Pokémon Type Rants: The Poison Type

Welcome to the poisonous world of Pokémon!

Written by ritabuuk and dubiousdisc
Posted on April 7th 2019
...is inhabited far and wide by creatures called Pokémon
Like this rabbit covered in poisonous barbs

In the first Pokémon games, Professor Oak sends you off on a wonderful adventure through the region of Kanto, to find different Pokémon and study them and complete a compendium of all the creatures in the world. This is lovely, except... In Kanto, everything is poisonous. It's the Australia of the Pokémon world. So, when you think about it, Professor Oak is sending a ten-year-old child into a world mostly inhabited by deadly poisonous creatures, with the task to coax them out of their hidey holes and personally poke their stingers and see what happens. And Professor Oak, as the foremost expert on Pokémon, should know about this "feature" of the local fauna. Unless he forgot this detail, along with other details such as his grandson's name. In any case, someone needs to stop him.

Weedle
How about a caterpillar with two stingers!

Satoshi Tajiri originally came up with the concept of Pokémon inspired by how, as a child, he and his friends would catch bugs and have them face each other to see which would win. If you're fighting with bugs, why wouldn't you want to catch a bug with a poisonous stinger? That's so much cooler than the bug without the stinger. Ask any kid: anything is cooler if it's poisonous. So, when Game Freak was inventing a bunch of cool video game creatures, they tried to appeal to their own inner children by designing them with poisonous barbs, stingers, goo, and whatnot, because poison is cool!

Beyond this, another inspiration for poisonous Pokémon came from a different memory from Tajiri's childhood. He grew up around Tokyo, in the real-life Kanto area, at the time when it was beginning to be industrialized, and he saw the effects of the increasing pollution on the natural habitats around him.

The place where I grew up [in Machida, a western Tokyo suburb] was still rural back then. There were rice paddies, rivers, forests. It was full of nature. Then development started taking place, and as it grew, all the insects were driven away. [...] Every year they would cut down trees and the population of insects would decrease. The change was so dramatic. A fishing pond would become an arcade center. [...] Places to catch insects are rare because of urbanization. Kids play inside their homes now, and a lot had forgotten about catching insects. So had I. When I was making games, something clicked and I decided to make a game with that concept. Everything I did as a kid is kind of rolled into one--that's what Pokémon is.
Satoshi Tajiri (The Ultimate Game Freak)

This is directly mirrored in the worldbuilding of Pokémon's Kanto, where these changes have given rise to another category of poisonous creatures: those born out of filth and corruption.

As you progress through the game, you can see the contrast of the small towns and wild forests and fields and the variety of Pokémon that live there, compared with the bigger towns and industrialized cities and the variety of Pokémon that live there. There are fewer Pokémon in the more urban areas, and that's where you will find the corrupted pollution-based Pokémon.

Giovanni's Last Resort
Giovanni, the boss of Team Rocket, together with his poisonous Nidoking

The rise of pollution-based lifeforms in the Pokémon world wasn't born from a Captain-Planet-esque villain or a mad scientist or any sort of evil force bent on causing chaos and mayhem and suffering. The Pokémon of corruption were spontaneously born out of the changes in the environment caused by careless urbanization. The subtle poison of the Pokémon World is people not caring about the consequences of their way of life. And this poison is especially concentrated and embodied by Team Rocket. Team Rocket is first and foremost a business - they are a criminal organization with the objective of simply making money. And they aren't making money in order to live financially-secure lives, but rather for the sake of prestige; money is simply their proof of success.

Steal Pokémon for profit. Exploit Pokémon for profit. All Pokémon exist for the glory of Team Rocket.
The Team Rocket Oath
Masterball
The Masterball has a purple top, a color associated with corruption in Pokémon.

Team Rocket pursues success for the sake of success, without caring about whatever they destroy along the way. And that is what makes them villains. They view everything as existing for their own advantage, and all they have to do is seize it. What does it matter if they kill Cubone's mother, even if it causes Cubone to suffer and the spirit world to fly into a rage? Team Rocket wants the means to catch any Pokémon they wish with infinite Master Balls, and they are not remotely concerned if their targets were willing to be caught. The world and all the Pokémon that live in it are merely tools for their own success, and they are unconcerned by whatever the consequences might be. In our opinion, this makes Team Rocket the scariest villains of the Pokémon franchise - they are the same sort of evil that exists in our world.

Beyond encoding the cool factor of being poisonous and the idea of corruption, the Poison type in Generation I was also applied to creatures associated with the night, and in particular with the moon. Later, these features would become the defining aspect of the Dark type instead, but, originally, this was the sphere of the Poison type.

Team Rocket's Zubat
Certainly not Normal, but...

For example, there is nothing in the Pokédex about Zubat and Golbat (and later Crobat) being literally poisonous, in any way. Even later entries make no effort to insert a retroactive explanation, and, even in Generation VII, these Pokémon barely can learn any Poison-type moves. We think the only reason why they are Poison-types at all is to encode this dark characteristic they have, being based on bats, vampires, and vampire bats. To be fair, it would have been weird if they had just been Normal/Flying. So we think Game Freak chose to type them Poison to mean that they're dark and creepy.

