15 Strongest Pokémon… Emotionally

What if the strongest Pokémon are the ones who have survived this franchise's surprisingly dark corners?

Chansey Pokemon
Photo: Nintetndo

The world of Pokémon is a hard and cruel place. It takes a tough Pokémon to stand tough and survive, which might help explain why some of the most celebrated Pokémon could also be considered the strongest.

For all the lessons of friendship, Pokémon Centers, and jelly donut flavored rice balls, it’s not easy living in the world of Pokémon. In fact, it can be downright cruel for some. That’s why we want to honor an elite selection of Pokémon that are the most powerful, toughest, unassailable, and strongest…emotionally.

Because let’s face it, any Pokémon that can survive fear of death, rejection, imposter syndrome, or questionable hair choices can almost certainly beat Eternatus.

Charmander Pokemon anime


Death comes for us all, but Charmanders have it especially rough. It’s been said that a Charmander dies if the flame on its tail is extinguished. That means that a Charmander must live in constant fear of anything that could put out its flame. Water, strong winds, and sand (coarse and rough as it is) kill up to 2000 Charmanders a year (we presume). If only there was a way to donate Pokémon pennies a day and help Charmanders everywhere live free of the fear of death.

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Jigglypuff Pokemon anime


Rejection. We can all remember times we’ve felt it. Maybe it was a lost crush, not getting that job, or never getting to control the playlist in the car because you once made the mistake of letting “Misty’s Song” play on a road trip and your friends never forgot it. Jigglypuff gets that. Every time it attempts to sing, its audience falls asleep. If a Jigglypuff sings a song and no one is there to hear it, did it ever make a sound?

Dugtrio (Alola Version) Pokemon anime

Dugtrio (Alola Version)

Keeping your hair well maintained is tough even on the best days. Now imagine your defining trait is that you use your entire body to dig out of the ground. How are you supposed to keep those luscious locks full and silky through such a process? I’m bald, so I genuinely have no idea, but Alola Dugtrios have somehow mastered the art. How? If we ever learned their secret, all wars would probably end, all criminal organizations would dissolve, and at that moment, we may understand the secrets of the universe. Or they’d just let us know the name of their stylist.

Team Rocket’s Meowth Pokemon anime

Team Rocket’s Meowth

How far have you gone for love? Did you walk 500 miles? Did you ride on a piano for 1000 miles? What did you do? I can guarantee it wasn’t anything close to what Team Rocket’s Meowth did when he became the only Pokémon to learn to speak human to impress the lady Meowth he loved. And what did he get for it? He was called a freak.

Team Rocket’s Meowth may fail every week, but he goes on despite the pain. Every day he does, he’s stronger than all of us.

Abra Pokemon anime


Multiple years in therapy have taught me you can’t run from your problems; you have to face them head-on. Sure, you can avoid sadness by avoiding problems, but in the process, you run the risk of avoiding happiness. I think about Abra in therapy sometimes because all it can do is escape via teleportation. That is its only significant power. The mental walls it must have built up can surely withstand any attack, physical or emotional.

Unless, of course, you play M2M’s “Don’t Say You Love Me” from Pokémon: The First Movie’s soundtrack. That could make a grown Tyranitar cry.

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Electrode pokemon anime


One might think that Voltorb could easily share this slot with Electrode, but there’s a key difference. Voltorbs are young and innocent. They haven’t lived enough life to know how sad it is when it all self-destructs on you. Electrodes know. They’ve loved, they’ve lost, they have families, and they have careers. But to self-destruct is what an Electrode must do, and it does it well.

Cubone Pokemon anime


Everyone and their Rattata knows that Cubones wear the skulls of their dead mothers. What people fail to consider is that every single Cubone in the world shares that same backstory. Why are all Marowaks eventually killed? Is it the birthing process? What immediately deteriorates their skulls for Cubones to wear? Whatever it is, a Cubone becomes tough as rocks from the moment it’s born, and no one can stand up to a Pokémon that can handle that level of grief.

