In order to become the Champion in a Pokémon game, the player must travel the world and defeat the eight Gym Leaders of the region. These battles will teach the player the basics of the Pokémon world, such as the matchups between Pokémon types and the dangers of status effects. When the Gym Leaders are beaten, the player can then challenge the Elite Four. These are some of the most powerful trainers in the region, who act as the gatekeepers to the Champion. In order to conquer the Elite Four, you need to combine all of the knowledge you learned up to that point and use it to your advantage.

Due to the difficulties in balancing the Pokémon games, the individual members of the Elite Four can be very easy or incredibly difficult to battle. We are here today to look at the those among the Elite Four who were designed to screw the player out of a victory. This can be through the use of cheap moves, overpowered Pokémon, and outright cheating. From the beautiful ice maiden of Kanto to the Dragon-type trainer who fights with a Game Genie.

Here are the 15 Most Unfairly Difficult Members Of The Elite Four!

15. Lorelei (Red & Blue)

Lorelei Pokemon Elite Four Pokémon: 15 Most Unfairly Difficult Members Of The Elite Four

The Elite Four team of each Pokémon game is sometimes accused of being artificially difficult. This is because there is often a big jump in level between the final Gym Leader and the first Elite Four member. One of the worst culprits for this was Pokémon Red Blue. After defeating Giovanni’s team of level 45-50 Pokémon, you only have the Victory Road in which to appropriately level up for the Elite Four. This means that you will probably have to lose several times against Lorelei, the first member of the Kanto Elite Four, as you try and earn experience points from her party.

Lorelei uses a mixture of Water, Ice and Psychic-type Pokémon. These are three of the most powerful types in the first generation of games. Lorelei’s Dewgong is the first major barrier of the Elite Four. It has a powerful Aurora Beam attack and the ability to heal itself with Rest. You will need to throw everything you have at Dewgong in order to stop it from regenerating and counter-attacking. If you make it past Dewgong, you will have to face a Cloyster (with its status effect moves) and a viciously powerful Lapras, that possesses an amazing array of attacks.

14. Phoebe (Ruby & Sapphire)

Phoebe Pokemon Ghost Pokémon: 15 Most Unfairly Difficult Members Of The Elite Four

As the Pokémon competitive scene became more defined, the developers at Game Freak realised that status effects and stat boosting moves had become a major component of the game. When Pokémon Ruby Sapphire was released, the Hoenn region introduced opponents who used more advanced strategies. An example of this is Brawly, the Gym Leader of Dewford City. His team would spam moves like Bulk Up, in order to become unstoppable monsters.

When the player reaches the Hoenn Elite Four, they will have to face against Phoebe, who is one of the most prolific users of status effect attacks in the series. Phoebe’s team of Ghost-type Pokémon will hit you with moves that inflict the poison, confusion, burn and even the attract status. These are all backed up with a series of powerful attacks that can finish your Pokémon off while you deal with their health problems.

14. Karen (Gold & Silver)

Karen Pokemon Pokémon: 15 Most Unfairly Difficult Members Of The Elite Four

The second generation of Pokémon games introduced the Dark-type of Pokémon. These were introduced specifically to counter the overpowered Psychic-type Pokémon that dominated the first generation of games. The Dark-type (also known as Evil-type in Japan) haven’t been represented very well in the games. There are only three Dark-type Legendary Pokémon (Darkrai, Hoopa Unbound and Yveltal) and three Dark-type Elite Four members. There has never been a Dark-type Gym in the entire Pokémon series.

When you reach the end of the Johto Elite Four, you will face Karen, the first Dark-type specialist in the series. While Karen owns several powerful Dark-type Pokémon, she also has a balanced team that can use status effects and strong attacks. The final hurdle is the conflict with Karen’s vicious Houndoom.

While Karen is a pain to fight, she does possess one of the best quotes in the series. This has become the mantra for fans who want to use uncommon Pokémon in competitive teams.

12. Lucian (Diamond & Pearl)

Lucian Pokemon Pokémon: 15 Most Unfairly Difficult Members Of The Elite Four

While Pokémon Diamond Pearl are not as highly regarded as the other games in the series, the Elite Four of Sinnoh is actually important in the Pokémon anime. They have bigger roles than the other Elite Fours that have appeared in the show and they answered several questions about the roles & responsibilities of their station. This is especially true of their relationship to the Champion, as the Sinnoh Elite Four attempted to dethrone Cynthia through battle (and got their asses kicked).

