In between "Pokémon" journeys, Jeremy enjoys working as a pharmaceutical chemist and campus manager.
Abilities in Pokémon
Introduced in generation three, every Pokémon has an ability that usually offers some sort of benefit in battle. Some are passive and always active, others trigger under certain conditions, but most offer specific advantages that can make or break a Pokémon.
However, some abilities only provide minuscule bonuses or even harmful effects—which should you avoid? Here are then ten worst abilities in Pokémon!
Found on: Sirfetch'd, Machamp, Lucario
Effect: Raises Speed each time the Pokémon flinches.
Many worthwhile abilities can raise Speed, like Speed Boost, which automatically increases Speed at the end of every turn, or Sand Rush, which doubles Speed in a sandstorm. The former works because it's automatic and guaranteed, while the latter offers a powerful boost that helps sluggish Rock-, Ground-, and Steel-types move faster in their preferred weather.
But then you've got Steadfast, which only raises Speed a single stage when your unit flinches. Since flinching is a rare condition (other than Fake Out, few competitive moves utilize it), this effect simply won't trigger much, and even when it does, the boost is too small to really get excited about.
9. Heavy Metal
Found on: Aggron, Bronzong, Copperajah
Effect: Doubles the Pokémon's weight.
Despite this trait's awesome name, doubling your weight just doesn't do much in battle. Very few moves apply weight, and increasing yours isn't necessarily good. It increases the power of your Heavy Slam or Heat Crash, but that's a lot of effort for moves that max at 120 power even in ideal situations (needing your target to have 20% or less of your weight).
Plus, increasing weight makes you more vulnerable to Grass Knot and Low Kick, so there's just not much reason to go with this instead of something better.
Found on: Lopunny, Bewear, Toxel
Effect: The Pokémon can't use any held items.
This one's pretty self-explanatory—held items are crucial parts of battling, so disabling yours means you're basically wasting both your ability and held item. The only reason this doesn't rank higher is that Klutz can occasionally be exploited by purposefully giving yourself negative held items (to exchange with foes via Trick) or copying the ability onto an opponent using Entrainment.
So there are some situational uses, but even those are of questionable worth, and for everyone else, the ability just stinks.
7. Honey Gather
Found on: Combee, Teddiursa, Ribombee
Effect: The Pokémon may gather Honey after battles.
Similar to the Pickup ability, Honey Gather gives a chance to collect the honey item after a battle (the odds depends on your level). And yea, extra items are nice, so Honey Gather has minor usefulness for grinding.
But here are the issues. First and foremost, there's no benefit in battle. Second, you can't get any honey if your Pokémon has a held item, so you have to sacrifice that slot too. Third, the chance isn't great, only maxing at 50% at levels 90–100 and being significantly lower otherwise. Finally, honey really isn't that useful (at least some of Pick Up's items are), simply spawning a wild battle—which you can do infinitely with the Sweet Scent move.
6. Ball Fetch
Found on: Yamper
Effect: When not holding an item, the Pokémon will fetch your first failed Poké Ball throw.
Just like Honey Gather, Ball Fetch's biggest flaw is that it doesn't help whatsoever in terms of actual battling. And it similarly requires Yamper to not hold any items, again forfeiting both your ability and held item just to retrieve one failed capture attempt.
While I appreciate that the retrieval is guaranteed and not chance-based, cash is easily obtained in Pokémon; rarely will you feel the need to save a few bucks with a lackluster effect when money is already burning holes in your pocket.
Found on: Starmie, Volbeat, Shiinotic
Effect: Doubles encounter rate.
Illuminate's yet another battle-irrelevant effect, serving no purpose in actual combat. Instead, it simply increases your chances of wild battles, which is usually more annoying than helpful.
Useless in battle, typically unwanted outside of battle, this one's a stinker all around. In rare cases, you want to increase your encounter rate (for grinding or such), go with the Arena Trap ability, which does the same thing but also prevents foes from switching out in battle.
Found on: Sableye
Effect: Move last in battle.
In the vast majority of fights, you want to move first, potentially fainting your opponent before they can hit back, so forcing yourself to go last (even with Trick Room active) almost always works against you. Plus, Sableye (the only Pokémon who can have Stall) already has bad Speed, so you're probably already going last, and his Speed drops even further if evolved into Mega Sableye.
The only real benefit is to increase the power of attacks like Payback, but why impede your other attack speeds for one move, especially when you're already so slow?
3. Light Metal
Found on: Scizor, Metagross, Registeel
Effect: Halves the Pokémon's weight.
As lame as doubling your weight is, halving it is usually even worse. In most battles, it's just negligible and a waste of an ability, only helping to reduce the power of opposing Grass Knots and Low Kicks (which aren't considered competitive anyway).
Lowering your weight also reduces the strength of your own Heat Crash and Heavy Slam attacks while increasing that of opposing ones, so you're probably doing yourself more harm than good.
2. Slow Start
Found on: Regigigas
Effect: Halves Attack and Speed for five turns.
One of few Normal-type legendaries, Regigigas impresses at first glance with a base stat total of 670. He also enjoys a whipping 160 Attack, with his other stats being pretty well-balanced.
However, his potential plummets thanks to Slow Start, halving both his physical Attack and Speed for five turns. This cuts a respectable 100 Speed into a poor 50, and cripples that 160 Attack to just 80. Special Attack isn't affected, but since it's only 80 at base, you're stuck with a legendary who wants to hit fast and hit hard but probably won't last long enough to do so.
This is especially disappointing because the other Hoenn legendaries have great abilities (Rayquaza, Groudon, and Kyogre create weather, while the main Regi trio prevent stat reduction).
Found on: Slaking, Durant
Effect: The Pokémon can't use a move if it used a move on the previous turn.
This enormous handicap restricts your ally to only attacking once every two turns. Now, Slaking is ridiculously strong for a non-legendary—tying Regigigas's 670 base stat total—but there's no denying how his terrible ability limits his potential.
To be fair, there are a few workarounds: you can still switch out on your off turn (which resets the count), moves that require a recharge (like Hyper Beam) only expend the off turn, and you can Skill Swap out of Truant in multi-battles. But most Trainers will just shrug and pick Snorlax over the guy who wastes every other turn picking his nose.
Multiple Abilities in Pokémon
Today we've explored the franchise's worst abilities and the slackers stuck with 'em—can you still use these creatures competitively? Fortunately, the answer is sometimes yes; since most Pokémon have two or three potential abilities, you can often simply catch another unit with your preferred trait.
Yet cases like Regigigas and Slaking are always stuck with their detriment, so you can't dodge those bullets. But for now, as we await more of Nintendo's most taxing abilities, vote for your least favorite and I'll see you at our next Pokémon countdown!
© 2020 Jeremy Gill