RBY In-Game Tiers

Introduction

The best possible Pokemon for an in-game team is one that is obtained at the start of the game, can OHKO enemies easily, takes little damage in return, can learn useful moves upon leveling up, isn't too reliant on valuable TMs, and matches up well against all Gym Leaders and Elite 4 members. Naturally, such a Pokemon doesn't exist, but Pokemon that are closer to this ideal are obviously the best ones to use.

The goal of this in-game tier list is to recommend a select group of Pokemon for an efficient run through Pokemon Red, Blue, and Yellow. The Pokemon that fit most of the above requirements are placed in Top or High tier. Very inefficient Pokemon that lack these attributes are placed in Low tier. Pokemon that have some of these attributes but are let down by significant flaws are put in Mid tier. This list assesses Pokemon according to six criteria:

  • Availability: in general, Pokemon that are obtained earlier and more easily tend to be more useful. Availability mostly looks at how early the Pokemon can be caught, with some consideration of what level the Pokemon is at when it is caught.
  • Stats: for efficient runs, you obviously want Pokemon with good stats. However, it must be said that stats come into play far less in RBY than in later generations when talking about in-game play.
  • Movepool: Pokemon that learn strong moves by level-up and with little TM support are preferred because it allows you to conserve your valuable TMs for other Pokemon that need them. However, being TM dependent isn't necessarily a death sentence. For example, if a Pokemon requires TMs to get a useful moveset but is capable of learning so many TMs that it can run several different movesets to suit its team, TM dependency isn't as crippling. TM dependency becomes a problem if the Pokemon requires specific TMs that would prevent you from using a large number of other Pokemon effectively as teammates.
  • Type: the best typings are those that provide useful STABs with plenty of coverage while leaving the Pokemon with few relevant weaknesses. Typing often determines how a Pokemon will perform against Gym Leaders and the Elite 4.
  • Power: being able to defeat multiple Trainers quickly without having to heal is essential for an efficient run. Power looks at a combination of stats, movepool, and type to judge a Pokemon's ability to sweep through multiple Trainers.
  • Match-Ups: a Pokemon's ability to take on important Trainers is a strong point for consideration. Such Trainers include your rival, Gym Leaders, and the Elite 4.

Don't confuse an efficient run with a speed run. Speed runs are often segmented and recorded with luck manipulation through resets; these runs aim for the absolute fastest in-game time, but the real time spent on them is usually much more. An "efficient" run simply assumes that you want to play through in a relatively short amount of real time.

The most efficient team size for these types of runs is only one member. However, using this team size for the purposes of tiering would result in the list becoming incredibly centralized around Pokemon with specific coverage obtained early on in the game. Therefore, this list assumes teams will have at least 3 members.

Due to the large effect they would have on the tier list, the Missingno. and Mew glitches are not considered in tiering.

Note that the locations listed for each Pokémon represent what has been judged as the most efficient way of obtaining the Pokémon. There are many cases where a Pokémon may be obtainable before the location listed, but these tend to be less efficient due to low catch levels.



Top Tier


Abra
Availability: Route 24 (RB); Route 5 (Y) (Early)
Stats: Great
Movepool: Decent
Additional Comments: Although it's annoying to catch and lacks power before it evolves, Abra is a very powerful attacker that is obtained early. It is very TM efficient, its STAB moves have excellent coverage by themselves, and its high Special and Speed allow it to steamroll most Trainers.


Articuno
Availability: Seafoam Islands (Late)
Stats: Outstanding
Movepool: Decent
Additional Comments: Articuno has wonderful stats and it's caught at a very high level, so it can easily blast through most Trainers and make some of the later important match-ups quite trivial. It also learns its best moves without TM support. Articuno's only problem is that it's encountered late and in an inconvenient location.


Clefairy
Availability: Mt Moon (Early)
Stats: Average
Movepool: Very Wide
Additional Comments: Clefairy can be caught and evolved very early, thereby providing you with an incredibly powerful early-game Pokemon that also remains useful late-game. Although it relies on TMs, it's compatible with a huge number of them and can acquire a good moveset without hindering its teammates.


Diglett
Availability: Diglett's Cave (Early)
Stats: Average
Movepool: Wide
Additional Comments: Diglett is easy to catch and arrives right before the one Gym it dominates. Its excellent Speed and decent Attack let it sweep most Pokemon, and it gets great moves like Dig, Earthquake, and Slash by level-up, so it's very TM efficient. If you're lucky, it can even be caught as a high level Dugtrio.


