Even with over 20 years under its belt, Pokémon shows absolutely no signs of disappearing. In fact, with Pokémon Go last year, Pokémon has only grown even bigger. It’s universally beloved, from children discovering it for their first time, to adults who grew up with it and want to share it with their kids. Pokémon is continuing to capture the imaginations of people of all ages, and will forever remain the staple children’s franchise of choice.
So, with rumors abounding about the upcoming Pokémon Switch game, why don’t we take a look at some of the most iconic creatures the long-running franchise has to offer? With this list, we’re limiting it to Gen 1, i.e. Pokémon from Red & Blue. After all, with every new game, Gen 1 does get some preferential treatment having been the first and most easily recognizable. Here’s what we think are the 10 most famous!
It’s the rodent who won’t leave you alone! Rattata is literally the most common Pokémon out there, and will likely be the first critter any aspiring Pokémon master will encounter. Its most defining feature is, of course, its giant buck teeth. These choppers can bite through just about anything, which is good, because Rattata lives on a steady diet of “anything”. This translates into its signature move Hyper Fang, which leaves a nasty mark on any Pokémon trainer who’s not carrying around a potion or two.
Rattata serves as everyone’s introduction into the Pokémon world. Any time you’re wandering through long grass, you’re destined to encounter one at least once. Because of that, Rattata fills an important niche in Pokémon. Even if your team is weak and hurting, chances are, you can probably take on a Rattata or two for some quick XP. And who can forget the very first Pokémon they ever caught? For many, that’s ol’ reliable Rattata.
Besides, would Youngster Joey’s calls about how awesome his Rattata is be as funny if Rattata weren’t so standard?
Someone call this duck a doctor, because it looks like it’s in terrible pain. It’s that pained stare that defines Psyduck. What’s its problem? Did it have a nightmare? Is it confused? Does it have stomach cramps? No one knows. Don’t upset Psyduck too much though, as behind its pain-filled gaze is a legitimate psychic. It’ll send you flying before you know what hit you.
Psyduck largely achieved its popularity through the anime. It served as Misty’s most reliably unreliable teammate, constantly popping out at the most inopportune moments and glaring down any opponent. It was a fun gag, and even now at cons you’ll occasionally hear someone cry out “Psyaiai!” for a quick laugh. But even though you’re laughing at it, you can’t help but pity the poor creature. After all, it doesn’t mean any harm.
At least, we think?
Hey what’s that giant furry hill in the middle of the road? It’s none other than Snorlax, the fattest, laziest thing around. Snorlax never opens its eyes, as it exists in a perpetual state of sleep and half-consciousness. When it wakes up, though… hoo boy, stay out of its path. Snorlax is said to wake up only to eat nearly its entire body weight in food before it goes back to bed. That’s no small feat, considering it weighs over 1000 pounds! You can wake it up early with a Pokéflute, but we’re not responsible for any damages that may be caused.
It’s that giant belly that makes Snorlax so marketable. From backpacks to life size pillows, that giant gut lends itself to a great deal of uses. And we can’t help but love it, because, really, Snorlax is the Pokémon we all wish we could be. All it does is eat and sleep. Everyone who grew up with Pokémon has at least one time compared themselves to the giant beast when sleeping in on a Saturday morning. It’s the Pokémon we all relate to most.
Snorlax’s lasting power is helped by how long it lasted in the competitive game. Only recently has Snorlax fallen out of the top tiers of competitive Pokémon, but it still serves a powerful niche. Somehow Snorlax maintains its strength while only eating and sleeping!
Contrary to its name, Slowpoke isn’t actually the slowest Pokémon out there. It’s not fast, mind you, but there are actually slower ones. However, maybe we should specify we’re solely discussing base stats here, as really, Slowpoke is slow in more ways than one. Apparently, its nervous system is so sluggish that it takes five seconds before it registers any pain. It may not even know what it is. All it does is pop out and stare at its foe with that vacant gaze.
So, naturally, Slowpoke is a really fun Pokémon to market. It’s that blank stare, so completely unaware of the world around it that has built up its popularity. The Pokémon Company has actually created a lot of promotional material out of Slowpoke, including one very odd YouTube music video that we’re not really sure what to make of. But that’s probably the point. Slowpoke is a reminder that Pokémon aren’t just about being cute or cool. Sometimes they’re just really weird.
Known as the Balloon Pokémon, Jigglypuff can expand itself to several times its own height! However, that’s not what most people associate with Jigglypuff. That would be its distinctive song that puts everyone to sleep. In the games, this is the first Pokémon anyone could encounter that could put one of your Pokémon to sleep. However, more famously, Jigglypuff would show up in the anime to sing for everyone, get mad when they all fell asleep, and then draw on their faces in a huffy rage. This song really struck a chord with small children, as the lyrics were simple: “Jigglypuff… Jiggly…puff”
Jigglypuff’s star has fallen a bit in recent years. Once known as the series’ mascot second only to Pikachu, the “putting everyone to sleep” gag did get a little old after time. That being said, Super Smash Bros. has helped keep Jigglypuff’s legacy alive, as, thankfully, director Masahiro Sakurai hates making cuts to the roster. Because of that, we can never quite forget the pop culture phenomenon that was Jigglypuff, whose famous song was once infamously featured by a would-be contestant on American Idol.
