Best Pokémon to Evolve, TM, and Power-up to beat Raid Bosses in Pokémon Go

Best Pokémon to Evolve, TM, and Power-up to beat Raid Bosses in Pokémon Go
Best Pokémon to Evolve, TM, and Power-up to beat Raid Bosses in Pokémon Go (Image credit: iMore/Rene Ritchie)

Whether you're battling in Pokémon Go Raids, fighting off the Leaders of Team Go Rocket, vying for a top rank in the Pokémon Go Battle League, or just trying to take over your local gym, having the best Pokémon with the best movesets is how you win in Pokémon Go.

To get the best Pokémon, you have to catch, hatch, or evolve them. To get the best movesets, you'll need luck and Technical Machines (TM). To power them up, you'll need Stardust and Candy. Below are our top picks for Pokémon Go and be sure to check out our best Pokémon Go accessories, so you can be fully equipped on your Pokémon Journey!

What are the best Pokémon in Pokémon Go?

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Pokemon Go Battle League Announcement (Image credit: Niantic)

Although every Pokémon has weaknesses, some Pokémon have higher potential stats, access to better moves, or even just more advantageous typings. These are some of the best in the game, excluding Mega Evolutions and Shadow Pokémon, which are highlighted later on.

Swipe to scroll horizontally
RampardosSmack DownRock SlideRock
LucarioCounterAura SphereFighting/Steel
RhyperiorSmack DownRock Wrecker*Rock/Ground
ReshiramFire FangOverheatDragon/Fire
ZekromCharge Beam or Dragon BreathWild Charge or OutrageDragon/Electric
RayquazaDragon TailOutrageDragon/Flying
ChandelureFire Spin or HexOverheat or Shadow BallFire/Ghost
Mewtwo**Psycho Cut or ConfusionPsystrike* or Shadow Ball*Psychic
SalamenceDragon TailOutrage*Dragon/Flying
DarkraiSnarlShadow Ball or Shadow PulseDark
Giratina (Origin)Shadow ClawShadow BallGhost/Dragon
ConkeldurrCounterDynamic PunchFighting
MetagrossBullet PunchMeteor Mash*Steel/Psychic
MachampCounterDynamic PunchFighting
GengarShadow Claw or Lick*Shadow BallGhost/Poison
RaikouThunder ShockWild ChargeElectric
MamoswinePowder SnowAvalancheIce/Ground
PalkiaDragon TailDraco MeteorWater/Dragon
GarchompDragon Tail or Mud ShotOutrage or EarthquakeDragon/Ground
Galarian DarmanitanIce FangAvalancheIce
ElectivireThunder ShockWild ChargeElectric
MoltresFire Spin or Wing AttackOverheat or Sky Attack*Fire/Flying
DialgaDragon BreathDraco MeteorSteel/Dragon
RoseradeRazor Leaf or Poison JabGrass Knot or Sludge BombGrass/Poison
SwampertWater GunHydro Cannon*Water/Ground
TerrakionSmack DownRock SlideRock/Fighting
DragoniteDragon BreathOutrage or Draco Meteor*Dragon/Flying
EnteiFire FangOverheatFire
BlazikenFire SpinBlast Burn*Fire/Fighting
ZapdosThunder Shock*ThunderboltElectric/Flying
HaxorusDragon TailDragon ClawDragon
ExcadrillMud SlapDrill Run or EarthquakeGround/Steel
GroudonMud ShotEarthquakeGround
WeavileIce Shard or SnarlAvalanche or Foul PlayIce/Dark
Unovan DarmanitanFire FangOverheatFire
HydreigonBiteDark PulseDark/Dragon
TyranitarSmack Down* or BiteStone Edge or CrunchRock/Dark
GardevoirCharmDazzling GleamFairy/Psychic
FeraligatrWaterfallHydro Cannon*Water
HariyamaCounterDynamic PunchFighting
LatiosDragon Breath or Zen HeadbuttDragon Claw or PsychicDragon/Psychic
EmpoleonWaterfallHydro Cannon*Steel/Water
MagnezoneSparkWild ChargeSteel/Electric
TangrowthVine WhipPower WhipGrass
HeatranFire SpinFlamethrowerFire/Steel
LandorusMud ShotEarth PowerGround/Flying
VenusaurVine WhipFrenzy Plant*Grass/Poison
GenesectFury CutterX ScissorBug/Steel
Genesect (Burn Drive)Fury CutterX-ScissorSteel/Bug
Charizard***Fire SpinBlast Burn*Fire/Flying
KyuremDragon BreathDraco MeteorDragon/Ice
GlaceonFrost Breath or Ice ShardAvalancheIce
TogekissCharmDazzling GleamFairy/Flying
HonchkrowPeckSky AttackDark/Flying
TorterraRazor LeafFrenzy Plant*Grass/Ground
BreloomCounterDynamic PunchGrass/Fighting
SceptileBullet SeedFrenzy Plant*Grass
GyaradosWaterfallHydro PumpWater/Flying
AlakazamConfusion or Psycho CutPsychic*Psychic
  • Legacy Moves are indicated by an asterisk.
  • Note on Mewtwo: Mewtwo's greatest strength is the wide variety in its movepool. Mewtwo can excel as with Ice Beam, Flamethrower, and Thunderbolt in special cases.
  • Note on Charizard: As one of a select few whose type changes with Mega Evolution, if you plan on Mega Evolving your Charizard to Mega Charizard X, you would be better off with its Dragon type moveset (Dragon Breath and Dragon Claw).

