Imagine you're a Pokémon happily minding your own business and doing pocket monster things, when Team GO Rocket snatches you up. Then, using some crazy technique that puts you in agonizing pain, they force you to obey their every evil whim. Now stop imagining, because that's exactly what's been going on in Pokémon Go since Team GO Rocket invaded the game in the summer of 2019. Setting up shop at PokéStops all over the map, Team GO Rocket has stolen some of the items you'd normally get from spinning the PokéStop, daring you to defeat their Shadow Pokémon to stop them.
What exactly are Shadow Pokémon?
A mechanic originally introduced in Pokémon Colosseum, Shadow Pokémon are Pokémon who have been corrupted to be forced into criminal endeavors. It's not hard to tell them apart from their normal counterparts as they have a purple aura around them and completely red eyes. They are in constant pain and need Pokémon trainers to rescue them and Purify them. Now that Team GO Rocket has invaded Pokémon Go, they've brought along armies of Shadow Pokémon.
How can you capture Shadow Pokémon?
You can only capture Shadow Pokémon by defeating Team GO Rocket in battle first. Once you've found a Team GO Rocket Pokèstop or a Team GO Rocket hot air balloon, you'll have to defeat a team of three shadow Pokémon, usually of the same type, with your own team of three. You can find more information on just how to beat Team GO Rocket in our Guide. However, once beaten, you will be able to attempt to catch a single Shadow Pokémon in the same way you would catch a Pokémon after a raid.
You'll receive a set number of Premier Balls for defeating Team GO Rocket with no fainted Pokémon and less if you lose some in battle, though that number can also be boosted with continuing success against Team GO Rocket.
Team GO Rocket Leaders
In addition to facing off against an endless run of Team GO Rocket Grunts, with the Rocket Radar and Super Rocket Radar, you can face off against three Executive Leaders of Team GO Rocket, and even Giovanni himself. These battles are even more difficult than the Grunts and change relatively often. For more on these battles, see our Cliff, Sierra, Arlo, and Giovanni Counters Guide now with Jesse and James too!
Purifying Shadow Pokémon
While you can keep Shadow Pokémon the way they are, you can also purify them. Purifying boosts a Pokémon stats and makes it easier to power them up. There are also achievements for purifying lots of Shadow Pokémon, as well as research rewards for doing so.
All it takes to purify a shadow Pokémon is Stardust and Candy. The amount of Stardust and Candy varies depending on the rarity of the Pokémon, and given that Stardust is one of the most necessary items in Pokémon Go, you might be selective about which Shadow Pokémon you Purify. In general, the cost of purification is dependent on walking distance. If a Pokémon earns a Candy per kilometer, it will cost 1,000 Stardust and one Candy to purify. If it is a Starter, or requires 3 or 5 KM to earn a Candy, it will cost 3,000 Stardust and three Candy. If it requires 10 KM to earn a Candy, it will cost 5,000 Stardust and five Candy. Legendary Pokémon are the most expensive to purify, at a whopping 20,000 Stardust and 20 Candy. Once you've decided on a Shadow Pokémon to Purify, you'll find the option in the profile screen right above the options to power up or evolve:
Purified Pokémon get an immediate increase to level 25 and boosted IV values, as well as a special charge move called Return, so there's certainly an excellent reason to Purify some of the rarer ones.
Keeping Shadow Pokémon
After a recent rebalance of Shadow Pokémon stats and the introduction of events and Elite TMs that can change their moves, these tormented Pokémon have incredible attack power in exchange for lowered defenses. This makes them excellent glass cannons. There are some Raids in which these Shadow Pokémon are the absolute best counters. However, the trade off is that they are extremely expensive to power up and the faint fast, meaning you'll need a lot more Revives and Potions to keep bringing them into battle.
All Shadow Pokémon available
While Niantic will continue to expand and alter the list of Pokémon to fall under the thrall of Team GO Rocket going forward, here's every Shadow Pokémon released thus far and the costs for purifying them.
|Diglett||3,000 | 3|
|Gible||3,000 | 3|
|Gabite||3,000 | 3|
An asterisk indicates a Shadow Pokémon whose evolution has been confirmed but earlier stage has not yet been confirmed.
Got any questions about battling, catching, and purifying Shadow Pokémon? Or will you be keeping your Shadow Pokémon as glass cannons? Let us know in the comments below, and be sure to check out our Best Battery Packs guide to keep your phone charged while trying to catch 'em all!