Although the Pokémon franchise has been around since the original Gameboy games dropped in the mid-90s, it’s now arguably as popular as ever. With everyone, everywhere, trying to catch ‘em all in Pokémon Go, the hottest app seen since launching birds at pigs, Pokémon has seen a second revival most 90s relics would kill for. If there was ever a time to capitalize on producing a live-action movie about the famous pocket monsters, now is the time to do it.
It was reported earlier this year that several major studios entered in a bidding war to obtain the rights for a live-action Pokémon movie. The dust has finally cleared from that bidding war, with Legendary Studios victorious in striking a deal for exclusive movie rights. This means that, for the first time ever, we’ll finally be able to see what our favorite Pokémon would look like in a live-action setting.
But with a roster that includes over 700 Pokémon and counting, narrowing down which pocket monsters get to make their big screen debut over others might get a bit tricky. Though the franchise has a never ending stable of unique creations, we’re making a case for the next 20 on this list for the fact that they found a place in our hearts and Pokéballs with their popularity in the animated cartoon.
The anime is a perfect jumping off point to decide which Pokémon would work best in a feature-length film, and which ones wouldn’t. Every Pokémon on this list played a crucial part in the series either for their personality, unique abilities, spunky charm, or a combination of all three. And so we’re clear, since the first live-action film is officially based on Detective Pikachu, we won’t be bothering with an entry for the famous yellow Poké Mascot.
Here are the 20 Pokémon From the Series That Need To Be In The Live-Action Movie.
Wearing the skull of his dead mother as a helmet, Cubone isn’t usually the life of the party. Often called the ‘Lonely’ Pokémon, it doesn’t care to engage in playful social situations like a Butterfree or Squirtle would. Instead it spends nights endlessly weeping for its dead mother, which is rather sad if you think about it. This miserable bipedal creature first made his appearance in the show as a rival Pokémon to Ash’s Pikachu, where it was beaten in battle, and has since made a series of minor appearances.
Although Cubone is normally seen doing his own thing, his unusual brand of individualism in a show that’s all about working as a team makes him a wildcard of sorts. His backstory is just pathetic enough to tug at the heartstrings, and he’s one of the rare kind of Pokémon who could easily setup a character arc, transforming from a distant creature bitter about his past to his more confident evolution, Marowak. Fans have also been speculating for years what Cubone’s face might look like beneath the mask, and a live-action movie might just give us the closest look yet.
Jigglypuff’s main draw is its ability to lure others into a deep sleep by singing a song. A song, mind you, with lyrics that only consist of its own name. While Legendary probably doesn’t want anyone falling asleep during their feature length movie, Jigglypuff might be too much of an iconic character to leave out. Almost every Pokéfan knows the ‘Jigglypuff Song’ (as much as we might try and deny it), and while the round pink creature is far from the strongest, it may well be the sickeningly most adorable.
But don’t let that cuteness fool you, Jigglypuff has a surprising mean streak if you push him too far. In an episode where he knocks several audience members out from singing, Jigglypuff becomes offended, believing himself to have a beautiful voice, and proceeds to doodle on everyone’s face that falls asleep, something your frat buddy would do after a night of binge drinking. It’s just those kinds of shenanigans that would be fun to see Jigglypuff pull off in a big screen adaptation.
The first Pokémon that Ash ever caught in the wild, Caterpie first made his original appearance in the third episode of the animated series. Just as quickly as it was caught, it evolved into a Metapod in the very same episode, a giant cocoon made out of an unbreakable shell. Of course, the transformation wouldn’t be complete until it evolved a couple episodes later into a Butterfree, a giant butterfly with large red eyes and fangs.
Butterfree and all of its pre-evolution forms are what you would call classic Pokémon. Any fan of the franchise could tell you how popular it was amongst the original 150; it’s the first one caught by the hero of the series for crying out loud. Even though Misty is initially grossed out by it, Poké Fans everywhere would rejoice to all those great heartfelt moments from the show inch their way onto the big screen. Though, we could probably skip that part where Ash makes his Metapod use harden for an entire battle. Nobody wants to sit through two hours of that.
