Pikachu. Charizard. Greninja. Snorlax. Togepi. Which of the series’ iconic companions comes to mind when you think of Pokémon?
For me, Legendary Pokémon embody each region’s journey. Distinct from Mythicals, Legendaries are usually encountered as interactable or roaming Pokémon, and are often the mascots for their introductory games. As a result, each ferocious fable is rooted in players’ minds, even if they’re found deep within a cave or at the top of the tallest mountain, away from the well-trodden path.
The music swells, grandiose and foreboding—maybe defeating this Pokémon will stop the destruction of the world as we know it. We have to try. Do you use the Master Ball, or might there be another legend roosting on a faraway island, waiting to be discovered?
The Legendaries are often so tied into the main plot of each game, so spoilers abound for gameplay and plot. I have to tell you why they’re so cool, don’t I, to justify this ranking? The rules are the rules and the facts are the facts.
From your earliest friends (read my blog on starter Pokémon here) to the most fearsome, here are my top 10 Legendary Pokémon.
I had a tough time deciding which Legendary would get the lowest spot on this list. Zygarde’s unique gimmick and difficulty to obtain—even for a Legendary—means it deserves a mention.
A member of the Aura Trio of Kalos, Zygarde has three main forms based on creatures from Norse mythology. Its 10% Forme emulates Fenrir, the giant wolf, its 50% Forme is based on the colossal snake Jörmungandr, and its Complete Forme depicts Hel, the ruler of the Norse underworld.
However, the most interesting aspect to Zygarde is that you need to collect Zygarde Cells to unleash its full potential. In Sun and Moon, you need to search the Alola region and add them to the Zygarde Cube to construct your monstrous ecosystem defender.
If all this wasn’t cool enough, it’s typing, Dragon/Ground, is a rare combination in the Pokémon world. If Zygarde’s stats were a little more impressive, Zygarde would be one of the most interesting and powerful Legendaries out there.
Solgaleo: the beast that devours the sun. Just its description itself is pretty badass, giving this lion Legendary from Alola an attention-grabbing and somewhat malevolent presence.
Just look at it: its design is one of the more elaborate in the whole of the series. Its face constantly changes, with a sparkling starscape and a stylised mane that’s radiant like the sun. It is said to live in another world, returning when its third eye activates—so the fact that it can create Ultra Wormholes to travel to and from Ultra Space just makes sense. It can create Cosmog alongside its dusky counterpart, Lunala, and restore Necrozma’s light to regain its true form. It’s also Psychic/Steel, a powerful combination.
This is one cool cat, make no mistake.
Ah, another Legendary with more than one form. Kyurem combines with the other Legendaries from White and Black, Reshiram and Zekrom. This gives the Ice/Dragon sleek new designs as well as access to either Electric or Fire-type moves.
Thematically, whilst Reshiram and Zekrom represent Yin and Yang, Kyurem is likely based on Wuji, the absence of them. This, alongside its Ice typing, means that it might be based on the concept of absolute zero. Design-wise, this works well: its blank but malevolent eyes give the impression of an emotionless, destructive force, aided by its glacial draconic body that instils fear into any Pokémon trainer. Even its Pokédex entries suggest it’s an empty husk, waiting for “a hero to fill in the missing parts of its body with truth or ideals”. What a fascinating concept.
I also like Kyurem as it’s the main antagonist in one of the Mystery Dungeon games, one of the better side series in Pokémon. If you’re terrified of this monster as a trainer, imagine what it must be like for a little Pokémon gazing into those yellow, empty eyes.
#7: Kyogre (& Groudon)
I’m cheating here a little, but Kyogre and Groudon, the feuding ancient beasts from Hoenn, come as a package deal.
Everything about the lore surrounding these two is astounding. Thousands of years ago, when primal energy was more abundant, these legendary titans—one that controlled the seas and one that ruled over land—fought for power and control. Evenly matched, the battle raged on with no end in sight. When a meteor crashes into Earth, history repeats itself once more.
