Note: This lore comes from Pokémon Go but I'm asking the question here instead of Arqade Stack Exchange because I specifically want to know about the lore.

This says that the Shadow Effect that team Rocket puts on Pokémon makes them more powerful:

A screenshot that reads "while Pokémon naturally become stronger through training, these Shadow Pokémon seem to have been overpowered through unnatural means"

But once you free a Pokémon from team Rocket, you can purify them. According to this description, purifying the Pokémon makes it more powerful too:

A screenshot that reads "Do you want to purify Poochyena? It will gain a significant amount of CP, cost less to power up, and learn the exclusive Charged Attack Return! (yes/no)

This seems like a contradiction because purifying seems to imply that you're returning Pokémon to the way that they used to be.

Unless a Pokémon is ultimately better off after being turned into a Shadow version and then purified than if simply nothing had been done to it (which would be a counter-productive narrative since then we should actively try to turn Pokémon into Shadow versions so that we can purify them).

  • 3
    Perhaps you're purifying them by making them stronger still?
    – Valorum
    Commented Aug 2, 2021 at 11:37
  • @SQB Thanks for cleaning up the text!
    – NeRoboto
    Commented Aug 3, 2021 at 21:03

1 Answer 1


Shadow Pokémon originate from Pokémon Colosseum and Pokémon XD: Gale of Darkness, where they are described as Pokémon that have had their emotions removed or inhibited through scientific means. This process doesn't inherently make them stronger, but it does make them more aggressive.

Pokémon fights are generally treated as being friendly, playful affairs, with the Pokémon holding back their true strengths so as to avoid injuring each other or causing huge collateral damage. Shadow Pokémon (and other Pokémon with inhibited emotions, such as the clones in Pokémon: The First Movie) do not hold back in the same way. So their power level is the same as a regular Pokémon, but they are willing to use more of that power, if that makes sense.

In Colosseum and XD, this manifests in the form of "Shadow Moves", which cannot be resisted by non-Shadow Pokémon in Colosseum, and are super-effective against non-Shadow Pokémon in XD. In Pokémon GO, this manifests in a 20% power boost to all the Shadow Pokémon's moves. In both cases, a Shadow Pokémon is indeed more powerful than a regular Pokémon with the same level and IVs.

Purifying a Shadow Pokémon in GO erases that power boost, but slightly raises the Pokémon's IVs and substantially raises its level. I'm unsure of the lore reasons behind this. Whether the IV boost is better or worse than the attack boost - i.e., whether a Pokémon is stronger or weaker after it's been Purified - is a matter of opinion.

  • re the Shadow explanation: that makes far more sense than the snippet put it. I guess it's poorly phrased.
    – NeRoboto
    Commented Aug 2, 2021 at 12:29
  • I advise using calculators (like Calcy IV) that can show you exactly what the attack and defense of a pokemon will be. In addition, there's a rumour that purified pokemon might someday be stronger against shadow pokemon (or was it the other way round?) but AFAIK that isn't happening yet.
    – Vilx-
    Commented Aug 3, 2021 at 7:28
  • @Vilx- so I use Calcy IV, and I get the mechanic. I was more asking about the plot because of the way the game pitches it. I get the whole undertone that Purified > Shadow. And that's my problem: why are team Rocket Shadowifying Pokemon in the first place if Purifying is better? I think Niantic should have hooked into more Shadow lore that F1krazy mentioned to make the narrative clearer. Maybe someone can chime in about the purifying to clear up the ambiguity F1krazy mentioned. At the moment it almost just seems like a Moral Myopia-type trope.
    – NeRoboto
    Commented Aug 3, 2021 at 10:51

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