10 Pokémon Moves So Strong They Should Be Banned (& 10 Trainers Should Stop Using)

The first Pokémon games debuted in North America in 1998, and the fantasy of the series, in which players collect and battle with super-powered pets, is still going strong. In fact, there are more ways to play Pokémon now than ever before. As more and more Pokémon are added and new regions and mechanics are introduced, the core of the series remains intact. Trainers capture Pokémon in the wild, raise them individually and as teams, and eventually become the very best like no one ever was.

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One of the most important parts of raising and battling Pokémon is understanding their moves. A Pokémon can learn up to four moves. Many factors influence what moves a Pokémon can learn including type, breeding, and level. The trainer has to decide what moves they want their Pokémon to know. Naturally, some moves are just better than others. Why make a Charizard use Ember when it can learn Flamethrower?

However, some moves are a little too powerful for the good of the games. They deal massive damage or control the flow of battle so thoroughly that the games may even be better without them. Conversely, there are also some moves that trainers continue to use even if they aren’t that great. They might be flashy or they might wreck NPC trainers, but they aren’t always useful.

Updated on December 4th, 2021 by Quinn Levandoski: With several games recently released and even more currently in development, the Pokémon franchise has shown no signs of slowing down. Each spin-off game and new generation of mainline titles introduce brand new monsters, and with them comes a bevy of new moves for them to use. While Game Freak has done an admiral job balancing the imposing number of attacks in the games, some stand firmly above or under the rest. Pokémon Sword and Shield may have slightly simplified things by removing several moves from the game, but it also introduced new options more potent than what had previously been seen. 

Chatter is the signature move of the musical note Pokémon Chatot, which was introduced in Generation 4. Ordinarily, Chatter is a normal move that can inflict damage and has a chance to confuse the target. However, there is a special field functionality to Chatter.

Players can use the Nintendo handheld’s recording functionality to record a special cry for Chatter that will play in battle. The louder the recording, the higher the chance to confuse the target Pokémon- even up to 100%. Thankfully, this functionality is no longer present on the Nintendo Switch.

The Pokémon games have always had “semi-invulnerable” moves like Fly or Dig, where the user takes a turn in a state out of the way of battle to set up an attack. Sky Drop was one such move introduced in Generation 5. It’s special because it takes the user and the target out of the normal arena for a turn and then drops the target back down to earth.

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In Generation 5, there was a glitch that got this move banned from Nintendo Wifi battles. If the move Gravity is used while the target and user of Sky Drop are in their semi-invulnerable state, the user will be pulled back down, but the target will be stuck. They won’t be able to do anything until Gravity ends when they are KOed or the Sky Drop user is KOed. It is very exploitable.

Recovery moves lead to frustrating situations that all trainers have faced. They don’t have any Pokémon that can finish the opponent quickly, but they are chipping away at its health slowly but surely. It’s down to the yellow, maybe even the red... and then the opponent uses Recover. All that work is now gone, and even if trainers get their HP low again, they can just use Recover on repeat.

There are plenty of moves in the game that let Pokémon recover HP, even as much as 50%. However, Recover is by far one of the most common. Several of the strongest Psychic-types in Pokémon can use it, including already powerful Pokémon like Mewtwo. Recovery moves are a nightmare in competitive play because smart trainers can basically make matches last forever.

Those that have seen Double Team used in the Pokémon anime probably noted that it looked like the most broken move a Pokémon could learn. It lets the user make mobile copies of itself to confuse and overwhelm the opponent. Pokémon like Scyther and Greninja make fancy use of this move.

The effect of evasion raising moves like Double Team in the actual games is almost as powerful. Double Team raises the user’s evasion stage by one. This makes the user harder to hit with Pokémon’s attacks. If Pokémon can't land their moves, they can’t win the battle. If both trainers are using Pokémon with evasion moves, the battle could hypothetically go on until each side runs out of PP.

Few moves have been as pervasive throughout the Pokémon franchise as Earthquake. This powerful move can devastate whole teams and is learnable by most of the coolest Ground-type Pokémon in the franchise. In double and triple battles, it will hit both the enemy Pokémon adjacent to the user and even the user’s adjacent ally Pokémon.

Earthquake is not a move to throw out lightly. However, it’s become so prevalent and important in competitive play that there are many ways to play with or around its disadvantages. Trainers can use ally Pokémon's levitate ability, which will make it immune to ground attacks, or they can use Protect to shield their Pokémon from an ally's Earthquake. Eliminating Earthquake would give the Pokémon games some room to shake things up.

