Why Is Gyarados a Flying Type?

The design of most Pokémon reveals what type they are. But that has not always been the case – not even in Generation I games. An example of a Pokémon that has confusing typing is Gyarados. After all, why is Gyarados a Flying type? 

Gyarados is a Water/Flying-Type Pokémon and not Water/Dragon-Type like people thought it was. Theories claim that it is because the Dragon typing was an afterthought during the development of Generation I games. Gyarados' Flying typing is based on the punishment the dragon it was based on has received for being too cocky.

The story about why Gyarados is what it is is very complex. It can't be summarized into just three sentences. So continue reading to learn more about why this Pokémon is Flying-type.

Can Gyarados Actually Fly?

Gyarados 130 Pokemon
Image Credit: Pokémon

For all games in many years, Gyarados was never able to learn the move Fly. So, it seemed that this Pokémon couldn't fly, despite its typing.

However, Pokedex entries said ancient Gyarados could move around the land, hinting that they could fly. And so, in Pokémon Legends Arceus, which is set in the past, you can find flying Gyarados – not just a Flying-type, but actually does the act of flying.

Gyarados losing this ability is likely a reference to the Chinese myth this Pokémon was based on.

Before Pokémon Legends Arceus, there was only one instance when fans saw a flying Gyarados. That's the clone Mewtwo made in Pokémon The First Movie. However, that particular Gyarados was only levitating thanks to Mewtwo's psychic power.

When Did Gyarados Become a Flying Type?

Some people have never looked at their Pokedex. And so, they mistakenly assumed that Gyarados was Water/Dragon-type. But Gyarados is actually Water/Flying-type.

It has been like this since the first games, Pokémon Red and Blue. GameFreak never changed this blue serpentine Pokémon's typing as someone would think.

It does not make sense for some. But for those who know the myth, it kind of does.

The carp that became the dragon is the inspiration behind Gyarados. The story says that after it became a dragon, it became too cocky. As punishment, for its bad attitude, the said dragon lost its ability to fly.

So why is Gyarados Flying-type? It draws a parallel to that story. Gyarados are Flying-type, but they cannot fly.

Why Is Gyarados Not a Dragon-Type?

One theory says that the Dragon typing was OP in Generation I games. That's why GameFreak did not give it to Gyarados, or Charizard for that matter.

Another one says that the Dragon-typing was an afterthought. The developers added it late in the game, and they never bothered changing other Pokémon's typing.

Dragonite's positioning in the Pokedex supports this idea. Pseudo Legendaries appear before the Legendaries in all Pokedex except Kanto's. In this region, Dragonite is listed after the Legendary Birds.

Can Gyarados Use Flying-Type Moves?

From Generation I to the first half of Generation IV games, Gyarados was never able to use Flying-type moves. The lack of that hurt its viability in competitive matches because moves affected with STAB (Same Type Attack Bonus) make a Pokémon stronger.

Then when Platinum dropped, Gyarados became able to learn one Flying-type move through breeding. That's “Bounce,” though, a move that's not viable both in singles and doubles. Nevertheless, it is better than having no Flying-STAB move in the move pool.

Gyarados is once again blessed with another Flying-type move in Pokémon Sun & Moon. From this point onwards, Gyarados learns the move “Hurricane” naturally by leveling up.

Again, this is quite an unusable move for Gyarados. This Pokémon is mainly a Physical attacker, while “Hurricane” is a Special move. It also has a low accuracy unless under the Rain weather, making it even worse.

So, Gyarados can use two Flying-type moves as of this writing. But they are only for casual play – not competitive worthy.

Can Gyarados learn Fly in Pokémon BDSP? 

As stated above, ancient Gyarados can fly. However, they lost the ability for some unknown reason.

That is why you can see a flying Gyarados in Obsidian Fieldlands – Obsidian Falls in Pokémon Legends Arceus, which is set in the past. Fast forward to the present, and they no longer have the ability.

Since Pokémon Brilliant Diamond & Shining Pearl is set in the present, Gyarados can't fly in this game. Naturally, it also can't learn the HM Fly.

That said, Gyarados is still stuck with “Bounce” and “Hurricane” for Flying-STAB moves in the latest games. Truly unfortunate for this Pokémon since it had so much potential.