Nidoran-F
Availability: Route 22 (Early)
Stats: Average
Movepool: Very Wide
Additional Comments: Nidoran-F arrives early, has solid stats and a huge movepool, and can be evolved before the second Gym. It has a niche over Nidoran-M in that it can learn Body Slam as a Nidoqueen by level-up. It's mainly let down by its lack of powerful STAB for half of the game.


Nidoran-M
Availability: Route 22 (Early)
Stats: Average
Movepool: Very Wide
Additional Comments: Nidoran-M arrives early, has solid stats and a huge movepool, and can be evolved before the second Gym. Its access to Horn Attack at level 8 gives it an edge over Nidoran-F. It's mainly let down by its lack of powerful STAB for half of the game.


Squirtle (RB)
Availability: Pallet Town (Early)
Stats: Above Average
Movepool: Wide
Additional Comments: Squirtle has the best typing and the widest movepool of all the starters. It's obtained early, it matches up well against many Gym Leaders and Elite 4 members, and its stats are good enough for it to be useful throughout most of the game.


Zapdos
Availability: Power Plant (Late)
Stats: Outstanding
Movepool: Decent
Additional Comments: Zapdos's excellent stats, high catch level, and great dual STABs allow it to dominate late-game. Its late arrival time and slight reliance on the Thunderbolt TM prevent it from being perfect, however.



High Tier


Bulbasaur (RB)
Availability: Pallet Town (Early)
Stats: Above Average
Movepool: Shallow
Additional Comments: Bulbasaur has a niche in that it is the best counter to Misty. It can also learn Razor Leaf, an incredibly powerful move than can KO many Pokemon easily. However, Bulbasaur is let down by its thin movepool before it learns Razor Leaf, which limits its power on some of the early routes, especially if it doesn't get Body Slam. Bulbasaur's use is also limited against your rival.


Charmander
Availability: Pallet Town (RB); Route 24 (Y) (Early)
Stats: Above Average
Movepool: Decent
Additional Comments: Learning Ember actually makes Charmander the best starter for some of the earlier routes. When it evolves into Charizard, it becomes an excellent sweeper with Slash and potentially Dig. Unfortunately, Charmander is reliant on TMs mid-game, and it's somewhat let down by Charmeleon's mediocre offensive stats. Note that Yellow Charmander is worse because it arrives later and under-leveled, but it's still good because it can grind easily against the Grass-types nearby.


Doduo
Availability: Route 16 (Mid-game)
Stats: Average
Movepool: Decent
Additional Comments: Doduo arrives later than the other Normal-type birds, but it can use Erika's Gym to gain experience and evolve easily. Its high Speed and Attack are perfect for cleaning up routes. Its access to Tri Attack gives it an edge over the other birds, though it's still let down by its limited coverage.


Farfetch'd (RB)
Availability: Vermilion City (Early)
Stats: Poor
Movepool: Decent
Additional Comments: Despite its terrible base stats, Farfetch'd's boosted experience and early access to Swords Dance makes it a surprisingly powerful attacker. It gains Slash later on, which gives it free kills without boosting, and it's one of the best HM slaves in the game. Its poor bulk and middling Speed tend to cause problems late-game though.


Gastly
Availability: Pokemon Tower (Mid-game)
Stats: Great
Movepool: Shallow
Additional Comments: Gastly has an excellent typing and an ideal stat distribution for sweeping in-game, and it evolves very quickly. It performs very well against Gym Leaders and the Elite 4 if it is taught its best moves. However, Gastly has one of the worst level-up movepools in the game and is horribly TM dependent as a result.


Jolteon
Availability: Celadon City (Mid-game)
Stats: Above Average
Movepool: Shallow
Additional Comments: Jolteon has excellent Special and Speed from the moment it's obtained. It can make short work of entire routes with its STAB Thunderbolt. However, Jolteon's usefulness depends heavily on having access to Thunderbolt, and its usefulness drops drastically if Thunderbolt is not available.


Jynx
Availability: Cerulean City (Mid-game)
Stats: Below Average
Movepool: Decent
Additional Comments: Jynx's STAB combination is fantastic. Although its stats are far from incredible, they are sufficient when supported by its boosted experience, which also mitigates the issue of obtaining it under-leveled. Note that while Jynx can cope without TMs better than some Pokemon, it will need the Psychic TM to reach its full potential.


Krabby (BY)
Availability: Seafoam Islands (Late)
Stats: Above Average
Movepool: Decent
Additional Comments: Despite its low Special, Crabhammer more than makes up for it with a high critical hit rate. Krabby's high Attack also gives Strength a nice kick and allows it to hit hard physically and specially. Sadly, it can't use its Ice-type attacks as effectively as other late-game Water-types (even Dragonite can survive them).


