When it comes to Pokémon, the one thing you should never do is judge their battle strength by their appearance. Pokémon like Chansey, Smeargle, and Pachirisu can dominate the battlefield in the hands of the right player.
Magikarp is not that kind of Pokémon. It is useless through and through.
It isn’t all doom and gloom for Magikarp, however, as it can evolve into Gyarados, which is one of the most fearsome Pokémon in the series. Magikarp has earned the adoration of the Pokémon fanbase, due to its role as the underdog of the Pokémon universe, while Gyarados became popular due to its strength in battle.
We are here today to celebrate the life of two of the greatest Pokémon of all time. From Gyarados’ original name to becoming a Pokémon master with the power of Magikarp alone.
Here are 15 Things You Never Knew About Magikarp (And Gyarados)!
15. Gyarados Was Originally Named “Skullkraken”
The name Magikarp makes sense. It is a carp that is also magical (which could be taken as an insult regarding its usefulness, or as a reference to its ultimate potential). Gyarados’ name is more open to interpretation. It could be a reference to the word gyakusatsu, which is the word for a massacre or wholesale slaughter. As it stands, no one knows for sure what Gyarados’ name is a reference to, and it still comes off as an unusual choice for the Pokémon.
When Pokémon Red & Blue were being localized for an international audience, the names of many of the Pokémon were initially different. Some of these original names were better, like Rattata being called Rattatak, and Paras being known as Parasyte. There were a few bad names as well, such as Jigglypuff originally being called Pudding and Machop being known as Kara-Tee.
During the early stages of Pokémon Red & Blue‘s development, Gyarados was named Skullkraken. This is a much more appropriate name for the kind of monster that Gyarados is, and it is a shame that it was changed.
14. The True Magikarp Evolution
One of the oldest Pokémon fan theories concerns the evolution of Magikarp into Gyarados. The two Pokémon look nothing alike, which was most likely an intentional decision that was made to give a visual clue as to the power discrepancy between the two forms.
The fan theory concerning Magikarp’s evolution states that Dragonite was the original final form of Magikarp, with Gyarados being the original evolution of Dragonair. This is due to the visual similarities between the two lines. Magikarp’s two barbels (the whisker-like organs near its mouth) resemble the two long antennae that are placed on Dragonite’s head. Dragonite also shares the orange color scheme of Magikarp. Gyarados is a huge blue sea serpent, which bears a strong resemblance to the similar form of Dragonair and Dratini.
Pokémon Sun & Moon introduced a new concept, called “Z-Moves”, into the series. Throughout the game, the player would earn crystals that were tied to the different types of Pokémon (Fire, Steel, etc). These crystals could then be equipped to a Pokémon on your team, which would allow them to use a single powered up move over the course of the battle. Some crystals were linked to individual Pokémon, like Snorlax, who could perform a unique Z-Move that would transform Giga Impact into Pulverizing Pancake. This Z-Move would cause Snorlax to wake up and do a dive attack onto the enemy.
Magikarp’s signature move, Splash, can now be transformed into a Z-Move. If you equip Magikarp with a Normalium Z crystal, it can turn Splash into Z-Splash. While the move still doesn’t do any damage, it now gains the benefit of raising Magikarp’s Attack stat by three stages. This makes Z-Splash a somewhat useful move to use in battle.
12. Magikarp Music
The Pokémon franchise has always been closely linked with music. There have been numerous Pokémon music albums that have been released over the years. These have contained both songs from the anime and original tracks that were recorded specifically for the albums. In recent years, this has extended to music videos that are produced specifically to be shown online. The most famous of these is the “Slowpoke Song“, which received an English localization and was distributed on the official Pokémon YouTube channel.
Magikarp received its own music video in 2016. This was created as part of a collaboration with a baseball team, called the Hiroshima Toyo Carp. “I LOVE Magikarp” is a catchy tune that acts as a love song to Magikarp. The song starts out listing all of Magikarp’s bad points, like a Pokémon-themed version of “You Oughta Know” by Alanis Morissette, before the singer declares that they love Magikarp anyway.
11. The Origin Of Magikarp
Like most Pokémon, Magikarp is based on both a real life animal and a story from mythology. Magikarp closely resembles the Asian carp, which are among the most common types of fish found in China. The Asian carp are notorious for being easily spooked by noises and jumping out of the water in response. This makes it tricky for those hunting the Asian carp, as they are liable to be smacked in the face by one leaping from the water.
