Pokémon types are special attributes which determine the strengths and weaknesses of different Pokémon species. They lay the foundation of a complex yet mostly logical "rock-paper-scissors" or "balance of powers" system that applies to every Pokémon and their respective moves.
History of the Pokémon types
In Pokémon Red and Blue, there were 15 Pokémon types:
With Pokémon Gold and Silver, two new types were added:
Then in Pokémon X and Y, another type was added:
There are types that do not apply to any regular Pokémon, only to glitch Pokémon:
There is an additional "Shadow" type in Pokémon XD: Gale of Darkness, which is super-effective against every Pokémon type, but not effective against Shadow Pokémon.
Most Pokémon learn moves of the specific type(s) they have traits of, as well as basic physical attacks. For example, the Electric-type Pikachu could know basic Normal-type moves such as Growl and Quick Attack, but also Electric-type moves like Thundershock and Thunder Wave. Pokémon receive a bonus to the power of attacks which match their own types, multiplying the damage the attack causes by 1.5. This is known as Same Type Attack Bonus, or STAB. For instance, a Pikachu (an Electric-type Pokémon) will do more damage with Thunderbolt (an Electric-type move) than a Raticate (a Normal-type Pokémon) with the same stats will. Normal-types do receive STAB, despite rumours to the contrary. Combined with a double-type-advantage, STAB can cause an attack to do a total of 6 times its normal damage. A STAB attack with a double-type-advantage, a critical hit (which multiplies it by 2 again) and a held item boost (x 1.1) can do a total of 13.2 times its normal damage. It should be noted that weather may increase power even more, along with special abilities.
Physical and Special Attack
Each of a Pokémon's moves can either be described as a Physical or Special Attack. When attacking an opponent with a Physical Attack, the attacker's Attack stat pushes the direct damage higher, while the target's Defense stat drives the damage lower. When attacking an opponent with a Special Attack, the attacker's Sp. Attack stat and the target's Sp. Defense stat influence the direct-damage amount. The move's type determines whether the move is classified as a Physical Attack or a Special Attack in the first three generations of games. However, in Pokémon Diamond and Pearl the attack itself determines the Physical or Special nature of the damage, not the type.
List of Physical and Special Move Types
This applies only to the first three video game generations, for Pokémon Diamond and Pearl determine Physical and Special depending on the nature of the move rather than its type. For example, the popular move Hyper Beam, widely used on Physical power-centred Pokémon, is now a Special Move for it fires an immaterial beam of energy, involving no actual physical contact.
Note: Ghost-type moves are officially considered as Physical Attacks. It is a common misconception among people that Ghost-type moves are Special Attacks. This is probably due to the Ghost Pokémon being supernatural in nature.
List of Pokémon types
Bug-type Pokémon are generally arthropod-like Pokémon, mostly insectoid and a few arachnids. These Pokémon commonly evolve at low levels and as such are ideal for the early stages of the games. Bug-type moves involve use of the bugs' body parts. Bug Pokémon are generally regarded as weak due to the first generation's Bug types having low stats and the first generation's Bug type moves being weak, but some can be quite powerful, like Heracross. Bug types are weak against Fire, Flying, and Rock types, yet are strong against Grass, Psychic, and Dark types.
In the Japanese version, this type is called Evil. According to most Pokédex information, Dark type Pokémon tend to have bad reputations and an evil nature about them. Dark-type Pokémon are known for using sinister moves such as biting and stealing. Examples of Dark-type Pokémon include Tyranitar, Absol, Mightyena, Umbreon, Houndoom, Sneasel and especially Murkrow for reasonable reasons. Certain species of Pokémon classified as "Dark" seem to be misunderstood, such as Absol, who has gathered a reputation of bad luck, always appearing at human towns when a natural disaster is about to happen, when really, it tries to warn the humans. Dark type Pokémon are strong against Psychic and Ghost types, however are weak against Fighting, Bug, and Fairy types.
