t make it. Mimikyu was out of the running from the start. Blastoise, Charizard and Venusaur also didn’t make it for the simple reason that it seemed impossible to pick just one of them. They are timeless classics, but to pick one would be unfair and difficult. With all that in mind, here are the 10 best and 10 worst evolutions in Pokémon history.
20 USELESS: Cofagrigus
Black and White brought some very good additions to the Pokémon universe, with Scraggy being one of my personal favorites. On the other hand, Cofagrigus is the most ridiculous evolution I have ever seen. It starts out as wispy Yamask, who seems Asian in influence. Then suddenly it turns into an ugly, cartoonish sarcophagus? An Egyptian sarcophagus. Even the lore doesn't match up in this case. Yamask was a person who had died and if you wore their mask, you would become possessed by the Pokémon. Cofagrigus turns you into a mummy. The only connective tissue in this case is that they are both ghosts. They could've gone in a much more interesting direction when it comes to Japanese mythology. It doesn’t even get a type upgrade.
19 BEST: Shedinja
This is probably one of the coolest and most useless evolutions you will find. The way you actually get a Shedinja is tricky and requires a guide unless you are very lucky. You have to level up a Nincada, with an empty slot on your team and an extra Poké Ball in your bag. The idea is that when a cicada molts, it leaves behind its shell, so when your Nincada evolves into a Ninjask, it leaves the shell of Shedinja behind. So you get two Pokémon for the price of one if you do it right! Shedinja has crazy evasiveness and speed. Plus it’s a bug and ghost type Pokémon, so lots of moves can’t even hit it! The downside? It has 1 HP. Always. Even if you EV train it or try to use HP boosters, it won’t work. It’s an awesome and interesting evolution, but it isn’t super useful in battle.
18 USELESS: Beartic
Beartic is, all in all, not terrible, but it seems like laziness on the part of Nintendo. I am not a fan of recycled ideas, but it's painfully obvious that Cubchoo is just a rehashing of Teddiursa and Beartic is Ursaring. Now I could forgive them for making an ice version of Teddiursa, but the fact that they do the same exact thing when evolving is what pushes this guy onto the worst list. Also why does Cubchoo have to go the same evolutionary cycle as Teddiursa. Cute bear turns into large bear. They could have at least given him some distinguishing markings, other than the icy snot. Perhaps, even give him a different type when he evolves (fighting maybe?), but instead we get another bear.
17 BEST: Gyarados
This guy had to make it onto the list. He goes from 0 to 100 in only twenty levels. Magikarp goes from only being able to use Splash to using Dragon Rage as Gyarados. Talk about a growth spurt. I'm also a huge fan of Gyarados because it pokes fun at the evolutionary chain. While others are cop-outs or make no sense, this one is just plain funny. You can google Magikarp to see how humorous the fan base finds this guy. Plus the amount of patience it takes if you want to level him up yourself makes Gyarados a real prize. Sure you can use rare candies, but then you don't have any EVs. And we all know that's the best way to develop strong Pokémon.
16 USELESS: Magmortar
Nintendo obviously decided that Electabuzz and Magmar needed both pre-evolutions and then, down the line, they both got evolutions as well. Chansey got the same treatment. It was a trend going on in Pokémon, where they simply built off first generation Pokémon. And while we still see that occasionally now, where they build off previous generations, it’s not as prevalent. But Magmortar seems pretty useless as an evolution and is just a pain to get. You have to level up Magmar while he's holding a Magmarizer, but good luck finding that without a walkthrough or googling it. Of course, that’s if you can find a Magmar or Magby at all. A lot of versions don’t have them running around. Honestly, I just have one in Pokémon Sun because I wanted a complete Pokédex.
15 BEST: Golisopod
Team Skull in Sun and Moon are the goofiest villains we have faced in any generation. They stay true to the villains of previous games in their lineup of Pokémon, with plenty of Zubats, weak dark types, and some bugs. The leader has a Golisopod, who evolved from the goofiest little bug, Wimpod. The pre-evolution can only be found in one place, a specific beach, but if you get close, it will run away. Of course, then this wimpy bug beefs up into a goliath (sometimes the nameing is a bit too on the Nosepass). However, the one thing the armored giant keeps is his “wimpout” ability. Basically, he runs if his health gets too low. I love the evolutionary chain in this guy, as not only does Nintendo keep their sense of humor (the giant is still a wimp inside), but the art is pretty amazing.
14 USELESS: Gyarados’ Mega Evolution
It’s a giant shrimp. They had the entirety of sea serpent and dragon lore and they give us a stubby little sausage of a Pokémon. When we heard that Gyarados was going to get a Mega-Evolution, everyone was pretty excited. I mean you go from weak little carp fish to a destroyer of worlds. After that should surely be an awesome serpent or dragon. Something a hundred feet long and maybe out of Dragon Ball. Instead, we got a worm that’s constricted itself and has a meaner face and extra fins. It’s all intimidation in the front and stubby legs in the back. It’s essentially a mullet Pokémon.
