How to Catch Legendary Pokémon in the Pokémon Games

Updated on January 20, 2018
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Dreamhowl has been playing Pokémon since 1999. Her favorites include SoulSilver, X, AlphaSapphire, and Sun. She enjoys breeding Pokémon.

What Are Legendary Pokémon?

In the Pokémon games, Legendary Pokémon are unique, hard to locate and hard to catch. Only one of each Legendary Pokémon exists in the game, meaning that defeating one removes it from the game forever. Legendary Pokémon cannot be duplicated through breeding (except for Phione and Manaphy); once you have caught one, you do not get another chance.

Legendary Pokémon are more powerful than other Pokémon you can catch in the wild, and tend to have better stats and resistances. The storyline of Pokémon games usually leads to the player finding and catching the Legendary starring in that game version. A full list of Legendaries and their corresponding generations can be found throughout the hub. But how do you catch a Legendary Pokémon?

How to Catch Legendary Pokemon

Learn how the right Pokeballs, moves and types can help you catch Legendaries!
Learn how the right Pokeballs, moves and types can help you catch Legendaries! | Source

First Generation (I)

Legendary
Type
Articuno
Ice/Flying
Zapdos
Electric/Flying
Moltres
Fire/Flying
Mewtwo
Psychic
Mew
Psychic

As you might have guessed, Legendary Pokémon are more difficult to capture than wild Pokémon. Because they are rare and have better movesets, catching them requires more than a simple Poké Ball and crossing your fingers; you need to start by using more expensive and powerful Poké Balls. There are different types of Poké Balls available in the games depending on which version you are playing. Those especially useful for catching Legendary Pokémon include:

  • Ultra Balls
  • Master Balls
  • Net Balls
  • Dusk Balls

Ultra Balls have a 100% higher chance to catch a Pokémon than a regular Poké Ball, along with a 33% higher chance than a Great Ball. Ultra Balls are sold in most Poké Marts for 1200 Pokedollars. Master Balls, on the other hand, are extremely rare and have a 100% chance of catching any Pokémon. Players are able to find one Master Ball in each game, though in later games there is a chance to win Master Balls via the in-game Lottery. Ideally, you should have at least thirty Ultra Balls in your bag when trying to catch a Legendary - it may just take that many!

Ultra Balls are available at all Poke Marts and help when catching Legendary Pokémon .
Ultra Balls are available at all Poke Marts and help when catching Legendary Pokémon . | Source

Second Generation (II)

Legendary
Type
Raikou
Electric
Entei
Fire
Suicune
Water
Lugia
Psychic/Flying
Ho-Oh
Fire/Flying
Celebi
Psychic/Grass

Net Balls excel in catching Bug and Water Pokémon with a 75% higher chance than a normal Poké Ball. Players can buy Net Balls from a Poke Mart for 1000 Pokédollars. Be careful - when used on a Pokémon not of Bug or Water type, Net Balls are only as effective as a normal Poké Ball. Dusk Balls, on the other hand, have a 50% higher chance of catching Pokémon when used at night (8 PM to 4 AM) or when used in a cave. Also available for 1000 Pokédollars, Dusk Balls can be very effective when catching Legendaries at night. If it's nighttime, try using your Dusk Balls to catch it first - if you run out, revert to your Ultra Balls!

Pokémon Ultra Sun - Nintendo 3DS
Pokémon Ultra Sun - Nintendo 3DS

Pokémon Ultra Sun features all-new Pokémon, Z-Moves, Ultra Warp Ride, Ultra Wormholes, and more!

 
Net Balls can be very useful when used on a Bug or Water-type Legendary Pokémon.
Net Balls can be very useful when used on a Bug or Water-type Legendary Pokémon. | Source

Third Generation (III)

Legendary
Type
Regirock
Rock
Regice
Ice
Registeel
Steel
Latias
Dragon/Psychic
Latios
Dragon/Psychic
Kyogre
Water
Groudon
Ground
Rayquaza
Dragon/Flying
Jirachi
Steel/Psychic
Deoxys
Psychic

When it comes to battling Legendary Pokémon, certain moves will be more helpful in catching it than others. If you've tried catching a Legendary before, you’ll know that simply weakening it’s HP and throwing Poké Balls at it won’t be enough; Legendary Pokémon are known for breaking free even when their HP is close to 1 and it seems like they are defeated. Some moves to simplify their capture include:

  • False Swipe
  • Hypnosis
  • Mean Look

False Swipe is a fantastic move to use on a Legendary - if the move deals more damage than the opponent's HP, it is still guaranteed to leave it with 1 HP. This means that your Pokémon can be several levels higher than the Legendary and not defeat it by accident. There are many Pokémon that can learn False Swipe by leveling (such as Cubone or Zangoose), as well as by being taught the TM (such as Sneasel or Gligar). If you can, try to obtain a Pokémon with the ability to learn this move.

Ghastly is a Pokémon that can learn Hypnosis, and can be found in the Pokedex!
Ghastly is a Pokémon that can learn Hypnosis, and can be found in the Pokedex! | Source

Fourth Generation (IV)

Legendary
Type
Uxie
Psychic
Mesprit
Psychic
Azelf
Psychic
Dialga
Steel/Dragon
Palkia
Water/Dragon
Heatran
Fire/Steel
Regigigas
Normal
Giratina
Ghost/Dragon
Cresselia
Psychic
Phione
Water
Manaphy
Water
Darkrai
Dark
Shaymin
Grass
Arceus
Normal

Hypnosis is a move that puts the target Pokémon to sleep; however, the move only has 60% accuracy and doesn't affect a wild Pokémon that already has a major status ailment. Hypnosis is useful against Legendaries - it keeps them from defeating your Pokémon and buys you more time. A Legendary that is asleep stands a better chance of being caught than one that is wide awake with no status ailments. Other moves that affect status can be used as well, such as Thunder Wave or Stun Spore.

