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The Best Legendary Pokémon Across the Franchise's Universe

pokemon MOBILE
Michael Caloca / ONE37pm / The Pokémon Company

Pokémon is one of the most beloved and popular media franchises ever. It is so popular, in fact, that it is the most valuable media franchise of all time.

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Created in 1995 by Satoshi Tajiri, what started as a pair of video games for Game Boy became a record-breaking media franchise. It is the 4th best-selling videogame franchise of all time, with nearly 400 million games sold and one billion mobile downloads. Its anime adaption is considered the best videogame to anime adaption of all time, with 20 seasons and more than 1,000 episodes. The IP's trading cards have been sold more than 34 Billion times, and have become an entire alternative investing class of its own. Some cards have sold for prices higher than some houses. Anime movies, live-action movies and theme parks, you name it.  

At the center of the Pokémon universe are… Pokémon. Mythical creatures with special powers are separated into different categories. While fan-favorites such as Pikachu and Charizard are a hit among fans and casuals, there is one special category of Pokémon that stands above all others both in terms of power and origin story: Legendary Pokémon. In this article, we'll be examining the best legendary Pokémon across all the media in the franchise's wide-reaching universe.

What are Legendary Pokémon and where do they come from? A timeline.

Legendary Pokémon are unique because of their powers and history. While the entire history is unknown in detail, there are certain things we know for sure, and then certain aspects that are up for debate among fans. What we know is that there are 900 Pokémon in total and approximately 80 of them are Legendary. The first factor that makes them special is the simple fact that all Pokémon exist because of one Legendary Pokémon: Arceus. Known also as “The Original One”, Arceus is credited with having created the Pokémon Universe. This Pokémon is considered the god of all Pokémon. 

Arceus then created Dialgia, Palkina and Giratina. Also known as the “Creation Trio,” this group of legendary Pokémon was the first group to be given life by Arceus, therefore they have a special place in the universe. Arceus gave them power over time (Dialgia), space (Palkina), and antimatter (Giratina). Because of its aggressive nature, Giratina was sent to the “Distortion World”, a world created as punishment by Arceus.


After creating the “Creation Trio”, Arceus created the “Lake Guardians”, specifically Uxie, Mesprit and Aself. Through them, all creatures were given knowledge, emotion and willpower. All three went to caves, respectively to Lake Verity, Lake Valor and Lake Acuity. Three more legendaries were created afterward. Kyogre was created from the deep-sea trenches and represents the ocean itself, Groudon from the crust of the Earth, and Rayquaza was created from the minerals of the ozone layer. Kyogre created the sea and Groudon created land. They fought each other and Rayquaza had to intervene; they were put away through the Red and Blue orbit, respectively. Regigigas moved continents around and created the regions in the Pokémon universe. He went on to create Regirock, Regice and Registeel. They are also known as the Legendary Titans. Regirock represents clay, Regice represents ice and Registeel represents magma.

Later on, A legendary bird Pokémon was born: Ho-oh. This Pokémon created three other legendary bird Pokémon, each representing Ho-oh’s Journey. These three legendary birds are Moltres, who represents the heat of the sun through which Ho-oh was born, Articuno, who represents the cold air through which Ho-oh flew and Zapdos, who represents Earth, the place Ho-oh landed.

During this time, a powerful Pokémon species named Mew, which was created earlier, started going extinct due to their bodies adapting to Earth conditions. After a long time passes, Arceus decided to go away, but before doing so, Arceus created four more legendary Pokémon. These are Tapu Lele, who created the first human and Meloetta, a psychic Pokemon that gives humans artistic creativity. Tapu Bulu is the second legendary Tapu Pokemon. Tapu Bulu taught humans agriculture and tolerance with Pokémon. Tapu Fini and Tapu Koko are the 3rd and 4th Pokémon created. They taught humans about different types of Pokémon and everything they needed to know about their abilities, strengths and how to fight. With time, other Pokémon, such as Calebi and Shaymin, came to light.

