Every starter Pokémon ever, ranked (by how much we want to hug them)

The Pokémon series has given us lots of great choices for starters over the years, and it’s a long-debated topic about which is the best. We’re here to sort that out once and for all. Here’s a definitive ranking of the series’ introductory creatures!

Oh, and our criteria were entirely based around how much we’d enjoy hugging ’em.

Pokemon Hug Cyndaquil

Pokémon we absolutely don’t want to hug

Cyndaquil pokemon

22. Cyndaquil

That thing is on fire. That thing is always on fire. Or, I guess just usually, but you’d be hugging them all around that area that’s usually on fire, and I really don’t think it’s worth taking that chance, do you? – Graham

Totodile pokemon

21. Totodile

I seem to recall some age-old wisdom suggesting we should never smile or become friendly with a crocodile, because he’s “imagining how well we’d fit within his skin.” I see your toothy grin, Totodile. You’re not fooling anyone. – Jenni

Charmander pokemon

20. Charmander

Charmander is also always on fire, but in a location that you could probably avoid during a hug. Still, you’re going through all that trouble for, like, a fang lizard. It is less of a fang lizard than Totodile and less of an always-on-fire thing than Cyndaquil, but it is still some of both of those things. – Graham

Chimchar pokemon

19. Chimchar

Here’s what we know about Chimchar. It is almost always on fire, just like a Cyndaquil and Charmander. The anime and manga have established its fire goes out while it’s asleep, but what happens if you try to hug it while it naps and it wakes up? Better to leave it be and not risk third-degree burns. – Jenni

Turtwig pokemon

18. Turtwig

Turtwig is neither a fang lizard nor constantly aflame, and yet still I find within myself no desire to hug one. There is nothing soft to hug, and also you’re putting that mouth near enough to you for it to chomp at your vital organs. – Graham

Froakie pokemon

17. Froakie

I have hygienic concerns when it comes to Froakie. What is that white foam around its collar? Some frogs have glands that exude a poison that can irritate people’s skin. Is Froakie one of those frogs? Also, it’s probably slimy. I do not want to hug it. – Jenni

Pokemon Hug Bulbasaur

Pokémon we would be okay with hugging, given the right circumstances

Torchic pokemon

16. Torchic

Torchic is adorable, Torchic is my friend and Torchic has that internal flame that could probably keep someone warm if they stayed close. But Torchic is, generally speaking, a ball of beaks and claws. There’s a good hug in there somewhere, but you’d have to be very careful. – Graham

Bulbasaur pokemon

15. Bulbasaur

Here’s the thing about Bulbasaur: I’m not sure it would want to hug me. That just isn’t Bulbasaur’s style. With that bulb on its back, I think it has enough trouble staying comfortable without anyone else intervening and getting all up in its business. – Graham

Treecko pokemon

14. Treecko

Treecko gets the honor of being the “neutral” selection in the list. It’s not really hazardous or unpleasant in any way, but it also doesn’t have any qualities that would suggest that hugging would be something it’d be particularly good at doing. It is at least capable of hugs, with arms to hug you back and a torso without spikes or flames. – Graham

Snivy pokemon

13. Snivy

Snivy seems a lot like Bulbasaur. If you’re going to hug it, it’s going to be on its terms. It’s certainly cute and cuddly enough, but also exceptionally fast. I’m not going to forcibly chase down a Pokémon for a hug. That’s not cool. But if it’s open to the idea, we can certainly snuggle. – Jenni

Chespin pokemon

12. Chespin

Is Chespin sharp? It certainly sounds like it’d be sharp. It has “pin” in its name and is described as a spiny nut Pokémon. Apparently the quills around its face are only sharp when Chespin is attacking? If he’s in a good, calm place, then I would absolutely be okay with hugging him and booping that nose. – Jenni

Mudkip pokemon

11. Mudkip

My primary concern with Mudkip comes down to cleanliness. I don’t like to get dirty. It learns Mud-Slap and Mud Sport. If it’ll let me give it a bath first, I am down for some quality cuddling with Mudkip. I’d even pinch its chubby cheeks. – Jenni

Pokemon Hug Tepig

Pokémon we would like to hug

Popplio pokemon

10. Popplio

You know, I think a lot of the appeal of hugging Popplio comes from the sense that the little fella needs a good one about now as much as you do. It puts on a brave face, but all those Internet jokes have to hurt after a while, and Popplio needs to know that we care. We do care, Popplio. Bring it in, buddy. – Graham

Chikorita pokemon

9. Chikorita

Hugging Chikorita would be like hugging a dinosaur. More specifically, it’d be like bonding with Littlefoot from The Land Before Time. The first movie, by the way. Not one of the 13 follow-ups. I’d want to throw my arms around it and rub our foreheads together. But not lift it; it looks heavy. – Jenni

Squirtle pokemon

8. Squirtle

It’s a tale of two turtles. While Turtwig would be thoroughly unpleasant, Squirtle makes up for its exterior with a happy spunk and an undeniable enthusiasm. A hug from a Squirtle means you’re friends with a Squirtle, and everyone should want to be friends with a Squirtle. – Graham

Litten pokemon

7. Litten

Anyone who’s been around cats knows there are three kinds: ones that like being held and hugged, ones that’ll grudgingly accept it and ones that prefer to be left alone. Litten seems to be in the middle group. It’d be warm, soft and sweet, then squirm out of your grasp after a minute. But it’d be a great minute! – Jenni

Tepig pokemon

6. Tepig

Tepig loves being part of the family, as this series of TCG cards shows. You’ll hug it. Your kids will hug it. Their kids will hug it too. See, that’s what Tepig provides: constant comfort in an ever-changing world.– Graham

Pokemon Hug GIF

Pokémon we’d enjoy hugging quite a bit

Pikachu pokemon

5. Pikachu

Pikachu is, on paper, the perfect Pokemon to hug. It’s small, cute, soft… it’d take days to go through all of its positive attributes. The problem is its bright, rosy cheeks. Pokémon Amie has taught us that touching a Pikachu’s cheek sacs is an electrifying experience. While that element of danger may make it even more alluring, it also makes its hugs an acquired taste. – Jenni

Piplup pokemon

4. Piplup

Besides being half of the huggingest duo out there, Piplup just feels so infectiously cheerful. After all, most people seeking hugs would love a good pick-me-up, so a Pokémon capable of instantly lifting spirits is great even if it isn’t so fluffy. – Graham

Fennekin pokemon

3. Fennekin

On this list, a Fire creature can get rather far just by not currently being on fire, but Fennekin has a leg up on a lot of its competition here: it’s got a bunch of fluffy fur! Tell me you wouldn’t love a Fennekin settling down next to you on the sofa after a long day, providing companionship when you need it. – Graham

Oshawott pokemon

2. Oshawott

Oshawott is such a happy, perky little guy! Look at that smile! It’s charming. Have it set that shell aside, pull it close and kiss those little ear nubbins as you hug it close. Do you think it’d hug us back? I bet it’d hug us back! – Jenni

Pokemon Hug Rowlet

The starter Pokémon we most want to hug

Rowlet pokemon

1. Rowlet

Rowlet is the perfect size and shape for a proper hug. You can pull it close, smooch the top of its beak and contentedly nuzzle the little buddy all day. YouTube has taught us that owls enjoy pets and hugs, after all. A Rowlet would probably hop up on your shoulder and rub its cheek against yours after a good cuddle too. I’m in love. – Jenni

Which Pokémon do you most want to hug? Let us know in the comments or on Twitter!

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