BY Harry Loizides
It’s been more than 25 years since the original 150 Pokémon were revealed to the world. Since then, more than 1,000 Pokémon spanning 1,200 television episodes, 120 games, and 90 card sets have permeated the mainstream. The Pokémon franchise shows no signs of slowing, and with its constantly iterative nature, finds ways of reinventing some classic pocket monsters. With this, we’ve had the benefit of time to improve some of the original Pokémon. Some have gained pop-culture relevance because of social media, others have gained new forms, and a few have even earned a new evolution or two to expand their possibilities through the gaming generations.
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Voltorb, the boring ball Pokémon, is often eclipsed in the Electric-type department in the first generation of Pokémon. Pikachu was much cuter, Jolten was a better attacker, and Electabuzz just looked cooler. But all this changed when Voltorb received a Hisuian form in Pokémon Legends: Arceus. The sphere Pokémon now wields a dual electric and grass-type, seems to be much more wooden in nature, and seems more adorable too! It’s been fun to see a new outlook on this spherical Pokémon that might have been overlooked in the past, but with a new artstyle, new form, and new abilities, Voltorb certainly gets some new love from Pokémon fans.
As an already forgettable Pokémon, Sandslash was outclassed by nearly every ground-type Pokémon in the original game. In the Seventh Generation with the Alola Region, Sandshrew and Sandslash got a refresh and an entire makeover. Now, as a dual ice and steel-type, Sandslash (despite its sand-orientated name) freezes its competitors with its solid Attack and Defense stats. Plus, with its spiked icicles on its back, Sanslash looks better in every conceivable way.
Weezing, popularized by being the companion to James in the animated series, can be seen as a sub-par poison Pokémon in the competitive Pokémon scene. Despite its conflicting notoriety, Weezing gained a breath of fresh air with its new Galarian Form. This new dual Poison and Fairy-type Pokémon whimsically sports a Dale Dimmadome-like hat. And, instead of it’s original form, which contaminates the air with its toxins, the new form expels clean air. Maybe the Pokémon Company wanted to show a passive effort to shift the world from utilizing contaminants to clearing those toxins. Or not, who’s to know.
As an already adorable puppy, Growlithe warms the heart and minds of many Pokémon fans. However, the internet lost its collective mind when a new variation of Growlithe was introduced with one of the latest games, Pokémon Legends: Arceus. This new Hisuian form elevated this scout Pokémon with fluffy hair on its head, tail, and chin. Plus, adding in a secondary rock-type for this pocket monster further expands its possibilities in combat.
The weakest design-wise of the Legendary Birds, Moltres is just a flying chicken on fire. However, with the Expansion Pass for Pokémon Sword and Shield, the Legendary Birds received a surprise refresh. The majestic dark and flying-type Pokémon exudes “sinister aura” that consumes the spirit of its victims – a scary and truly legendary-level threat.
One of the strangest Pokémon, Porygon, has summarily been pushed aside for its lack of usefulness in any way throughout the games. However, with the addition of Gold and Silver, the successors to the original games, Porygon received its evolution: Porygon 2. Two generations later, the zaniness continued with another evolution: Porygon Z. The Porygon family is such a goofy and off-the-walls family of Pokémon that all three have gotten better and better as the years have gone on.
Though Dugtrio has been an adorable little trio of moles, they’ve often been a forgettable Pokémon. Sure, it’s a glass cannon in the competitive scene, but was more of a punchline than anything else. This all changed in Gen 7 when the Alola Region was introduced. The once bald Dugtrio now sports a full mane of golden hair, along with a secondary Steel type. The luscious locks, paired with the Hanson-style haircut, makes Dugtrio a top-tier contender for a glow-up.
In what has been an absolute delight to see over the past few years, Omastar has risen in popularity, thanks to memes. It all started back in 2014, when a Twitch stream allowed for crowd-control movements to play Pokémon Red. As the crowd continued to play, viewers would constantly see the items list on screen, where the Helix Fossil kept appearing. Since there was such a constant barrage of views of this single item, participants dubbed the eventually revived Pokémon “Lord Helix”. Even in 2023, memes are shared, created, and laughed with about this once-forgotten character and has evolved into a top-tier pop culture moment.
2. Mr. Mime
The creepy little critter, Mr. Mime, somehow gets more amazing and more creepy over the years. With an adorable baby form introduced in Gen 2, plus a new Galarian form with a new evolution showcased in Gen 8, Mr. Mime isn’t short on recent updates. However, the main source of Mr. Mime’s glow up is the absolutely bonkers rendition in the 2019 film, Detective Pikachu. In true-to-form fashion, Mr. Mime in the film is a silent character, only communicating via its miming skills and ability to create barriers. He stole every scene he was in, and offered numerous laugh-out-loud moments. Plus, the unsettling nature of a fully fleshed out 3D model of this Pokémon just continued to propel him into the hearts (and nightmares) of movie goers.
Likely the derpiest Pokémon, Slowpoke was once thought of as a forgettable creature, but now continues to rise in the ranks as a true-to-form favorite. Though getting lost in its eyes isn’t too difficult, Slowpoke continues to be a social media magnet for punchlines. Even the Pokémon Company itself is leaning into it, most recently posting a picture of Slowpoke exclaiming Happy New Year in a Valentine’s Day Post. This, plus a new Galarian form, four varieties of evolutions, and its own official song (and music video) makes Slowpoke amongst the top tier of Pokemon glow-ups
DISCLAIMER: The wrong opinions included in this listicle are solely that of the author and do not represent the similarly wrong opinions of other debaters of this podcast.
Agree? Disagree? Leave a comment with your picks below!