Dragon-type Pokémon are, quite simply, dragons. Their moves involve the use of claws and breath. They are one of only two types, the other being Ghost, to be Super Effective against its own type. Not all dragon-like Pokémon are Dragon-type Pokémon; for example, Charizard is a Fire/Flying type, Gyarados is a Water/Flying type, Lapras is a Water/Ice type, Aerodactyl is a Rock/Flying type, Steelix is a Steel/Ground type, Tyranitar is a Rock/Dark type, Sceptile is a pure Grass type, Aggron is a Steel/Rock type, and Milotic is pure Water type, but a select few are in the Dragon breeding group (Charizard, Milotic, Gyarados, and Sceptile), and some can Mega Evolve into a Dragon-type (Charizard, Ampharos, and Sceptile).
Electric-type Pokémon have electricity-oriented powers. Electric types often have a high speed status, a respectable Special Attack, and a decent Special Defense. Electric types are also noted for very few weaknesses-Although the 1 weakness they have is possibly the 2nd most common. Some examples include Pikachu, Elekid, Raichu, Manectric, Ampharos, Raikou, Plusle, Minun, and Electrode.
Many Electric-type attacks have a chance of causing Paralysis, a status effect which severely reduces the affected Pokémon's Speed, and means a 25% chance of being unable to move each turn. Some Electric-type moves that Pokémon can learn are ThunderShock, Shock Wave, and Spark.
Fairy-type Pokémon have feminine appearances, but four of them have more of a chance of being male than female despite their feminine appearances. They have magical powers and their attacks are super effective against the Dark, Dragon, and Fighting types. Although it is said that dragons were unaffected by magic, the Fairy type is immune to their type and not the other way around. Examples of Fairy-type Pokémon include Flabébé, Togepi, Swirlix, Diancie, Florges, Marill, Cottonee, Sylveon, Mawile, Snubbull, and Xerneas.
Fighting-type Pokémon learn specifically labelled fighting melee attacks, such as punches and kicks. Examples include Hitmonlee, Hitmonchan, Hitmontop, Lucario, Hariyama, Mankey, and Machoke. Some Fighting-type moves that Pokémon can learn are Seismic Toss, Hi Jump Kick, and DynamicPunch.
Fire-type attacks may cause a Burn, a status effect which causes a reduction in the victim's Attack statistic as well as reducing hit points each turn. Fire-type Pokémon are immune to the Burn status effect (unless caused by Tri Attack). Some Fire-type moves that Pokémon can learn are Fire Spin, Fire Blast, and Flamethrower.
Flying-type Pokémon are Pokémon that fly or resemble birds. They are normally bird-like or dragon-like Pokémon, but there are exceptions, such as the Sea serpent-like Water- and -type Gyarados. The Flying-type has never been any species's sole type - except for Tornadus, and Arceus when holding the Sky Plate. Most Flying-type Pokémon are dual-types, most of the common ones being dual Normal- and Flying-type. Examples include Pidgey, Fearow, Doduo, Noctowl, Swellow, and Farfetch'd.
Ghost-type Pokémon relate to the supernatural, specifically the realm of the dead. Their paranormal powers often cause status effects to cripple their foes. Ghost is one of two types, the other being Dragon, to be Super Effective against its own type. Examples of the Ghost-type include Duskull, Gastly, Sableye, Shedinja, Banette, and Misdreavus. Some Ghost-type moves that Pokémon can learn are Lick, Shadow Ball, Night Shade, and Confuse Ray. In the first generation, there were only 3 ghost type Pokémon - and none of them were pure ghost type. Psychic types actually had the advantage over ghost types because those 3 Pokémon (Gastly, Haunter and Gengar) were also poison types. In addition to that, while the Psychic-type Pokémon were supposed to be weak against Ghost-type attacks, the only attack that did a non-set amount of damage, Lick, could not affect Psychic Pokémon. This problem was fixed in later generations. The two exceptions to Normal-type Pokémon's immunity to Ghost-type attacks are the moves Confuse Ray and Nightmare. Also, Normal- and Fighting-type attacks can hit Ghost-types if a move like Foresight or Odor Sleuth is used beforehand.
