It’s time to move to a new town and choose which Pokemon you’re going to begin an epic journey with as we check out a Pokemon Starters Tier List!
In almost every Pokemon game, there’s three Pokemon to choose from at the start of your adventure. Typically, these will be a choice of Pokemon from three different types – water, fire or grass.
It’s always such an agonising choice too, because once you’ve chosen a Pokemon, the other two become unavailable unless you get the opportunity to trade for them later.
What if you had access to every single Starter Pokemon though? Which would you choose? How would you even make that choice?
We here at Retro Dodo are going to help you with that, as we rank every Pokemon Starter into different tiers, so come with us as we take a look at the Pokemon Starters Tier List!
Table of Contents
All Pokemon Starters Tier List – The Overall Rankings
So here they are – all Starter Pokemon, ranked in Tiers. But who made it to which Tier?
First, let’s check out each of the tiers and what they mean.
Reserved for the absolute best of the best Pokemon, the S Tier rank is the top spot – and only a few Starter Pokemon have made it that far!
Far from disappointing, the A Tier are fantastic Pokemon who would be great choices for most players – but they aren’t quite as highly recommended as those S Tier Pokemon for various reasons. A total of seven Pokemon made it to the A Tier, and you can check them out below!
All B Tier Pokemon could probably be described in one word as ‘mid’. Not great, but not bad – it’s just that there’s definitely better choices available!
We’re getting towards the lower end of the scale here – the disappointing Pokemon who serve a purpose, but they’re the ones we’d recommend staying away from if you can help it.
The biggest disappointment in the bunch, you’ll find just one Pokemon in this spot – and though it may be controversial, there’s no denying that this particular pocket monster just doesn’t cut it when it comes to being an effective Starter Pokemon.
So you’ve seen what each Starter Tier means, but how did we decide where to place each Starter Pokemon on our Pokemon Starters Tier list? Let’s take a look at them one by one!
S Tier Pokemon Starters
First up is Charmander – one of the three Starter Pokemon from first generation games Pokemon Red and Pokemon Blue.
Though Charmander struggles in the first few Gym battles, by the time it’s evolved into Charmeleon it has very little difficulty with most adversaries. But the real reason that Charmander makes it to the S Tier is because of its second evolution: the incredibly powerful Charizard.
Charizard is so good that it made it to the very top of our best Fire Type Pokemon list too!
Next on the S Tier is generation four (that’s Pokemon Diamond and Pokemon Pearl) starter Pokemon Turtwig, who doesn’t struggle quite as much as Charmander in the early stages of the game.
Still, it definitely has the upper hand in the same way once it evolves into Grotle.
Then – similarly to Charmander – it’s with the third form that it really becomes a difference maker: Torterra. Torterra is a Grass and Ground type Pokemon who’s an absolute beast; though slow, it excels in both Attack and Defense, making it an obvious choice for the S Tier!
Generation 6 starters – from Pokemon X and Pokemon Y – tend to get a bit overlooked, as they feel a little underwhelming in general.
However, in the general opinion of the team at Retro Dodo Towers, the Water Pokemon Froakie is a seriously underrated contender and an easy choice for the S Tier.
Why is that, we hear you ask? Well, first Froakie evolves into Frogadier, and then into the super-fast Water and Dark Pokemon, Greninja (who also appears on our best Water Type Pokemon list!). Which – as with Charmander and Turtwig – is the true hidden appeal of Froakie!
Debuting way back in second generation titles Pokemon Gold and Pokemon Silver, Cyndaquil is a Fire type Pokemon who’ll serve Trainers well during most early battles.
It also maintains its strength and becomes even more formidable as it evolves into Quilava and finally, the awesome Typhlosion!
A Tier Pokemon Starters
A popular Pokemon from the first generation games, Bulbasaur doesn’t exactly mess around – it’s definitely a great choice when it comes to the earlier stages of Pokemon Red and Pokemon Blue.
It also really holds its own as it evolves too – first into Ivysaur and then into Venusaur.
It’s not quite on the same level as Charizard, but Venusaur’s Grass and Poison types, along with Bulbasaur’s great performance early in the game, place it nicely in the A Tier for Starter Pokemon.
You’ll also find the more recent Mega Venusaur evolution on our best Grass Type Pokemon list!
My Starter Pokemon of choice when I played through Pokemon Diamond and Pokemon Pearl, Mudkip served me well as I made my way through Sinnoh.
Regardless of my personal bias and nostalgia for Mudkip, it’s a great choice of Starter Pokemon.
Mudkip will do well in the first few Gyms and it copes well as it evolves; into Marshtomp first, then Swampert. It isn’t quite S Tier all the way, but it’s certainly not too far off.
