The world of Pokémon is usually bright and cheerful, but it can also be incredibly dark and frightening. Here’s our list of the 10 scariest Pokémon that you wouldn’t want to cross paths with on Halloween (or ever, if we’re being perfectly honest).
Top 10 Scariest Pokémon: The “Rules”
When it comes to ranking the scariest Pokémon, there are some ground rules that need to be established first. The reason is simple: some Pokémon are innately horrifying. Who isn’t going to faint at the sight of Beedrill, an aggressive wasp with spear-arms that’s just over three feet tall? If Pokémon Legends: Arceus taught fans anything, it’s that basically every Pokémon is scary if given the right environment. Pokémon that are frightening due to stature or their scary concept creature are excluded from this list, otherwise nearly every Pokémon would be an honorary mention at the very least.
Similarly, there are Pokémon that are described in ways that are definitely shocking, sometimes even merciless, but they’re not quite “scary.” To name two, Gliscor gives a satisfied look after draining all the blood out of its prey, and Gorebyss cruelly sips its prey’s body fluids with its needle-like mouth. But this is simply the way of nature. Of course Gliscor is going to be satisfied with a full belly, and even Gorebyss needs to eat. But fear of being at the bottom of the food chain is markedly different than the fear of the true unknown, the inconceivable, and the unnatural. This list will go over the 10 scariest Pokémon based on reasoning that wouldn’t be possible in the real world—or at least, we hope they wouldn’t be.
Top 10 Scariest Pokémon Honorable Mentions: More Sad than Scary
Sometimes a Pokémon is more sad than it is scary. Cubone’s Pokédex entries all center around its skull helmet, which is actually “the skull of its deceased mother,” according to Pokémon Yellow. As the series continued, the Pokédex added details about how Cubone cries whenever it’s lonely or thinks about its mother, going so far as to stain its skull with its tears.
If that all wasn’t tragic enough, Pokémon Sun and Moon describe how Cubone’s cries attract Mandibuzz, a Pokémon that uses the bones of its prey to make its nest and to cover up Vullaby. Any number of Vullaby or Mandibuzz you come across may be wearing the skull of a Cubone’s mother as an accessory—and the Cubone’s bones along with it.
Yamask is another Pokémon well known for its depressing Pokédex entries. Pokémon Black establishes that its mask “used to be its face when it was human,” and that Yamask will sometimes look at the mask and cry. The Gen 5 sequels continue the lore of Yamask as a human-turned-Pokémon by describing how they all retain the memories of their past lives.
This already sad state of affairs gets even worse in Pokémon Shield, with the Pokédex entry, “It rambles through ruins, searching for someone who knows its face.” Yamask itself may not be a particularly scary Ghost-type Pokémon, but it certainly reminds us of one of life’s greatest fears: the fear of being forgotten.
Another little guy who’s more sad than scary is Phantump. Pokémon Shield tries to make this tiny tree stump out to be a frightening specter by detailing how it attempts to get adults lost in forests. But it’s missing important context that was present in Pokémon Ultra Sun, where it’s explained that Phantump wants people to get lost in the forest so it can become friends with them.
Even sadder is the old fable described in Pokémon Y about how Phantump are “stumps possessed by the spirits of children who died while lost in the forest.” Phantump doesn’t mean to harm or haunt anyone—it’s a just lonely child who simply wants a friend.
Top 10 Scariest Pokémon
Normally, Hydreigon wouldn’t qualify for this list. It’s a highly destructive Pokémon, but so are plenty of others, including legendary Pokémon like Giratina. It mindlessly destroys and devours anything in front of it, but so does Guzzlord and even Swalot. But there’s been recent discoveries that elevate Hydreigon to true terror status: Pokémon Violet posits that Hydreigon’s brutality isn’t innate, but is rather a result of generations of tragedy. The people of the past assumed it was “evil incarnate” without warrant and decided the best course of action would be to attack Hydreigon endlessly. This side of Hydreigon’s story proves that the only thing scarier than unfounded hatred is the monster that’s born out of it.
Following on the idea that the scariest monsters are the ones we’ve made ourselves, Banette is a classic contender among the ranks of Pokémon’s scariest specters. Its lore centers around how “cursed energy” entered an abandoned toy, resulting in the grudge-bearing Banette. Haunted toys are always fear-inducing, and Banette is no exception. You never want to hear that the toy you threw away when you were a little kid who didn’t know any better is now seeking you out “so it can exact its revenge,” but that’s exactly what Banette does.
There is an upside to all of this, however: Banette’s Pokémon Ultra Moon Pokédex entry claims that it will return to its uncursed, stuffed toy form if it’s treated well. Banette serves as two important reminders: treat your belongings with care, and don’t discard—donate.
Froslass has a wide assortment of frightening tales in its repertoire, including how its favorite food are souls of men, and that it will place “deathly curses on misbehaving men.” But no one is exempt from what is Froslass’s most fearsome quality: it freezes people it finds on snowy mountains and uses them to decorate its home. There’s a chance the people remain preserved in the ice, unable to pass on, trapped as decorations for the rest of time.
