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Reason: There were a lot of effects missing that I added, but I'm not 100% certain everything sourced was perfectly accurate; also needs organization/rewording and maybe removal/reworking of the "Substitute does not block these" tables as the effect descriptions now contain much fewer generalizations.
Substitute (Japanese: みがわり Scapegoat) is a non-damaging Normal-type move introduced in Generation I. It was TM50 in Generation I before losing its TM status in Generation II. It regained its TM status, albeit as TM90, in Generation IV onwards. It was Mr. Mime's signature move in Generation II.
Using 25% of its maximum HP, the user creates a substitute with 1 HP more than the amount of HP lost by the user. If the user's current HP is less than 25% (rounded down) of its maximum HP, it will be too weak to make a substitute and the move will fail. If the user's current HP is exactly equal to 25% (rounded down) of its maximum HP, it will faint upon creating the substitute. If the user's maximum HP is 3 or less, it will not lose any HP when the substitute is made. A substitute will have the same type and stats as the Pokémon that created it.
Once created, any damage inflicted by the opponent will be redirected to the substitute instead. If the substitute runs out of HP (it takes total damage equal to or greater than the HP used to make it), it will break. A one-hit KO move, if it hits, will always break a substitute.
While the user has a substitute up, the opponent cannot lower the user's stat stages, nor poison, freeze, burn, or flinch it. The opponent can paralyze the user through a status move's primary effect (like Thunder Wave), but not a damaging move's side effect (like Thunderbolt). Conversely, the opponent can confuse the user through a damaging move's side effect (like Confusion), but not a status move's primary effect (like Confuse Ray), and not if the damaging move causes the substitute to break. A substitute does not protect the user against sleep. If the substitute breaks after an opponent's move, it will do so after all primary and side effects of the move have been determined. Therefore, for example, Ice Beam will never freeze the user even if the move just caused the substitute to break.
A substitute will not prevent the user from gaining HP or from losing HP due to crash damage, recoil damage, or recurring damage from an already existing status condition. Additionally, Substitute will not alter the use of the opponent's Disable, Leech Seed, Super Fang, Transform, or partial trapping moves; the user's Bide, Counter, or Rage; nor Haze by either side.
Due to a glitch, if a user with a substitute takes self-inflicted confusion damage, the damage is applied to the opponent's substitute instead. If the opponent does not have a substitute, the damage effectively vanishes.
If a Pokémon breaks a substitute with Hyper Beam, it will not need to recharge. If a Pokémon breaks a substitute with Explosion or Selfdestruct, it will not faint, though its picture will still disappear until it switches out (or uses Substitute itself). If a Pokémon breaks a substitute with a recoil move, it will not take any recoil damage. If a Pokémon breaks a substitute with a HP-draining move, no HP will be restored to it. If a Pokémon breaks a substitute with Pay Day, that use of Pay Day will not count toward the money its Trainer picks up at the end of the battle. If an opponent attacks a substitute with a multi-strike move, the hits will automatically end if the substitute breaks.
In Stadium, several oddities and glitches listed above were fixed:
- A substitute will always block the opponent from inflicting paralysis and confusion, as well as sleep (thus blocking all non-volatile status conditions).
- If a Pokémon breaks a substitute with Explosion or Selfdestruct, it will faint as usual.
- Draining moves will fail entirely against a Pokémon with a substitute.
- If the user's current HP is exactly equal to 25% (rounded down) of its maximum HP, it will be too weak to create a substitute.
In general, the fixed effects from Stadium in Generation I are retained. For example:
- If the user's current HP is equal to or lower than 25% (rounded down) of its maximum HP, it will be too weak to create a substitute.
- The substitute will prevent the opponent from lowering the user's stat stages, inflicting any non-volatile status condition, or flinching it.
- The substitute will not prevent the user from gaining HP, nor will it prevent the user from losing HP due to recoil, an already-existing status condition such as poison, or other forms of recurrent damage such as by a Sandstorm.
- Moves that change effect based on the user's current HP (such as Super Fang) will not behave any differently with Substitute.
- Rage works as normal.
- If the user's substitute is broken by an opponent's Self-Destruct or Explosion, the opponent will faint.
- A substitute protects the user against draining moves, including an opponent's Pain Split (even if the user would gain HP from it). (The user can still itself use Pain Split normally, even if it would lose HP.)
Mechanics changed between Stadium and Generation II include:
- The substitute's HP is now exactly equal to the HP lost to create the substitute, instead of being 1 + the HP lost.
- Leech Seed is now considered a draining move, and will fail against a substitute.
- If the user takes self-inflicted confusion damage, the damage will be given directly to the user rather than to the substitute.
- The user can use Bide, but the damage it inflicts will not count damage dealt to the user's substitute.