It took until Pokemon Sun and Pokemon Moon before a Flying type Starter was made available, and that’s who we have here, with the Flying and Grass type Pokemon, Rowlet!
Though often thought of as the worst choice for a Starter Pokemon in the seventh generation games, Rowlet’s Flying and Grass types make for a good combination of strengths and give this Grass Quill Pokemon a unique feel.
Also, by the time it evolves into Dartrix and then the brilliant Decidueye, the struggles you’ll face in the opening stages of the game will have been worth it!
Fennekin struggles in the early Gym battles of Pokemon X and Pokemon Y – the sixth generation games it was introduced in – which is why it’s here in the A Tier, rather than S.
However, stick with it and you’ll get to evolve Fennekin into Braixen, and by then, most Gyms will be a breeze.
Not only that, but you’ll also be able to evolve Fire type Braixen into the Fire and Psychic powerhouse Delphox, which is a truly excellent Pokemon.
Just look at Piplup. On looks alone, this cute Pokemon would be S Tier in our opinion!
Piplup also proves useful in the earlier Gyms it’ll arrive at in Pokemon Diamond and Pearl.
Evolving into Prinplup and then the Water/Steel type Empoleon turn adorable little Piplup into quite a formidable Pokemon too!
Though it isn’t quite S Tier, Piplup is a good all rounder and definitely worthy of a place in the A Tier!
Everyone remembers their first, right?
For me, Squirtle was the very first Pokemon I ever chose, so it was definitely very tempting to place the little Water Pokemon in the S Tier!
Squirtle’s journey in first generation games Pokemon Red and Pokemon Blue isn’t an easy one though – despite the fact that it’s not the case to begin with.
In the early Gyms, Squirtle has an easy time but may struggle later on, despite the evolution into Wartortle.
Once Wartortle evolves into the monstrous Blastoise, however, things do turn around. But as all three forms are Water type only, it does leave them vulnerable against some types of Pokemon.
Which is the reason why Squirtle makes it as far as the A Tier, but doesn’t quite reach the heights of the S Tier on our Pokemon Starters Tier List!
Debuting in fourth generation games Pokemon Diamond and Pokemon Pearl, Fire type Pokemon Chimchar does well against one early Gym leader.
However, Chimchar’s excellence is really revealed once it evolves into Monferno, which adds the Fighting type alongside Fire.
Infernape – the second evolution – retains the Fire and Fighting types, becoming even more of a beast.
So Chimchar is definitely a solid choice, but not quite enough to make it to our S Tier!
B Tier Pokemon Starters
Kicking off the middle of our Pokemon Starter Tier List is Snivy, which was introduced in fifth generation titles Pokemon Black and Pokemon White.
Grass type Pokemon Snivy doesn’t get a lot of love, with the fifth generation Starters in general not having a stand out, top tier choice.
Snivy evolves into Serpine, then Serperior – all are fairly unremarkable and not particularly memorable Grass type Pokemon.
Not bad, but not great – the perfect encapsulation of a B Tier Starter Pokemon!
Generation 3’s Grass type Starter Pokemon is Treecko, who’ll do well in the first Gym in Pokemon Ruby and Pokemon Sapphire, but might struggle a bit in the second Gym.
That said, once you’ve evolved Treecko into Grovyle and then Sceptile, it’ll fare better against most Gym leaders – but its single Grass type nature throughout means it’ll have some weaknesses that can be exploited regardless.
Another Starter from Pokemon Sun and Pokemon Moon, Popplio is a good early choice, but it doesn’t really excel beyond that.
Its evolution into Brionne is a little underwhelming, but when Brionne evolves into Primarina things look up a bit – with the Fairy type being added to the previously Water-only Pokemon’s types.
Another of the Pokemon Ruby and Pokemon Sapphire, third generation Starters, Torchic is a Fire type Pokemon who feels pretty balanced at the beginning of the game.
It does become Fire and Fighting type when evolving into Combusken and then the impressive Blaziken – which saves Torchic from being further down the Tier list!
Though Totodile does well in the early stages of Pokemon Gold and Pokemon Silver, it does have some difficulty in the later Gyms.
Remaining as Water type only when evolving into Croconaw and then Feraligatr doesn’t necessarily improve its standing in the Pokemon rankings either, making Totodile an obvious choice for the middle Tier of this Starter Pokemon list.
By far the choice of Starter that’ll be toughest to progress with in the early stages of Pokemon Black and Pokemon White, Oshawott isn’t likely to be the first choice of many players.
Like Totodile, Oshawott’s evolved forms – Dewott and Samurott – are both single Water types just like its basic form.
