Anime / Yu-Gi-Oh!

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Let's Duel!

"I made a wish on that puzzle... for friends I could count on... friends who could count on me! No matter what!"

IT'S TIME TO D-D-D-D--D-D-D-D-D-D-DESCRIBE!

There were actually two Yu-Gi-Oh! anime series. The first anime, which covers the first seven volumes of the manga, made by Toei Animation; and this one, Yu-Gi-Oh: Duel Monsters, which was produced by NAS, animated by Studio Gallop, and is adapted from volume 8 onwards.

This adaptation is given the subtitle "Duel Monsters" to demonstrate the elevated prominence of the card game compared with the manga and first series anime, though the manga was also given the subtitle of "Duelist" in the English localization. It was sponsored by Konami as a successful attempt to remain dominant of the license to the card game, after it stripped it away from Bandai, which failed to retain the license of capitalizing on the manga's card game with Toei's movie and anime.

There are a huge number of video games based on the anime and manga. It also spawned a movie called Yu-Gi-Oh! The Movie: Pyramid of Light. This version of Yugi and his alter ego return in Yu-Gi-Oh!: Bonds Beyond Time that teams him up with Jaden and Yusei. Yu-Gi-Oh! The Dark Side of Dimensions was written to take place six months after the manga continuity in the Japanese version, but takes place a year after the anime in the dub, and is the first Yu-Gi-Oh! anime adaptation with direct involvement from Kazuki Takahashi.

This show in particular is also responsible for the creation of The Abridged Series genre of internet videos, with Yu-Gi-Oh! The Abridged Series.

The dub is available on Hulu, the official Yu-Gi-Oh website, and is now starting to appear on Netflix.


"It's time to trope!"