There is an ancient legend regarding the Asian carp that formed the basis for Magikarp’s creation. It is said that there was a particularly massive waterfall in China, known as the Dragon Gate. As the Asian Carp is known for swimming upstream, it would not be able to bypass a waterfall. According to the legend, an Asian Carp that managed to leap over the Dragon Gate would turn into a dragon. This is why Magikarp turns into the mighty Gyarados when it levels up.
10. Gyarados Is The Choice Of Champions
The Champion of each region in the Pokémon world uses a team consisting of the most powerful Pokémon that can be found within the game. They represent the most difficult challenge you will face as a trainer, and the battle against them will likely be the hardest fight you will have in the game.
It is a testament to the power of Gyarados as a Pokémon, that it is the most popular choice among the Champions of the Pokémon series.
Gyarados is used in the team of Lance, the Champion of Johto. Lance’s Gyarados is one of the few Pokémon in his team that is actually legal, as his three Dragonite’s are under leveled for their evolution, and his Aerodactyl knows Rock Slide, which it could not actually learn until the next generation of games. Gyarados is also used in the team of Wallace when he became the Champion of the Hoenn region in Pokémon Emerald.
The third Gyarados user is up for debate, as he will only use it in his team under a specific set of circumstances. Blue, the Champion of Kanto in Pokémon Red & Blue will only have a Gyarados in his team if the player chose either Bulbasaur or Squirtle as their starter. If the player picked Charmander, then Blue will have a Blastoise instead.
9. The Guaranteed Shiny
The second generation of Pokémon games introduced a new concept, known as Shiny Pokémon. These are Pokémon that have a different color scheme than normal. A Shiny Pokémon is ridiculously difficult to catch or breed, and they are prized by many trainers for this reason. The chances of finding one tend to differ between games, but you are looking at around a couple of thousand to one odds if you wish to encounter a Shiny Pokémon.
Throughout the whole Pokémon series, you are only guaranteed to find one Shiny Pokémon. The Red Gyarados that you can catch in the Lake of Rage in Pokémon Gold & Silver is the only definite encounter with a Shiny Pokémon in the series. As such, Shiny Magikarp and Gyarados that earned through other means are practically useless in terms of rarity. There have been instances of Shiny Pokémon being released as part of download events (like the Shiny Beldum that was distributed to owners of Pokémon Omega Ruby & Alpha Sapphire), but these were all temporary giveaways.
8. The Flying Liability
Gyarados is often closely associated with dragons. This is due to the fact that it resembles the limbless dragon of Eastern mythology, which looks more like a serpent than a lizard. As such, Gyarados has appeared in the teams of several notable Dragon-type trainers, like Lance and Clair. This is despite the fact that Gyarados isn’t actually a Dragon-type Pokémon. Gyarados is a Water/Flying-type Pokémon, while Mega Gyarados is a Water/Dark-type Pokémon.
The partial Flying-type of Gyarados is actually a huge liability. An Electric-type Pokémon will absolutely crush a Gyarados in battle, due to its quadruple weakness to Electric attacks. Gyarados can only learn two Flying-type moves, which are Hurricane and Bounce. Neither of these moves is strong enough to justify the crippling weakness that the Flying-type gives to Gyarados. It cannot even learn Fly, which is a staple of Flying-type Pokémon, and would have at least made Gyarados an effective HM-slave (as it can also use Surf and Waterfall).
7. The Unova Scarcity
Magikarp is one of the most common Pokémon that can be found in the world. Almost every body of water is filled to the brim with Magikarp, and even the worst fishing rod in the world can pull one out from the depths. Magikarp manages to be just as common as the junk Pokémon of each region (like Rattata and Sentret). This is quite a feat, considering how stupid Magikarp are and how many other Pokémon devour them in the wild.
In the Pokémon series, there is only one region where Magikarp cannot easily be found. The Unova region, from Pokémon Black & White, contains no Magikarps. If you want to catch a Magikarp in Unova, then you need to buy one from the Magikarp Salesman who hangs out on the Marvelous Bridge. This might be a reference to Magikarp’s inspiration. The previous Pokémon games took place in areas that were based on different regions in Japan. As Unova was based on America, it is only natural that a Pokémon based on the Asian carp would not appear naturally in the wild.
6. The Rivals
The Magikarp/Gyarados line of Pokémon became a lot less original in Pokémon Ruby & Sapphire, as a duo of new creatures arrived to challenge them.
One of the most difficult Pokémon to catch in the entire series was Feebas. In Pokémon Ruby & Sapphire, a Feebas could only be found within six random spaces of water on one route. On its own, Feebas was not worth the hassle it took to catch. Feebas’ stats and move pool are almost identical to Magikarp’s.
