What are some moves that are extremely rare in certain generations?

I got to thinking about this the other day after I was playing Silver and my Togepi used Razor Wind via Metronome. Crystal was my first Pokemon game which I've played on and off since 2001, but I realised I'd never seen the animation for Razor Wind in any of the Gen II games, largely due to the fact that no Pokemon learns it naturally; it can only be obtained by trading a Pokemon which learned it via TM in RGBY. There are a few other moves like this, such as Submission, Pay Day, Horn Drill, and Fissure (all moves which were learnable by TM in Gen I, but which few Pokemon learn naturally in later gens). Aeroblast and Sacred Fire are also elusive in Crystal, as while Ho-oh and Lugia can be caught, both come at too high a level to know them.

So which moves are notably hard to find in certain games and generations? To give another example, Nightmare is completely unobtainable in Ruby and Sapphire - not only does no Pokemon learn it, but it can't even be used via Metronome since no Pokemon in those games learns that either. What are some other notable examples you can think of? Moves like Doom Desire, Psycho Boost, and Hyperspace Hole/Fury don't really count since they're mostly event-exclusive: I'm thinking more of commonplace moves that simply aren't seen very often due to poor distribution.

(&& please, no Gen VIII talk)
 
Cut, of all moves, became inexplicably rare in Generation VII; the only Pokemon that is able to learn it is Kartana. Otherwise, you’ll have to transfer something up that’s learned it if you’re so inclined. It has never been learned naturally before Kartana, yet it was nearly ubiquitous and one of the most definitive moves because of the burden it was as an HM.

Frankly, seeing Cut die out is incredibly catharctic for all the torment of wasted moveslots and having to catch HM slaves it brought me for 6 generations in a row. Good riddance, please never come back.
 
Waterfall’s an interesting example, being so rare in its debut generation that many people weren’t aware of its existence until it became an HM in Gen II.

It was the signature move of Goldeen and Seaking, learned at level 37 and 39, respectively. Since Waterfall was a strictly inferior version of Surf until Gen IV, when it became physical and gained its flinch chance, it was basically pointless as a move in the original games.

Edit: I just thought of another example: Gen II AncientPower. The only Pokémon that learn it by level up are fossil mons, legendaries, and Corsola. Lance’s Aerodactyl knows it tbf, so it arguably doesn’t quite fit this thread, but it’s not a move that’s easy to see used on your side of the field.

Fossils are completely unobtainable in GSC, Corsola doesn’t learn it till level 43, Ho-oh and Lugia don’t learn it till level 88, and Mew and Celebi are event Pokémon.
 
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It actually has Rock Slide (illegal move if you were wondering) instead of Ancient Power.

So it arguably does fit the thread better than you imagined.
Weirdly enough, it knows both!

E: And while I can’t really remember how the Gen II AI works, I can’t imagine a situation where Lance would preference Ancient Power over Rock Slide, unless your Pokémon was at low enough health that the choice didn’t matter, meaning you could easily avoid seeing the move ever being used in GSC.
 

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Substitute in Gen 2 and Ruby/Sapphire, where it isn't a TM or tutor free to learn. Barely any enemies will use it, so it's hard to see in general. In Gen 2, you'd probably see it by transferring from Gen 1 for most users. Mr. Mime learns it naturally, but at level 11 and his wild encounter in Kanto is at level 28, where Substitute is barely edged out of the learnset. Apparently you can get a lower level Mime as a prize in the Celadon game corner in GS, but at that point you have a full party ready to beat the game.

In Ruby and Sapphire, Mr. Mime is out of sight and now only Kecleon gets this move at Level 40, so you need to put some time into raising one to get it. Technically a bunch of Pokemon will also learn Substitute via egg move, but you really have to know what egg moves are/be seeking that out for a specific moveset, not something you'd stumble upon easily.

