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The Top 25 Pokemon in Series History: The Best Monsters From Pokemon Red and Blue to Sun and Moon

On the 20th anniversary of Pokemon's release in North America, we rank the 25 best Pokemon to date.

This article first appeared on USgamer, a partner publication of VG247. Some content, such as this article, has been migrated to VG247 for posterity after USgamer's closure - but it has not been edited or further vetted by the VG247 team.

Here's one of the most tired takes you'll hear about Pokemon: The only good monsters are in the original 151! Everything else is superfluous!

The truth is the original 151 are still the best of the bunch, but Game Freak has some really great artists and designers, and every subsequent generation has at least a few winners. In fact, the Pokemon that sits at the very top of this list is from Pokemon Sun and Moon, which is one of the freshest generations in years.

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It's not easy to distill more than 800 monsters into a comprehensive list of 25, but it's Pokemon Week here at USG, and we're sure going to try. Here are the best 25 Pokemon of the past twenty years, ranging from our personal favorites (Arcanine) to some of the most iconic of the bunch (Magikarp). So cue the PokeRap and let's get this party started.

25. Wobbuffet

Debut: Pokemon Gold and Silver

If two or more Wobbuffet meet, they will turn competitive and try to outdo each other's endurance. However, they may try to see which one can endure the longest without food. Trainers need to beware of this habit.

Wobbuffets also sound like men competing for my attention at a bar, even when I say I'm in a relationship. Hey-oh! Realistically speaking, Wobbuffets are an underrated Pokemon. They have a lot of HP-making them great tanks in a Gym battle. When I play Pokemon, I usually line up a strategic lineup of Pokemon, the most important of them is what I call my Tank: the poor pocket monster on the front lines ready to soak up whatever attacks are flung its way as I heal up and soothe all the Pokemon on the sidelines. That's what Wobbuffet does best: endure.

That's what makes Wobbuffet unique among the early generation Pokemon. Wobbuffet is not a creature born to fight, nor to defend. Wobbuffet just chills out and takes everything as it comes. I respect that in a Pokemon, and that outlook in life to be honest. -Caty McCarthy

24. Litten

Debut: Pokemon Sun and Moon

If you try too hard to get close to it, it won't open up to you. Even if you do grow close, giving it too much affection is still a no-no.

Pokemon Sun and Moon has the best starters we've seen in years, and Litten is the strongest of the trio-both as a fighter, and from a design standpoint. Its red-and-black coat alone conjures mental images of embers burning in a bed of coals. And, like an ember, Litten needs only a little push to start roaring.

Litten is also the most "cat-like" Pokemon in a series that's filled with felines. It's aloof, it's sassy, and its back-hair frizzes, flame-like, when it's threatened or about to attack. It even weaponizes its hairballs. Some Pokemon fans might declare Rowlet the cooler and cuter Generation 7 starter, but Litten makes short work of it in every possible way. Not just because Litten is a Fire-type and Rowlet is a Grass-type, but because it's a cat's nature to hunt and destroy birds.

Finally, consider this: To date, Litten is the only Pokemon forced to endure the Cone of Shame. If it can survive that indignity, it can take on anything. -Nadia Oxford

23. Genesect

Debut: Pokemon Black and White

This ancient bug Pokemon was altered by Team Plasma. They upgraded the cannon on its back.

Genesect is just what it says on the tin: It's a steel bug with a big 'ol laser gun on its back. Its extreme speed and power made it the bane of the Pokemon Black and White singles metagame for a time. These days it's locked in the Uber tier, which is where it belongs owing to its high stats and deep movepool.

For real though, did I mention that it's a big bug with a big 'ol laser gun on its back? I'm not usually one to break out legendaries in-game, but Genesect often has a place in my part for that reason alone. It's the freaking Terminator in bug form. -Kat Bailey

22. Magikarp

Debut: Pokemon Red and Blue

Its reckless leaps make it easy pickings for predators. On the bright side, many Pokemon enjoy longer life spans, thanks to Magikarp.

Magikarp is one of the series' most recognizable Pokemon, mostly because it's technically too stupid to live. It sucks at swimming. It has the common sense of a squirrel on amphetamines. Its lack of defenses make it an easy meal for predators, so on top of everything else, it's the Filet-O-Fish of the Pokemon world (though as the anime demonstrates, Magikarp's bony insides make it unappetizing to discriminating palettes).

