Pokémon has been around for over 20 years now and, in that time, has found a special place in the hearts of millions of fans worldwide. For many the colossal transmedia franchise was or is a huge part of their childhoods and continues to find ways into people’s hearts. One of the biggest draws to the series is the ability to collect and find hundreds of different Pokémon and train them throughout the game. Everyone plays the game differently and the variety offered is one of its staples. Finding Pokémon can be challenging at times but its all part of the adventure. But what about those that are too hard to catch?
Pokémon games have things called catch rates and encounter rates. Both factor into how easily you’ll be able to first encounter a specific Pokémon and then catch it afterwards. Catch rates tend to stay the same, but encounter rates usually change from generation to generation. It makes certain Pokémon pretty rare and thus incredibly desirable to the collector in us all. For the most part, we’ve tried to keep legendary Pokémon off this list with only one exception. So take a look at the 20 hardest Pokémon to catch.
Dragon-type Pokémon were once incredibly overpowered. It used to be that you could take on just about anything with a Dragon-type in your party. But that was years ago and Nintendo has evened the scales a little bit, with the new Fairy-type monsters packing the most punch in the series. If you want a really powerful dragon-type like Salamance, catching its first form Bagon is your best bet. Anyone looking to make a balanced team should consider adding this little guy to their party. While definitely a long term effort kind of Pokémon, Bagon is truly worth it if you put enough work into him and have the patience required to train him. The only drawback is that he can be difficult to find, especially in Sun and Moon. With a catch rate of 5.9% Bagon is certainly a challenge but one worth adding.
Bug-type Pokémon are generally seen as an early game choice for many players, as their abundance of weaknesses and generally low base stats make them difficult sells later on in the game. But they still have their uses and can be pretty good for rounding out your party early on. While most aren’t much to gawk at, there are still a few notable Bug-types out there in the Pokémon world. One of those just happens to be Heracross, first introduced to players in Gen II. Both a Bug and Fighting-type, Heracross is a great counter to most Grass and Psychic types. Heracross is a bit of a rare commodity in Pokémon Diamond, Pearl and Platinum. Still though, despite his low catch rate and frustratingly low 1% catch rate, he’s definitely worth a look.
There are certain Pokémon in the series that are initially incredibly elusive and make anyone who wants to catch and train them very frustrated by the fact. The point of the game is to “Catch ‘Em All” sure, but that doesn’t mean Game Freak was going to make it easy on their consumers. One of the most addictive parts about Pokémon games is the challenge offered in actually filling in your Pokédex. Be it catching them, trading for them or breeding them, there are many ways to get your hands on that elusive missing Pokémon. Throughout the series’ first three generations, one of the most difficult to capture was Rhyhorn. In Gen I, you could only find it in the Safari Zone or Cerulian Cave. It was exclusive to Victory Road in Gen II and, in Gen III, you were limited to the Safari Zone, a trade or breeding a Rhydon.
A lot of the most popular Pokémon out there draw a lot of attention due to either their particular design, evolutions or both. Of course, the more veteran players in the community like to measure a Pokémon’s value based on stats rather than aesthetics – but it is a kid’s game after all and you are encouraged to catch everything. Among all the non-evolution Pokémon, one that really stands out is Delibird. It’s used as a sort of messenger pigeon in the anime and there isn’t really anything in particular that makes it want to stand out. But his low catch rate, along with his rarity in certain games, makes him a nice trophy catch if you can manage it.
Bug-types can be common at times. Actually there are specific points where it feels as though they’re a never ending swarm of locust coming at you one after another, step after step in the tall grass. But as much as we put up with them, as we’ve previously stated, there are some that are worth owning – not just for the short term but the long term. Yanma definitely belongs in this list in that regard. The Bug/Flying-type is one of the better options you’ll have in the entire series regarding a Bug-type in your potentially empty party slot. While it is easier to catch when affected by Swarm, on its own Yanma is a pretty rare find and despite it having a decently higher catch rate than some of the other Pokémon on this list, you’d need to find it first.
Perhaps one of the strangest looking Pokémon you could find, and most likely to be confused for an inanimate object other than Voltorb, is Sudowoodo. Its design alone makes it instantly desirable to the collector in all of us. Make no mistake though; Sudowoodo is a solid Pokémon to add to your party. But you have to admit that the initial draw to it is always going to be due to its stiff and somewhat offsetting appearance. Love it or hate it, you need it to complete your Pokédex. But Sudowoodo is a tricky bugger to track down. Its catch rate isn’t very high, which is a pain on its own. But finding the tree shaped Pokémon outside of interacting with it – usually while its blocking your path – is nearly impossible.