EDIT: Ninja'd. Here's another one, Gen 2 Psych Up. You'll likely only find this by raising the 3 species that learn it naturally, even though it's a TM. And you probably won't even learn it. The thing is that you get the TM exclusively by trading an Abra from Gen 1 so that it'll hold it in Gen 2. Some other Pokemon do this, but TM09 is the only one limited to this source. The natural learners aren't that great either. Psyduck gets it before it evolves (31), but Hypno learns it rather late (55) and Espeon is around the middle (42) and will get it at about the end of Johto if you're using it.
 
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Eruption and Water Spout in gen 3 and DPP. Strange because they're *really* good moves.

Only five things learn Eruption: Camerupt, Groudon, Torkoal, Entei and the Typhlosion line. In gen 3, only the former three learn it -- Camerupt is a bit lame for ingame use and not a good user of Eruption, so you probably won't see it. Maxie has one in Ruby, but it's two levels too low to know it in the final fight. Groudon learns it too late for you to realistically reach that level, and Torkoal only gets it as an egg move. In gen 4, Typhlosion and Entei get it, but Entei can only be gotten from FRLG (a pain to get due to a crippling glitch) or Pokemon Colosseum. Typhlosion can only be gotten from doing an endgame challenge in XD, from an event, or completing the entire Pokedex in Emerald. I wouldn't be at all surprised if there were people who first learned of the move's existence from the Heatran event.

It's not until HGSS where it's a practical move for Typhlosion in ingame runs (partly because you get the Choice Specs fairly early), you can reasonably use Entei during normal gameplay, and Groudon in SS knows the move upon encountering it. As a fun fact: Soul Silver is the only game where it is possible to acquire every currently legal user of Eruption.

Water Spout is the same deal, but only two things get it until gen 5: Wailord and Kyogre. Kyogre is an infamous user of the move, but it doesn't get it until level 75 in gen 3 and level 80 in DPP. Unless you catch and train it in Emerald, you probably won't learn it. Wailord gets it at a reasonable level, but it's not a particularly tough opponent, so it's unlikely to stay in battle long enough to use it, and few people use it themselves because there are better Water options. I can't remember any NPC ever using it.

Once again, this is slightly remedied in HG, where Kyogre knows the move when encountered in the wild.
 
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Wailord gets it at a reasonable level, but it's not a particularly tough opponent, so it's unlikely to stay in battle long enough to use it, and few people use it themselves because there are better Water options. I can't remember any NPC ever using it.
Wallace uses a Water Spout Wailord in his Emerald Champion battle, but yeah aside from that Eruption and Water Spout are practically non-existent outside of battle facilities.

The OHKO moves all go through phases of being very hard to find, depending on what Pokémon are included in the latest regional Dex. They’re usually learned at high enough levels that a) the player won’t see them without a fair bit of grinding or delaying evolution and b) no regular trainer is likely to have access to them (except for those random PIs in DPPt with Pokémon that know Horn Drill at like level 30).

In particular, RSE features no trainers with Pokémon that know Fissure, and while Wallace has a Seaking in RS that knows Horn Drill, Juan doesn’t in Emerald and no one else uses the move. RSE also has no trainers that use Guillotine, to my knowledge, and Sheer Cold is limited to Glacia’s Walrein. The player can raise Pokémon that learn these moves (e.g. Crawdaunt, Pinsir, Walrein, Camerupt, Glalie, Whiscash, Groudon, Kyogre), but they’re neither particularly accessible nor particularly useful for in-game purposes.
 
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EDIT: Ninja'd. Here's another one, Gen 2 Psych Up. You'll likely only find this by raising the 3 species that learn it naturally, even though it's a TM. And you probably won't even learn it. The thing is that you get the TM exclusively by trading an Abra from Gen 1 so that it'll hold it in Gen 2. Some other Pokemon do this, but TM09 is the only one limited to this source. The natural learners aren't that great either. Psyduck gets it before it evolves (31), but Hypno learns it rather late (55) and Espeon is around the middle (42) and will get it at about the end of Johto if you're using it.
Psych Up's a good one. Wild Golduck in Mt Silver have it - I remember constantly running into them and waiting for them to use the move because I had no idea what it did.
 
