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A Pokémon can learn Bite even if they aren't Dark type.

I understand that moves that have names that fit the "role" of that Pokémon make sense, like it makes sense for an animal Pokémon to know Bite even it's not Dark.

Does this ever get addressed in any way in the games, shows, or comics?

  • 4
    Also, how can Zubat learn "Mean look" when it doesn't have eyes. – Valorum May 3 '16 at 18:56
  • Does it matter what "type" the pokemon is? The type of a move is just the effect the move has. Why wouldn't something with teeth be able to bite? – Gorchestopher H May 3 '16 at 18:58
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    @Richard it's looking at you with it's mouth ;) – RenaissanceProgrammer May 3 '16 at 19:38
  • @Valorum Similarly, Voltorb and Electrode can be taught Sucker Punch, despite not having any arms! – Thunderforge Sep 16 '16 at 16:00
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Pokémon learning moves outside of their type could be related to the Pokémon's design rather than their type.

Keep in mind, Bite wasn't always a Dark type. In the first generation Bite was a Normal-type and didn't become Dark in Gen-II+. (Which in the remakes of Red/Green it made my strategy of buying the Magikarp not crazy as Gyrados curb-stomped Misty's at level 20!). Any Pokémon can learn normal type moves, provided they have the proper appendages (Geodude can't learn Megakick, and so on...)

Often, Pokémon would learn moves that were outside of their type because of creature design, i.e., Gyrados (Water/Flying), Rattata (Normal), and Raticate (Normal) learning Bite because of having a jaw with fangs.

Let's circle back to Gyrados. It's type is Water/Flying, and it can learn a couple of moves outside of it's type such as Bite and Dragon Rage. The reason it has these moves is because it's designed to look like a dragon, and is based off of a Japanese legend where a carp jumps up a waterfall and becomes a dragon.

Zubats are another case where design comes before type designation. It's type is Poison/Flying, but it learns moves like Supersonic (Normal), Bite (Dark), Leech Life (Bug), Astonish (Ghost), and Haze (ice). This Pokémon is based off a vampire bat, which sucks the blood out of prey (Leech Life), uses echolocation to fly around (Supersonic), and flies at night and in caves which can surprise people (Astonish).

When it comes the actual design of Pokémon, a team of designers come up with ideas/designs and they get handed to a committee, and then added to the game with to keep some balance in the roster. While I don't see the details in this article on Gamasutra with Hironobu Yoshida, from the way he describes the process it goes

  1. Draft pokemon art, keeping it on a server so other artists can see it as well.
  2. Submit to committee, who critiques and selects the roster for the next game, sending back rejected with notes for improvement.
  3. Moves/types get assigned.
  4. ?????
  5. Added to Pokédex.
  6. Profit.

So all in all, it's not really explained in universe why a Pokémon learns a move outside of it's type. It's all a mix of game design/mechanic. Also I'm using the games as the primary canon as they came first, and are the driving force in any new canon in the other media (with yellow being the only exception)

  • Pokemon can perform moves that make sense to the pokemon's physiology. A pokemon's type doesn't solely dictate it's moves, it dictates what it is weak against. – Gorchestopher H May 3 '16 at 18:59
  • @GorchestopherH It's a major determinate though, as type does limit what moves it can learn via TMs and HMs. I.e. a Pikachu can't learn surf, and Charizard can't learn Hydropump – CBredlow May 3 '16 at 19:15
  • Of course, but that's because a pokemon's type goes a long way in determining its physiology. There are many examples of typed moves that can't be learned by similarly typed pokemon. Voltorb (electric) can't learn thunderpunch, but Dusclops (ghost) learns it by leveling. This is because Dusclops uses it's hands to fight and Voltorb doesn't have hands. They've really added depth with their moveset. Not all dark types can learn bite, but pokemon who appear to fight with their jaws can. A Bite from a Squirtle isn't water type, it's still a dark "acting" action, therefore it's dark. – Gorchestopher H May 4 '16 at 12:41

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