Every Pokémon type has its strengths and weaknesses, but Dark-type Pokémon are among the best. They are not as good as they were in the past, but they are still solid Pokémon. But what are the weaknesses of Dark-type Pokémon?
Dark-type Pokémon were weak to only two Pokémon types in Pokémon Gold, Silver, and Crystal: Bug and Fighting type. Yet, starting with Pokémon X and Y, Dark received a new weakness — Fairy — to make Dark-type Pokémon more balanced.
Let’s check out Dark-type Pokémon’s weaknesses more in-depth, as well as how to mitigate these weaknesses.
What are a Dark-type Pokémon’s weaknesses?
As mentioned, Bug, Fighting, and (as of Pokémon X and Y) Fairy types are the biggest threats to Dark-type Pokémon. Further, Fairy and Fighting types take half damage from Dark-type attacks. But how threatening are these types?
As most who play Pokémon will know, move types are not restricted to their respective Pokémon. Charmander uses Fire-type moves, but it also learns Dragon-type moves through leveling up. Additionally, it can learn other moves through Technical Machines and Hidden Machines. Thus, any Pokémon may pose some threat to a Dark-type, so long as it can use one of the Dark-type Pokémon’s weaknesses. The downside of this is the Same-Type Attack Bonus (STAB). This means that when a Bug-type Pokémon uses a Bug-type move, it does .5x more damage than normal.
As far as threats, Fairy and Fighting-type Pokémon are often pretty powerful. Bug-type Pokémon are not quite as strong, especially compared to Dark-type Pokémon. Yet, there are some Bug-type Pokémon and moves that hit like a truck. One example is Heracross (which so happens to be Bug and Fighting, so watch out!).
What are the strengths of a Dark-type Pokémon?
Dark-type Pokémon do best against Psychic and Ghost Pokémon. They are quite powerful in their own right, and part of the reason why the designers introduced the type. A Pokémon mixed with Psychic or Ghost and Fighting, Bug, or Fairy would have some trouble with Dark types. It doesn’t help that Dark types are immune to Psychic attacks. Examples of these kinds of dual-type Pokémon include:
- Medicham (Fighting/Psychic)
- Marshadow (Fighting/Ghost)
- Mimikyu (Ghost/Fairy)
- Shedinja (Bug/Ghost)
- Orbeetle (Bug/Psychic)
- Hatterene (Psychic/Fairy).
How can Dark-type Pokémon mitigate their weaknesses?
In general, one of the best ways for a Dark-type Pokémon to deal with their weaknesses is move coverage. First, let’s go down the weaknesses of Fighting, Bug, and Fairy-type Pokémon.
- Fighting-type Pokémon do half damage to Poison, Flying, Psychic, and Bug-type Pokémon. Additionally, they do no damage to Ghost Pokémon. Meanwhile, they take double damage from only two types: Psychic and Flying.
- In Red and Blue, Bug-type Pokémon do half-damage to Fighting, Fire, Flying, and Ghost-type Pokémon. They also take double damage from Fire, Flying, Poison, and Rock moves. After this, until X and Y, Bug-type Pokémon did half-damage to Poison and Steel types. They at least lost the weakness to Poison-type moves. Finally, X and Y onward had it that Bug-type Pokémon do half-damage to Fairy types.
- Fairy-type Pokémon do half-damage to Fire, Poison and Steel-type Pokémon. Yet, they only have two weaknesses: Poison and Steel moves.
Particularly with Fairy and Fighting, no one move type hurts both, so you would have to pick one or the other. Yet, a Flying-type move helps deal with both Fighting and Bug-type Pokémon.
What dual-type Dark-type Pokémon are worth it?
From Pokémon Gold and Silver to Pokémon Black and White, a tricky type combination is Dark/Ghost. Sableye, debuted in Pokémon Ruby and Sapphire, and was quite resilient. At the time, it was the only Pokémon that had no weaknesses. That didn’t mean that it was an amazing Pokémon; while it has no vulnerabilities, its defense is somewhat low. Further, poison and good special attackers can do a lot of harm to it. Yet, it was a staple Pokémon back in the day, thanks also in part to its ability to recover health.
The next entry, Diamond and Pearl, added a new Ghost/Dark type Pokémon called Spiritomb. This Pokémon was not much better, though it had its own niche, and is a good counter to Psychic, Ghost, and Fighting Pokémon. By the time Pokémon Omega Ruby and Alpha Sapphire came out, Sableye got a clear advantage. This was thanks to getting the super-powered Mega Sableye form. Not only that, but both of these Pokémon were no longer free of vulnerabilities thanks to Fairy type.
As discussed above, Flying is a type that deals well with Fighting and Bug types. There are two non-Legendary Dark/Flying Pokémon: Honchkrow and Mandibuzz. But hich of these is the best fit? Honchkrow is a better attacker, but Mandibuzz is bulkier, so it depends on what you need it for. Flying typing cancels out Bug and Fighting moves, meaning that they do normal damage. From this point, you have to decide where you want to go with it. Do you want a defensive Pokémon? Or do you want one to go on the offense with a Sky Attack or Brave Bird?
What’s the most popular Dark-type Pokémon?
Two of the most popular Dark-type Pokémon in the series are Greninja from X and Y, and Incineroar from Sun and Moon. The former is a Water/Dark Pokémon, while the latter is Fire/Dark. These Pokémon were inevitably going to be popular, thanks to them being playable in Super Smash Bros. Greninja was added to Smash in Super Smash Bros. for Nintendo 3DS and Wii U, while Incineroar was added in the next entry, Super Smash Bros. Ultimate.
That said, these Pokémon are popular in the anime as well as the mainline games, particularly Greninja. Their other types, Water (for Greninja) and Dark (for Incineroar) are also pretty good. This is especially true for Incineroar, since Fairy and Bug types struggle with Fire. Another popular Dark-type Pokémon is Umbreon, one of the evolutions of Eevee. It’s not the strongest Dark-type Pokémon, but its design has made a lot of Pokémon fans fall in love.
Best Legendary Dark-type Pokémon
Legendary Pokémon tend to be powerful, but Dark-type Legendaries are uniquely tough. There are few Dark Legendary Pokémon, limited to:
- Galarian Moltres (a version of Moltres in Pokémon Sword and Shield’s downloadable content)
There is also Arceus, but only when it holds an item that transforms it into a Dark-type. Of those, we’d reckon Darkrai is among the most popular, at least design-wise. It does have a very cool aesthetic, after all. It doesn’t hurt that Darkrai is tough, restricted only to Uber in competitive Pokémon. This is true for most Legendaries, but not all.