Erika's Oddish
It only comes out of the ground at night.

Something similar happened to Oddish; while in Generation I it can evolve into Gloom and Vileplume, which are unquestionably poisonous, Oddish itself is not said to be poisonous at all. Its Pokédex entries talk about how it wanders about in the moonlight, and how it screams if you try to pull it out of the ground. Oddish is based on the folklore around the mandrake, which is creepy, so they gave it the Poison type to encode that.

Gastly Neo Destiny
Although in this picture it does look pretty poisonous, there is nothing really backing it up.

Then we have Gastly, and as we previously discussed, it doesn't seem to be poisonous at all. But it is a corrupted ghost, so Poison it is. And even Grimer gets to do both, being sludge that came to life under the moon.

So, the game is full of designs that are poisonous because that's cool, and other designs that are corrupted because of pollution, and other designs associated with the night, and all permutations of the three. All these Pokémon became the first representatives of the Poison type. The Poison type in Generation I means so many things; no wonder it's so prominent.

Team Rocket grunts with Pokémon
Four out of six Pokémon in this picture are Poison-types.

However, from what we understand about the development of the first Pokémon games, these concepts weren't all originally related. Game Freak didn't have the idea of Pokémon types until relatively late in development . When they were deciding the types of all these aforementioned Pokémon, some of which they probably designed before they thought of them as having types at all, they decided the overarching feature they had could be called the "Poison" type.

Unfortunately, because of how important all these concepts are to the game, the Poison type got really out of hand. Out of the 151 Pokémon of Kanto, if you count both the first type and the second type, there are 33 Poison-types: 22% of the total, and making it the most common type of Generation I. There are more Poison Pokémon than Water Pokémon or Normal Pokémon. In Kanto, being poisonous is more normal than Normal.

So much Poison!

The Poison-type got so out of hand that some other types got almost completely absorbed by the Poison type. For example, almost all Pokémon belonging to the Bug type are also Poison types. The same thing happened to the Grass type, where even the Grass-type starter, Bulbasaur, is actually half-Poison for no good reason. The Ghost type completely overlaps with the Poison type, and doesn't have any representatives that aren't also Poison-types.

But, for as much as the Poison type is so featured, and so cool and edgy... it's the great loser of the type chart.

There is a plethora of Poison-type moves, but most of them are slightly different versions of the same concept: they have a mediocre chance of poisoning the target and maybe they do some puny damage. The only difference between them is how mediocre is the chance of poisoning, and how puny is the potential damage.

Oh boy!
All Moves Encyclopedia: Sludge
Muk using Sludge

If you're going to optimize the damage, the strongest Poison-type attacking move in Generation I was Sludge, which has a power of, wow, 65, with a 40% chance of poisoning the target. Woo. At least it's mostly accurate. But, big deal. It's on par with Bubble Beam and Psybeam in terms of power, which are intermediate-powered moves of the Water type and the Psychic type respectively. It's on par with Aurora Beam, which is the lowest-powered Ice-type move in Generation I. But Sludge is the highest-powered Poison-type move you can possibly get in Generation I. And even there, only Grimer/Muk and Koffing/Weezing can learn it, so, big deal again.

But, even if you get your Muk or Weezing all powered up and ready to use Sludge... what do you use this move on? In the Generation I games, Poison-type moves are only strong against Bug- or Grass- types. However, since this is Kanto, all the bugs and plants are also poisonous, and naturally, Poison-type Pokémon resist Poison-type moves. So... leaving those out, your Sludge will be super-effective against:

WOW! You really countered those! Because you needed a counter especially for these powerhouses that are on everyone's team. And it's not like you could have used Fire or Flying against them!

Yes, the type match-up against these Pokémon is exactly the same for Fire moves or Flying moves, which, rather than only countering these specific Pokémon, also counter every other Bug- or Grass-type Pokémon, even if they are poisonous. (Plus, sending a Poison-type Pokémon against Exeggcute and Exeggutor is a very bad idea). Having an attacking Poison-type move in your party is a complete waste. Waste, haha, waste.

So, essentially, there is no good attacking Poison-type move, and no reason to have one anyway.

If you're going to optimize the chance of poisoning, things aren't good there either. Besides, for how featured the Poison-type is, the Poison ailment is also something of a loser. Let's compare with the other status ailments and how they worked in Generation I:

Frozen Clefable
Rest in one block of ice.
Poison
Blehh...

Now let's look at the Poison ailment. Poison works exactly the same as Burn, except without the effect on the Attack. So, essentially, Poison is a weaker Burn. It is a common ailment, but no move has a 100% chance of causing Poison, so... it's not as surefire as Sleep or Paralysis, and it's not as devastating as Freeze or Burn. The real problem with Poison is that, if your Pokémon gets poisoned, its health continues to drain even after battle, every few steps you take in the overworld. But, when you try to inflict Poison on your enemies, that aspect of Poison doesn't matter. Poison is worse for the player to experience than for the player to inflict.

