Oh, Pokémon. For twenty years, you’ve been the epitome of Nintendo’s ‘rated E for everybody’ philosophy. Little kids think their Charizard with its powerful Ember/Fire Spin/Flamethrower/Fly moveset is the greatest thing ever. Full grown adults immerse themselves in the competitive world of ‘mon. This really is for everybody, right here. As such, the franchise has got itself a dedicated following from all possible walks of life.
You may think you’ve ‘grown out’ of the game, but you’re fooling nobody. The barnstorming crap-your-pants success of Pokémon Go lured so many of us back in. You think you’ve left Pokémon behind in your schooldays, then you find yourself being crushed into spam by a careening SUV because you stepped off the curb in pursuit of that elusive Eevee. That’s the power of this series.
As good ol’ Uncle Ben once said, with great power comes great responsibility. In the case of Game Freak, theirs was to try and keep up with the meteoric rise of the games by expanding and expanding the roster. With the release of Sun and Moon, we’ve just topped 800 of the darn things, and naturally, not all Pokémon are created equal. Can you imagine trying to fine-tune the character balance of a fighter with over 800 characters? No, no you can’t, because just thinking about it would give your haemorrhoids. Nuts to that.
As any dedicated battler will tell you, some Pokémon are just horrible. They’re outclassed, they’re forgotten, they’re obsolete. Let’s meet a few of these poor souls. Here are the 20 Weakest Pokémon Of All Time.
Now, sure, we all know what an indisputable boss Alakazam is. The OG Psychic-type powerhouse has been crushing souls and shattering dreams into soggy tear-stained pieces for two decades now. You don’t mess with the ‘Zam Man and his glorious mustache. Sadly, when you first encounter the species in the wild, it’s usually in the form of the pitiful Abra. Feeble and defenceless, it knows just one move: Teleport. All this achieves is a royal pain in the ass for trainers trying to catch it. Remember all those roaming legendaries who take off as soon as you find them? Yep. If you want its pappy’s Darth Vader-esque mind tricks on your team, you’d better put in the time to babysit its hopeless early form.
Don’t get me wrong here, I love Shedinja. As a fan of all things a little macabre and out there, a husk of dead skin that can steal your soul is right up my alley. Seven thumbs up for your horrifying concept, Shedinja. Statistically, though, as Pokémon go, we’re scraping right through the bottom of the barrel into the muddy, muddy ground. This thing sports relatively passable Attack and pretty diabolical… everything else. Read that max HP stat of 1 and weep, my friends.
The gimmick with Shedinja, of course, is its Wonder Guard ability, which makes it immune to all non-super effective attacks. This is cool in theory, but leaves it as practical in battle as a three-legged kitten with a limp.
The Pokémon world has had its share of strife. Cataclysmic natural disasters, ancient beasts from the depths of Satan’s underpants being awakened and tearing things up, somebody’s pet Stufful going missing… it can be rough around here. For the most part, though, the franchise tries to stay true to its cutesy, friendly, trade-with-your-buddies beginnings. Hence the existence of Luvdisk, a marine Pokémon whose sole purpose is to bring joy and lifelong happiness to couples who encounter it. You can’t say fairer than that.
What you probably could say, though, is something like ‘Damn it, Luvdisk, why are you so bad?’ Boasting stats that are awful across the board, the only use anyone has ever had for this thing is farming heart scales.
Again, I have no real beef with Pinsir. One of my favourite first generation Pokémon and definitely my Bug type of choice. So what’s it doing here, you ask? It made seventeenth on the list for one main reason: its cooler, richer, far more successful and handsome younger brother exists. Heracross arrived with Pokémon Gold and Silver, brandishing the Fighting STAB that Pinsir would give its left horn for and left the elder stag beetle Pokémon dead in its wake. Pinsir was left a bloated, drunken shadow of his former self, spending crazy amounts on therapy bills whining bitterly about his cooler little brother who stole his glory. If there’s any consolation, though, it’s that it doesn’t look like a bizarre robotic Pinocchio in mega form.
If you’ve been a fan since the good old days of Kanto, you’ll know how horrendous the Bug type used to be. Sure, they evolved super quickly, going from their first form to their final by level 10, but that was just to distract you from the fact that they sucked the big one. After painstakingly hardening your way to victory with Kakuna for a couple levels, you probably expected a decent pay off. You didn’t get one.
Back then, the best Bug STAB the game had to offer was Twineedle. Good luck with that, Beedrill. Sure, you got the last laugh eighteen years later, when a Mega Stone transformed you into a tiny buzzing nuclear missile fuelled by raw fury and death, but it was too late by then.