Magikarp started with 2 moves. It could Splash – which does nothing – and it can learn Tackle. In later generations, Magikarp was mercifully granted Flail by Game Freak, which does increased damage based on how much it’s hurt. This is a good move for Magikarp, as the only purpose it can serve on any team is as a meat shield. It’s used in the games as a scam early on, as you can spend 500 Pokédollars to buy one, teaching you the importance of saving your cash. Anime watchers also learned this when Kojirou/James purchased one on the S.S. Anne and bankrupted his team.
As a result, Magikarp has become the butt of many a joke due to how worthless it is. The Pokémon Company is apparently in on that gag, as the anime has featured Pikachu famously getting thrashed by a beefy Magikarp during the Diamond & Pearl seasons. This joke has gone so far that a mobile game was developed honoring the pathetic creature called Magikarp Jump. In this game, you’ll fish for Magikarp while other, lesser Pokémon like Manaphy and Dratini swim by. You’ll then raise your partner to participate in jump battles with other trainers.
Of course, if you put up with Magikarp for long enough, it’ll evolve into Gyarados. Gyarados is actually quite terrifying. So, you know, maybe ease up on the jokes a bit.
Until Sun & Moon, Mewtwo was the only man-made Pokémon out there. Designed as a clone of Mew, Mewtwo’s strength somehow managed to surpass that of its originator. You only hear of it through hearsay at first, reading stories of its creation at the Cinnabar Mansion. However, after becoming champion, you finally are honored with the chance to challenge Mewtwo. It’s not easy, though, as you’ll have to trek through the Cerulean cave, where some of the very strongest Pokémon are known to lurk. But those daring few will have the chance to catch the strongest Pokémon who ever existed.
Mewtwo is the original unbeatable god of Pokémon. With a whopping 154 base special attack, Mewtwo still has a terrifying presence in the competitive scene even today. Mewtwo’s legacy has only increased with age, as it’s been featured in several movies and is often used as a special event Pokémon. Pokémon X and Y even gave it two separate Mega-Evolutions, which was a major plot point in the Pokémon Adventures manga during their X and Y chapters. Even 7 generations in, Mewtwo is a force to be reckoned with and is a mainstay of any team worth their salt. It’s just as fearsome and terrifying as it was 20 years ago.
The strongest Pokémon ever!... according to any 8 year old in the late 90s. Charizard is the final evolution in the Charmander line, and was featured on the box art of Pokémon Red. For many, Charizard was symbolic of the end game of Pokémon. It was the proof of your hard work as a trainer, from your humble beginnings with your little lizard friend to the giant flying dragon who could probably wreck cities if it tried. The Pokémon Origins OVA had Red choose Charmander as his starter, further canonizing it as the “correct” choice in many fans’ eyes.
You know the funny thing about Charizard though? It’s not all that strong. Charizard’s perceived power came from poor understanding of the trading card game. After all, Charizard could do 100 damage! That was way more than any other Pokémon card could hit for, and no one could find it! Any savvy TCG player could tell you that Blastoise and Alakazam were actually much easier to set up, but that didn’t matter. It doesn’t help that The Electric Tale of Pikachu manga even featured blood when Ash’s Charizard was biting the neck of Ritchie’s, demonstrating its raw power to our grade school minds.
But, you know, maybe it’s okay that people believe Charizard is the best. Because, when it comes down to it, it’s the people’s dragon. Charmander is given to us at the beginning of the game, and evolving it is as easy as leveling it up. It’s the illusion of strength that matters. Charizard will always be YOUR strongest Pokémon.
It’s everyone’s favorite genetically unstable fox! This adorable little guy has not one, not two, but nine total evolutions! Give it an elemental stone to transform it into Flareon, Jolteon, or Vaporeon. Don’t want to force an evolution on it? Spend time and bond with Eevee so it’ll change into Espeon, Umbreon, or Sylveon. Or, hey, if you’re out traveling, you might find some elementally sensitive areas that will evolve Eevee into Glaceon or Leafeon!
Eevee has been something of a slow grower for the Pokémon franchise. But every time Game Freak wants to showcase a new mechanic for the games, they’ll grant us a new Eeveelution to incentivize us into trying it out. As a result, this has often placed Eevee into the forefront of the marketing campaigns for each new generation. People have really grown attached to the cute critter and wildly theorize over what new evolution could be in store. Even with the internet spoiling everything for us, Eevee still manages to excite us and represents the vast possibilities within Pokémon.
It’s the electric mouse Pokémon, able to blast thousands of volts of lightning from its cheeks. It’s the star attraction of the Pokémon anime, having been Ash’s forever partner since the very beginning of the series. It’s the star of numerous spinoff titles, and the only non-legendary or starter Pokémon to ever receive its own version of the mainline titles of the games. It’s featured front and center alongside Mario and Link in Super Smash Bros and it was even featured in the advertisements for the 2020 Tokyo Olympics. It’s the one and only Pikachu.
C’mon, you knew Pikachu had to headline this list. Everyone knows Pikachu. Your grandparents know what a Pikachu is. Even the Pope knows Pikachu. While the popularity of other Pokémon wanes and fades with time, Pikachu remains steady as the face of Pokémon. Up until Sun & Moon, Game Freak wouldn’t even feature Pikachu’s own evolution Raichu in any marketing. Instead, they would just create new ways to buff up Pikachu, from hold items that double its attack stats to cosplay forms that gave it new moves. Pikachu will probably outlast us all, as its fame shows absolutely no signs of ever waning.
There are 150 Pokémon from Gen 1, but these struck us as the most notable and famous. These are the Pokémon that have had the most staying power over the course of the series’ 20 year history. Of course, if we missed one of your favorites, no need to hesitate! Just let us know in the comments below!