Okay, enough with the cute stuff, let’s get to the powerful Pokémon. Speaking of which, there’s not much more powerful than a chain of giant gray boulders with a mouth big enough to gobble you up whole. A bizarre twist between a snake and a rock, Onix’s first big appearance in the show was “Showdown in Pewter City,” an episode where Ash had his first big battle with the Pewter City gym leader, and soon to be ally, Brock. During the battle, Brock’s Onix makes quick work of Ash’s Pikachu, and shows why Rock types, well, really rock.
Just like Ash had Pikachu and Misty had Togepi, Brock’s signature Pokémon was his Onix, a Pokémon featured on the show more times than we can count. It’s one of the largest and more powerful unevolved Pokémon not including legendaries, and it only rivals its own power by how aggressive and hardheaded it can be. Considering how big he was in the series, both metaphorically and figuratively, Onix is a standout Rock type with a spot cemented for himself in the live-action movie.
16 Zapdos, Articuno, Moltres
While the franchise now has enough legendaries to fil an entire Generation roster, the Winged Mirages of Kanto are the original power trio of the series. Zapdos, Articuno and Moltres set the bar for all trios that followed, which borrowed the same formula of three different types who are considered equal among themselves. These bird titans of ice, fire and electricity come together to control the currents and streams of the ocean, and are considered some of the strongest Pokémon in existence because of it.
The Legendary birds were heavily featured in the second Pokémon movie, The Power of One, in which they are each captured by a megalomaniac collector named Lawrence. Ash and friends eventually bust them out of captivity, but the three birds begin fighting amongst themselves, which could potentially lead to the destruction of the world (yikes!).
They were eventually persuaded to calm down, but the power to destroy the world is certainly a tantalizing thought for a live-action movie. If the company is looking for some mayhem, there are tons of legendaries that Legendary (excuse the pun) has to pick from, but we think it would be almost criminal not to feature the Guardians of Kanto as their first choice.
As we’ve seen with Ghostbusters and Shaun of the Dead, a mishmash of the comedic and supernatural can sometimes work in movies. Of course Detective Pikachu probably won’t be a full-blown horror/comedy, but it might have a few creepy undertones like the classic Scooby Doo episodes. After all, Detective Pikachu deals in solving mysteries just like Scooby and the gang. If that’s the angle Legendary is going for, then throwing a few Ghost types into the mix is a must, and none of them would provide that comedic creepiness like Gengar.
A supernatural trickster who lurks within the shadows, Gengar loves to play pranks on unsuspecting victims. His first major appearance in the anime was an episode call “The Tower of Terror,” in which a group of a Ghastly, Haunter and Gengar attempt to get Ash and his Pikachu to bust a gut. Though his pranks can sometimes cross the line, like having a chandelier plummet onto his victims, they come from a somewhat good natured place that would no doubt be at least intriguing to see play out on the big screen.
A key player in the anime, Tentacruel’s introduction was initially cut out of the series for Western audiences. Following the September 11th terrorist attacks, Kid’s WB! pulled the plug on the episode due to the destruction of a number of skyscrapers. When Cartoon Network began broadcasted the series a few years later, the episode was finally aired uncut, which featured a group of Tentacool and one giant Tentacruel wreaking havoc on the city of Porta Vista.
These giant jellyfish juggernauts are definitely something you don’t want to run across on a day at the beach. If you think getting stung by a regular jellyfish hurts, just imagine what these freakishly big sea creatures can do. It’s a scary thought to think about, but an interesting one to see play out in a movie. After all we go to the movies to suspend our disbelief and enjoy the extraordinary, and what’s more astonishing to see giant jellyfish take down skyscrapers and stomp across cities?
While he may or may not be an unlicensed caricature of celebrity psychic Uri Gellar, there’s no denying Kadabra’s popularity amongst Poké Fans. Powerful as it is extraordinary, this Psychic type Pokémon can emit alpha waves strong enough to cause mind-altering headaches, machines to malfunction, and any objects to go flying across the room by channeling its energy through its trusty spoons.
