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The First Pokémon Ever Designed Aren't What You Think

The "Pokémon" franchise has changed a lot since the original games, "Red" and "Blue" were released in 1996. Everything from the look and feel of the games, to the game card designs and the TV show's animation, is drastically different from how they first appeared. Each new generation of video games brings new additions to the ever-growing Pokédex. While there were originally just 151 Pokémon, there are now 898 distinct Pokémon species (via the official Pokédex).


Even so, those original 151 hold a special place in the hearts of fans. Many of those designs are still among the most popular and well-known among fans worldwide. On average, people Google first-generation Pokémon more than any other era (via TheToyZone). Classic designs like Pikachu, Charmander, and Mewtwo all rank among the most popular of all time.

Surprisingly, however, the very first Pokémon ever created isn't so iconic. Though it is part of the original 151, it probably isn't the one you're thinking of. In fact, it isn't even in the top 50 most popular amongst its first-generation siblings.

Rhydon was the original Pokémon

It's not a stretch to say that the first Pokémon most people think of when the franchise comes to mind is Pikachu. The adorable electric mouse-like creature is the mascot of the highest-grossing franchise of all time (via TitleMax), and that might trick you into thinking it's the very first Pokémon ever designed. Don't be fooled, however, because Pikachu isn't even remotely close. 


In a translated interview with Pokémon designer Ken Sugimori, Sugimori revealed that the earliest Pokémon designs were all meant to resemble dinosaurs, not mammals (via GlitterBerri). As such, the first Pokémon ever designed is number 112, the ground/rock-type Rhydon. 

True, Rhydon doesn't have nearly the same kind of mass appeal as creatures like Pikachu or Bulbasaur. Even so, his design reflects some of the earliest conceptions of the "Pokémon" world and thus has a somewhat unrecognized impact on the evolution of the franchise.

Rhydon reflects what Pokémon was originally supposed to be

As Sugimori said, the very first Pokémon designs were all meant to look like dinosaurs. However, they were also meant to be expressions of the game world, and in the "Pokémon" universe, Pokémon and humans share a cohabitating relationship.


"The first Pokémon were Rhydon, Clefairy, and Lapras," Sugimori said. "At first, we'd planned to have Pokémon living alongside humans, making their lives easier. So, during the early stages of development, many of the characters we came up with had clear roles, like carrying things around or sailing across the sea with people on their backs. We also thought up cute pet-like characters like Clefairy."

In the end, Rhydon may not be the most popular Pokémon, it is one of the most influential. Along with Cleafairy and Lapras (who is actually quite popular amongst the 151), Rhydon established what Pokémon were always supposed to be: companions. That's what they've always been, cool monsters that kids can carry in their pockets and have fun with. So, the next time you catch a shiny Aipom or hit "new game" and pick a starter who will surely be your new best friend, be thankful that Rhydon paved the way to make Pokémon a part of our lives.