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In the Pokémon franchise, Gym Leaders have teams of Pokémon that specialize in one type, such as Brock specializing in Rock type Pokémon and Misty specializing in Water type Pokémon. However, a list of Gym Leaders shows that there has never been a Dark type Gym Leader in any game, whereas every other type has appeared (and all but the new Fairy type have appeared more than once).

So why are there no Dark type Gym Leaders?

  • 2
    Because it's a show for children and that would be terrifying. – Valorum Mar 29 '16 at 22:29
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    @Richard I'm sure that a Poochyena carrying a pink frisbee terrified children who watched the animé ;-) – Thunderforge Mar 29 '16 at 22:33
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    There's a dark-type trainer in the Elite 4 in G/S/C. Not a gym leader per se, but a higher level than one. – Kevin Mar 29 '16 at 22:39
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    @Kevin That still begs the question of why there aren't any Dark-type gym leaders, especially over the course of 5 generations. – Thunderforge Mar 30 '16 at 1:43
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    Actually, I think Richard might be on to something. Looking at dark-type moves, they tend to be themed as dirty tricks and underhanded methods. And gyms tend to have a theme beyond just the pokemon type they feature: We've seen mines and rock-climbing walls, art galleries and fashion catwalks, swimming pools and aquaria, doll houses and dojos, and so on. A dark-type gym would have to be themed around treachery and deception somehow, and since 'ninja mansion' was already taken way back in gen 1, maybe it's too hard to come up with a clear concept for a dark-type gym that's also kid-friendly? – user867 Mar 30 '16 at 6:27
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+50

I doubt there has been any official confirmation, but I do see several possibile contributing factors.

Dark types are used by the nefarious Teams

Consider:

  • Generation I: In this generation, there are no Dark-type Pokémon. The antagonist Team is Team Rocket. Their members often possess Poison-type Pokémon
  • Generation II: The antagonist Team is still Team Rocket. Their lineup now consists nearly entirely of Poison types such as Arbok, Zubat, and Vileplume, but, crucially, with the addition of the Dark types Houndour, Houndoom, and Murkrow.
  • Generation III: The antagonist Teams are Team Aqua and Team Magma. Of course, their main themes are water and fire, respectively. But they employ dual-types such as Carvanha, and Sharpedo, along the pure Dark type Mightyena and a few Poison-types.
  • Generation IV: Team Galactic are the antagonists. We have Stunky, Murkrow, Honchkrow, Sneasel, and Weavile.
  • Generation V: By now it should not surprise us to see Purrloin, Sandile and its evolutions, and Scraggy and its evolutions as regular players on Team Plasma.
  • Generation VI: Team Flare is the enemy here. They use Houndour, Houndoom, Mightyena, Purrloins and Liepards, Scraggys and Scraftys, and Murkrows and Honchkrows.

Dark types, then, are the most consistent marker of the villainous Teams. It is true that Normal-type Pokémon are often used by Team Grunts, and that Poison-types often show up as well. But the choice to have Poison-type gym leaders was made from the very first generation, with Koga. Too late to back out now.

I suspect that The Pokémon Company's designers fear theme dilution. Dark types are the marker of shady criminals. If they are associated too heavily with themed gyms, their status as markers of ill intent could diminish.

Perhaps related to this, there is the following....

Dark Pokémon are evil (or at least あくタイプ).

From what I understand, the name for Dark types in Japanese is あくタイプ. The part あく seems to translate to "evil," or even "scum," while タイプ means "type." Surely evil, "scum" type Pokémon are best associated with villainous types, which most of the gym leaders really are not. Sure, some of them may cause people to pass out at their concerts from intoxication, but on the whole they aren't into world domination. That is the province of the Teams. And thus Dark-types are a better fit for Teams than gym leaders.

Of course, many Dark Pokémon are not truly villainous, and some are actually quite nice. Darkrai, for example, held Palkia and Dialga in check.

  • 3
    That's a very interesting remark. In a way, Giovanni might have been a Dark type champion had the type existed back then. Why don't they pull the "Gym Leader was actually evil" card again, though? – Pwassonne Apr 6 '16 at 6:46
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    Yes, I think Giovanni would have been a Dark type leader had he been in a later generation. Even his minions were using Dark types in Gen II. I think they don't want to repeat a gag. Notice how each of the Teams has quite a different feel: from Mafia Syndicate to eco-terrorists to animal wrongs group to universal domination to communist revolution. – Adamant Apr 6 '16 at 6:53
  • I think the "half the Gym Leaders in the area are evil minions posing as community figures" thing they had in the manga is worth incorporating into a game. But then there would have to be a manga arc about that too and maybe it would feel repetitive to manga readers. – Pwassonne Apr 6 '16 at 7:48
  • I'm pretty sure there was a Dark type member in the Elite Four right in Gen II, though I've been away for many years. Elite Four presence should be more important than Gym Leader presence, yes? – thegreatjedi Apr 8 '16 at 5:36
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    Sidney is a dark type elite 4 member in gen 3 – Recycle May 10 '16 at 8:54
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Reddit explains it all.

From what I've read over the years, Dark's Japanese name is more literally translated as Evil. Probably can't go around having Evil gyms, huh? Elite Four is a different matter, and I'm not quite sure how to explain that one. One possible explanation is good/bad doesn't matter in the E4, but just strength to being one of the top Pokemon trainers. The fire type E4 in Gen VI was in Team Flare, no?

Credit to @Jonah's answer, あくタイプ means "evil type"

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    But how does this answer the question? Why can they have an Evil Elite member, but not an Evil gym? – Valorum Apr 7 '16 at 23:33
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    It's possible that Dark types need to represent the ultimate evil: being represented in a gym is too lowly, they need to either be in the Elite Four as a final boss, or not at all. – thegreatjedi Apr 8 '16 at 5:38
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There are too many of dual type which one of it is dark so if it has a dark type gym it would be very hard to battle:

  • Hydreigon,
  • Snifty,
  • Greninja,
  • Houndour,
  • Stunky, and
  • Scraffy
  • 3
    A well-placed Fighting-type attack would certainly OHKO any one of the Pokemon you have listed (in reference to the canon games). Anyways, dual-types as Gym Pokemon aren't uncommon at all. Winona's Flying-type Pokemon are all dual-typed. Many more examples but there's no point in listing all. – Mat Cauthon Jul 6 '17 at 13:47

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