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A signature Pokémon is the Pokémon which is most commonly associated with a trainer. It is be the standout member of their team, typically being more rare and higher level than any other Pokémon they own, and often held in reserve in the final slot. If the trainer appears more than once, the rest of their team may be subject to change, but their signature Pokémon will always be a part of it. In a sense, it can be considered the leader or star of the team.
It's not always completely clear which Pokémon is a trainer's signature. This happens most often when a trainer returns for several games, in which case they might return with the same signature or switch to a new one.
In some instances, rather than a single signature Pokémon, a trainer may have several from the same evolutionary family. Most commonly, this is seen when the trainer returns with a stronger team, such as Falkner's Pidgeotto appearing as its evolved form, Pidgeot, in any appearance outside of his own gym. This might also be used as a way to showcase new evolutions, such as Erika switching between Gloom, Vileplume and Bellossom depending on the adaptation. In early games, this tends to show up as a symptom of type experts specializing in a type with few options, such as Agatha only having the Gastly line to choose for Ghost-types, and Lance facing the same problem with the Dratini line for Dragon-types.
Trainers tend to have a special connection with their signature Pokémon. It may be the first Pokémon they ever trained, or one that they encountered through special circumstances. These Pokémon will have been with their trainers for a long time, and the two will have built a strong bond of friendship. Pokémon Connoisseurs have a particular fascination with signature Pokémon defined by these bonds, which they refer to as a premium brand.
Some trainers will take things a step further, and will wear clothes modeled off of their signature Pokémon. For example, Pike Queen Lucy dresses in clothes with the same patterns as her Seviper, and the Gym Leader Fantina wears a dress that looks like her signature Super Contest Pokémon Drifblim.
List of signature Pokémon
In theory, any trainer may have a signature Pokémon. For example, one of the first characters of the day, A.J., had a Sandshrew as the standout and favorite of his team. However, this list is only concerned with notable trainers, such as Gym Leaders, Elite Four and Frontier Brains. Rivals are also unlisted, unless their signature Pokémon is something besides the starter they picked based on the player's choice.
In the games
|| This list contains fan speculation.|
There is no solid evidence for or against some parts of this article.
These trainers are only listed by the generation they debuted as a trainer in, rather than each they appeared in.
Due to the sheer number of games that these trainers appeared in, as well as the anime's influence seeping into Pokémon Yellow and the Stadium series, some of these trainers have had numerous Pokémon which could qualify as their signature.
- Koga's strongest Pokémon has changed from game to game. In Red and Blue, it was Weezing; in Yellow, it was Venomoth; and when he returned as an Elite Four member in Gold and Silver, it was Crobat. On the other hand, the Pokémon which has appeared on his team most consistently, Muk, has never been the highest level member of his team. This is debatable enough that his signature has been left unlisted.
- Even more puzzling is Blaine, whose strongest Pokémon has rotated between Rapidash, Arcanine and Magmar depending on the game. Black 2 and White 2 split the difference by putting all three on his World Tournament team. This is debatable enough that his signature has been left unlisted.
- While Giovanni's strongest tends to be his Rhydon, several of his other Pokémon are equally distinctive, such as Kangaskhan, Nidoqueen and Nidoking. In a few instances, they even overshadow Rhydon. However, with the introduction of Rhydon's evolution, Rhyperior, Rhydon seems to have reestablished itself as his signature and was used as such in the World Tournament.
- Lorelei's strongest and apparent signature in the games is her Lapras. However, many of her Pokémon are equally distinctive and have taken more of a signature role across different media, such as her Cloyster.
- Similarly, many of Bruno's Pokémon are equally as distinctive as his Machamp. Interestingly, despite Fighting-type being his specialty, Onix is also a good candidate for his signature, owing to the fact that he trains two of them.
The Johto signatures are all fairly clear-cut, with two exceptions:
- In the games, Clair's signature is clearly established as her Kingdra. However, in other media, her Dragonair takes a more prominent role. This is reflected in HeartGold and SoulSilver, wherein rematches of her will show that one of her two Dragonairs has eclipsed her Kingdra in level and evolved into Dragonite.
- While Karen's strongest is her Houndoom, she's better known across media for her lead Pokémon, her Umbreon. This is reflected in the Stadium series. Additionally, just as with Clair, HeartGold and SoulSilver reflect by having Umbreon jump from the bottom of her team to the top in rematches.
By this point, the games were becoming more clear-cut in establishing a trainer's signature Pokémon. Still, there was one small exception:
On the other hand, this game also introduces the Frontier Brains, most of whom cannot be argued to have a signature. The primary exception is Lucy, who not only dresses like her signature Seviper but is in charge of the Battle Pike, a facility built to look like a giant Seviper.
In Platinum, some of the trainers would have a higher-level Pokémon eclipse their signature as the strongest and final member of the team. Otherwise, there were still some exceptions:
- Fantina actually has two signature Pokémon, neither of which is particularly debatable: Drifblim and Mismagius. Mismagius can be considered her strongest and signature battling Pokémon, while her Drifblim tends to be one of her weaker Pokémon, and is in fact absent for her initial Platinum Gym Battle. However, Drifblim is her star Pokémon for Super Contests, and she wears a dress with a design based on it. Due to this notable distinction, both are listed.
