Pokemon of the Week 10: Gengar, the Shadow Pokemon

Photo: Pokémon: Let’s Go, Pikachu! & Pokémon: Let’s Go, Eevee! character artwork Credit: The Pokemon Company International
Photo: Pokémon: Let’s Go, Pikachu! & Pokémon: Let’s Go, Eevee! character artwork Credit: The Pokemon Company International /
Pokemon Elite Four
Photo: Pokémon: Let’s Go, Pikachu! & Pokémon: Let’s Go, Eevee! character artwork Credit: The Pokemon Company International /

Welcome to Pokemon of the Week, the tenth installment in a recurring series that looks at the impact of some of our favorite Pokemon on the anime, TCG and VGC. Taking a trip down memory lane to see the impact these Pokemon have had on the series and our lives is what makes Pokemon the magical thing it is.

For some people when they think of the first generation of Pokemon they think of the original starter Pokemon. Others think of Mewtwo because of the first movie. To me nothing represents the beginning of Pokemon like Gengar, the Shadow Pokemon. Involved in the introductory sequence of both the first video games and the anime, Gengar has literally been around since the beginning. Niodrino may be the other Pokemon in that sequence but he does not have the iconic stature of the original ghost.

Gengar is the only non-starter Pokemon to have the ability to both Mega Evolve and Gigantamax. While this may change over time as more of the latter is introduced it is telling that Gengar is in this select group. It is the only Poison- and Ghost-type Pokemon, along with its pre-evolutions. It has been a consistent feature in the lore of Pokemon, from the aforementioned introduction to moments of pranking our heroes to winning championships.

Gengar has been a fixture outside of the core sects of Pokemon fandom too. It has been a usable character in Pokken Tournament, including with a fifth place finish at the 2017 World Championships and a runner up finish in 2018. It has also appeared in Super Smash Brothers Ultimate as a spirit.

With its true fighting spirit, it makes sense that Mega Gengar boasts the highest Special Attack of any Ghost or Poison Type Pokemon. So let’s dig in to where it has made an impact so far.

1999 Pikachu And Ash In The Animated Movie “Pokemon:The First Movie.” (Photo By Getty Images) /

In the anime

Gengar’s appearances in the anime have been few and far between. However, anytime it has appeared it has been memorable. Often playing pranks or creating illusions for the heroes to deal with this poltergeist is always up to no good.

In terms of battle on the first notable appearances comes in the Johto region where Ash and friends met Morty, the Ecruteak City Gym Leader. Gengar helped the leader defend the city and the Burned Tower. Gengar did not live in a Pokeball. It was the last Pokemon that Ash had to overcome to win his fourth Johto League badge and the battle was not without fireworks. After an interesting back and forth between Gengar and Ash’s Noctowl Ash was able to come out on top.

Not to be outdone, Agatha made an appearance in the next generation of the anime and her Gengar was on another level. Originally a member of the Kanto Elite Four, the Ghost Master was helping manage the Viridian City Gym on an interim basis. She clashed with Ash in a battle of Pikachu versus Gengar. This time Ash would come up short and Gengar would be victorious.

Gengar would make a variety of appearances that were less impactful. Of note one of Ash’s Pokemon in the new Pokemon Journeys happens to be a Gengar. That goes to show that Gengar will continue to make an impact and give fans countless memorable moments.

Pokemon Rebel Clash
Pokemon European International Championships (Photo by John Keeble/Getty Images) /


Admittedly, for as iconic as Gengar is TCG success has alluded it relatively compared to other popular Pokemon around since the beginning. It only makes one appearance in the commemorative World Championship decks, dating all the way back to 2009. Mother Gengar was the strategy and it would finish in second place in the lowest age division of the Pokemon World Championships.

This strategy was based around Nidoqueen and Gengar. The player would use Nidoqueen’s Poke-Body, Maternal Comfort, to remove damage counters from Gengar. This allowed it to stay around longer and made it more likely for the opponent to trigger Gengar’s Poke-Power. Fainting Spell stated if Gengar was knocked out by an opponent’s attack then you had a 50% chance to immediately knock out the attacking Pokemon. Gengar also used its Shadow Room attack to snipe damage on bench Pokemon, making it a solid attacker in addition to a time bomb.