Mr. Mime
Availability: Route 2 (Early)
Stats: Below Average
Movepool: Shallow
Additional Comments: Mr. Mime has good Speed and Special stats, and it gains STAB on one of the best attacking types in the game. Boosted experience and Thunderbolt also give Mr. Mime advantages over Alakazam, who otherwise outclasses it. Mr. Mime is let down by TM dependency; it requires a TM to get Psychic, unlike Alakazam and Hypno.


Omanyte
Availability: Cinnabar Island (Late)
Stats: Great
Movepool: Decent
Additional Comments: Omanyte has great Special and Defense, and its excellent typing makes it easy to grind against the Pokemon Mansion's Pokemon. Its coverage with Surf and an Ice-type move is excellent late-game too. Omastar is a bit slow though, so it will be outsped by certain Pokemon late-game.


Sandshrew
Availability: Route 4 (B); Mt Moon (Y) (Early)
Stats: Average
Movepool: Decent
Additional Comments: You can teach Sandshrew Dig soon after you get it, and Slash pairs well with Dig to provide near-perfect neutral coverage. Evolving early is the icing on the cake; once Sandshrew evolves, it's fantastic at cleaning up routes. Its dependence on Dig and its general lack of power before evolution are Sandshrew's main flaws.


Seel
Availability: Cinnabar Island (Late)
Stats: Average
Movepool: Decent
Additional Comments: Seel's (or Dewgong's, depending on which version you're playing) boosted experience arguably makes it the best late-game Water-type available. Dewgong's Ice-typing and access to Ice-type moves without TM support are also handy.


Shellder
Availability: Seafoam Islands (RB) (Late); Cycling Road (Y) (Mid-game)
Stats: Excellent
Movepool: Decent
Additional Comments: Shellder has solid stats, a nice movepool, and can be evolved instantly. It isn't too TM dependent, and Tri Attack lets it deal with opposing Water-types better than some of the other Water-types. It is especially good in Yellow because it can be caught earlier than many other Water-type Pokemon. Shellder is overall very similar to Seel, but it lacks Seel's experience boost.


Snorlax
Availability: Route 16 or Route 12 (Mid-game)
Stats: Excellent
Movepool: Wide
Additional Comments: Snorlax is very bulky and powerful, especially right when it is obtained. It learns a lot of great moves from level-up and TMs, and is caught at a high level. Snorlax's only real flaw is its terrible Speed. It's often on the receiving end of chip damage and annoyances like Confuse Ray, so you'll need to stock up on healing items.


Squirtle (Y)
Availability: Vermilion City (Early)
Stats: Above Average
Movepool: Wide
Additional Comments: Squirtle is worse in Yellow because it arrives later and is very under-leveled, so another Water-type may be preferred. Squirtle can still be salvaged, however, because it is easy to grind against both the Trainers east of Vermilion City and the wild Pokemon in Diglett's Cave. Once it catches up, it plays just like it does in the other versions.


Staryu
Availability: Seafoam Islands (Late)
Stats: Excellent
Movepool: Wide
Additional Comments: Aside from being an excellent sweeper with its high Speed and Special stats, Staryu's movepool is particularly large for a Water-type, with access to Thunderbolt and Psychic alongside the usual Surf, Ice Beam, and Blizzard. Starmie is amazing if it gets all of these moves, but this requires substantial TM support.


Tentacool
Availability: Route 19 or Route 21 (Late)
Stats: Excellent
Movepool: Decent
Additional Comments: Tentacruel has access to the most powerful Surf in the game, and Ice Beam, Blizzard, and even Mega Drain are options for coverage. It can be caught at high levels, evolves quickly, sweeps well, and has great match-ups late-game.


Vaporeon
Availability: Celadon City (Mid-game)
Stats: Above Average
Movepool: Shallow
Additional Comments: Vaporeon has great Special, bulk, and just enough Speed to outpace most Pokemon encountered on regular routes. It's obtained earlier than most Water-types too. Its movepool is a bit thin, but Vaporeon can at least learn Aurora Beam by level-up in Yellow to avoid using up TMs for coverage.



Mid Tier


Bellsprout
Availability: Route 24 (Early)
Stats: Above Average
Movepool: Shallow
Additional Comments: Victreebel has excellent offensive stats and decent speed, learns Sleep Powder and Growth early, and is a good counter to Misty. However, Bellsprout performs worse against Trainers like Sabrina. It also learns Razor Leaf late and needs to stay unevolved to learn both Razor Leaf and Body Slam. Its offensive movepool before it gets these moves is very limited, but it can at least run a Growth boosting set to sweep enemies.


