The Coolest Pokémon From Each Generation (Our Top Picks)This post may contain affiliate links. If you buy something we may get a small commission at no extra cost to you. (Learn more).
With nearly 900 Pokémon designs spanning across 8 generations, we’ve seen pretty much every size of animal and design there could possibly be.
While we’re advised to “catch ‘em all”, it’s probably very unlikely that you’ll find someone who loves ‘em all.
It’s more common for fans to have a few choice favorites – and this could be based on a number of criteria whether it be the artstyle, moveset, type, or real world animal the design it’s based on.
It’s been said that with so many Pokémon, there’s a case of quantity over quality. But there have still been a handful of effortlessly cool Pokémon that stand out from the crowd.
In this article I’ll be picking my undisputed best ‘mons from each generation of the Pokémon games.
Generation 1 – Scyther
Ask anyone and they’ll tell you that Gen 1 (Red/Green/Blue/Yellow) had arguably the best Pokémon designs of the entire series.
You could chalk this up to nostalgia in some cases. But there’s still a case to be made for just how many of the 151 Pokémon in Gen 1 have stood the test of time.
It’s clear to see what Game Freak’s vision was for Gen 1, with many of the designs based on insects and animals. Longtime fans will point to this simplicity as a major reason why many of these Pokémon are both easily remembered, and heavily featured as fan favorites.
Scyther is based on the praying mantis, and is naturally given the Bug/Flying typing.
The artists played a masterstroke by accentuating core elements of a praying mantis, most notably its front legs becoming razor sharp scythes (hence its name).
Many of Scyther’s Pokédex entries over the years allude to its ninja-like agility and movement, coupled with its affinity for hiding in grass and waiting for its prey.
Scyther’s moveset also adds to their ninja-like persona, with moves such as Swords Dance, Fury Cutter, Agility, and Slash.
Its primary function in battle is to outspeed its opponent before delivering lightning fast attacks. And it serves this function this well.
Gen 1 has many beloved designs, but none of them are as exceedingly cool as Scyther.
Generation 2 – Umbreon
When Gen 2 (Gold/Silver/Crystal) was released, it was praised universally for keeping a lot of Gen 1’s core strengths, while adding new aspects to them.
The developers kept it relatively simple though, and only included 100 additional Pokémon.
Eevee was one of Gen 1’s Pokémon, and its original evolutions were great. But in gen 2, one of them stands out as being really darn cool: Umbreon.
You can evolve your Eevee into Umbreon by raising its Friendship stat and leveling it up during nighttime. Once you do, you’ll have a Pokémon that trades power for a more measured approach.
Umbreon’s design just exudes coolness, with its sleek black coat adorned with yellow rings on its ears, forehead, and tail.
Its Pokédex entries all point to it being a Pokémon that takes a lot of its power from moonlight, with words such as “moon” and “darkness” often repeating in multiple Dex entries.
And in terms of moves, Umbreon excels at slowly wearing down its foe, although it can learn powerful Dark-type attacks such as Foul Play and Dark Pulse as well.
Fighting against Umbreon is supposed to feel like a chore – and that’s reason enough to have one on your team.
Generation 3 – Shedinja
Gen 3 (Ruby/Sapphire/Emerald) continued the theme of basing the bulk of its Pokémon on animals and insects.
The games themselves have been praised for introducing a lot of elements that stuck for the rest of the series, too. Fans will often point to Gen 3 as the ‘strongest’ entries among all the newer Pokémon we got.
Shedinja stands out as not only the coolest in Gen 3, but also the most interesting.
If you evolve Nincada and you have an empty Pokémon slot in your bag, then Shedinja will occupy that spot, acting as a sort of discarded husk of Nincada once it evolves into Ninjask.
Pokédex entries for Shedinja are overwhelmingly troubling.
Depending on the game you’re playing, you’ll learn that Shedinja is immobile and doesn’t breathe, it flies without moving its wings, and it’ll steal the soul of anyone who peers into its empty hollow body from the back.
The fact Shedinja is a Bug/Ghost type just adds to the creepiness…
Also worth noting that Shedinja permanently has 1 HP, and comes equipped with the Wonder Guard ability, meaning outside of burn/poison/weather effects, the only way to kill it is by landing a super effective attack.