Kinesis in Pokémon Red & Blue specifically is probably the best example you can have of a rare move. Why? Because nothing learns it.

Literally no Pokémon in the entire game is capable of learning Kinesis at all, not even Kadabra/Alakazam, and no trainers have any Pokémon with it. This means that the only way of ever seeing this move by normal means is with Metronome.

This was fixed in Yellow, where Kadabra and Alakazam both learn it at level 1, and Kadabra now can be found at Route 8, at an early enough level that it can have the move. It's still quite rare (and very useless), but at least it's not essentially unused anymore.
 
Do event exclusive moves count? Cos I reckon a lot of people haven't heard of Celebrate, Hold hands (though their z versions are useful) and especially Hold Back (it's just false swipe again).

Tail glow probably passed a lot of people by, Volbeat isn't exactly common and Manaphy certainly isn't. Xurk is a bit more accessible but I'd hazard that a fair few people thought it was a signature move for the UB upon discovery. Some people still think this was introduced as Manaphy's signature move but it was Volbeat's first.

Egg bomb in Gen I is not learned through level by any mon, can only be learned by Chansey and Exeggcute line through tm

Conversion and Conversion 2 are signature moves so obviously they are rare but given how hard these mons were to obtain in their original gens, a lot of people probably never saw these moves. Sharpen applies here too, another one that almost nobody remembers.

Miracle eye was introduced in Gen IV but only the Abra line had it in DPP, with only Natu (off the beaten track) and Mewtwo got it in HGSS so that one definitely went unnoticed.

Magic Room was only available to the Goth line and fucking Lunatone in BW though it did become a tutor move in the sequels.

Fairy lock is the signature move of Klefki. Crafty shield was too but Magearna, Chimecho and Yamask now learn it too.

Honestly there are a bunch of weird psychic and fairy moves like Guard Split or Aromatic mist that are fairly exclusive but I'm not going through all of them.

Finally Clamp, Cloysters signature move until gen III. Even now it's only available to the Clamperl evolutions and Barbaracle.
 
Do event exclusive moves count? Cos I reckon a lot of people haven't heard of Celebrate, Hold hands (though their z versions are useful) and especially Hold Back (it's just false swipe again).
I mentioned event moves in the first post, they're not really what I'm thinking of - though of course in earlier gens you could use them via Metronome; a lot of them tend to be un-callable in later gens.

Tail glow probably passed a lot of people by, Volbeat isn't exactly common and Manaphy certainly isn't. Xurk is a bit more accessible but I'd hazard that a fair few people thought it was a signature move for the UB upon discovery. Some people still think this was introduced as Manaphy's signature move but it was Volbeat's first.

Egg bomb in Gen I is not learned through level by any mon, can only be learned by Chansey and Exeggcute line through tm

Conversion and Conversion 2 are signature moves so obviously they are rare but given how hard these mons were to obtain in their original gens, a lot of people probably never saw these moves. Sharpen applies here too, another one that almost nobody remembers.

Miracle eye was introduced in Gen IV but only the Abra line had it in DPP, with only Natu (off the beaten track) and Mewtwo got it in HGSS so that one definitely went unnoticed.

Magic Room was only available to the Goth line and fucking Lunatone in BW though it did become a tutor move in the sequels.

Fairy lock is the signature move of Klefki. Crafty shield was too but Magearna, Chimecho and Yamask now learn it too.

Honestly there are a bunch of weird psychic and fairy moves like Guard Split or Aromatic mist that are fairly exclusive but I'm not going through all of them.

Finally Clamp, Cloysters signature move until gen III. Even now it's only available to the Clamperl evolutions and Barbaracle.
Signature moves don't really count as rarely-seen though. They have a reason to be rare - they're restricted. I was thinking more of moves that lots of Pokemon learn but for whatever reason are rarely seen, ie Submission (although I know I mentioned Aeroblast and Sacred Fire as examples, my bad).

The various Psychic moves are good examples, though - I keep being surprised by the existence of moves like Speed Swap or Wonder Room.
 