But if you still want to poison your enemies, the move with the best chance of causing Poison is Toxic, with an 85% chance of success. And Toxic's effect is not the same as regular old Poison, but rather an incremental kind of poison that gets worse and worse every turn. That is very useful. Toxic is also a TM, and almost every Pokémon can learn it.

In other words: why waste your time with regular Poison when you can just teach your Pokémon Toxic and be done with it? Since Toxic does not directly damage the opponent, the user's type doesn't matter, which means you might as well teach it to whatever Pokémon you want.

So, in summary... in Generation I, the best Poison-type moves you can get are: an attacking move on par with mid-to-low-end moves of other types, and which can be learned by only four Pokémon, and which is only super-effective against ten possible enemies; or a status-ailment causing move that at least causes incrementally increasing damage, but isn't guaranteed to hit the target like some other status-ailment causing moves are.

Poison-type moves are bad. And not bad as in cool. Bad bad. Just bad.

Vaporeon - All Moves Encyclopedia
Even in the All Moves Encyclopedia, Acid Armor is illustrated by Vaporeon liquifying itself.

The only Poison-type move that isn't just something on the gradient between Sludge and Toxic is Acid Armor. Acid Armor raises Defense by two stages, and it can be learned by Grimer/Muk and Vaporeon. Strange, right? Well, the Japanese name of the move is Liquefy, which explains what happened here: Game Freak must have invented it with Grimer in mind, which is why it's a Poison-type move, but then gave it Vaporeon to encode its ability to melt into water... and then Acid Armor proceeded to become more associated with Vaporeon than with Grimer, even though it's a Poison-type move and only laterally on Vaporeon, but originally intended for Grimer. So this is how Vaporeon, the mystical mermaid of the pure water, unexpectedly has this Poison-type move.

Defensively, in Generation I, Poison-type Pokémon resist Fighting-type moves, Poison-type moves, and Grass-type moves. They are, however, weak to Ground-type moves, Bug-type moves... aaaand Psychic-type moves.

Psychic vs. Poison - Pocket Monster Type Strategy Manual
What happens when a Psychic-type encounters a Poison-type, as illustrated in the Pocket Monster Type Strategy Manual

Everything in Kanto is poisonous, and they're all weak to Psychic. That's part of why the Psychic-type ended up being so overpowered in Generation I. Poison-type Pokémon are resistant to not much of importance, and weak to just the most important type of the game.

Beedrill - All Moves Encyclopedia
If only you could use this against anything.

The Poison-type even causes some Pokémon that would have been viable counters to the terrifying Psychic overlords to become completely helpless against them, just because Game Freak sprinkled the Poison-type very generously through the game. We've discussed the case of the Gastly line in the Ghost-type article, and here we're going to add the case of Beedrill, which is endowed with Twineedle, the best Bug-type move of the game, which would have been a weapon against the Psychic-types... except that Beedrill is half-Poison, and therefore completely defenseless against any Psychic-type move.

So, rather than the Poison type conferring the cool factor of, oh yeah, my Pokémon is made of poison and is going to poison your Pokémon! ...the Poison type in Generation I is actually a liability. You don't want a Pokémon to be half-Poison. You don't want a Pokémon to be full-Poison. Maybe this is why Jessie and James could never win.

Jessie, James, Meowth, Arbok, Weezing, Victreebel, and Likitung
A full 35 of their Pokémon were at least part Poison.

In Generation II, Game Freak got the opportunity to re-balance a lot of things - most of the re-balancing had to do with stopping the Psychic type from creating a storm that would engulf the entire world. In our previous articles about the Dragon type and the Ghost type, we talked about how Generation II tried to improve on those types, more or less effectively.

So, what about the poor Poison type?

...They nerfed it.

It was already one of the worst types, but they took away one of the two types it was previously super-effective against. In Generation II, the Poison-type is no longer super-effective against Bug-type Pokémon, and is left being only super-effective against the Grass type. Considered that the many Grass/Poison Pokémon of Generation I are still around and resisting Poison, this means that, in Generation II, you can bring out Muk offensively against...

...Yay?

Keep in mind that there are 251 Pokémon in Generation II, and that, comparatively, now Muk has even fewer things to counter. (6.6% of Generation I vs. 5.1% of Generation II)

And it's still a bad idea to use it against Exeggcute, Exeggutor, or Celebi, due to them being half-Psychic (not that there was much of a chance of seeing Celebi in Generation II, but just sayin').

Poor Muk. No wonder Ash like never used it.

Ash's Muk is eager to fight
Don't worry, Muk, I'll call you if I ever need to fight a Tangela.