Quick Attack is a useful move at the right moment. It’s weak, but it has high priority. If trainers need to make sure their low HP opponents are knocked out as quickly as possible before they can do anything in a round, Quick Attack is a great option. It’s a common enough move and isn't too much of a threat.

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However, many fans use Quick Attack because they aren't aware of a similar attack, Extreme Speed. Extreme Speed has an 80 attack value and takes even higher priority than Quick Attack. There are two factors that slightly balance Extreme Speed. First, it's a normal type move, which means it’s not super effective against many other types. It can also only be learned by a few Pokémon like Arcanine and Lucario, though that number continues to grow.

Stealth Rock defined the competitive Pokémon metagame as soon as it was introduced in Generation 4. It single-handedly made several Pokemon from earlier generations weaker or stronger, and it is still one of the most important moves in the game. Stealth Rock doesn’t deal damage directly on use, but it sets an entry hazard around the target Pokémon’s spot. Whenever a Pokémon switches into that spot, Stealth Rock will take a percentage of its heath as damage based on its weakness to Rock-type Pokémon.

If a Pokémon is resistant to Rock types, it will only take 6.25% damage or less. However, if it is weak to Rock, it will take 25% or even 50% damage. If trainers are using any Pokémon that are weak to Rock, they have to use a move that can clear out Stealth Rock in order to prevent it from damaging theirPokémon.

The Pokémon franchise has included fossil Pokémon in almost every game, but Sword and Shield used historical mistakes to justify some truly bizarre monsters. To reflect unfortunate instances in which paleontologists mixed up parts from different dinosaur skeletons, each eighth-generation fossil Pokémon is a mixture of two creatures.

Each has a unique move, but Dracovish's Fisheous Rend instantly made it one of the strongest fossil Pokémon in the franchise. This move, a play on Palkia's signature Spacial Rend, deals massive damage. Its base is only 85, but this is doubled if the user moves first and is increased another 50 percent with the ability Strong Jaw. There is no other water move close to this power level.

Steel-types are often thought of as overly defensive, but the truth is that the best Steel-type Pokémon include both offensive and defensive threats. However, until generation eight, there wasn't an excessively powerful Steel-type move that dealt special damage.

With the introduction of Steel Beam, this is no longer the case. This move deals a massive 140 damage, and the Move Tutor can teach it to several different Pokémon. There's a caveat in that the user takes a blowback of damage themselves, but it's often worth it to KO a dangerous opponent.

Swagger is one of several moves that are overpowered because of their effects rather than any damage-dealing potential. In fact, Swagger actually boosts the opposing Pokémon by raising its attack four levels. However, it also automatically confuses them.

If confused Pokémon attack themselves, which they have a 33 percent chance of doing, the damage is based on their attack. This makes Swagger a random game of roulette that determines which Pokémon will take a massive hit. While the uncertainty can be fun, it's incredibly frustrating in important battles and easy to abuse.

On the face of it, Payday seems like an excellent move. It does deal damage to opponents, and the user earns money after the battle is over. In Generations 1 and 2, the amount of money collected would be equal to twice the user’s level for each time the move was used. Then from Generation 3 onwards, Payday would scatter coins equal to five times the user’s level on each use.

However, some fans soon started to realize that in order to keep using this get-rich-quick scheme, they have to keep Meowth or Persian in their party. Unfortunately, those are two Pokémon that are much weaker than they look. This means that trainers have to use Payday a bunch of times just to break 4 figures. There are just many better ways to deal damage and to make money in Pokémon games.

Most trainers have been there. They've run into a Pokémon in battle that they had no counter to. Players can only carry six Pokémon in a party, and sometimes they have nothing that’s super effective against one specific opponent. Helping Hand seems like a move for those moments, at least in double battles.

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Helping Hand remedies this problem by increasing ally Pokémon's power by 50%. This can give a not-very-effective move the boost it needs to take out an enemy. The truly outstanding thing about Helping Hand is its great priority. It is almost always the first move used in any turn of battle. While all of this sounds positive, the truth is that this bonus is only situationally useful. Doubles battles aren't very common in the games, and it's better to make sure that weaknesses are covered with regular attacks in multiplayer.

