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I know that Gyarados is Water-Flying, but what really ticks me off are:
1. It can't learn a Flyng type move (it technically is Magikarp who can learn Bounce)
2. It doesn't look like it can fly
3. It doesn't have anything like wings to fly
4. Just because it's animation makes it hover doesn't mean it flies because Metang hovers, yet it's not Flying or even Levitate

Why is it Flying? enter image description here

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Gamefreak Logic XD
As I was saying to Flaf-senpai
[23:04] @Sempiternus: because magikarp goes boing boing and hops over mountain
Eelectross has Levitate. It flies. Maybe it's just using it's sheer belief that it can fly to make it fly, like Bagon -> Salamence.
"A Magikarp living for many years can leap a mountain using Splash. The move remains useless, though."
Good question! (I don't understand either)

2 Answers

12 votes
 
Best answer

Gyarados is based off a Chinese Dragon/Sea Serpent (debateable). Dragons fly. Normally. Sea Serpents wag their tails and pretend they can fly, except it's in the water.

Honestly, the most probable answer in my eyes is that in Gen I, when Gyarados first appeared, Dragon type was supposed to basically be the unique typing of the Dratini line - this meant Gyarados, which was possibly based on some form of Dragon would get the next closest type to Dragon, which would be flying due to the flying attributes of Dragons in mythology.
The flying type is probably a reference to koinobori, which is a wind sock that the Japanese apparently think is a good idea to fly during Children's Day.

Magikarp was also able to jump Mountains with the godly move, Splash. The legend of the Dragon Gate says that carps which lept over the Dragon Gate would become Dragons. What does this represent? Well, if we try to read too deep using the useful skills we gain in English Class, we can try convince ourselves that it's an allegory of the drive & effort it takes to overcome obstacles. What does this mean?
BELIEF CONQUERS ALL
BELIEVE IN THE HEART OF THE CARDS.
I BELIEVEEEE I CAN FLY~~~~

Okay half the answer made no sense. But really, it was probably due to the unique typing for the Dratini line, plus possible ideas to reference the Flying type to various things.

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I'll like to add to your answer; Another reason why Gyarados was a Water/Flying type was because if it was Water/Dragon, its only weakness would be Dragon. And Dragon Rage was the only Dragon-type move back then. So it would be a big problem if it was Water/Dragon.
Ok thanks!
funniest answer I've ever read.
2 votes

As Sempiternus mentioned, Gyarados is based on a Chinese mythological dragon 龙 (NOT sea serpent 蛟).

The story goes that carps 鲤鱼 living in the Yellow River 黄河 swam against the current in a bid to reach Dragon's Gate 龙门 (in Sichuan province) as it was said to be a wondrous place. However, in their way lies a mountain 龙门山 which they, having no legs, cannot scale. Thus it was that some carps tried swimming up the waterfall, but invariably most got flushed right down. They then tried leaping out of the water, but many still fell and even got bruises as a result (that is why carps found in the yellow river often have black spots on the head).

Only the few that truly persevered managed the feat of leaping all the way through Dragon's Gate, and as a reward were turned into dragons. This is where the phrase 鲤鱼跳龙门 comes from, to mean that through perseverance one can reach great heights previously thought un-achievable (mainly applied to work or business).

So why can Gyarados fly without any visible wings? Because that is what Chinese dragons do.
Unlike the European ones, Chinese dragons are always associated with water (as opposed to fire). And this includes water from the skies - rain. Despite only having at most claws, they slither through the air and are the gods in charge of bringing down rain and storms. That is why Gyarados, being a Chinese dragon, doesn't need wings to move through the skies. It also explains the Pokemon's close association with hurricanes and storms.

Also, the dragon is closely associated with the Chinese Emperor, who is also known as the son of heaven 天子. Therefore both the skies (flying) and the seas (water) would be appropriate elements to associate with Gyarados.

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so if Gamefreak is based in Japan, why don't they know to let gyarados be able to learn hurricane?
Why doesn't Yanmega get Fly, even though the PokéDex says it can carry a grown man? Don't question everything in life, or all you will be is unsatisfied. Some things can be put down to Game Freak Logic or simple human ignorance.
to an_awsome_person: I cannot say for certain, seeing as I am Chinese not Japanese :P. However, if I were to guess, I think either the developers conveniently forgot or (more likely) wanted to curb Gyarados by not letting it learn a 110 power STAB move for flying.

Gyarados does learn Twister and Rain Dance naturally, and is able to learn other weather affecting moves like Hail, Blizzard, Thunderbolt, Thunder and Sandstorm. Therefore, it would only be natural that Hurricane or other Flying moves be in its learnset. But that would also make Gyarados alot more powerful that it is now  as Flying has more Physical than Special moves, which would work off Gyarados' incredibly high Physical Attack (125/155 when mega).

So instead, Gyarados would mainly have high powered moves that uses its Special Attack (70) or moves with lesser than 100 power on its Physical Attack (like Aqua Tail).  And the high powered moves excepting Hydro Pump (which was nerfed from 120 power to 110) all don't have STAB.
to Astronautical: I am not the one questioning here, only providing my answer. But even then, I find that if you stop questioning, everything just becomes way more boring. Sure we can just accept the answer that: because Game Freak says so. But that would make Pokemon as a game feel more like problem solving where everything are just given attributes and you just want to get to the end ASAP.

However, when we ask things like why does this Pokemon do that move, or why have this ability, it makes the Pokemon feel more like an adventure to experience. You find out new things all the time, and whether it is intentional by the game makers or not, it is the learning that counts.

I think it is wonderful that TheShinyDeoxysBoy asked this question because it gave me an opportunity to share my culture with others. Just like when I was playing XY, I learnt plenty of things regarding France from players who answered my questions on other forums.

Rather than be unsatisfied, I think that if you don't question everything in life, you'll just stop learning. Perhaps the full answer might not be there, but anything else picked up along the way is definitely worthwhile. :D
MengJiaxin, you seen to forget that in all games gen 4 and later, hurricane is special. i was only mentioning this as an idea to make it a little more realistic.
Relax man, I was talking to an_awesome_person , since his comment seemed kind of like a pointless comment. "Since Pokémon is Japanese, why doesn't Gyarados conform to the legend exactly like I want it too?" It think it's good to question, or else we wouldn't learn. I just dont like when people ask pointless questions.

I really enjoyed reading your answer and your culture's point of view. I was the one who upvoted :)
to an_awsome_person: Frankly, I think to make Gyarados more realistic, the simplest step would be to make Gyarados Water/Dragon typing. But since it is almost impossible (Game Freak has never changed the typing of a Pokemon when unless it is because a new type is added and Water and Dragon have both been available since Gen I), we just have to make do with Water/Flying. But I do agree that adding Hurricane and, more importantly, Fly would make Gyarados typing a little more relevant.

It will also push Gyarados alot closer to the Uber tier,  which might be why Game Freak is refraining from doing so.
to Astronautical: Oops sorry. Thanks for the upvote and great to know you enjoyed the 'Chinese lesson' ;D.
to MengJiaxin: I would assume that Japanese people know this story.
to Astronautical: The alternate Rotom forms were electric ghost type in gen iv. This was actually changed in gen v.
if Gyarados was supposed to slither through the air, it should be able to learn aerial ace.