Pokémon Movepool Oddities & Explanations

Permission from Codraroll


We all play a game where right from the start, we are introduced to the idea of the commonplace rat being able to fire off powerful thunderbolts, chilling snowstorms and breathe fire. We are introduced to the concept of a Turtle being able to control the very oceans. We find out about birds and beasts who are revered as legends throughout the land yet we can capture them in a tiny ball that fits conveniently right on our utility belt.

And yet in such a weird universe we can't help but question why on earth does Bagon get Hydro Pump?

Yes, today this thread's purpose is not only pointing out the weirdness in Pokémon Movepools - such as my personal pet peeve of Zekrom, Reshiram and Kyurem not getting Earthquake but Ekans being given full control of our seismic plates - but perhaps coming up with explanations why they get them in terms of flavour. This could cover why a Pokémon gets a certain move, why a Pokémon doesn't get a certain move, or just some general strangeness perhaps connecting to a signature move. There are a lot of things to consider such as Game Freak perhaps being a little lax in their decision-making, weird event moves like Surf Pikachu for the sake of being weird event moves, and things like Normal-Types have a trend of having extraordinary movepools in general - and perhaps discussion could be generated on those trends as well. Irregardless, as a collective of nerds on a Competitive Pokémon forum it is our solemn duty to solve these mysteries once and for all, so let's get cracking.
 
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Okay, speaking of Surf. Surf is learnable by the following Pokemon that are fully-evolved and not Water or Ice type:

Aggron, Audino, Bouffalant, Diggersby, Dragalge, Dragonite, Exploud, Furret, Garchomp, Gogoat, Hariyama, Haxorus, Hydreigon, Kangaskhan, Latias, Latios, Lickilicky, Linoone (HM Slave), Lugia, Mew (of course), Miltank, Nidoking, Nidoqueen, Pangoro, Raichu, Rampardos, Rayquaza, Rhyperior, Slurpuff, Snorlax, Stoutland, Stunfisk, Tauros, Tyranitar.

How do any of these--aside from Mew being Mew and Furret and Linoone being HM slaves--surf? Especially Rhyperior which is 4x weak to Water?
 
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Okay, speaking of Surf. Surf is learnable by the following Pokemon that are fully-evolved and not Water or Ice type:

Aggron, Audino, Bouffalant, Diggersby, Dragalge, Dragonite, Exploud, Furret, Garchomp, Gogoat, Hariyama, Haxorus, Hydreigon, Kangaskhan, Latias, Latios, Lickitung, Linoone (HM Slave), Lugia, Mew (of course), Miltank, Nidoking, Nidoqueen, Pangoro, Rampardos, Rayquaza, Rhyperior, Slurpuff, Snorlax, Stoutland, Stunfisk, Tauros, Tyranitar.

How do any of these--aside from Mew being Mew and Furret and Linoone being HM slaves--surf? Especially Rhyperior which is 4x weak to Water?
Well, Snorlax is heavy, but he's also very much body fat. If I'm correct, Body fat is buoyant enough to float in water, so depending on how much of Snorlax's body is fat, he could float in water, which seems to be the main criteria for Surf given how the HM is depicted.

Also, Dragalge and Lugia at least are aquatic Pokemon, so being able to swim/travel through water should be natural.
 
Okay, speaking of Surf. Surf is learnable by the following Pokemon that are fully-evolved and not Water or Ice type:

Aggron, Audino, Bouffalant, Diggersby, Dragalge, Dragonite, Exploud, Furret, Garchomp, Gogoat, Hariyama, Haxorus, Hydreigon, Kangaskhan, Latias, Latios, Lickitung, Linoone (HM Slave), Lugia, Mew (of course), Miltank, Nidoking, Nidoqueen, Pangoro, Rampardos, Rayquaza, Rhyperior, Slurpuff, Snorlax, Stoutland, Stunfisk, Tauros, Tyranitar.

