In 1996, video game developer Game Freak and Nintendo released Pokémon Red and Blue for the Game Boy. The game introduced 151 Pokémon, known as Generation I. While over 700 new Pokémon have been introduced in the 25 years since Red and Blue came out — in which time Pokémon became the highest-grossing media franchise of all time — the original lineup remains among the most popular in the series.
In celebration of Pokémon’s 25th anniversary, we looked at how fandom of the series varies around the world. We analyzed Google search data to identify the most uniquely popular Pokémon in each country.
As we can see, while Pikachu dominates on a global scale — accounting for roughly one in every 10 Pokémon-related searches around the world — local favorites crop up from country to country. Several clusters appear in various regions. In Europe, the large dragon-like Charizard is the most popular Pokemon in nine countries: Andorra, Czech Republic, Estonia, Ireland, Italy, Malta, Portugal, Sweden, and the U.K.
Charmander is the most popular Pokémon in Brazil, Chile, and Peru. The rare, versatile Eevee is the most uniquely popular Pokémon in four countries — Denmark, Finland, Latvia, and Lithuania, with searches for these Pokémon occurring at twice the rate it does globally.
I must say, we were disappointed that Bulbasaur didn’t make it to the top 10, considering it heads up our list of best Pokémon toys for kids but I guess not everyone is a fan of the Seed Pokémon.
Looking closely at each continent can show more regional favorites.
The Most Popular Pokémon in Europe
Europe is home to some of the biggest Pokémon fans in the world. According to Google Trends data, Norway ranks as the country with the 10th largest interest in the series. Looking at the European continent as a whole, the most popular Pokémon is the spoon-bending Psychic-type Abra.
After Abra, the most uniquely popular Pokémon in Europe is the Rock-type Golem. While searches for Golem account for 1.7% of Pokémon searches worldwide, they account for 2.7% of Pokémon searches in Europe. On a national level, Golem is the most uniquely popular Pokémon in Albania, Austria, Germany, Slovakia, and Switzerland.
The Most Popular Pokémon in North America
Pokémon first came to the United States in 1998 with the release of the international version of Pokémon Red and Blue and the English dub of the Pokémon animated television series. Today, North America remains one of the largest fan bases of the series.
North America — particularly the United States — accounts for a bulk of Pokémon searches globally. So while Gengar ranks as the most uniquely popular Pokémon in North America, searches for the Ghost-type Pokémon are not too much higher than they are on a global scale. Searches for Gengar account for 2.6% of all Pokémon searches on the continent, higher than the 2.2% global average. Gengar also ranks as the most uniquely popular Pokémon in the United States.
The Most Popular Pokémon in South America
South America is home to some of Pokémon’s biggest fans. According to Google Trends data, Peru and Chile tie as the countries with the 5th greatest interest in the series worldwide.
The Rock-type Onix is far and away the most popular Pokémon in South America. According to Google keyword data, searches for Onix in South America occur at a rate five times greater than the global average. Onix’s name derives from onyx, a gemstone used in jewelry that is mined throughout the region. The rocky, serpentine Pokémon also shares a name with the Chevrolet Onix, the best-selling car in Latin America from 2016 to 2019.
The Most Popular Pokémon in the Middle East & Central Asia
According to Google Trends data, Pokémon is most popular in Israel, United Arab Emirates, and Turkey, among countries in the Middle East & Central Asia. Pikachu accounts for 23.5% of Pokémon searches in the Middle East and Central Asia, more than twice the 9.2% global average and the most of any Pokémon on the continent.
After Pikachu, the Psychic-type Mew is the most uniquely popular Pokémon in the region. Mew’s catlike design may be one reason for the heightened popularity in the region. Fans have noted Mew’s similarity to the jerboa, a rodent with huge ears, long hind legs, and a wavy tail found throughout the deserts of the Middle East and Central Asia.
The Most Popular Pokémon in the Rest of Asia & Oceania
This is where it all started. Asia is the epicenter for the Pokémon phenomenon and continues to be the site of the series’ largest fan base. According to Google Trends data, the countries with the greatest demand for Pokémon worldwide are Japan, South Korea, Taiwan, and Nepal.
According to Google keyword data, Pikachu is the most uniquely popular Pokémon in the collection of countries that constitute the rest of Asia and Oceania. Searches for Pikachu here account for 21.7% of all Pokémon searches. Also, like the Middle East, Mew ranks as the second most popular Pokémon.
The Most Popular Pokémon in Africa
Pokémon is a truly global phenomenon, and dozens of countries in Africa have enough Google search activity to parse out the favorite Pokémon across the continent. Like in most of the world, Pikachu ranks as the most uniquely popular Pokémon in Africa. Searches for Pikachu account for 20.1% of all Pokémon-related searches on the continent.
After Pikachu, the bulbous, foul-smelling Gloom ranks as the most popular Pokémon on the continent. Gloom accounts for 1.5% of all Pokémon-related searches in Africa, nearly three times the 0.8% global average. On the national level, Gloom ranks as the most uniquely popular Pokémon in Ghana, Kenya, and Mozambique.
The Most Popular Pokémon Around The World
Did you know Clefairy was originally supposed to be the Pokémon mascot alongside Pikachu? Through 25 years of the series, different Pokémon have emerged as fan favorites. While many may be able to predict which yellow Pokémon ranks as the No. 1 most popular, the popularity of some Pokémon today may be surprising.
To visualize the popularity of the original 151 Pokémon today, we reordered the iconic Generation I poster, ranking Pokémon by popularity according to global search volume.
To determine the most popular Pokémon in each country for the maps, we used Google Search volume data to identify the Pokémon ranked highest above the global search average.
To determine the most popular Pokémon for the poster, we identified the global search volume for each Pokémon. Data on Google search volume came from the Ahrefs Keyword Explorer tool and was collected on February 2021.