Bulbasaur (Y)
Availability: Cerulean City (Early)
Stats: Above Average
Movepool: Shallow
Additional Comments: Bulbasaur no longer provides a free "no grinding required" win over Misty, and it now arrives later and under-leveled. It isn't particularly powerful at first and its limited movepool gives it some coverage issues, but it evolves fairly quickly and it improves significantly once it learns Razor Leaf.


Drowzee
Availability: Route 11 (Early)
Stats: Average
Movepool: Decent
Additional Comments: Hypno's high Special and STAB Psychic attacks allow it to deal significant damage to many Pokemon. However, Drowzee is a bit slow and weak before it evolves. Although Hypno learns Psychic by level-up, it is learned fairly late, so Hypno either has to push on with weaker or unreliable moves like Confusion and Dream Eater for a while or use up the Psychic TM to get its best attack earlier.


Electabuzz
Availability: Power Plant (Late)
Stats: Average
Movepool: Decent
Additional Comments: Electabuzz is a fast and powerful Electric-type. Access to ThunderPunch makes it less reliant on the Thunderbolt TM, and the ability to learn Psychic gives it another niche. However, it is obtained fairly late and under-leveled, and it faces a ton of competition from other Electric-types (notably Zapdos, who arrives at the same time as Electabuzz).


Exeggcute
Availability: Safari Zone (Late)
Stats: Excellent
Movepool: Decent
Additional Comments: Exeggutor is very powerful and bulky, and it has an excellent STAB combination for many of the upcoming match-ups. It is mostly let down by arriving late in the game. It also has middling Speed and relies on TMs for access to most of its good moves.


Flareon
Availability: Celadon City (Mid-game)
Stats: Above Average
Movepool: Shallow
Additional Comments: Flareon's attacking stats are among the highest in the game, and it's fast enough to sweep most regular Trainers. However, like most Fire-types, Flareon has a horrible movepool. Its strongest STAB moves are learned late, and it relies on moves like Body Slam for power. It also has limited use against most Gym Leaders and the Elite 4.


Geodude
Availability: Mt Moon (Early)
Stats: Average
Movepool: Decent
Additional Comments: Geodude is obtained early, it has great Attack and Defense, and its typing is perfect for certain match-ups. On the other hand, it is very slow, it's TM dependent, and its low Special and weaknesses allow it to be beaten easily by certain types. Geodude is a useful Pokemon, but its flaws ensure that it needs significant support from teammates.


Goldeen
Availability: Route 23 (RB); Route 24 (Y) (Mid-game)
Stats: Average
Movepool: Decent
Additional Comments: Goldeen has solid Special and Attack, and it is fast enough to function on regular routes. It provides Water/Ice coverage late-game, though it lacks a good physical movepool, meaning that its above average Attack is somewhat wasted. Also keep in mind that Goldeen is noticeably outclassed by the majority of the other Water-types.


Growlithe (R)
Availability: Route 8 (Mid-game)
Stats: Excellent
Movepool: Shallow
Additional Comments: Growlithe's high stats and superior availability give it an edge over most of the other Fire-types. However, Growlithe is heavily reliant on the Dig TM to abuse its high Attack and win match-ups, so Growlithe probably shouldn't be used if that isn't available to it. With Dig, it is a terrific sweeper that plays very similarly to Charmander.


Hitmonlee
Availability: Saffron City (Mid-game)
Stats: Average
Movepool: Shallow
Additional Comments: Hitmonlee has a favorable stat distribution, and it's the only Fighting-type with access to good STAB moves. It is also obtained at a high level, so it requires little grinding. However, Hitmonlee's movepool and coverage are limited, it has few favorable match-ups, and its defenses are among the worst in the game.


Horsea
Availability: Seafoam Islands (R) (Late); Route 23 (B) (Mid-game); Route 12 (Y) (Mid-game)
Stats: Average
Movepool: Decent
Additional Comments: Horsea has good Special, Defense, and Speed, and its access to STAB Surf (with Ice-type moves for coverage) allows it to perform well late-game. Sadly, it provides little else outside of that, unlike other late-game Water-types. Horsea is good, but consider your other options first.


Jigglypuff
Availability: Route 3 (RB); Route 5 (Y) (Early)
Stats: Mediocre
Movepool: Very Wide
Additional Comments: Despite its middling stats and difficulties in grinding, Jigglypuff is obtained early and can be evolved early, and it has a massive movepool. Wigglytuff's STAB Mega Punch is among the strongest attacks available to you at that point in the game. Its low stats cause it issues late-game though, and it is flat-out outclassed by Clefable.


