The release of Pokemon Black and White last week knocked a few more type combinations off the list of the unused, including Bug/Electric, Grass/Normal, Dark/Steel, and a handful of others. It also introduced the first pure-type Flying Pokemon (#641, right), so finally, after five generations, we have a pure-type Pokemon for every type.
Still, there are a whopping 44 type combinations that still haven’t been used, which is ridiculous considering there are only 153 possible combinations of the 17 types (136 two-type combinations + 17 single types). This number can be reduced to 32 if we take out all the missing half-Normal types, like Normal/Dark, Normal/Electric, etc., but that’s still a big percentage.
I always figured that non-Normal, pure-type Pokemon had “Normal” as their de facto second type anyway. It wouldn’t change anything as far as weaknesses go, as a Normal/Electric Pokemon would have the same weaknesses as a pure Electric-type, so whatever? In fact, most half-type Normals probably shouldn’t be half-types to begin with. A vast majority of them are Normal/Flying, and considering we didn’t have a pure-type Flying until just now, I wonder why all they all weren’t just pure-Flyings to begin with? Also: the only two half-type Normals that weren’t Normal/Flying prior to the fifth generation were Girafarig (Normal/Psychic) and Bibarel (Normal/Water).
The former could be considered a legitimate hybrid, but Bibarel only ever learns one Water move. Fifth gen introduces a Normal/Grass line and two legendaries — Normal/Fighting and Normal/Psychic, though the two legendaries have the same moveset and might just be two forms of the same legendary, except they have individual ‘dex numbers, so I have no idea. Still, they could have easily made them a pure Psychic and a pure Fighting, so I’ve yet to see anything particularly creative done with Normal half-types. That’s probably why they’re “normal.”
Of the thirty-two other combinations, Poison is involved in the most with seven unused combinations — Dragon/Poison, Electric/Poison, Fire/Poison, Ice/Poison, Psychic/Poison, Rock/Poison, and Steel/Poison. Of those, Psychic/Poison and Steel/Poison are probably the most interesting since Poison is weak to Psychic and Steel is impervious to Poison. It’s kind of surprising that Poison seems to have gotten shafted so much considering it’s more an ability-describing type rather than a form-describing type like Ghost and Dragon, meaning it can theoretically be applied to any variety of Pokemon.
Psychic/Poison would be easy enough to come up with something for — Psychics, also being an ability-describing type, are pretty all over the place as far as physical form, so giving them an added poison attribute is easy. Steel/Poison is harder to imagine since they are opposites… Maybe some kind of machine-looking thing with syringes? Hmmm. Malpracticemon! Okay, so I guess it is a bit difficult to match Poison with some of the descriptor-types like Rock and Steel… it doesn’t make much sense for a thing of Rock or Steel to be able to poison you. …But the others have no excuse!
Electric would also have seven unused type combinations if you don’t count the alternate Rotom forms (Electric/Ice, Electric/Fire, and Electric/Grass, above), which I kind of don’t since they’re only obtainable through a Wifi event item and are, you know, alternate forms. The other four missing Electric combos are Electric/Fighting, Electric/Poison, Electric/Psychic, Electric/Rock. Electric is another ability-type, and all of its combination partners except Rock (and maybe Grass, if we’re counting that) are also ability-types. Therefore, Electric has also been unfairly ignored for way too long, though I’m probably a little biased because Electric is my favorite type. But seriously, how hard is it to find some unused animal base — like, say, a dimetrodon — and decide that it can invoke the powers of fire and electricity? That would be badass. Or hell, if you made the dimetrodon Electric/Rock and just axed the fire part since all prehistoric-based Pokemon are part Rock (for reviving fossils), that would kill the trouble of needing to fit it with a more literal Rock-type!
Next on the Most Shafted list is a five-way tie between Ice, Fighting, Ghost, Psychic, and Rock, which have five missing combinations each, unless you want to disclude Rotom alternate forms, in which case Ice comes out on top with six, and Fire is added to the five-way with five. This kind of surprised me since I expected Dragon to be higher up, but apparently there are only four missing combinations that include Dragon — I guess I just haven’t been paying much attention since I don’t like Dragon-types, usually. Ice, Fighting, and Psychic are ability-types and should, again, be easy to just attach to anything.
Rocks are hard to mix types with since they are in direct conflict with a lot of other types (Rock has the most weaknesses of any type). Still, if we continue the trend of all prehistoric-based Pokemon being part Rock, this gives us a lot of options because there are a ton of prehistoric animals we don’t have Pokemon versions of. I already mentioned dimetrodon, and without even getting too esoteric, there’s also stegosaurus, parasaurolophus, and ankylosaurus. Four dinosaurs. Let them be part Rock and part Electric, Ghost, Ice, and Dragon, and then the only thing you have left is Rock/Poison. Okay, a ghost dinosaur is kind of weird — they are all kind of freaky revived fossil ghosts, I guess, but I’m sure you can find some kind of creative explanation. Rock/Dragon wouldn’t be hard to do outside of straight up dinosaurs since Dragon is a form-type, so maybe if you cross one of those dinosaurs with a scorpion you could do Rock/Poison. In fact, why not do that with stegosaurus or ankylosaurus? They both have the tail for it. There. Problem solved!
