Updated at: 16-05-2023 - By: Craig Huey

Jeremy likes his jobs as a pharmaceutical chemist and campus manager, which he can do in between “Pokémon” expeditions.

What Are HM Slaves in Pokémon?

The Pokémon The fandom coined the term “HM slave” to refer to creatures you don’t intend to train but still have to account for on your roster because of their HM (Hidden Machine) field navigation skills. Having an HM slave on hand means you won’t have to use one of your limited team moves on the ineffective HM attacks that are so common.

Veterans still recall companions used as simple tools to push boulders and cross lakes, but thankfully Nintendo has eased up over the years, first increasing the power of several HM moves, then eliminating the need for them in future generations. Who were the unluckiest victims of our mistreatment? Here are the top ten Pokémon HM slaves. Keep in mind that while we’ve listed their evolved forms, you can often find them in their undeveloped forms as well.


10. Crawdaunt

Type: Water/Dark

Even though many trainers travel all the way across Hoenn without encountering a single Corphish, you can start catching them early on in the game if you fish for them. They can’t learn any HMs besides Fly until they reach level 30, when they evolve into Crawdaunt, which has access to Cut, Strength, Surf, Dive, and Waterfall.

Crawdaunt’s decent stats and immunity to Psychic moves can prove useful in battle even if you don’t actively train him, helping to balance teams with Fighting or Poison units.


9. Dragonite

Type: Dragon/Flying

Dragonite, the original beast, has an impressive set of HM moves, including Cut, Fly, Strength, Surf, Dive, and Rock Smash, in addition to its standard elemental moves.

He’s also quite potent, and his assistance in combat is valuable even when using subpar methods. However, like Braviary, he is not obtained until late in the games, and even then, you need to level up Dratini and Dragonair, his earlier forms, to 55 in order to catch him. Nonetheless, he is a punching bug that can be exploited if necessary in the late game.


Even though Farfetch’d doesn’t learn as many Hidden Power moves as you might like, he does know Fly and Cut. Even if he’s terrible in battle, we’d still do it just to fill our Pokedex, and you can get him pretty quickly in Kanto by trading (for a Spearow), which used to be the only way to get him.

Considering this, why not put to good use the avian intelligence you have acquired through your bargaining? Since Farfetch’d can learn the rare False Swipe attack, which isn’t an HM but is great for catching Pokémon, he helps ensure that you don’t accidentally faint wild units you intend to catch.


7. Gyarados

Type: Water/Flying

Magikarp are difficult to train due to their low base stats and poor moveset, but at level 20, they transform into the powerful Gyarados and are available for fishing once you have acquired an Old Rod.

Gyarados is a versatile Pokémon that can learn a wide range of HM moves like Surf, Strength, Waterfall, Rock Smash, and Dive, all of which help it in battle. The only drawback is that, despite being half-Flying, they seem unable to master Flying. You can always use the flashy red Gyarados that appears in the latter half of the Johto games if you don’t feel like bothering to train a weak Magikarp.


6. Charizard (And Other Starters)

Type: Fire/Flying

The Pokémon we use as starters often end up being some of our most powerful fighters due to their high base stat totals, strong moves, and even mega forms. However, we frequently give them an HM attack or two, turning them into a battler/slave hybrid.

While most starters can learn Cut and Strength, Charizard can also learn Fly and Rock Smash, giving him access to nearly every non-Water HM. Keep in mind that many games feature Move Deleters who can remove HM attacks, so your partner isn’t permanently stuck with stale moves, and use Greninja or Feraligatr as HM fodder instead.

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5. Tropius

Type: Grass/Flying

The fact that Tropius isn’t available until after you’ve explored the majority of Hoenn is a drawback, but his excellent moveset and lack of evolution mean you can use them right away.

With access to Flash, Cut, Strength, Rock Smash, and Fly, Tropius covers the majority of the non-Water HMs available, and his 460 stat total is higher than those of many current offerings, even in their final evolution.

4. Linoone

Type: Normal

You can evolve a Zigzagoon (common in Hoenn) into a Linoone at level 20; however, like most early Normal-type mammals, Linoones aren’t particularly powerful in battle. Linoones are not Water-type, but they can learn Cut, Strength, Rock Smash, and even Surf, making them surprisingly useful as traversal units.

Many Zigzagoon and Linoone also have the Pickup ability, which is useless in combat but allows them to slowly acquire items as you travel, which is a great perk for your non-combatant.

3. Quagsire

Type: Water/Ground

Woopers in Johto, much like Zigzagoon, evolve at level 20, making their evolved form easy to obtain. While Quagsire’s numbers aren’t the best, he’s surprisingly resilient given that his dual typing only has one weakness to Grass (albeit a quadruple weakness) and one immunity and four resistances.

You can easily pair a Quagsire with a Flying-type if you don’t need it to learn Cut or Fly because it will learn Surf, Strength, Waterfall, Rock Smash, Whirlpool, and Dive. Johto is one of the few regions where you’ll want Rock Smash, Waterfall, and Whirlpool, so this set will come in handy there.

2. Smeargle

Type: Normal

Smeargle isn’t the most convenient HM slave to use because he can’t learn HMs from your inventory like other troops can and because he has terrible stats (a sum of 250). A patient player, however, can use his Sketch attacks to permanently learn other moves, giving them access to any four HMs they want.

Smeargle can (eventually) make up for whatever techniques your main roster lacks, whether you want standard moves like Fly and Surf or rare but appreciated moves like Flash and Defog.

1. Bibarel

Type: Normal/Water

Despite his goofy appearance, Bidoof’s Bibarel evolution grants him a unique elemental pairing that sets him apart from other base mammals like Raticate and Furret.

Additionally, he is arguably the best HM slave to date, as Bidoof can be captured early on in Sinnoh, evolve into Bibarel, and learn a wide variety of HM attacks over time. Among these are the abilities to Cut, Surf, Dive, Rock Smash, Waterfall, Strength, and Secret Power, which can be used to build your very own Hoenn base. Because he gains STAB (same-type attack bonus) with many Normal and Water-element HMs, he makes better use of them than most monsters.

Even though Bidoof is often made fun of, its evolution is still used by trainers, if only to obtain HMs.

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Pokémon Regions and Field Moves

As the Pokémon you can catch and the types of HMs you’ll need vary by region, you’ll need to adjust your strategy accordingly. It’s important to keep in mind that several moves other than HMs can be used in the field as well, including Teleport and Dig, and that Pokémon abilities can have an effect on things other than battle, such as the success rate of hatching eggs or running into wild Pokémon.

The days of ignoring team members may be over now that Game Freak has realized trainers don’t like “wasting” slots on HM slaves. As a matter of fact, I must say that their elimination almost,almostdisappoints me, but I recognize the value of its practicality. Vote for your favorite misfit Pokémon and I’ll see you in a few weeks when Nintendo releases its next batch of forgotten creatures.