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Unintentionally Unwinnable / Pokémon

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  • Versions of Pokémon (from Gen.3 and beyond) will not allow you to release or trade a Pokémon that has been taught a move from a Hidden Machine. This is to prevent players from doing this to themselves, since HMs carry moves that in general are required to finish the game. The only way to trade or release a Pokémon that knows an HM move is to teach that move to another Pokémon in the party. In addition, HMs cannot be tossed or sold for this very reason (TMs prior to Generation V could be tossed or sold).
    • This can create a side effect where, if a player receives a Pokémon that knows an HM move before they received that HM, they will become unable to trade or release that Pokémon until they find that particular HM and teach it to another.
    • This issue is non-existent in Pokémon Sun and Moon, where Cut isn't even needed, and the Ride Pager makes up for any other required HM.

Generation I

  • In the Japanese Pokémon Red and Green, if you evolve your starting Pokémon before you get to the second town and back (raising it from Level 5 to 16 by Level Grinding against Pokémon about levels 2 through 4), the game will assume you already have the Pokédex and never give it to you. This means you can't get Poké Balls or purchase items in general, and since getting the Dex is also the flag that tells the Old Man in Viridian City to move, you're also unable to progress past the second town either. This was corrected in Japanese Pokémon Blue, as well as all international releases. While you can do this by accident, those not doing this for the explicit purpose of glitching the game should probably get a psych evaluation for choosing anywhere that's not the Viridian Forest as your grinding spot for Brock.
    • Note that if you try to trade your starter to another game to give it Cut to get around that man, the badge necessary for overworld use of the move is further up in your adventure.
  • Gen I has the famous Glitch City, which — if the player follows a particular sequence of actions involving the Safari Zone — will put you in a "town" made of a random jumble of tiles pulled from the town you last visited. As Glitch Cities are not part of the game's map, they have no real exits (in some you can't even move off the tile you start in), thus the only way out is to Fly to another city or Teleport/Dig yourself back to the last Pokémon Center you visited. If you save in one without a Pokémon who knows one of those moves, you are in trouble.
    • Another way to get stuck in a Glitch City in Yellow Version is to talk to Jigglypuff in Pewter City's Pokémon Center with Pikachu following you, which makes it stand still. Then, walk for a while on the right side of the room where Pikachu is not on screen. Eventually, you'll suddenly be unable to move.
  • Also in Gen I, the glitch Pokémon other than Missingno. and 'M. You usually have to go out of your way to encounter them, especially in Yellow. But the harder you have to look, the more damage they do. Missingno. and M rarely do anything worse than mess with your Hall of Fame; other glitched Pokémon and trainers can screw up your party, destroy your savegame, or even render the entire cartridge unusable. Demons in all their glitchy glory here.
  • A more minor case, most infamously seen in Twitch Plays Pokémon Red, occurs inside Cinnabar Island's Pokémon Mansion. One NPC trainer can be battled while they are in a nearby one-tile-wide nook. When the battle ends, the NPC will remain in place in front of the narrow space, blocking the player's only exit. Provided the player doesn't have an Escape Rope, Dig, or Teleport on them, the only ways to escape the Mansion when this occurs are to reset or battle wild Pokémon until losing and being returned to a Pokémon Center.
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  • A less minor case can be found on Route 25. Battling a certain trainer from three blocks away will move him far enough that you can walk into a small enclosure behind him. Once you save and reset, the defeated trainer moves back to his original position, and stays there permanently. If you walk into that enclosure—perhaps to grab the TM in there—and then save and quit, you're trapped. The only way to escape your new 5x2 home is to use Cut or Fly (or, in a pinch, Teleport). You normally reach this route before getting either of those HMs, so if you decide to save in that spot for whatever reason, you'll probably have to start a new game.
  • You can strand yourself on Cinnabar Island. Now, as the island has a lot of different ways to help you escape, this requires you to:
    • Heal at the Pokémon Center on the island, establishing that location as your respawn point;
    • Release all your Pokémon who know or can learn Fly or Surf, including any who could evolve into such Pokémon;note 
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    • Defeat all the trainers on the island (at Blaine's Gym and the Cinnabar Mansion), so as to collect their prize money and be unable to fight them again for more money;
    • Pick up every item on the island, exhaust your money at the Pokémart until you don't have enough left to buy Pokéballs, and then throw away as much of your inventory as you can, so not only do you not have anything to sell, you don't have any Pokéballs to catch new Pokémon;