I mentioned event moves in the first post, they're not really what I'm thinking of - though of course in earlier gens you could use them via Metronome; a lot of them tend to be un-callable in later gens.



Signature moves don't really count as rarely-seen though. They have a reason to be rare - they're restricted. I was thinking more of moves that lots of Pokemon learn but for whatever reason are rarely seen, ie Submission (although I know I mentioned Aeroblast and Sacred Fire as examples, my bad).

The various Psychic moves are good examples, though - I keep being surprised by the existence of moves like Speed Swap or Wonder Room.
Ok fair enough. As a replacement how about submission. After being a tm in Gen I, it dropped off the face of the Earth. It's only learned by level by the Machop line, Poliwrath and Pinsir. Cyndaquil got is an egg move in Gen II exclusively and the Chimchar line and the Drilbur line now get it.
 
Doesn't really count since it's spin off, but in Mystery Dungeon had 2 exclusive moves only learned by TMs: Vacuum Cut and Wide Slash
Former is pretty poor, only doing set 35(Gen 3)/18 (Gen 4) hp damage to mons in the whole room
Latter on the other hand had high base power, 10 pp, 88% accuracy, 12% crit rate, and can strike the 3 tiles facing you at once. It can hit through walls as well, making the pesky ghost types unable to hide. It and Vacuum cut are the "None" type, so nothing resists or is super effected by it (Shedinja still can though)

Main issue is the only way (without wondermail) to get WideSlash, you can only get it in the future in Explorers as a random spawn. Rescue Team it and Vacuum Cut are Wondermail only rewards. Weirdly Magikarp and a few mons can learn it despite not learning other TMs

After Wiiware these moves were never again in the following Mystery Dungeon titles
 
Icicle Spear is funny in Gen III, especially considering how bad it was at the time. There are 4 Pokémon who have it as an Egg move (Seel, Shellder, Swinub and Corsola), but the only way to breed it onto them is to catch a male Shellder (the only Pokémon who learns the move naturally in Gen III) in FireRed, and only FireRed - for whatever reason, Shellder's level-up movepool doesn't include Icicle Spear in any Gen III games other than FR/LG, and it isn't even available in LeafGreen since it's a version-exclusive.

All that effort for a move that has a 1 in 8 chance of being half as strong as Ice Beam. At least it can KO the mighty Sunkern through a Substitute!
 
Icicle Spear is funny in Gen III, especially considering how bad it was at the time. There are 4 Pokémon who have it as an Egg move (Seel, Shellder, Swinub and Corsola), but the only way to breed it onto them is to catch a male Shellder (the only Pokémon who learns the move naturally in Gen III) in FireRed, and only FireRed - for whatever reason, Shellder's level-up movepool doesn't include Icicle Spear in any Gen III games other than FR/LG, and it isn't even available in LeafGreen since it's a version-exclusive.

All that effort for a move that has a 1 in 8 chance of being half as strong as Ice Beam. At least it can KO the mighty Sunkern through a Substitute!
I wasn't really online much when Ruby and Sapphire were out but FRLG/Emerald weren't yet released - did people notice there were unobtainable moves in the game code? (Volt Tackle also springs to mind since Pikachu couldn't get it until Emerald.) As you say, very odd...

Also, Psywave is another example from Gen I that hasn't been mentioned yet: Sabrina gives it out as a TM in RBY, but nothing learns it naturally and in Gen 2 it's so poorly-distributed that Bulbapedia counts it as Misdreavus' signature move - and even then, it only gets it at level 1 so you'll only get it if you breed. A bunch of Pokemon get the move in later gens, but quite a few of them learn it at level 1 (the Lati twins get it but obviously aren't available so low-levelled) so you'd rarely see it unless you used a move relearner (and likely wouldn't bother teaching it anyway as there are far better options). Only occurred to me now as I'm about to breed a Koffing on Pokemon Crystal and noticed that it gets it as an Egg Move for some reason.
 
