It’s Halloween, Let’s Rank The Best Ghost-Type Pokémon

It’s Halloween, Let’s Rank The Best Ghost-Type Pokémon

The end of October is nigh, which means the spooky decorations are about to make way for snow, presents, and mistletoe. But before we say goodbye to the jack-o-lanterns and trick-or-treating, we can still pay tribute to the spookiest, the scariest, the ghouliest(?) of Pokémon: the ghost types.

Over the years, ghost Pokémon have exploded in number, starting from just the Gastly line, which was their sole representative in the original games, to now dozens of critters haunting the Pokémon world. Ghost-type Pokémon Pokedex entries are some of the most terrifying lore dumps this typically all-ages series has, and that’s what makes them some of the most interesting. But while we’d love to give every ghost-type friend their due, today we’ve narrowed it down to the 10 creepiest, spookiest, and most memorable lines in the first nine generations of Pokémon. But before we get to the honorees, here are the honourable mentions:

  • Aegislash
  • Cursola
  • Dragapult
  • Drifblim
  • Froslass
  • Galarian Marowak
  • Gholdengo
  • Golurk
  • Hisuian Typhlosion
  • Houndstone
  • Mismagius
  • Polteageist
  • Rotom
  • Skeledirge

10. Annihilape

Image: The Pokémon Company / Bulbapedia

Do you ever feel like you’re so mad you could just die? Well, that’s pretty much what Primeape does when it evolves into Annihilape. The ghost/fighting-type Primeape transforms after it uses Rage Fist, a new move introduced in Scarlet and Violet, that channels all its anger into a fierce punch. Eventually the anger becomes too much for Primeape’s physical form to bear, thus it transcends the body and becomes Annihilape, an angry, ghostly shadow of its former self.

I have to give Annihilape props for just being so mad it left its body. It’s giving Evil Ryu, it’s giving incredible online rage poster. Even though it’s meant to embody rage, Annihilape also just has the sort of haunting dead-in-the-eyes vibe you’d expect from a ghost-type Pokémon. It’s a versatile king.

9. Hisuian Zoroark

Image: The Pokémon Company

The original Unova Zoroark already had ghostly qualities, given that the fox-like Pokémon’s entire schtick is creating illusions. But it wasn’t until Pokémon Legends: Arceus that it actually became a ghost. According to the lore, Hisuian Zoroarks are the revived ghosts of Zoroarks who died in the Hisui region’s harsh conditions after being driven out of their homes by humans. They now persist out of spite and disdain toward those who forced them out of Unova.

Pokémon Legends: Arceus is already dealing with colonization in the world just by the nature of its story, but Hisuian Zoroark is one of the most haunting examples of this in Pokémon lore. It is the echo of souls lost in humanity’s expansion, and one of Legends: Arceus’ most damning pieces of commentary on the way Pokémon are affected by human’s perception of what they’re “supposed” to be. The Hisuian variant of Zoroark is more or less extinct by modern times, but its existence is a reminder that despite Pokémon’s themes of friendship and teamwork, there are darker truths behind people’s coexistence with Pokémon throughout this universe’s history.

8. Decidueye

Image: The Pokémon Company / Bulbapedia

Decidueye is probably the most “normal” of the ghost-type Pokémon we’re spotlighting here. It doesn’t have a lot of spooky, scary lore to dissect, and its ghost typing comes mostly from its ability to manipulate both the shadows and the spirits of its enemies. But the real reason Decidueye is here is because the Pokémon’s just cool as fuck. The owl archer is giving Robin Hood. They’re giving Green Arrow. They’ve just got a swagger that is impossible not to respect. They use their wing as a bow, and if you don’t think that’s the tightest shit ever I don’t know what to tell you.

7. Shedinja

Image: The Pokémon Company / Bulbapedia

As a kid, learning about Shedinja was one of the first moments when Pokémon’s scary ghost lore finally clicked in my head. Shedinja isn’t exactly an evolution of Nincada, but it will appear in your party if Nincada evolves into Ninjask and you have an open slot in your party and a Poke Ball in your bag. Shedinja is the discarded shell left behind after this evolution, and despite not moving, breathing, or showing any signs of life, it is truly alive. It only has one HP, but its Wonder Guard ability protects it from attacks that aren’t super effective. This lifeless husk is fully aware but unable to do anything other than battle, and that’s horrifying.

6. Yamask

Image: The Pokémon Company / Bulbapedia

Over a decade after its debut in Black and White, Yamask is still one of the ghost Pokémon that keeps me up at night. While the rest of the spookiest Pokémon here are born of tragedy befalling the Pocket Monsters themselves, Yamask wasn’t always a Pokémon. It was once human.