Furthermore, Generation II added the Steel type, which has the feature of being completely immune to Poison-type moves and to the Poison ailment. While this makes sense, this addition has the bonus effect of kicking the Poison type while it's already down. So much for the Poison type being the mean type of mean. It seems like every other type is being so much meaner to the Poison type itself...

Umbreon
Umbreon

Speaking of the mean type of mean, Generation II also added the Dark type, which supersedes one-third of the concepts encoded in the Poison type, and becomes the true Evil type - literally, as that is even its Japanese name. This leaves the poor Poison type as some sort of lesser evil of not much importance. Dang.

In Generation I, the Poison type flooded and took over concepts that could have belonged to other types. In Generation II, the Dark type surged in with a vengeance, to the point of taking away some Pokémon that could have been perfectly reasonable Poison types. Not that we're advocating removing Dark-types from Generation II - quite the opposite - but, when you look at it, there are only six Dark-type Pokémon in Generation II, and three of them are known to be poisonous, while not actually being members of the Poison type.

For example, Umbreon has been puzzling us ever since it was introduced. The PokéDex touts how it attacks by secreting poisonous sweat, which it can spray offensively at its enemies. But it is a pure Dark type, and as an evolution of Eevee, Umbreon is meant to be a prime representative of its type. But the Pokédex emphasizes not how dark it is, but how poisonous it is. Are we missing something here?

Umbreon - beta
SpaceWorld demo sprite

With the rediscovery and investigation of the SpaceWorld Gold/Silver Demo, we now know that we weren't wrong to have raised an eyebrow at this - Umbreon was originally designed to be the Poison-type Eevee evolution, and it was coded to evolve with what would have been the newly-introduced Poison Stone. Note how Umbreon's eyes in the SpaceWorld sprite were even purple, a color associated with the Poison type. The yellow rings of Umbreon's design were not just meant to be reminiscent of the moon, but also originally intended to be the warning markings of a poisonous animal!

Spotted Skunk
A spotted skunk doing a warning hand-stand.

The light-colored markings, together with its feature of spraying poison, leads us to think that the animal that Umbreon might have originally been the most based on is a skunk. Particularly, a spotted skunk. The SpaceWorld sprite might even be depicting Umbreon doing something like the spotted skunk's warning handstand, and this was retained in the final Gold sprite. The Crystal sprite shows Umbreon wiggling its butt threateningly, like a skunk. And to this day, Umbreon is always shown in-game as holding its tail up. It's a stinky stinky skunk! Or, at least, it was originally intended to be.

As a side note, Denise used to avidly watch the Team Rocket's Rockin' sprite competitions, where TRRose would propose a prompt, and people would send in their sprite-work to see which TRRose liked best to win a prize. Once, the theme was to make up a Poison-type Eeveelution. In the end, so many of the entries were sprite edits of Umbreon to give it more poisonous colors. I remember TRRose being disappointed at the lack of variety, but this shows that we all subconsciously knew... if you try to think of a Poison-type Eevee, it's likely something like Umbreon will cross your mind, because that's what Umbreon originally was. Unless you make a point to deviate from that and take a completely different route on purpose, like Rosy did with her Thorneon design.

While Umbreon is definitely cool as a Dark-type evolution of Eevee, we can't help but feel like the Poison-type was robbed of the opportunity to have its own really cool Eeveelution. It's also a bit sad that, in Generation I, the Psychic type represented intelligence, brightness, and sunlight, while the Poison type represented corruption, darkness, and moonlight. The matchup of Espeon as a Psychic type with Umbreon as a Poison type would have highlighted this opposition, with the powers of the mind triumphing over evil and corruption. Instead, with Umbreon as a Dark-type, it has the type advantage over Espeon, so, evil triumphs after all. And it's once again sad that the Dark type completely co-opted this aspect of the Poison type.

Houndour Undaunted
Stinky doggy!

The other two Dark-types of Generation II that could have been Poison-types are Houndour and Houndoom. The Gold PokéDex entry for Houndoom already implied that something horrible was going on with its flames that would cause them to hurt forever.

If you are burned by the flames it shoots from its mouth, the pain will never go away.
Pokémon Gold

The Crystal PokéDex entry comes out and says what we were thinking: that's because its body is full of toxins that are mixed with the flames it spews out.

The pungent-smelling flame that shoots from its mouth results from toxins burning in its body.
Pokémon Crystal

Later PokéDex entries continue to reiterate and even further expand on this idea, so it's not one of those things that only Crystal mentions to suit its own agenda. Houndour and Houndoom's designs also feature skulls, which are used in other Pokémon designs to denote poison (like Koffing and Weezing).

In the SpaceWorld demo, both Houndour and Houndoom are only typed as Fire; they only became part-Dark-types later. We wonder if at some point, Game Freak had considered to type them as Fire/Poison. After all, the existing Poison/Fire-type Pokémon, Salandit and Salazzle, introduced in Generation VII, also have the key feature of spewing fire mixed with toxins. We think that Houndour and Houndoom are definitely good representatives of the Dark-type, so we agree with the final decision. Just, if Pokémon could have three types, Houndour and Houndoom would be among the first we'd propose retyping, as Dark/Fire/Poison.

