Special Pokémon (Japanese: 特別なポケモン Special Pokémon) is a term referring to a group of Pokémon in the core series games and side games that are restricted or banned from certain official tournaments, battle facilities, and link battle formats. Most Special Pokémon are Legendary game mascots. While the concept exists in all generations, the term was not used until Generation IV.
Whenever Special Pokémon are restricted or banned, Mythical Pokémon are also usually banned. While often only "special Pokémon" are mentioned to be banned when both Special Pokémon and Mythical Pokémon are, the description of the GS Cup indicates that Mythical Pokémon are not Special Pokémon.
The term "special Pokémon" is also used in a purely descriptive sense (as opposed to being used as a key term) in the Rotom Pokédex. Pokémon whose QR Codes cannot be viewed in the Rotom Pokédex (all Legendary and Mythical Pokémon, as well as the Ultra Beasts) are referred to as "special Pokémon". This usage is entirely distinct from the usage to describe Pokémon that are restricted from certain battles.
The following list only includes the Pokémon that are always considered to be Special Pokémon. Mythical Pokémon are considered to be special Pokémon in some, but not all, contexts.
Potential Special Pokémon
In Generation VII, it is unclear whether Greninja with Battle Bond is considered a Special Pokémon. Unlike Special Pokémon it is allowed in the Battle Tree, but like them it is banned from Battle Spot.
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Reason: Restrictions in Generation VII.
In Generation I, many official tournaments banned Mewtwo and Mew, the only existing Special Pokémon and Mythical Pokémon, respectively. As subsequent generations expanded both groups, the additional members were also banned from most official tournaments. However, some tournaments, such as the Mobile Cup 2001 and Pokémon Emerald Ultimate Frontier Brain Battle, only banned Mythical Pokémon and allowed Special Pokémon. Several online competitions specifically allow Special Pokémon, or Special Pokémon and Mythical Pokémon.
At the Pokémon Video Game Showdown 2008, Dragonite, Tyranitar, and all Special Pokémon and Mythical Pokémon were banned. In the 2009 Pokémon Video Game Championships, Tyranitar and all Special Pokémon and Mythical Pokémon were banned.
In the 2010 Pokémon Video Game Championships, a player could have up to 2 Special Pokémon on their team, but all Mythical Pokémon were banned.
In the 2016 Pokémon Video Game Championships, a player can have up to 2 Special Pokémon on their team, but all Mythical Pokémon are banned.
From Generation III onward, Eggs, Spiky-eared Pichu, Special Pokémon and Mythical Pokémon are banned from all battle facilities (except Trainer Tower and Trainer Hill). Additionally, in Generation IV, Rotom will revert to its normal form when entered in a battle facility.
In the Generation IV games' special rulesets in link battles, Special Pokémon and Mythical Pokémon are banned from the Fancy Cup and Light Cup (and the Little Cup implicitly). In the GS Cup, a player can only have up to 2 Special Pokémon on their team, but all Mythical Pokémon are banned.