Pokémon evolutions have always been an exciting part of the property, serving as surprises for viewers and goals for trainers. From the early Pokémon boom, evolutions were fun Easter eggs peppered throughout a show and serving as specific targets for game-playing trainers. Now, with PokémonGo, evolutions have become targets to unlock better fighters and defenders, and are also necessary to fill out that perfect Pokédex.
Evolutions are always a surprise, even to the longest running Pokémon fans. Sometimes, they are not what you expected or they come from different regions and change looks completely, but other times, evolutions unlock a variety of possibilities and trainers can be surprised or challenged to find Easter eggs to get their desired result. However, not all evolutions are created equal. A large part of the creation of the massive Pokémon universe was the designing of characters to keep everyone guessing, training, and catching, and with such massive possibilities, not every evolution gets it just right. Some Pokémon grow more regal and majestic when hitting the right level while some are just plain duds. As seen in their characteristics and appearance, most look striking, stunning, or even cuddly, but others have appeared flat and bland. So, we listed 10 Pokémon That Look Better Evolved (And 10 That Look Worse). Before you even say it, Mew was created in a lab, just like MewTwo, and one is not an evolution of the other.
20 BETTER: CHARMANDER TO CHARIZARD
One of the most important Pokémon, especially for those of us who opted for Pokémon Red, is Charmander. The little fire-tailed, blue-eyed, fang wielder is hard to imagine looking any more striking, but the evolutions of Charmander are incredible.
Charmander goes from a cute baby dragon to a bit of an awkward teenager phase in his fist evolution, turning into Charmeleon. Charmeleon sounds like an unfortunate misreading of “chameleon” and doesn’t exactly bring promise, but that rambunctious teen eventually evolves into one of the most beautiful Pokémon: Charizard, which makes this gorgeous dragon an improvement over his earlier evolutions.
19 WORSE: PIDGEY TO PIDGEOT
The common looking Pidgey was everyone’s favorite to trade on PokémonGo, and for those of us who didn’t grasp the “max CP” thing right off the bat, it was probably the ‘mon you traded in the most to get candy to power up your various Pidgey evolutions. The cute little bird looks familiar and fine, but its evolutions aren’t for the better.
Both Pidgeotto and Pidgeot look like poorly planned extinct birds that wouldn’t even attract the most avid bird watchers. We’re not saying they aren’t good looking, but the humble Pidgey looks great as is and doesn’t need the makeover evolution that it goes through.
18 BETTER : VULPIX TO NINETAILS
Vulpix is another cute Pokémon and looks just like the ponies we remember adoring from childhood. We all wanted one (or disliked anyone who had a pony) and watched My Little Pony right before Beyblade, but no matter how much we like the look of the young Vulpix, it pales in comparison to the regal Ninetales.
Ninetales sparkles gold and has majestic tails, nine of them, in fact, cascading down her back. She is truly stunning and makes a ravishing, grown up horse to your pony.
17 WORSE: PIKACHU TO RAICHU
I know there are a lot of you who think Raichu looks great, and the Alolan Raichu looks like your surfer dreams, but there is no way you can say that anything short of the OG Pikachu is the best looking version of the Pokémon.
Pikachu’s evolution isn’t bad in any way, but it’s almost impossible to improve on the flagship Pokémon: one who is associated with the game, one of the most recognizable Pokémon, and the choice companion for Ash Ketchum. Pikachu is perfect the way he is, and though his evolutions aren’t bad looking, his signature yellow look is the best of it.
16 BETTER : MACHOP TO MACHAMP
Like Charmander before him, Machop goes through his awkward teenage phase. The tripe mohawk-wearing fish dude looks like something out of a Guillermo del Toro gothic fairytale and his evolution path is certainly a makeover.
It’s easy to imagine this fighting type Pokémon bulking up in a montage set to “Eye of the Tiger,” going from blue Machop to purple Machoke, to finally making his way up the seemingly endless concrete stairs and celebrating as a fully formed Machamp. While each evolution of this little boxer is equally impressive, Machamp is certainly #FitnessGoals.
15 WORSE: GHASTLY TO GENGAR
As names go, Ghastly doesn’t immediately draw up assumptions of visual appeal, but Ghastly is a great looking Pokémon. Its ghostly appearance is fun and spooky, and it looks like a shiny bowling ball version of your favorite spooks, but that’s where it should have ended.