Or it’s all a big scam. If you look closely, the skull Cubone wears is not an exact replica of a Marowak. What are they trying to hide, huh? Is Mr. Fuji trying to drive tourists to Lavender Town? If that is the case, then Cubones have been running an incredible racket for years and deserve to be on this list solely for the power it takes to deceive everyone in the Pokémon world.

Chansey Pokemon anime


“A Machamp who thinks it’s strong has never been a Chansey in a Pokémon center.”Pokémon proverb (probably).

Chansey must heal hundreds, if not thousands, of sick and injured Pokémon a day. The mental strain they endure must be immense, but Chansey does it all with a smile. That’s powerful. It also has to handle customer service at Pokémon Centers, and that might make it even more powerful. After all, the only thing that’s harder than a battle with a Palkia is dealing with the ninth person today asking to see your Nurse Joy manager.

Staryu Pokemon anime


Every time Staryu emerges from its Poké Ball it screams, “HYAH.” Is this a battle tactic to frighten its opponents… or is it something deeper? A cry for help? A plea to stop this senseless conflict? Perhaps Staryu screams hoping the eternal void will scream back.

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Mewtwo Pokemon anime


Oh sure, you can catch one at level 70 and it already knows the Psychic ability, but that isn’t why Mewtwo is powerful. It’s powerful because it’s burdened with teenage angst. “WHY WAS I CREATED?” it asks. I don’t know, Mewtwo. Put it on your Xanga, I’m trying to play Tony Hawk’s Pro Skater.

When Mewtwo grows up it’ll take some serious time to scrub all that cringe from its social media profiles.

Marill Pokemon anime


The year is 1999. Leaked screenshots of a blue Pokémon can be found all over the internet and tales of it spread to schoolyards around the world. Marill, the Pokémon pictured, is excited! It wasn’t sure if it’d be accepted after the unprecedented success of the first 150 Pokémon, but people already love it! It sneaks into the back of an elementary school class to hear the good word of mouth about itself.

“I can’t wait to catch Pikablu!” says nearly every child in the classroom. Marill’s blood turns cold. Marill tries to stop the rumors, but it’s too late. By 2001, the excitement is long gone. Children spot Marill and greet him with scorn. “Oh, that was all just a rumor. Marill sucks.”

To this day Marill can take a blast of Thunder right to its face because no pain can match the blow to its self-confidence that it received during that horrific time.

Shuckle pokemon anime


Here he comes, rougher than the rest of them. The best of them, tougher than leather. You can call him Shuckle, unlike Squirtle, he doesn’t chuckle. He gets on the dance floor and shuffles.

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Being a Shuckle is hard, man. Look at those little legs.

Jirachi Pokemon anime


Wish granting. It’s an ability with limitless potential, but Jirachi does not grant wishes for itself. No, it must grant wishes for others. That means it has to put up with adults desperately wishing their parents didn’t throw away their old Pokémon cards because they swear they had a 1999 First Edition Mint Charizard Holo that they could use to finally pay off their crippling student debt. Please, oh please Jirachi make my wish come true.

Putting up with that takes a mind of steel.

Rotom Pokédex Pokemon anime

Rotom Pokédex

The internet is filled with “Who’s the strongest of X franchise?” debates. In those debates, people discuss strength, speed, defenses, and more. What they fail to consider is that the most powerful force is often information. You can’t beat someone who knows your every weakness. You can’t run from someone who knows your past.

Rotom Pokédex is living information. The moment it sees you, it knows you. What does it know? What sins can it see? Maybe forfeiting the fight is better than the possibility of your dark past being revealed to the world.

Ash’s Pikachu Pokemon anime

Ash’s Pikachu

All Ash’s Pikachu wants is to grow, but he can’t. It would hurt the brand. Kids love Pikachu! He can’t evolve!

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“Please!” Pikachu begs. “I don’t want to evolve but please let me grow! If you won’t, I’m leaving!”

The Pokémon Company looks down on him and shakes their heads.

“Sure, Pikachu,” they say. “You can leave, but you know, our profits would go way down and we’d have to lay off half the staff. You don’t want that to happen, right? Sonia’s got five kids at home. What will they think when she tells them she lost her job because of Pikachu?”

So Pikachu carries on, the weight of responsibility on its shoulders every day.