Grass-type Pokémon have abilities and appearances associated with plant life and nature. They use many HP-recovery techniques and moves which cause various status effects to their advantage. Until the Gold and Silver versions, over half of the Grass-type Pokémon were dual-type with Poison, negating the Grass-type's resistance to Ground-type attacks. In fact, in the first generation of Pokémon, there was just one that was purely grass - Tangela. Even in later games, many Grass-type Pokémon have a second type. An inexpert eye may think the Grass type is badly balanced in terms of weaknesses and advantages, yet more experienced players will know the advantages of Grass type are vital for being strong against some of the most common or hard to damage types. Examples of Grass-types include Bulbasaur, Tropius, Meganium, Treecko, Celebi, Hoppip, and Sunkern. Some Grass-type moves that Pokémon can learn are Vine Whip, Bullet Seed, and Sleep Powder.
Ground-type Pokémon are tough Pokémon affiliated with the soil. They seem to be the second most common type. Examples include Dugtrio, Sandshrew, Marshtomp, Trapinch, and Groudon. Some Ground-type moves that Pokémon can learn are Mud Sport(which seems somewhat unnecessary as ground types are immune to electric moves),Mud Shot, Earthquake, and Dig. Ground-type Pokémon are the best Pokémon to use against the Electric type, given that they are completely immune to Electric moves while being the only type whose moves are super effective against Electric types. They commonly live in dry areas, (apart from those who are dual Water and Ground types such as Quagsire and Swampert) and some even live in deserts such as Sandshrew and Trapinch.
Ice-type Pokémon are affiliated with cold things and areas. Ice-type Pokémon usually have a high Special Defense statistic and a low Defence statistic. Ice is an uncommon type, and rarely seen in single-type Pokémon, however Generation V Gym Leader Pryce used all pure Ice types for his team, in Generation V only one of the Ice Type Pokémon introduced wasn't pure Ice that being the legendary Kyurem. It is often paired with the Water-type. Examples of Ice-type Pokémon include Delibird, Jynx, Articuno, Spheal, Glalie, and Regice. Some of the most powerful Ice-type moves that Pokémon can learn are Blizzard, Sheer Cold, and Ice Beam.
Many Ice-type attacks have a chance of Freezing the target, a status effect which prevents the frozen Pokémon from moving until it is thawed. Ice-type Pokémon cannot be Frozen (except by effects of Tri-Attack).
Normal-type Pokémon have moves based on standard attacks, such as tackles and scratches, and do not generally have any of the characteristics assigned to the other types, except in the case of dual-typed Normal-type Pokémon. As such, Normal could be considered the "default" type, encompassing the Pokémon which do not fit into the other types. Normal types are also usually mammals or fairy like creatures, but are nearly always adorable and cute. Examples include Munchlax, Teddiursa, Skitty, Chansey, Azurill, and Ditto. Especially unusual Pokémon, such as Porygon, also are usually Normal-type. Normal-type Pokémon are unusual in that unlike other types, they can usually learn a wide variety of attcks that are not their own type (i.e. Chansey can learn Thunderbolt, Flamethrower, and Solar Beam). Normal-type attacks are not particularly effective against any type (the only Normal-type move that is ever super-effective is Hidden Power), but as a counter, only a few types have resistance to Normal-type attack. Some of the most powerful Normal-type moves Pokémon can learn are Tri Attack, Hyper Beam, Double-Edge.
Poison-type Pokémon have some toxic quality about them. Some produce venom (Ekans and Seviper for example), some are poisonous plants (Bulbasaur and Oddish – these are dual Grass and Poison types), and some are composed of or emit toxic chemicals (such as Koffing or Grimer).
