Team GO Rocket and Shadow Pokémon

In July 2019, a new evil force Team GO Rocket arrived in Pokémon GO, based on Team Rocket from the original Gen 1 games. Team GO Rocket have captured Pokémon and overpowered them by unnatural means, turning them into Shadow Pokémon. Rocket Grunts hide out at Poké Stops, causing them to turn dark and pulsate; however they disappear after 30 minutes. The Grunts steal resources from the stops and you must battle them to obtain the remaining items and save the Shadow Pokémon.

Once defeated, the Grunts abandon one of their Shadow Pokémon and it can be caught. Shadow Pokémon are initially low-level and the only charge move they can have is Frustration. However, through a process called Purification they can be saved. Purified Pokémon increase to level 25, gain 2 IVs in each stat (so a 13/13/13 Pokémon will become perfect), and will know the move Return instead of Frustration.

An additional facet to GO Rocket began in November 2019. After battling Rocket Grunts, a Mysterious Component is obtained; combining six of them creates a Rocket Radar which provides an encounter Team GO Rocket Leaders: Arlo, Cliff and Sierra. Through various Special Research the big boss of Team Rocket, Giovanni, can also be battled.

 

Team GO Rocket lineups

Each Rocket Grunt specializes in one Pokémon type - prior to the battle they give a message that hints at what type they will use. Battles are in the PvP format, however the Shadow Pokémon they use have massive CP - much higher than their usual maximum - so come prepared!

Type Hint quote First Pokémon Second Pokémon Third Pokémon
Normal Normal does not mean weak.
Rattata
Whismur
Patrat
Raticate
Loudred
Bibarel
Raticate
Ursaring
Bibarel
Fire Do you know how hot Pokémon fire breath can get?
Cyndaquil
Numel
Quilava
Ninetales
Typhlosion
Camerupt
Water These waters are treacherous!
Totodile
Wailmer
Croconaw
Feraligatr
Wailord
Water These waters are treacherous!
Magikarp
Magikarp
Magikarp
Gyarados
Electric Get ready to be shocked!
Mareep
Shinx
Voltorb
Electabuzz
Electabuzz
Ampharos
Luxray
Grass Don't tangle with us!
Chikorita
Cacnea
Bayleef
Meganium
Cacturne
Amoonguss
Ice You're gonna be frozen in your tracks.
Sandshrew
Alolan Sandshrew

Swinub
Sandslash
Alolan Sandslash

Snover
Cloyster
Lapras
Abomasnow
Fighting This buff physique isn't just for show!
Hitmonlee
Hitmonchan
Makuhita
Hitmonlee
Hitmonchan
Machamp
Hitmonlee
Hitmonchan
Poison Coiled and ready to strike!
Nidoran♂
Zubat
Foongus
Nidorina
Nidorino
Muk
Weezing
Ground You'll be defeated into the ground!
Diglett
Alolan Diglett

Hippopotas
Diglett
Alolan Diglett

Hippopotas
Hippowdon
Flying Battle against my Flying-type Pokémon!
Natu
Starly
Ducklett
Golbat
Staravia
Gyarados
Dragonite
Crobat
Psychic Are you scared of psychics that use unseen power?
Natu
Girafarig
Ralts
Alakazam
Hypno
Metang
Bug Go, my super bug Pokémon!
Weedle
Shuckle
Beedrill
Skorupi
Pinsir
Forretress
Scizor
Rock Let's rock and roll!
Onix
Sudowoodo
Lileep
Anorith
Golem
Onix
Ghost Ke...ke...ke...ke...ke...ke!
Golett
Banette
Dusclops
Banette
Dusknoir
Golurk
Dragon ROAR! ...How'd that sound?
Dratini
Exeggutor
Alolan Exeggutor

Flygon
Dragonite
Flygon
Salamence
Dark Wherever there is light, there is also shadow.
Rattata
Alolan Rattata

Purrloin
Raticate
Alolan Raticate

Stunky
Raticate
Alolan Raticate

Cacturne
Honchkrow
Fairy Check out my cute Pokémon!
Snubbull
Ralts
Snubbull
Granbull
Kirlia
Granbull
Kirlia
Misc Don't bother—I've already won.
Get ready to be defeated!
Winning is for winners.
Snorlax
Snorlax
Poliwrath
Gardevoir
Snorlax
Gyarados
Dragonite

 

Team GO Rocket Leaders

After combining the Mysterious Components into the Rocket Radar, the Rocket Leaders can be seen at certain stops. Unlike Grunt takeovers, the Leaders stay at the same stop all day (8am-10pm), then will rotate to different stops the next day. No Grunt takeovers will happen at that stop, while a Leader is there. Their first Pokémon has a chance to be shiny.

Jessie & James started appearing in July 2020, when a new Rocket Balloon feature was added. If a Meowth balloon appears you battle each of them in succession. Their first Pokémon has a chance to be shiny. Jessie & James left in February 2021.

Giovanni can only be encountered by obtaining the Super Rocket Radar via Special or Timed Research, and will reward a shadow Legendary. Sometimes a Decoy Grunt will appear instead of Giovanni.

 

Shadow Pokémon

All the Shadow Pokémon in Pokémon GO are listed below, with the Stardust and Candy required to purify them. Not all are currently available as the team rosters for Rocket Grunts change regularly, and some are only used as second/third Pokémon so are not obtainable.