By that I mean, what pokemon are most associated with their generation, or are the pokemon most people would think of when thinking of that generation?
For example, generation 1 I would say is Voltorb. It matches the appearance of the pokeball, which itself became iconic more than any pokemon housed within. It was used as a fake treasure chest trap in the power plant, playing a memorable role within the context of the game. It was likely to be remembered when encountered in battle, due to how annoying explosion was. It is associated with generation 1 in a way few other pokemon are. There are of course lots of other viable candidates, but that's mine. What's yours?
Generation 8 I would say is Corviknight. It's exceedingly likely to see use on any given player's team, it has awesome typing, it has statues of it in the final city of the game, its design is really cool, and when faced in the world map its wings actually flap. Gen 8 I think has a lot fewer options, and I think there's really only one other I would consider anywhere near as iconic within this generation. I'll be curious if the other one I would consider a contender is the first one called out or not.
Note that I'm somewhat excluding the starters. As a group, they are likely the most iconic pokemon of their respective generations, across the board. As such I think the discussion is considerably more interesting if they aren't the automatic, go-to answer. This especially excludes Pikachu, being the Only starter option for Yellow, and easily the most iconic pokemon of any generation, and of all time. I'm very curious to know your thoughts! Obviously you don't have to do *all* generations, but if you want to go for it!
Awesome "Avatar" picture (get it, it's a pun!) by =Qinni
Note that I'm somewhat excluding the starters. As a group, they are likely the most iconic pokemon of their respective generations, across the board. As such I think the discussion is considerably more interesting if they aren't the automatic, go-to answer.
Excluding the starters make this more interesting indeed! I'll also exclude legendaries in this, but afterall, this stuff is an opinion, no offence and all. Anyway, here's the Pokemon of the year list (and yeah, I'll be using that list as reference):
For Gen 1, Gengar is a good representative, if Pikachu and Charizard lines are to be excluded. It kicked off the Pokemon Of The Year list.
For Gen 2, it can be the eeveelutions! And with respect to the Pokemon Of The Year list, it is Umbreon. Hmmm.. I think Furret is perfect for this too, I'll personally go with it though :P
For Gen 3, I think it would be Ludicolo, it is a popular Pokemon, and since Hoenn has too much water, Ludicolo is a perfect mascot for Hoenn and Gen 3 overall.
For Gen 4, people think of either Lucario or Garchomp, and both made it to the top 10 of the Pokemon Of The Year. But as Lucario was ranked higher, we can clearly see which Pokemon is the major representative of the fourth generation. Lucario is still a fun Pokemon to use!
For Gen 5, I think it is Zoroark. Not only because it is associated with N, but also because it's got its own movie, and has the amazing ability to transform not only itself but even the environment it is in. It could be the legendaries too, but eh.
For Gen 6, it is unarguably Greninja, but since we're excluding starters, I'd go with Sylveon. It was the first Fairy-type to be introduced and is the mascot for Fairy types, so of course, Sylveon.
Gen 7's representative can be Nebby, but again, I'll try to avoid legendaries and their associates. Mimikyu, of course. No.3 in Pokemon Of The Year is clear evidence that many folks love this lovely Pikachu mimic!
Gen 8, I'll agree with you, it will be Corviknight. Amazing typing, used as transport and looks great. Sums up the industrial nature of Galar, I guess.
Besides starers (and Pikachu) you mean? (And outside statistics/Pokemon of Year)? challenge accepted.
Gen I: Rhydon. Rhydon was the first programmed Pokemon in Red/Green. I really think that's really iconic.
Gen II: Marill. Marill was one of the earliest gen II Pokemon introduced. I wasn't around for this, but back then, Marill was the center of all these crazy "pokegod" rumors, called "Pikablu".
Gen III: Plusle & Minun. Iconic because they the posterchilds of the double battle mechanic. At the time of gen III's release, double battles were a new gimmick, and when I think about double battles, I think back to Plusle and Minun almost immediately.
Gen IV: Bonsly. Bonsly was floating around during gen III as a next generation Pokemon, was promoted heavily throughout generation III to tease generation IV... Brock had one, and so much more. The amount of promotion generation IV got through the anime, and even some other Pokemon games was wild, and I feel like outside of Munchlax, Bonsly is the most iconic of that.
Gen V: Muuna. Muuna is the posterchild of the Dream World back during generation V. Not only that, Muuna was hinted at all the way back in generation I by a Lass who said something about wanting a Pokemon that was pink with a floral pattern, so. Yes. Muuna was always meant to happen. Generation III also said something about creating a machine that could see Pokemon's dreams. Muuna has that ability with its Dream Mist. That makes it really memorable, if you ask me.
Gen VI: Vivillon. This Pokemon had 18 different forms based off the the real world region you played in. Also, it's Pokemon number 666. If you ask me, that's iconic. I know Vivillon hasn't been in any game since its introduction, but tbh, Vivillon is the only Pokemon that has forms that's based on the actual real world region you set your 3DS, too, and that's amazing.
Gen VII: Comfey. Considering Comfey is a based off a lei, which are tied to Hawaiin culture, Comfey is pretty much the Alola Pokemon I'd think of first outside of Rowlet.
Gen VIII: Polteageist. It's... a literal teapot Pokemon, in a British region. Not only that, it's black tea. That's so British, I don't even know where to begin. Also, I love this little Ghost Pokemon, so that helps a lot for me to think of it as iconic.
I'll try to avoid all of the "too obvious" choices to make it more interesting.
Gen 1: I'd say either Tauros or Alakazam because these two are very iconic Kanto Pokemon that were seen often in various different parts of the franchise back in the day. Both were crazy strong in the game both for playthroughs and PvP battles. Tauros (x30 lol) was also memorable in the anime and Alakazam had a cool holo card in TCG.
Gen 2: I'll go with Heracross since it is very memorable Johto Pokemon with great design. It was huge in the anime and it showed us that Bug types can be very cool. Later down the line it became even better since it got some better moves than it had back in Gen 2.
Gen 3: This is a hard one but I'll go with Wailord since its a water type in a region with "too much water". It is the biggest Pokemon in the game that just got more popular/recognized over time with all of the memes around its size and breeding compatibility with Skitty line. You can't think of Hoenn and not think of Wailord.
Gen 4: Let's say Gliscor since it was the evolution of old Pokemon and that was basically the theme of Gen 4. It has great design and battle capabilities that got even better after the introduction of the hidden abilities. It also had a very big role in the anime so that makes it even more memorable and iconic.
Gen 5: It has to be Krookodile because of its great design, power and battle capabilities in both in-game and PvP battles. It was also on many peoples' Unova teams since Sandile is accessible early and has two amazing abilities on top of great stats and movepool. It was also very iconic in the anime with its sunglasses.
Gen 6: I think it's Gogoat because it was "the first ride Pokemon" and that was the new cool Kalos thing that everyone was talking about back in the day. Also many people picked one up for their teams because it was available early and also heavily promoted before the games came out. It was also introduced during the Gen 5 anime and used to promote Kalos so it became very iconic Gen 6 Pokemon.
Gen 7: I think Bewear since it was always in the anime as comic relief and it's also accessible in the games relatively early so a lot of people probably picked one up for their team. It has a cute pre-evolution and it is very strong in battle so i think it is one of the more iconic Alola Pokemon.
Gen 8: It's still too early to say imo but if I had to pick I'd go with either Corviknight or Wooloo. Not much to say about these since the generation is still relatively new but they seem very prominent in Galar for now.