When it comes to the Pokemon franchise, legendary Pokemon are in a class of their own. Along with the more elusive mythical Pokemon, legendaries represent some of the strongest creatures in the entire game, sporting high stats, killer moves, and most importantly, lots of intrigue when it comes to capturing them. The designs of legendary Pokemon are often among the most eye-catching (makes sense, since they tend to be the box-art mascots for each game!), but which ones are truly the best and worst designed of the entire franchise?
In this special bonus article, well have some fun highlighting the best legendaries across all of the Pokemon games!
Best Legendary Pokemon - Lugia
Lugia has always been a fan favorite. Designed by the late Takeshi Shudo, the writer and showrunner for the early years of the Pokemon anime, Lugia was meant to only be in the second Pokemon movie and never make an appearance in the games at all. Shudo himself was surprised to see Lugia included in Pokemon Gold and Silver. Did You Know Gaming has the full story of Lugia’s creation by Shudo if you are curious for more information.
Regardless, Lugia is amazingly designed by Shudo. Its sleek body is inspired by a plesiosaurus, mixed with a water dragon for good measure. Its back plates, almost like little blue spikes, help portray its more dragon-like qualities. Its large wings act as flippers as well, giving the design versatility in how it can be portrayed; an elegant but powerful beast that can wreak havoc when unleashed. Considering Lugia is a massive defensive tank, with 106/130/154 Defenses, it certainly can take a hit and is no slouch to dishing them out itself.
Best Legendary Pokemon - Mewtwo
The granddaddy of all the legendaries, Mewtwo was perfect right out of the gate, save for maybe its weird-looking Red and Blue sprite. The result of a science experiment gone wrong, Mewtwo’s design exudes power; its eyes give it a piercing glare that only heightens this trait even further, and is perhaps the most important aspect of its design. Its alien-like body structure, mixed with the more feline-shaped head and tail, give an otherworldly motif that complements its latent power. Mewtwo is the perfect final challenge, and for many a young fan, the best reward for exploring Cerulean Cave after becoming champion.
And to say Mewtwo is powerful is an understatement. For 25 years, Mewtwo has been considered one of the most powerful Pokemon in the franchise. Its gargantuan Special Attack and Speed stats, clocking in at 154 and 130 respectively, pretty much destroyed every Pokemon in the first few generations without much competition. Being a pure Psychic-type is its biggest weakness nowadays, but that still doesn’t stop it from ripping holes through teams with relative ease. Mewtwo is, and will always be, a top-tier Pokemon.
Best Legendary Pokemon - Rayquaza
Rayquaza is the first Pokemon that comes to mind when I think of a dragon. Based on a Lindworm and Chinese depictions of dragons, its long, snake-like body is just breathtaking when you first see it. It is menacing in how it looks, but also looks poised and wise on top of it. Its primary influence is Quetzacotal, a flying serpent god in Aztec mythology who created the boundary between the earth, the ocean, and the sky. The design motifs simply compliment this role of Rayquaza, making it a popular legendary, and according to Pokemon fans in 2020, the most popular Pokemon from Generation III.
Rayquaza is also a beast when it comes to competitive play. A Dragon/Flying-type, it sports base 150 Attack and Special Attack and, even with a decent 90 Speed, hits like a truck whenever it is on the field. It became almost infamous for being the most broken Pokemon in the entire game when it was given a Mega Evolution in Gen VI. Thankfully, that was taken away from it with the removal of Mega Evolutions in Generation VIII. Still, Rayquaza is a powerhouse who can dish out damage with the best of them.
Best Legendary Pokemon - Zapdos
As a kid, one of my favorite Pokemon in Red and Blue was Zapdos. A massive creature based on the legendary Thunderbird, Zapdos was one of the sweetest surprises to a hidden dungeon I ever had; I had no idea it would be in the Power Plant. Its lightning-like head and sharp-winged body always exuded power to me, and out of the legendary birds, it was certainly the coolest-looking design of the bunch.
What made it better is how powerful it was in battle. Zapdos was one of the best Pokemon to use competitively in the early years of the franchise, and it was mostly due to its mix of typing and moves. It was one of the best Electric-types in the game at the time, sported high Special Attack and Speed, and was a key component in paralyzing and destroying common threats outside of its Ice and Rock-type weaknesses. Zapdos is amazing, an icon out of arguably the most iconic legendary trio in the franchise.
Best Legendary Pokemon - Zekrom
The legendary dragons of Pokemon Black and White are some of my all-time favorite designs simply because of how contrasting they are. Purposefully designed around the concept of Yin and Yang in Taosim, Zekrom was purposefully made to look more masculine in contrast to the feminine Reshiram, the Black Yin to Reshiram’s White Yang. Add to this its all black body, the blue-tinted electricity coursing through its crevices, and the giant turbine for its tail, Zekrom has a lot of elements that just click together to make it a powerful legendary design.
That power also comes into play when battling, thanks in part to its massive base 150 Attack and 120 Special Attack. Combine this with high stats across the board, with Zekrom’s Speed being the lowest at base 90, and you have a Pokemon that has a lot of versatility to hit big threats with its powerful movepool. The dual Dragon/Electric-typing gives it plenty of options for moves, especially its signature move Bolt Strike which does massive damage and has a chance for paralysis if it connects. Zekrom is a powerful Pokemon indeed, and it was good on Game Freak to compliment its stats well with its design.
And there you have it, the best and worst Legendary Pokemon throughout all of the games. In the end, all of these Pokemon designs, from the starters to the legendaries, are unique in their own ways, adding to the longevity of the Pokemon franchise by being well crafted, planned, and created to fit into the games the franchise creates.
From cute to cool, weak to powerful, beautiful to ugly, and yes, best to worst, the designs of Pokemon are iconic. But let’s be honest, we wouldn't have it any other way than this.
So the question now is, do you agree with our choices here? Which are your favorite and least favorite legendaries? Leave your comments below.