That’s where you come in. In Emerald and its counterparts, you witness the awakening of these beasts thanks to Teams Aqua and Magma. Apocalyptic thunderstorms and blinding sunlight threaten the Pokémon world. As overworld weather was introduced in Generation 3, this was a scary and innovative way to showcase the destruction these titans could wrought if not stopped. Only Rayquaza can quell their rage and save the world.
Plus, in Alpha Sapphire and Omega Ruby, they receive awesome Primal Forms. These designs create cooler colour contrasts and make both Kyogre and Groudon even larger than before. Kyogre pips Groudon for me as it has the superior water typing, but both deserve to be highlighted as absolute monsters.
Stags, with their impressive antlers and regal posture, have always held a mystical quality for me. Xerneas is no different.
As one of the only stag Pokémon, Xerneas is somewhat unique. It’s sprawling antlers shine in a kaleidoscope of colours, stretching like tree branches. Everything about it screams “noble”—but in a calm, regal sort of way. It deserves this aura: it has the power to grant eternal life. However, when it uses too much life energy, sleeps for 1,000 years as a tree. As a member of the Yggdrasil or Aura Trio, it’s based on the huge tree of life that originates from Norse cosmology and attempts to counter Yveltal’s destruction.
Xerneas always stands out to me due to the most recent Pokémon Snap game. It’s the most mystical out of all the Illumina Pokémon, making for some awe-inspiring snapshots. It may not be as showy or as powerful as some other Legendaries on this list, but this side game that aims to capture the beauty and magnificence of Pokémon is where I truly fell in love with Xerneas.
Most Legendary Pokémon are either optional encounters hidden deep inside caves or catalysts for the main story. Scarlet and Violet introduce you to its Legendaries from the get-go.
Almost immediately, you follow the rollercoaster journey of a mysterious Pokémon as it soars through the region. It crashes, hurt, into the ocean. Once you find it, it becomes your friend, even letting you ride it as you explore Paldea.
It’s integral to your story and you have it throughout the game, which is both good and bad. It gives your journey with it a little more gravitas than if you first encountered it down in Area Zero, but it also makes it seem like less of a rare, mystical Pokémon of fable. Either way, it’s a powerful, constant companion that ties heavily into the endgame, making you more essential to the main story than ever before.
This, along with its sleek design, sweet animations, and epic finale means that Miraidon comfortably takes the #5 spot.
“Disturb not the harmony of Fire, Ice, or Lightning, lest these three titans wreak destruction upon the world. Though the water’s great guardian shall arise to quell the fighting, alone its song will fail. Thus the Earth shall turn to ash…Their treasures combined tame the beast of the sea…”
As the guardian of the three Legendary birds, Lugia is the only one who can stop their fighting when the balance between them is disturbed. In the second movie, Pokémon 2000, it’s a catastrophic, world-wide event: Pokémon from all over the planet can sense the unbalance, travelling to the site of the battle just in case they are needed. Ash is deemed the Chosen One and helps Lugia calm the birds and bring peace once more. It’s a larger-than-life tale that truly showcases the breath-taking Psychic/Flying Legendary.
Lugia can control the weather, and flapping its wings can spawn storms that last as long as 40 days. It’s extremely intelligent and is aware of its vast power, so isolates itself deep underwater. Its design emulates a mysterious sea dragon, and in its maiden generation, it can be found deep within the Whirl Islands. It’s an optional encounter, making you feel like you are stumbling upon a legend in the most exciting way possible. Its raw power and streamlined, wise design truly makes Lugia a top contender on this list.
This Dragon/Flying Pokémon might be 4x weak to Ice, but it’s 8x strong in my heart.
Rayquaza is one of the most legendary Legendaries to ever legend. It is said to have lived for hundreds of millions of years, soaring in the ozone layer and consuming meteoroids for food. These meteoroids give it the ability to Mega Evolve and, as such, Rayquaza is currently the only Pokémon to do so without a Z-Crystal—as long as it knows Dragon Ascent.
Rayquaza’s green serpentine design is a classic, and its Mega form only improves on the format. It’s given long glowing tendrils, a triangle symbol on its forehead, and its jaw juts out to give it more of a torpedo shape, perfect for aerodynamic attacks. It’s just so, so cool. No wonder the people of Hoenn constructed the Sky Tower in tribute.