Shadow Pokémon?

Pokemon Go Shadow Pokemon (Image credit: Niantic)

The rebalance of Shadow Pokémon rescued from Team GO Rocket make them excellent glass cannons. Not only are their stats boosted, but during special events, it's possible to change their moves with TMs. Once you get your Shadow Pokémon to learn a Charged move other than Frustration, you can use TMs to continue changing until your get the moveset you want. You can also use Elite TMs to choose the move from any that species could ever learn. The following Shadow Pokémon are worth putting your resources into:

Swipe to scroll horizontally
Shadow MewtwoConfusion or Psycho CutPsystrike* or Shadow Ball*Psychic
Shadow MetagrossBullet PunchMeteor Mash*Steel/Psychic
Shadow SalamenceDragon TailOutrageDragon/Flying
Shadow MachampCounterDynamic PunchFighting
Shadow RaikouThunder ShockWild ChargeElectric
Shadow DragoniteDragon BreathOutrageDragon/Flying
Shadow WeavileSnarl or Ice ShardFoul Play or AvalancheIce/Dark
Shadow TyranitarSmack Down or BiteStone Edge or CrunchDark/Rock
Shadow MoltresFire Spin or Wing AttackOverheat or Sky Attack*Fire/Flying
Shadow SwampertWater GunHydro Cannon*Ground/Water
Shadow ZapdosThunder Shock*ThunderboltElectric/Flying
Shadow MagnezoneSparkWild ChargeElectric/Steel
Shadow ElectivireThunder ShockWild ChargeElectric
Shadow VenusaurVine WhipFrenzy Plant*Grass/Poison
Shadow TorterraRazor LeafFrenzy Plant*Grass/Ground
Shadow GyaradosWaterfallHydro PumpWater/Flying
Shadow EnteiFire FangOverheatFire
Shadow CharizardFire SpinBlast Burn*Fire/Flying
Shadow AlakazamConfusion or Psycho CutPsychic*Psychic
Shadow ExeggutorConfusion* or Bullet SeedSolar BeamGrass/Psychic
Shadow GardevoirCharm or ConfusionDazzling Gleam or PsychicFairy/Psychic
Shadow GalladeConfusionPsychicGrass/Psychic
Shadow BanetteShadow ClawShadow BallGhost
Shadow ShiftryRazor LeafLeaf BladeDark/Grass
Shadow MagmortarFire SpinFire Blast or Fire PunchFire
Shadow ArcanineFire FangFlamethrowerFire
Shadow MismagiusHex or Sucker PunchShadow BallGhost
Shadow HoundoomFire Fang or SnarlFlamethrower or Foul PlayDark/Fire
Shadow VictreebelRazor LeafLeaf BladeGrass/Poison
Shadow AbomasnowPowder SnowWeather BallGrass/Ice
Shadow AggronIron TailHeavy SlamRock/Steel
Shadow MamoswinePowder SnowAvalancheIce/Ground
Shadow AerodactylRock ThrowRock SlideRock/Flying
  • Note: Shadow Mewtwo is game breakingly strong. It outclasses every other Pokémon, including other Shadow Pokémon and even Mega Pokémon. This combined with Mewtwo's wide variety of moves mean that it has several potential movesets that would still put it above and beyond other Pokémon. While Psystrike and Shadow Ball are Mewtwo's best moves, it can also make for a powerful Ice, Fire, or Electric attacker without requiring the use of an Elite TM. It's also worth investing the Candy and Stardust into giving a second Charged move.