Some in-game sources claim that Froslass “only goes after men it thinks are handsome” when looking for new house decorations, but that doesn’t make things much better: if Froslass gets you, it’s an eternity being a glorified ornament. If Froslass passes you over, it’s a lifetime of a bruised ego.
Ruins, ancient burial chambers, mummies… These are all things that people find scary even though there’s no logical reason for it. Cofagrigus, however, gives people a reason to fear them. Firstly, just seeing it walk is enough to send someone to the afterlife: it crawls like a crab across the floors and walls. No doubt anyone seeing that within a confined chamber would faint immediately, making them easy prey for the Cofagrigus, a Pokémon that literally eats people. But this is a different kind of feasting compared to Pokémon out in the wild: Cofagrigus does this not for sustenance but instead “to teach lessons to grave robbers.” Its favorite food isn’t even people, it’s gold nuggets.
While a frozen eternity is arguably a worse fate than being consumed by Cofagrigus, what makes Cofagrigus slightly scarier than Froslass is how it supposedly “no longer remembers that it was once human,” according to the Pokémon Sword Pokédex. Tragically, Yamask’s greatest fear will someday come to pass: it will forget itself, lose its humanity (literally), and, as a Cofagrigus, indistinguishable from all other Cofagrigus, no one else will remember it, either.
Jellicent combines the scariest elements of reality and the supernatural: deep sea creatures and ghosts. These haunted jellyfish drag ships of all sizes down into the depths where they are lost without a trace. That is, until Pokémon Black 2 and White 2 posited the theory that “there’s a castle of ships Jellicent have sunk on the seafloor.” It turns out those crowns on Jellicent’s head aren’t for show. In fact, Pokémon Shield’s Pokédex explains that its crown gets bigger the more souls it’s absorbed. It’s already bad enough to see a Jellicent (or even worse, an entire school of them) while out at sea. If you see one with an especially large crown, it may already be too late for you, but you can at least rest easy (or not so easy, depending on what happens to the souls consumed by Jellicent) knowing your ship won’t be lonely at the bottom of the sea.
Yveltal should be an obvious choice when it comes to scary Pokémon. According to Pokémon Y and Alpha Sapphire, once its own life ends, “it absorbs the life energy of every living thing and turns into a cocoon once more.” Not only is the prospect of complete and utter destruction horrifying in and of itself, but it’s proof that its own eternal life, becoming a cocoon after its life ends, comes at the cost of the lives of everyone and everything else.
But if that’s the case, it means Xerneas is a true monster. According to lore, Xerneas can give to others eternal life—but at what cost? Living forever as those around you eventually pass on is already enough of a curse. On top of that, Yveltal—and even AZ’s Floette from X and Y—prove that eternal life, at least in the Pokémon world, comes at the cost of the lives of others. Someone with eternal life given by Xerneas may inadvertently cause the premature demise of the people around them as part of how they continue their undying existence.
The only thing keeping Xerneas from ranking any higher on this list is twofold: first is how legendary Pokémon tend to have their legends exaggerated. But seeing as how Xerneas, the eternal life-giver, was still able to power the life-ending Ultimate Weapon in Pokémon X, there’s likely more truth than fiction to these legends, and that’s truly horrific. The second point holding Xerneas back is that it’s not entirely understood if Xerneas gives eternal life willingly or not. If it can control its power, then it’s still a terrifying Pokémon, but at least Trainers who catch Xerneas won’t have to worry about waking up one morning with the curse of eternal life.
4: Litwick, Lampent, and Chandelure
Unlike some Ghost-type Pokémon, which start off rather tame and only become true terrors when they’re fully evolved, Litwick, Lampent, and Chandelure are all menaces. Litwick tricks people by pretending to be a guiding light, only to absorb their life force as they follow. Pokémon Shield thought this wasn’t bad enough, however, and added the detail that Litwick’s light burns brighter when it absorbs younger lives. Candelure burns up souls, dooming them to wander, lost, for the rest of time, but the person’s body is left behind, a literal hollow shell.
Lampent is an especially scary Pokémon: it goes out of its way to find souls to fuel its fire. It searches cities and follows people who are nearing their end, appearing at their side and taking their soul at the moment of their death. The most morbid description comes from the numerous games that explain how Lampent “hangs around hospitals waiting for people to pass on.” Even Hypno, one of the scariest Pokémon around, gets hired by hospitals to help patients who can’t fall asleep, according to Pokémon Ultra Moon. If you’d rather see a Hypno in a hospital, then you know Lampent is one scary Pokémon.
Something also worth noting is that Greavard is another candle-like Ghost-type Pokémon that can absorb the souls of people around it, but none of its Pokédex entries call attention to that fact. The unfortunate side effect of playing too much with Greavard was only revealed on the official Pokémon Scarlet and Violet website, and its evolution Houndstone similarly has very tame Pokédex entries. Litwick and its evolutions, however, are practically defined by their soul-absorbing abilities, making them just as cute, but far more frightening than the poltergeist pups.