As RPGs go, these games aren’t the most hardcore. You’ve got to expect a little hand holding, a little break-Little-Jimmy-in-gently-so-he-doesn’t-cry-too-much. In the early stages of the game, you have some pretty simple foes to cut your teeth against. These are the ‘early route trash’ of Pokémon, the Pidgeys, Rattatas and Lilipups that teach you the fundamentals. Of all of these, none have seemed as hopeless as Bidoof. The derpy expression on its face told you, at a glance, this thing wasn’t Elite Four challenging, being-the-best-like-no-one-ever-was material. If it appeared in a player’s party at all, it was as an HM slave, fulfilling the role pretty well thanks to its convenient Normal/Water typing (on evolving into the even more gormless Bibarel).
The possessed sword Pokémon arrived with the sixth generation of games and quickly established itself as a competitive mainstay. Aegislash has an abundance of positive traits, thanks mostly to its unique Stance Change ability. This allows it to tank hits in its shield form before switching to blade form –switching its formidable defensive and offensive stats in the process—and hitting back with a powerful blow of its own.
Sadly, the benevolent blade’s greatest strength is also its greatest weakness. There is no sadder, more vulnerable sight than an end-of-turn blade form Aegislash. It’s like those guilt-trippy videos of overworked, limping donkeys that wildlife charities show us to make us donate to their cause. All sorts of mindgames result, as the Aegislash player starts the King’s Shield (or not) dance.
Now, I’m as big a fan of the Flying type as any. If I were to be a trainer in the Pokeverse, I’d be a Bird Keeper for sure. In my years with the games, I’ve found spots in teams for even the most overlooked and underappreciated Flying ‘mon. But even I must admit when something’s beyond help and Farfetch’d sure as hell is.
I’m sure you all know the inside joke of its design, being based on a popular Japanese duck/leek dish. You’ll eat this thing for breakfast, because it’s ass, is where they’re going with this. Accordingly, when base stats, usefulness, charm and charisma were being handed out, Farfetch’d found itself at the back of the line. I rate it highly in the adorably simple-looking category (see also: Bidoof), but slim to zero everywhere else.
Zubat. Zubat. You hear its piercing cry in your head right now, don’t you? Two decades later, those terrible memories are as vivid as ever. Woe betide the player who entered this guy’s domain without an ample stock of Repels back in the day.
The poisonous little bat craves attention. Thrives on it. Is powered by it, thanks to some kind of bizarre alchemic witchcraft. That’s the only explanation I can muster for its constant need to hound you every 1.7 steps through the cave. As Internet trolls like to say, it feeds on your tears. It’s useless for experience. It’s useless in every other fathomable way. But it wants to be your buddy. Perhaps the most iconic example of irritating random encounters in RPGs ever.
Remember Super Smash Bros’s Sandbag? The poor little guy’s only purpose was to be beaten on. It looked happy enough doing it, granted, and its trophy in the game promised that it actually was, but I always found the whole thing a little unsettling. Now meet the Pokémon world’s equivalent.
This pitiful beast is completely unable to deal any damage at all by itself. Its only joy in life is to absorb attacks, then use Counter or Mirror Coat to hit back for twice the damage it took. Couple this with its dastardly talents for trapping opponents in with Shadow Tag and forcing them to repeat moves with Encore, and you’ve got the kind of lame pain-in-the-ass dude you never want to bring home to meet mama.
This terrible Psychic type is perhaps the hardest of all to make work in battle. It learns a grand total of one move, which is Hidden Power. When that’s the STAB you’ve got to work with, you already know it’s a sad, sad day. Its base stats, too, are right up (or rather, down) there with the worst of the worst, ensuring that your MLG Hidden Power isn’t doing anything of anything to anyone.
A fixture in any awful Pokémon countdown, Unown’s importance is relegated to lore-based discussion. They are living hieroglyphs, after all, and I suppose that’s a party trick worthy of note. There isn’t always a calculator to hand to spell out BOOBIES with. A one trick pony if ever there was one and it’s one trick sucks.
Stay with me, here. When you’re trying to determine the ‘weakest’ Pokémon, all kinds of factors should be considered. We could sit here and snark all over how terrible Magikarp is (which we will, don’t worry, its time is coming a little later), but it’s good to think outside the box too. And when we’re thinking weak in the sense of ‘lazy-ass design,’ only one Mr Whippy-faced fool comes to mind.
It’s a common complaint that Pokémon designs are getting worse. Along with Trubbish, the literal sack of garbage, the ice cream cone is seen as one of the worst offenders. It’s more or less a non-entity in battle as well, but nobody seems to be able to get over the fact that it’s a cornet with a face. Or rather, two faces, so as to bring twice the shame to its family.
As we’ve probably established by now, balance isn’t too much of a concern to the franchise’s creators. There’s such discrepancy between, say, Primal Groudon and Wigglytuff that they may as well be from different universes. Sometimes, Game Freak do try to cut some of their monsters down to size. It’s just a shame they’re not a little more vigilant with the rest of the roster.