Kabuto
Availability: Cinnabar Island (Late)
Stats: Above Average
Movepool: Decent
Additional Comments: Kabuto is rather weak when it's first obtained, so it needs training before it can help you much. Thankfully, it grinds well in Cinnabar Mansion, and once it gains Slash and evolves, it is a powerful attacker that can sweep Trainers easily. Its Special is acceptable enough to use Surf and Ice Beam for late-game coverage, though its STAB Surf is one of the weakest in the game.


Krabby (R)
Availability: Route 23 (Mid-game)
Stats: Above Average
Movepool: Decent
Additional Comments: Kingler is under-leveled in Red, which leaves it very far away from Crabhammer and makes it less useful overall. Still, Kingler can at least use its physical moves to beat regular route Pokemon, and moves like BubbleBeam and Surf are usable for STAB in the meantime. Its match-ups are still very good late-game.


Magikarp
Availability: Route 4 (Early)
Stats: Outstanding
Movepool: Wide
Additional Comments: Magikarp is pathetically weak when you first obtain it, and grinding it to level 20 uses up a lot of experience that you could be using on other Pokemon. However, there's no denying that Gyarados is one of the strongest Pokemon available thanks to its huge stats, wide movepool, and great match-ups, so all that hard work pays off eventually.


Magnemite
Availability: Power Plant (RB) (Late); Route 10 (Y) (Mid-game)
Stats: Average
Movepool: Shallow
Additional Comments: Magnemite has great Special and acceptable Speed. Magneton's STAB Thunderbolt is capable of sweeping many Trainers on its own. However, Magnemite's coverage is limited, and it needs the Thunderbolt TM to be useful. It isn't as immediately powerful as Jolteon because it starts off under-leveled, and it is obtained fairly late in Red and Blue.


Mankey
Availability: Route 5 (R); Route 22 (Y) (Early)
Stats: Average
Movepool: Decent
Additional Comments: Mankey's early availability and good movepool make it superior to most of the other Fighting-types. It is also a great partner for the starter Pikachu in Yellow because it can beat Brock comfortably. Although is fast and strong, it lacks a strong and reliable STAB attack, and it relies on TMs for coverage beyond Fighting / Normal.


Meowth
Availability: Route 5 (Early)
Stats: Below Average
Movepool: Decent
Additional Comments: Meowth is fast and can hurt things with its STAB attacks. It arrives early, and it learns a few nice coverage moves from TMs too. However, Meowth's stats besides Speed are rather low, which often limits its power. It also takes ages to learn Slash, its strongest attack, so it relies on TMs to have strong moves for most of the game.


Oddish
Availability: Route 24 (Early)
Stats: Decent
Movepool: Shallow
Additional Comments: Oddish's Grass typing gives it decent coverage against certain Trainers like Hikers, and it has some good match-ups, the most notable of which is Misty. Oddish is mostly let down by its bad movepool, and its typing tends to fall short on certain routes mid-game. It's also completely outclassed by Bulbasaur and Bellsprout, so it should only be considered by Red players who didn't pick Bulbasaur.


Pikachu (RB)
Availability: Viridian Forest (Early)
Stats: Decent
Movepool: Decent
Additional Comments: Pikachu arrives much earlier than other Electric-types, which gives it a niche over its competition. It's fast and pretty powerful when it evolves, and Electric-type attacks are good for the common birds. It is fairly TM dependent though, and it's a little bit weak before it evolves in Celadon City.


Pikachu (Y)
Availability: Pallet Town (Early)
Stats: Pathetic
Movepool: Decent
Additional Comments: Because it can't evolve, you are using one of the weakest Pokemon in the game for the entire time. Its stats besides Speed are poor, and it tends to faint often, but its ability to learn Thunderbolt by level-up gives it at least marginal usability. Pikachu is actually a decent attacker mid-game with STAB Thunderbolt, but it lags late-game.


Poliwag
Availability: Route 10 (RB); Route 23 (Y) (Mid-game)
Stats: Decent
Movepool: Wide
Additional Comments: Poliwag can learn a variety of special and physical moves from level-up and TMs, and it even gets Amnesia to try boosting. In Yellow, its catch level is very high, and it requires no grinding at all. Its stats are far from outstanding though, so it can't sweep teams as effectively as would be ideal. It also has one of weakest STAB Surfs in the game.