Darkrai is generally considered one of the scariest Pokémon around, and it makes sense as to why. Not only does it look scary, it also besets upon others horrific nightmares. But is it really that bad? In reality, Darkrai “means no harm” when it gives people nightmares: it’s just a self-defense mechanism. And as downright horrific as some nightmares can be, they’re thankfully not real and will come to an end once you wake up.
That is, if you don’t come across a Musharna. The Dream Mist that is emitted from Musharna’s body can bring dreams to life—but dreams aren’t always pleasant. According to Pokémon Sword, anyone who approaches Musharna when its mists are dark will have their nightmares become reality. This idea isn’t newly established by Sword and Shield, either: this ability is shown off at the beginning of Pokémon Black and White. A Musharna in the Dream Yard is able to use an image of Ghetsis to scare away the Team Plasma Grunts that are hurting a Munna. This implies Musharna has some level of control over its mist, and can make someone’s nightmares into a reality at will. Pokémon Shield’s Pokédex entry insists you should leave it alone when it first wakes up because “it’s a terrible grump when freshly roused from sleep,” and it’s great advice to follow. Musharna might get back at you for bothering it before its had its morning coffee by making your worst nightmares real.
The fact that nightmares are entirely out of our control makes Musharna’s powers all the more frightening. By itself, Musharna is definitely one of the scariest Pokémon out there. But as a tag team with Darkrai, it’s even worse: considering Darkrai’s Ability Bad Dreams makes you take physical damage from your nightmare while you’re asleep, we can only imagine how dangerous such a nightmare would be if it became reality. It’s one thing to essentially be made to watch a horrific movie unprompted—it’s another issue entirely for it to become real.
Honedge is usually a strong contender when it comes to scary Pokémon: it’s a haunted sword that steals the life force of anyone who wields it. But its evolution Aegislash is a bit different. This regal sword and shield has the ability to “detect the innate qualities of leadership” within people, and “whoever it recognizes is destined to become king.” But in this case, it’s important to ask ourselves not what makes someone a great leader, but why an individual would benefit from choosing leaders directly.
The information about Aegislash recognizing leaders comes from Pokémon Y, but Pokémon X has a much more sinister Pokédex entry for the Royal Sword Pokémon: “Generations of kings were attended by these Pokémon, which used their spectral power to manipulate and control people and Pokémon.” It’s not a good look when a king’s Pokémon is using “spectral power” to manipulate everyone else. Why would an Aegislash’s king even need such an unethical advantage, if Aegislash can detect great leaders to begin with?
It turns out, Aegislash’s power to detect leaders may all be a ruse. Pokémon Shield’s Pokédex includes two anecdotes about Aegislash: first, that it used its powers of manipulation “to force people and Pokémon to build a kingdom to its liking,” and then that an Aegislash once drained its reigning king of his life, “and his kingdom fell with him.” Perhaps “innate leaders” are, to Aegislash, the people who are easiest to take advantage of. Aegislash selects kings to build up the kingdom it wants, then betrays them to take the kingdom for itself. There may be nothing left, but a ghost kingdom seems perfect for a ghost Pokémon. The sheer scope of Aegislash’s terror easily earns it the rank of second scariest Pokémon.
How can a cute little (or sometimes big) gourd-like Gougeist be the scariest Pokémon? You’d think its frightening counterpart Trevenant would take this spot, but Trevenant is actually a really chill tree: all it does is provide a home for Pokémon in the woods by letting them nest in its branches. Instead, it’s Gourgeist who earns the spot of the scariest Pokémon in the entire series—and it earns the spot easily.
Almost all of Gourgeist’s Pokédex entries describe a different sinister element of this unassumingly cute gourd. Gourgeist really does it all: eerie singing that curses anyone who hears it? Check. Joyful singing while it happily watches its prey suffocating in its hair-like arms? You got it. Knocking on people’s doors and sweeping away whoever answers? At this point, why not? Screams coming from its body that are supposedly “the wails of spirits who are suffering in the afterlife?” That’s not even the wildest one.
Gourgeist actually has an entire system in place for dragging people away into the afterlife. According to Pokémon Sword, Small Size Gourgeist pretend to be kids to trick adults. The Large Size Gourgeist pretend to be adults to whisk children away, something that Drifloon often tries and fails to do itself. “Best” of all, the Super Size Gourgeist “aren’t picky,” and will use their massive size to “forcefully drag anyone off to the afterlife.” Thinking back on it, those screams you hear from its body are probably all of its victims.
The kindness of Trevenant, likely brought about by its sad origins as Phantump, and the sheer horrific capabilities of Gourgeist prove beyond a shadow of a doubt that looks can be very, very deceiving, and that’s by far one of the world’s scariest truths.