- Like Wattson in the previous generation, Candice had her Abomasnow overtaken by a new Froslass for Platinum. The reason for this is unclear, but it was the first of numerous signatures that originated purely from Generation IV being replaced by new evolutions of Pokémon from previous games.
- In the same vein, Volkner and Flint had their Luxray and Infernape replaced by Electivire and Magmortar, respectively. These two Pokémon can be seen as counterparts, fitting the friendship between the two men and giving them matching teams for their Tag Battle in the Battle Zone. Additionally, this change is similar to Candice's, where Generation IV originals were replaced by new evolutions of Pokémon from previous games.
- Bertha and Lucian, too, had their signatures changed for Platinum. Bertha's changed from Hippowdon to a new Rhyperior, and Lucian's changed from Bronzong to Gallade. This change is similar to Candice's, where Generation IV originals were replaced by new evolutions of Pokémon from previous games. Unlike other trainers that fell under this change, these two trainers never appeared in a battle outside of the Sinnoh Elite Four, making it difficult to judge whether this change would stick or not. However, since it stayed for the others as far as the World Tournament, it is safest to assume their Platinum signatures are permanent.
This generation of games introduced the World Tournament, which allowed many trainers from previous generations to return with their signatures. Usually this Pokémon would be the first option, with other potential signatures included as well. This time, there was only one exception:
- Caitlin signature starts as Gothitelle. However, as soon as trainers begin to use Pokémon outside of the Unova Pokédex, it is replaced by Metagross. This is debatable enough that her signature has been left unlisted.
With the introduction of Mega Evolution, a new layer has been added to the concept of the signature Pokémon: since only one member of the team can Mega Evolve in a battle, it can be considered the strongest and standout of the team. Interestingly, this even applies to Serena and Calem, whose signature Pokémon could either be ruled as their choice of Kalos starter or their Mega Absol.
Still, there are some exceptions:
- Grant uses only two Pokémon, Amaura and Tyrunt. They are always at the exact same level, even after evolving. Neither can be said to be the standout from the pair, except by the trivial matter of order in the party. For this reason, neither can yet be listed as his signature Pokémon.
- Korrina does not use her signature Lucario in the Gym Battle, nor initially in the Battle Chateau. However, this makes sense, seeing as she would want to keep it in reserve for when she can show its full power with Mega Evolution.
Colosseum and XD
Interestingly, in Colosseum, important members of Cipher usually do not use their signature Pokémon the first time they are encountered. Instead, they each have a Shadow Pokémon as their team's cornerstone, up until it is snagged. Once it is gone, their signature replaces it. Since these are treated as interchangeable in the games, both are listed.
Miror B. is the exception, and perhaps an exception to how all trainers typically carry their signature: The first time he is encountered, his team has five of his signature Ludicolo on it, followed by a single Shadow Sudowoodo, which is also a dancing plant. After that, his team shows a little more variety, but he always carries Lombre and Ludicolo in varying numbers. Like his fellow Cipher Admins, he does carry a replacement for his Sudowoodo after it is snagged, namely an Armaldo, and it holds the spot of the strongest on his team. However, his connection to Ludicolo easily overshadows this and is carried forward into the sequel.
In XD, the members of Cipher change their teams too often, both in terms of regular Pokémon and Shadow Pokémon, to be considered to have any sort of signature.
In the anime
In most instances, any trainer who appears in both the games and anime will have the same signature Pokémon in each. In fact, while some Gym Leaders will have different Pokémon in their parties in the anime than in the games, the signature Pokémon is usually preserved in this adaptation, particularly in later seasons.
However, there are some notable exceptions:
- Since Ash started with Pikachu, it became his signature Pokémon, rather than the Kanto starters which a player would be expected to use as their signature Pokémon.
- Misty left her signature Starmie at the Cerulean Gym for the majority of the original series. By this point she had already caught Togepi, which would become the Pokémon most commonly associated with her in the anime. This is despite it actually being not regularly used in battles; since it was carried in her arms for so long, it naturally received more attention than the rest of her Pokémon.
- Brock carried his Onix with him throughout the original series, but gave it to his little brother prior to his rejoining the main cast for the Advanced Generation series. In the Diamond & Pearl series, Croagunk arguably took its place as his new signature Pokémon.
- Gary, despite having a powerful starter Pokémon like his game counterpart, was usually featured with his Umbreon. This was likely to match Ash and his Pikachu, as well as to keep his choice of starter secret until the end of the original series.
- Giovanni is rarely seen battling, and thus the only time his signature Rhydon appears is when he loans it to Jessie. Instead, he is never seen without his Persian.
- Iris, despite having a signature Haxorus in the games, only has an Axew in the anime. It is not her strongest Pokémon, and it has shown no signs of evolving yet.
A number of other characters have signature Pokémon in the anime who either had none in the games or do not appear in the games at all: