I remember as a kid playing Silver, I caught a Smeargle and tried using Sketch. Unfortunately, it somehow missed, and as it only had 1 PP, Smeargle was forced to struggle.

How can this happen? I've been trying to find information online, but I haven't been able to find a single mention of the possibility of Sketch missing or the circumstances under which this happens. Does anyone know?


Sketch will fail if Smeargle moves first in a battle. Simple, if there is no move for Smeargle to Sketch it can't Sketch it.

However there are other situations where Sketch cannot copy a move. This list has changed over the generations however. To use your example of Silver, from Generation II:

Sketch cannot be used to copy Selfdestruct, Explosion, Struggle, Transform, or Metronome. If used by a transformed Pokémon, Sketch will fail. If the battle does not allow experience points to be earned (such as link battles or Battle Tower battles), any move learned via Sketch will be forgotten at the end of the battle.

Sketch is not affected by Protect or Detect.
- Bulbapedia

As of the current Generation (6), Sketch cannot copy Struggle or Chatter, and will fail if the opponent uses Crafty Shield

Source: Bulbapedia

  • Will it actually miss or rather fail? – scenia Mar 7 '14 at 11:23
  • fail is the word i was looking for, yes – Robotnik Mar 7 '14 at 12:50
  • After some testing, I noticed that wild Smeargles will miss with Sketch if you use an item instead of attacking (for example by trying to catch them). – Antimony May 28 '14 at 17:15
  • @Antimony - Which is the same if the first move used was Sketch - as using an item doesn't count as using a move – Robotnik May 28 '14 at 22:29

Did the opponent attack before Smeargle used sketch? If no attack has been used, there is nothing to sketch, thus I would assume it misses.

  • 1
    Is sketch not forced to be used after the opponent's turn? Seems like it would be just to avoid this kind of situation. – VanBuzzKill Mar 7 '14 at 0:56
  • What if the opponent tries to run and fails instead of using an attack? – Elise Mar 7 '14 at 0:58
  • Is there anything besides the player that even can run away from a battle? – VanBuzzKill Mar 7 '14 at 1:01
  • @Katustrawfic - Plenty of Pokemon can flee, but I don't know about failing to run. – Robotnik Mar 7 '14 at 1:05
  • 2
    @trainer-blue - arena trap prevents fleeing, but wild Pokemon can't "flee and fail" as an in-battle turn. If Arena Trap etc is in place they are forced to attack – Robotnik Mar 9 '14 at 20:52

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