Mean Look is a move that you’ll need if you are hunting Legendary Pokémon that like to run away. This move does not cause any damage, but it prevents the opponent from running away. This only remains true if the party Pokémon that used the move remains in battle, however; if the player switches to another Pokémon, the Legendary will be able to escape. Some Psychic, Ghost and Poison types can learn this move via leveling (such as Haunter, Golbat or Jynx) but it cannot be taught as a TM.

Mean Look is a great move to keep roaming Pokémon, like Raikou, from running away.
Mean Look is a great move to keep roaming Pokémon, like Raikou, from running away. | Source

Which generation has your favorite Legendaries?

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Finally, you need to keep in mind the levels of your party Pokémon when facing a Legendary, as well as their stats and types. If your Pokémon is half the level of the Legendary you are trying to catch, as well as weak against its type, your attempt at capturing it won’t go so well. When you are out hunting a Legendary, be sure that:

  • your Pokémon’s levels match the Legendary Pokémon’s level
  • the Legendary Pokémon’s moves aren’t effective against your Pokémon
  • the Legendary Pokémon’s type is weak against your Pokémon

Approaching a Legendary Pokémon that is level 60 with party Pokémon that are level 50 and lower is a sure way to get defeated quickly. Your party Pokémon should at least match its level. This way, your party's stats (such as HP, Speed and Accuracy) are up to par. Battling the Legendary with a party Pokémon much higher in level is also safer with a Pokémon that knows False Swipe.

If you approach the Legendary Moltres with a bug or grass type of the same level, you run the risk of defeat: Moltres is a dual type Fire/Flying Legendary, and is resistant to Bug and Grass types (as well as Fighting, Steel and Fire types). To buy the most time and survive the longest, try battling Moltres with a type that the Legendary is weak to, such as Rock, Water or Electric. A party Pokémon of these types will be more resistant to Moltres, and more powerful against it. It is also more likely that these Pokémon will have moves that are effective against Moltres (such as Thunderbolt or Water Pulse).

Pokémon Ultra Moon - Nintendo 3DS
Pokémon Ultra Moon - Nintendo 3DS

Pokémon Ultra Moon features all-new Pokémon, Z-Moves, Ultra Warp Ride, Ultra Wormholes, and more!

 
Try to look up a Legendary Pokemon's type and skills to be prepared.
Try to look up a Legendary Pokemon's type and skills to be prepared. | Source

Fifth Generation (V)

Legendary
Type
Victini
Psychic/Fire
Cobalion
Steel/Fighting
Terrakion
Rock/Fighting
Virizion
Grass/Fighting
Tornadus
Flying
Thundurus
Electric/Flying
Reshiram
Dragon/Fire
Zekrom
Dragon/Electric
Landorus
Ground/Flying
Kyurem
Dragon/Ice
Keldeo
Water/Fighting
Meloetta
Normal/Psychic
Genesect
Bug/Steel

Where to Find Legendary Pokémon

Each generation of Pokémon games features different and newer Legendary Pokémon, as well as new regions to explore. Unless you manage to collect Legendaries through trading, you will need each game version to capture all of the Legendary Pokémon; Legendaries are native to specific regions, and each new game presents a new playable region (and generation):

  • First Generation: Kanto Region
  • Second Generation: Johto Region
  • Third Generation: Hoenn Region
  • Fourth Generation: Sinnoh Region
  • Fifth Generation: Unova Region
  • Sixth Generation: Kalos Region
  • Seventh Generation: Alola Region

The first generation of Pokémon games featured Pokemon Red, Blue, Yellow and Green (in Japan). This generation featured the least amount of Legendary Pokémon to date, and include the original 151 Pokémon that most fans are familiar with. The second generation of games featured Pokemon Gold, Silver and Crystal. The ability of daytime and nighttime to influence events began in this generation, as well as Pokémon breeding and the ability for the player to explore the old region of Kanto after making it through all of the Johto region.

Sixth Generation (VI)

Legendary
Type
Xerneas
Fairy
Yveltal
Dark/Flying
Zygarde
Dragon/Ground
Diancie
Rock/Fairy

Seventh Generation (VII)

Legendary
Type
Silvally
Normal
Tapu Koko
Electric/Fairy
Tapu Lele
Psychic/Fairy
Tapu Bulu
Grass/Fairy
Tapu Fini
Water/Fairy
Cosmog
Psychic
Sogaleo
Psychic/Steel
Lunala
Psychic/Ghost
Necrozma
Psychic

The third generation introduced two new games, Pokémon Ruby and Sapphire, as well as two game remakes, Pokémon FireRed and LeafGreen; later, Pokémon Emerald was released as a remake of the first two of the third generation games. The fourth generation resulted in Pokémon Diamond, Pearl and Platinum; the remakes Pokémon HeartGold and SoulSilver were later made. The fourth generation features the most Legendaries.

The fifth generation introduced Pokémon Black, White, Black 2 and White 2. The sixth generation of games includes Pokémon X, Y, Omega Ruby, and Alpha Sapphire. The seventh generation is comprised of Pokémon Sun, Moon, Ultra Sun, and Ultra Moon. Between the released games to date, there are forty-eight Legendary Pokémon available (though some are only available through events). Unless you get your Legendaries through trades with other players, you will need to play games from each generation to truly catch them all. Good luck!

Questions & Answers

    © 2013 Jessica Marello

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      • Dreamhowl profile image
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        Jessica Marello 6 months ago from United States

        @ashino That is very true!

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        ashino 6 months ago

        u can catch a pokemon by master ball it never ever misses

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