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I wasn't really online much when Ruby and Sapphire were out but FRLG/Emerald weren't yet released - did people notice there were unobtainable moves in the game code? (Volt Tackle also springs to mind since Pikachu couldn't get it until Emerald.) As you say, very odd...
Yup, if you dig around on old forums/archives soon after R/S's release you can find references to "the 5 unobtainable moves" (the 3 elemental Hyper Beams, Icicle Spear, and Volt Tackle).
 
Gen 6 introduced a lot of odd moves that kind of fit the bill. Like ignoring the signature moves, how about Rototiller?
Have you ever heard of Rototiller, at all? Probably not, outside of "man why is this a move" and "this is a new move" discussions like this one.

In gen 6 it is available on exactly 7 pokemon naturally and another 6 by breeding. But for the natural learners they're all at level 1, so you have to go out of your way to relearn it AND they're all on evolved Pokemon.

In gen 7 it is at least on Mudbray at level 8. Its moveset is such you'll see it even at its highest level on the initial route, but I am not sure I've ever seen ones in the wild use it because, well. It will raise attack & special attack of all grass type pokemon that are grounded and will fail otherwise. It's never on deck for special double battles or totem battles, either.
Tapu Bulu learns it at level 38, but you fight it at level 60 and by that point it has 4 other moves so it kicks it off.

It's just this super weird move. Gen 6 you are just straight up never seeing it unless you go out of your way for it. And in gen 7 you will probably see it on Mudbray and then immediately remove it and forget it exists because no notable trainers use it to show off how it even works. & the one grass type pokemon you get who uses it, has no real business using it and you still have to go to the move reminder to even get it.
 
Wallace uses a Water Spout Wailord in his Emerald Champion battle, but yeah aside from that Eruption and Water Spout are practically non-existent outside of battle facilities.

The OHKO moves all go through phases of being very hard to find, depending on what Pokémon are included in the latest regional Dex. They’re usually learned at high enough levels that a) the player won’t see them without a fair bit of grinding or delaying evolution and b) no regular trainer is likely to have access to them (except for those random PIs in DPPt with Pokémon that know Horn Drill at like level 30).

In particular, RSE features no trainers with Pokémon that know Fissure, and while Wallace has a Seaking in RS that knows Horn Drill, Juan doesn’t in Emerald and no one else uses the move. RSE also has no trainers that use Guillotine, to my knowledge, and Sheer Cold is limited to Glacia’s Walrein. The player can raise Pokémon that learn these moves (e.g. Crawdaunt, Pinsir, Walrein, Camerupt, Glalie, Whiscash, Groudon, Kyogre), but they’re neither particularly accessible nor particularly useful for in-game purposes.
From DPP onwards it depends on whether there are Gambler-style trainers in the game.

Let's Go had some of them. The Gambler near Vermilion City has a Diglett that knows Fissure and ONLY Fissure, for example.
 
Just thought of another couple of examples: Spikes. Despite being introduced in Gen II, only Pineco and Forretress learn it in GS, relatively late at 43 and 49 respectively. Nothing learns it by breeding; Cloyster gets it at Level 33, but only in Crystal. Qwilfish (which gets it at level 1 in Crystal, but not GS) can be caught at Level 15 during a Swarm, but still won't have it as Tackle, Poison Sting, Harden, and Minimize all come before Spikes in its moveset. The only opponent which has it is Koga's Forretress, so it's very easy to miss. Gen III made it somewhat more widespread, with Cacnea, Skarmory, and Deoxys-D all getting it, as well as Omanyte and Snorunt via breeding.

The second is Spark, which for ages I was convinced was introduced in Gen III instead of II. If you never used Raikou after catching it, you'll miss it; the only other Pokemon to get it are Chinchou or Lanturn, which no opponent uses and won't know the move when caught (Chinchou in Olivine City are caught at Level 20, while Lanturn can typically only be caught at Level 40 using the Super Rod; both Pokemon learn it at Level 25). Gen III makes it far more widespread; practically every Electric-type gets it as an early move at some point (you'll see it in Wattson and Surge's gyms). And Barboach gets it via breeding... an odd choice, unless there's some flavour-related reason I'm not aware of.
 
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