Ghosts are kind of weird. The missing combinations are Ghost/Grass, Ghost/Psychic, Ghost/Rock, Ghost/Steel, and Ghost/Fighting. I think technically, it would be passable to just pick any kind of base form, ghostify it, slap on another element and call it a day, but Ghosts are always more fun when there’s some kind of story behind them, no matter how silly, like the idea that Driftloons are the ghosts of popped balloons. I don’t think it’d be hard to ghostify a plant, so Ghost/Grass should be easy. Ghost/Rock was already kind of touched on above. Ghost/Fighting could be the ghost of some breed of fighters, I dunno. Fighting Pokemon all seem rather similar to me anyway. Ghost/Psychic and Ghost/Steel seem to have the most potential for weird origin stories; Ghost/Psychic also being a combination of opposing types makes it even more fun, especially since they’re doubly weak to Dark. I hope the eventual debut Pokemon of that type combo isn’t disappointing…
Though I’m not a big fan of Fire-types, there’s also really no reason for the missing combinations to still be missing because Fire is yet another ability-type and all of its missing partners are also ability-types. Leaving out the Electric/Fire Rotom form, we’re still missing Fire/Grass, Fire/Ice, Fire/Poison, Fire/Water. Three of those pair Fire with an opposing type and are therefore of immediate interest. Opposing type combinations are always great since it automatically knocks out a weakness — Fire/Grass, despite being part Grass, would obviously not be weak to Fire. It would also not be weak to Ground, despite being part Fire. Think of the team strategies we’re missing out on here! Also, Fire/Water is the only combination involving Water we’re still missing. Apparently there are shrimp that live near underwater volcanoes. I don’t think we have a shrimp Pokemon. Crab, yes, but no shrimp! There you go!
Tied with four missing type combos are Dragon and Bug (and Grass, if we disclude Rotom). Both are form-based types (and Grass is weird and kind of both form- and ability-based) and the missing pairs are: Dragon/Grass, Dragon/Poison, Dragon/Rock, Bug/Dragon, Bug/Ice, Bug/Psychic, and Bug/Dark. Dragons are easy. Start with a generic dragon form and pimp it out with its element. None of its missing types are particularly clashing, except maybe Rock, but it’s not that hard to imagine a golem-like Dragon. Dragon/Bug is also kind of weird, and it’s a shame they’ve already typed out the dragonfly-based Pokemon to other combinations, but it still shouldn’t be that difficult. Bugs are kind of monster-like already, so dragons shouldn’t be far off. It also shouldn’t be hard to give some random bug psychic or dark powers, so the only challenge here is Bug/Ice. Hmm.
Hanging out at the bottom of the list are Grass, Dark, Ground, Flying, Water, and whatever else I’ve forgotten. Most of them have already been covered as the second half of aforementioned type combinations, and none of them seem particularly difficult to come up with something for. Really, a majority of the types involved in the missing pairs are ability-based types; thus, a many of the combinations involve two ability-based types, which are easy to attach onto anything. Of the form-based types, Dragon and Bug are easy, as is Fighting (which could be disputed as an ability-based type anyway), and Rock can be knocked out almost completely with dinosaurs. Steel is kind of problematic, but it’s only involved in three combos anyway.
Unfortunately, despite the fact that it shouldn’t be hard to come up with Pokemon for these missing combinations, it will probably take another two or three generations to cover them all because there are a lot of type combinations that seem to be covered as part of tradition more than anything else, including slews of Normal and Water-types, of which there are more than any others. Let’s assume no new generation adds more than the third generation did (135 new Pokemon). Let’s assume that we’re never going to cover any new type combos with the starters and their evolutions (-9). Let’s assume two or three evolution lines of basic Normal-types that harass you at the beginning of the game (-10), two lines of Normal/Flyings (-5), and a couple of bugs (-6). We always seem to have a handful of pure Grass-types (-8), a couple of pure Fightings (-2), and a bunch of new Fish, and Water only has one missing type combo left (-15). That’s 55 Pokemon out of the way already. If the generation only adds about a hundred new guys, that’s half your possibilities gone. If they add the max of 135, that’s still more than a third. Throw in all the repeat combos and you aren’t left with very many.
Still, I guess it’s a good defense for when people claim that Nintendo is “running out of ideas.” They still have 33-45 type combinations to cover. That is plenty of justification for another generation! Not that they really need it though.