Over the course of seven generations of Pokémon, the series has produced dozens of Legendary beasts – Pokémon with powers and abilities unlike any other. But which are the best? What makes one Legendary Pokémon better than another?
Throughout this article, we will discuss each creature’s backstory, their characteristics, and strengths, as well as their overall popularity among the community in to determine the order of this definitive ranking of the 16 best Legendary Pokémon.
It should be noted, for you more hardcore fans, that we have included Mythical Pokémon, which are a related subset of extremely rare Pokémon that have been distinguished since the franchise’s fifth generation. But seeing as how the community largely still views these creatures as Legendary Pokémon, we thought we would too.
This countdown features some of the most iconic characters from the franchise, spanning the generations from the beginning to the most recent series – Pokémon Sun & Moon. So, would you like to find out if your favorite Legendary Pokémon made the list?
Here are the 16 Best Legendary Pokémon, Ranked.
As a member of the original 150, Zapdos remains a part of ‘90s nostalgia for many fans. Not to mention, Zapdos serves as the mascot for Pokémon Go squad, Team Instinct. Along with Articuno and Moltres, Zapdos represents one-third of Kanto’s Legendary bird trio.
The mere flap of its wings is powerful enough to create thunderstorms and Zapdos grows even stronger if it is struck by lightning. Zapdos’ electric energy also creates streams and currents according to Pokémon scholar, Professor Oak. Together with Articuno and Moltres, these three ancient bird Pokémon are closely tied to ocean guardian, Lugia. It is said (according to Pokémon the Movie 2000), that when the three Legendary birds of Kanto are disturbed, Lugia will then emerge.
Zapdos has appeared in several anime episodes and was, of course, featured in the aforementioned picture, Pokémon the Movie 2000.
If Lugia is the guardian of the ocean, then Ho-Oh is the guardian of the skies. This colorful bird has the amazing ability to resurrect the dead, a power this Pokémon utilized to resurrect the Legendary dog trio of Johto – Raikou, Entei, and Suicune respectively.
According to legends, Ho-Oh lived in Ecruteak City’s Tin Tower before its sister, The Brass Tower, was mysteriously burnt to the ground. During this period, Ho-Oh gave new life to the Raikou, Entei, and Suicune, and the four beasts disappeared.
Unlike other Legendary Pokémon on this list, Ho-Oh has made very few appearances in franchise movies or even anime episodes. However, Ho-Oh did famously appear at the very end of the television series' opening episode, leading to numerous fan theories about Ash and his unchanging age. If you do ever manage to catch a glimpse of this creature, count yourself lucky as various Pokédex entries claim that the mere sight of this Pokémon might be enough to grant a trainer an “eternal happiness.”
Deoxys is easily one of the more mysterious creatures on this list. Making its first appearance in the franchise’s third generation, this Legendary beast features four Formes – each of which based around a specific stat such as speed, attack, etc.
Formed by a mutated virus in space, Deoxys is one of the first discovered alien Pokémon. This creature is said to be extremely intelligent. Its brain is rumored to reside in the beast’s chest which is capable of producing laser beams. Additionally, Deoxys maintains the ability to regenerate any part of its body as well as create complete clones of itself.
Like several other Legendary Pokémon on this list, Deoxys is the star of its very own feature film (Destiny Deoxys). Other than that, however, Deoxys has been rather elusive in the anime but did appear in The Pokémon Company’s YouTube series, Pokémon Generations.
Like Deoxys, Giratina features several different Formes; each of these forms allows Giratina the ability to control different aspects of time and space. Before the franchise’s fourth generation, Pokémon were generally based on animals, plants, or Earthly elements. However, things became a bit more exotic with the rise of Dialga, Palkia, and Giratina – also known as the creation trio.
Dialga is said to control time while Palkia reigns over space. Giratina, on the other hand, maintains control over antimatter and an alternate dimension known as the Distortion World.
As proven in the franchise’s eleventh film, Giratina is the most powerful of the creation trio, as well as the most dangerous potentially. Outside of starring in its own film, however, Giratina has remained relatively quiet but has appeared in Pokémon Generations as well as other franchise movies.