Ironically, Magikarp's weaknesses are what make it the most beloved fish in Pokemon's oceans. With enough training and resolve, Magikarp will eventually evolve into the almighty Gyrados, a truly fearful beast. Shaping a Magikarp into a Gyrados is an arduous task-especially in titles that lack the "Experience Share" item. The end result is always worth the effort, though.

Don't forget Magikarp Jump also exists. It's a hilarious mobile game where the goal is to raise up a Magikarp capable of leaping over mountains, like the old Chinese legends about determined carp who leap over dragons' gates. Beware: If your fishy friend exerts too much effort, it might turn into a Gyrados, and in the world of Magikarp Jump, that's the equivalent of a race horse breaking its leg. Thankfully, your failed Gyrados is allowed to retire in leisure instead of being terminated and ground up into Meowth food. Er, I think... -Nadia Oxford

21. Arcanine

Debut: Pokemon Red and Blue

Overflowing with beauty and majesty, this strong Pokemon appears in ancient Eastern folklore.

I don't know if there's such a thing as a Pokemon with a perfect design, but Arcanine comes close. It merges the coolest qualities of a tiger, a lion, and a Tibetan mastiff, and its mythology as a protector connects it to East Asian lore about the Imperial lion statues that guard the entrances to temples and palaces.

For my money, the most memorable part of the Pokemon anime intro is the brief snippet of Ash running alongside an Arcanine. Though it only lasts for a second, it gives you a clear picture of everything Pokemon is about: Making friends with amazing monsters and "traveling across the land."

As you might expect from a canid that stands shoulder-height to most humans, Arcanine is also a strong fighter. This pure Fire-type is well-balanced, making it a good attacker as well as a decent defender. Just keep this big floofy boy away from Water- and- Rock-types if you want him to stay alive and well. -Nadia Oxford

20. Landorus-T

Debut: Pokemon Black 2 and White 2

From the forces of lightning and wind, it creates energy to give nutrients to the soil and make the land abundant.

When Pokemon Black 2 and White 2 first arrived back in 2012, Game Freak introduced an app called the Pokemon Dream Radar for the Nintendo 3DS. It was one of Game Freak's early experiments with AR, which would later find fuller expression in Pokemon Go, and the best means by which to capture the elusive "Therian" forms of Thundurus, Landorus, and Tornadus.

The djinns were the legendary trio of Pokemon Black and White, and while very powerful, they were also kind of... ugly? They all had a kind of monstrous humanoid form that wasn't exactly appealing to the eye. Their Therian forms granted them new powers while also making them more animalistic, which in turn made them a more appealing addition to the average lineup.

Landorus-T has proven to have the greatest longevity of the three. Its Ground/Flying typing makes it an excellent tank, and its deep movepool gives it great utility. It's pretty much the perfect Tyranitar counter, able to easily absorb a Stone Edge and respond with Stealth Rock, U-Turn, or Earthquake. It's been a mainstay on my teams for years.

But mostly I just like the design. Look at it! Don't you just love the little white tufts on its feet? Don't you just want to scruff its little head? It's basically the perfect Pokemon in that it's equal parts ferocious and adorable. I call mine "Kitty." -Kat Bailey

19. Buzzwole

Debut: Pokemon Sun and Moon

Buzzwole is so strong, it can destroy heavy machinery with just one punch.

There has never been a more perfect Pokemon. There will be probably never be another. Stand in awe of Buzzwole. Look at that name, how it transitions smoothly and perfectly captures the essence of this Pokemon. Buzzwole doesn't evolve from or into any other Pokemon, birthed into Alola in pristine form by the power of Ultra Wormholes. It's one of the Ultra Beasts, the high-end challenges available to players in the Pokemon Sun and Moon series.

Buzzwole is the Swollen Pokemon, a giant mosquito that poses like it's trying to win the Mr. Olympia championship at all times. Folks believe that Buzzwole's muscle poses are actually a form of communication, but sadly, we are too limited to understand what it's saying. It's a mountain of a catch, with highest base defense of any Fighting-type Pokemon and base hit points of Bug-type Pokemon. And if it happens to be losing a fight, no biggie, it can literally suck the life out of its opponent to heal.