The leader of the Sinnoh Elite Four is a refined gentleman named Lucian. He specializes in Psychic-type Pokémon that are strengthened by team boosts. These are provided by Lucian’s opening Pokémon, Mr. Mime. If you think you can steamroll Lucian with a Dark-type Pokémon, then think again. Lucian’s team carries a few Fighting-type moves that are primed to drop any Dark-types that enter the arena.

If you want an easier time against Lucian, you can try battling him in Pokémon Platinum instead. His team was weakened considerably, as each Pokémon lost between five and ten levels of experience.

11. Grimsley (Black & White)

Grimsley Pokemon Pokémon: 15 Most Unfairly Difficult Members Of The Elite Four

Grimsley’s design was based on Dracula. He earns a place on the list for that reason alone. How can you compete with style like then when you look like a generic anime character?

The Unova Elite Four introduced the concept of being able to challenge its members in any order. In the previous games, you had to face the Elite Four in a pre-determined manner, each time you battled them. As such, the Unova Elite Four did not scale in difficulty in the same way that others did.

As one of the few Dark-type specialists in the Pokémon franchise, Grimsley is a unique roadblock in the game. With Grimsley representing evil Pokémon and vampires, then it is only natural that he is a cheater! The final Pokémon on his team is a level 50 Bisharp. He must have used a cheating device, as Pawniard doesn’t evolve into Bisharp until level 52.

10. Wikstrom (X & Y)

Wikstrom Pokemon Pokémon: 15 Most Unfairly Difficult Members Of The Elite Four

The second generation of Pokémon games introduced the Steel and Dark-type Pokémon to the series. While the Johto Elite Four had a Dark-type representative (Karen), it did not have anyone who specialized in Steel-type Pokémon. Instead, the Steel-type were represented by a Gym Leader named Jasmine. It took until Pokémon X for there to be a Steel-type user among the Elite Four.

The Kalos Elite Four was home to Wikstrom, a trainer who dressed like a medieval knight. While he is supposed to be a dedicated Steel-type trainer (who stands around all day in plate mail armour), Wikstrom uses a team composed of dual-type Pokémon. Among his team are a Klefki and an Aegislash, which are considered to be two of the most powerful Pokémon in the series. Klefki has one of the best selections of support & attack moves in the game, while Aegislash has the ability to switch stances in battle, and can hide behind the defensive power of the King’s Shield move.

9. Acerola (Sun & Moon)

Acerola Pokemon Pokémon: 15 Most Unfairly Difficult Members Of The Elite Four

The story of Pokémon Sun Moon involves the creation of the Alola Pokémon League. This means that several of the prominent trainers that you encounter throughout the game get drafted into the Alola Elite Four (which saved Game Freak the hassle of having to design new characters).

One of the founding members of the Alola Elite Four is a girl named Acerola. She is a Ghost-type trainer, who formerly held the role of Trial Captain on Ula’ula Island. Her team is composed of the some of the best Ghosts in the game. The first is a Sableye, which is only weak to Fairy-type Pokémon. This is accompanied by two of the strongest new additions to Sun Moon, Dhelmise and Palossand. Dhelmise is a powerful physical attacker, whose outward appearance gives no suggestion as to its type (it’s a Ghost/Grass Pokémon). Palossand has high stats and is equipped with the Ghost-type Z crystal. This means that Acerola will always have a powered up version of Shadow Ball to hit you with at the end of the battle.

8. Agatha (Fire Red & Leaf Green)

Agatha Pokemon Pokémon: 15 Most Unfairly Difficult Members Of The Elite Four

In the first generation of Pokémon games, the most powerful type of Pokémon were the Psychics. This was due to the fact that they only had a weakness to Bug-type moves, during the period when there were no strong insects. You could steamroll all of Pokémon Red Blue with a decently levelled Kadabra or Hypno if you wanted to.

The dominance of Psychic-type Pokémon ended in the second generation of games. The Steel and Dark-types were added to counter Psychic Pokémon, as well as giving them a weakness to Ghosts.