Psyduck (RB)
Availability: Seafoam Islands (Late)
Stats: Decent
Movepool: Decent
Additional Comments: Psyduck has well-balanced stats and access to Water- and Ice-type moves, so it can perform the role of late-game Water-type reasonably well. It doesn't provide much over many of the other Water-types though, so you should consider using those first before you consider Psyduck.


Rattata
Availability: Route 1 (Early)
Stats: Below Average
Movepool: Wide
Additional Comments: Rattata is strong early-game because it hits hard and fast with STAB Hyper Fang. It grows and evolves quickly, and learns a ton of coverage moves from TMs. However, its low stats tend to hurt it late-game, and most of its coverage moves are highly contested TMs that can be used better by other Pokemon.


Slowpoke
Availability: Seafoam Islands (Late)
Stats: Average
Movepool: Wide
Additional Comments: Slowpoke has a large physical and special movepool, and it can also use Amnesia to boost and sweep. Its typing and coverage are invaluable late-game. However, Slowbro is horribly slow, its offensive stats are far from outstanding without boosts, and it is fairly weak as a Slowpoke.


Spearow
Availability: Route 22 (Early)
Stats: Average
Movepool: Shallow
Additional Comments: Spearow arrives early with STAB Peck, which is useful for the early-game Bug-types. However, it is only useful in spurts after Viridian Forest because its early-game attacks are weak or unreliable. It also has limited coverage, but gaining Drill Peck later on ensures that it won't drop off like some other early-game Pokemon.


Voltorb
Availability: Route 10 (RB) (Mid-game); Power Plant (Y) (Late)
Stats: Decent
Movepool: Shallow
Additional Comments: Voltorb has insane Speed, decent Special, and a useful typing. STAB Thunderbolt hits hard against most Pokemon that don't resist it. Unfortunately, Voltorb is pretty weak before evolving, it is nearly useless without the Thunderbolt TM, it has limited coverage outside of its STAB moves, and it is obtained late in Yellow.



Low Tier


Aerodactyl
Availability: Cinnabar Island (Late)
Stats: Above Average
Movepool: Shallow
Additional Comments: Although Aerodactyl has well-distributed stats and an interesting typing, it arrives late, its movepool is incredibly limited, its defenses are mediocre, and it has a few bad weaknesses. Its combined attributes give it poor match-ups against the more difficult Elite 4 members.


Caterpie
Availability: Viridian Forest (RY); Route 2 (B) (Early)
Stats: Poor
Movepool: Decent
Additional Comments: Caterpie's early access to status moves and Confusion are nice, but Caterpie ultimately has inferior stats, a poor level-up movepool, and few useful match-ups. It's also tedious to grind, as it is a horrible battler before it evolves and learns Confusion.


Chansey
Availability: Safari Zone (Late)
Stats: Average
Movepool: Very Wide
Additional Comments: Although Chansey is a strong battler, thanks to its high Special, impressive bulk, and wide movepool, it's a rare Safari Zone Pokemon with a low catch rate, which pretty much prevents it from ever being a good choice.


Cubone
Availability: Pokémon Tower (Mid-game)
Stats: Mediocre
Movepool: Decent
Additional Comments: Cubone has an advantage in that it grinds really well in Pokemon Tower and doesn't rely on the Dig TM as much as some of the other Ground-types, but ultimately Cubone's power is limited by its poor Speed and mediocre offenses.


Ditto
Availability: Route 13 (RB) (Mid-game); Pokémon Mansion (Y) (Late)
Stats: Pathetic
Movepool: Shallow
Additional Comments: Ditto has awful stats and can only use Transform. It relies on a strategy that almost never works in your favor. There is nothing good about Ditto; it's the worst Pokemon in the game.


Dratini
Availability: Celadon City (RB) (Mid-Game); Safari Zone (Y) (Late)
Stats: Outstanding
Movepool: Wide
Additional Comments: Dragonite is incredible, but it evolves so late that there is a good chance that it won't evolve before you beat the Champion! Ultimately, you will be using Dragonair for most of the game, who has poor stats. Combine that with how difficult it is to obtain and grind, and you're left with one of the most useless Pokemon available.


Ekans
Availability: Route 4 (Early)
Stats: Below Average
Movepool: Decent
Additional Comments: Ekans has middling stats and its level-up movepool is poor. It is compatible with some nice TMs, but this comes with an opportunity cost, and Ekans isn't good enough to justify the use of these TMs on itself over superior Pokemon.


Farfetch'd (Y)
Availability: Route 12 (Mid-game)
Stats: Poor
Movepool: Decent
Additional Comments: Yellow essentially took Farfetch'd and removed almost everything that was good about it in Red and Blue. It isn't obtained early in the game, it doesn't get boosted experience, and even its rare combination of Cut and Fly is near useless by the time you get it.