Buzzwole appeared in the Pokemon Sun and Moon animated series in all its beautiful and horrific glory. It sucked a Snorlax dry, but also participated in a muscle pose battle with Ash and Kiawe. Two sides of a magical coin. Buzzwole is also one of the few Pokemon designed by James Turner, the first western designer of Pokemon. -Mike William

18. Sceptile

Debut: Pokemon Ruby and Sapphire

The leaves growing on Sceptile's body are very sharp edged. This Pokemon is very agile - it leaps all over the branches of trees and jumps on its foe from above or behind.

Sceptile was an interesting change of pace for grass-types when it debuted in Pokemon Ruby and Sapphire. It eschewed the more defensive nature of the grass type for a focus on speed and power. Its signature move was Leaf Blade: a powerful attack capable of scoring multiple critical hits. Sceptile's most popular build ended up being a stalling set based around Leech Seed, but that didn't make it any less cool. Not for nothing was it Ash's signature starter in the Hoenn arc of the anime.

Sceptile would receive a wickedly cool Mega Evolution much later, adding the dragon type to its existing grass-typing and putting it in an elite club with Charizard, Gengar, and a handful of the other most popular Pokemon. Alas, it has since fallen to victim to power creep and an extreme weakness to common ice attacks, but Sceptile will always remain one of the best starters in our hearts based on its sweet design alone. -Kat Bailey

17. Aegislash

Debut: Pokemon X and Y

Generations of kings were attended by these Pokemon, which used their spectral power to manipulate and control people and Pokemon.

First of all, I'm fascinated by Aegislash's Pokedex entry. Who were these generations of kings? When was the world of Pokemon a monarchy? It just adds to the larger questions about how society in Pokemon works. Is PokeWorld a corporatist dystopia? A series of autonomous collectives ruled by gym leaders? And why are 10-year-old kids being allowed to travel unsupervised and train monsters who can melt whole cities?

Ahem, anyway. Aegislash was one of the stars of Pokemon X and Y thanks to its unique ability to shift from an offensive form to a defensive form with its King's Shield ability. This move would give rise to all sorts of interesting prediction mind games as you tried to figure out when exactly it would come out of its shell. Guessing wrong would cause your monster's attack to be lowered two stages, which was obviously bad.

Aegislash proved to be a powerful and disruptive force in the singles metagame-so much so that it was bumped up to the Uber tier by competitive site Smogon, where it remains to this day. Despite that, Aegislash is a cool idea by Game Freak, and it rocks an even cooler design. Along with Greninja, it's one of the best monsters to come out of an otherwise underwhelming generation. -Kat Bailey

16. Suicune

Debut: Pokemon Gold and Silver

Suicune embodies the compassion of a pure spring of water. It runs across the land with gracefulness. This Pokemon has the power to purify dirty water.

Suicune is my favorite of Pokemon Gold and Silver's Legendary Dogs, but I still need to pause every time I want to say its name. No, it's not that I keep forgetting how to pronounce its name. I just need to collect myself before I speak so its title passes my lips with proper reverence. Yeah.

Out of the countless Water-type Pokemon that've splashed their way into our hearts across the years, I think Suicune embodies water better than most of them. Its flowing tails resemble the movement of waves, its pale blue color resembles calm waters, and even its dainty paws seem well-suited for walking on water, Savior-style. Its speed, defense, and special defense also make it a good defender. Suicune is truly a holy protector, and one of Game Freak's greatest design triumphs. -Nadia Oxford

15. Rotom

Debut: Pokemon Diamond and Pearl

Its body is composed of plasma. It is known to infiltrate electronic devices and wreak havoc.

If you lived in the world of Pokemon where you share homes with miscellaneous creatures, then Rotom is probably one of the most practical to have by your side. It may seem evil judging from its Pokedex entry, but it's actually not. The only scary thing is that Rotom has the ability to possess household electrical objects, from microwaves to a lawn mower. Plus when Rotom absorbs an object, it attains a new element too, while always retaining its electric dominance. This makes Rotom a flexible Pokemon, switching between Dark and Ice to whatever else with just a quick visit to Rotom's Room. (Or elsewhere, depending on the game.)