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     0 - 9 
  • 10-Minute Retirement: In the wake of his defeat to Kaiba towards the end of the Duelist Kingdom arc, Yugi suffers a Heroic B.S.O.D. and vows never to duel again, saying he is afraid of the way Yami Yugi was prepared to win the duel even if Kaiba was killed as a result. He snaps out of it by the end of the following episode, though.
    A - M 
  • Abandoned Warehouse: Bandit Keith duels Yugi in an abandoned warehouse that has its own Duel Monsters arena.
  • Aborted Arc: Beginning in Season 2 of the anime, the stone tablet that continues to be a plot point for the rest of the series shows Kaiba and Yugi dueling in ancient Egypt. Ishizu shows Kaiba a vision of the battle. Later, in Season 3 another vision of this battle is shown, but it's completely different from the vision showed before. The battle is seen first-hand in Season 5, and is rather underplayed given the amount of foreshadowing and importance given to it before. Furthermore, though they differ greatly, both visions show Kaiba is quite clearly the Pharaoh's enemy, but in Season 5 he's mostly loyal and the only reason the battle occurs is because he gets possessed. This is attributed to Kazuki Takahashi never getting to flesh out the story with Seto and Kisara the way he wanted. Seto rebelling against the Pharaoh on his own was intended to be a larger plot point that didn't end up happening, so he ended up brainwashed.
    • However, Takahashi clarified that what was shown in the visions WAS what happened in the actual ancient past. The reason things didn't happen that way in the final arc was that it was actually a Shadow RPG based on the Pharaoh's memories, with events being altered by the actions of the players (Yami Yugi and Yami Bakura) and select NPCs such as Yugi and his friends.
  • Absurdly High-Stakes Game: Shadow Games plus Duel Monsters means the world is frequently at stake. Also, the Doma arc has the characters losing their soul if they lose while the Seal of Orichalcos is in play, meaning the loser is left with an empty shell of a body.
  • Abusive Parents: Gozaburo Kaiba, and Marik and Ishizu's father. Aknadin also becomes this once Zorc's corruption sets in.
  • Accent Adaptation: In the 4Kids dub, Joey/Jonouchi was given a Brooklyn accent to represent his plain speech patterns in the original. Ryou Bakura was given a British accent to reflect his politeness.
  • Acting Unnatural: Since he and Anzu/Tea are stowaways on the ship to Duelist Kingdom, and Joey isn't really supposed to be there either, Honda/Tristan advises everyone to "act casual" going past the guards... and then marches past looking ridiculously uncomfortable and suspicious.
  • Adaptation Dye-Job: The Blue-Eyes White Dragon is more blue than white, and the Dark Magician went from having red and black armor, green skin, and blond hair to purple armor, fair skin, and purple hair.
  • Adaptation Expansion:
    • The Big 5. In the manga they are just faceless goons in the shadows who cooperate with Pegasus, but in the anime each is given a name and a clear personality, primarily during the Virtual World arc.
    • Pandora/Arkana's lover is expanded on; in the manga she was never named and was a secondary reason for him joining Marik (the first was grief over the death of his mother). In the anime she's given the name Cadeline/Catherine, and his reason for joining Marik revolves around trying to win her back.
    • The Dungeon Dice Monsters arc was turned into three unrelated stories, though not adding to the original depiction in any meaningful way. In the manga, a big chunk of Ryuji/Duke's motivation came from his dad (the actual Big Bad of the arc) being an old rival of Yugi's grandpa, which Rebecca took over in the anime. Meanwhile, the whole "Yugi almost dies in a fire" plotline that concluded the arc got shoved into the Yugi vs. Marik/Bandit Keith duel that kicked off the anime version of Battle City. And last, but not least, the anime did its own version of DDM, which featured a completely different take on Ryuji, the only parts that remotely resemble each other being some parts of his DDM battle with Yami Yugi (which, in the manga, was a battle with the normal Yugi). His dad also did not appear in the anime.
    • Serenity's character is slightly expanded, as she gets to duel in the Virtual World using a female monster-deck. Her adoration of Joey and friendship with Mai is given more focus as a result.
    • Bakura's Battle City duel with "Ghost" Kotsuzuka, which lasts one page in the manga, is given its own episode in the anime.
    • The Memory World arc expanded Seto and Kisara's role, having them meet as children in backstory. Kisara was also made more assertive, Bakura and Mahad's duel was elaborated on, and Tea and Tristan were able to contribute to the final battle.
  • Adaptation Explanation Extrication:
    • Dark Yugi stops giving his Penalty Games after Duelist Kingdom for no explanation in the anime. In the manga he stops doing this when Pegasus says the items have an evil intelligence, as he does not want to be evil, whereas in the anime he plays a Shadow Game with Shadi right after defeating Pegasus. The Black Clown's clown theme and Ryuji's partial clown make-up makes more sense in the manga as well, as his father was cursed to have a clown face.
    • Grandpa getting severely injured through a card game for no rational explanation. In the manga, he gets the "Experience of Death" penalty game after losing to Kaiba. In the anime, that never happens, and he is injured because of the incredibly realistic holograms, even though he is okay with them later on.
    • The anime never explains why Dark Bakura is after Mokuba in Duelist Kingdom (it's for the key to Kaiba Corporation's safe, which Mokuba had). The dub actually makes a little more sense, with him being after Mokuba's soulless body instead, although that creates another plot hole in that Ryo Bakura is specifically the chosen host for the Shadow TPG.