This is an approximate timeline of events through which Legendary Pokémon were created. The Pokémon universe is vast and the exact origin stories and locations are not entirely known, but by now I am certain that you get a feel as to why the Pokémon fanbase is so invested. There are many unique characters and stories through which viewers can create their connection with them. 

The above video features a Legendary Pokémon Family Tree to paint the picture for you.

If you want a different and easier to categorize them, you can look below. Legendary Pokémon are categorized into generations. Pokémon generations are simply groupings in which Pokémon are listed together. Each generation has its own identity and perks.

Legendary Pokémon Listed by Category:

Generation I Legendary Pokémon:

  1. Zapdos
  2. Articuno
  3. Moltres
  4. Mewtwo

Generation II Legendary Pokémon:

  1. Raikou
  2. Entei
  3. Suicine
  4. Ho-Oh 
  5. Lugia

Generation III Legendary Pokémon:

  1. Regirock
  2. Regice
  3. Registeel
  4. Latios
  5. Latias
  6. Kyogre
  7. Groudon 
  8. Rayquaza

Generation IV Legendary Pokémon:

  1. Uxie
  2. Mesprit
  3. Azelf
  4. Dialga
  5. Palkia
  6. Heatran
  7. Regigigas 
  8. Giratina
  9. Cresselia

Generation V Legendary Pokémon:

  1. Cobalion
  2. Terrakion
  3. Virizion 
  4. Tornadus
  5. Thundurs
  6. Reshiram
  7. Zekrom
  8. Landorus
  9. Kyurem

Generation VI Legendary Pokémon:

  1. Xerneas
  2. Yveltal
  3. Zygarde

Generation VII Legendary Pokémon:

  1. Type: Null
  2. Silvally
  3. Tapu Koko
  4. Tapu Lele
  5. Tapu Bulu
  6. Tapu Fini
  7. Cosmog
  8. Cosmoem
  9. Solgaleo 
  10. Lunala
  11. Necrozma

Generation VIII Legendary Pokémon:

  1. Zacian
  2. Zamazenta
  3. Eternatus
  4. Kubfu
  5. Urshifu
  6. Glastrier
  7. Spectrier
  8. Calyrex
  9. Regieleki
  10. Regidrago

Now that we have a better idea of what Legendary Pokémon are and what they mean to the Pokémon universe, you might wonder which ones are the strongest. It's obviously subjective, but which Legendary Pokémon are "the best"? We’re going to list the best 20 Legendary Pokémon we believe are the most powerful and beloved across anime, movies and video games.

The 20 Best Legendary Pokémon:

20. Legendary Birds (Galarian version) - Generation I

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Legendary Birds - Galarian form. Clockwise from top left: Articuno, Moltres, Zapdos / Bulbapedia / The Pokémon Company

Moltres, Zapdos and Articuno are the first trio of Pokémon. Deemed the “Legendary Birds,” they are also known as titans of fire, lightning and ice. This trio will be considered as one unit in this list because they are treated as such in the storyline too. While they are strong in their normal form, their Galarian versions have made them stand out. After the Sword and Shield came out, the Galarian versions of this trio were one of the most talked-about changes, and rightfully so. 

Galarian Moltres has become more powerful in its ability to burn enemies, Galarian Zapdos can move at the speed of light and strike swiftly, while Galarian Articuno uses its wings as weapons and flies using its psychic power. It can of course also strike with cold freezes. Zapdos is especially impressive, with his 125 attack stat and 100-speed. No matter what the enemy is, their combination of skills and abilities would be a huge help to have on your side in any Pokémon game.

19. Jirachi - Generation III

385Jirachi

Jirachi is a mythical steel and psychic type Pokémon found in the Hoenn region. The legend states that Jirachi can make every wish come true for a week every thousand years. However, even when it is sleeping, this Pokemon can wake up if it senses danger nearby. This makes it more dangerous than you would think at first glance.