Sure, you might narrow your eyes at my suggestion of Rotom being a practical Pokemon; you might even call it a horrible way to use Pokemon in forcing them to mow your lawn or heat up your Lean Cuisine dinner. I say, nah! The Rotom has fun doing all that... I think. If it doesn't, then it can just power up whatever it wants instead. -Caty McCarthy

14. Gallade

Debut: Pokemon Diamond and Pearl

A master of courtesy and swordsmanship, it fights using extending swords on its elbows.

Gallade is one of the defining monsters Pokemon Diamond and Pearl. More than anything, Gen 4 seeks to refine what's come before, giving a whole host of monsters new and interesting forms. Gligar, Piloswine, and Electabuzz were all among the monsters that were saved from the dumpster with popular new evolutions.

Unlike those monsters, Gardevoir was already popular when it was bestowed an alternative evolution in Diamond and Pearl. Despite arguably being a weaker Alakazam, Gardevoir's elegant design made it one of the most popular designs of Gen 3. Gallade took Gardevoir and shifted it from dancer to fencer, amplifying the introduction of new physical attacks for types like Psychic that were formerly special-only.

Though not overwhelmingly powerful on its own, Gallade was warmly accepted by Gardevoir's fanbase for its cool looks and fun, offensive-oriented playstyle. It remains one of the most popular monsters from that generation, and will no doubt be much sought after when it finally makes its way to Pokemon Go. -Kat Bailey

13. Scizor

Debut: Pokemon Gold and Silver

It uses its wings to adjust its body temperature. Otherwise, its metal body would become too hot and melt in the heat of battle.

Not going to lie: Scyther, the pre-evolved form of Scizor, is one of my all-time favorite Pokemon. I just adore how it combines the coolest features of a praying mantis and a dinosaur. That said, I acknowledge the Bug- and- Steel-type Scizor is the much smarter pick in battle. It's capable of slapping nearly every opponent across the Gym, its physical defenses are good, and it boasts natural protections against almost every other Pokemon type in the series. Just, for the love of Arceus, keep it out of the reach of Fire-types. That Bug- and- Steel-typing is a recipe for a literal meltdown.

If you bring your best Scizor to the battlefield and opponents are still giving you guff, there's always Mega Evolution. All Scizor's stats get a nice boost if you upgrade the bug into a steel-plated murder machine. Mega Scizor can squash opponents while remaining nearly untouchable thanks to its very high physical defense-and even its special defense becomes almost halfway-decent. -Nadia Oxford

12. Blaziken

Debut: Pokemon Ruby and Sapphire

Blaziken has incredibly strong legs - it can easily clear a 30-story building in one leap. This Pokémon's blazing punches leave its foes scorched and blackened.

I'm a little bit salty about Blaziken, to be honest. I'm firmly on Team Infernape, but Game Freak opted to make Blaziken the chosen Fire/Fighting-type, bestowing upon it one of the earliest Mega Evolutions and an alternate ability that has made it hideously overpowered. Meanwhile, poor Infernape is all but forgotten. Like I said, I'm salty.

Anyway, it's hard to deny that Blaziken made a hell of an entrance when it was first introduced in the anime, ultimately fighting Ash's Charizard to a standstill in a truly epic fight. It was similarly powerful in Ruby and Sapphire, able to chew through the bulk of the Elite 4 with relative ease. The only thing holding it back in the competitive metagame was its painfully low speed, which was subsequently addressed with items and new abilities.

Blaziken remains an iconic part of Gen 3, heading up probably the single best trio of starters this side of Charmander, Bulbasaur, and Squirtle. It's one of the strongest examples of the design philosophy that took hold starting with Pokemon Ruby and Sapphire, sporting sharp angles and clean lines that make it stand apart from the more naturalistic monsters of the first two generations. Much as I'm loathe to admit it, Blaziken is the true king of the Fire/Fighting Starters. -Kat Bailey

11. Lucario

Debut: Pokemon Diamond and Pearl

Lucario reads its opponent's feelings with its aura waves. It finds out things it would rather not know, so it gets stressed out easily.

Some Pokemon aficionados look down on Lucario as a second-rate Mewtwo; Super Smash Bros fans certainly got salty when the blue canid replaced Mewtwo on Brawl's roster.

