How To Beat Morty in Pokémon HGSS

Morty Battle Vignette in Pokémon HeartGold

Morty’s team revolves around using Curse and Hypnosis to disrupt your party. Bring plenty of Awakenings, or maybe use Pokémon with the Ability Insomnia like Noctowl to make this fight much easier.

Noctowl is the optimal Pokémon to counter Morty’s Gengar, as its Normal Typing makes it immune to Gengar’s deadly Shadow Ball. It also has access to a Psychic-Type move, Confusion, which is super-effective against all of Morty’s Pokémon.

Take advantage of Gastly and Haunter using Curse and quickly take them out while they’re at half health so you can immediately switch out and remove the Curse.

Tip: You can catch Hoothoot at night at the National Park and on Routes 29, 30, 31, 35, 36 & 37.

How To Defeat Morty (Quick Guide)

Here’s a quick step-by-step overview of our recommended strategy:

  1. Lead the party with your strongest Pokémon
  2. Use super-effective moves to defeat Gastly and Haunter
  3. When Gengar comes out, switch to Noctowl
  4. Use Hypnosis on Gengar
  5. Use Confusion until Gengar faints or wakes up
  6. Repeat from Step 4

Morty’s Team

Morty uses the entire Gastly line in his team, including a very powerful Gengar.

Pokémon Level Type Ability Held Item Moveset

Gastly (♂)
Lv. 21 Ghost/Poison Levitate
Gives full immunity to all Ground-type moves.
  • Lick
  • Spite
  • Mean Look
  • Curse

Haunter (♂)
Lv. 21 Ghost/Poison Levitate
Gives full immunity to all Ground-type moves.
  • Hypnosis
  • Dream Eater
  • Curse
  • Nightmare

Haunter (♂)
Lv. 23 Ghost/Poison Levitate
Gives full immunity to all Ground-type moves.
  • Curse
  • Mean Look
  • Sucker Punch
  • Night Shade

Gengar (♂)
Lv. 25 Ghost/Poison Levitate
Gives full immunity to all Ground-type moves.
Sitrus Berry
  • Hypnosis
  • Shadow Ball
  • Mean Look
  • Sucker Punch

Note that Gengar has higher base Stats than Whitney’s Miltank, so if you had trouble with her Gym battle, you will likely have trouble with this fight as well.

Tip: The Lv. 21 Haunter’s damaging moves only work against sleeping Pokémon. Make sure to prevent them from attacking by using Awakenings when your Pokémon are put to sleep.

Since the Gastly line are all Ghost/Poison, this means all of Morty’s Pokémon will be weak to Ghost, Psychic, and Dark. We will take advantage of this by bringing Pokémon with these Types of moves to make our battle a little easier.

Preparing Your Party

Here is a list of Pokémon that we suggest you put in your party, in order of importance. Essential Pokémon, Abilities, and Moves are in bold text.

Pokémon Type/s Level Ability Suggested Move/s Location
Noctowl Normal/Flying 22+ Insomnia Confusion
Evolve Hoothoot:
Routes 29, 30, 31, 35, 36 & 37 (Night), National Park (Night)
Croconaw Water 25+ Any Bite Prof. Elm’s Lab
Arbok (SS) Poison 22+ Any Crunch
Evolve Ekans:
Routes 32 & 33
Tauros Normal 25+ Any Payback Routes 38 & 39
Golbat Poison/Flying 25+ Any Bite
Confuse Ray
Evolve Zubat:
Routes 32 & 33 (Night), Dark Cave (Violet City Entrance), Union Cave (1F), Slowpoke Well (1F), Ilex Forest, Burned Tower, Mt. Mortar
Sudowoodo Rock 25+ Any Faint Attack
Route 36
Fearow Normal/Flying 25+ Any Pursuit Evolve Spearow:
Routes 33, 42 & 46
Furret Normal 25+ Any Foresight
Shadow Claw
Evolve Sentret:
Route 29
Yanma Bug/Flying 27+ Any Foresight
Route 35
Quilava Fire 25+ Any Prof. Elm’s Lab
Bayleef Grass 25+ Any Prof. Elm’s Lab
Note: We have only listed locations that are accessible at this point in the game.

