Best New Moves of Each Generation

By Deck Knight. Art by Magistrum.
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Captain Falcon said it best: "Show Me Ya Moves!" A huge aspect of competitive battling has always been movepool, and Pokémon has always had some moves that outshine the others—moves that your team is required to be prepared for you don't want to lose. This article will go over the most iconic moves of the five generations, and what makes them so good.


Of course, there are a lot of different kinds of moves. Two categories stand out though: attack moves and support moves. In determining which moves are the best, we need to be clear in what we're measuring. Some moves that are epic today were entirely useless when they first debuted (Roar comes to mind), so for the purposes of this article, moves will be grouped by the generation they were introduced and why they are among the best moves in generation 5.

Selection is based on a combination of power, distribution, and the need to prepare for the move. Therefore, moves like Earthquake, Ice Beam, and Scald will be on the list because they have a lot of users, are used STABed and unSTABed, or in the case of Scald their effect is just too stupidly good to pass up. Moves like Hydro Pump don't make the list because as good as they are, even in rain, they are limited mostly to STAB users and have poor accuracy, mediocre coverage, or other significant drawbacks.

Generation 1

The generation that started it all naturally has a high baseline for relevant attacks. These attacks started in RBY but have become staples in every generation.


Blizzard / Ice Beam
Freeze has always been a nasty status, and back in RBY, Blizzard was one of the most prolific moves for its 90% accuracy and 120 Base Power. From Generation 2 onward it dropped down to 70% accuracy, and Ice Beam took over as a component part of the "BoltBeam" coverage combination. Blizzard is still seen primarily on Hail teams, but otherwise expect Ice Beam to be used.
No single move has an entire typing, ability, move, and item (all of which are used to varying degrees) designed to counter it and yet it remains a staple move on many sets, STABed or unSTABed, because of its impressive coverage, accuracy, and power with no drawbacks. Ground weakness is the single most relevant contributing factor to why the only Steel types in OU are ones which are either neutral or immune to Ground courtesy their secondary typing or else run Balloon or even Magnet Rise to escape it.
Explosion / Selfdestruct
Mentioned together because they were the original kamikaze attacks. These moves have always been so powerful that the one-for-one Pokémon payoff was always worth the effort, as smart play would guarantee a second KO.
Fire Blast
For many generations, Fire Blast was pound for pound the best coverage move available. In RBY, its 30% burn chance was helpful in taking down foes, and in later generations, its 85% accuracy, 10% burn chance, and ability to smolder Steel-types made it a top selection on set filler. Along with Earthquake, Fire Blast is the other reason you can't just stack your team with Steel-types for all their resistances—even auto-rain hasn't reduced Fire Blast's presence.
Hi Jump Kick
Hi Jump Kick didn't catch its break until Generation 5, but on paper it was also the single best Fighting attack in Generation 1. Granted its only competition for that spot was Submission, and its only user was Hitmonlee which competed with the superior Machamp. Still, the frightening power of the move today makes it a move not to be taken lightly. Hi Jump Kick was one of the primary contributors to Blaziken's ban.
Thunder / Thunderbolt
Thunder didn't hit its heyday until Generation 3 Ubers, where infinite rain became available to make Thunder both powerful and reliable. Nonetheless in Generation 5 it is a staple on rain teams for its sheer utility in both damage and the 30% paralysis chance. Thunderbolt has seen less use since auto-rain became a regular feature of battles, but as a component part of "BoltBeam", teams should always come prepared for it.