Mega Pokémon?

Pokemon Go Mega Evolution Launch (Image credit: Niantic)

On August 27, 2020, Mega Evolution finally arrived in Pokémon. Mega Evolved Pokémon get a big stat boost and they boost the attacks of other Pokémon in Raids, in particular those of the same type. Not every Mega Evolved Pokémon has been released, but here's what Pokémon Go has so far:

Swipe to scroll horizontally
Mega VenusaurVine WhipFrenzy Plant*Grass/Poison
Mega Charizard XDragon Breath*Dragon ClawDragon/Fire
Mega Charizard YFire SpinBlast Burn*Fire Flying
Mega BlastoiseWater GunHydro Cannon*Water
Mega BeedrillPoison Jab or Bug Bite*Sludge Bomb or X-ScissorBug/Poison
Mega PidgeotWing Attack*Brave BirdNormal/Flying
Mega GengarShadow Claw or Lick*Shadow BallGhost/Poison
Mega HoundoomSnarlFoul PlayDark/Fire
Mega AbomasnowPowder Snow or Razor LeafWeather BallGrass/Ice
Mega AmpharosVolt SwitchZap CannonElectric/Dragon
Mega GyaradosWaterfall or BiteHydro Pump or CrunchWater/Dark

Although we won't know until they are released just how great some of the other Mega Pokémon will be, here are the rest of the Pokémon with Mega Evolutions and just how great we predict they will be:

  • Alakazam - this Psychic type from Gen I retains its typing and is readily available. It certainly won't compare to Mega Mewtwo X or Mega Mewtwo Y, but it will be much more accessible, and with Trade Evolution, it can be cheap to evolve.
  • Slowbro - a Water and Psychic type from Gen I, Slowbro retains its typing and is readily accessible. It probably won't compare to Mega Alakazam, but it's cheaper to evolve sans Trade Evolution, leaving more Candy for powering up.
  • Kangaskhan - a Normal type from Gen I, Kangaskan retains its typing, which alone makes it marginally less useful. Additionally, as a Regional Exclusive, most players outside of Australia and New Zealand cannot readily catch this Pokémon.
  • Pinsir - a common enough Gen I Pokémon with no evolution, Pinsir changes from Bug to Bug and Flying. The ease of catching and powering up Pinsir, leaves a lot of potential for this Mega Pokémon.
  • Aerodactyl - a Gen I fossil Pokémon, Aerodactyl is a Rock and Flying type which retains its typing. It's been featured in a number of events and has no evolutions, leaving tons of Candy for powering up.
  • Mewtwo* - easily one of the most powerful Pokémon, Mewtwo and Shadow Mewtwo already top the tier lists. Adding the stat boosts from Mega Evolution alone, Mega Mewtwo is going to redefine the Meta; however, it is one of the only Pokémon with two Mega Evolutions, one pure Psychic and the other Psychic and Fighting.
  • Steelix - the evolution of Gen I's Onix, Steelix is pretty easy to get. It's a Steel and Ground type that retains its typing, giving it a whopping ten resistances. The boosted stats it will get from Mega Evolution give Mega Steelix strong potential.
  • Scizor - a Bug and Steel type evolution of Gen I's Scyther, Mega Scizor retains its typing, leaving it with only one weakness and several resistances. It's readily accessible and with the Mega stat boost, provides a great alternative to the Mythical Genesect.
  • Heracross - originally encounters in Gen II, Heracross is a Bug and Fighting type that should be easy to catch and power up; however, as a Regional Exclusive, many players cannot encounter Heracross at all. Still, if you have it, it's got significant potential.
  • Tyranitar - having spent considerable time at the top of the tier list, Tyranitar is outclassed now, but that could certainly change with a Mega stat boost. Add to that how readily accessible Tyranitar is and you've got strong potential here.
  • Sceptile - the final evolution of the Gen III Grass type starter, Sceptile changes from pure Grass to Grass and Dragon. As a starter, it's had a Community Day, as well as a number of events, so most players have plenty of Candy for powering it up.
  • Blaziken - the Fire and Fighting type final evolution of Gen III's Fire starter, Blaziken has been on banned lists in a number of competitions because it's just that powerful. This is a Mega Pokémon with huge potential.
  • Swampert - the Water and Ground type final evolution of Gen III's Water starter, Swampert and Shadow Swampert are already great Pokémon, so the Mega stat boost is going to make it even better.
  • Gardevoir - as a Psychic and Fairy type, Gardevoir has very little competition when it comes to Fairy type damage in Pokémon Go. Even with Psychic type moves, both Gardevoir and Shadow Gardevoir often find their way into best counter lists. Expect that Mega Gardevoir will be extremely useful.
  • Sableye - a Dark and Ghost type that retains its typing, Sableye doesn't have much use in Pokémon Go, but its Mega Evolution could change that. Either way, it's readily available and has no evolutions, leaving tons of Candy for powering up.
  • Mawile - a Steel and Fairy type with no evolutions, Mawile retains its typing when it Mega Evolves. Mawile has a whopping 11 resistances to only two weaknesses. It's readily available and, even if it weren't so useful, Mega Mawile is one of the coolest looking Pokémon around.
  • Aggron - Mega Evolution changes Aggron from Steel and Rock to pure Steel, granting it 11 resistances to only three weaknesses. In the core games, Mega Aggron has an ability that reduces super effective damage, but Pokémon Go doesn't incorporate abilities. As the lack of abilities has already weakened Mega Venusaur, it is unlikely that Mega Aggron will get this particular benefit, but it is still likely to be a very valuable Pokémon to have.
  • Medicham - a Fighting and Psychic type, Medicham isn't particularly useful in Pokémon Go. As a Mega Pokémon, it may be more useful, but it won't compare to Mega Mewtwo X. It will be a little easier to catch and power up though.
  • Manectric - a pure Electric type, Manectric retains its typing with Mega Evolution. It's also a two stage Pokémon with its first stage being quite common. However, the Mega stat boost alone probably won't be enough to make Mega Manectric a top rec for much.