Some Pokémon don’t initially appear to be much but surprise you once you start to put some time into them. What’s so great about Pokémon is the ability to explore and find useful and powerful critters that sometimes take you by surprise. Despite its kind of goofy appearance, Shuckle is one of the best Pokémon you can catch in the entire game. It’s spaghetti body aside, Shuckle has the highest defense in the series and can tank most of what your opponent throws at you, if you train it properly. The catch rate in this scenario is pretty forgiving, but good luck encountering it. Shuckle is a difficult find for good reason. Should you find yourself staring one down though, don’t hesitate to move in and snag it.
One of the more creative aspects about any Pokémon game is the separation of different types of Pokémon throughout various locations. This obviously correlates to what type the Pokémon in. So Ground-types are more likely to be in caves, Water-types are more likely to be found in the ocean, and so on. While interesting, these divides between various locations can make finding and catching certain Pokémon pretty tricky business. The aforementioned caves are dark and maze-like in their designs while the ocean is vast and is akin to going through a large patch of tall grass endlessly. One water type that’s worth the search is Mantine. Though hard to find in its ocean habitat, Mantine was a great pick up in its early days and is still worth the Poké ball for nostalgia.
Among the 700 something Pokémon currently in existence, there are numerous evolutions out there for players to find. You obviously have your starters right off the bat, but among the Pokémon you will catch and interact with, there are those that will evolve given they reach a certain level or interact with a certain item. Among all the evolutionary Pokémon available, Eevee is by far the most versatile. It has eight different evolutions, but of course can only evolve them once. In terms of obtaining them, Eeveelutions are pretty standard. Catch an Eevee and evolve it. But catching them in game in their evolved form is a completely different story. Take Umbreon for example. While already a bit of a grind to get through Evolution, Umbreon is only catchable in Sun and Moon by S.O.S. Battling Eevee until it shows up. Tedious and difficult to pull off.
Those who’ve played Ruby and Sapphire, along with their contemporary remakes, all should remember this special little Pokémon. It was a Ralts that jumped out of the tall grass when you led a sickly boy by the name of Wally into the open plains in order to catch his first Pokémon. Wally and his Ralts had a genuinely touching connection, and seeing as that might rub off on some players, it’s only natural to assume that they’d want to catch one themselves. Say you wanted to get your own little green friend, it was no easy task as Ralts had a pretty low encounter rate in Gen III. Though difficult, it’s an investment that undoubtedly pays off in the future as Ralts’ final evolution is one of the best in the game.
Another Pokémon that might not seem like much, but definitely makes the effort in catching it all worthwhile is Larvitar. At first, this little green critter looks like a cute little companion but not much more. Well, don’t be so naive. Larvitar has two evolutions, with the second being Tyranitar – a complete beast. That little tidbit of information itself is enough to make tracking one of these little guys down a must for any trainer. But if only it were that easy. In Gen II, Larvitar is a virtual ghost. There are only two ways to go out and catch the Pokémon with one method being more of an untraditional method of acquiring it. You can either find it on Mt. Silver or buy it in Celadon City for 8,888 coins – both being a difficult task.
Apart from legendary Pokémon in the games, none are quite as elusive as Snorlax. Now this might strike you as a bit of a surprise, seeing as the behemoth is available in quite a few of the games and is almost always a compulsory encounter with the player. But aside from that, have you ever tried to catch a wild Snorlax? If it’s not blocking your way, then it might be harder to catch one of these Pokémon than you’d initially think. Missing out on catching Snorlax or running out of Poké balls turns your endeavor into a huge missed opportunity. While it might seem routine, catching a Snorlax is tougher than you might remember it being.
Some recent Pokémon designs have been panned as being a little lazy or just plain bad. Sometimes these are valid complaints, while other times it seems as though the ones complaining are looking at the world through nostalgia goggles. But among the 700 something Pokémon out there, none are quite as strange as Porygon. Porygon seems more like an object than a living creature. Its quirky design makes this Pokémon instantly desirable. But obtaining it can be tricky. For starters, it isn’t even catachable till Gen IV. Up until then, it’s only available by trade or by purchase. It’s not easy to find, which only adds to the mystique created by its unconventional design – but definitely worth the effort.