Noctowl is the best Pokémon to counter Morty, as its Ability Insomnia will render it immune to Sleep. However, you could still opt to use any of the other Pokémon listed above for their super-effective moves.

Do note that Hypno also has the Ability Insomnia, but it is not recommended to use them against Morty, because its Psychic typing is weak to the Ghost and Dark-type moves that Morty’s Pokémon use.

Tip: Although Hypno is not very good against Morty, it is one of the best Pokémon to use against the next Gym leader, Chuck!

Among the three Johto starters, Totodile is the best against Morty. Because it naturally learns Bite and can learn Shadow Claw via TM.

The team I used for this guide is as follows:

Pokémon Type/s Level Ability Held Item Moves
Noctowl Normal/Flying 25 Insomnia
Prevents the Pokémon from falling asleep.
Arbok Poison 23 Intimidate
Lowers the foe’s Attack stat.
Quick Claw Acid
Sudowoodo Rock 20 Rock Head
Protects the Pokémon from recoil damage.
Rock Throw
Low Kick
Cyndaquil Fire 25 Blaze
Powers up Fire-type moves in a pinch.
Charcoal Flame Wheel
Quick Attack

Although Noctowl will be our main Pokémon, it is still important to have a couple of backup Pokémon to switch to in case any of Morty’s Pokémon successfully lands a Curse.

Getting a Noctowl

Noctowl evolves from Hoothoot starting at level 20. Hoothoot can be caught in the tall grass at night in many of the starting areas.

If you have not caught one yet, it’s recommended to catch one in the later areas of the game, such as Route 37 or the National Park.

This will help reduce the amount of level grinding required to evolve your Hoothoot into Noctowl.

A patch of tall grass on Route 37 at night / Pokémon HGSS
A patch of tall grass on Route 37 at night.

Wild Hoothoot can have one of two abilities: Keen Eye or Insomnia.

Wild Pokémon’s Abilities are usually not visible until after catching them, but there’s a trick to determining which ability a Hoothoot has during the wild encounter.

  • If you use Sand-attack or Smokescreen on a Wild Hoothoot with Keen Eye, the move will fail and show a text box.
  • Alternatively, if you use Hypnosis or Sleep Powder, it will fail if the Hoothoot has Insomnia.

Use this trick to determine the ability of any wild Hoothoot before capturing it.

A Hoothoot with the Ability Insomnia, being affected by SmokeScreen / Pokémon HGSS
A Hoothoot with the Ability Insomnia, being affected by SmokeScreen.

Noctowl learns Confusion at Level 22. But we recommend leveling up to match Gengar’s level to make the fight much easier.

Other Pokémon for Your Party

If you’re playing SoulSilver, you might choose to have an Arbok on your team as well. Arbok has access to the move Crunch, which is one of the strongest Physical Dark-type moves in the game.

Arbok evolves from Ekans at Level 22, which is coincidentally also the Level in which it learns Crunch. You can catch Ekans in the tall grass on Routes 32 and 33.

Note: If you’ve also followed our guide on beating Whitney, you might already have an Arbok with the Ability Intimidate.

Sudowoodo is another good option since it has a Dark-type move, Faint Attack. It also has access to Mimic, which you can use to steal Gengar’s own damaging moves.

Sudowoodo is a guaranteed encounter, blocking the way to Ecruteak City. To pass through, you will need the SquirtBottle from the Flower Shop.

Interacting with the odd tree while the SquirtBottle is in our inventory / Pokémon HGSS
Interacting with the odd tree while the SquirtBottle is in our inventory.

Note: Make sure to bring enough Pokéballs, because you can only encounter Sudowoodo once until you beat the game!

How To Get Shadow Claw

If you do not want to run any of the suggested Pokémon above, you can still get an edge against Morty by teaching a Pokémon in your team Shadow Claw.

TM65 Shadow Claw can be found on Route 42, just beside the trees and the sign next to Mt. Mortar.

You could also rarely get this TM every Monday by joining the raffle at the Goldenrod Department Store, but the odds are pretty low there.

TM65 Shadow Claw seen beside the trees, encircled in red / Pokémon HGSS
TM65 Shadow Claw seen beside the trees, encircled in red.