How do any of these--aside from Mew being Mew and Furret and Linoone being HM slaves--surf? Especially Rhyperior which is 4x weak to Water?
I think a few of these can be explained by buoyancy - to put it simply, fat floats. This would easily explain cases like Snorlax, Hariyama and Lickilicky having access to it.
You also have Dragalge and Lugia who have rather obvious connections to the sea - why isn't lugia water-type again - Garchomp who is very clearly based off a shark - though why can't krookodile learn surf...? - Stunfisk who is found in marshy places, and then finally Dragonite who evolves from sea serpents.

Don't ask me how Gogoat surfs
 

Karxrida

Spirit of Laziness
is a Community Contributor
Assuming we're allowed to talk about missed opportunities, Clawitzer should have gotten Sonic Boom, Vacuum Wave, and Heat Wave. The pistol shrimp is the loudest creature on the planet, clocking in at over 220 decibels (louder than a jet engine) when it snaps its claw shut because it does it so fast. It also creates a small vacuum (called a cavitation bubble) when it does so because it pushes the water extremely fast, which also happens to create a burst of heat as hot as the surface of the sun (albeit for only an extremely short period of time).

Here's a video that probably explains it better.
 
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Well, I have to use the anime for Snorlax:

Ash's Snorlax has been shown to be a strong swimmer, so Surf isn't that strange.

Here's a real mystery: why does Emboar learn Scald? I understand the burn aspect of Scald, but nothing else abut Emboar works with the move.
 

Karxrida

Spirit of Laziness
is a Community Contributor
Well, I have to use the anime for Snorlax:

Ash's Snorlax has been shown to be a strong swimmer, so Surf isn't that strange.

Here's a real mystery: why does Emboar learn Scald? I understand the burn aspect of Scald, but nothing else abut Emboar works with the move.
Surf have nothing to do with swimming when used as an attack, it just summons a wave of water. Presumably manipulating said wave lets obvious non-swimmers carry their trainer around?

Fly on Doduo and Dodrio.
Slash on Diglett and Dugtrio.
Ghastly's elemental punches.
Sandshrew with Poison Sting. Where does the poison come from, and what exactly does it 'sting' with?
Pupitar and Shelgon can learn bite. Eh, what do they bite with?
Diglett and Dugtrio are based off of moles, so they probably have claws.

Here's another one; why the heck do Amarua and Aurorus get Thunder Wave via level-up and Discharge via breeding? Last time I checked dinosaurs aren't electric eels.
 
Surf have nothing to do with swimming when used as an attack, it just summons a wave of water. Presumably manipulating said wave lets obvious non-swimmers carry their trainer around?
But Surf isn't just an attack. In the game, its main draw is that it helps the trainer on the field, so the main criteria for whether or not a Pokemon can learn Surf isn't 'Is it plausible for it to summon water?' but 'Is it plausible for it to swim?'

Here's another one; why the heck do Amarua and Aurorus get Thunder Wave via level-up and Discharge via breeding? Last time I checked dinosaurs aren't electric eels.
Maybe it's something to do with the fact that they're based on aurora borealis, so they'd have the ability to manipulate aura/wave-y things?
 
Well, I have to use the anime for Snorlax:

Ash's Snorlax has been shown to be a strong swimmer, so Surf isn't that strange.

Here's a real mystery: why does Emboar learn Scald? I understand the burn aspect of Scald, but nothing else abut Emboar works with the move.
Well, the obvious explanation is boiling water, but it does beg the question where Emboar gets enough water to actually expel an attack.

I'm not picturing Emboar chugging a glass of water and then doing a spit take.
 
One thing that's really notable about Pokemon moves is how closely Gamefreak seems to hew to the "flavor" of the move (especially its name, in Japanese of course) when distributing it. So you get things like a Pokemon known for its glowing tail not getting Tail Glow because the Japanese name involves fireflies, or basically everything with a cutting surface learning a Aerial Ace because it's the name of a sword technique.

I like how GameFreak actually did their research for once, and knew that electric eels are actually closely related to catfish, and thus gave 'Spark' as an egg-move for Barboach. It just seems rather clever to me.
Also, electric catfish are a real thing.
 