Many Poison-type moves can cause the Poison status effect, which causes the victim to lose hit points after each turn. The ability "Poison Point" may inflict poison when physical attacks are used. The moves Toxic and "Poison Fang" can even cause a target to become "badly poisoned", in which case the amount of damage done by the toxins increases each turn. Other examples include Weezing, Haunter, Gloom, and Vileplume. Some powerful Poison-type moves include Toxic, Poison Tail, and Sludge Bomb.
Psychic-type Pokémon generally have mental abilities associated with psychics, such as telekinesis, telepathy, and prescience. Psychic Pokémon generally have high Special (Red, Blue, and Yellow) or Special Attack (Gold, Silver and after) statistics. Examples include Alakazam, Chimecho, Espeon, Gardevoir, Mr. Mime, Jynx, Starmie and Mewtwo. Psychic types are also among the smartest Pokémon, often capable of speaking in human languages either directly or through telepathy. They are favored by the fandom as Psychic types generally can learn an incredibly wide variety of moves. Many Psychic Pokémon can also learn the recovery move Recover and can learn many moves that increase their stats, such as Calm Mind. Some powerful Psychic-type moves are Psybeam, Psycho Cut, and Psychic. It is also noteworthy that the most difficult to acquire of the legendary Pokémon from each generation - Mewtwo, Mew, Celebi, Jirachi, and Deoxys - are all Psychic-types.
Rock-type Pokémon should not be confused with Ground-type Pokémon. Rock-types attack by throwing or breaking rocks, while Ground-type attacks deal specifically with the ground itself, particularly soil. However, many Rock-type Pokémon are dual Rock- and Ground-types. Some powerful Rock-type moves are Rock Throw, Rock Slide, and AncientPower. Rock is also the most balanced type. Pure rock types include Nosepass, Sudowoodo, Bonsly, and Regirock, other rock types include the fossil Pokémon such as Omanyte, Kabuto and Aerodactyl and other duel Rock/other type Pokémon such as Onix.
Steel-type Pokémon are made of, or coated with, steel or iron (Registeel is the exception; no one really knows what it's made of). Examples include Steelix, Scizor, Aron, Magnemite4 and Magneton4. The majority of the species belonging to this type usually resemble inorganic lifeforms such as machines, while a few resemble animals and/or have a humanoid appearance.
Steel-type Pokémon usually possess high defense stats, attack stats and sport a very large amount of resistances. They are one of the two new types introduced in Pokémon Silver and Gold. Steel is immune to Poison status and attacks (unless induced by Twineedle). Some powerful Steel-type moves are Steel Wing, Iron Tail, Meteor Mash, and Flash Cannon. The only pure Steel-types are Registeel, Klink, Klang and Klinklang.
Water-type Pokémon are based on aquatic creatures, and their powers are directly related to water. Of all the types, this one has the most species attributed to it with over 100 as of Generation V. Examples of Water-Type Pokémon include Squirtle, Totodile, Mudkip, Corsola, Slowking, Staryu, Psyduck, Remoraid, Vaporeon, Seaking, Magikarp, and Kyogre.
The types below are unofficial types for Pokémon. Some are shown by using glitches, others have attacks of their type but no Pokémon.
The Bird-type was the original name for Flying-type Pokémon. Early screenshots of Pokémon Red and Blue show various Flying-type Pokémon listed as Bird-type. Bird-type remained in the games as a result of the ’M, Missingno. and 3trainerpoké Pokémon glitches. They are the only Pokémon who are of the Bird-type.
The ???-type (or Unknown-type) is the type of the attack Curse, whose effect depends on the type of the Pokémon using it: if any type but Ghost uses it, the move raises Attack and Defense while lowering Speed. If a Ghost type uses it, the Ghost loses half its max HP to lower the opponent's HP by 25% every turn, however Curse was later switched to the Ghost Type. ???-type is also the type given for Shadow Attacks, used by the Shadow Pokémon in Pokémon Colosseum and Pokémon XD: Gale of Darkness until the doors to their hearts have started to open. Due to the move Struggle's lack of a type, many people categorize it as a ???-type move (Struggle is listed in the Official Nintendo Power Players' Guides as a Normal-type move), though this is unofficial.