Admittedly it has great stats, but it lacks the oomph of other mega evolutions.
13 BEST: Milotic
Milotic is on here for the same reason as Magikarp. We get this crazy growth spurt that turns an ugly duckling into a beautiful swan. It's made all the better by the amount of effort it takes to actually evolve Feebas. First you have to find the beauty scale, but not all games have one or it's a pain to get. In earlier games, you have to level up Feebas' beauty stats through Pokéblocks. Just look it up, otherwise you'll probably never figure it out. Then you have to trade with someone with the Feebas holding the scale and somehow convince them to send it bac\k. In later games, Feebas can also be really hard to find and you'll end up fishing up a lot of Magikarp before you find a Feebas. Milotic kills at competitions, both beauty and competitive.
12 USELESS: Raichu
There was an entire episode of Pokémon on why you don’t evolve Pikachu. There’s over ten years of Pokémon cartoons saying why Pikachu will always be better than Raichu. Don’t get me wrong, I love Raichu. He’s a cutey, but it’s been drilled into my head since age 8 that you don’t make Pikachu evolve with that Thunderstone. Of course, I’m not talking about the Alolan Raichu, but just plain old Raichu. Go back and watch the first season of Pokémon and get emotional watching Ash decide whether or not to evolve his buddy. Then watch Pikachu trounce Raichu. Again, there’s nothing exactly wrong with Raichu, we’ve just been trained to find him useless. Plus, the mascot of the entire series is Pikachu, so it’s kind of like the younger sibling being the favorite child. Nothing is wrong with big brother Raichu, as he gets good grades, but he’s just not varsity material like little brother Pikachu.
11 BEST: Alakazam
The sheer labor of love you have to put in to get Alakazam is mind boggling, at least when it came to the older games. Before Exp. Share and Wonder Trade, it was really hard to get one of these bad boys. Abra is rare to find in the wild, rarer in older games, and starts out only knowing Teleport. If you manage to capture one, it only knows that one move so get those TMs ready. When you finally level him up to Kadabra, he's a beast. I've faced so many Elite Four members with one of the Abra evolutions. Of course, to get Alakazam, you need to trade your Kadabra. The one downside is that Alakazam has weaker defense stats, but if you train him up enough, he will hold his own no problem.
10 USELESS: Octillery
This is one of those cases where I honestly have no idea what Nintendo was thinking. More often than not, Pokémon are too similar when they evolve, as it’s basically the same creature with a few embellishments. When it comes to Octillery, it’s as if Nintendo was like, “Fine! You want different? I’ll show you different!” and then they made a fish into an octopus. It doesn't even make sense when you think of the animal kingdom. Baby octopi aren't little fishy things that grow tentacles. They are born tiny octopi, tentacles and all. Plus there isn't even any color signals or anything else that says they are related. I get it with Feebas and Milotic, as the point was the ugly duckling trope, but Remoraid and Octillery have absolutely nothing in common. The worst part is that it seems like Nintendo gave up on Octopi Pokémon altogether? Like, “Whelp that didn't work, let's ignore that animal and make another four dozen normal bird types.”
9 BEST: Sylveon
The toughest part of this was picking just one Eeveelution, as there are so many at this point and all have their own merits. We went with Sylveon because she was the face of the newest type: fairy. When the fairy type was announced for X and Y, everyone lost their minds. We hadn't gotten a new type in a while and to have an Eeveelution be the poster child made it pretty special. On top of that, Sylveon is tough to get. First you need to find and Eevee, teach it a Fairy type move and make it have affection towards you. You may end up with an Umbreon or an Espeon by accident. Sylveon is also a pretty tough Pokémon, as since they're only one type, they have few weaknesses, but she can learn a lot of powerful fairy-type moves. Also she's adorable. The only weird thing is those ribbon tentacles. They rub you and make you feel good? It's kind of weird.
8 USELESS: Garbodor
How does Garbodor even work? Like, one day, trash bags somehow became sentient? I don't know why this bothers me more than the ghost candle, but it really does. It's also another case of a cute Pokémon, Trubbish and his lil bunny ears, turning into a monstrous pile of garbage (in this case literally). When I first caught Trubbish, I honestly thought he was a cute green bunny thing with fangs. Grimer and Muk are bad, in that sludge becomes larger sludge, but first gen evolutions can be a bit one note. In generation iv, they really had no more excuses. It does muck up (pun intended) the idea of Pokémon as natural or not man-made. How can you have sentient human trash?
7 BEST: Decidueye
Nintendo stepped up their game when it came to Sun and Moon. They breathed new life into the franchise, along with providing some amazing updates to the graphics. The starters were no exception and Rowlett was the shining star of the trio. He's Grass/Flying when he starts out and then Grass/Ghost when he becomes Decidueye. His stats are pretty awesome, plus he keeps a lot of his Flying type moves with none of the disadvantages. He'll eventually learn Brave Bird and with 120 damage, it's a killer. Plus that Z-Move is pretty amazing. Although, if you are a budding YouTuber watch out, as Nintendo has that sequence copyrighted and your account will immediately be flagged if you post it. Decidueye does go through that awkward teen phase, with that hair flipping nonsense and all as Dartrix, but the final evolution is worth it.