We suppose this war between the Dark type and the Poison type just shows how linked these two ideas are in the minds of Game Freak.

Gligar Legends Awakened
Purple vampire bat-scorpion with notable stinger

But it wasn't even just the Dark type cutting in on Poison-type Pokémon in Generation II. It seems like everything in Generation II was out to get them. For example, Gold and Silver introduced Gligar, a purple bat-scorpion said to inject poison with its stinger.

It flies straight at its target's face then clamps down on the startled victim to inject poison.
Pokémon Gold

It's Ground/Flying.

Why is it Ground? Because it hangs onto a cliff? Doesn't Zubat do the same? We said that Zubat is actually not said to be poisonous in any way, while being a Poison-type. Here we have another bat-like Pokémon that is straight-out said to be poisonous that is not a Poison-type. We mean, it's good that Gligar has a cool and then-unique type combination, just, it would make a lot more sense if it were Poison/Flying. Generation IV will later add Skorupi and Drapion, which are also purple scorpions, and they get to be Poison-types. Why not Gligar?

Gligar Diamond and Pearl Promo
Extra-Dracula purple bat-scorpion with notable stinger

Speaking of Gligar and Generation IV, at that point Game Freak added an evolution for it, although we would like to forget it. Gliscor looks like a bootleg Dracula Halloween decoration, and it evolves specifically by Gligar holding a Razor Fang and leveling up at night. Ooo, spooky vampire fang Dracula bat scorpion oooo! Guess what? It's still Ground/Flying. Not Poison-type and not Dark-type. We're so confused.

But getting back to Generation II, one of the few new actual Poison-types introduced at that time was Crobat, an evolution of Golbat. It evolves through having an amazing friendship with its trainer. And it is still Poison/Flying. It doesn't change type to be non-corrupted, and there's still nothing poisonous about it. Considering that its hind legs have become wings and it seems to be almost unable to land, we could make the case that Crobat could have been the first pure-Flying-type Pokémon. But Game Freak wasn't ready. That won't happen until Tornadus in Generation V, which doesn't look remotely deserving of being pure-Flying type... but we'll rant about that another time.

Rosy's illustration of Crobat
Friendly purple wing-a-ling bat, drawn by Rosy.
Ethan and Qwilfish
No hatred, but not really our thing. You can keep it.

The other Poison-types that were added in Generation II were Qwilfish, Spinarak, and Ariados. Qwilfish is based on the fugu, and serves the role of being a rare Pokémon that swarms. However, we don't care for it, and anyway it's Water/Poison, just like the still-omnipresent Tentacool and Tentacruel. Yay.

Denise did think that Generation I was missing something based on a spider, so she was glad to see the introduction of Spinarak and Ariados. Unfortunately, they are yet another line of Bug/Poison-type Pokémon, which makes sense, but this means that all the Poison-type Pokémon introduced in Generation II are type repeats. Not a single one of them adds a new type combination.

So, Generation II didn't do much for Poison-type Pokémon. But, well, alright, they surely added some cool Poison-type moves, though, right? The Generation II games did so for about every other type, after all.

...Generation II added exactly one more Poison-type move, and that's Sludge Bomb. At least it's the best Poison-type move yet in terms of power, being an upgraded version of Sludge, but... it's still not very interesting.

We still can't contain our excitement.

Sludge Bomb has the side effect of making Sludge obsolete. Not only that, they actually went and downgraded Sludge from a 40% to a 30% chance of poison. Every Pokémon that learns Sludge in Generation II can also learn Sludge Bomb, so why even have two moves? Wouldn't it have been easier to just change the power of Sludge from 65 to 90, rather than make a whole new move that's essentially the same but actually decent?

They also toned down Acid, because clearly 33.2% chance of lowering the target's defense was just too much. At least Poison Sting got a slightly higher chance of causing Poison. Slightly.

We might love Generation II, but we think this generation really dropped the ball when it came to the Poison type. The only good thing Generation II did for Poison was that it altered the workings of the Poison ailment. Regular poison will take 18 of the affected Pokémon's health each turn, rather than 116 as it was in Generation I (the Burn ailment got the same adjustment). However Toxic still works the same, and is still superior to regular poison. So this boost is kinda... minor.

Spinarak with an angry face on it's back
Grumble face

While Generation III was a reboot of everything and felt the need to "redo" the Pokédex, we guess that Game Freak decided that Kanto had way too many Poison-types, so they made several old ones unavailable, and only added five new ones: Dustox, Roselia, Gulpin, Swalot, and Seviper. However, these are once again type repeats, since they are filling the roles of the Pokémon they replace. So, not much to say there.

Muk on Professor Birch
Professor Birch is doomed.