Its signature move Doom Desire is one of the quickest attacks you will find across the Pokémon games. Its paralysis powers are also good for countering attacks. With its good defense and offense against most types, Jirachi is a powerful side-kick to have. 

18. Latios - Generation III

381Latios

Latios is a Dragon/Psychic-type Pokémon. What makes this Pokémon so great to have is simple: you want to have great offense and defense in your arsenal at all times. Latios provides that and then some. With the highest attack CP (Combat Power) out of all Dragon types excluding Rayquaza, and with the second-best defense after Latias, the combination this Pokemon brings is a very powerful one and is a lot to handle for any enemy.  Among psychic types, only Mewtwo is ahead in offense power. This speaks volumes with regard to how strong Latios is. Its weakness is its low stamina, which means these strong attacks can’t last long. It ranks second to last in stamina. Regardless, the fact remains that the attacks it can release in a short period are powerful enough to cause trouble for any Pokémon. 

17. Latias - Generation III

380Latias

The female counterpart to Latios, Latias is like-wise found in the Hoenn region. Together with Latios, they form the Eon Duo. It ranks lower in offense than a few other dragons including Latios, so why the higher ranking? Well, the key is in its balance of strengths and defense. While it does not rank the highest necessarily, its strengths are more balanced than other dragons. It ranks 5th on CP out of Psychic types. What stands out from Latias is its defense. With a defense of 246, it leaves behind almost everyone else. If used especially in tandem with Latios, Latias could provide a very helpful balanced and defensive effort. 

16. Cresselia - Generation IV

488Cresselia

Cresselia is a Psychic-type Pokémon. With a Max CP of 2777, it stands out in a few ways. One of the only Pokémon to specifically have one possible gender, the female Pokémon shines in her ability to dispel nightmares. Furthermore, what she lacks in Offense, she makes up for in Defense and Stamina. She ranks second-best out of all Psychic types in Stamina, and her Defense is also excellent. Simply said, while she won’t outshine any Legendaries in her attacking powers, her combination of defense and stamina make her a damage-absorbing super performer. In a battle, this could give you time to think of the next steps. Regardless of how good your offense is, if you are getting hit easily, there is no point. Cresselia is a powerful reminder of this and is worth considering as an asset. 

15. Xerneas - Generation VI

716Xerneas

Xerneas is a Fairy-type Pokémon. It represents 1/3 of the Aura Trio, along with Yveltal and Zygarde. The legend says that when its horns shine in seven colors, it is sharing everlasting life. What makes Xerneas stand out is its outstanding charged moves. Xerneas is resistant to three elements, outnumbering its weaknesses to Steel and Poison. Geomancy is the name of its signature move, and you might hear a lot about it from Pokemon fans because it became a fan favorite due to its ability to increase Xerneas’s defense and offense by two stages. Furthermore, Xerneas is especially capable against Dragon-type Pokémon, which are considered some of the toughest ones to beat. What makes Xerneas less potent is the fact that after its bursts, it goes to sleep and does not engage in battle. 

14. Yveltal - Generation VI

717Yveltal

Yveltal is a part of the Aura Trio along with the aforementioned Xerneas. By comparison, Yveltal’s and Xerneas’ stats are very similar. Yveltal is a Dark and Flying-type. Yveltal has great stats, especially shining with its 250 ATK. What sets it apart from Xerneas, however, is its fighting nature. Simply said, while Xerneas goes to sleep for 1000 years peacefully, when Yveltal goes to sleep for 1000 years, it destroys everything in its circle. This obviously makes for an extremely potent Pokémon. It’s also worth noting that it is highly ranked in PvP scenarios. Yveltal is the destructive beast enemies are scared of fighting.

13. Zekrom - Generation V

644Zekrom

Zekrom is a Dragon/Electric Pokémon. With a base stat of 680 and all-around balanced power, this Pokémon is a stand-out. It is said in the Legend that Zekrom is the Pokémon that sided with the Younger brother prince of the Unova region. He is a part of the Tao Trio, alongside Reshiram and Kyurem. Its signature moves are Charge Beam and Wild Charge. Zekrom is the strongest electric type Pokémon, and whenever you have a Pokémon which is the strongest in an element, you know you are dealing with something powerful. Its intimidating look has made it a fan favorite, and its PvP prowess has helped it become even more popular. 