Ash was unlucky enough to go against one of these things with his Pikachu when gym leader Sabrina’s Abra evolved halfway through their battle. Not one to give up so easily, Ash seeks out a Haunter for a rematch, which catches the Kadabra off guard by making it uncontrollably laugh through slapstick antics.
After the initial battle, Kadarba, and his evolved form Alakazam, are seen a few more times throughout the anime as definite forces to be reckoned with. A live action Pokémon movie is sure to fair its share of Psychic types, and we’re using our own psychic powers to predict that Kadabra, Alakazam or even Abra will pop up somewhere in the mix. That is, before it mysteriously disappears using teleport.
Nobody’s arguing that Pikachu isn’t the unquestionable mascot of the original 150, but for future generations from Hoenn and up, Lucario was the coolest Pokémon under the sun. Loosely based on the Egyptian god Anubis by design, Lucario is a blue and black humanoid canine that absolutely oozes cool. He even got his own movie, Lucario and the Mystery of Mew, where he acted as a mysterious figure that walks the Earth seeking answers after thinking himself betrayed by his master. Tell us that doesn’t sound awesome.
It would be hard to find a parallel between most Pokémon and major film figures, but Lucario strikes a surprising resemblance to Clint Eastwood’s “Man with no name.” He’s a calm, cool and collected Pokémon that is shrouded in mystery, and has a deep desire to see justice carried out. Pair his awesome design up with the fact that he’s also an insanely powerful fighter, and you have a Pokémon that is just begging to be featured in a live-action movie.
Okay, Tauros may not be the most creative Pokémon. They’re basically just bulls with three gray bumps running down their foreheads. But remember the wild excitement that came over you when you first watched a herd of dinosaurs stampede across a field in Jurassic Park? Well now picture that same scene, but instead of dinosaurs they’re a bunch of Tauros majestically running down a valley. Capturing a sense of wonder and beauty in the first beats of a live-action adaptation is crucial, and Tauros would be the perfect Pokémon for the job.
While they weren’t the absolute stars of the anime, Tauros found their way into episodes here and there. In the 35th episode Ash managed to catch 30 of them in one shot, an impressive feat. They also appeared in the first few scenes of Mewtwo Srtikes Back as a group of Team Rocket Grunts run across a field in attempt to capture a herd. These bovine Pokémon may not be fire-breathing dragons or armored rock monster, but they can be majestic, and movies are all about capturing a great regal image.
Legendary’s live-action movie is going to have to feature some heavy hitting Pokémon to draw in the action junkies, and no one hits harder than the freakishly muscular Machamp. He’s the kind of Pokémon that punches first, and asks questions later, and it’s that mentality which made him not only one of the most popular Pokémon in the series, but in the video games and manga as well.
He’s had several noticeable appearances in the animated series, most notably as part of Giovanni’s team as the villainous head of Team Rocket. A gray bodybuilder with four arms, Machamp is an example of perceived machoism personified in a Pokémon that would provide some topnotch battle sequences. With those four arms it has the ability to throw 500 punches a second, and possesses the strength to move entire mountains and tear apart buildings, and you tell us that wouldn’t be cool to see on the big screen.
He may not be as cute as Squirtle, or as ferocious as Charizard, but Bulbasaur has a couple things going for it including being the first ranked Pokémon in the Pokédex, and being one of the three original starters. That’s some serious street cred in a franchise that now has seven different trios of starter Pokémon, and a roster that now exceeds 750 different species.
Debuting in the tenth episode of the anime, Bulbasaur was initially very cautious of Ash. The two finally agreed to a battle, which the Pokémon trainer won with his famous Pikachu. Warming up to Ash, Bulbasaur willingly joined his team and remained in his party long after Squirtle and Charizard departed. This Grass type was known for having a level head and being extremely loyal, so much so that Ash eventually sent him to work as an ambassador between argumentative groups of Pokémon. For its maturity and the fact that it’s the very first Pokémon ranked numerically, Bulbasaur is all but guaranteed a spot in a live-action movie.