We’ve already gone over Water-type Pokémon and how tracking certain ones down can be a bit of a pain given how going through a body of water in a Pokémon game is akin to walking through a minefield blindfolded. You’re going to run into one eventually, you just don’t see it coming when you do. But among all the Water-types out there, Lapras is definitely a beloved Pokémon among fans. In the first generation, it isn’t so much a question of catching Lapras as it is receiving it as a gift. In Gen II, you can only find it on Fridays in the Union Cave. From then on, you can either trade or capture it in the wild, but be warned; it isn’t easy to track down and even tougher to catch.
Some Pokémon are hard to find. It’s just maddening. Tracking them down takes hours and even then you never know what might happen in battle. As we’ve seen so many of those kinds of Pokémon on this list, it might seem strange to find Abra here – sometimes a tough find, sure, but not hard to catch in the conventional sense. What makes Abra hard to catch is its pesky teleport move. Teleport is a huge problem for trainers seeking out the Psychic-type creature. Finding it isn’t even that bad compared to other Pokémon on this list. Abra is by no stretch of the imagination a rare find in the wild. But finding one and having it teleport away seconds later is a huge letdown. To counter this, Game Freak gave Abra a 26.1% catch rate. That means that you’ve got a 1 in 4 chance of catching it before it slips away. Good luck.
Most Pokémon are available through conventional means. Some are available through events and others through certain interactions. But there are some that are game exclusive Pokémon. It’s not so much a cash grab, as it is incentive for players to interact with each other. In Gen I, you had Scyther and Pinsir as two possible examples of this. Both were Bug-types and looked pretty cool. Every kid wanted one in their collection but coming across them was easier said than done. Scyther was exclusive to Red and could either be caught in the Safari Zone or bought in Celadon City. It’s a pretty common Pokémon nowadays, but it wasn’t always that way.
Well we’ve already addressed Pinsir to some extent in the previous entry, so let’s get down to business. While Scyther is exclusive to Pokémon Red Version, Pinsir is exclusive to Blue. It isn’t enough that it starts off as a game exclusive Pokémon. Pinsir – like Scyther – is also pretty hard to track down. The encounter rate for it in both Gen I and the Gen III remakes is 1%. Add in a catch rate of 45 (9.5%) and you’ve got a hole in the wall waiting to happen. Pinsir was a pretty decent Pokémon in its day, but really came back into prominence with the creation of its Mega Evolution. It’s still pretty tough to track down, so be mindful of how much time you put into trying and catch one.
It might not be a looker, but be warned – there are few Pokémon in the entire series that are harder to catch than Feebas. The stout Water-type is hard to come by in pretty much every game it appears in with the exception of Black and White. If you’re still confused as to why this thing is so hard to get a hold of, remember that it evolves into Milotic. So catching a Feebas early on can be a great help to a party in need of a strong Water-type with plenty of room to grow. Feebas is especially tough to get a hold of in Sun and Moon where it has a measly encounter rate of 1%.
Some Pokémon are scary, others are cute and some are just plain weird. But Chansey is different. She has a sort of motherly feel to her. Much like Kangaskhan, Chansey embodies a very protective image and offers a more soothing design compared to her fellow Pokémon. If you’ve ever tried to go about and catch one of these, then you’ll know why she’s ranked so high on our list. In the early games – especially Gen I – Chansey was a figurative ghost in the Safari Zone. The Safari Zone boasted a ton of rare Pokémon, but often cost you multiple trips to find them. They had very low encounter rates, Chaney being no exception with and encounter rate of 1%. Still though, it was worth it when you finally did manage to catch one.
1 Entei, Raikou, and Suicune
Ok, ok. Yes, we are kind of cheating here, but to be fair this should be counted as one entry. Legendary Pokémon have always been a little tricky to catch. Make it double for this trio. Part of the “Legendary Beasts,” Entei, Raikou and Suicune were some of the trickiest Pokémon to catch in the entire series. Unlike the other entries on this list, these guys never had a set location in which you could locate them. Rather they were found by roaming Johto. They move around a lot and will most likely run upon your first encounter. At that point, it’s a matter of tracking them around the map. However flying to areas on the map causes them to change locations, making it problematic for anyone who liked to quick travel along the map. You could find them in the Trackless Forrest in Omega Ruby and Alpha Sapphire, but you only get one shot upon each encounter, so make it count.