When Pokémon Fire Red Leaf Green were released for the Game Boy Advance, they allowed players to challenge Kanto in a more balanced form. This meant that the changes from Pokémon Gold Silver were in effect. This drastically changed the battle against Agatha of the Elite Four. In Red Blue, a single Psychic-type Pokémon could easily sweep her team. With Ghosts now dealing double damage to Psychics, this all changed. You could no longer use Psychic-type Pokémon as a crutch against her. Agatha’s team of Ghosts finally became a force to be reckoned with.

7. Hala (Sun & Moon)

Hala Pokemon Pokémon: 15 Most Unfairly Difficult Members Of The Elite Four

In Pokémon Red Blue, the Fighting-type was one of the weakest in the game. They were usually annihilated by the overpowered Psychics of the generation. Fighting-type moves also could not hurt Ghosts. You could take a Gastly into the Saffron City Dojo and wipe out its inhabitants without taking a point of damage. As time went on, Fighting-types slowly became more powerful. They were strong against the new Dark and Steel-type Pokémon that were introduced in Pokémon Gold Silver. Fighting-type Pokémon would go on to become some of the most viable options in the competitive scene.

When you face the newly established Alola Elite Four in Pokémon Sun Moon, the most powerful member is Hala, the former Kahuna of Melemele Island. He is a Fighting-type master and will push you harder than any other member of his group. Hala’s Primeape is the true challenge of his team. If the Primeape is hit by a critical hit, then its Attack stat will be raised to the maximum (through its Anger Point ability). Should that happen, then you may as well reset the game, as you won’t survive its Cross Chop attacks.

The final member of Hala’s team is a Crabominable with the Fighting-type Z crystal. This means that you have to survive one last overpowered Close Combat attack, if you are to succeed.

6. Malva (X & Y)

Malva Pokemon Pokémon: 15 Most Unfairly Difficult Members Of The Elite Four

Malva is one of the most unique members of any of the Elite Fours in the series. She hosts a hologram news show outside of her regular duties (where she presumably keeps challengers waiting outside the studio while she is filming). It is also revealed that Malva is a member of Team Flare, though this isn’t discovered until after the Team is defeated. Malva’s connection to Team Flare became more important in the Pokémon anime.

Once you reach the Kalos Elite Four, you can challenge Malva to a battle. She specializes in Fire-type Pokémon, though several members of her team are dual-type. Malva uses a status effect spamming Chandelure, that can follow up with a strong Flamethrower attack.  The most powerful Pokémon on her team is a level 65 Talonflame, that uses the mighty Brave Bird. Talonflame is one of the most fearsome Flying-types in the competitive scene and it is equally scary here.

5. Caitlin (Black & White)

Caitlin Pokemon Pokémon: 15 Most Unfairly Difficult Members Of The Elite Four

The prevalence of status effects is one of the biggest complaints about the Pokémon series. Their existence essentially means that a large part of the game is random. If you get lucky with a sleep/freeze move that hits and lasts for a few turns, then there isn’t much the opponent can do about it. While this is aspect is loved by some gamers, it is also seen by others as taking away a large part of the skill & preparation that goes into the game.

Caitlin from the Unova Elite Four is unique, in that she is an enemy trainer with a team that is based around resisting status effects. Her Reuniclus has the Magic Guard ability. which protects it from things like poison and weather effects. Caitlin’s Musharna has the Synchronize ability, which forces any status effect that is inflicted upon it to also appear on the enemy Pokémon. Her Sigilyph has the Wonder Skin ability, which slashes the accuracy of all status effect attacks by half.

The only Pokémon on Caitlin’s team which doesn’t have a resistance ability is her Gothitelle. This Pokémon relies on a monstrous special attack score instead, that will help her fire powerful Thunderbolt, Shadow Ball and Psychic attacks on your team.

4. Aaron (Diamond & Pearl)

Aaron Pokemon Pokémon: 15 Most Unfairly Difficult Members Of The Elite Four

The first member of the Sinnoh Elite Four in Pokémon Diamond Pearl is Aaron. He is the only Bug-type user among the Elite Fours of the series. As such, he had a lot to live up to in combat.