Following this success Gengar would not see noted success again until the EX era. Gengar EX would be used as a partner alongside the ever-oppressive Trevenant XY. Trevenant’s ability, Forest’s Cure, stopped your opponent from playing Item cards when it was in the Active Position. Gengar EX’s attack, Dark Corridor, did 60 damage, Poisoned the opponent’s Pokemon and then switched to the bench. This put the lock in place with Trevenant, creating a daunting control strategy. Three players would finish in the top 32 at the 2015 World Championships, most impressively Sean Foisy’s fifth place finish.

Finally Gengar returned to the main scene in the tag team era, teaming up with the previously featured Mimikyu in the powerful Gengar & Mimikyu GX. This card has been used in a number of Psychic strategies since coming out as it boasts two annoying attacks. It starts with the GX attack, Horror House GX. This says your opponents cannot play cards from their hand on the following turn and if you have an additional Psychic Energy attached both players draw to seven cards in hand. This sets the opponent back a turn while also setting up for the tag teams other attack. Poltergeist does 50 damage times the number of trainers found in your opponents hand.

This would see play in Malamar, a deck known for using a myriad of Psychic-type attackers. It would also be the basis of its own deck, paired with Omastar. This fossil said if you had less Pokemon on your bench than your opponents they could not play Items. This allowed the Gengar & Mimikyu to deal out major amounts of damage. It would ultimately find its niche as a spot attacker in strategies that could splash it. The Psychic Mewtwo & Mew GX box used this and Trevenant & Dusknoir GX to control the game by choosing whatever attack worked best in the moment. In the expanded format the legendary Pokemon was eschewed and the other two Tag Teams reigned supreme.

My personal favorite use for this was as an optional attacker in the popular Garchomp & Giratina GX deck from last fall. This would allow you to deal with the pesky Garevoir & Sylveon GX that would otherwise ruin your tournament run as well as steal games when your opponent only started with one Pokemon. This combination was one of the most successful strategies for a three month span, including for yours truly. As meager of success as two second place finishes in League Cups is it vaulted this card into a special place in this writer’s heart.

Photo: Pokemon GO Halloween In-Game Events key Art, Courtesy Niantic PR and The Pokemon Company
Photo: Pokemon GO Halloween In-Game Events key Art, Courtesy Niantic PR and The Pokemon Company /


Gengar has always been a popular pick in the video game world, even if it was not always the most successful. That being said it is in the select group of Pokemon that has been part of a World Championship team. Popular content creator Wolfe Glick featured Mega Gengar on his team that won the World Championships in 2016. This team also featured Primal Kyogre, Mega Rayquaza, Hitmontop, Riachu and Bronzong.

Gengar had access to Taunt to stifle status moves and Will-o-Wisp to deter Physical Attackers. It also used Sludge Bomb to help deal with the omnipresent Xerneas. We have featured this match before but it is worth featuring over and over for the drama.

Glick would bring Mega Gengar back in 2019 when Megas were allowed again and would finish fourth at the European International Championship. He would swap out burning his Pokemon for the alternate win condition of Perish Song. At that tournament Glick used Yveltal, Incineroar, Togedemaru, Primal Kyogre and Bronzong. Kimo Nishimure would finish seventh with Primal Kyogre Mega Rayquza, Mega Gengar, Incineroar, Tapu Koko and Ferrothorn.

Two months later Glick and Gengar would be back with something similar to both teams. This time he swapped out Yveltal, Bronzong and Togedemaru for Mega Rayquaza, Tapu Koko and Celesteela and this time he would come away with a win at the North American International Championship.

The final noted hurrah in the Sun Moon era would come at the South American International Championship. Eric Rios would finish in third place with Mega Gengar and Jean Paul Lopez Buiza finished in sixth with regular Gengar. Finally in the Sword Shield era Gengar would appear again in 2020, making it to fourth place at the Oceania International Championship. Now used as more of a speed control specialist Gengar continues to evolve and prove useful. Without a doubt when competition resumes Gengar will not be kept down for long.