For a long time, Pokémon has been using Poison-type Pokémon as almost standard-issue villains, and it’s a tradition that needs to come to an end. It’s becoming too predictable, and it’s unfair to the Poison-type itself to constantly be used by villains. The games could be much more creative than simply singling out the antagonists with the Poison-type moniker.
Poison Pokémon have been around since Generation 1 and have a fair amount of resistances, but are only super effective against Grass and Fairy-type Pokémon, making them more defensive than offensive, contrary to what the type suggests. Even though their Pokémon designs have gotten better since Gen 1, ever since Pokémon Red and Blue, Poison Pokémon are often wielded by shady-looking characters in the games.
Poison’s Villainous Reputation Started In Pokémon’s First Games
There have been a few Gym Leaders who used Poison as their signature type, however, the type still has a reputation for primarily being used by criminals. There are a lot of cool Poison Pokémon that haven’t been showcased much, and a lot that could be done with the type. The developers should stop using them as default villain Pokémon first, a trend that may already be starting to change, as in the new Pokémon Scarlet and Violet Team Star each have different types, only one of which is Poison.
Poison first started being used as a villainous type not only in the Pokémon games but in the anime series as well. Apart from Gym Leader Koga, whose use of Poison-types matches his ninja theme, Poison was primarily used by Team Rocket, the anime’s antagonists. No matter whether Pokémon‘s Team Rocket is still active, they ended up giving Poison-types a reputation that they have yet to fully escape.
Of course, in the anime, Jessie and James’ original signature Pokémon were their Ekans and Koffing, which eventually evolved into Arbok and Weezing. Admittedly, a snake and a living mass of poisonous gas make for good companions to villainous characters, however, even in the games, Team Rocket makes heavy use of Poison Pokémon, most notably Zubat and Golbat, who appear in a significant portion of Rocket rosters. Aside from the incredibly common Rattata, it’s probably the team’s most-used Pokémon. Also, in Red and Blue, Poison is more associated with Team Rocket than any other type.
This early exposure may be one of the reasons that Pokémon‘s Poison-types have remained stuck to villain teams in further generations. The player’s primary exposure to them came from facing their enemies. In fact, Yellow‘s exclusion of some Kanto Pokémon furthered this by making the Ekans, Weedle, and Koffing lines unobtainable in that game, relegating them to villains only. This early impression seemed to catch on if future games were any indication.
Pokémon Has Few Noble Poison-Users Compared To Villains
Pokémon has failed to balance the way that Poison Pokémon have been portrayed in the series. Even Dark-types, which are often viewed as villainous, have a good amount of noble representatives, the most famous being Sword and Shield‘s Spikemuth Gym Leader Piers and his sister Marnie. However, Poison-types have not had enough good users to counteract their overuse as villains in the franchise.
Every villainous team has seen plenty of Poison-types mixed in with their grunts’ rosters, especially Zubat. Even when teams are themed to a different type, like Aqua or Magma, Poison-types still find a way into their teams. Sword and Shield‘s DLC Trainer Klara was a unique Poison Trainer, but she was a rather spiteful and underhanded rival of the game’s protagonist during Isle of Armor. In the Pokémon Mystery Dungeon Explorers games, Team Skull is a group of minor antagonists made up of three Poison-type Pokémon, all of whom are immensely unlikable in addition to being irrelevant to the plot.
There are a few decent people who use Poison-types in the series, such as Koga, Roxie, and Nene from Conquest, but they are vastly outnumbered by villains. Poison-types have spent so much time in the hands of bad guys that Pokémon has built up very few noble Poison Trainers. Just because Poison Pokémon were the weapon of choice for the original antagonists, that doesn’t mean that the series can’t try to build up more good Poison Trainers. Pokémon‘s worst Bug-type attack got redemption, so Poison Pokémon could get theirs as well.
Poison-Type Villains In Pokémon Have Become Predictable And Unexciting
Due to how often Poison-types have been used by evildoers, fans have learned to be suspicious of any character that prominently uses Poison-types, or Poison Pokémon in spinoffs. In fact, the Poison-type villain is one of Pokémon‘s most tired tropes due to how often it has shown up. In order to avoid being too predictable, the developers would be wise to not only introduce more heroic Poison-users, but start putting forth some unexpected villains as well.
By mixing up what sorts of Pokémon could be used by antagonists in the series, new story opportunities could be introduced, and the games could subvert old assumptions. Changing things could lead to new horizons more intriguing than Pokémon‘s past story events. For example, the starter Pokémon of each generation are considered to be some of the series’ biggest icons, and aside from Blue and Silver in the first two generations, starters have almost always been wielded by friendly characters of high morals. Seeing such iconic Pokémon either being used by a villain or being evil themselves would be quite a shock, and the sort of shift that would make Pokémon‘s villains more interesting.
It’s time for Pokémon to move past the old standby of using Poison Pokémon for villains. There are a lot of options that the developers haven’t tried yet, and changing this would provide new gameplay experiences with villains using different tactics than they would with Poison. Poison-types deserve better than to be the perpetual bad guys of Pokémon, and the series has shown enough creativity to prove that it can be more innovative than repeating this trope.