Agility has been the basis for several sweeping sets, taking Pokémon with powerful innate offense and turning them into speed demons.
Light Screen / Reflect
Initially, these were boosts to the Pokémon that used them, but in later generations they created the dual screens strategy utilized by hyper offense to break down the opponent. Their inability to be removed by phazing also helped them fit in the metagame, and there are still a fair few support Pokémon that use one or both in their sets.
Leech Seed
Leech Seed is a move that could make or break the viability of a Grass-type Pokémon. Pokémon that had Leech Seed could be expected to be more viable because it did double-duty as both healing and damage, and because it preyed most effectively on opponents with very high HP, it's a one-move response to Chansey, Blissey, and quite a few more very bulky Pokémon.
Recover / Softboiled
The first 50% healing moves made quite a splash on Alakazam and Chansey, respectively, and have been moves any defensive Pokémon that can access them have used throughout all the generations as a key part of stall.
The healing move that almost every Pokémon gets. Rest in Generation 1 was barely used at all because it left the user so vulnerable, but it became a progressively more viable move over the generations as Sleep Talk and then boosters that increased offensive and defensive stats started being introduced.
Roar / Whirlwind
Although these moves were literally useless in Generation 1, in subsequent generations they combined with entry hazards and ever more prevalent stat-boosters to become staple moves on a variety of teams. The phazing strategy was an excellent counter to many strategies, and Circle Throw and Dragon Tail expanded on this by trading utility against Substitute for utility against Taunt.
Substitute started out with very limited functionality, but by Generation 2, it had already become one of the best moves in the game, sacrificing 25% HP for complete status immunity and the ability to survive any incoming attack, no matter how strong, while also ensuring weak attacks did not break the Substitute. This made Substitute crucial for frail and bulky Pokémon alike.
Swords Dance
Like Agility above, Swords Dance has been the basis for several sweeping sets by taking Pokémon with decent Speed or sufficient bulk and turning them into serial OHKO machines, or otherwise making their priority attacks powerful enough to clean out an opponent's weakened team completely unanswered.
Thunder Wave
The quintessential crippling move, Thunder Wave has appeared on the sets of almost every kind of Pokémon imaginable, from bulky walls to support sets on otherwise offensive Pokémon. Accurate paralysis with wide distribution is too good to pass up, and the only type that is immune to it tends to have very slow Pokémon otherwise. The existence of Thunder Wave along with the usefulness of Earthquake is what made fast Ground-types so useful.
Toxic really did not receive its heyday until Generation 2, when Toxic mechanics were fixed and bad poison didn't revert to regular poison. Regardless, Toxic's status as a sweep limiter is not in dispute, and it is a favorite of bulky Pokémon with recovery because of its ability to ensure victory in a stall war.

Generation 2

Generation 2 added a lot of new things to Pokémon, including Dark- and Steel-types and all kinds of new passive strategies.


ExtremeSpeed was the first high-powered priority move, and although its distribution was low, its power proved to be exceptional, and it is thus a staple or option on any Pokémon with access to it.
Hidden Power
No other move has changed the way Pokémon is played than Hidden Power, which provided specialized coverage to sets well worth the small cost to a few stat points. Hidden Power is likely the reason breeding took off.
Megahorn's significance is both historic and presently relevant. Like Fire Blast, this is a move that has high power and useful accuracy and keeps a number of strong threats in check.
Outrage took a generational shift in Generation 4 before it became a viable move on its own, but it is presently one of the most powerful moves in the game for the sheer force it can deliver against almost any opponent. We will see how common it gets in Generation 6 when it now has a type immune to it.
Pursuit also benefited mostly from Generation 4's physical and special split, as barring Houndoom most of its users preferred using physical attacks. Either way, the ability to punish switch-outs by knocking them out on exit proved invaluable for many strategies.


Baton Pass
Baton Pass began an entirely new kind of strategy that allowed faster stat boosters to pass off strength or Speed to bulkier allies that did not have access to those boosters. Entire teams were based around Baton Pass because of its supreme utility in easing switch prediction and maintaining momentum.
Heal Bell
Heal Bell was the first team support move to arrive, and its ability to remove Rest-induced sleep and nasty status is what invented the Pokémon description known as the "cleric."
Moonlight / Morning Sun / Synthesis
Weather was introduced in this generation, and while the weather moves themselves are decent support, it's really the weather-based healing moves that earn a top slot as "best" moves. Even today, weather support itself is relegated to maintaining advantage, but Pokémon that can heal under them are one of the reasons those weathers are always kept up.
Perish Song
Perish Song also created its own strategy, and Perish-trapping was for many generations one of the nastiest combinations going. Even now, the ability to put opponents on a 3-turn timer can stop sweeps cold.
Rapid Spin
The counterpart to Spikes below, Rapid Spin increased in utility with each new entry hazard, and even though its power was weak, having power at all would prove invaluable in later generations for reasons seen below.
Sleep Talk
The other half of Rest + Sleep Talk, RestTalk had its debut in GSC with the almighty Curselax, which could Curse up to impressive stats and Rest away damage in a nearly unstoppable sweep. As attackers became more and more powerful, RestTalk became harder to execute, but the strategy still lives in Generation 5.
Spikes began the era of entry hazard management and is still one of the nastiest entry hazards to date. Even when there was only one layer in GSC and two decent users, Spikes found its place on teams because it whittled bulky opponents down and made the very act of switching have a much higher competitive cost.