Game balance-wise, Generation III added Pokémon abilities, among which are Poison Point, which makes some Pokémon able to poison on contact; Liquid Ooze, which causes health-sapping moves to damage the user instead of heal them; and Immunity, which makes some non-Steel Pokémon also immune to poison. Effect Spore gets a notable mention, since it can also potentially cause poison. So, we can't say that the Poison type got nerfed again, but we also can't say that it got boosted. The only thing of note is that there has been a de-featuring of the once-overabundant Poison type. Hoenn's wildlife is not as deadly as Kanto's wildlife, thankfully for Brendan and May. And for Professor Birch too, who is bested even by Zigzagoon. The game would have gone a lot differently if he had been overpowered by something poisonous.

While there were definitely too many Poison-types in Generation I, now it seems like these games are specifically dodging typing Pokémon as Poison, even when the Pokémon in question is notably poisonous.

Shroomish
All those lovely flowers and trees are about to die. Shroomish looks at itself in the water and knows it is a monster.

The missed Poison-type opportunity that pisses us off the most is Shroomish. We mentioned it already in the article about Bulbasaur's type - Shroomish is a pure Grass-type Pokémon that is very much known to be poisonous. It's based on a poisonous mushroom. Almost all of its PokéDex entries mention how poisonous it is. It learns more Poison-type moves than some Poison-type Pokémon. Its ability is Effect Spore, which can cause poison (or sleep, or paralysis). Later, Generation IV gave Shroomish and its evolved form Breloom the signature ability of Poison Heal, which means that if an opponent inflicts the poison ailment on Shroomish, it would regain health each turn rather than be damaged. It is made of poison and it absorbs poison.

If Shroomish senses danger, it shakes its body and scatters spores from the top of its head. This Pokémon's spores are so toxic, they make trees and weeds wilt.
Pokémon Sapphire
Breloom
Apparently Breloom doesn't kill plants by merely existing around them, so this picture could exist. Drawn by Rosy.

When Shroomish evolves into Breloom, it becomes a Grass/Fighting type. Breloom is also described as being poisonous, with the round shapes on the tail being made of solidified toxic spores. We also finally had a realization and we think the red shape on its head is meant to be reminiscent of the berry-like aril of the yew tree, which ironically is the only non-poisonous part of a very poisonous plant with poisonous leaves and poisonous pollen and poisonous seeds inside the fruit. Don't eat it unless you are a bird!

But, yeah, we agree with Breloom being a Fighting Type. It is a cool design for a fighter, and it is a nice addition to a type that mostly consists of weird melty-dudes with muscles like sacks of walnuts. We can believe that Breloom is a skilled fighter. But it's definitely poisonous, too. It's a mushroom, and they even put the yew berry on its head. Maybe they didn't make Shroomish be Grass/Poison because then it would lose the Poison type when it evolved, which kinda sends the wrong message because Breloom is still poisonous. We guess Breloom would be another prime candidate for a triply typed Pokémon: Fighting/Grass/Poison. Of course, a mushroom is not a "Grass" at all, but yeah, yeah, okay.

Cacturne
Cactuses looks sort of like people, so... evil cactus scarecrow.

Another Grass-type Pokémon of Generation III that seems to be poisonous but not typed as such is Cacnea. While the Pokédex says nothing about it being poisonous, Cacnea has access to many Poison-type moves, which it presumably uses with its spines, which implies that its spines are poisonous. But Cacnea is a pure-Grass type, and later evolves into Cacturne, which is Grass/Dark. Why is Cacturne Grass/Dark? Because it's nocturnal? Because it's based on a scarecrow? For that matter, why is Cacturne based on a scarecrow and a cactus? Were its creators just pulling things out of a hat?

If Game Freak wanted to avoid creating Pokémon that are Grass/Poison, just making these Pokémon poisonous but not giving them the Poison type isn't solving anything. Later generations stopped kidding themselves by adding poisonous Pokémon but not giving them the Poison type, and instead just occasionally added a few new Poison-type Pokémon.

Stunky
Look at this dreadful Dark-type Pokémon!

It took them until Generation IV to add some Poison-type Pokémon in new type combinations. However, some of them don't make any sense. Stunky and Skuntank are Poison/Dark, which is redundant given the history of the Poison type and its relationship with the Dark type, and gratuitous, because there is nothing Dark about these Pokémon. All the descriptions talk about is how much they stink and how putrid they are. They say absolutely nothing about them being evil or even just nocturnal. They are not even more commonly found at night in-game or anything lateral like that. They're just skunks.

The Poison/Bug Skorupi evolves into the Poison/Dark Drapion, and, just like with Stunky and Skuntank, we have no idea why it is particularly Dark. HeartGold and SoulSilver's Pokédex entry has the only hint of darkness: the fact that it apparently has a bad reputation, because it attacks people and Pokémon in the desert. Big deal. It's gotta eat. By that rate, Pidgey is Dark-type, because it eats Caterpie. What's up with Generation IV and Poison/Dark Pokémon that have no reason to be Dark-types?