  • Sharpedo - a Water and Dark type, Sharpedo is easy to get and power up, and has some uses in Pokémon Go as is. It probably won't be beating Mega Gyarados for top counters, but it does have potential for when you run out of Mega Gyarados Energy.
  • Camerupt - a Fire and Ground type, Camerupt is readily accessible but not particularly useful. Its Mega Evolution might have a few more uses, but once Primal Groudon is introduced, Mega Camerupt is unlikely to compare.
  • Altaria - the costly evolution of Swablu, Altaria changes from Dragon and Flying to Dragon and Fairy, cutting back its weaknesses and giving it more resistances. The only thing really holding Altaria back is that it requires 400 Swablu Candy to evolve, and unlike Gyarados, Swablu hasn't seen the same abundance as Magikarp.
  • Banette - a pure Ghost type with no evolutions, Banette and Shadow Banette are already fairly useful in Pokémon Go. The Mega stat boost will make Mega Banette even more valuable.
  • Absol - the Dark type Absol isn't the most useful as is, but the Mega stat boost could change that. It retains its typing and has no evolutions, leaving tons of Candy for powering up too.
  • Glalie - one of two evolutions of Snorunt, Glalie is a pure Ice type that maintains its typing with Mega Evolution. It's easier to evolve than Froslass, but not overly useful.
  • Salamence - while this Dragon and Flying type pseudo-Legendary isn't quite as common as Dragonite, it is pretty close and stronger too. Mega Salamence is certain to make a number of tier lists and counter Raid recommendations. It won't match Mega Rayquaza, but it is going to be much easier to obtain.
  • Metagross - Metagross and Shadow Metagross are Steel and Psychic type pseudo-Legendary Pokémon that are already incredibly powerful and useful. In fact, Shadow Metagross falls only slightly behind Shadow Mewtwo for best Pokémon in the game. Mega Metagross, especially with Meteor Mash, is certainly going to be one of the best Megas in the game.
  • Latias - one of a Legendary pair of Dragon and Psychic types, Latias isn't quite as valuable in the meta as Latios, as her Attack and Defense stats are swapped. While players are likely to want her for their Pokédex, Latios is going to be more useful.
  • Latios - the more useful of the Psychic and Dragon type twins, Latios has considerably more attack power. As a Legendary, though, he's not super accessible.
  • Rayquaza - the top Dragon type in Pokémon Go (and Pokémon in general,) Rayquaza's Mega Evolution is almost certainly going to be a game changer. This Flying and Dragon type isn't nearly as easy to come by as Dragonite or even Salamence, but it is so much stronger.
  • Lopunny - while Normal type Pokémon aren't super useful in Pokémon Go, Lopunny changes from Normal to Normal and Fighting with its Mega Evolution, giving it the potential to be a bit more useful.
  • Garchomp - a Ground and Dragon type pseudo-Legendary, Garchomp is already super useful. Its first stage, Gible isn't terribly common, but has been featured in Events, including a Community Day, so most players have had a chance at getting lots of them. Plan to prioritize this Mega Raid.
  • Lucario - one of the best non-Shadow Pokémon in the game, Lucario is a powerful Steel and Fighting type that you should already be prioritizing. Unfortunately, the most reliable way to get its first stage, Riolu, is 10KM Fitness Eggs. Given the difficulty in earning those Eggs, there are many players who still don't have Lucario. Its Mega Evolution is going to be a game changer though, so definitely plan on prioritizing Mega Lucario Raids.
  • Gallade - although Gallade isn't quite as useful as Ralts' other final evolution, Gardevoir, as a Psychic and Fighting type, Mega Gallade has potential. It's not quite as common as Medicham, but infinitely more common than Mewtwo.
  • Audino - a relatively uncommon Pokémon, Audino changes from Normal to Normal and Fairy type with its Mega Evolution. Audino isn't useful right now, but with the Mega stat boost and addition of Fairy typing, Mega Audino could have potential.
  • Diancie - a Mythical Pokémon from Gen VI, Diancie hasn't even been introduced to Pokémon Go yet. However, as as Rock and Fairy type with considerable use in the core games, its Mega Evolution is bound to be worth the effort it will undoubtedly take to Mega Evolve. The fact that it is one of my favorite Pokémon overall is far from the only reason I'm so excited to see it introduced.
Casian Holly

Casian Holly has been writing about gaming at iMore since 2019, but their real passion is Pokémon. From the games to the anime, cards and toys, they eat, sleep, and breathe all things Pokémon. You can check out their many Pokémon Go and Pokémon Sword and Shield guides and coverage here on iMore.