Generation 3

Generation 3 was more groundbreaking in its changes to stats and addition of abilities, as few of the moves broke new ground (most were stat boosters), but it is not without its shining examples.


Brick Break
While supplanted in later generations by more powerful moves, Brick Break's niche of breaking dual screens has always served it very well on Pokémon that do not have a stronger Fighting-type option. Fighting has always been an excellent coverage type, and Brick Break's special niche always gave it a boost.
Facade was introduced the same generation as abilities, but it really took off when status orbs were introduced in Generation 4 and it could be combined with Guts for a strong, nearly unresisted attacking option.
Focus Punch
Focus Punch was notable for its combination with Substitute and its ability to punish switch-ins by making the cost of not damaging the opponent directly very high. As the metagame has become more fast-paced and offense-oriented, Focus Punch has become more risky to use, but a properly-placed Focus Punch is as devastating as it has always been.
The precursor to Draco Meteor, Overheat was used as an extremely high-powered, coverage-relevant attack with a high risk-to-reward ratio. While it is seen less often in Generation 5 OU, its utility against most Steel-type threats is not to be undervalued.
Although Superpower's internal mechanics are not helpful, once it got high distribution it started appearing on many Choice Band sets because it could provide that instant, accurate, type-relevant KO to so many of its users.


Bulk Up / Calm Mind / Dragon Dance
These three stat boosters started where Agility and Swords Dance left off, except they also boost Defense or boost both Attack and Speed. Each came to be the defining boosting move of several Pokémon and can still be found on sets today.
Taunt is one of the moves that became its own monster by preventing all other forms of support. Taunt has been used by both offensive Pokémon to prevent opponents from removing their boosts via phazing (Gyarados is the best example of this) and by bulky walls to an opponent from recovering or setting up their own entry hazards (Taunt Skarmory). For this reason, Taunt is almost always an option on any Pokémon that gets it.
Trick is one of the most disruptive moves ever created and benefited the most in Generation 4 when Choice Specs and Choice Scarf were introduced. The ability to simultaneously cripple an opponent while gaining their more helpful item, along with the synergy the initial item might create, makes Trick one of the best moves out there.
Generation 3 introduced the first direct burning move, and like Toxic and Thunder Wave before it, many of the Pokémon that used it were very effective at crippling their opponents. Ghost-types in particular enjoyed their access to Will-O-Wisp, as most were physically frail and unlikely to win stall wars.
Wish was the first move that allowed Pokémon to pass healing to each other, and as a result further enhanced the "cleric" position while simultaneously creating a combination with Protect and Baton Pass to an extent.

Generation 4

Generation 4's biggest contribution was the physical and special split, and it created a host of new attacks to fill in the gaps caused by it.


