The best middle evolutions for Pokemon starters: Gen I-IX

Some starters rock that awkward phase.

With Pokemon Scarlet and Violet releasing in 2022, Gen IX introduces three new starters, each with unique evolutions. Leveling starter Pokemon is one of the most impactful moments in the journey to beat the Champion. While the first and final evolutions often stand out, the middle evolutions can look awkward. Some of these Pokemon do break the mold, though. Before we head out to the Paldea region, we look back at some of the best evos in the starter series.

The Best Middle Evos from Each Gen

Pokemon Torracat sun and moon middle evos
Image via The Pokémon Company

Each Gen has a middle evolution that stands out, and we made a list with the victor from each entry in the franchise below. See if your favorite made the cut!

Ivysaur (Gen I)

Pokemon Gen I Ivysaur
Image via The Pokémon Company
CategoryTypeAbility
Seed PokémonGrass/PoisonOvergrow

It’s no secret that Bulbasaur is the least popular starter from Gen I of the Pokemon series. Squirtle and Charmander became fan favorites, while the Seed Pokemon got left in the dust. Surprisingly, its middle evolution stole the spotlight. With a stout body and smug face, Ivysaur is just as cute as it is intimidating, and it still gets praise for its design today, becoming popular enough to become a playable character in the Super Smash Bros. series alongside Squirtle and Charizard as the Pokemon Trainer’s ally.

Quilava (Gen II)

Pokemon Gen II Quilava fire starter
Image via The Pokémon Company
CategoryTypeAbility
Volcano PokémonFireBlaze

Back in Gen II of the Pokemon series, a new set of starters cropped up in the Johto region. The second form for the Fire-type starter, Quilava, was a standout among the first evolutions for this Gen, aging up the tiny mouse by giving it a larger body and more flame pockets. Once this Pokemon ignites, the fire on its body creates a mohawk that only adds to the charm of the Gen II starter.

Grovyle (Gen III)

Pokemon Gen III Grovile Grass starter
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CategoryTypeAbility
Wood Gecko PokémonGrassOvergrow

During Gen III of the Pokemon franchise, players chose between Treecko, Torchic, and Mudkip for starters, while the Fire and Water starters were the standout hits from this Gen, thanks to their final forms. The middle evolution champ is Grovyle. Thanks to its slim and fluid form, Grovyle looks graceful next to its counterparts Combusken and Marshtomp, and while the lead won’t last long for this Grass type, it’s nice to look back on the Wood Gecko Pokemon’s best form from time to time.

Monferno (Gen IV)

Pokemon Monferno Gen IV starter fire
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CategoryTypeAbility
Playful PokémonFire/FightingBlaze

What’s cooler than Gen IV’s flaming ape starter, Chimchar? Its first evolution, Monferno! After evolution, Monferno takes everything that made its predecessor great and amps it up. Monferno trounces both Piplup and Turtwig’s second forms thanks to an ape-like design that highlights the cutest features of the primate. Flaming tail? Check. More colors? Check. A cute face, plucky attitude, and bright colors that are impossible to resist? Check, check, and check! No matter which starter you chose for Gen IV, it’s hard to argue that Monferno is one excellent ape.

Related: All of the starters in the Pokemon series: Gen I-VIII

Dewott (Gen V)

Pokemon Gen V starter dewott water
Image via The Pokémon Company
CategoryTypeAbility
Discipline PokémonWaterTorrent

Unova’s Water starter, Oshawott, may start small and odd, but its second form, Dewott, is possibly the best form in its line. The Discipline Pokemon uses each of the shells at its side as a weapon during battles, making it a dual-wielding Water-type. Though a fierce fighter, Dewott is also adorable, straying from the homely norm of most middle-starter forms. Its cute face and aqua fur are easy on the eyes, so A brilliant Pokemon in its own right, Dewott has one of Gen V’s best designs (in my humble opinion).

Braixen (Gen VI)

Pokemon Braixen Fire Gen VI starter
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CategoryTypeAbility
Fox PokémonFireBlaze

During your journey through Gen VI’s Kalos region, you’ll get your hands on three new starters, but only one has an impressive middle evolution. Braixen, the Fox Pokemon, uses a stick it stashes in its tail to conjure attacks. You’ll see the improvised weapon on its rear when it’s not fighting. Braixen resembles a witch in many ways, as its attacks resemble spells with its makeshift wand. While its final form isn’t the best of the bunch, it is good that this starter does get a brief moment to shine.

Torracat (Gen VII)

Pokemon torracat fire gen VII starter
Image via The Pokémon Company
CategoryTypeAbility
Fire Cat PokémonFireBlaze

Few feline Pokemon are as impressive to look at as Torracat. This Alolan Fire Cat Pokemon is just a treat to witness. With a glowing orb around its neck resembling a color and a frazzled black and red coat, this Pokemon looks like the perfect mix between tame and wild, incorporating the best features of domesticated cats and their ancestors. The only this that could draw your attention away from that great coat is the gorgeous eyes on this partner Pokemon. In comparison, the final evolution disappointed fans. Litten’s evolution is the apex of excellent design.

Raboot (Gen VIII)

Pokemon Raboot fire starter Gen VIII
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CategoryTypeAbility
Rabbit PokémonFireBlaze

Scorbunny was already a fantastic starter from the jump, but somehow Raboot makes its first form look uninteresting by comparison. The second form for this Rabbit Pokemon gives it a slimmer body, long legs, and a fur coat with built-in pockets! Pair this with the floppy ears, golden accents, and moody eyes, and you have a middle evolution you’ll want to keep forever. Gen VIII has plenty of hit designs, but Raboot still sits around the top of the list for me.

Floragato (Gen IX)

Pokemon floragato
Image via The Pokémon Company
CategoryTypeAbility
Grass Cat PokémonGrassOvergrow

Sprigatito was an easy first pick for fans of felines, with an adorable set of pink eyes and a fluffy green coat. Its evolution, Floragato, however, swaps those cute features for an edgier aesthetic. The majestic fur on this Grass-type isn’t just for show, though. It hides a vine with a hard flower head underneath that Floragato can use to whip opponents into shape (figuratively and literally).

Like Raboot before it, this Grass Cat Pokemon easily toes the line between moody and cool, outshining its Gen IX counterparts. The final form in this line may not stick the landing for me, but Floragato stands above its counterparts as the sleekest middle evolution design.

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Tai Hofmann
Tai Hofmann

Writing Lead and Editor for Press SPACE to Jump. My first memory is forcing my parents to play 50-round games of Mario Party on the N64. Now I love games on all platforms and hone in on new releases. Some of my favorite titles include Cuphead, Final Fantasy XIV, God of War, Persona 5, and Super Smash Bros.

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