Plus, the way it comes down from the sky to give Kyogre and Groudon a spanking is one of the most unforgettable scenes in all of Pokémon. It was the first ever cut scene in the series, so just imagine my childish awe in Emerald as the great green overlord descends from the heavens, roars, casually stops the end of the world, and leaves again. Mega Rayquaza also has the power to undo their primal forms.
When not even ancient beasts want to mess with Rayquaza, you know you’ve got a god-like Legendary.
If you’ve been a Pokémon fan since the 90s, Pokémon: The First Movie was an event. We had already been spoon-fed snippets of lore about the Mythical Pokémon Mew, and its clone, Mewtwo, from a series of journals scattered around the Pokémon Mansion in Red and Blue. All we knew is that the newborn Mewtwo was “far too powerful” and that the scientists “failed to curb its vicious tendencies”. What happened? Where did Mewtwo go? And what about Mew?
That’s all answered in the movie. This epic introduction to the two most iconic and rare Pokémon in the early series ignited a passion for Legendary and Mythical Pokémon within every fan, whilst helping kids learn one of the most important lessons of all:
“I see now that the circumstances of one’s birth are irrelevant. It is what you do with the gift of life that determines who you are.”
It’s a profound and emotional introduction to Mewtwo; one that makes us sympathise with this powerful Psychic creature that’s been used as a tool for others’ gain.
As not part of the main story, once again players are rewarded for exploration. In Generation 1, Mewtwo can be found in Cerulean Cave, right under our very noses. Finding such an incredible Pokémon by accident makes its capture even more special. When it Mega Evolves, it has the strongest base stat total of any Pokémon obtainable in the series, alongside Rayquaza. It’s a powerhouse, and so iconic that it had to be high up this list.
My favourite, Suicune. It's... cute... lovely... smart... plus... amazing... you think so?... oh yes... it's... stunning... kindly... love it! Hug it... when... sleeping... warm and cuddly... spectacular... ravishing… …Oops! Look at the time! I’d better get on with my top pick!
Suicune may have made its debut in Gold and Silver, but it truly came into its own when Crystal was released. Suicune was the first Legendary Pokémon to tie into the main plot of a core game—you first see it alongside the other Legendary beasts in the Burned Tower, where it takes a shining to you. Eusine, an old friend of the Ecruteak Gym Leader, has been searching for Suicine all his life. You find it throughout the region, and eventually beat Eusine to the pip by finding and battling Suicine in Cerulean Cape. It’s a great introduction to roaming Legendaries and brings a personal intrigue that we hadn’t had in the Pokémon games before.
Suicune also boasts one of my favourite designs in all of Pokémon. Its sleek canine body is perfect for a Water type, and its purple mane resembles the Aurora Borealis. The two streamer tails replicate the ocean’s surf and add to its cool factor. It represents the downpour that happened after the Brass Tower was burned down, whilst its counterparts, Raikou and Entei, symbolise the lightning that struck the Tower and the fire that begun respectively. This is such an awesome concept, tightly tying Suicune and its fellow puppies into the earthy mythos of Johto.
To make the coolest Legendary even cooler, Walking Wake, Suicune’s Paradox form, has recently been introduced. Not only does it now look like a dinosaur, but it also secures that extremely desirable Dragon type. Whilst I’d take its original design any day, I can’t sniff at that Water/Dragon combo.
Considering that these Pokémon are, well, legendary, it’s hard to narrow down to the GOATs. I wanted to include the Legendary birds as they are iconic, and got some fantastic regional forms in Galar.
Entei is also great. The third film, where it and the Unown construct a crystal castle and adopt an orphan, is forever ingrained in my mind. Plus, as a roamer, it’s devilishly hard to get—so training a Haunter to Mean Look it to stop it fleeing makes success that much sweeter. But this isn’t a blog on the Top 11 Legendary Pokémon, so I’ll stop here.
Next time, I’ll look at the top tier Mythical Pokemon that are even rarer than these legends…
What’s your favourite Legendary Pokémon? Let us know via our Zatu socials!