A Special move is one in which the user does not necessarily have to make contact with its opponent in order to deal damage. In Generation I, special moves cause damage as a function of the Special stats of the two battling Pokémon. In later generations, most special moves deal damage as a function of the Special Attack stat of the attacking Pokémon and the Special Defense stat of the defending Pokémon. A small number of special moves introduced in Generation V actually deal physical damage, calculating damage using the attacking Pokémon’s Special Attack and the defending Pokémon’s Defense.

While most special moves do not make contact, some do. For example, Grass Knot makes contact despite being a special move.