Yamask is a body horror moment trapped in a Poke Ball. These mask-carrying ghosts are the remains of humans who still retain memories of their past lives, and can possess a human body once more if someone wears its mask. If it evolves into Cofagrigus, it completes its transformation into a Pokémon by forgetting its old memories. This shit got me fucked up, Game Freak.

5. Spiritomb

Image: The Pokémon Company / Bulbapedia

While Yamask are floating symbols of an individual life, Spiritomb is the culmination of hundreds of foul spirits crammed into a stone prison. Spiritomb had a new moment of prominence recently after Pokémon Legends: Arceus made gathering its spirits into a collectathon in a game already full of collecting, but it did spotlight just how much cursed human history is collected in just one of these Pokémon. Spiritomb is the living embodiment of evil people’s evil thoughts and deeds, all crammed into a stone as punishment.

And honestly? That’s metal.

4. Chandelure

Image: The Pokémon Company / Bulbapedia

Don’t be fooled by Chandelure’s cute design, the living chandelier’s flames burn you on a spiritual level, rather than inflicting damage to your real body. Chandelure is one of the best examples of how ghost-type Pokémon make corporeal concepts paranormal, as its flames bypass all physical forms of contact and go straight for the spiritual. If you’re burned by a Chandelure, your body will just be found unharmed while your soul has left it, forced to wander the physical plane forever.

The further we get into this, the more I’m wondering how y’all can stand having these spooky fucks in your party. I wouldn’t be able to sleep.

3. Giratina

Image: The Pokémon Company / Bulbapedia

Okay, my Sinnoh sicko is coming out here. I love Giratina because we love Pokémon’s biblical fallen angel allegories. Thus we have no choice but to stan the instigator of Pokémon Legends: Arceus’ war for god-like supremacy in the Pokémon universe. As the symbol of antimatter, Giratina is both a malicious and a tragic figure in Pokémon lore, and it was banished into the Distortion World by Arceus for being destructive. And shit, that destructive nature was put on display when it nearly unraveled the entire Pokémon world to attack and dethrone god.

I have a lot of love for Giratina, even if a lot of it is bolstered by my love of the characters and conflicts that surround it. Thwarting its plans alongside Palkia in Legends: Arceus is an all-time Pokémon moment, and watching its malice nearly unravel an entire universe has etched it into the upper echelon of legendary Pokémon, as well bringing it near the top of all ghost-type Pokémon. But even with all that mythology behind it, there are two other fan-favorites who I think surpass it as the best examples of what ghosts can be in the Pokémon world.

2. Gengar

Image: The Pokémon Company / Bulbapedia

Full disclosure: Gengar doesn’t do a lot for me, but it’s impossible to talk about ghost-type Pokémon and not give the original its flowers. Gengar and its evolutionary line held Pokémon’s paranormal layer on their backs for two generations, and while it’s mostly been characterized as a trickster over the years, the mere implication of ghosts existing in the Pokémon world is what paved the way for all of the spooky shit above. The OG (original ghost) has gotten a lot of love over the years both from fans and The Pokémon Company itself. It gets Gigantamax and Mega forms, it’s a Unite character, Ash finally got one with a heartbreaking backstory in his final stretch of the anime. It might not be on the cover of any of the games, but Gengar’s arguably one of the most iconic Pokémon in the series’ long history. Gengar’s stories lack the terrifying implications of the ghosts that would come after, but it is the blueprint on which all ghost-type Pokémon are made.

1. Mimikyu

Image: The Pokémon Company / Bulbapedia

Despite being one of the most popular Pokémon around, we’ve never seen what Mimikyu actually looks like. Instead, we’ve seen its disguise, a rag made to look like Pikachu that covers its body, with the exception of two eye holes that it peeks through as it walks. Mimikyu, like anyone else, just wants to be loved, and it fears if people see its true form, they won’t love it. That’s why it disguises itself as a Pikachu, in hopes that people will adore it the same way Pokémon’s mascot has been beloved for many years.

Mimikyu’s mystique is what makes it so effective. Every time we’ve seen some allusion to what it looks like underneath the rag, those who have seen it have been horrified by what they see. Mimikyu is the quintessential “don’t judge a book by its cover” Pokémon, as its entire story is sad and endearing even as it hides something blood-curdling beneath the surface. It embodies the spectrum of what a Pokémon can be, all wrapped up in one enigmatic little guy. Mimikyu harkens to the comfy creatures we believe Pokémon to be, but is also a reminder that horrifying truths we don’t know or understand can lurk just beneath the surface.

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