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Pokémon Go: Shadow Pokémon

Pokémon GO Shadow Pokémon Vulpix
(Image credit: iMore)

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. Fortunately, we here at iMore know everything there is to know about Shadow Pokémon in Pokémon Go from how to catch them to every species Team GO Rocket has got their hands on. And be sure to check out our best Pokémon Go accessories so you can be fully equipped when you face off against them!

What exactly are Shadow Pokémon in Pokémon Go?

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 in Pokémon Go?

Pokémon Go Shadow Pokémon (Image credit: Niantic)

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

Pokemon Go Team Go Rocket Giovanni (Image credit: Niantic)

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.

Pokémon Go Shadow Pokémon (Image credit: Niantic)

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.

PokémonStardustCandy
Bulbasaur3,0003
Ivysaur3,0003
Venusaur3,0003
Charmander3,0003
Charmeleon3,0003
Charizard3,0003
Squirtle3,0003
Wartortle3,0003
Blastoise3,0003
Weedle1,0001
Kakuna1,0001
Beedrill1,0001
Rattata1,0001
Alolan Rattata1,0001
Raticate1,0001
Alolan Raticate1,0001
Ekans*3,0003
Arbok*3,0003
Sandshrew3,0003
Alolan Sandshrew3,0003
Sandslash3,0003
Alolan Sandslash3,0003
Nidoran♀*3,0003
Nidorina*3,0003
Nidoqueen*3,0003
Nidoran♂3,0003
Nidorino3,0003
Nidoking3,0003
Vulpix3,0003
Ninetails3,0003
Zubat1,0001
Golbat1,0001
Oddish3,0003
Gloom3,0003
Vileplume3,0003
Venonat*3,0003
Venomoth*3,0003
Diglett3,0003
Dugtrio3,0003
Meowth*3,0003
Persian*3,0003
Psyduck3,0003
Golduck3,0003
Growlithe*3,0003
Arcanine*3,0003
Poliwag3,0003
Poliwhirl3,0003
Poliwrath3,0003
Abra3,0003
Kadabra3,0003
Alakazam3,0003
Machop3,0003
Machoke3,0003
Machamp3,0003
Bellspout3,0003
Weepinbell3,0003
Victreebel3,0003
Geodude1,0001
Graveler1,0001
Golem1,0001
Slowpoke3,0003
Slowbro3,0003
Magnemite3,0003
Magneton3,0003
Grimer*3,0003
Muk*3,0003
Shellder3,0003
Cloyster3,0003
Drowzee*3,0003
Hypno*3,0003
Voltorb3,0003
Electrode3,0003
Exeggcute3,0003
Exeggutor3,0003
Alolan Exeggutor*3,0003
Cubone3,0003
Marowak3,0003
Alolan Marowak*3,0003
Hitmonlee5,0005
Hitmonchan5,0005
Koffing*3,0003
Weezing*3,0003
Tangela3,0003
Horsea3,0003
Seadra3,0003
Scyther*5,0005
Electabuzz5,0005
Magmar5,0005
Pinsir*5,0005
Magikarp1,0001
Gyarados1,0001
Lapras*5,0005
Porygon3,0003
Omanyte*5,0005
Omastar*5,0005
Aerodactyl*5,0005
Snorlax5,0005
Articuno20,00020
Zapdos20,00020
Moltres20,00020
Dratini5,0005
Dragonair5,0005
Dragonite5,0005
Mewtwo20,00020
Chikorita3,0003
Bayleef3,0003
Meganium3,0003
Cyndaquil3,0003
Quilava3,0003
Typhlosion3,0003
Tototdile3,0003
Croconaw3,0003
Feraligatr3,0003
Crobat1,0001
Mareep5,0005
Flaaffy5,0005
Ampharos5,0005
Bellossom3,0003
Sudowoodo5,0005
Politoed3,0003
Hoppip3,0003
Skiploom3,0003
Jumpluff3,0003
Aipom3,0003
Wooper3,0003
Quagsire3,0003
Murkrow3,0003
Slowking3,0003
Misdreavus3,0003
Wobbuffet3,0003
Girafarig3,0003
Pineco*3,0003
Forretress*3,0003
Gligar*3,0003
Snubbull3,0003
Granbull3,0003
Scizor*5,0005
Shuckle3,0003
Sneasal*3,0003
Teddiursa3,0003
Ursaring3,0003
Swinub3,0003
Piloswine3,0003
Delibird3,0003
Skarmory3,0003
Houndour3,0003
Houndoom3,0003
Kingdra3,0003
Porygon23,0003
Stantler*3,0003
Raikou20,00020
Entei20,00020
Suicune20,00020
Larvitar5,0005
Pupitar5,0005
Tyranitar5,0005
Lugia20,00020
Apex Lugia20,00020
Ho-Oh20,00020
Apex Ho-Oh20,00020
Mudkip3,0003
Marshtomp3,0003
Swampert3,0003
Seedot*3,0003
Nuzleaf*3,0003
Shiftry*3,0003
Ralts5,0005
Kirlia5,0005
Gardevoir5,0005
Whsimur1,0001
Loudred1,0001
Exploud1,0001
Makuhita3,0003
Hariyama3,0003
Nosepass3,0003
Sableye5,0005
Mawile*5,0005
Aron3,0003
Lairon1,0001
Aggron1,0001
Eletrike1,0001
Manectric3,0003
Carvanha*3,0003
Sharpedo*3,0003
Numel*3,0003
Camerupt*3,0003
Trapinch5,0005
Vibrava5,0005
Flygon5,0005
Cacnea3,0003
Cacturne3,0003
Lileep3,0003
Cradily3,0003
Anorith3,0003
Armaldo3,0003
Shuppet3,0003
Banette3,0003
Duskull3,0003
Dusclops3,0003
Absol*3,0003
Spheal3,0003
Sealeo3,0003
Walrein3,0003
Bagon*3,0003
Shelgon*3,0003
Salamence*3,0003
Beldum*3,0003
Metang*3,0003
Metagross*3,0003
Latias20,00020
Latios20,00020
Turtwig3,0003
Grotle3,0003
Torterra3,0003
Starly1,0001
Staravia1,0001
Staraptor1,0001
Bidoof1,0001
Bibarel1,0001
Shinx5,0005
Luxio5,0005
Luxray5,0005
Ambipom3,0003
Mismagius3,0003
Honchkrow3,0003
Stunky3,0003
Skuntank3,0003
Hippopotas3,0003
Hippowdon3,0003
Skorupi5,0005
Drapion5,0005
Snover3,0003
Abomasnow3,0003
Weaville*3,0003
Magnezone3,0003
Tangrowth3,0003
Electivire5,0005
Magmortar5,0005
Gliscor*3,0003
Mamoswine3,0003
PorygonZ3,0003
Gallade5,0005
Probopass3,0003
Dusknoir3,0003
Patrat1,0001
Watchog1,0001
Purrloin1,0001
Liepard1,0001
Ducklett1,0001
Swanna1,0001
Foongus1,0001
Amoongus1,0001

Questions?

Will you be keeping your Shadow Pokémon as glass cannons? Get ready to go on the hunt for Team GO Rocket so you can catch yours with the best Pokémon GO accessories. Be sure to check out the rest of our Pokémon Go guides so you too can become a Pokémon Master!

Casian Holly has been writing about gaming at iMore since 2019, but their real passion is Pokémon. From the games to the anime, cards and toys, they eat, sleep, and breathe all things Pokémon. You can check out their many Pokémon Go and Pokémon Sword and Shield guides and coverage here on iMore.