Welcome to The Pulse, your lifeline on media and pop culture. We are just a couple of weeks away from a brand new generation of the ever popular Pokemon franchise, so in celebration this week we will be counting down the top 10 legendary Pokemon across the previous seven generations of Pokemon. Now, given that Nintendo has decided to start classifying certain Pokemon as mythical as opposed to legendary I will be abiding by that for this list. Maybe sometime in the future we’ll do another list focused on those, but for now we’re just considering Pokemon officially classified as legendary. So what’s the criteria for this list? Entirely subjective, be it prowess in battle, cool lore or an awesome design or concept or even a combination of all of the above. No one factor is going into the placement of these legends, and remember this is all my own opinion so feel free to share your own in the comments below! Now, let’s go catch ’em all!
Top 10 Legendary Pokemon
10. Type: Null (Generation VII)
Deigned the “beast killer” and designed in the image of God itself, Type: Null is certainly the most bizarre Pokemon to make it into this week’s list. Premiering in Pokemon Sun and Pokemon Moon as the partner Pokemon of rival Gladion, this chimera is a mishmash of various Pokemon bits (though sadly none that are immediately recognizable) meant to invoke the appearance of Arceus, the creator of all Pokemon. Type: Null, unlike the vast majority of other legends, also has the ability to evolve, taking on the form of Silvally. So why did I go with Type: Null over Silvally? Honestly, it’s just a more interesting and striking design. Type: Null, and seriously even that name just has some oomph to it, is just such a unique Pokemon. There’s something almost blasphemous about it, again trying to mimic the abilities of literal God in order to fight off invading extra-dimensional creatures and being unable to truly harness and control that power, it is a tale as old as time itself.
9. Zacian (Generation VIII)
Do you like Dark Souls? Because if you do, oooh boy aren’t you just thrilled that they made Sif into a Pokemon? While not much is, officially at least, known about this upcoming legendary Pokemon, what we do know (again, officially) is that it’s a big and regal looking wolf wielding a big ass sword with its mouth and as Dark Souls has shown us in the past, that is freaking awesome. Awesome enough to get it a spot on this list in fact! While admittedly a bit of this placement does come from information gleaned from less than legitimate sources, Zacian is certainly looking to be an awesome new legendary to add to the roster.
8. Dialga (Generation IV)
With a, at the time of release and up until this generation’s Duraludon, unique (and awesome) typing and a signature move called Roar of Time, Dialga certainly left an impression on me oh so many years ago back in the Diamond and Pearl days. I know some people are a bit hard on his design (hey, at least he’s not Palkia the walking um…nevermind), but I honestly think he’s kinda badass. The very xenomorph-esque, elongated skull, the dark blue meets light blue meets silver color-scheme, the flowing spikes on his head, neck and back, the diamond powered(?) armor on his chest, it’s not necessarily the first thing that comes to mind when I think Dragon/Steel, but it certainly gets the job done. The only thing I really dislike about him from a design standpoint is the weird mouth shape that he shares with Palkia, Arceus and Giratina. Never quite understood what they were going for there, but eh. So far as lore goes, Dialga is part of the creation trio and rules over time itself, so he’s basically a dragon that’s a time lord and I’m ok with that.
7. Kyogre (Generation III)
Drawing inspiration from both the Nazca lines and the biblical leviathan (to rival Groudon’s behemoth), Kyogre is…a big fish. Well, that’s not entirely true actually, Kyogre is an orca, which means for all of you constantly asking for a dolphin Pokemon..we’ve had one since generation III, ta-da! Semantics aside, Kyogre was one of the first legends to really wow me. There was something so mysterious about it, the title screen of Sapphire with it in the background, its lines glowing, was just awesome and invoked this sense of power and wonder that you really didn’t get before that. I mean, there was Mewtwo, but the way Kyogre (and Groudon as well I suppose) was presented had some real pizzazz to it. This was also the first generation where the legends really took center stage and the game was all about them as far as its overarching plot goes, a trend that would continue throughout the rest of the franchise to this day even. I remember finally confronting Kyogre as a kid, having preordered the game and even gotten this awesome holographic coin from Toys R Us (RIP) for doing so, and just chucking ball after ball trying to catch it, having to restart time and again until I was finally successful. This was back before plot critical legends had super low catch rates so you basically had to try to fail at catching them and you could always just try again. That awesome feeling finally adding this absolute beast (seriously, the term Kyuber should tell you everything) to my team, its absolutely gorgeous design (those Nazca inspired lines do a lot for it) and its importance to the plot of Ruby and Sapphire easily secure Kyogre’s place on this list.
6. Lunala (Generation VII)
Lunala is definitely on the “I like the way it looks” end of the spectrum as far as how it made its way onto this list. Sun and Moon tied its legends very heavily into the story, to the point that one of them had even been tagging along the journey for almost the entire ride and played a pivotal role in transporting the player to face off against the big bad before finally joining your team willingly. One of two possible final stages for the Cosmog line, making it the first three stage legendary family (only Type: Null and Silvally are the other evolving legendary Pokemon), Lunala is by far the more visually impressive of the two (I just never really cared for Solgaleo’s design). Those gorgeous golds with purple, light blue and white and those big glowing eyes, the bat-motif coupled with the Moon theme is just tres magnifique (pardon my French). I’m also a huge fan of the typing, Psychic/Ghost just absolutely does it for me. She’s just a really cool, really beautiful Pokemon and she deserves some recognition for that, even if she’s not really all that great competitively.