Pokémon eggs are listed as ???-type, until they hatch and are given the type of the Pokémon born.
Ghost-type vs. Psychic-type
In Pokémon Red, Blue, and Yellow, Psychic-type Pokémon were weak to Ghost-type attacks in theory only. In practice, the only Ghost-type attack that caused a non set amount damage was the low powered Lick move, and it was ineffective against Psychic-types. Night Shade causes damage equivalent to the user's level, regardless of the defending Pokémon's type. To further unbalance the system, Psychic-type attacks were super-effective against the three Ghost-type Pokémon (Gastly, Haunter and Gengar) that existed at the time since these Ghost-types have a secondary Poison-type. This was odd considering the comment by a trainer in the Saffron City Gym in Pokémon Red and Blue saying that Psychic-types feared only ghosts and bugs (the comment was fixed in Yellow). The anime also had the roles reversed, with Ghost-types being resistant to Psychic-type attacks. In Pokémon Gold and Silver, the situation was fixed with the creation of stronger Ghost-type moves such as Shadow Ball, pure Ghost-type Pokémon Misdreavus and the addition of the types Dark and Steel, both of which are resistant to Psychic attacks (with Psychic attacks not doing any damage to Dark types).
Overall effects on gameplay
The original type matchups in Pokémon Red, Blue, and Yellow were severely flawed. Because of the Ghost-type vs. Psychic-type conflict, the Psychic Pokémon were left with only one weakness, Bug-type. At the time there were very few Bug-type attacks, and the existing ones were too weak to be effective in high-level tournaments. As a result, Pokémon such as Alakazam, Mewtwo and Mew ruled the tournament scene. The game creators balanced out the type system in Pokémon Gold and Silver. With this installment, Psychic-types were made weak to Ghost-type attacks, and stronger Bug-type attacks (such as Megahorn with 120 power) and Pokémon (such as Heracross) were added. The creators also added the Dark-type, which is super-effective against Psychic-types and immune to Psychic-type attacks, and the Steel-type, which is resistant to Psychic-type attacks. These changes led to a more balanced game with a steeper learning curve.
Differences between the anime and game
The above information for Pokémon types comes from the games. There are some differences between how the Pokémon types work within the anime. Some of these differences in the anime are believed to be genuine mistakes.
Electric vs. Rock
Episodes of the anime made the error that Rock types were immune to Electric attacks. This is due to the fact that in the early Red/Blue/Yellow games, almost all Rock types were Rock/Ground dual-type. These Pokémon were therefore immune to Electric attacks, courtesy of them being Ground types. Before Gold and Silver, the only Rock-types vulnerable to Electric Attack were the three fossil Pokémon Omanyte/Omastar, Kabuto/Kabutops and Aerodactyl. These three Pokémon were not very commonly used amongst Pokémon players, therefore adding to the common misconception that Rock types are immune to Electric attacks.
Ground vs. Electric
Ground type Pokémon are completely immune to Electric attacks in the Pokémon games; however, in early episodes of the anime, it is possible for Ground type Pokémon to take damage from Electric attacks.
- Ash's Pikachu KO'ed Brock's Geodude and Onix (Rock/Ground-types) with electric-type attacks when Ash was fighting for the Boulder Badge.
- While Ash was fighting Blaine for his Volcano Badge, Pikachu used its Thunderbolt to KO Blaine's Rhydon by striking the horn, which acted like a lightning rod. (Ironically, in a later season, a Rhydon drew electricity from its teammate using its lightning rod horn, except that the electrical attack did not affect the Rhydon. A possible explanation is at the paragraph below.)
