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Pokemon: What Is The Difference Between Legendary And Mythical Pokemon?

Legendary Pokemon have been a part of Pokemon ever since the first generation of games introduced us to the elemental birds and a certain famous genetics project. As the series moved on, they became more essential to the games' plots and the movies.

Some legendaries are categorized a little differently, however. Some, such as Mew, are known as Mythicals. These are usually rarer, both in-universe and mechanically, than their Legendary counterparts. Let's go over how these two categories of hard-to-get creatures compare.

Legendary Pokemon Vs. Mythical Pokemon

Legendaries and Mythicals have a lot of similarities, with Mythicals not even having their own named category in the West until the release of Black and White. They are (with one exception) always located at the end of their region's Pokedex, they are often very limited in number (usually totally unique), and they are all often the focus of Mystery Gift giveaways.

These valuable Pokemon tend to be very powerful with high base stat totals and many of them have signature moves.

The table below lists every Legendary and Mythical Pokemon, as well as the generation they debuted.

GenerationLegendariesMythicals
Gen 1Articuno, Zapdos, Moltres, MewtwoMew
Gen 2Raikou, Suicune, Enteri, Lugia, Ho-OhCelebi
Gen 3Regirock, Regice, Registeel, Latias, Latios, Groudon, Kyogre, RayquazaDeoxys, Jirachi
Gen 4Azelf, Uxie, Mesprit, Dialga, Palkia, Giratina, Cresselia, Darkrai, Heatran, RegigigasShaymin, Arceus, Manaphy, Phione
Gen 5Cobalion, Terrakion, Virizion, Tornadus, Thundurus, Landorus, Reshiram, Zekrom, KyuremVictini, Keldeo, Meloetta, Genesect
Gen 6Xerneas, Yveltal, ZygardeDiancie, Hoopa, Volcanion
Gen 7Type: Null, Silvally, Tapu Koko, Tapu Bulu, Tapu Lele, Tapu Fini, Cosmog, Cosmoem, Solgaleo, Lunala, NecrozmaMagearna, Marshadow, Meltan, Melmetal, Zeraora
Gen 8Zacian, Zamazenta, Eternatus, Kubfu, Urshifu, Regieleki, Regidrago, Glastrier, Spectrier, CalyrexZarude

There are two main ways in which these two types of Pokemon differ: acquisition methods and in-game lore.

Acquisition

Historically, Mythical Pokemon have been noted for the inability to actually acquire them inside their own games – some sort of outside assistance is needed. In the past, this meant attending real-world events where the Pokemon would be distributed. As the internet became more prevalent, this method was phased out in favor of Mystery Gifts that are distributed online.

Pokemon Brilliant Diamond and Shining Pearl introduced another method for obtaining Mythicals. If you have save data on your Nintendo Switch from either of the Pokemon Let's Go games or either of Pokemon Sword and Shield, you can get a free Mew or Jirachi respectively from some NPCs in Floaroma town. While this is in-game, it still requires something from outside it – in this case, save data.

These Mystery Gifts would either hand over the Pokemon immediately, or present you with a unique item that would be used for an in-game event. These events would take you to new areas where you could catch the Pokemon at your leisure.

Legendary Pokemon, on the other hand, can always be found in-game with no need for external devices, items, or events. They can generally be encountered in one of three ways:

  • As part of an in-game event relating to the storyline.
    • Examples: Groudon, Palkia, Eternatus
  • As a static Pokemon that you must interact with to fight, often with a puzzle preceding the area.
    • Examples: Articuno, Landorus, Cresselia
    • As roaming Pokemon that may appear in random encounters – they often have a high chance of fleeing, requiring you to hunt them down again.
      • Examples: Entei, Thundurus, Latios
      • There are exceptions to all of these rules depending on which game you're playing. For example, while Phione is considered a Mythical Pokemon, you can only get one by breeding a Manaphy with a Ditto. This is technically wholly in-game, but since Manaphy is a Mythical in its own right, Phione gets the label too.

        Lore

        Legendaries and Mythicals also differ quite a lot in how they are treated by the narratives and the NPCs of the games themselves. Legendaries are front and center. If they aren't the main focus of the entire storyline, they will have NPCs talking about them, hinting at their locations, or even giving you quests to find them. While they are legendary, they are very often known to be real and simply very rare Pokemon. Alternatively, their existence may be debated by NPCs who think that seeing is believing.

        Mythicals, on the other hand, are very rarely mentioned in the games and certainly not by name. There are some exceptions where Pokemon may be hinted at (such as a reference to Mew in the Kanto games) or be heavily featured in a remake (such as Deoxys in the Ruby and Sapphire remakes), but they are mostly a mystery. In comparison to Legendaries, Mythicals are far rarer and it shows in their representation in the lore.

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