Skorupi and Drapion
They're dizzy from playing too much musical chairs.

By the way, Generation IV featured a total of four purple scorpions, and Game Freak managed to mess up all their types. We previously talked about Gligar and its evolved form Gliscor, which was newly introduced in Generation IV - together with Skorupi and Drapion, two all-new purple scorpions, in case you wanted more. Gligar still isn't Poison-type despite being poisonous, but it is a Ground-type; Gliscor isn't a Dark-type despite being Dracula, but it is a Ground-type; Skorupi isn't a Ground-type despite being described as living under the desert sand, but it is a Poison-type; and Drapion isn't a Ground-type despite also living in the desert, but it is a Dark-type for no reason. Why are these purple scorpions playing musical chairs with their types?

Since we're at it, allow us to also mention how incongruous Skorupi and Drapion are to the worldbuilding of Generation IV. Despite being described as living in the desert, they were introduced as part of the local fauna of the region of Sinnoh, which is cold and snowy. Not only that, but Skorupi and Drapion can only be caught in the Great Marsh, the protected wetlands of Sinnoh. They live in the least arid and least desert-like part of the entire Pokémon World known so far. What the fuck?

Toxicroak
Toxicroak

Anyway, going back to the new Poison-type combinations of Generation IV, these games also added Croagunk and Toxicroak, which are based on the poison dart frog crossed with a fighter, and are as such Poison/Fighting, which is both a new type combination and a cool concept, so, there's that. Yay, finally something new and worth the wait!

On the other hand, in Generation IV, the Poison ailment loses the only bite it really ever had: now your Pokémon cannot faint due to Poison while you walk around in the overworld. Their health will still drain, until they get to one last health point, and then a message will pop up announcing that they magically recovered from the Poison. So, no longer must we go as fast as we can to a Pokémon Center, taking the most direct route and counting our steps, desperate to spare our friend a gruesome fate. Now, it's just, whatever, it's poisoned, but it can heal itself. That's good for our Pokémon but, it now means we don't need to worry about the Poison ailment that much at all.

Amoonguss
In particular, this Pokémon can fuck off.

Then the next generation came along, and Generation V was again intended as a reboot, so back we go to redoing the Pokédex and redoing all the Pokémon in the same niches, so, once again, we're treated to a bunch of Bug/Poison and Grass/Poison and pure Poison, as always. Sigh. And at this point, the Poison ailment doesn't even go through the show of draining your Pokémon's health down to one point as you walk around in the overworld - Poison now has no effect outside of battle.

At least in the meanwhile that the Poison-type Pokémon and the Poison ailment get more and more nerfed, Game Freak added a lot of new and interesting Poison-type moves. Toxic Spikes functions like Spikes but poisons any switched-in Pokémon, Gastro Acid melts off the opponent's ability, Gunk Shot is essentially the Fire Blast of the Poison type, Clear Smog is like Haze but also damages, Sludge Wave is the Poison-type Surf, and Venoshock is an attacking move that hurts more if the target is poisoned. Gross, but good.

Sylveon and Croagunk
Sylveon doesn't care.

Surprisingly, a minor revival of the Poison type happened in Generation VI, as a side effect of the addition of the Fairy type. The magical giggling fairies find the belching and retching Poison-types absolutely disgusting, and as such are weak to Poison-type moves. Fairy-types don't have many other weaknesses, making this especially notable.

However, the Fairy type is essentially the Psychic Type Lite, and most Fairy-type Pokémon can and will learn Psychic-type moves, which they can use to obliterate the Muk that you finally got out of the computer.

So, this means that Poison-type Pokémon are still sadly not recommended, but at least now Poison-type moves have a new use, and they have diversified enough that they are more fun and exciting to add to your repertoire - so feel free to try the newly introduced Belch to terrorize the fairies by blasting them away with 120-power berry-fueled stink hurricanes.

Skrelp
And here it sticks out like a sore thumb among the living seaweed.

Generation VI and VII finally added some interesting new Poison type combinations. Skrelp is another take on the leafy sea dragon, like Seadra, but it is actually a Water/Poison-type this time rather than just Water, and it even evolves into a Dragon-type in the same generation in which it is introduced, rather than needing an evolution tacked on later to fix the mistake. It is poisonous because it pretends to look like rotten seaweed.

Salandit
Pompeii is doomed.

Generation VII added Salandit and Salazzle, which are poisonous magma in the form of a salamander, and get to be Poison/Fire. They have the so-far unique ability of Corrosion, which makes them able to inflict the Poison ailment on other Poison-type Pokémon or even Steel-type Pokémon.