Close Combat
This move became staple on any fast sweeper that got access to it, given its only weakness as a move is making you fold to a light breeze. Solution: Just wipe out everything before it can hit you.
Draco Meteor
Draco Meteor's stupid level of power combined with the fact almost everything that gets it has a way to smash Steel-types into the dirt made it a very popular move for breaking down walls. It's not even that weak afterward if you really need to finish off an opponent. Too bad it isn't going to work on Fairies next generation.
Focus Blast
The fact everyone complains about Focus Miss and yet still use it on OU sets indicates that while 70% accuracy sucks, 120 Base Power special Fighting attacks do not.
Power Whip / Wood Hammer
I've probably written at least four articles referencing how terrible Solarbeam is for a Grass STAB. These two attacks gave Grass a competent and accurate attack that really let Grass press its advantages against Water-, Rock-, and Ground-types.
Stone Edge
Stone Miss is one of the most hated attacks in OU for the sheer number of times that 80% fails, or that 12.5% of the time it crits when it actually does hit. It doesn't have the consistency of Earthquake, but it does have the coverage to justify its continued use.
Sucker Punch
Before ExtremeSpeed got its priority upgrade, Sucker Punch was making waves on several Pokémon, more often in UU but still present because it could strike for a lot of damage and ruin opponents trying to revenge kill.
The single biggest contributing factor to Scizor usage, U-turn's ability to do competent damage and capitalize on switches made it the defining move in what would later be the VoltTurn strategy.


Nasty Plot
Special attackers finally got a useful move with decent distribution, and while the existence of Blissey made it harder to use, it found its own niche.
Roost is what turned the Flying typing on most Pokémon into a monstrous advantage by giving them their own special recovery move. The most famous user is Skarmory, which probably wouldn't be OU without it.
Stealth Rock
Possibly the most significant attack of the fourth generation, Stealth Rock made any Pokémon weak to Rock instantly less viable in OU, and its residual damage to almost all Pokémon makes it part of the core of almost any good team, sending opponents into the KO range of sweepers.
Toxic Spikes
While certainly less powerful than Stealth Rock, Toxic Spikes was able to find its own niche as a way to significantly shorter the lifespan of grounded threats and made Toxic itself less needed on more defensive teams.
Trick Room
Trick Room has few Pokémon that can set it up competently in a good set, but no other move can turn a battle on its head in so short a time as this one. Reuniclus is its most notable initiator, and flipping Speed in a metagame with so many Speed-based threats gives it a lot of disruptive power.

Generation 5

It's tough to improve on Generation 4 in terms of new attacks, as so many concepts were covered and each generation had already built up new strategies. Generation 5 still had a few tricks up its sleeve, but what is notable is that what Generation 5 lacks in variety, it makes up for in power.


This is the story of Hurricane. A move that made rain teams even more incredibly threatening by providing an additional power move that completely rolled over Grass-types resistant to Hydro Pump and Thunder. The 30% confusion chance is just icing on the cake for anything that survives the initial damage. Hurricane was a contributing factor to getting Tornadus-T banned.
Psyshock / Secret Sword
Special attacks that were calculated against physical Defense were the beginning of the end for Blissey's viability. While it is still around, stat boosters with access to these moves no longer have to fear the pink blob, and that is notable all on its own.
Possibly the most hated attack of all time, Scald is a 30% burn move with decent Base Power that gets boosted in rain. Already you can hear its siren song of "Hax!" echo throughout OU.
I don't even know what would possess Game Freak to make such a move. 180 Base Power / 95 accuracy is just trolling, man. This put the V in oVerkill.
Volt Switch
Volt Switch created a counterpart to U-turn that worked in sync with it, and gave great aid to Rotom formes especially. Even Pokémon like Forretress that can't use it properly as an attack still use it because it prevents loss of momentum.


Circle Throw / Dragon Tail
These phazing moves traded the ability to get around Taunt for being stopped by Substitute, but they are decent moves in their own right and received distribution to quite a few Pokémon that appreciated the ability to phaze, like Milotic, Poliwrath, and Flygon.
Shell Smash / Shift Gear / Quiver Dance
Generation 5 was the generation of obscene stat boosters. Even Tail Glow and Cotton Guard became +3 boosts. Although these attacks are all different, they are each used to enable sweeps and share the common quality of being absurd in principle. One thing for sure is that you can't ignore them.


Each Generation has had the chance to make its mark on Pokémon movepools. While a lot of moves were covered, some of the ones ignored are quite powerful, but simply don't have enough distribution to justify preparing your team for them. Spore certainly makes Breloom a threat, but teams don't prepare for it because it simply isn't common enough. These moves represent the cream of the crop in the 5th Generation, the moves you should look out for when building your teams and choosing moves for your Pokémon.

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