6 USELESS: Electrode
I can handle three magnets and balls forming to create Magneton and even three Digletts making a Dugtrio. But this was the epitome of laziness. Voltorb was bad enough, as it’s just a Poké Ball with eyes. But when it evolves, it's just flipped upside-down, but with smaller eyes and a bigger grin. Maybe they thought that throwing three Voltorb together wouldn’t be clever enough. They could've called it Voltrio. The worst part about Electrode is the fact that these guys disguise themselves as items when you are wandering, then pop out when all you wanted was a Super Potion or a Revive. Then they explode in your face and take out your leading Pokémon. It will explode if you try to catch it and if you try to run. The most annoying part is that it's not particularly strong unless it takes itself out.
5 BEST: Dragonite
There are very very few versions where I have had enough patience to sit there and train a Dratini until it becomes a Dragonair, then a Dragonite. First getting the Dratini is a nightmare. If you find it in the wild, it's generally only a 5% chance, so welcome to Magikarp hell until then. Or, in the older games, you have even worse chances of finding it and have to play the slots at the Game Corner until you have an obscene amount of coins and can buy one. This can literally take hours. Dratini is normally a level 10 when you get them, and won't evolve until level 30 and then 50 for Dragonite. Plus their attack is pretty weak in the beginning and they really only know Twister, a pathetic attack of 40 damage. It's an uphill battle, but if you have enough patience (or rare candies), you can end up with the mother of all dragons. Call her Khaleesi cause she's a queen.
4 USELESS: Vanilluxe
People are always complaining about new generation Pokémon. I have heard, “Gen one is the only one that matters!!” and I definitely have to disagree with that. It seems like Nintendo was trying to go back to their roots, when it came to Vanillish and its evolutions. “Let’s just add one more and make it goofier!” A classic gen one move. Then they added a straw. I mean it was more clever in that it turned from an ice cream cone to a bunch of icicles, but it’s still pretty ridiculous. Despite that, Vanillite and its evolutions saved me in Black and White when it came to defeating Dragon types. This was in the age before Fairy types, so Dragons were pretty unstoppable unless you found an illusive ice type, and Vallilish was one of the few in Black and White. I’m not trying to pick on Black and White here, but it has some absolutely ridiculous (and half-baked) ideas. Including the floating sundae that is Vanilluxe
3 BEST: Ampharos
This guy is an absolute cult favorite, similar to Gardevoir. It's popularity stems from how dang cute he is. If I can get a Mareep, you know I'm gonna catch it and take him all the way to the Elite Four. Let's add in that Mega Stone and Ampharos is near perfect. Plus the evolutionary cycle is different without being ridiculous. There's creativity and it makes sense without coming completely out of left field. You can tell the Pokémon is a favorite when it gets a Mega Stone and, with that, Ampharos is almost unstoppable. It has a special attack base stat of 115, so it packs a punch. They aren’t particularly fast, with a base speed stat of 55, but with the Static ability, your opponent will probably be paralyzed and you won’t need to move too fast.
2 USELESS: Alolan Exeggutor
I absolutely loved Pokémon Sun and Moon. I have both versions and have played hundreds of hours cumulatively. That being said, it’s not a perfect game, and Alolan Exeggutor is proof of this. Nintendo decided to take one of the most ill-conceived Pokémon chains, Exeggcute being just a bunch of eggs that then turns into a palm tree, and make it even more ridiculous. Most of the other Alolan forms have some design to them, also with the intention of making these island forms more unique to their ecosystem. Grimer eats fruit, so it's colorful and Raichu...surfs I guess. The Alolan Exeggutor makes sense, as more sunlight meant it grew bigger, but then they seemed to hastily add in the Dragon type, almost as an afterthought. Apart from that, he is literally no different besides the long neck and a tail. Plus the Pokédex says that the sun ‘unlocks their dragon powers.’ It just seems so thrown together and silly.
1 BEST: Gardevoir
This is another labor of love evolution. First you have to catch a Raltz. I mean you could go on Wonder Trade and wait for one to fall into your lap (will take maybe 2-5 trades), but I'm talking the old school way. You have to find that one route that Raltz is on, right in the beginning of the game when your Pokémon are only level 10 or so. And then you have to catch it, which is also a nightmare. At this point you only have Poké Balls and have yet to get anything better. So it's literally a matter of desperately searching for the little guy, then tossing one and hoping it work because good luck hitting him. Even if your Pokémon is faster, Raltz only knows teleport, so they’ll be gone after you only get one shot in. Then if you do catch them, it only knows teleport. So unless you have a headbutt or other TM, you're going to have to wait to get this guy up to fighting speed. Also their defense is pretty bad, so leveling them up can be a pain. After all that, you get Kirlia and then Gardevoir. Plus Mega Gardevoir, if you have the Mega Stone. The only downside? The weird fan-service artwork. Tread lightly if you Google image search Gardevoir.