5. Lugia (Generation II)
Nostalgia certainly plays a bit of a factor in this choice, and you can throw some blame towards the anime as well. Lugia, the star of Pokemon the Movie 2000 and the cover legendary for Pokemon Silver (and subsequently, Soul Silver) is this big dragon-esque bird thing that has ties to the original legendary trio from gen 1, though I can’t actually recall if that ever comes up in the games (I certainly don’t think it did in the original Silver version, it may have in Soul Silver). It was certainly a thing in the movie though and damn was that movie awesome. Certainly not my favorite of the original Pokemon films, that’s honestly probably the third, there was definitely something to Pokemon 2000 that made it feel so much bigger than anything the anime had done before then and watching Ash fly around on the back of Lugia (something we’ll finally get to see again in the upcoming season of the anime) was just so..magical. Lugia would also go on to the big bad (I think, I never actually played it) of Pokemon XD: Gale of Darkness and would have a really sick shadow form that sadly never made an appearance outside of that game. Shame because that form being canonical to the main RPGs would likely bump Lugia up a place.
4. Rayquaza (Generation III)
Meet the big bad boss ass dragon that keeps both Groudon and Kyogre in check. Rayquaza is an absolute beast, 4x weak to ice or not, that becomes even more beast in its Mega form introduced during the 7th generation. Rayquaza has the potential to become so powerful that he received a tier all to himself in competitive online play (well, unofficially via Smogon). He’s an awesome design that receives an even more awesome design, lore-wise he is the one that keeps those that created the land and sea in check, ruling over them both from the sky above, neutralizing both of their special abilities with his Weather Lock. Did I mention that his shiny is black? A freaking badass, black dragon. Yeah, Rayquaza is just cool, apparently too cool to hang out with anyone else up there in his tier all on his own.
3. Yveltal (Generation VI)
Drawing heavily from norse mythology, Pokemon X and Pokemon Y had a slew of interesting ideas and characters to base its legendary Pokemon on. We of course had Zygarde representing Jörmungandr and Níðhöggr, that was obvious enough. Yveltal here taking its inspiration from Hræsvelgr and embodying death and chaos. It also, of course, looks like the letter “Y” when in flight because..I mean, they had to justify calling the games X and Y right? This is another case of design and lore winning out. An ominous shadow cast over the land, a massive black and red bird flying overhead bringing death in its wake. It’s connection to both norse mythology and figures such as the Celtic goddess Morrigan, cool Dark/Flying typing and role as the destroyer of worlds within the game make it an easy top 3 pick and it’s still probably my favorite flying type in the series.
2. Mewtwo (Generation I)
Yeah, that’s right, Mewtwo isn’t number one on this list. You can take your gen 1 nostalgia and shove it. The OG, the big bad, the secret at the end of the dark cave, among the most iconic of the franchise’s 800+ critters, Mewtwo is easily the most well known of the legendary Pokemon and he was an absolute powerhouse back in the day (and at least prior to Gen VIII was still managing to go strong, particularly with one of his two mega forms). Given that he wasn’t going to secure the top spot on my list there really was no other place Mewtwo could end up. It is hard to deny the legacy of this Pokemon. From his namesake “Mewtwo Strikes Back” (aka the first Pokemon movie) and subsequent appearances (including playing a small role in the original season of the anime, a spinoff film and a cgi remake of the first movie), tons of toys and merchandise, serving as an unlockable character in Super Smash Bros. Melee (and getting a long awaited return as DLC for Super Smash Bros. for Nintendo 3DS/Wii U), Mewtwo is the face of legendary Pokemon. Lore-wise it serves a lesson for man playing God, trying to clone the mythical progenitor Pokemon Mew and the horrible aftermath that left Cinnabar Lab utterly devastated, an event even referenced and made canonical to the recent live action Detective Pikachu movie (yet another appearance!). Mewtwo ain’t no pussy..cat, this psychic feline is truly a fearsome force to be reckoned with.
1. Giratina (Generation IV)
Hail Satan! I’m kidding, I’m kidding, drop the torches and pitchforks. That said, Giratina is certainly a Pokemon to give some credence to the old “Pokemon is satanic” crusade that was oh so prevalent in the 90’s. The renegade Pokemon, cast into a hellish dimension of its own by Arceus itself. Pretty sure the parallels are obvious, no? Giratina played a fairly minor part in Diamond and Pearl, but its role was greatly expanded upon with Platinum version, including a very memorable trek through Giratina’s domain the distortion world. Giratina also takes on its awesome Origin Forme in this area, changing from an admittedly somewhat goofy looking (but still awesome) centipede-esque dragon into the more serpentine form seen on the right. Ghost/Dragon is also just such a badass typing that is more than fitting for Pokemon’s own Lucifer expy. You might say Giratina is only number one to spite Genwunners and to be a controversial pick, but isn’t that just like the Renegade Pokemon to do? That said, there is another Pokemon I do feel is a bit more fitting of this spot just on a design standpoint alone, but given that I decided against a “Top 10 Pokemon from the Sword and Shield Leaks” for this week out of wanting to avoid getting Nintendo Ninja’d, let’s just say the real number one has yet to be officially revealed and leave it at that.
That’ll wrap things up for this edition of The Pulse. Join us next week as we dive even further into 90’s nostalgia. If you need to catch up be sure to check out previous Top 10’s from The Pulse: