Normal-type gyms give the impression of being easy, perhaps due to the basic nature of Normal Pokemon and their lack of type advantage. However, these Normal-type gyms can often pack a wallop you don't see coming. Some of the most powerful moves in the Pokemon franchise are actually Normal-type, such as Hyper Beam and Giga Impact. Those who prefer the type should also not be underestimated, as some of them can put you down quickly if you come in too confident.
Normal-type gym leaders often strategize well, using straightforward attacks and unexpected status conditions. Having only one weakness means Normal is not easily countered, and you'll have to use a Fighting-type Pokemon or move in order to come out on top.
Only a few leaders represent Normal-types, but each features strong attacks, good defenses, and cunning strategies to keep you on your toes. You'll need to come prepared in order to best these trainers, each of whom wants to prove that Normal-types should not be underestimated.
Updated January 6th, 2023 by Andrew Scariati: With the release of Scarlet and Violet, a new Normal-type gym leader joins an exclusive list of trainers who specialize in the type. In addition, Normal-type Pokemon received some notable love via new abilities, powerful new moves, and some excellent competitive options, like Maushold. While the top spot went unchallenged for years, the addition of Larry redefines what it means to be a Normal gym leader. Normal-type gym lovers can finally rejoice as their favorite typing finally receives the treatment it deserves.
6/6 Cheren — Unova (Black & White 2)
Cheren was originally a rival to the player in Pokemon Black and White. However, in Black 2 and White 2, he puts his rival days behind him, taking over as a Normal gym leader and replacing Lenora. Upon defeat in Aspertia City's Gym, he'll grant you the Basic Badge – how fitting.
Despite being a pretty simple rival to defeat, Cheren poses a greater challenge as a gym leader. However, because of his early-game battle, he's not very difficult to beat if you've been keeping up with your training. He'll have a Patrat and a Lillipup if you challenge the game on Easy Mode, but he'll add a Pidove if you're playing on the more difficult Challenge Mode.
Cheren's Pokemon are running moves like Tackle and Growl, so you're not in for much of a fight. Just make sure you watch out for Quick Attack on the Pidove, which can be annoying if you let your Pokemon's HP fall too low into range for a knockout.
5/6 Ilima — Alola
Ilima is technically not a Normal gym leader but a trial captain. The trials replaced the gym system in Pokemon Sun and Moon, making the captains of each trial as close to gym leaders as Alola is going to get. For this reason, and because his battle is almost exactly structured like a traditional gym leader battle, Ilima qualifies as one of Pokemon's Normal-type gym leaders.
Unfortunately, Ilima's battle is not that difficult in either Sun and Moon or their sequels. Ilima is the first trial captain, so his battle is surely going to be easier than most – similar to most gym leaders that come first in their respective regions.
After taking down the trial challenge (Raticate or Gumshoos, depending on your game) and defeating the Island Kahuna Hala, you can challenge Ilima to a battle. He won't be too hard to beat, only posing a real threat via Smeargle, which has a move that's super-effective against whichever starter you choose.
4/6 Norman — Hoenn
If you're playing Ruby and Sapphire, their reboots, or Emerald, you'll have to challenge your own father to a battle. As his name suggests, Norman was born to be a Normal-type gym leader. He's supposed to be the first gym leader you battle in the Hoenn region, but won't actually battle you until you have four badges, making him effectively the fifth gym in the region.
During your battle with him, Norman will send out a Vigoroth and two Slaking (in Ruby and Sapphire). This can be intimidating, as Slaking has some truly incredible stats and intimidating attack power. However, thanks to its ability, Truant, Slaking only attacks every other turn. This means you typically get two attacks for every one Norman pulls off. Make use of Toxic if you have access to it, as he'll continue taking that damage each turn, even when he doesn't attack.
In Emerald, Norman drops one Slaking and adds a Spinda and Linoone. They don't pose too much of a threat but watch out for Linoone's Belly Drum, as it can use its newfound plus-six Attack to wipe your team.
3/6 Lenora — Unova (Black & White)
Despite being such an early-game gym, many of us struggled with Lenora. You'll find her in the Nacrene Gym, which also functions as the Nacrene Museum, of which she is the director. You'll have to solve some puzzles to get to her, but they're more tedious than difficult.
The same cannot be said for her gym battle, which is considerably more challenging. She uses a Herdier and a Watchog, which both can cause serious trouble. The Herdier has access to Retaliate and Take Down, which are pretty strong moves for a second gym. The Watchog will spam Hypnosis whenever it can and follow up with Crunch and Leer. Either Pokemon can use Retaliate if the other is knocked out, probably taking you down with their ally.
Be sure to grab a Sawk or Throh from the area outside the nearby Pinwheel forest, so you can use it to your advantage against her Normal-types. Once you defeat Lenora, she'll give you the Basic Badge and the TM for Retaliate.
2/6 Whitney — Johto
You knew this was coming. When you think about Pokemon's Normal-type gym leaders, Whitney and her terrifying Miltank immediately come to mind. She may be one of the toughest gym leaders of any type, and she strikes fear into the hearts of players everywhere.
This Goldenrod City gym leader starts with a Clefairy that honestly isn't even a blip on the radar. Once the Clefairy is out of the way — that's when the real fun begins. At first glance, Whitney's Miltank seems like a fun, lovable, cuddly cow – too bad it's anything but. This Miltank will plow through your entire team with Rollout, which gains power on each consecutive turn. If she loses any health, she'll use Milk Drink and instantly restore it. Whitney's Miltank and the strategy she uses makes for an epic battle, one that frequently spells the demise of trainers around the world.
1/6 Larry — Paldea
Larry is perhaps one of the most unexpected fan favorites of all time due to his exceptionally, well, normal demeanor. In addition to his deadpan expressions, he's certainly no slouch when it comes to battling. While his gym battle shouldn't pose the biggest issue unless you're under-leveled, his Elite Four rematch is one of the most challenging battles in Paldea.
When you encounter him in Medali, his level 36 ace Staraptor poses a threat to Fighting-types but loses its resistance to them after transforming into Tera Normal. At his Elite Four battle, that Staraptor catapults to level 59 to fight alongside his new ace, Flamigo, who is one of the most underrated Pokemon in Scarlet and Violet. Considering his difficult pre-gym test and Elite Four fight, Larry makes an excellent case for Pokemon's most difficult Normal gym leader.
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