12. Reshiram - Generation V

500px 643Reshiram

Reshiram is a Dragon/Fire Pokemon. With its jet-engine-like tail, its ability to cause chaos with fire and the power to change the weather, it is difficult to consider this Pokémon anything less than extremely powerful. Reshiram is part of the Tao Trio and The Legend states that, unlike Zekrom which sided with the younger brother, Reshiram sided with the Older brother who sought the truth. Therefore, Reshiram burns castles with people who ignore the truth and are guided by greed. With its clean look, it has a grandiose aura; make no mistake about it, its ability to cause more neutral damage to all types of Pokémon is what puts it ahead of Zekrom.

11. Kyurem - Generation V

646Kyurem

Kyurem is the final 1/3rd of the Tao Trio. The Legend says that when Reshiram and Zekrom fought and separated, the shell that remained created Kyurem. It is a Dragon/Ice-type Pokémon. With a base stat of 660, Kyurem is powerful in its own right, but what makes it very scary is its potential to fuse with Reshiram, creating white Kyurem. It can also fuse with Zekrom, creating Black Kyurem. These combinations are enough to scare any enemy away from battling with this Pokémon. 

10. Ho-Oh - Generation II

250Ho Oh

Ho-Oh is the master/creator of the trio of Legendary Birds Articuno, Zapdos and Moltres. Ho-Oh created each one as a representation of his journey. A Fire/Flying-type Pokémon, Ho-Oh has a 239 attack CP. It is well very well balanced in defense and stamina. It can regenerate, which makes it an almost unbeatable Pokémon. Furthermore, it can summon the Legendary Birds and summon Pokémon from the dead. It is the Pokémon Ash sees flying in the sky often, and its rainbow colors are said to give happiness to anyone who looks at them, therefore Pokémon fans have a special connection with it.

9. Kyogre - Generation III

20130825150619382Kyogre

Kyogre is a whale-like Pokémon. It belongs to the water type, and if it has the blue orb, it can transform itself to have a whopping 770 base stat. Kyogre is considered the strongest water-type Pokémon, and therefore any Pokémon that has a weakness against water types is doomed to have a tough time with this sea ruler. It is most efficient against Fire, Rock and Ground types. Its power is so great that it can cause sea levels to rise. 

8. Groudon - Generation III (Primal Form)

383Groudon Primal

Groudon is a Ground-type Pokémon. Together with Rayquan and Kyogre, it is a part of the super-ancient Pokémon. With his powers, he can create and move entire continents, while his battles with Kyogre are some of the scariest Pokémon legends ever told. His ability to become a fire Pokémon when in control of the orbit makes Groudon unparalleled and the true ruler of the ground. 

7. Lugia - Generation II

20130823042253249Lugia

Lugia is a Psychic/Flying-type. It represents ½ of the Tower Duo with Ho-Oh, and the two are considered polar opposites of each other. Lugia is the “guardian of the seas” while Ho-Oh is the “guardian of the skies”. Lugia’s powers consist of being able to control the Legendary Birds, being the only one who can stop the Legendary Birds from fighting with each other and the ability to change the weather by calming and causing storms. Lugia is so powerful that it chooses to hide undersea for long periods of time, due to the damage it could cause even by accident. What makes Lugia more powerful than Ho-Oh is the fact that Lugia can fly as well as stay underwater, while Ho-Oh can only fly. Not to mention, its wings can cause damage that lasts for 40 days. Lugia’s destructive power can be matched by very few Pokémon. 