Other than at the time of its inception, Pokémon has arguably never been more popular or talked about then it was in the second half of 2016. Thanks to the viral mobile app, Pokémon Go, the franchise was more popular than it had been in over a decade. And due to raised awareness in the property, Nintendo 3DS titles, Pokémon Sun & Moon, became two of the fastest selling titles in franchise history; one of the first introduced characters from this new generation being Solgaleo.
As its name might imply, this Legendary Pokémon is a lion that derives its power from the sun. It also has the ability to create “Ultra Wormholes” and travel to “Ultra Space.” Being one of the newest members of the Legendary Pokémon family, Solgaleo has yet to make its mark in films or the anime, but we expect to see more from this creature relatively soon.
The Pokémon franchise contains countless Legendary birds and dog-like creatures, but Xerneas is one of the few stag-like beasts. Xerneas is not only unique due to its appearance, but it also is known as the first and only Fairy-type Legendary Pokémon, and for that reason, it has become quite the popular fighter in the video game’s competitive scene within the last few years.
While Ho-Oh has the ability to resurrect the dead, Xerneas is said to grant eternal life. When out of battle, it can change its aesthetic and is said to have slept for 1,000 years as a tree after releasing all of its energy.
Being exclusive to Pokémon X, this creature was only obtainable in other games via trades or sponsored events. Xerneas has also made an appearance in Nintendo’s popular character fighter, Super Smash Bros.
Based on the yin and yang as present in Taoism, Zekrom and Reshiram are the Legendary counterparts of the franchise’s fifth generation – Pokémon Black & White versions respectively.
According to legends, Zekrom and Reshiram are both powerful dragons used by twin heroes to create the Pokémon region of Unova. The twins later disagreed on ideals and began to fight with one another. After realizing that they were both equally matched, the brothers set aside differences and ceased their battles. However, their sons resumed the fight and, as a result, destroyed the region. The two dragons subsequently disappeared.
Interestingly enough, the franchise broke with tradition and released two separate films simultaneously that each featured a unique tale. In Pokémon the Movie: White – Victini and Zekrom, longtime protagonist Ash Ketchum convinces Zekrom to work with him in order to defeat the film’s villain Damon. In addition to being featured in other franchise properties, Zekrom served as the partner to the main antagonist in the strategy crossover, Pokémon Conquest.
Mewtwo might be a fan-favorite Legendary today, but it all started with Mew. Constructed from the DNA of this ancient Pokémon, scientists – under the instruction of Team Rocket boss Giovanni – built the world’s strongest Pokémon.
While Mewtwo is very self-aware and kind of depressing, to be honest, Mew is more light-hearted and jovial. In the franchise’s first film, however, Mew proves himself to be just as powerful as its successor. Now, statistics from the video game series might suggest otherwise, but nevertheless, Mew is certainly a force to be acknowledged. It also has the rare ability to learn any HM or TM item in the game, making its move set wildly unpredictable.
Mew has been one of the franchise’s most elusive beasts, as it has only been available as an event-exclusive Pokémon (or via an in-game glitch). But while Mew has not been as visible as his clone counterpart, he is certainly still a favorite among the community.
Yet another movie star makes its way to the countdown in Entei. As previously mentioned, Ho-Oh revived Entei and the two other legendary dogs after the fire in the Brass Tower – now known as the Burnt Tower in the game series. In fact, it is said that Entei represents the flames that set fire to the tower.
Entei made his big screen debut in the franchise’s third film as a young girl’s wish. This means that the Entei in the film was an illusion rather than the real creature, but it has remained a beloved Legendary nonetheless.
While not to the same extent as Mew, Entei and his two cohorts (Suicune and Raikou) were extremely hard to track down in the video game series. There were numerous steps, items, and move sets required – or at least recommended – in the pursuit of these Legendary Pokémon, making their addition to any Pokédex endlessly frustrating.
Suicune’s history is virtually identical to that of Entei, seeing as how they both (in addition to Raikou) perished in the fire that brought down the Brass Tower. But while Entei represents the flames that set fire to the tower, Suicune is a symbol of the downpour that occurred directly afterward.
Suicune has made some appearances in franchise films, but it has also been an active part of the television series, appearing numerous times and even saving Ash’s life in one episode. Suicune has also been a popular character in the video game’s competitive scene for years now as well; however, its popularity has declined some due to some rule changes in more recent competitions. Additionally, Suicune is one of only two Pokémon on this list to appear as a fighter in the Pokémon and Tekken crossover, Pokkén Tournament.
