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The Ranking of Starters - An Unevolved Pokémon Starter Tier List

With the announcement of the starters in Pokémon Sun & Moon (Rowlet, Litten, and Poppilo) we now have two decades worth of starters to choose from. So, with 21 of those grass, water, and fire starting friends helping us on our Pokémon adventures, why not see where they end up in some of list or ranking. You know... scientifically. Empirically. Not on a gameplay level or their competitive usefulness, not based off of their abilities or their eventual evolutions. Just the starters, just their original forms. For science.

(Note: This list is all in good fun and you will no doubt disagree with it. Feel free to comments below on how the science is wrong and your opinions are right.)

Ignore the site's ordering and read the description's ordering.

List items

  • #21 - Mudkip - F Tier - NO ONE LIKES YOU MUDKIP

  • #20 - Popplio - D- Tier - There are a LOT of Pinniped Pokémon already, but it's cute that they went for the circus styling of them. In the end though, it really comes down to the combination of the red clown nose and the clown ruffled collar that makes Popplio drop like a rock through the list. They turn a lovable character design into a horrifying spectacle. Literally remove those two things and you have at least a B tier Pokémon.

  • #19 - Chimchar - D- Tier - Their hair looks like poop.

  • #18 - Tepig - D Tier - Ugly face markings, weird ears, a diaper, a ridiculous tail, and the worst name of any starter drag this cute piggy down.

  • #17 - Turtwig - D Tier - Gen IV & V has a problem with their Pokémon designs where they needlessly overcomplicated the designs. Like what is up with the ridiculously oversized and yellow jaws? Is that a saddle on its back or a shell? Why does it have a plant growing out its head when that part is completely abandoned for the rest of its evolutions? It's why Turtwig is so far down this list while their amphibious cousin Squirtle is beloved.

    Also their name is "Turtwig" based off of "Turtle" and "Twig" despite being a tortoise.

    It also sounds like Turdwig.

  • #16 - Oshawott - D+ Tier - Honestly Oshawott would be bottom tier if they weren't otters, the cutest of all animals. The freckles also help.

  • #15 - Torchic - C- Tier - Due to some really unflattering official art, I went years thinking Torchic only had one leg, and my apologies to the amputees out there, but as a kid it really did freak me out a little. It's a fairly cute design, but that feeling stuck with me.

  • #14 - C Tier - Chespin, like Turtwig, is a way too complicated design, with way too many markings and things coming out of their head. Why is the end of their tail red? Who knows! Just slap it on there! But Chespin's cute almost hoodie-like design and infectious smile make you love them anyway.

  • #13 - Treecko - C Tier - Gen III's saving grace... at least when it comes to unevolved forms. Treecko is a cool gecko that will kick your ass. I just wish their head didn't look like a butt.

  • #12 - Rowlet - C+ Tier - The ridiculously cute leaf bowtie and the beak that almost looks like a lovecraftian horror mouth with ridiculously big top teeth ready to carve into your soul sort of cancel each other out.

  • #11 - Piplup - B- Tier - Penguins are adorable and Piplup almost, almost messes that up by having a little bit too complicated of a design and some really ugly face markings, but the longer you look at one, the less you see that and them more you just appreciate this little penguin baby.

    Aaaand we're finally done talking about Gen III and IV! Hurray!

  • #10 - Froakie - B- Tier - An adorable design, with just a little too much going on in the face. Do they have little glasses? A racing stripe to go faster? Who knows!

  • #9 - Litten - B+ Tier - There are so many cat Pokémon that I thought I'd never care about another one again. Yet here I am, awe-ing and aww-ing at this little kitty's moody design. If it wasn't for the weird hashtag on their face, they'd be perfect.

  • #8 - Snivy - A- Tier - Like Litten, Snivy has a personality that is so easily conveyed by their design. The haughty shoulder vines that make them look like their wearing a big, fancy coat. The tail leaves that are only their to show off. The nose that is constantly turned up. The little shit-eating smirk.

    I love it.

  • #7 - Bulbasaur - A- Tier - Ah, the classic designs of Gen I. Can they, as a trio, ever be beaten?

    Bublasaur, despite looking nothing like a dinosaur like their name implies, does have a cool design of the little reptile like creature that feeds off the sun with the bulb on their back. A really nice mixture of plant and animal to start of the series with.

  • #6 - Chikorita - A- Tier - While Snivy exudes superiority and Litten just wants to be left alone, Chikorita just has this sass, playfulness, and confidence to them. Plus, the necklace-like spikes add a feminine touch to the design, which I respect as 87.5% of all starters are male.

  • #5 - Squirtle - A Tier - Squirtle Squad is my Squad Goal.

  • #4 - Cyndaquil - A+ Tier - Cyndaquil is just adorable. Their adroable little shrew body that you just want to hug, the clever repurposing quills as a sort of short range jet of fire is really clever, and their permanently closed eyes convey the perfect emotion of shyness, apathy, fear, and reluctance to do anything but take a nap. Though when they are motivated to do anything, a Cyndaquil will be fiercely determined, shooting straight up fire from their mouth and back. So adorable and badass.

  • #3 - Charmander - A+ Tier - I really enjoy the simplicity of Charmander's design. A salamander with a flame coming out their tail with no real other discernible features other than their orange skin, yellow underbelly, and that their bipedal. When you can rock a look as simple as that and still be a cool as fuck design, you know you're a top tier starter.

    Also, if their tail flame goes out, they will die. Isn't that just TRAGIC?! Also baby Charmanders are known to burn themselves on their tail because they don't know how fire works. THE POOR BABY CHARMANDERS!!

    Also, this wiki uses probably the worst picture of Charmander in existence. What the hell is that?

  • #2 - Fennekin - A+ Tier - Fennekin has a more complicated design than Charmander, but it's all in service of complimenting the simple, cute as hell base. Fennekin has more colours, lines and features, but a six year old could still draw a Fennekin and you'd be able to recognize it immediately. Same couldn't be said about Chespin, Mudkip, and, not to get ahead of ourselves, some of the evolutions of this bunch.

    From the huge bushy tail to the big ears venting hot air, Fennekin is pretty much THE Pokémon to point to on how an adorable real world animal (the fennec fox) can be made more fantastical and still work just as well.

  • #1 - Totodile - S Tier - Can the classic Gen I trio ever be beaten? I'd argue that, when it comes to the base evolutions at least, they already were back in 1999. Totodile, Chikorita, and Cyndaquil are all fantastic designs comparable on their own to the original three, but as a group, stand as stronger designs.

    Totodile is the best example of this. This little hyperactive croc Pokémon looks equally like they're about to bite your hand and come running in for a big hug. Just one look at Totodile and you know they can be intimidating, adorable, ferocious, friendly, funny, reliable, dependable, silly, and loyal. In other words, the perfect Pokémon to have at your side when you start your journey to catching them all.

  • #0 - Pikachu - God Tier - PIKACHU DOESN'T COUNT

    Thanks for reading everyone! Here's some stats to enjoy on the list:

    Average position for fire types: 10

    Average position for grass types: 11

    Average position for water types: 12

    Fairly close overall, but fire types win out, mostly with the help of 3 fire types in the top 5.

    Avg position for Gen 1: 5

    Avg position for Gen 2: 3.7

    Avg position for Gen 3: 16.3

    Avg position for Gen 4: 15.7

    Avg position for Gen 5: 14

    Avg position for Gen 6: 8.7

    Avg position for Gen 7: 13.7

    Obviously Gen 1 & 2 take the cake as a group, with Gen 6 being the only other standout. The rest of the gens huddle at the bottom, either due to lack of consistent qualty or some really bad designs dragging the rest down.

    I'll be sure to make another list once the other forms are announced. Because, hooo boy, some of these designs go off the rails PRETTY QUICK once you hit that first evolution.

    Hoooo boy....