It does have a saving grace that’s just appeared on the scene, however, with the Hisuian Samurott being made available in Pokemon Legends: Arceus being Water and Dark type – which is quite a good choice for a support Pokemon.
A Fire type Pokemon introduced in eighth generation titles Pokemon Sword and Pokemon Shield, Scorbunny does well almost immediately, but tends to be less impressive as the game progresses.
Both Raboot and Cinderace – its evolutions – aren’t too bad though, with Speed being their strongest points.
C Tier Pokemon Starters
Struggling to compete early on really hurts Litten – which debuted in Pokemon Sun and Pokemon Moon – in the Tier rankings, but it does redeem itself a bit once it evolves into its final form, Incineroar, a Fire and Dark type Pokemon.
Its first evolution – Torracat, a Fire type just like Litten itself – is pretty underwhelming, however. Which is why Litten finds itself in the C Tier of our Pokemon Starters Tier List!
A Grass type Pokemon introduced in Pokemon X and Pokemon Y, Chespin does well at the beginning of the game but isn’t particularly useful in its evolved form, Quilladin, also a Grass type.
However, it does evolve into Chesnaught – a Grass and Fighting type – which saves Chespin from total obscurity!
Is it too on the nose to refer to Tepig as tepid? Unfortunately, this Fire type Pokemon is exactly that.
The Fire and Fighting type Pokemon is evolves into – first Pignite, then Emboar – won’t exactly set the world on fire either.
Which goes to show that Tepig is good for one thing: it’s a great source of puns!
Though some Starter Pokemon do well in the early going of their games and others blossom much later, Chikorita doesn’t seem to fare well at all throughout.
Debuting in Pokemon Gold and Pokemon Silver, this second generation Starter is a bit of a disappointment all round – even its evolved forms, Bayleef and Meganium, are pretty mediocre.
Only Meganium’s Defense and Sp. Def stats save Chikorita from spiralling down into the D Tier!
Another Pokemon who struggles to cope in the opening stages, the perpetually surprised, Water type Starter Sobble made its first appearance in Pokemon Sword and Pokemon Shield.
Sobble’s first evolved form – Drizzile – isn’t much better than its basic form, but when Drizzile evolves into Inteleon, it does at least possess decent Sp. Atk and Speed stats.
Rounding out the underwhelming bunch of Starters from generation eight’s Pokemon Sword and Pokemon Shield, Grookey and even its evolved form of Thwackey are pretty underpowered Grass type Pokemon.
By the time Thwackey evolves into Rillaboom, it does at least gain a decent Attack stat – saving it from the D Tier – but with it being Grass type only, it does leave itself vulnerable to Fire, Poison, Bug and Flying type Pokemon too.
D Tier Pokemon Starters
Well, someone had to appear in the D Tier – and that ‘honour’ has gone to what is quite often everyone’s favourite Pokemon: Pikachu.
Debuting in the first generation titles Pokemon Red and Pokemon Blue as a fairly unremarkable, standard Pokemon to be caught alongside the rest of the OG 151 monsters, Pikachu’s status as a Starter was due to its popularity in the Pokemon animated series (it also helped that Pikachu was super cute – which is why you’ll also find it on our best cute Pokemon list!).
With main character Ash having Pikachu as his constant companion, Pokemon Trainers were often perplexed to find that they couldn’t choose Pikachu from the outset.
So Pokemon Yellow was born – a slight update to Pokemon Red and Pokemon Blue. Pokemon Yellow allowed players to choose Pikachu as a Starter, along with a few other minor features that added to the experience.
Yet Pikachu just doesn’t cut it as a Starter Pokemon – and to add insult to injury, the Starter version of Pikachu doesn’t even evolve!
Which is why we at Retro Dodo have no choice but to rank the most popular Pokemon in history – who was even played by Ryan Reynolds in a live action Hollywood movie – as our absolute worst of the worst on the Pokemon Starters Tier list!
If you do need assistance with taking on the Gyms in the first generation games, you can check out our handy guide to all Kanto Gym Leaders in Pokemon Red, Blue and Yellow!
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Jason – who lives in the UK – has had a lifelong interest in video games, which all started when he discovered Space Invaders in the early 80s. The first game he ever completed was Wonder Boy in Monster Land on the Sega Master System – which remains one of his proudest gaming achievements. Jason is a passionate writer – and has been writing about gaming since the late 90s. He currently runs pop culture blog midlifegamergeek.com, which he updates on a daily basis (and has written more than 700 articles on the blog alone!).
Outside of video games, Jason is a keen tabletop gamer, film buff and comic book fan.