- Because recoil damage is calculated from how much HP the target has actually lost, if an opponent hits the user's substitute with a recoil move, the opponent will only take 1 HP recoil damage. (Jump Kick and Hi Jump Kick crash damage is calculated normally.) Breaking a substitute with a recoil move no longer prevents recoil damage.
- A multi-strike move can now continue hitting even after a substitute has been broken, then dealing damage directly to the targeted Pokémon. (However, as Twineedle performs the poison check only once at the beginning of the move, it will never poison a target with a substitute even if the first hit breaks it and the second hit directly damages the target.)
- Pay Day now works as normal.
Mechanics newly introduced in Generation II include:
- A substitute can be Baton Passed, and it will keep whatever HP it has remaining.
- While behind a substitute, the user is unable to use Counter, Mirror Coat, Protect, Detect, or Endure. The opponent can still use these moves.
- While behind a substitute, the user is immune to an opponent's Lock-On, Mind Reader, Nightmare, Ghost-type Curse, and Sketch. The user can still use these moves itself.
- While most end-of-turn effects (such as Sandstorm) bypass a substitute, a substitute redirects the damage from Future Sight. It will also redirect the damage from Pursuit as the user switches out.
- Partial-trapping moves will not trap the user if they are behind a substitute. In addition, creating a substitute will cause the user to escape a partial-trapping move.
- If the opponent uses Swagger, the user will have their Attack sharply increased as normal, but the substitute will prevent them from becoming confused.
- If the opponent uses Thief, the user's item will not be stolen. The user can still use Thief normally itself.
The following moves are not blocked by the substitute:
The following effects are carried over/expanded from Generation II:
- The opponent still cannot lower the user's stat stages, so the substitute will now block Intimidate (which is the only Ability affected by it).
- The opponent cannot remove the user's held item, which now applies to Covet, Knock Off, and Trick (the latter will fail even if the user is not holding an item). The user can still use Trick to lose its own held item.
- The substitute will block damage from Doom Desire as well as Future Sight.
- Yawn is blocked by the substitute, as it is considered a move that inflicts sleep. However, if the user was already drowsy from Yawn on the turn it created the substitute, it can still fall asleep.
The following effects are changed between Generations II and III:
- Twineedle now performs its poison check on both hits, and so can poison a target if it broke a substitute on its first hit.
- Rage's effect will now no longer activate if its user's substitute is hit.
- Swagger (and the newly introduced Flatter) will now fail entirely against a substitute.
- Pay Day now does not cause its Trainer to gain money if it hits a substitute.
- Protect, Detect, and Endure now behave as normal.
- Damaging draining moves (except Dream Eater) can now hit a substitute as normal, and the user of the move will gain HP depending on the HP the substitute lost. The same applies for recoil moves. (Leech Seed is still blocked by the substitute.)
- Trapping moves are now blocked by the substitute.
- Mimic is now blocked by the substitute.
The following effects are newly introduced in Generation III:
- Shedinja, having a maximum of only 1 HP, cannot make a substitute.
- Substitute can be stolen by Snatch.
- SmellingSalt will not have any of its additional effects applied if it hits a substitute, even if the Pokémon behind it is paralyzed.
The following moves are not blocked by the substitute:
The following effects are carried over/expanded from Generation III:
- The opponent still cannot remove the user's held item, which now also applies to Pluck and Bug Bite. Switcheroo behaves identically to Trick.
- Like Counter and Mirror Coat, Metal Burst also does not count damage taken by its user's substitute.
- Similar to SmellingSalt, Wake-Up Slap will not have any of its additional effects applied if it hits a substitute, even if the Pokémon behind it is asleep.
The following effects are changed between Generations III and IV:
- Twineedle reverts to its Generation II behavior.
- Self-confusing Berries such as the Figy Berry now no longer confuse a user behind a substitute.
The following effects are newly introduced in Generation IV:
- The Enigma Berry will not activate if its holder is behind a substitute.
- If an opponent's U-turn breaks the user's substitute, and the opponent then switches in a Pokémon with Intimidate, the substitute will not fade until after it has successfully blocked the new Intimidate.
- If Toxic Spikes are up, using Baton Pass to pass a substitute will prevent the recipient from being poisoned as usual, but if the recipient is a grounded Poison-type, the Toxic Spikes will still be absorbed.
- The user will be protected from all side effects of an opponent's Fling, including beneficial ones.
- An opponent's Defog will not lower the user's evasiveness, but it will still remove fog as well as artifacts (Reflect, Stealth Rock, etc.) on the user's side.
- A substitute blocks Copycat, Embargo, Gastro Acid, Psycho Shift, Worry Seed, Heal Block, and Acupressure (for the latter, regardless of whether an ally or the user itself targeted the user with Acupressure).
The following moves are not blocked by the substitute:
Incinerate's item-removing effect will not work against a substitute, but the Ability Pickpocket and the Item Drop from Wonder Launcher still will. A user behind a substitute can use Bestow to remove its own held item, but an opponent cannot use Bestow against the user's substitute.
If Smack Down, Clear Smog, Circle Throw, or Dragon Tail target a substitute, their secondary effects will not trigger. The move Sky Drop will not work against a substitute at all.
A user behind a substitute can now use Acupressure to target itself, but can still not be targeted by allies.
Substitute now blocks Transform and Imposter.
Twineedle reverts again to its Generation III behavior. Dream Eater can now hit a Pokémon behind a substitute and acts the same way as other damaging draining moves.
The following moves are not blocked by the substitute:
Substitute no longer blocks sound-based moves, such as Metal Sound, or moves used by Pokémon with the Ability Infiltrator.
|| Uses 1/4 of the user's maximum HP to create a substitute that takes the opponent's attacks.
|| Makes a decoy with 1/4 user's max HP.
|| Creates a decoy using 1/4 of the user's maximum HP.
|| The user creates a decoy using one-quarter of its full HP.
| The user makes a copy of itself using some of its HP. The copy serves as the user's decoy.
In other games
Greninja using Substitute
Substitute turns the foe in front into a decoy, causing other foes to attack it.
Substitute is the down special move for Greninja. The substitute doll it summons resembles those from the main games, though it can also summon a log. The move functions as a counter, attacking opponents who hit Greninja while it is posing. Additionally, there is a trophy of the substitute doll in the Wii U version of the game.
If it looks like a Pokémon and it gets attacked like a Pokémon, it's probably a- Oh, no, it could also be a Substitute Doll. This cute plush figure appears out of nowhere when a Pokémon uses the move Substitute. Is that a smile on its face or a grimace of determination? Only the doll knows, and it's not telling.
|| The target gains the Decoy status, making it the target of its fellow Pokémon.
|| This section is incomplete.|
Please feel free to edit this section to add missing information and complete it.
Reason: Missing the substitute images from Generation VI (and Stadium, in case it's different from Stadium 2).
In the anime
In the manga
In the Phantom Thief Pokémon 7 manga
In the Pokémon Adventures manga
| The user creates a substitute that resembles it. The substitute fades away soon after.
|| First Chapter Used In
|| Pikachu creates a see-through after image of itself by cutting a quarter of its health. Pikachu can form the substitute to any form it wants. Once the after image gets hit, however, it disappears.
| Red's Pika
|| Meanwhile... Vileplume!
In the Pokémon Battle Frontier manga
In other generations
A substitute "levitating"
A substitute in place of Masahiro Sakurai
- In most games, the decoy and the Pokémon will switch places when the Pokémon executes a move. The only exception is in Pokémon Battle Revolution, where the battle animations play out as if the substitute was the one performing the move. It generally remains stationary, except when using moves like Fly or Bounce.
- In the Generation I and II games, the substitute resembles the Pokémon Rhydon.
- Shedinja can learn Substitute despite being incapable of using it, as its HP is too low to create a substitute.
- Substitutes are interpreted differently throughout all forms of Pokémon canon. In the games, a substitute is seen as an inanimate decoy which simply stands in for the Pokémon. In the anime, substitutes are seen to be clones of the user. In the manga, substitutes are like the anime representation, but more spectral and transparent, as shown by Red's Pikachu in Peace of Mime.
- In the Mystery Dungeon series, if the player eats an X-Eye Seed, all other Pokémon appear as substitutes.
- The Plush Toy enemy in the Mystery Doors of the Magical Land Series movie in Pokéstar Studios is similar to a substitute.
- In Pokémon Stadium, glitch Pokémon will appear as the substitutes. The color will vary, however, due to the player's ID and the glitch Pokémon's name. This is because the game treats the glitch Pokémon's name as a nickname, which cause Pokémon to change colors in the Stadium series.
- In Generation VI, the size of the substitute depends on the size of the Pokémon using it. For example, a substitute made by a Kyurem will be bigger than that of a Flabébé.
- In the Pokémon Origins episode File 4: Charizard, a Growlithe can be seen playing with a substitute plushie in Mr Fuji's Pokémon House.
- During Nintendo's Super Smash Bros. Direct on April 8, 2014, a substitute plushie is seen in place of Masahiro Sakurai as he goes to showcase some of the Pokémon available from the Poké Ball and Master Ball items.
- In Under the Pledging Tree!, a Substitute doll was one of the items offered to Ash by a market vendor in Coumarine City.
In other languages