Ghastly’s evolutions are really something, going from a striking, black apparition, to a floating purple ghost as Haunter, and onward to Gengar: a biped terror with a menacing grin. We aren’t here to put down Gengar, but we prefer the gothic dream of Ghastly.
14 BETTER: BELDUM TO METAGROSS
Beldum looks like an anime version of the arm stashed away by Cyberdyne systems in Terminator. It quite literally looks like a floating intelligent robot arm and has a glowing red eye. So, it’s fair to say that this Pokémon looks better evolved.
Passing through the more intimidating Metang, Beldum evolves into Metagross: a robotic beast with iron legs and an X logo across its face. Those of us who play PokémonGo know this is the last evolution for the floating, blue robot appendage, but Metagross also evolves into Mega Metagross using the Metagrossite, a rare stone.
13 WORSE: HOPPIP TO JUMPLUFF
It’s hard to think about Hoppip without wanting to comedically stumble through the word “Hippopotamus ,” but we managed it for this post. Hoppip isn’t the most majestic of the Pokémon, being a pink-popped, helicopter-looking thing with green details, but it certainly looks better than its mess of evolutions.
Hoppip evolves into Skiploom, a green, flower-wearing puff that becomes Jumpluff: a weird, puff-pronged creature that looks like it might leave you with the sniffles if you blow on it. All Pokémon are beautiful, but Hoppip’s evolutions aren’t winning any crowns.
12 BETTER: SANDSHREW TO SANDSLASH
Now that we’ve seen Pokémon with fur in the Detective Pikachu trailer, there are even more questions in regards to the tactile elements of some Pokémon; for instance, Sandshrew.
Sandshrew has scale-like looking skin, which could be a spotted pattern on fur, scales, or like the shell of a turtle. Either way, the Sandshrew takes a trip to new texture when evolving into Sandslash. This evolution is cute and intimidating, and thus, makes a worthy foe. The regular evolution is worrisome enough, with the spiky back and the slashing talons, but the Alolan version of this creature is even more striking with that icy cool tone.
11 WORSE: SPOINK TO GRUMPIG
Spoink, the grayish pig face with a bubble gum hat, is one of the more odd looking Pokémon, which says a lot considering their aesthetic. Spoink is a blast, bouncing around and reminding fans of a host of toys even more outdated than Pokémon Pinball.
But, Spoink grows into Grumpig, a marble-draped critter out of a LOtR fever dream. The monster looks jolly, which somehow makes it even more spooky with that twisted tail and ear combo framing a sinister smile. We’ll stick with Spoink, thanks.
10 BETTER: GROWLITHE
While Vulpix is the pony of the Pokémon world, Growlithe is the dog. Lot’s of us see puppies and hope they’ll stay that cute forever, but it’s impossible not to love them when they grow into dogs, and the same goes for this fire type Pokémon.
Growlithe starts off like your favorite cute puppy, but evolves into the adorable Arcanine, who we’d let guard our places any time. The lovable guard dog looks like a “good boy,” and is a welcome evolution for the fiery puppy. Though pooch-like, Arcanine boasts black stripes on orange fur, making the Pokémon a great looking hybrid of a canine and a feline tiger.
9 WORSE: GEODUDE TO GOLEM (ALOLA)
Geodude has a lot of personality and looks pretty dope for an overgrown stone with arms. Being a pretty decent fighter, it seems he can only look cooler when evolved.
AH! That’s right, Geodude turns into a mess of a Pokémon when he evolves into Graveler. Graveler looks like someone dipped Jabba the Hut in lava and let him melt a bit. From there, he evolves into Golem, which isn’t the worse look, coming off like a spherical turtle shell with teeth, but there’s that Alolan version with clamps and a mustache...
8 BETTER: TYROGUE TO HITMONCHAN
Tyrogue is another scrappy young fighter that isn’t much to look at with those skinny arms (probably not eating enough raw eggs and doing enough seated rows), but Tyrogue’s evolution is more interesting than most, with the ability to evolve into three possible Pokémon: Hitmontop, Hitmonlee, and Hitmonchan.