6. Palkia - Generation IV

palkia

Palkia is a Water/Dragon-type, and represents 1/3 of the Sinnoh Trio along with Dialga and Girantina. Palkia represents space and so naturally its ability is warping space and traveling through different dimensions. It is known that Palkia has battled with Dialga in the past. Its most famous attack is Spacial Rend. With a base stat of 680, its skills are balanced perfectly across all aspects. Being a water type, there are certain elements that it will struggle against, but don’t make a bet against this Pokémon in any given battle. 

5. Dialga - Generation IV

1200px 483Dialga

Dialga is a Steel/Dragon-type Pokémon. It is 1/3 of the Sinnoh trio, representing time. Dialga’s ability is that it can control time—whether that means slowing it down, speeding it up or stopping it altogether. It can travel to the past or future and its metallic body makes it very useful in battles, as it is very robust. While its defense is not necessarily the highest, and it is weaker against fighting and ground types, a Pokémon that can warp time is surely going to have an advantage over any other monster it faces. 

4. Giratina - Generation IV

1200px 487Giratina Altered

Giratina is 1/3 of the Sinnoh Trio, representing antimatter. To measure Giratina’s strength, you have to realize that it was so dangerous that Arceus itself sent it to the Distortion world for being too violent and fighting against the rest of the trio. In terms of pure terrifying skills and looks, Giratina might be at the top of the list out of all of the Pokémon. With its ability to travel behind dimensions and its 284 stamina, don’t expect that this troublemaker will get tired anytime soon. 

3. Rayquaza - Generation III

20140912144107384Rayquaza

Rayquaza is 1/3 of the super-ancient Pokémon together with Kyogre and Groudon. It is a Flying/Dragon-type. Its power is so great that many consider it to be a worthy candidate for strongest Pokémon of them all. It can withstand the weather changes from Kyogre and Gourdon, while it reaches a whopping 780 CP in its mega form. To make matters worse for its enemies, It is the only Pokémon that doesn’t need any special items to reach its mega form, because as the legend goes, Rayquaza ate meteorites that gave it the power it needed to transform on its own. It feeds itself in the Ozone, and it appears very rarely. Its appearance in the Super Smash Bros. games has made it popular in gaming and anime culture. Perhaps the best proof of its strength is the fact that it is the only Pokémon that had the power to stop Kyogre and Gourdon from fighting with each other further, therefore helping save the world. No matter what combination you’re using with/against Rayquaza, note that it is a Pokémon standing at the top of the strongest of all time, and that very few combinations can cause damage.

2. Mewtwo - Generation I

150Mewtwo

Mewtwo is a psychic type Pokémon. Arguably the most recognizable Pokemon outside of Pikachu, Mewtwo is simply jaw-dropping in terms of skill. He is a man-made Pokémon created in a lab by Team Rocket. With a mega-evolution that gets its stats up to 780, coupled with the the ability to read and manipulate minds as well as imitate movement, beating Mewtwo is a task you are almost certain to fail. Its tremendous powers, combined with its cold mannerism caused by being outed as a DNA experiment, make Mewtwo a legendary Pokémon in every sense of the word. This Pokémon stays above any Pokémon on Planet Earth. With its two mega forms, it is always going to have an upper hand against almost any other pocket monster.

1. Arceus - Generation IV

20210226160642493Arceus

While Mewtwo might be arguably the strongest on Earth, Arceus is the “God of Pokemon”. Known also as the “Original One”, Arceus most likely created the entire Pokémon Universe. It is difficult to argue against his powers, such as: making objects become thin air, bringing them back again, time-warping, etc. It has a base stat of 720, with no weaknesses since it is perfectly balanced across all categories. It can recreate Pokémon and can transform to any type. While its balance in stats means it can lack one specific strength, fighting against the creator of the Pokémon world is as difficult as it sounds, and as such he is the number 1 on this list.

This was a deep dive into the theories of the origins of the Pokémon Universe, explaining what are Legendary Pokémon, where they come from, and who are the top 20 "best" Legendary Pokémon.

While the topic of the strongest Pokémon is certain to continue to cause debates among fans, one thing is for sure: Pokémon is here to stay.

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