Most popular Legendary Pokemon from every generation revealed
There are 57 Legendary Pokemon through Gen 1 to Gen 8. This gives us a surprisingly high average of just above seven for each generation!
With so many, it is understandable that the mystique just isn’t there for some of them. Some trainers will remember the aura surrounding the Kanto birds during the Gen 1 days. However, most of the time, other generation’s Legendary equivalents don’t have that same feeling.
It is difficult to measure the popularity of each Legendary ‘mon. After all, what specifically measures popularity? The closest we can do is analyze search volume for each Pokemon, although this will include other factors such as controversy and whether or not they were in the news.
Nevertheless, here is each generation’s most popular Legendary Pokemon. The data displayed is based on worldwide searches for the last five years.
Gen 1 – Mewtwo
The Kanto region’s most popular Legendary should come as no surprise. After all, Mewtwo is one of the most iconic Pokemon, period. Therefore we would have expected it to comfortably beat Articuno, Zapdos, and Moltres when it comes to search traffic.
The boost in the summer of 2016, as is the case for the others too, was due to their release in Pokemon Go. This was that magical time when seemingly everybody was playing the mobile game.
The other boosts are presumably due to the Pokemon: Mewtwo Strikes Back – Evolution movie. When it comes to the Legendary birds, though, what is interesting, is that Zapdos comes out on top, albeit ever so slightly, while Moltres had the least searches for the period.
Gen 2 – Lugia
There were five Legendary Pokemon originating from the Johto region – Raikou, Entei, Suicune, Lugia and Ho-Oh. Of course, nobody will have expected any of the under-loved Johto dogs to outdo either Lugia or Ho-Oh.
It seems the three Legendary dogs never fully resonated with Pokemon fans. Suicune and Entei’s spikes in late 2019 can be explained by their Shadow forms being introduced to Pokemon Go.
The graph shows a clear winner though: Lugia. This is despite Ho-Oh, at least originally, being positioned as the main cover star for the Gold and Silver games.
The defensively minded Lugia has always seemed to prove more popular, though. This could be down to Ho-Oh’s design or that Lugia featured on the incredibly popular Pokemon XD: Gale of Darkness Gamecube game.
Gen 3 – Rayquaza
The Hoenn region introduced an additional eight Legendary Pokemon to the franchise. Among these were the Regi-trio (Regirock, Regice, Registeel), Latias, Latios, Groudon, Kyogre, and Rayquaza.
The results here are as expected, again. The Regi-trio and the Eon duo are far less popular than the main legends: Groudon, Kyogre, and Rayquaza. Interestingly Regirock beats its ice and steel counterparts while Latios ever-so-slightly beats Latias.
Rayquaza is the comfortable winner, however. The graph once again shows several spikes and these seem to align with its involvement in Pokemon Go Raid Battles.
Gen 4 – Giratina
Pokemon Diamond and Pearl added another nine Legendary Pokemon. The increased numbers may go someway to explain why the allure of legends has decreased over time, but that is besides the point.
The Lake Guardians, Uxie, Mesprit, and Azelf, are the weaker legends of the generation. Therefore, it’s unsurprising that these are the least popular in terms of searches. Notably though, Uxie did beat the other two – just barely.
Then there are Cresselia, Heatran, and Regigigas. We’d have thought Regigigas would have beat the other two but, in actual fact, it is Heatran that comes out on top.
For those of you that think Pokemon Go is dying, the search volume for these legends show just how strong and alive the mobile game still is. Any time one of these Pokemon are featured in Raid Battles, their search volumes spike. This is exactly what you’re seeing with Heatran in the above graph.
None of these were going to beat the likes of Dialga, Palkia, and Giratina, though. These are unofficially the most iconic of all Legendary Pokemon, as there is no trio more ferocious in the franchise. This is part of the reason the Diamond and Pearl games are still so revered.
Giratina seemingly wins at everything and search volumes are no different. It comfortably beats both Dialga and Palkia, which are very well searched in their own right.
Gen 5 – Zekrom and Kyurem
Unova region’s Legendary Pokemon are similar to that of previous generations whereby the ‘main’ legends come out on top. Gen 5 adds nine new Legendary ‘mons comprising of the Swords of Justice (Cobalion, Virizon, and Terrakion), the Forces of Nature (Tornadus, Thundurus, and Landorus) and then the intimidating Tao trio (Reshiram, Zekrom, and Kyurem).
There isn’t a lot between the Swords of Justice although Cobalion edges it, barely. The same can be said for the Forces of Nature with Landorus coming out on top, although in this instance a little more comfortably.
It was always going to be one of the Tao trio to win the battle of Gen 5, though. Zekrom and Kyurem share the win here, edging out Reshiram – there is little deviation between the three, however.
Once again, we can see a clear correlation between these Pokemon and their features in Pokemon Go Raid Battles.
Gen 6 – Zygarde
The Kalos region was the first generation to add fewer Legendaries than the gen before it. Only three were added in Gen 6: Xerneas, Yveltal, and Zygarde – known as the Aura Trio.
This was an interesting change of strategy from the Pokemon Company but likely gave the Aura Trio more prestige as a result. Being one of the newer generations, some Pokemon fans may not be as aware of these legends in comparison to earlier ones.
None of Gen 6 has yet to feature in Pokemon Go either, which is another reason they will be less known. Nonetheless, out of the three, Zygarde is a lot more searched than Xerneas and Yveltal.
Gen 7 – Type: Null and Necrozma
The Alola region made up for the lack of legends introduced in Kalos, adding the most in one generation to date: 11. The Tapu Pokemon were one of these groups, consisting of Tapu Koko, Tapu Lele, Tapu Bulu, and Tapu Fini. Tapu Koko is the most searched out of these.
Then there are the Beast Killers – Type: Null and Silvally. The former is far more searched here and actually finishes top of all Gen 7 Legendary ‘mon.
Solgaleo out-volumes Lunala, Cosmog, and Cosmoem but does fall behind Type: Null. Necrozma is obviously the featured legend and consequently comes out on top. It is equal with Type: Null however, which does have somewhat of a cult popularity.
Gen 8 – Zacian
Gen 8 reverted back to just three new Legendary Pokemon, although another in Kubfu (and Urshifu) was introduced in the Pokemon Sword and Shield Isle of Armor DLC. Despite Eternatus being one of the strongest Pokemon in the entire franchise, Zacian is seemingly more popular.
Obviously, comparing these Galar legends with those of other regions is tricky because they are all less than a year old. Over time it will be interesting to see whether they can maintain their current notoriety.
Most popular overall
Given we know the most popular Pokemon from each generation, we can try to figure out which is the overall most popular. The answer to that is Mewtwo, by far.
However, this isn’t necessarily a fair comparison. Mewtwo is the original legend, has a movie named after it and is subject to a lot of promotion.
The second is Lugia, which suggests trainers favor the older ‘mons. After all, nostalgia is powerful. Giratina comes out in third, although Dialga comes very close. This shows that promotion and chronological order aside, Gen 4 may just be the most popular.
There you have it though, Mewtwo is, and may always be, the consummate Legendary Pokemon.