As alluded to earlier, Lugia was the resident badass in the franchise’s second film. This second-generation Legendary bird took on Kanto’s bird trio all by itself and held its own for quite a while.
Lugia is so powerful, in fact, that it can create or calm storms. The mere flap of its wings is strong enough to tear down a cliff or create a low-level hurricane even. Unlike some other Pokémon on this list, there are known to be multiple Lugia in the wild. In the Pokémon world, reports of a young Lugia have surfaced, suggesting breeding.
Lugia is also extremely popular as it has been featured as the mascot for three separate titles – Pokémon Silver, its subsequent remake for the Nintendo DS, Pokémon Soul Silver, and the one-off GameCube title, Pokémon XD: Gale of Darkness (as Shadow Lugia).
Arceus is about as close to a god-like figure that the Pokémon world has. Rumored to be the creator of the entire Pokémon universe, Arceus is known simply as “The Original One.” This Pokémon also has the ability to recreate any of the creation trio – Giratina, Dialga, and Palkia – which is presumably an act to replace one of them in the event any of them are caught by a trainer.
In its base state, Arceus is a Normal-type Pokémon, but it has the ability to change into any other type via a special Plate or a Z-crystal as introduced in Pokémon Sun & Moon.
In addition to its appearances in the mainline game series as well as its own film (Arceus and the Jewel of Life), Arceus is the true partner of the protagonist in Nintendo DS spin-off title, Pokémon Conquest.
Groudon and Kyogre are generally a package deal as the two have been linked together in historical battles in the past. Thousands of years ago, when primal energy flowed more freely, these Legendary Titans fought it out for control and power. Evenly matched, the battle between these two raged on with no end in sight. Their feud eventually came to an end but picked up again 1000 years later when a meteor crashed into the Earth, releasing even more energy.
Luckily for the citizens of the Pokémon world, another Legendary beast, Rayquaza, was there to stop both battles. This was certainly fortunate as their power is great enough to change the landscape of the Pokémon world.
Groudon and Kyogre were featured on the box art of both Pokémon Ruby & Sapphire, as well as the titles respective remakes, Pokémon Omega Ruby & Alpha Sapphire – both as their primal evolutions in the latter titles. With the rise of primal evolutions (in addition to some rule changes), these Pokémon also saw an increase in popularity in the competitive scene just two years ago.
As the two-time savior of humanity in the Pokémon world, you know Rayquaza had to crack our list. In the Pokémon universe, Rayquaza is often thought of as more of a myth than a real creature. It has been spotted several times throughout history, but appearances are now rare as it is often indistinguishable from falling meteors in the sky. It is said that this Pokémon can live for millions of years in the ozone layer feeding off of particles in the atmosphere, so it is not ridiculous to think that it could go generations without being seen.
Despite its general rarity, however, Rayquaza has graced the screen for several franchise films in addition to numerous anime episodes. Additionally, the Legendary Pokémon has made appearances in a handful of Super Smash Bros. titles – most notably as an end-level boss in the Wii title, Super Smash Bros. Brawl. Rayquaza was also the mascot of the third generation mainline game, Pokémon Emerald.
At the hands of Team Rocket scientists, Giovanni was successful in not only creating the most powerful Pokémon of all time but the most popular as well. Aside from Pikachu, Mewtwo is arguably one of the more recognizable characters, even among extremely casual fans.
Mewtwo has appeared in countless mainline Pokémon titles and even a few other properties. This Mew clone was featured as a fighter for two separate Super Smash Bros. titles – first in Super Smash Bros. Melee and later as DLC for the Wii U and Nintendo 3DS iterations. Additionally, Mewtwo revamped his image to become Shadow Mewtwo in the aforementioned Tekken crossover, Pokkén Tournament. This Legendary is, in fact, the only Pokémon to have two different amiibos – one as Mewtwo proper and the other as Shadow Mewtwo. It is also one of only two Pokémon to have multiple Mega Evolutions (Charizard being the other).
Mewtwo is undeniably one of the greatest characters the franchise has ever produced, both from a backstory perspective as well as design. Its popularity is undeniable as is its strength. They simply don’t make them like this anymore.
Do you agree with our list? Which legendary Pokémon are your favorites? Make sure to let us know in the comments section.