Generation 4 – Empoleon
Gen 4 (Diamond/Pearl/Platinum) again continues the theme of animals and insect designs, but also features a whole host of ‘babies’ and evolutions for Pokémon that previously didn’t have them.
For my choice, I’m picking one of the starter evolutions – Empoleon.
The fact that something as cute as Piplup evolves into something so majestic, while keeping true to much of its core design, is a testament to great artistry.
Empoleon is based on the Emperor penguin – but also interestingly on Napoleon Bonaparte, as Empoleon’s Dex entry has him standing at exactly the same height as the former French military leader (5’7″).
Its design features a trident covering its face and metallic wings. This creature also carries the Water/Steel typing, and we all know Water Pokémon are the coolest in the franchise.
Generation 5 – Mienshao
Gen 5 (Black/White) was where the Pokémon designs started moving from animals and insects, and into some everyday items.
Many point to Gen 5 as perhaps the weakest overall in the series.
There’s still plenty to admire here, though.
I’d argue that the Gen 5 starters are the best designs we’ve had since Gen 1. And Pokémon such as Excadrill, Krookodile, and Sigilyph are extremely strong designs too.
For me though, this slot can be no other than Mienshao.
Mienshao’s name is derived from ‘mein’ meaning dignified, and ‘shaolin’ which is a Chinese martial art.
This pretty much sums up Mienshao perfectly – as you can clearly see from its design and Fighting type that it exists to hurt you in the most elegant way possible.
Many of the franchise’s Fighting-type Pokémon take on humanoid features. But Mienshao has the appearance of a bipedal weasel.
And it has whip-like arms that are said to deliver lightning-fast blows. So take that and couple it with its high Attack stat, and this makes Mienshao a dangerous Pokémon to have on your team.
Generation 6 – Trevenant
Gen 6 (X/Y) only added 72 new Pokémon. Although sadly many of these are much of the same old stuff: birds, bears, butterflies and the like.
We also got a Pokémon resembling a set of keys – which many fans pointed to as evidence that perhaps the designers were running out of ideas…
Greninja would have been the obvious (and popular) choice for coolest Pokémon of this Gen, but I’m choosing Trevenant.
Designing a haunted tree could have gone one of two ways…
But thankfully, Game Freak chose the dark and scary route over making it goofy-looking.
Trevenant might just be the most perfect design of a haunted tree in all of fiction.
Its Pokédex entry points to it controlling other trees at will, and trapping people in forests. It’s also said to show kindness to creatures dwelling in its forest, which is a nice touch.
There have been some truly amazing Ghost type designs over the years – and Trevenant is right up there as one of the coolest.
Generation 7 – Crabrawler
Gen 7 (Sun/Moon) honestly felt like a return to artistic form for me.
Some Pokémon were still based off items, but the animals felt like they harked back to the simple designs of Gen 1-3.
Some of my favorite Pokémon exist in Gen 7, even the gloriously OTT Bruxish.
Crabrawler is my choice for coolest here though, and it’s such a shame that its evolution took away much of its personality and style.
Having a crab Pokémon that has boxing glove claws, pompadour hair, and a punchdrunk expression is such a bold and interesting artistic choice.
My only negative with Crabrawler’s design is that the shiny sprite really should have been the original, since the colors match its design far more than the blue/purple.
Generation 8 – Sirfetch’d
As a Brit, I was super excited to find Gen 8 (Sword/Shield) was going to be loosely based on England, albeit with a Japanese twist.
I was disappointed then to find out that Gen 8 featured the most uninspiring designs seen in the series thus far.
But one Pokémon stood out from the crowd, however, carrying Gen 8’s coolness on its feathered shoulders:
Its pre-evolution (Farfetch’d) was already a great design. And it’s tough sometimes to replicate that with a future evolution.
But I feel they really nailed it with Sirfetch’d.
Its leek stalk turns into a regal sword, and it carries a leaf shield in its other hand.
The criteria for evolving Farfetch’d is a newer idea in the series, as you have to achieve 3 critical hits during 1 battle.
I’m definitely a fan of adding new methods for evolution rather than just simply leveling up or using stones. So that’s a +1 from me.
Sirfetch’d also naturally has a high Attack stat, and has a great pool of moves that can take advantage of that stat, such as First Impression, Leaf Blade, Brick Break, and Brave Bird.
Easily one of the best designed creatures in all of Galar.