Grimer
Availability: Pokémon Mansion (RB); Power Plant (Y) (Late)
Stats: Average
Movepool: Decent
Additional Comments: Grimer arrives too late and its Speed is mediocre. It has a high Attack stat, but its physical movepool is very limited. It does learn a few neat special moves from TMs, but Muk's Special isn't impressive and there are better users of these moves.


Growlithe (Y)
Availability: Pokémon Mansion (Late)
Stats: Excellent
Movepool: Shallow
Additional Comments: Growlithe is locked away on Cinnabar Island in Yellow, which causes it to miss out on many parts of the game where it would have been useful. It's also less likely to have Dig available to it, which it pretty much needs to be good at anything.


Hitmonchan
Availability: Saffron City (Mid-game)
Stats: Average
Movepool: Shallow
Additional Comments: Its Attack and Speed are good, but its small movepool gives it limited coverage. Its Special is dreadful and leaves it incapable of properly using the elemental punches it gets from leveling up, and it has no reliable STAB moves whatsoever. All it has going for it is the high level at which it's obtained, which gives it some use before it drops off quickly.


Kangaskhan
Availability: Safari Zone (Late)
Stats: Above Average
Movepool: Wide
Additional Comments: Kangaskhan is a rare Safari Zone Pokemon so planning on having it on your team is not a good idea. It's a powerful Pokemon with a great movepool, but it is too unavailable to be worth it.


Koffing
Availability: Pokémon Mansion (Late)
Stats: Average
Movepool: Decent
Additional Comments: Koffing's offensive stats aren't too bad, but it isn't particularly fast. It's caught late in the game, has few notable match-ups, and has a poor level-up movepool, though it does learn a few powerful moves from TMs.


Lapras
Availability: Saffron City (Mid-game)
Stats: Excellent
Movepool: Wide
Additional Comments: Lapras has nice stats, great dual typing, one of the best level-up movepools in the game, and interesting TM compatibility. However, Lapras is far too underleveled to be worth the time, especially when you consider the large number of other Pokemon that can play a similar role to Lapras more effectively.


Lickitung (RB)
Availability: Fuchsia City (Late)
Stats: Poor
Movepool: Very Wide
Additional Comments: Lickitung's movepool is huge, but its stats are far from ideal. It's slow, and it can't hit particularly hard. It also arrives late, and the only thing it has going for it, aside from its movepool, is boosted experience.


Machop
Availability: Rock Tunnel (RB); Route 5 (Y) (Mid-game)
Stats: Average
Movepool: Decent
Additional Comments: Machop is a slow and frail Pokemon that has few favorable match-ups and no reliable STAB moves. It does have a high Attack and good TM compatibility, but its flaws really hold it back. Not even the boosted experience it gets in Yellow is enough to boost it into the higher tiers.


Magmar
Availability: Pokémon Mansion (Late)
Stats: Average
Movepool: Decent
Additional Comments: Magmar has terrible typing for when it arrives because the remaining Gym Leaders and Elite 4 members are unfavorable match-ups. It is also TM dependent because its early level-up moves are really weak.


Moltres
Availability: Victory Road (Late)
Stats: Outstanding
Movepool: Shallow
Additional Comments: Moltres is pretty powerful, but that fact that it can't be caught until after you have gotten through most of the game limits its use. Its typing and thin movepool give it unimpressive match-ups against the Elite 4, so Moltres ends up being a waste of space.


Onix
Availability: Rock Tunnel (Mid-game)
Stats: Poor
Movepool: Decent
Additional Comments: Onix's typing gives it a few good match-ups, but its flaws outweigh its strengths. It has poor stats for sweeping routes, it's annoying to catch and grind, and it relies on valuable TMs that you should really be using on stronger Pokemon.


Paras
Availability: Mt Moon (Early)
Stats: Mediocre
Movepool: Shallow
Additional Comments: Paras is very slow and has one of the worst typings in the game. Its movepool is also thin, and its STAB moves (Leech Life and Mega Drain) are pretty weak. Spore is really the best thing it has going for it but that isn't enough for a recommendation.


Pidgey
Availability: Route 1 (Early)
Stats: Average
Movepool: Shallow
Additional Comments: Pidgey is a highly available Pokemon with decent stats, but its movepool is horrible (its strongest move will be Quick Attack for half of the game) and it can't really help much against most Gym Leaders. It also evolves late for a Pokemon obtained so early in the game.


