Comparison between Lapras's younger and older appearances
Lapras is a marine reptilianPokémon that resembles a plesiosaur. It has a blue hide with darker blue spots and a cream-colored underside. It has large brown eyes, a short horn on its forehead, and tightly curled ears. It has a long neck and four flippers. The foremost flippers are larger than the hind. On its back is a heavy, gray shell covered in blunt knobs.
Lapras is a gentle, helpful Pokémon that enjoys ferrying people across bodies of water. In the past, its docility made it an easy target for hunters, and it was driven to near-extinction. Recent protection efforts have seen Lapras become overabundant instead, which is now affecting the fish Pokémon numbers in some areas. An intelligent Pokémon, it is able to understand human speech. Lapras have been known to travel in large pods across the seas, spanning both polar and tropical areas. To keep in touch with other of its kind, it sings enchanting melodies. In the anime it was shown that Lapras is able to develop psychic abilities such as telepathy.
As Gigantamax Lapras, it becomes larger in size and more armored. Its shell resembles a cruise ship or ocarina with four gray and red stripes surrounding it, and it has four spikes on top of its shell with one steel spike resembling a funnel, which has three red clouds surrounding it. The sclera in Lapras' eyes change colors to white, yellow, and blue. A light blue ring of fine thin lines resembling a musical sheet created from ice particles circles around its shell.
5,000 people can ride on the shell of Gigantamax Lapras for a very comfortable ride without any issues. Lapras can use its giant ring to break any icebergs that may prevent it from swimming. According to Oleana, Gigantamax Lapras's shell is not part of its body, as the shell has a logarithmic spiral structure.
In Viva Las Lapras, Ash and his friends located Lapras's school off the coast of Tarroco Island. However, the group wanted nothing to do with Ash's Lapras and they swam away. Later, Ash's group rescued the school from Captain Crook and his crew of Pokémon poachers, and Ash's Lapras subsequently returned to the herd.
In Lapras of Luxury, Ash and his friends met Naomi, a marine biologist and Lapras expert, near New Bark Town. They also re-encountered Ash's Lapras and its herd as they continued their annual migration from the Orange Islands to the Johtoregion. Ash's Lapras became the leader of the herd after it defeated Team Rocket, who were attempting to snatch the group. The Lapras herd later left to continue their migration.
The most notable role of Lapras in Pokémon Adventures was being one of the Pokémon of Pryce. In his youth, Pryce lost two of his favorite Lapras, La Pris and La Prus, in an avalanche just as the Egg borne by them hatched. Unable to get over his loss, Pryce swore to save his Lapras and thus began researching into time travel, setting the events of the Johto saga in motion. Eventually, Pryce was able to capture Celebi and enter time, only to lose Celebi as the GS Ball containing it was shattered, causing him to be unable to override time any further. However, the baby Lapras, La Glace, was able to enter the time in which Pryce's Lapras were separated, and the family enjoyed a happy reunion while Pryce was eventually lost in time. The child Lapras first appeared in Irked Igglybuff and Curmudgeonly Cleffa and the parents appeared in The Last Battle XIV.
Pokémon Mystery Dungeon: Explorers of Time and Explorers of Darkness and Explorers of Sky: Lapras is the Pokémon that ferries Pokémon to the Hidden Land. When Wigglytuff explored the Brine Cave and found the strange marking on the wall there, Lapras asked Wigglytuff not to investigate it further to keep the Hidden Land a secret. During the player's exploration of Brine Cave, the partner's Relic Fragment resonates with a painting in the deepest part of the cave, and this summons Lapras. Lapras ferries the player, the partner, and Grovyle to the Hidden Land, along the way telling the story of what happened when Wigglytuff and Chatot came to Brine Cave. Later, after the player defeats Dialga at Temporal Tower, Lapras will be waiting at the beach and can ferry the player and the partner back to the Hidden Land again. There is no limit to how many times Lapras can do this.
Lapras's appearance has had minor alterations during the early years of the franchise. In the documents for the Capsule Monsters pitch, Lapras was drawn without its curly ears. Furthermore, it was depicted with teeth in its Generation I official artwork and in Pokémon Adventures.
Early sketch of Lapras
Lapras shown with teeth in its Generation I artwork
In Generation II games, when any Pokémon except Pikachu uses Surf to travel over bodies of water, the player appears to be controlling a Lapras. This surfing Lapras shares the same color palette as the player, therefore it is red if the player is male () or blue if the player is female ().
In Pokémon X and Y, Lapras has a unique 3D model when surfing, whereas all other surfing Pokémon are depicted as dark blobs. This may be an homage to the Generation II surfing sprites, or Lapras's role as a means of transport.
A Shiny Lapras uses the same 3D model as a regular one while surfing.
Lapras may be based on the fabled Loch Ness Monster in Scotland. The creature and this Pokémon resemble an extinct order of marine reptiles known as Plesiosauria, who lived between the Triassic and Cretaceous periods. Lapras's shell and horn may be inspired by placodonts (close relatives of plesiosaurs that lived during the Triassic period). Its intelligence, singing, and rarity can be comparable to some cetaceans, especially blue whales and humpback whales. Its long neck and robust body may also be inspired by the mastheads and hulls of Viking ships. In addition, its shell, combined with its aquatic nature and history of being hunted to near extinction may be based on sea turtles.
Laplace may be a reference to Pierre-Simon Laplace, a mathematician who wrote several books on the mathematical properties of the sea and tides. Alternatively, Laplace may be derived from la place (French for seat), referring to how passengers sit on its back like a seat to be ferried across bodies of water.