At the end of the day, however, Lucario's not lacking for fans. It's an easily-recognizable Pokemon thanks to its striking markings and its Egyptian-inspired design. Lucario's Pokedex in Ultra Moon is also noteworthy: Since the blue pup is tuned into people's minds and auras, it's privy to a lot of information it'd rather not know, which makes it unhappy. I tend to roll my eyes at real-world claims of "psychic powers," but Lucario's lot reminds me of the time I met a self-proclaimed psychic with tired eyes and a stressed demeanor. He, too, admitted he was bombarded with terrible inner truths about people who appear flawless on the outside, and it made him miserable.

Lucario is special for a couple more reasons. First, it evolves from the adorable Riolu when your friendship is high enough. By the time Lucario evolves its way into your team, you've already formed a bond with it. That's much different from discovering the ill-tempered Mewtwo in a damp cave. Second, Lucario can Mega Evolve into Mega Lucario, which sends its Attack and Special Attack skyrocketing. Whatever's snapping at your heels, a dose of Mega Lucario will fix the problem. -Nadia Oxford

10. Celebi

Debut: Pokemon Gold and Silver

This Pokemon wanders across time. Grass and trees flourish in the forests in which it has appeared.

The Mew of Pokemon's second generation, which is to say that it was a highly sought after and extremely rare monster for a long time. Fun fact: Unless you had access to a friend with a Japanese copy of the game, it was actually impossible to completely finish the Pokedex in Ruby and Sapphire. Celebi was never actually released in North America in Gen 3, and was only available via a special event in Gen 2.

Like Mew, Celebi has become quite a bit more accessible over the years, but it's lost none of its mystique. The little time-traveling fairy is one of the most iconic monsters from the Gold and Silver generation, featuring a design reminiscent of what you might see in a Studio Ghibli film. With Pokemon's design philosophy shifting toward a more toyetic look starting with Ruby and Sapphire, Celebi's general look can't help eliciting even more nostalgia. They really don't design Pokemon like this anymore. -Kat Bailey

9. Pikachu

Debut: Pokemon Red and Blue

Its nature is to store up electricity. Forests where nests of Pikachu live are dangerous, since the trees are so often struck by lightning.

What's there to say about this iconic yeller rat? Pikachu is as recognizable as Super Mario thanks to his role as Ash's primary partner in the Pokemon anime. In hindsight, it's easy to see why Pikachu quickly became a favorite: He starts his life-long anime adventure with Ash by sassing the rookie trainer (with the help of 10,000 volts of electricity), and then refuses to enter his Poke Ball when ordered. Fight the system, pika pika!

Pikachu continued to build up its fanbase through other noteworthy events in the anime, like the time he refused to evolve into Raichu just to bring down Lt Surge's powerful Raichu. Instead, Pikachu drew on his strength as a quick attacker to stymie Surge's hefty rodent. Honestly, though Ash and Pikachu are inseparable, Pikachu has long been the brains of the duo despite his limited vocabulary. Oh, and let's not forget the time Pikachu watched Ash die in the first Pokemon Movie. Who among us didn't hold up a cigarette lighter in tearful solidarity (before being ejected from the theatre)?

It's interesting to look back at the earliest art for Pikachu in Pokemon Red, Blue, and Green. In his natural habitat, Pikachu is plump little dude who doesn't have any special mascot appeal. At the same time, he looks so carefree without the stressors of fame bearing down on him. Maybe when the Pokemon empire finally crumbles, Ash's Pikachu will be allowed to dart back into the woods he emerged from and gorge on berries until he regains his ball-shaped frame. Zap on, Pikachu. Zap to the extreme. -Nadia Oxford

8. Greninja

Debut: Pokemon X and Y

It creates throwing stars out of compressed water. When it spins them and throws them at high speed, these stars can split metal.

Pokemon X and Y weren't even out yet when Masahiro Sakurai decided to include Greninja in Super Smash Bros. for Wii U. Using a handful of early illustrations, he was able to quickly build out a comprehensive moveset. That's how good the ninja frog's design is: You can tell that it's fast and awesome just looking at it. It also uses its tongue as a scarf. I mean, what? It's stuff like this that makes me love Pokemon.

On the battlefield, Greninja has several traits that make it interesting. It's fast and crushingly powerful. Its alternate ability, Protean, allows it to shift to different types, frustrating attempts to easily counter it. It even has a variant based on the anime, Ash-Greninja, which Mega Evolves after killing an opponent.

