Pikachu has served as Pokémon’s mascot for more than 20 years, but just because it is the most popular creature from the series doesn’t necessarily mean it is the strongest or best fighter. There are now hundreds of Pokémon to choose from and Pikachu ranks pretty low when it comes to the top picks for battles.
It isn’t just a case of the little yellow mouse being weaker either. When it comes to Pikachu’s abilities, there is a mixed bag of options available. Some of his moves are downright useless while others leave plenty to be desired, especially when battling in competitive matches. The truth is that there are dozens of abilities that are wasted on Pikachu. They either do not suit strong strategies for the Pokémon or are just too ineffective when it comes to battles.
Frustration is a TM move that Pikachu can learn in most Pokémon games. The ability causes a varied amount of damage according to how low the user’s friendship is with the Pokémon. This essentially means that in order for it to be an effective attack, the Pikachu would have to be kept unhappy. Considering that friendship will increase just by walking around, this move becomes useless very quickly.
Thunder is one of the last moves Pikachu will learn naturally in most Pokémon games. It is a very powerful ability and can cause a huge amount of damage to opponents. However, it is only 70% accurate. Thunderbolt is just slightly less powerful but also has a 100% accuracy level, making it far more viable as the main electric attack.
Fling is a move that Pikachu can learn via TM. It causes damage to the enemy according to the value of the item held by the Pokémon. The ability leads Pikachu to throw any held item at the opponent. This makes it a move that can usually only be used once per battle and ensures you lose whatever item was being held.
Protect is a move that will stop a Pokémon from receiving any damage or status effects for a turn. While this may sound useful, in reality it is very limited. The success rate of the ability halves after each use, meaning it can fail, and Pikachu cannot cause any status effects such as burn or poison that could take advantage of it properly.
16 Quick Attack
Quick Attack is one of the first moves that Pikachu will learn. While it has some useful characteristics, such as having priority over other moves so that you will attack first, it is still very weak. It only has a power rating of 40, meaning it will not pack much of a punch. Most opponents would be able to withstand multiple Quick Attacks without much issue.
15 Tail Whip
Players will be familiar with Tail Whip as it is one of the first moves that many Pokémon learn at low levels. Stat boosting and debuffing moves can be useful but this one is very minor. Tail Whip only lowers the opponent’s defense by one stage, while others like Screech lower it by two. That means you would be far better off replacing it when you get the opportunity.
Pikachu learns Growl at level 1. This makes it a move that almost every wild Pikachu will have. Unfortunately, it has very little use for the Pokémon as it only lowers the opponent’s attack. As Pikachu is defensively vulnerable, this does not have as much of an effect. It would need to be used multiple times, by which time Pikachu would probably be knocked out.
13 Pika Papow
Pika Papow is one of the new partner powers introduced in Pokémon: Let's Go, Pikachu! and Let's Go, Eevee! Its power multiples according to how strong the friendship is between the Pikachu and the trainer. While this gives it the ability to do a lot of damage it does require you to constantly ensure that your friendship is high. Other moves can be equally as powerful without the need for the extra work.
Agility, as you might have guessed from its name, is a move that increases the speed of a Pokémon. The ability can be especially useful for slow and powerful Pokémon that can gain a quick boost to their speed. This gives them the chance to go first and wipe out entire lineups with single hits. It is far less useful for Pikachu who will usually go first anyway due to its naturally high speed.
11 Nasty Plot
Although Nasty Plot is an excellent way to boost the special attack stat of a Pokémon, for Pikachu it is useless. At high levels, Pikachu will not have the luxury of setting up buffs as they are likely to be knocked out or severely weakened after just one enemy attack. Instead, they have to focus on causing as much damage as quickly as possible.
Static is an ability that can cause Pokémon to become paralyzed if they hit an electric opponent with an attack that causes physical contact. A Pikachu with this ability would be something of a waste. After all, many of Pikachu’s other moves can cause paralysis so this ability is redundant. Pikachu would definitely be better served with a different move to cover other types in battle.
9 Play Nice
Play Nice has a similar effect to Growl, causing the opponent's attack stat to fall. The only difference is that it will never miss as it doesn’t have an accuracy check. However, it can only be used half as many times as Growl and is still not very useful for Pikachu. Using this in battle will likely lead to your Pikachu suffering heavy damage or even fainting during that turn before they can actually attack.
Feint is easily one of the most useless abilities within the Pokémon franchise. It only has a power of 30 so is fairly weak when it comes to attacks. What makes it special, though, is that it can also affect Pokémon that have used abilities such as protect. However, for it to be used in this way you would have to know that the opponent is going to use those specific moves beforehand.
Substitute is a unique move in the series that sees Pokémon create a fake version of themselves that their opponents will attack. It costs 25% of a Pokémon’s HP and will break after its own HP depletes. A Pikachu would likely have to keep creating a substitute in battle rather than attacking as it would naturally be broken very easily.
6 Sleep Talk
Sleep Talk allows players to use their other moves while asleep. The ability chooses one of the other three moves to randomly use in battle. It is a good strategy to use for Pokémon with high HP that also have rest as an ability, as they can still attack and gain health while asleep. For this reason, it is not an effective when used with Pikachu since it does not fit those characteristics.
5 Echoed Voice
Pikachu can learn Echoed Voice through TM49. It causes more damage if it is used consecutively turn after turn. For other Pokémon with a high amount of HP and stronger defense it can be a good strategy but for Pikachu it is not worth it. The Pokémon would likely faint before it can use it more than twice against an opponent.
Bide is an attack that stores the energy of an opponent’s attack for two turns and then applies twice that damage back to them. It is very risky as the opponent may not even use a move that causes damage, making it completely useless in these instances. In the case of Pikachu, it would be unlikely that the Pokémon would survive two rounds of attacks to even use the move.
3 Double Slap
Although Double Slap has the ability to hit multiple times in a single turn, it is still not a very useful ability. It is weak in terms of power and only has 85% accuracy, giving it a good chance of missing entirely. Even when it does land, it will only hit three times on average each turn. This makes it a poor choice for Pikachu to learn.
2 Fake Out
In most instances, Fake Out will hit an opponent first and cause them to flinch so that their own attack is canceled. However, it is only successful on the first turn of a battle, severely limiting its usefulness. With a power value of just 40, Pikachu should learn better physical moves that will cause more damage.
1 Thunder Shock
Even though Thunder Shock is a signature electric move, it is only really useful in the early stages of gameplay. Once Pikachu has leveled up to be able to learn other moves or a trainer has access to other electric moves via TM, it should be replaced. This is largely because it only has a power value of 40, making it far less damaging than most other electric attacks.