Should You Purify Shadow Pokemon GO?

Shadow Pokémon initially emerged in the Pokémon games, Pokémon Colosseum and Pokémon XD: Gale of Darkness. Defined as Pokémon with suppressed emotions due to Cipher’s interference, turning them into combat machines. These beings were unable to execute non-“Shadow” Moves and didn’t accumulate experience from fights. The process of Purification was the solitary method to restore them to their original state, consequently lifting the final lock on a Pokémon’s heart.

However, Pokémon GO puts forth a slightly different representation of Shadow Pokémon. Though some characteristics might align with their counterparts from Colosseum/XD, the ones in Pokémon GO display their own unique traits. Distinguishable by a purple aura and crimson eyes, these Shadow Pokémon don’t possess the Shadow-based Moves as their Colosseum/XD versions do. Instead, they carry an exclusive “Shadow Bonus” in their attacks, granting an additional point or two of damage. When a player successfully captures one from Team GO Rocket, they face a dilemma – to Purify it or retain its Shadow status. Which course is preferable?


Last updated on May 10, 2023 by Renri Seong: The stream of Team GO Rocket-related Special Research in Pokémon GO never runs dry. Accomplishing each Special Research mission eventually bestows players with a Super Rocket Radar—an exclusive item enabling players to confront Team Rocket’s supreme leader, Giovanni. For casual players, capturing Giovanni’s Shadow Pokémon stands as the most straightforward strategy to acquire Legendary Shadow Pokémon. Even though these can be purified similarly to other Shadow Pokémon, certain players opt to maintain their Shadow state. This guide has been revised to incorporate a segment concerning Legendary Shadow Pokémon and their purification.

On the Hunt for Shadow Pokémon

In contrast to ordinary Pokémon, Shadow Pokémon are elusive, absent from the wild or as “Surprise Encounter” rewards for achieving Field or Special Research. To catch these intriguing creatures, players must triumph over Team GO Rocket Grunts or Leaders.

Team GO Rocket challenges can be located at dark PokeStops, or by selecting any Rocket Balloons that materialize on the map. Team GO Rocket Leaders pose a challenge only if players possess and utilize the Rocket Radar. Giovanni, Team Rocket’s overlord, is encountered when players are equipped with a Super Rocket Radar. Victory against any of these adversaries leads players to a “bonus stage,” offering the opportunity to catch one of their opponent’s Shadow Pokémon.

Virtually all Pokémon have Shadow counterparts, including Legendaries. However, Legendary Pokémon, such as Shadow Latios, are exclusively found in Giovanni’s team, a rarity not bestowed upon an ordinary Grunt’s team. Shadow Pokémon can only be captured using Premier Balls. A player’s success when catching Shadow Pokémon depends on various factors:

  • The Grunt/Leader defeated
  • Hero Medal Rank
  • Purifier Medal Rank
  • Remaining Pokémon

Shadow Pokémon represent all members of Team GO Rocket’s squad, dealing higher damage than Pokémon encountered in standard Trainer Battles. To secure a victory, bring along Pokémon with superior IVs and high CP. A loss opens up options for a Rematch or a decision to abstain from battle.

Shadow Pokémon: A Worthy Addition?

While purifying a captured Shadow Pokémon seems like an instinctive move, it is not obligatory. Players are at liberty to retain the Shadow state of their Pokémon. There are compelling reasons to do so – their Moves inflict greater damage, albeit at the cost of diminished defense. Shadow Pokémon can be stationed at Gyms and designated as a Buddy akin to regular/Purified Pokémon. However, trading them to other players remains an impossibility.

Weighing the Options: To Retain or Purify Shadow Pokémon

The decision to keep or purify your Shadow Pokémon involves a careful evaluation of various factors.

The Case for Retaining Shadow Pokémon

Shadow Pokémon come equipped with Quick and Charged Moves that carry a “Shadow Bonus”, dealing amplified damage to opponents. This attribute turns them into potent assets during battles against other trainers, including Team GO Rocket. In addition to their Shadow Bonus, these Pokémon continue to benefit from Weather Boost effects, thereby enhancing their attacks with the combined forces of the Shadow Bonus and Weather Boost.

The Argument for Purifying Shadow Pokémon

On the flip side, Shadow Pokémon demand a 20% increase in Candy and Stardust for Power Ups, Evolutions or to learn new Charged Moves. When purified, Pokémon not only gain better Appraisal but also receive 2 points towards all their IVs. This means a 2-star Shadow Pokémon can potentially evolve into a 3-star one upon purification. Purified Pokémon also witness a substantial rise in Combat Power (CP). Moreover, certain Special Research Tasks necessitate players to Purify a specific number of Shadow Pokémon.

However, both Shadow and Purified Pokémon share a drawback – the Moves Frustration (for Shadow) and Return (for Purified). While the latter, a Normal-type Move, offers a respectable DPS and can be effectively used in PVP, it might not be worth keeping on a Pokémon that possesses superior Charged Moves.

For instance, a Normal-type like Snorlax will extract more utility from these exclusive moves than a Pokémon with weak Attack IVs. Nevertheless, the Frustration/Return move can be replaced by learning a move through a Charged TM, or by using Candy/Stardust. This, though, can be resource-consuming, and the resources might be better allocated towards evolving/powering up the Pokémon.

What About Purifying Legendary Pokémon?

Given that Purification costs Candy and Stardust, purifying a Legendary Shadow Pokémon can be quite an investment. It requires 20 [Legendary Pokémon] Candy and 20,000 Stardust for purification. Although the Candy requirement might not seem extensive, it is significant for Legendary Pokémon.

Usually, Candy can be obtained by catching the same species (and its evolutions) of Pokémon in the wild, with Pinap and Silver Pinap Berries doubling the Candy quantity. However, Legendary Pokémon, true to their name, aren’t easily found in the wild and never appear on the overworld map, except during special Pokémon GO events.

To accumulate Candy for Legendary Pokémon, players must:

  • Assign the Legendary as a Buddy Pokémon (20km = 1 Candy for all Legendaries)
  • Feed them Rare Candy (available from Gifts, successful raid battles, or league battles)

Once a Legendary Pokémon is purified, it will learn Return as its Charge Move, like any other Purified Pokémon. However, Return is generally overshadowed by the Legendary’s other Charge Moves, suggesting that players should accumulate more Candy to learn a second move or use a TM to replace Return.

The high cost of purification and the subsequent investment may deter some trainers from purifying Shadow Pokémon. Yet, it’s worth noting that a Shadow Pokémon might gain more IVs once purified, potentially elevating their ranking. The choice, ultimately, rests with the trainers.

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