Slaking had everything it needed to be great. Sporting all the glorious power of Arnold Schwarzenegger in the last half-hour of Commando, with good speed and defences too, we were talking OP-amundo status. Unfortunately for Slaking, it was neutered in one cruel stroke. Its ability, Truant, prevents it from making a move every other turn. And so it was consigned to the lowest tiers of battle and forgotten about.
Now, sure, Pikachu holds a special place in the hearts of Game Freak and their fans alike. The unofficial mascot of one of the biggest gaming franchises on Earth, Pikachu’s a big deal whichever way you slice it. Let’s be frank though, in-game the mouse is all kinds of mediocre.
Its baby form, Pichu, has terrible stats even by baby standards and the whole evolution line is squishy enough to go down if a car backfires anywhere near it. The little yellow fellow being the superstar it is, though, the team do seem intent on forcing some kind of viability onto it. The Pikachu-exclusive Light Ball item doubles its Attack and Special Attack, but they’re just trying too hard at this point. Let's make Raichu a little more worth instead.
It’s every Pokémon trainer’s nightmare: two Metapod, locked in an epic duel to the death. If we’re basing weakness purely on battle prowess alone, these guys take the cake.
As I’m sure you know, Kakuna and Metapod’s movepools are non-existent, beyond the mighty Harden. This, of course, fits the whole chrysalis concept, but it doesn’t make for a scintillating early Pokémon experience. Back in the Red and Blue days, I hit upon The Great Wall of Metapod many times, a non-STAB Scratch doing slim to bupkus against the defense boost spamming swine. Who finds this sort of thing fun? Nobody, that’s who. Screw you and all the other second-stage Harden-ing bugs you inspired. Never have a couple of levels gone by so slowly.
I know, I’m sorry. It would have been nothing short of sacrilegious not to include this bad boy, so here he is. Magikarp, the king of notorious terrible.
Pokémon does love hammering home to the old ‘effort pays off’ thing. Since the first generation of games, the true powerhouses have taken a lot of work to evolve. The Dragonites and such of the world take a lot of experience to reach their final forms, evolving much later. Magikarp doesn’t take all that long, becoming the almighty Gyarados at level 20, but it’s a pain to raise to that point. Magikarp is the ultimate Jokemon, even armed with its own signature point-and-laugh-at-me move in the form of Splash. Making Z-Splash actually relevant in Sun and Moon was a nice touch though.
Here’s yet another sorry specimen from the depths of the base stats basement. Like some others we’ve come across in the course of this list, Delibird manages to combine just about every awful trait a Pokémon can have into one horrible raging failure of a creature.
Its typing, Ice/Flying, leaves it insta-maimed by Stealth Rock, ubiquitous pain in the ass that it is. With its low defences, offenses and everything else-es, it’s completely outclassed at everything it could possibly try to do. Finally, just to set itself apart, it has another special trait: Its signature move, Present, deals random damage and may even heal the opponent instead. That, my friends, is a new low. You might see this thing on novelty teams during the holidays, nicknamed 'Santa Claus,' but that's all.
When it comes to the seventh generation, there’s nothing more feeble than Wimpod. You probably came across this poor soul during the water trial, shuffling around on the beach like a hunched-over grandma in slippers and trying not to draw attention to itself. To catch the teeny shrimp, you had to be a little crafty, as it tries to flee from you on sight.
Appropriately enough, Wimpod’s ability is Wimp Out, which will automatically switch it out of battle on taking a hit. It’s an all-round pitiful little thing. That’s not the end of the story, as Guzma and his beastly-looking evolved Golisopod will tell you, but still. Golispod’s own ability, Emergency Exit, is just a fancier phrasing to try and hide its weak roots.
Now, as we all know, power is relative. If you’ve seen Smeargle in action in VGC, you’ll know what a dastardly bugger it can be. Armed with just about any move in the game via Sketch, it’s the only legal user of Darkrai’s Dark Void, which (pre-nerf) was the absolute scourge of doubles matches.
Stripped of its box of tricks, however, you see what a raw deal the poor artist dog got. Its only remotely usable stat being its speed, its only possible use lies in setting up some kind of shenanigans for allies. In a case where Smeargle is a player’s last remaining ‘mon, you might as well have Magikarp splashing away. Smeargle is, in short, never a good time for anyone, user or opponent.
Through the course of this article, we’ve sifted through the very dregs of the Poke-coffee cup. The pitiful, the unwanted, the huddled masses yearning to breathe free. Among the woeful base stats and horrible abilities, we’ve learnt a little something about what it takes to be truly among the ‘weakest’ of Pokémon. For me, nothing defines that whole concept better than Spoink.
Grumpig’s pre-evo, the Bounce Pokémon, arrived in generation three. As lame as it is from a game mechanics standpoint, Spoink manages to nail something that a lot of this list lack: looking as laughably feeble as it is. It’s two feet tall, also learns Splash, and is doomed to bounce forever lest its heart stops. That's not the way to strike fear into the bowels of your enemies, is it now?