The Dratini Family

At long last, we arrive at what was once the only dragon-type line in the series, before Charizard was given a dragon-type mega form.

Dratini had a lot of fans back then, too. Why shouldn't it? It's basically a sea serpent, but with the cutest, goofiest little face a sea-dragon-snake has probably ever had.

Dratini also represents what fans would come to refer to as a pseudo-legendary, the very last and strongest non-legendary pokemon line in a given generation. This one even shows up after the legendary birds in the pokedex, something that would never happen again.

When it evolves into Dragonair, the creature retains the cuteness but trades the goofiness for a sleek elegance, blue pearls and even a unicorn horn. This is a dragon that would look right at home on a Lisa Frank trapper keeper, and that's not a criticism at all. All sorts of kids, girls and boys, young and old fell in love with Dragonair. It was pretty much THE dragon type everyone considered totally awesome, which is funny seeing as it's only the middle evolution of its line.

Dragonite, you see, has always been rather divisive. If you liked Dratini, you probably loved Dragonair, but if you loved Dragonair, you were statistically half-likely to detest Dragonite. It's just such a jarringly different creature from its predecessor, dropping all that delicate majesty in favor of something closer to Barney the Dinosaur with bat wings.

There are people who like that, of course, even many people who love Dragonite the most out of all pokedom, and I can sympathize with both camps. It's no fun when your favorite thing in the game is just the unevolved form of something that feels almost unrelated, and neither is it fun when your favorite is consistently trashed by everybody else.

When I look at it a little differently, Dragonite reminds me more of a moomin than Barney. It's one of the most powerful monsters in the game, but it looks sweet and friendly. I can basically grasp why people would love either Dragonair or Dragonite, or both, but I agree with the popular sentiment that they should have been unrelated evolutionary lines.

I'm not big on these three myself, and they kind of flub their evolutionary progression, but they are what they are.