Well, the obvious explanation is boiling water, but it does beg the question where Emboar gets enough water to actually expel an attack.

I'm not picturing Emboar chugging a glass of water and then doing a spit take.
That was my exact point. I get the scalding part, but not the water part.
 

Pikachu315111

JAPE Judge!
is a Community Contributoris a Smogon Media Contributor
Okay, speaking of Surf. Surf is learnable by the following Pokemon that are fully-evolved and not Water or Ice type:

Aggron, Audino, Bouffalant, Diggersby, Dragalge, Dragonite, Exploud, Furret, Garchomp, Gogoat, Hariyama, Haxorus, Hydreigon, Kangaskhan, Latias, Latios, Lickilicky, Linoone (HM Slave), Lugia, Mew (of course), Miltank, Nidoking, Nidoqueen, Pangoro, Raichu, Rampardos, Rayquaza, Rhyperior, Slurpuff, Snorlax, Stoutland, Stunfisk, Tauros, Tyranitar.

How do any of these--aside from Mew being Mew and Furret and Linoone being HM slaves--surf? Especially Rhyperior which is 4x weak to Water?
The main problem here is with the Pokemon who are weak to Water (except for Stunfisk, though its an odd Pokemon in general. It lives in mud even though its weak to both Water and Ground, what?).

As Karxrida pointed out, if you read the text for Surf it doesn't have anything to do with swimming (at least in battle). It could be possible the Pokemon weak to Water who can learn Surf are heavily plated on the outside of their body that just water touching them doesn't hurt. It's when Water is blasted at them does it start to hurt. Thus why they can summon a wave (I imagine them punching the ground causing a geyser to blast out of the ground to form a wave) or swim in the water yet a simple Bubble attack hurts.

I like how GameFreak actually did their research for once, and knew that electric eels are actually closely related to catfish, and thus gave 'Spark' as an egg-move for Barboach. It just seems rather clever to me.
Barboach and Whiscash always looked like an Electric-type to me for some reason. I think its the electric blue color they use, Barboach looking like an eel, and Whiscash having yellow and a "lightning bolt" like pattern on its head (and it's now a W for Whiscash because its Japanese name start with N).

On the same note of research, it's also why even male Gogoats learns Milk Drink. Some breeds of goats strangely have the male able to lactate. So looks like they didn't need to make Gogoat an all female species like Miltank thanks to a technicality. ;)

Fly on Doduo and Dodrio.
Slash on Diglett and Dugtrio.
Ghastly's elemental punches.
Sandshrew with Poison Sting. Where does the poison come from, and what exactly does it 'sting' with?
Pupitar and Shelgon can learn bite. Eh, what do they bite with?


Okay, being serious maybe they're just jumping very high? Like how originally Superman didn't fly but was just able to make building tall and wide leaps?


Karxrida is right about Diglett/Dugtrio having claws, they just dig so fast we don't see them. Notice they can also learn Aerial Ace for this same reason.

Maybe Gastly can form a fist with the gas around its body? Sort of like what Koffing originally did in some of its artwork.

Well all Pokemon can learn Toxic so it seems like every Pokemon can create poison naturally. Also there are some species of shrew which are poisonous. As for how does it sting, usually Poison Sting is shown as the Pokemon firing Poison energy needles so it could just fire it from its mouth (though I imagine it spinning real fast and firing the needles. Just because the shell plating isn't sticking out doesn't mean they attached skin tight to the body)

No idea how Pupitar and Shelgon can Bite. If we go by what we see in the games though they just create a pair of jaws out of Dark energy. That's often how I say a Pokemon without the proper body part to do a move they learn uses the move. How does Primeape use Iron Tail? Well it creates a tail out of Steel energy.

Here's a real mystery: why does Emboar learn Scald? I understand the burn aspect of Scald, but nothing else abut Emboar works with the move.
Better question, considering its a pig, do you want to know?

Here's another one; why the heck do Amarua and Aurorus get Thunder Wave via level-up and Discharge via breeding? Last time I checked dinosaurs aren't electric eels.
As rufusdrumknott said, auroras are made up of charged particles.
 