This move lets Pokémon lower a target's Attack and Special Attack stats by 2 stages. However, it can only be done for a price. The user will faint upon using this move.  Unfortunately, the situations where Memento is a viable option are few.

It is indeed useful for a Pokémon to use against a sweeper on the last turn before it's knocked out, but this can be hard to play ahead for. More importantly, this debuff is removed by switching out. This move is too situational and carries too heave a price to be recommended.

Ditto's simple smile may make it one of the cutest Normal-type Pokémon, but they're also quite bizarre. Many gimmick Pokémon have come and gone, but Ditto still feels like one of the most unique and interesting. It can only learn the move Transform. However, this amazing ability lets Ditto take on the species, type, stats, moves, stat changes, and abilities of any target Pokémon with the exception of HP.

Especially in the earlier Generation games, transforming a Ditto into an opponent’s super powerful Pokémon was very exciting. However, there are drawbacks to a transformed Ditto. First, it will only have up to 5 PP for all of the moves that it copies. This makes it a poor choice against any attrition monster that needs to use its moves repeatedly. Furthermore, Ditto's low health pool means that it's likely significantly more fragile than the creature that it's copying.

Pokémon may be super-powered beings, but they have feelings and personalities, too. According to the Pokédex, some Pokémon have intellect and awareness that surpass most humans. It’s usually best for trainers to have good relationships with their Pokémon. Numerous times in the anime, Ash triumphs over more experienced trainers and more powerful Pokémon because the bonds he and his Pokémon share are stronger.

Unfortunately, Frustration works against the concept of Pokémon being friendly, willing adventure partners. The lower a Pokémon’s friendship stat, the more powerful Frustration will be when that Pokémon uses it. Pokémon will lose friendship stats the more they faint in battle, so trainers have to set their monsters up for failure to get the most out of this move.

 

Thunder is one of the original Electric-type moves. It calls down a bolt of lightning from the sky to strike the target for massive damage. Whenever it appears in the anime, Thunder is one of the most dramatic and damaging moves in the game. The problem is that there is one electric move that is inarguably better in almost any situation, Thunderbolt.

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Thunder has a 30 percent chance to miss its target, while Thunderbolt has 100% accuracy. Trainers can use Rain Dance to make Thunder 100% accurate, but this makes it a fairly niche move. Thunderbolt may be slightly weaker, but that's better than risking repeated misses on important turns.

A metronome is a musical device meant to make a clicking sound at a steady rhythm. Players can set it as slow or as fast as they want, and it will keep that rhythm until it is changed or deactivated. One has to wonder why the developers named a Pokémon move after this device.

With Metronome, the user will randomly pick almost any other Pokémon move in the game and use it. This lets average Pokémon like Clefairy use moves like Fireblast, Psystrike, or Draco Meteor. However, it can just as easily use moves like Leer, Rest, or Constrict. Metronome has great potential, but the risk far outweighs the reward.

Every trainer has dreamed of pulling one of these off. One Hit Knock Out moves are moves that are guaranteed to knock out the target Pokémon in one hit. There are only four such moves in the game-- Horn Drill, Guillotine, Fissure, and Sheer Cold. However, there’s one major problem with them: their accuracy is abysmal.

OHKO moves have a base accuracy of 30%. They are also incapable of hitting a target that is higher level than the user. On the flip side, the lower the target’s level is compared to the user, the higher the accuracy of an OHKO move. However, this is only by 1% each level.

At one point, Explosion had the highest attack points of any Pokémon move when it was first introduced in Generation 1. The attack of Explosion is a whopping 250 points. Using the move also cuts the target's defense in half, which effectively makes Explosion’s attack 500 points.

There’s just a small problem: Explosion destroys everything in play, including the user. Sure, trainers can plan on a Pokémon to use Explosion when it is about to be knocked out. However, losing a Pokémon in battle because Explosion is its only powerful move often seems like a waste.

The most pathetic Pokémon in the game also has the most pathetic move. When Magikarp was introduced in Generation 1, it was the only Pokémon that learned Splash at the very first level. Other water Pokémon knew Splash as their first move, but Magikarp learned almost no other moves until it evolved in Gyarados.

So what does Splash do? Nothing. Splash has no effect whatsoever. It doesn’t inflict any damage, it doesn’t inflict any status effect, and it doesn’t affect the user or the target’s stats.

NEXT: Ranking Every Regional Bird In Pokémon, From Lamest To Coolest



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