    • And release all your Pokémon who know or can learn Pay Day, so there's no way to earn money from battling wild Pokémon (and do the same with Metronome, on the off chance it activates Pay Day).
    • Alternatively, you can keep your money and your items, but never get any of the fishing rods. Ordinarily, you'd need a fishing rod to catch a Pokémon that can Surf, but you can work around that by the Fossil Pokémon, both of which can learn Surf. Without any fishing rods (and once you've released your Pokémon), you still won't be able to catch a new Pokémon because you need a fishing rod to be able to activate a wild Pokémon encounter while on the island. Either way, you can see that ordinary players have to be trying really hard to maroon themselves this way.
  • You can similarly strand yourself before entering Saffron City, by wasting all your money, getting rid of any items you can sell, running out of trainers to beat for money, and getting rid of any Pokémon that know or can learn Pay Day, Metronome, or Mirror Move. This is because you need money to buy a drink for the guard who lets you into Saffron City. This was eliminated in the Gen III remakes by having the guard specifically ask for tea, a key item you get from a little old lady rather than have to buy with your own money.note 
  • You can similarly strand yourself by running out of money before entering the Safari Zone (which has an entrance fee) and getting the Strength HM, which you'll need to complete the game. They did fix this in Yellow with a bit of Developers' Foresight — if you don't have the money but badger the gatekeeper, he'll let you in for free with a single Safari Ball.
  • Thanks to a glitch involving the Safari Zone, saving, ledges, and poison, one can gain the ability to walk through walls. However, this ability is lost upon reloading the game, so if one saves and reloads inside a wall, they'll be stuck. Similarly, one can use the glitch to reach the Seafoam Islands without any Pokémon that know Surf or Fly. However, the glitch is so elaborate that one would need instructions to pull it off.
  • Through manipulating the movement of a specific NPC in the starting town in Gen I, it is possible to get them to stand in your way during the first in-engine cutscene, resulting in you getting stuck in a wall and getting softlocked before even acquiring your very first Pokémon. The current holder of the world record for getting softlocked in Gen I is Shenanagans Smash, who did it in 2 minutes and 6 seconds.
  • An AI glitch could potentially lead to a battle that never ends. Normally, it causes trainer opponents to spam any move that's super-effective against you, even if that move is non-damaging (Twitch Plays Pokémon Red beat Lance this way by accident). But against one specific Pokémon — Lorelei's Dewgong — you can trick your opponent into spamming Rest, which won't damage you but which will heal your opponent. Enemies don't use PP, so they won't run out and be forced to use Struggle. Save in Lorelei's room (so a hard reset will spawn you there) and fight against her with a single Pokémon that (a) is weak to Psychic types and (b) knows a single move:note  Rage. Rage works by locking both sides into spamming their last move, and you don't run out of PP either. This means you'll keep using Rage, and your opponent will keep using Rest, which will more than heal whatever damage Rage will do. There's no way to end the battle.note  Amazingly, this was addressed in Yellow, where the trainer AI specifically checks for Lorelei's Dewgong and overrides the usual logic in this case, just to prevent this scenario.
  • When the game is reloaded from a save file, the NPCs reset to their original positions. If you save in an enclosed spot on Route 25, without any mon who knows Cut (or the Cascade Badge that allows you to use it) and reload the file, you are stuck. Those spaces don't even have any wild Pokémon for you to fight and lose to (to warp you back to the last Pokémon Center). And it's a lot easier to do this accidentally (albeit still highly improbable). You can get out of it by using Fly, but you can't get that until you beat Lt. Surge, whose gym requires Cut to get enter. You'd better hope you caught an Abra on Route 24 who can teleport you out.
  • It's possible to get yourself completely stuck in Cerulean City. You can't go back the way you came from Mt. Moon, because you get out through a one-way ledge. You can't go east or south, because the NPCs won't let you pass and you don't have Cut to get past the trees. You have to go north and get the ticket to the S.S. Anne (where you get Cut) — but you get waylaid by an unavoidable fight with your Rival. And you can ensure that you lose to your rival by catching a Geodude in Mt. Moon, grinding it to Level 43 so that it evolves into Graveler and knows both Explosion and Selfdestruct, which do damage but KO Graveler in the process, as well as non-damaging moves Harden and Defense Curl. This combination means that your only damaging moves will KO you. And if you dump all your other Pokémon, waste all your money (including by beating every trainer accessible to you, which includes everyone in the Cerulean Gym), and eliminate any means of catching new Pokémon, the only way out is with a battle that's impossible to win. (You might think you can get out of it by hoping your Rival's leadoff Pidgeotto spams Sand Attack and reduces your Graveler's accuracy, but Explosion and Selfdestruct will KO you even if it misses.)