We can’t say for sure what causes each evolution, but we suspect it depends on whether Tyrogue takes more aerobics classes, kick boxing classes, or boxing classes, respectively. Though not every evolution is as good looking as the other, the evolutions of Tyrogue into fully-formed fitness experts fresh off their New Year’s resolutions are certainly an improvement.
7 WORSE: JIGGLYPUFF TO WIGGLYTUFF
Jigglypuff represented the softer side of Pokémon rather than being a stone cold fighter. What made this pink Pokémon a favorite is the way she floated like a cloud and lived up to her name as a cuddly pink puff, reminiscent of other Nintendo character favorites.
So, her evolution into Wigglytuff is an odd one. The evolved Pokémon sounds like it was named by the same guys behind “Waluigi” and it also changed the lovable attributes of its previous form. In doing so, they slimmed the figure and extended the ears, removing the cuddly cute parts of the pink character.
6 BETTER: RHYHORN TO RHYDON
This is a weird one, since the rhino-looking Pokémon has startling changes in its evolution. Looking like it might hang out at the watering hole and charge at predators, the Rhyhorn is a rocky, formidable big guy.
In its initial evolution, it transforms into Rhydon, a Kaiju-looking rock type worthy of protecting any trainer. The Rhydon is a battle favorite, standing up to good defenders and attackers alike, but the final evolution of this Pokémon (into Rhyperior) is certainly something. The gray buddy, who looks like he would blend with Bebop and Rocksteady, turns into an orange-looking drill with a utility belt.
5 WORSE: ZUBAT TO GOLBAT
Quite simply, Zubat looks great. He is a bright blue bat, which appeals to so many overlapping fandoms and is a fun, spooky sidekick. His evolutions, however, are questionable in appearance.
Zubat evolves into a Golbat, which looks like someone took the Pokémon and stretched out his jaw in a medieval maltreatment device. Not to be outdone is the next form in Zubat’s evolution, the Crobat, a purple creature with four wings and teeth that look more like venires than they do fangs. CP isn’t everything, so we're going to keep our buddies as plain old blue bats, thanks.
4 BETTER: MAGIKARP TO GYARADOS
Look, we don’t have anything against gold fish, we all love them as they make great pets, and some of us swear we taught them tricks, but the Magikarp isn’t the most majestic of Pokémon. It presents as a weak and slappy fish perpetually out of water.
So, it’s evolution is nothing short of a vast improvement. Magikarp evolves into Gyarados, a fish with the inspired look of a dragon. This intimidating water type beast has four white fins and a vicious appearance worthy of defeating a number of other impressive Pokémon.
3 WORSE: PINECO TO FORTRESS
The Pineco is a striking Pokémon because its lines and edges make it look like a cartoon from a completely different universe. Though he looks like a game-changing dish sponge that some might sell on QVC, he is still a joy to look at with his overly cartoonish eyes and three-sixty details.
All the more reason why Pineco’s evolution is baffling. Pineco evolves into Forretress, which seems loosely based on a military defense system with its peaking eyes and cannon arms. It looks dressed in bumpy steel slats and it makes one think where the Pokémon starts and the defense system ends.
2 BETTER: EEVEE
This cute little fur ball and fan favorite to a broad group has some of the most striking evolutions of any Pokémon. Eevee doesn’t sport an evolution to one specific type of creature, but comes out as a Pokémon of almost any type. Eevee evolves into a watery Vaporean, an electric Jolteon, a fiery Flareon, a friendly Espeon, a moonlit Umbreon, a grassy Leafeon, an icy Glaceon, and an affectionate Sylveon, with shiny versions of each.
Though it’s tough to say that they are all an aesthetic improvement on the adorable Eevee, we can probably say that on a balance, these look great.
1 WORSE: LEDYBA TO LEDIAN
Named similar to its planet Earth equal, the Ledyba looks like those friendly little bugs that turn into everyone’s terror if they had a crack in their windows through the summer.
The Ledyba reminds us of tender childhood moments, catching the friendly bug on our fingers and wondering if they really do mate with “man bugs.” So, the evolution of this one is nothing short of interesting. When evolving into Ledian, it strips the image of a friendly bug and gives the appearance of a hornet, the most worrisome of the flying insects and becomes friendly to no one.