- While Ash was fighting Team Rocket (whom Giovanni had put in charge of Viridian Gym) for the Earth Badge, at the same time Pikachu administered a Thundershock attack to Arbok and Weezing, the shock also hit Giovanni's Machamp, Kingler, and Rhydon.
- In the beginning of Pokémon: The First Movie, Ash's Pikachu was able to KO a trainer's Golem (Rock/Ground-type) using an electric attack.
- Ash's Pikachu also KO'ed a trainer's Marowak (Ground-type) to defend for his eight badges.
- While Ash's Pikachu delivered a Thundershock to Team Rocket's Victreebel, Lickitung, Arbok, and Weezing, the shock accidentally hit a Pink Nidoking (Poison/Ground type).
Some fans believe the anime producers were unaware of the fact that Ground types are immune to Electric-attacks in the Pokémon games, considering that in later episodes during the Johto and Hoenn Season, electric moves did not work on ground types, even if they came from Ash's Pikachu.
Normal vs. Ghost, Ghost vs. Normal
In the Pokémon games, Ghost type moves have no effect on Normal type Pokémon and vice versa. However, in the anime, during Pokémon: Advanced, a Shadow Ball attack (Ghost-type) was able to damage a Meowth (a Normal type Pokémon). No explanation for this is given. Also, Misty's Corsola damaged Cassidy's Sableye (a Dual Dark and Ghost-type Pokémon) with Spike Cannon.
Flying vs. Ground
Flying Pokémon are immune to Ground type attacks in the games, but not in the anime. This is demonstrated in the episode titled "Playing with Fire", where a trainer's Steelix was able to use a dig attack on Ash's Noctowl. Despite Brock's mom's Mantine being a Flying Type, Brock's Onix was able to nail Mantine with its Dig attack, draining the water in the gym in the process.
- Only in Pokémon Red, Blue, Yellow and Stadium.
- Except in Pokémon Red, Blue, Yellow and Stadium.
- The attacks Foresight and Odor Sleuth negate the Ghost-type's immunity to Fighting and Normal-type attacks.
- In Pokémon Red, Blue, Yellow and Stadium, Magnemite and Magneton were single-typed Electric Pokémon, but in Pokémon Gold, Silver and Crystal they became dual Electric-and-Steel-types. In calculating damage to dual type Pokémon, act as if they pure type Pokémon (of both types). Then find out the damage for both types and multiply the damage together. Here are the examples for all occasions...
- Flareon uses Flamethower against Scizor. The Fire attack is Super effective against Scizor's Bug and Steel types, causing four times the damage. (6 times the damage, to be exact, since Flareon is a Fire type.)
- Hitmonchan uses Fire Punch against Steelix. The Fire attack is Super effective against Steelix's Steel type but isn't strong nor weak against the Ground type, so it does double the damage.
- Magneton uses Tri Attack against Gastly. The Normal attack isn't strong nor weak against Gastly's Poison type, but cannot hurt the Ghost type, so it does no damage at all. (no matter what as long as one type is immune to the attack, the attack is negated, so if Pikachu used Thunder on Whiscash, the Electric attack cannot hurt the Water type Whiscash because Whiscash is part Ground type)
- Bellsprout uses Vine Whip against Lotad. The Grass attack is Super effective against Lotad's Water type, but weak against Lotad's Grass type, so the attack isn't altered in type advantage.
- Dragonite uses Ice Beam against Sneasel. The Ice attack isn't really strong nor weak against Sneasel's Dark type, but is weak against the Ice type, so the damage is halved.
- It is currently unknown which heading Fairy comes under as it was introduced after the Physical/Special split in Generation 4. However, because most Pokémon with the fairy type are strong in a special stat, and most fairy moves are special, it's commonly believed Fairy moves would have been considered Special Attacks.
- All of Eevee's evolution types fall into the Special Attack category, except Fairy, which didn't exist before.