Generation II

  • You can lock yourself on Cianwood City (which is on an island) by healing at Cianwood's Pokémon Center, tossing all your Poké Balls, releasing all but one each of your Pokémon that know or can learn Surf or Fly, traversing on foot to the Day Care outside of Goldenrod City without using any Pokémon Center along the way, giving your only remaining HM-using Pokémon to the Daycare Couple, and then using Teleport to get back to Cianwood. Since there is no Mart in Cianwood, you have no means of catching any Pokémon that could learn Surf to let you leave. This is accounted for in the remakes; if you somehow have no Pokémon in your party or in the PC that know an HM that could get you out of Cianwood, an NPC in the Pokemon Center will give you a Tentacool that can learn Surf.

Generation III

  • More of a metagame example, but if both you and your opponent send out Wobbuffet with Leftovers, the match is made unwinnable since the held item Leftovers recovers more health than what the move Struggle will hit (and recoil) for considering Wobbuffet's abysmal attack stat, and the ability Shadow Tag prevents either player from switching out. Generation IV modified both the movenote  and abilitynote  to make this situation impossible.
  • It's possible to strand the player in Sootopolis City, Mossdeep City, Dewford Town, or Pacifidlog Town (all of which are islands, and the last two of which lack a Mart) in the Gen III games by a similar method: heal at the desired Pokémon Center, go to the Day Care, deposit two Pokémon who between them know all HM moves, release all other Pokémon that know or can learn those moves using the PC in the Day Care, use Teleport to return to the island, release the Teleporting Pokémon if it can learn an HM, fight all Trainers, pick up all items, and toss all items (or just Pokéballs if in Dewford or Pacifidlog, or Sootopolis since the Mart is on the opposite side of the lake from the Pokémon Center you arrive at). Instead of having a Pokémon with Teleport, you can, after depositing your HM-users in the Day Care, be left with a single party member, which you can then allow to be poisoned. Once it faints from poison, you will white out and appear at the last Pokémon Center you visited, which should be on an island. Ironically, an essential part of this technique is that HM moves cannot be overwritten, even with other HM moves — an artifact from Gen I meant to prevent you from getting trapped on an islandnote . This is also doable in their Gen VI remakes, but only before getting the Eon Flute.
  • A much simpler method in Ruby and Sapphire, which could theoretically happen by accident, would be if you were to walk from Lavaridge Town to Slateport City immediately after earning your fourth badge, take Mr. Briney's ship to Dewford Town, heal at the Pokémon Center, take the ship further to Petalburg City, defeat the Gym Leader without ever using Petalburg's Pokémon Center, and then immediately use Teleport. You will be back in Dewford Town, but Mr. Briney's ship is gone, because you have the Balance Badge. You are supposed to get the HM for Surf immediately after earning the badge, which would make the ship unnecessary, and since you can't get Fly until after having Surf, it was assumed that there was no way that a player could return to Dewford Town without the HM — the developers forgot about Teleport here. This was fixed in Emerald by having Wally's parents give you the Surf HM immediately after beating Norman without it being possible to miss it or refuse.