Salazzle

As an aside, but when else are we going to talk about Salazzle... only female Salandit, which are rare, can evolve into Salazzle. This is a lot like Combee from Generation IV, in that finding a female one is also rare, but only female Combee can evolve into Vespiquen. However, they felt the need to design Salazzle to be male-gaze ultra-sexy feminine. With makeup, eyelashes, and heart-shaped pink flame patterns over the bustiest bust Pokémon can sneak by, and a pink spot between the thick ladylike thighs. Yes, alright, it might be based on the mo'o, which is a Hawaiian shapeshifting dragon succubus, but when the designers were looking through the list of Hawaiian myths and stories to find ideas for their creatures, maybe they could have avoided tackling this one on account of the fact that Pokémon are friendly critters for everyone and the games now even let you pet them... Besides, if you don't already know the story of the mo'o, it's just a particularly gross female-only design that we didn't need.

Nihilego
Nihilego parasitizing on Pikachu

Generation VII also introduced some Poison-type Ultra Beasts. They are Nihilego, Poipole, and Naganadel. This is the first time that something that may or may not be counted as Legendary Pokémon is typed as Poison. Yes, every other type had at least one Legendary Pokémon to represent it... except for the poor, neglected Poison type. We got a plethora of Dragon Legendaries and Steel Legendaries and two Legendary Fire Birds in a row and a yet-uninterrupted stream of Psychic Legendaries... but no Legendary Poison-type. For being the once most common type, it didn't get any respect.

Nihilego is a Rock/Poison jellyfish, which is both Poison in the sense of being a jellyfish with stingers, and also Poison in the sense of being a parasite that produces neurotoxins and can corrupt the mind of its host. Nice. Not sure why it is part Rock-type (because it is made of glass?), but it really nailed being a Poison-type.

Poipole and Naganadel
Even the artist of this TCG sleeve felt the need to de-emphasize Naganadel's syringe-cock

Another Ultra Beast is Poipole, a little asshole of a baby purple dragon that has a pointy tail and sprays poison from the needle-like appendages on its head. Poipole is apparently one of the starter Pokémon of an alternate dimension, ooo. In its own strange world, starters must not necessarily have three stages since Poipole is only part of a two-stage line, and, assuming that the type chart of Poipole's dimension works the same way as ours, and that trainers are offered a choice of starter out of three that form a perfect type triangle, we can presume that the two other unknown starter Pokémon of Poipole's dimension must be a Grass-type and a Ground-type. One other feature of this mysterious dimension that we can gather from Poipole's design is that apparently, in that dimension, the Pokémon games are rated X, because Poipole evolves into Naganadel: a big purple dragon with a literal syringe-cock, which it uses to shoot poison that is specifically described as being sticky. Naganadel looks like it came straight out of some awful hentai. What the fuck indeed.

These Pokémon were designed by that American guy who is also responsible for Vanillite and Vulgina , so, figures. Can Game Freak kick him out already? Please?

Naganadel
If Game Freak were to fire that guy, he'd stop making offensive Pokémon designs, and he could instead go back to bingeing on hentai. Everybody wins!

All this just making us wonder, why wasn't there a Poison-type Legendary Pokémon back during its heyday in Generation I, before Game Freak got a complex about making new Poison-type Pokémon and before they hired that guy? And then we realized, that they did make the perfect Legendary Poison-type Pokémon, even though it isn't actually a Poison-type.

What would be a better candidate for a Legendary Pokémon exemplifying the idea of corruption than a Pokémon created by mutating and torturing the pure quintessential ancestor Pokémon? A Pokémon born out of humans playing god, just to see if they could, and with no goal except raw power? A Pokémon whose existence is the epitome of humanity's lack of caring in general, and that of Team Rocket in particular?

Mewtwo

Mewtwo could have been the most badass Poison-type legendary Pokémon. We imagine it could have been a Psychic/Poison-type instead of pure Psychic. Sure, this would have changed everything, and it would have made Mewtwo not quite so overpowered, but we're not entirely sure that would have been a bad thing, and we are enjoying this thought experiment.

But that's not what happened, and the Poison type gets no respect.

Notes

  1. The idea came to us during development. Battles would get monotonous if there were only strong and weak Pokémon, so by affixing types to the Pokémon we were able to give the fighting more depth. There were also characters that were born of their types.
    Ken Sugimori (Game Freak Staff Interview: Creating the Pokémon)
  2. He needed to design a Pokémon that would be a resident of the Pokémon World's version of New York City, and all this genius could think of was a literal ice cream cone. Thanks, asshole. Why not New-York-style pizza and a cheesecake while you're at it? That would still be crap, yet would be more New-York-y than vanilla ice cream with a face.
  3. The female-only vulture Pokémon with eyelashes and an apron known as Mandibuzz in English is known as Vulgina in Japanese. This stellar individual chose to name this Pokémon a mash of Vulture, Vulva, and Vagina. Bulbapedia tries to make the case that it's vulture plus regina, but this guy is American. This is the same person who made the sticky poisonous dragon penis syringe. You can't tell us he didn't know what he was doing.
  4. Seadra is another of those Pokémon that is said to be poisonous but is not a Poison-type, and it's also said to be a dragon and it's not a Dragon-type, so we'll rant more about that in detail another time in another page.

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