The Pokémon you can obtain at this point in the game and can learn Shadow Claw are:

  • Sandshrew
  • Nidoran (both M & F)
  • Meowth
  • Haunter
  • Totodile
  • Sentret
  • Aipom
  • Heracross

Note: It is not recommended to teach Totodile Shadow Claw, as it has access to a stronger coverage move, Crunch.

Getting Morty to Return to the Gym

The Ecruteak City Gym cannot be challenged when you first reach the city. If you enter the Gym, an old man will stop you and inform you that Morty is in the Burned Tower doing some business.

An old man blocking entry to the rest of the Ecruteak City Gym / Pokémon HGSS
An old man blocking entry to the rest of the Ecruteak City Gym.

So to challenge the Gym, you will have to enter the Burned Tower first.

The Burned Tower is in the northwest corner of Ecruteak City.

The entrance to the Burned Tower / Pokémon HGSS
The entrance to the Burned Tower.

Once you enter, head to the right.

A blond-haired man named Eusine will talk to you about Suicune, and how he’s been following the Legendary Pokémon for years.

Afterwards, you will encounter your Rival who will challenge you to a fairly simple battle.

Suicune inspecting the player in the basement of the Burned Tower / Pokémon HGSS
Suicune inspecting the player in the basement of the Burned Tower.

After defeating your Rival, head down the ladder and approach the three legendary Pokémon below. Entei and Raikou will promptly run away, but Suicune will inspect you before leaving the tower.

Eusine will follow you downstairs and comment on your legendary encounter. He will leave afterwards, and the Ecruteak City Gym should be open now.

Although Noctowl will be our primary Pokémon, we will still need to switch out if one of Morty’s Pokémon lands a Curse on it. This means we also need to bring a few Awakenings or Full Heals to cure our Pokémon from Sleep.

Once you’ve prepared your items, you should be ready to challenge Morty.

Winning Against Morty

Morty will begin the battle by sending out Gastly. If you lead with Noctowl, it will reliably outspeed the Gastly. Just use Confusion on it and it should faint in one hit.

Afterwards, he will either send out Gengar or Haunter.

If he sends out Haunter, take note of its level, and adjust your strategy properly.

His Level 21 Haunter cannot damage enemies if they’re not asleep, so it cannot do anything to Noctowl but inflict Curse. Unfortunately, it will likely outspeed you so prepare to take ¼ of your max HP and swap out immediately.

If he sent out his Level 23 Haunter, just use Confusion until you defeat it. It will deal some damage to you regardless of what move it uses, so be careful and use recovery items if you lose too much health. Remember to swap out if you get cursed.

Once Morty sends out his Gengar, swap back to Noctowl.

You can switch for free because Gengar’s Shadow Ball does not affect Noctowl, and Sucker Punch does not work unless you attack.

Tip: If your Noctowl took damage from the previous Pokémon, use recovery Items while Gengar is out, as it cannot damage Noctowl if you don’t attack.

Afterwards, turn the tables and use Hypnosis on it. It cannot harm you as long as you don’t use a damaging move, so keep trying again if you miss.

Noctowl using Hypnosis on Morty’s Gengar / Pokémon HGSS
Noctowl using Hypnosis on Morty’s Gengar.

Once it’s been put to sleep, you can spam Confusion until it wakes up or faints.

If it wakes up, reapply Hypnosis, then rinse and repeat.

Gengar should go down without much of a problem.

Noctowl using Confusion against Morty’s Gengar / Pokémon HGSS
Noctowl using Confusion against Morty’s Gengar.

Gengar is his biggest threat, so once you defeat it, you’ve pretty much won.

Defeat the remaining Haunter (if any) and you will have beaten Morty.

Morty being defeated / Pokémon HGSS
Morty being defeated!

After defeating Morty, he will award you with the Fog Badge, as well as TM30 Shadow Ball.

You will also gain the ability to use HM03 Surf outside of battle.

Crumble Thorn

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Game Developer, Digital Artist, and Lifelong Pokémon enthusiast. Writes about pretty much anything Pokémon-related, and also covers other games that they happen to hyperfixate in.

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