The Best Pokémon Cards of All Time: Showcasing Cool Pokémon Cards and Their Stories

three cool Japanese Pokémon cards on a table

From the comical to the downright terrifying, Pokémon has created a long legacy of iconic cards, and creating a definitive list is no easy task. We believe there’s more to being cool than just rarity, so we looked at competitiveness and uniqueness to compile the ultimate list of top Pokémon cards and their unique stories. 

Mewtwo & Mew GX

While the official competitive landscape of the trading card game may have shifted since its release, Mewtwo & Mew GX remains a powerful card in various formats even today. You don’t have to be a hardcore Pokémon fan to see what makes this such a cool Pokémon card.

  • Dual Art: True to the Pokémon it depicts, this card features two exciting variants. The regular art showcases Mewtwo breaking out of confinement, with Mew hiding behind him.
  • Miraculous Duo: The true power of Mewtwo & Mew GX lies in its Miraculous Duo GX attack. When this Tag Team Pokémon has at least one extra Energy attached (beyond the attack cost), it unleashes a devastating blow. The attack allows you to choose two attacks from any of your benched or discarded Pokémon, making this one of the best Pokémon cards of all time in competitive play.

    This cool Pokémon card opens up a vast array of strategic possibilities. Imagine combining a powerful Psychic attack from Mewtwo with a fire blast from a benched Charizard GX for a knockout punch!

Shadowless Charizard

It’s hard to pick a single Charizard card, considering they’re all so incredible. Regardless, this one is great for collectors who value rarity and want something off the beaten path.

The Shadowless Charizard refers specifically to a subset of Charizard cards from the Base Set's first edition, released in 1999. During the initial printing run, a few cards lacked the now-standard drop shadow effect behind the Charizard illustration. This misprint gave this cool Pokémon card its iconic name.

Is every Shadowless Charizard rare?

Remember, there’s a massive difference between a 1st Edition Shadowless Charizard and a reprint of the base set. Reprints have also been known to lack shadows, but these cards are significantly less valuable than first-edition versions of this top Pokémon card. This is similar to how an original autographed rookie Tom Brady card is much more valuable than a reprint from a new football hobby box.

a Charizard lying on top of other cool Pokémon cards

That said, reprints can still be valuable under the right conditions. You can use TCG and sports card release calendars to be the first to know about new expansions and reprints.

Galarian Moltres V

The 2021 Chilling Reign expansion introduced a revolutionary take on one of the best Pokémon cards of all time. Galarian Moltres V sheds its fiery persona, transforming into a majestic ice phoenix that captures the hearts of collectors and trainers alike. This innovative reinvention of Moltres easily makes this one of the coolest Pokémon cards in recent memory and one of the highlights of Sword and Shield.

Artist Yuuya Honda elevates the card beyond its cool design. The backdrop depicts a desolate, snow-capped mountain range, emphasizing the harsh beauty of Moltres' icy kingdom. Honda's masterful use of light and shadow creates a sense of depth, imbuing Moltres with a regal presence that commands respect.

Birthday Pikachu

The brightly colored Birthday Pikachu might not be the strongest battler in your deck, but this cool Pokémon card holds a special place in history for TCG fans. 

  • Special Promo: Unlike most Pikachu cards available in booster packs, Birthday Pikachu was a promotional card. It was distributed for a short period in 1999 exclusively at Pokémon Centers in Japan to celebrate the franchise's first birthday. This limited availability makes it a much rarer find for collectors compared to standard Pikachu cards.
  • Celebrating a Legacy: While Birthday Pikachu's attack power renders it practically useless for competitive use, collectors still consider it to be one of the best Pokémon cards of all time due to its historic value. Owning this cool Pokémon card allows collectors to connect with a specific moment in TCG history.
a cool Birthday Pikachu Pokémon card

Shining Magikarp

Watching your powerless Magikarp evolve into a mighty Gyarados is practically a rite of passage for Pokémon fans at this point. This out-of-the-box top Pokémon card celebrates that eureka moment with all the humor it deserves, describing Magikarp as an ‘underpowered, pathetic Pokémon.’

Jokes aside, there’s more than meets the eye here. Shining Magikarp first appeared in the 2001 ‘Neo Revelations’ expansion. Keen-eyed collectors will immediately recognize this as the expansion that introduced ‘Shining’ Pokémon to the TCG. These shining cards are similar to rare holos that can be found in a baseball hobby box.

The Twist

Magikarp is notoriously known for its uselessness in battle, only learning the move ‘Splash’ until it evolves. This cool Pokémon card takes that concept and flips it on its head. The unique artwork and "Shining" effect transform this weak Pokémon into a unique card with the ‘Dragon Bond’ ability that synergizes perfectly with Gyarados cards. 

Arceus VSTAR

Arceus is the polar opposite of the Birthday Pikachu card. While Pikachu gets its value from being a novel promo card, Arceus VSTAR is considered one of the best Pokémon cards of all time due to its competitive power. 

Unique Abilities

Arceus is a card like no other. It boasts a respectable 280 HP, making it a durable battle card. Two abilities make this card stand out: ‘Starbirth’ and ‘Trinity Nova’. Starbirth allows you to search your deck for any two cards and add them to your hand, fetching vital resources during your turn.

Trinity Nova takes this cool Pokémon card to a whole new level by synergizing with Starbirth. Nova allows players to deal 200 damage to the opponent’s Pokémon and attach three basic energy cards to their own Pokémon. This sets up a huge number of viable strategies. For example, you can use Starbirth to fetch specific cards to counter your opponent's strategy or accelerate your own.

Collect Top Pokémon Cards

Collecting these iconic cards isn’t as difficult as you might think. Reprints let collectors grab newer versions of iconic cards for a steal, and online marketplaces have made even first editions more accessible than ever. 

Be the first to buy the next iconic Pokémon card with Giant Sports Cards, a sports card store that puts your collection first. Enjoy fast and free shipping (on orders over $199) on the coolest Pokémon cards and sports card boxes from the comfort of your home. Enter the Ultimate Collector’s Cave™ today.