All of the Bug-type Pokémon are generally looked down upon throughout the series. Along with Normal-type Pokémon, they are often the first kinds seen in the wild. Most players have banished a Caterpie, Weedle, Wurmple, Scatterbug, or a Sewaddle to the depths of the computer, never to be looked at again. While the Bugs have definitely gained some strength over the years, they still aren’t popular in the competitive scene.

Aaron is the big exception to this. His team is one of the biggest challenges in the Pokémon series. This is tied into the fact that the Diamond Pearl Elite Four were slightly over levelled, and they were all weakened in Platinum as a result. Aaron’s most fearsome Pokémon is his Vespiquen. This regal Pokémon has access to several unique moves that make it difficult to defeat. Along with its powerful Attack Order, it can increase its protection with Defence Order and restore health with its Heal Order. This unique combination of moves will make Vespiquen a nightmare to face in battle.

3. Drake (Ruby & Sapphire)

Drake Pokemon Pokémon: 15 Most Unfairly Difficult Members Of The Elite Four

Dragon-type Pokémon used to be treated as if they were special within the Pokémon games. They were very difficult to acquire in comparison to other Pokémon and they only had two weaknesses (Ice and other Dragons). Lance was considered to be one of the best trainers in the Kanto region and even went on to be the Champion of Johto. The final Gym Leader of Johto was also a Dragon-type user (and one of the most challenging foes in the game). Dragons have since become weaker with the introduction of Fairy-type Pokémon in Y and are not as feared in the competitive scene as they once were.

The final member of the Hoenn Elite Four is a Dragon-type trainer named Drake. Don’t let the fact that he shares a name with a meme-worthy rapper fool you, he is one of the biggest challenges in Ruby Sapphire. 

While a lot of the other trainers on this list use gimmicks in order to overcome the player, Drake relies on sheer strength alone. He uses two Flygons and a Salamence in his team. These are still some of the best Pokémon in the series and are commonly seen in competitive teams to this day. Drake’s Dragons have remained as some of the most fearsome members of any of the Elite Four teams.

2. Koga (Gold & Silver)

Koga Pokemon Pokémon: 15 Most Unfairly Difficult Members Of The Elite Four

Those who survived Koga’s poisonous assault in Pokémon Red Blue must have felt sheer dread when they faced him in combat once more in Johto. Koga is one of the few characters in the Pokémon franchise to have ever received a promotion. He passed the role of Fuschia City Gym Leader over to his daughter, Janine, and joined the Johto Elite Four.

Koga was annoying to battle in Pokémon Red Blue. The presence of the new Johto Pokémon in his team would make him even worse. The addition of an Ariados (with its combo of Double Team and Baton Pass), Forretress (with its entry hazards), and a powerful Crobat to finish things off, have made Koga a man worthy of his new position. His team became even more powerful in Heart Gold Soul Silver, as they now had abilities and held items to further increase their power. With his upgraded team ready for battle, this ninja will slowly wipe out your team with poison once again.

1. Lance (Red & Blue)

Lance Pokemon Stadium Stage Pokémon: 15 Most Unfairly Difficult Members Of The Elite Four

Once the other members of the Kanto Elite Four are defeated, you will be given a chance to battle their leader, Lance. As the first Dragon-type master of the series, Lance provides a fitting challenge for the player. He uses three powerful Dragons on his team, as well as other Pokémon that kind of look like Dragons (Gyarados and Aerodactyl). With Pokémon Red Blue providing so few means to counter Dragon-type Pokémon, you will be forced to rely on your regular team to defeat him. The group of Pokémon that have stood by your side throughout the whole game will need to use everything they’ve got to overcome Lance’s Dragons.

The most annoying thing about Lance is that he cheats in battle. When you encounter him in Red Blue, his Dragonite can use Barrier. This is an illegal move, as Dragonite still cannot learn Barrier (outside of a single event Pokémon that was released over Wi-Fi). There is some justice in this world, however, as the Twitch Plays Pokémon players discovered. It is possible to make Lance’s Dragonite repeatedly use Barrier over and over again. They did this while it was poisoned, causing the Dragonite to waste turns with Barrier and eventually running out of health. Winners don’t use Game Genies!

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