Pinsir
Availability: Celadon City (Mid-game)
Stats: Above Average
Movepool: Shallow
Additional Comments: Pinsir's nice Attack stat is offset by its horrid movepool; it has no STAB moves and relies on moves like ViceGrip and Submission to do damage. It isn't the easiest Pokemon to obtain either.


Ponyta
Availability: Pokemon Mansion (RB) (Late); Cycling Road (Y) (Mid-game)
Stats: Above Average
Movepool: Shallow
Additional Comments: Ponyta has good stats, but its movepool is incredibly thin. Unless it gets Body Slam, it has to rely on Fire Spin and Stomp flinches to do damage until Fire Blast comes along. It also has a poor typing with few favorable match-ups.


Porygon
Availability: Celadon City (Mid-game)
Stats: Poor
Movepool: Decent
Additional Comments: Porygon needs to be obtained as soon as possible to be useful, but this is difficult to do given how much it costs. Its stats are low, it relies on TMs, and obtaining it is such a huge inconvenience that it isn't worth using.


Psyduck (Y)
Availability: Route 6 (Late)
Stats: Average
Movepool: Decent
Additional Comments: Psyduck is obtained at an incredibly low level in Yellow. Grinding Psyduck up to an acceptable level takes up a fair amount of time, to the point that it isn't worth using. Even Lapras is better than it.


Rhyhorn
Availability: Safari Zone (Late)
Stats: Above Average
Movepool: Shallow
Additional Comments: Rhyhorn is obtained late in the game, it's very slow, and its level-up movepool is limited (although it learns some great moves from TMs). It also requires grinding to catch up to the rest of your team, and it evolves late.


Scyther
Availability: Celadon City (Mid-game)
Stats: Above Average
Movepool: Shallow
Additional Comments: Scyther's lack of good STAB and availability are what hurt it most as a viable choice. If you can obtain it from the Game Corner, it can use Slash to decent effect, but it doesn't provide enough to justify spending your money on it.


Tangela
Availability: Route 21 (RB); Safari Zone (Y) (Late)
Stats: Average
Movepool: Shallow
Additional Comments: Tangela's movepool is incredibly thin. Its Attack is too low to use its Normal-type moves effectively, and it only has Vine Whip (Yellow only), Mega Drain, and SolarBeam to pick from for STAB. Tangela relies on status and set-up moves to sweep opponents, and this makes it an inferior choice.


Tauros
Availability: Safari Zone (Late)
Stats: Excellent
Movepool: Wide
Additional Comments: Tauros is the best of the rare Safari Zone-exclusive Pokemon, but it is still a rare Safari Zone-exclusive Pokemon. If you are lucky enough to encounter and catch this on your way to the Surf HM and you have some good TMs to spare then it's worth a look, but otherwise you should just ignore it.


Venonat
Availability: Route 12 (RB) (Mid-game); Route 24 (Y) (Early)
Stats: Below Average
Movepool: Shallow
Additional Comments: Venonat takes too long to get its best moves, and until then you either have to feed it TMs to make it useful or put up with a terrible Pokemon until it learns some better attacks. Venomoth's performance is far from outstanding even with these moves.


Vulpix
Availability: Route 8 (B); Celadon City (Y) (Mid-game)
Stats: Above Average
Movepool: Shallow
Additional Comments: Vulpix's niche over other Fire-types is that it has access to Flamethrower sooner than any of them. However, this still involves putting up with a weak Vulpix for nearly 20 levels, and skipping Flamethrower by evolving Vulpix straight away to get Ninetales sooner isn't much better.


Weedle
Availability: Route 2 (R); Viridian Forest (B) (Early)
Stats: Poor
Movepool: Shallow
Additional Comments: Beedrill is the only Pokemon with STAB Twineedle, which is actually useful given how common Poison-types are. However, Beedrill's potential as a Psychic-type killer is wasted because most Psychic-type attacks will OHKO it. Weedle is also a pain to grind, and Beedrill's stats and movepool are poor.


Zubat
Availability: Mt Moon (Early)
Stats: Average
Movepool: Shallow
Additional Comments: Zubat is easy to obtain, and Golbat's stats aren't too bad. However, Zubat has a horrible movepool; Bite is its strongest attack by level-up, and it has no good STAB moves. As a result, it isn't the most powerful attacker, and its use in important match-ups is limited.



Untiered


Lickitung (Y)
Comments: It can only be obtained after you become Champion.


Mew
Comments: It can only be obtained via the abuse of glitches.


Mewtwo
Comments: It can only be obtained after you become Champion.



Resources


This list was compiled by members of the Orange Islands community in this forum thread. This thread contains more detailed information regarding how each Pokemon was assessed and is worth a look.