Along with Aegislash, Greninja was one of the small handful of Gen 6 Pokemon to break out and gain real popularity. It's easily one of the best new starters since Torchic, Mudkip, and Treecko burst on to the scene in Ruby and Sapphire. -Kat Bailey

7. Metagross

Debut: Pokemon Ruby and Sapphrie

Metagross has four brains in total. Combined, the four brains can breeze through difficult calculations faster than a supercomputer. This Pokemon can float in the air by tucking in its four legs.

The signature Pokemon of Hoenn region champion Steven Stone, Metagross is one of the coolest of the franchise's latter day designs. It's a massive four-legged walking tank that just looks like it's about to ruin your day. It's one of the exclusive club of Pokemon to have a signature move: Meteor Mash, which hits like a mack truck and has the chance to randomly enhance Metagross' attack.

What I like about Metagross is that it's not just Yet Another Dragon. Lance has his Dragonite and Cynthia has her Garchomp, but Stephen has a supercomputer on four legs. Metagross has since received a Mega Evolution, and if anything, it looks even cooler now.

Final note: Outside of Charizard, no Pokemon has a better shiny variant than Metagross. Silver and gold are just an amazing look for this guy. It's the only Pokemon that has ever gotten me to stupidly soft reset for the 1 in 8000 chance of getting a shiny. -Kat Bailey

6. Mudkip

Debut: Pokemon Ruby and Sapphire

The fin on Mudkip's head acts as highly sensitive radar. Using this fin to sense movements of water and air, this Pokemon can determine what is taking place around it without using its eyes.

Mudkip is still the reigning Meme Lord in the world of Pokemon. The phrase "So I herd you liek Mudkipz" was ubiquitous for a time within and without the fandom, giving rise to copypastas and a whole lot of videos. Seriously, people had way too much fun with this little guy.

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Its status as Meme King aside, though, Mudkip is a great Pokemon. It's cute as a button thanks to its big 'ol head and big eyes, and its Ground/Water typing make it a great defensive tank. Until the power creep became real in Gen 5, Mudkip's final evolution, Swampert, was one of the competitive game's premier tanks. Its Mega Evolution is still very popular to this day.

Blaziken may be more popular within certain circles, but Mudkip had a much longer run atop of the fandom. The Mudkipz meme may be long since retired, but it's still apt to get a wry smile from a Pokemon fan of a certain age. It's one of a small number of monsters that will always be top of mind when talking about Pokemon. -Kat Bailey

5. Squirtle

Debut: Pokemon Red and Blue

Squirtle's shell is not merely used for protection. The shell's rounded shape and the grooves on its surface help minimize resistance in water, enabling this Pokemon to swim at high speeds.

Despite having the most suggestive name in the Pokemon franchise, Squirtle is nearly as recognizable as Pikachu-and arguably cuter. His simple design and distinctively curly tail make him a winner for Pokemon fans worldwide.

If you didn't pick Charmander in Pokemon Red and Blue, chances were that you picked Squirtle instead. Charizard versus Blastoise were pretty much the defining argument of the original generation. Even today, there are Charizard people and Blastoise people. The two would later team up in Super Smash Bros. under Pokemon Trainer, making it one of the handful of monsters to receive the honor of being playable in the series.

Squirtle also gained infamy through the Pokemon anime, where he headed up the mischievous Squirtle Squad. The Squad was composed of notorious troublemakers, but don't think too harshly of them: They were all abandoned by their trainers. You know what, I still wonder about trainers ditching the likes of Charmander and Squirtle in the anime. Starters aren't exactly as common as Pidgeys. Anyone who abandons a Squirtle is heartless and a dumbass. -Nadia Oxford

4. Umbreon

Debut: Pokemon Gold and Silver

With its black fur, it blends into the darkness. It bides its time, and when prey appears, this Pokémon goes for its throat, and then eats it.

Eevee is one of the series' most popular Pokemon, and Umbreon might be the most popular of the Eeveelutions. Its design is certainly compelling: Its black, glossy coat lets its moon-rings and cinder-red eyes stand out. Also, I'm a sucker for black cats, so I'll latch onto any Pokemon that even vaguely resembles a coal-furred feline.