You might notice that Psyduck is constantly holding its noggin like it can’t get the latest Taylor Swift song out of its head. This is actually because it suffers from constant migraine headaches making it unable to think very clearly. That makes us kind of sympathize with this confused yellow duckling, who most of the time looks more befuddled than Daffy Duck trying to best Bugs Bunny in a game of wits.
Psyduck may not be the smartest Pokémon, but what he lacks in brains and mobility he makes up for with . . . um . . . personality. In the anime, Misty accidentally catches the clueless Pokémon when he curiously pecks at one of her Poké Balls. Apparently nobody catches this thing unless by mistake. Every episode onward features Psyduck endlessly irritating Misty, and while she was ready to pull her hair out, it was quite funny for the audience.
Despite evolving into the far more powerful Golduck, Psyduck may be more popular if only for its clueless shenanigans. Annoying for sure, but completely hilarious in small doses which could add some excellent comic relief to a Detective Pikachu movie.
7 Team Rocket Pokémon: Arbok, Weezing, and Meowth
Prepare for trouble and make it double. Or, actually, make it triple but that doesn’t rhyme as well. Every good series needs a great threatening antagonist, and lord knows that wasn’t Team Rocket. The bumbling trio of Jessie, James and Meowth were some of the most idiotic evil-doers on TV who hatched the sort of harebrained schemes that would make Wile Coyote shake his head in disgust.
Since their introduction in the second episode Team Rocket and their respective Pokémon became an integral part of the anime for their wacky attempts to steal Ash’s Pikachu. If the live-action movie were to bring them back in some form, and we’re going to take a big leap of faith here to say that it should, then their iconic Pokémon have got to be included.
We’re talking about Jessie’s Arbok, James’ Weezing, and of course Team Rocket’s Meowth, who despite being a Pokémon, had the uncanny ability to talk. If only for this reason Meowth should be included to give us a unique perspective: the viewpoint of a Pokémon. The icing on the cake would be if the guys at Legendary somehow got Danny DeVito to voice the flagitious feline.
Although Dragonite might look like a mascot that would appear on your favorite box of cereal, don’t be too quick to judge him on his appearance. These guys are some of the most powerful Pokémon in the franchise. They might look bulky and round, but they’re capable of flying at the speed of sound, and will go on a destructive rampage if their environment is threatened. While its capable of great power, Dragonite is also known to possess human-like intelligence. With both brains and brawn, they’re able to reason instead of mindlessly smashing everything in sight.
We all know that the giant shadowing figure in “Mystery at the Lighthouse” was a Dragonite, but the Pokémon’s first appearance in the series didn’t come until Mewtwo Strikes Back as a mere messenger to give Ash an invitation. Not the coolest role for the series’ first Dragon type. Fortunately, it was seen later down the road as used by both characters Drake and Lance in various Pokémon battles. Being the original Dragon type, both powerful and docile by nature, we’d be crushed if Dragonite didn’t at least get a fly by in the live-action movie.
Snorlax spends most of his days sleeping and eating. He’s the kind of Pokémon that we all wish could trade places with. Who wouldn’t want to loaf around all day doing nothing, only to roll out of bed to grab something to eat? Surely Peter Gibbons from Office Space would agree that Snorlax is living the dream, and we would have to agree.
This lazy Pokémon’s big moment in the anime came in an episode appropriately named “Snack Attack!” in which Ash and friends journey to an island that grows giant grapefruits. When most of the delicious fruits go missing and believed to be stolen, it turns out that the "bandits" are just one hungry Snorlax who can’t stop himself from snacking.
Aside from his abnormally large appetite, Snorlax is mostly known in the show for sleeping in inconvenient places like in the middle on the road, at the end of a footbridge, or on the edge of a cliff. We know it would be hard to give each Pokémon their due in the live-action movie, but it would be easy enough to throw Snorlax in if only for a glorified cameo, popping up in the unlikeliest of places and taking a well-deserved nap for all of us.