The only reason to catch a Feebas is to evolve it, into the vastly more powerful Milotic. Like Magikarp’s evolution into Gyarados, Feebas’ evolution into Milotic turns it into one of the best Pokémon to use in battle. Milotic is like a more defense focused version of Gyarados, and they are notoriously difficult to knock out. As a Water-type Pokémon, Milotic also lacks Gyarados’ crippling quadruple weakness to Electric-type attacks.
5. Mega Gyarados
Pokémon X and Y introduced the concept of Mega Evolution to the series. These are temporary evolutions that can only be performed once per battle. They will usually give the Pokémon a boost to their stats, and, occasionally, change their Ability or type. The tradeoff for this is that the Pokémon needs to hold a specific Mega Stone to be able to perform the Mega Evolution, which means they cannot bring another item into battle with them.
One of the first Pokémon to receive a Mega Evolution was Gyarados. This new form makes Gyarados’ body a lot smaller and more fishlike. Mega Gyarados changes from a Water/Flying-type Pokémon into a Water/Dark-type. This change makes Gyarados a lot more effective in combat, as the crippling weakness to Electric-type is traded for several smaller weakness to other types (Bug, Fighting, Grass, and Fairy). Mega Gyarados also becomes immune to Psychic-type moves.
4. Magikarp Defies Missingno
Two of the most well-known glitches in Pokémon Red & Blue are MissingNo and fishing in statues. MissingNo is a glitch Pokémon that is created whenever the game is asked to load a wild Pokémon in an area that possesses no relevant encounter data. The game will create a Pokémon from scratch, using all nearby data that is available. This will often result in a creature made from garbled sprites, that is named MissingNo, which stands for missing number.
In Pokémon Red & Blue, it is possible for the player to fish inside most of the statues that are found within the Gyms and Elite Four rooms in the game. Most of these statues don’t contain any wild Pokémon data, so you won’t be able to fish any Pokémon out of them. The one exception to this is the Old Rod and Magikarp. It is possible to catch a Magikarp within the statue of areas that has no Pokémon data, without triggering a MissingNo encounter.
3. Misty’s Fear
Throughout the Pokémon anime, Misty only used a handful of Pokémon in battle. Misty’s signature Pokémon was Goldeen, Staryu, Starmie, Horsea, and Psyduck. When Misty, Ash, and Brock went their separate ways, Misty decided to return to the Cerulean City Gym and become its new Leader. The series would keep its focus on Ash, as he traveled to the Hoenn region. It wouldn’t take long for Brock to rejoin him. Misty would be left behind, with only the occasional side episode to keep us informed of the events in her life.
In the episode “Cerulean Blues“, we see Misty returning to her Gym. The episode follows her attempts to control a Gyarados that is owned by the Gym, which keeps going on rampages. Misty has a deep fear of Gyarados, as she crawled into the mouth of one when she was a child and was almost swallowed whole by it. By the end of the episode, Misty takes control of both the Gyarados and the Gym and becomes a Leader once more.
2. The Level 99 Magikarp Event
In the old days of Pokémon, you had to travel to live events in order to receive special event Pokémon, like Mew or Celebi. When the Nintendo DS brought the series online, it became possible for players to download special Pokémon through the Internet. This led to an increase in the amount of event Pokémon that have been released over the years. When a new Pokémon game is released now, there will usually be a special Pokémon that is available to download for early adopters (like Torchic for X & Y, Shiny Beldum for Omega Ruby & Alpha Sapphire, and Munchlax for Sun & Moon).
The most unusual event Pokémon has to be the one that was given away in 2013, by the Pokémon Centre in Nagoya. In order to celebrate the fact that they were moving to a new building, they gave away level 99 Shiny Magikarps to players. These Magikarps were unique, in that they possessed Hydro Pump as a move.
1. The Elite Four Killer
After the Champion of the region, the Elite Four pose the biggest threat to a player on their Pokémon journey. The Elite Four act as the gatekeepers to the Champion. This is why you have to travel the world and defeat the eight Gym Leaders, who each use a single type of Pokémon in their team. You are expected to use all of the knowledge you have accrued on your journey, in order to create a varied team of powerful Pokémon. This is the only way you are going to stand a chance against the Elite Four.
…Or you could just a Magikarp.
It is entirely possible to complete Pokémon FireRed & LeafGreen using only a single Magikarp. This includes defeating all of the Gym Leaders, the members of the Elite Four and the Champion. The Magikarp needs to reach level 100 in order for it to stand a chance. You will also need a ton of healing items and stat boosters (like X Attack) for the journey.
The Magikarp Pokémon Master route might be the most tediously boring way of playing Pokémon, but what a story it would make if you could pull it off.