Umbreon and its counterpart, Espreon, were also used to showcase the very new and very exciting time change function in 1999's Pokemon Gold and Silver. Eevee only evolves into Umbreon at night, which was a clever way to make use of a mechanic that was still mind-blowing at the time. Umbreon's just a handsome-looking Pokemon, and it was Gary's companion for a significant chunk of the Pokemon anime. "Ash is a loser," indeed. - Nadia Oxford

3. Gengar

Debut: Pokemon Red and Blue

Should you feel yourself attacked by a sudden chill, it is evidence of an approaching Gengar. There is no escaping it. Give up.

Gengar is proof of how messed up the world of Pokemon can be. Consider this Pokedex entry from Pokemon Ultra Sun and Ultra Moon: "Even your home isn't safe. Gengar will lurk in whatever dark corner of a room it can find and wait for its chance to catch its prey." Um, okay.

It's the most iconic and powerful of the ghost Pokemon, its calling card being its speed and its outsized offensive stats. Despite its vulnerability to the ubiquitous Psychic, Gengar was one of the nastiest monsters to face in the original Pokemon Red and Blue, and it only got more powerful with succeeding version. Gold and Silver gave it a signature move: Shadow Ball. Ruby and Sapphire bestowed upon it Levitate, which allowed it to avoid the Earthquakes that had previously bedeviled it. X and Y introduced a Mega Evolution so powerful that it was subsequently booted into the Uber tier.

Aside from its sheer power, Gengar's simplicity is what makes it so iconic. It looks like a terrifying shadow come to life, its leering grin promising mischief, or if you're not careful, death. It's the Joker of the Pokemon universe: apt to turn on you at any moment. I mean, seriously, look at these Pokedex entries. "It apparently wishes for a traveling companion. Since it was once human itself, it tries to create one by taking the lives of other humans." Gah. - Kat Bailey

2. Charizard

Debut: Pokemon Red and Blue

Spits fire that is hot enough to melt boulders. Known to cause forest fires unintentionally.

Charizard helped sell me on Pokemon, and I'm sure I'm not the only one. When I first saw it on Japanese box art for Pokemon Red, spitting fire at some unseen assailant, I said "Oh damn, I am totally on board with playing a game where I raise my own dragon and use that dragon to beat up other kids."

I'll go ahead and spoil the joke before you have a chance to relay it to me: Despite its very dragon-ish appearance, Charizard isn't a Dragon-type. However, its Mega-Evolved alter-form, Mega Charizard X, is a Dragon-type. Mega Charizard X and Mega Charizard Y, both introduced with other Mega-Evolved Pokemon in Generation 6, helped refresh this ancient Pokemon mascot in our hearts and minds. The Mega Evolution mechanic also gave Charizard's fighting ability a booster shot.

Nostalgia and a clean, immediately identifiable design has kept Charizard atop the popularity rankings through the years. It's no coincidence that it's Ash Ketchum's single most powerful monster in the anime, topping even the extremely overpowered Pikachu. As one of the two monsters to ever appear on the cover and not be a legendary, Charizard will always be an iconic part of the series. - Nadia Oxford

1. Mimikyu

Debut: Pokemon Sun and Moon

Its actual appearance is unknown. A scholar who saw what was under its rag was overwhelmed by terror and died from the shock.

Game Freak tried for years to develop another Pokemon with Pikachu's mascot appeal. It trotted out the likes of Plusle, Minun, Pachirisu, Emolga, and Dedenne across several generations without much success. Each one of the copycat rodents has its fans to be sure, but Game Freak didn't hit on a real winner until it wrapped Satan in a dirty shroud with Pikachu's face scribbled on it.

Mimikyu has all the makings of an iconic Pokemon. It has a tragic backstory framed as the struggle of an underdog (Mimikyu desperately wants to be loved, which is why it disguises itself as the most recognizable Pokemon in the world), it's steeped in dark Pokemon lore (if you peek under its wraps and glimpse its "real" form, you will die), and it's a tough nut to crack in battle. The first attack launched against a Mimikyu is, almost invariably, a wasted one: That initial blow is absorbed by its costume, and the impact causes the disguise's stuffed head to loll off to one side.

No, Mimikyu doesn't evolve, but neither did Genghis Khan, and he had no trouble making people suffer, either. It's the best and freshest idea to come out of Pokemon in years. [Editor's Note: Um, actually, Khangaskhan technically has a Mega Evolution, so it does evolve *adjusts glasses.*] - Nadia Oxford

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