Gyarados is a beast. Who knew something so badass could evolve from something as lame as Magikarp? This water dragon has razor sharp fangs that could tear a car apart, scales that are harder to penetrate than steel, and a mean, tempered scowl that says “I don’t take kindly to strangers.” In fact, Gyarados appears to be in a perpetual state of enragement, and the only thing rarer than finding a red shiny one is finding one that can smile.
An obvious winner by design, Gyarados was seen time and again in the animated series as both a wild Pokémon and part of different characters’ teams. The show’s resident Water type master Misty obtained one after passing the Pokémon Inspection Agency Test, and almost unbelievably, doofus Team Rocket member James even scored himself a Gyarados after evolving his Magikarp by kicking it into the ocean.
This serpentine water dragon is just too cool not to be featured in some form in a live action movie. Over the years, countless hyper-realistic paintings have cropped up online showing what it would be like to encounter a Gyarados in real life. Now that the movie can give us our best possible chance to see what that would look like, it seems like an opportunity too good to pass up.
Speaking of badass water types, what’s not to like about Blastoise? He’s a massive tortoise/tank with two built in water cannons that are said to be so powerful they can cut through steel with a blast range of over six miles. A far cry away from his cute and cuddly counterpart Squirtle, who looks like he would use his shell more for a hiding place than advanced weaponry.
In the anime Blastoise is usually seen hanging out with schools of Squirtle and Wartortle as the grand poohbah who runs the show. Other than the wild, he can also be seen as part of a team used by Gary, Ash’s rival, who evolved him from a Squirtle that was given to him by Professor Oak. Shame that such a cool Pokémon is wasted on such an arrogant jerk.
Despite his popularity in the anime, Blastoise was the mascot of the very first Gameboy game Pokémon Blue, and since then has remained a fan favorite. Part of the original trio of evolved starters, he’s certainly a shoe-in for a role in the upcoming movie if only to show how much damage he can do with those water cannons in a real life setting.
An abomination of science, or misunderstood creature? Mewtwo is an enigma that Poké Fans have been trying to unravel for years, and it is just that mystery that continues to peak our interest. Being a modified lifeform, he bears a striking parallel between that of Mary Shelly’s Frankenstein, both powerful yet unnatural beings that are trying to find their place in the world.
He was sprinkled in only unseen cameos in the anime, but finally got to tell his story with the first feature length Pokémon movie, Mewtwo Strikes Back. In that story the Psychic Pokémon feels rather bitter about his genetically engineered origins. He decides to create an entire race of cloned Pokémon to help bridge the gap between artificial and natural life.
Mewtwo is a huge fan favorite of the series, and it’s not hard to understand why. He’s insanely powerful with an immensely interesting backstory, probably the most interesting in the anime so far. He’s sympathetic and yet at the same time indifferent. His heavy subject matter might get a little too weighty for a Detective Pikachu movie, but if the day ever came to up the ante in the story department, Mewtwo is the Pokémon to use.
You probably saw this coming. Actually, if you didn’t see this coming, we’d be shocked. Arguably the greatest Pokémon from the First Generation, there’s absolutely no way that Legendary can produce a live-action Pokémon movie without including Charizard. Just look at this thing; it’s a tough as nails fire dragon with huge wings, sharp fangs, and a tail with a flame on the end of it. C’mon!
One of Ash’s most powerful Pokémon ever, Charizard has helped the young trainer win some of the toughest battles he’s ever had to face. It was at first extremely disloyal due to its insolent nature, to the point where it would even go on local rampages. After being horrifically wounded however, the Pokémon shared a heart-wrenching moment with Ash who nurses it back to health. After that instant Charizard stuck with Ash through thick and thin, and although nobody could replace the dynamic between Ash and his Pikachu, this fire breathing lizard put up a pretty good fight.
There have been tons of Fire types that have come and gone in the anime, and in the franchise, but none that are so familiar and popular as Charizard. This mythical-looking starter captured the minds and imaginations of any kid with a Gameboy or television set growing up in the Pokémon era. We hope the folks at Legendary are listening when we say we need to see him in a live-action movie, if only to relive our wildest fantasies from our childhood.