Generation IV

  • Early Japanese copies of Diamond and Pearl have two for the price of one at the Pokémon League. Both were fixed in later Japanese releases and all international versions.
    • The first one is the infamous "Surf through Aaron's door" glitch used to access Newmoon Island and Flower Paradise. If you saved in the black abyss while the game thinks you're somewhere where you can't use Fly or Teleport (or just don't have either), you're stuck. Keep in mind that getting Darkrai and Shaymin with this glitch requires saving the game.
    • The second is one you're more likely to come across completely by accident. All Pokémon Centers before Gen VI have a second floor where local wireless activities are conducted, the Sinnoh Pokémon League being no exception. If you go to this second floor at the Pokémon League, the escalator to bring you back to the ground floor doesn't work, leaving you trapped there unless you load your previous save. And given what the room is for, your last save was probably there. Players who managed to get stuck here could send their games in to Nintendo to get hacked out of the room, or use Action Replay codes to do so themselves.
  • An oversight in the early Japanese copies of Diamond and Pearl makes it possible for the player to go to the Underground on a bridge tile in Sunyshore City. When entering the Underground, the player is required to save the game. The problem with this is, when going into the Underground on that particular bridge tile, then going up into the normal world again, the player character will land UNDERNEATH the bridge tile and be able to walk on out-of-bounds sea tiles (and, among other funny things, can actually stand IN the Munchlax-shaped rock). Because of having saved, you will be stuck if you didn't bring a Pokémon knowing Fly or Teleport with you.
  • A less disastrous example comes from the Hearthome City rival battle. In Diamond and Pearl, when you return to the Southern path of town, leading to the only exits, you are ambushed by your rival. If your Pokemon are particularly weak, this fight can be genuinely unwinnable, because there's no way of gaining experience in Hearthome City. This can be avoided if you can trade (also, it's unlikely that you would make it to that point in the game having only Pokemon weak enough to trigger this issue). Platinum fixed this by moving the rival battle to the guardhouse between Hearthome and the next route, meaning you can return to the previous route to grind if so desired.
  • This crazy person went to an island with no fishing rods and only a Finneon capable of getting them off again, and traded that Finneon for a Magikarp which can't. You do have to be trying, though — you need a fishing rod to get a Finneon to begin with, and you can't remove a fishing rod from your inventory, so the only way to do this is to trade for a Finneon from another game. A fishing rod can save you here — you can at least fight other Pokémon and either Level Grinding your Magikarp until it evolves into Gyarados (which can Surf) or lose and warp back to the Pokémon Center.

Generation V

  • In Pokémon Black and White, a minor but annoying instance of this can occur. Due to a weird glitch with EVs, occasionally a Pokémon will survive an attack with 1 HP but still faint. All attempts to proceed with the battle will fail, and if this occurs in a trainer battle, the only way to get out is to restart the game. Luckily, if this happens in the Battle Subway or against a live person, you can still end the battle through forfeit.
    • In that same game there was also a Battle Video of someone fighting an NPC; the NPC fisherman's Walrein fainted, and after getting his next Pokémon knocked out, he sent out Walrein again; its HP bar didn't appear, and the game acted as if the trainer's Pokémon was attacking nothing.
  • In the Japanese version of Pokémon Black 2 and White 2 it is possible to exit Victory Road during the Zoroark event, making it impossible to access a certain Bonus Boss. This was fixed in the international releases.

Generation VI

  • In the initial release of X and Y, if you save outside on the main streets of Lumiose City, there is a chance that, when you load the game back up, Lumiose City will outright fail to load: your character will be frozen, the music will not be playing, and the city textures will not load. This renders the game unplayable, and thus would have to start the whole game over. It does not help that Lumiose City is easily the most confusing and disorienting city in the series, so many players may save there to take a break and/or get their bearings. Luckily, players have found ways to be able to resume the game if affected, and thankfully Nintendo has since released a patch to fix this glitch.
  • In Omega Ruby and Alpha Sapphire, it's possible to render your Secret Base permanently inaccessible via Insurmountable Waist-Height Fence by exiting it with an Escape Rope, forcing you to create a new base. True to form, Twitch achieved this one in Twitch Plays Pokémon Alpha Sapphire.

Side Games

  • In Pokémon Rumble World, it is possible to release all of your Pokémon except one that only knows non-damaging moves like Growl or Flash, making you unable to defeat and thus capture other Pokémon. If you have the Move Center unlocked, you may be able to get money from barrels until you have enough to tutor that Pokémon a damaging move. If not, the only option is using gift codesnote  or getting money or diamonds from barrels, StreetPass or spotPass players, or changing your character settings once per day. But if you've reached a high enough Rank, even that might not be enough, since wild Pokémon's strength increase in relation to your Rank, and Event Pokémon have fixed (and generally low) strength. Diamond-price attacks might help since they do more damage, but it will require careful dodging since your 'mon's low health will probably make most attacks a One-Hit Kill.
  • In Pokémon GO, it may be theoretically possible to max out the inventory space and then fill it with only incubatorsnote  to create a catch-22 situation where you're unable to ever again acquire any items, since incubators need eggs to be "consumed" (and cannot be discarded) and you can't expand the inventory further to make room for those eggs. Although eggs are stored as Pokémon, the only way to get eggs is by spinning stops or gyms or opening gift packages, all of which require you to have item space. This could only be fixed by, also theoretically, doing a raid and then spinning a gym, since the game (normally) allows one gym-spin to deliver your daily free raid pass even if you're well above the item cap, or by getting one from the Weekly Adventure Sync rewards by walking at least 25km, but neither method guarantees an egg, so it could take days or weeks to escape this very implausible trap.

I wonder where my partner went.

Alternative Title(s): Pokemon


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