Yay, the thread is real!

The whole elemental movepools of the Chansey and Rhydon families are pretty crazy. Hi, I'm a swimming stone rhino, and she's a caring nurse who can shoot fire from her mouth or lighting a la Emperor Palpatine.

More nitpicky, I can't really see Shellder and Cloyster spinning rapidly.

Emboar I don't get too. It would make sense if a lot of fire types had Scald like they have Solarbeam. Perhaps he's an heavy drinker?

EDIT - Another thing: Drain Punch distribution. Machamp and Hariyama don't get it, while Slurpuff of all things can learn it.
 

DHR-107

Robot from the Future
is a Community Leaderis a Community Contributoris a Live Chat Contributoris a Pokemon Researcheris a Smogon Media Contributor
Orange Islands
Let's be honest... Most animals (mammals especially) are fairly adept swimmers regardless of their body type/shape. It makes sense a lot of "humanoid/bipedal" Pokemon can surf. I was more disappointed in the fact they changed the Rhydon guy in Ecruteak to a Psyduck in Gen 4 :(

There is a Rhydon which uses Surf in the anime as well, Vs Ash and Paul at that random partner Tag Team tournament. Rhydon just summons a wave a rides it, while his friends Magmar uses protect.

More obvious ones are things like Iron Tail Primeape (Mankey has a tail so can learn the move) and Aerial Ace going to a huge amount of Pokemon. Hariyama learning Brine is a really interesting take on Sumo as well. Salt is a huge part of proper ceremonial Sumo wrestling, and getting Brine into the moveset is a nice nod to that.
 
Well, the obvious explanation is boiling water, but it does beg the question where Emboar gets enough water to actually expel an attack.

I'm not picturing Emboar chugging a glass of water and then doing a spit take.
The mental image this inspires reminds me, according to Bulbapedia, Emboar looks like it's wearing a wrestling singlet, so ... maybe it's spitting out the water it drinks in between rounds? That'd actually be such a cool touch on its design.
 
Salt is a huge part of proper ceremonial Sumo wrestling, and getting Brine into the moveset is a nice nod to that.
And with that, it just occurred to me why Brine inflicts double damage to those at half health or under. Imagine water saturated with salt being poured onto your recently sustained wounds.


Ouch.

On another note, the move Gunk Shot is often a staple of Poison Types as the best STAB they've got at times. Yet Pokémon such as Infernape, Ambipom, Primeape and the three elemental monkeys can learn it too. Now consider, Gunk Shot involves throwing trash at opponents, and what do these Pokémon have in common? They're all monkeys. And monkeys are sometimes well-known for flinging their feces at people . . .

And yes, all of the above Pokémon DO learn Fling as well.
 
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Okay, speaking of Surf. Surf is learnable by the following Pokemon that are fully-evolved and not Water or Ice type:

Aggron, Audino, Bouffalant, Diggersby, Dragalge, Dragonite, Exploud, Furret, Garchomp, Gogoat, Hariyama, Haxorus, Hydreigon, Kangaskhan, Latias, Latios, Lickilicky, Linoone (HM Slave), Lugia, Mew (of course), Miltank, Nidoking, Nidoqueen, Pangoro, Raichu, Rampardos, Rayquaza, Rhyperior, Slurpuff, Snorlax, Stoutland, Stunfisk, Tauros, Tyranitar.

How do any of these--aside from Mew being Mew and Furret and Linoone being HM slaves--surf? Especially Rhyperior which is 4x weak to Water?
Well, see the attached image for how Tauros surfs.

Additionally, why doesn't Typhlosion learn Earth Power? I mean, the animation looks like a volcano exploding underneath the earth and Typhlosion is the Volcano Pokemon!

I said this in another thread also, but Hawlucha should be able to learn Brave Bird. Isn't its whole gimmick being a brave warrior/wrestler? I mean, I'd even take Drill Peck for Hawlucha since it clearly has a beak. It would also give it a usable option over Acrobatics (Life Orb Drill Peck is about as strong as itemless Acrobatics).
 

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