    • Pegasus somehow finds out about Kaiba's defeat at the hands of Yugi during the first episode, in which the only witnesses to the duel are Joey and Mokuba. It makes more sense in the manga, where there is an entire audience of Kaiba fanboys overlooking its equivalent to the first episode match during the Death-T arc.
  • Adaptation Induced Plothole:
    • The Millennium Items were given powers in Duelist Kingdom that defy the rule of playing games to punish people, such as the Ring being able to summon monsters into reality and the Eye trapping Mokuba's soul without the need for a game. Not only does it make make what Pegasus, Yugi, or any Millennium Item wielders do seem pointless if they could bypass it easily, but from Battle City onward, the Items work the way they do in the manga, which is contradictory to how they work in Duelist Kingdom.
    • Joey discovering Mai's perfume-trick makes less sense in the anime. In the manga, they were sitting relatively close to each other, so it would make sense for Joey to pick up on the scents. In the anime, there's quite a distance between them, not to mention that they're outside, so it should be impossible for Joey to smell the perfume.
    • In the manga, Kaiba's dueling rings were exclusive to himself and his company, and Pegasus was only able to produce the smaller Battle Boxes, creating a need for him to want Kaiba's technology to make a lifelike, real-size copy of his wife. In the anime, Pegasus's dueling rings were nearly identical to Kaiba's, making one wonder why he needed Kaiba's technology if he already had an equivalent. The dub fixes this by having him need both the technology and the Millennium Items to bring his wife back to life, which he could only get through beating Yugi and acquiring KaibaCorp.
  • Adaptational Wimp: Yugi's friends are hit with this.
    • Jonouchi/Joey in the anime. In the original manga, when Bandit Keith tries to steal his card during the Duelist Kingdom arc, Jonouchi beats him up, claiming that while Keith may be good at card games, he's the best at fighting. In the anime, Joey gets beaten up rather ungracefully instead. He also had more anime-exclusive losses.
    • Anzu/Tea, whose cheerleader role is played up, and her temper and active personality reduced.
    • Honda/Tristan in the manga was a badass with a sense of honor. In the anime, he's more of a comic relief character that tries to get with Serenity, though he does duel and fight now and then.
    • Ryuji/Duke goes from a serious, somewhat sympathetic character in the manga to a jerkish villain in the anime before mellowing out. He eventually becomes stuck in a comedic love triangle, competing with Honda for Serenity's affections.
    • In his first appearances, Yami Yugi used Mind Rape on anybody who cheated or appeared to screw with his friends, which continued in the manga until the end of Duelist Kingdom where he decided to stop doing his own Shadow Games, as Pegasus warned him that every Millennium Item was influenced by evil. In the anime, he just played Duel Monsters with a Mind Crush penalty that stopped being used for no explanation.
  • Aerith and Bob: 4Kids gave new names to only some of the characters, resulting in completely typical sounding names like Joey, Tristan, and Duke appearing alongside characters like Yugi, Seto, Mokuba, and Bakura.
  • Aloof Big Brother: Seto Kaiba to his brother Mokuba. He loves him, but is seldom any more emotional with hm than he is normally.
  • Alternative Foreign Theme Song: As with all the anime that 4Kids dubs, the English opening is different from the Japanese opening. You can listen to it here.
  • Amulet of Concentrated Awesome: Yugi's Millennium Puzzle, given that it has the soul of a 3000-year-old Pharaoh in it (5000 in the dub) and tends to be generally badass when it takes over Yugi's body. Most of the Millennium Items in general fit this trope.
  • Ancient Egypt: A large chunk of the characters and artifacts come from this time period. It is also the backdrop of the final Shadow Game.
  • Angel Face, Demon Face: The differences between Yugi, Bakura, and Marik's normal appearances and when their Yami sides take over. Though, Yami Yugi isn't the most demonic per se, and normal Marik isn't the most angelic.
  • Animation Bump: As a general rule of thumb, the more important episodes are animated with an art style which is superior to that seen during other episodes. The opening/closing sequences are also animated using a cleaner animation style.
  • Anime Hair: Yugi is a particularly egregious example. All the supporting characters except for Tea/Anzu tend to be trying to outdo each other in outlandish hairstyles, as well.
  • Arc Words: "Something that you can see, but something that can't be seen" gets repeated quite a lot, at least early on. Originally it referred to the Millenium Puzzle, but it's used to refer to many different things by altering the way the line is interpreted.
  • Artifact of Doom: Millennium Items tend to give their owners awesome Psychic Powers of some sort. However, more often than not, they will also harbor or lead to the development of their owners' Superpowered Evil Sides, or at least contribute to their Face-Heel Turning.
  • Artifact Title: "Yu-Gi-Oh" means "Game King." The anime rarely featured other games besides Duel Monsters, and non-DM games generally had Duel Monsters inserted anyway.
  • Artistic License – History: Beyond the parts that never would have been accurate to begin with, other Anachronism Stew mistakes crop up, such as people using what seem to be steel or iron swords during what should have been the Bronze Age. Doubly the case for the dubbed version, which changes "3000" to "5000": Five thousand years ago—3000 BCE—would have been before the pyramids were built, and horses weren't introduced to Egypt until around 1700-1550 BCE.
  • Art Shift: Once Yami defeats Kaiba and performs a mind crush on him, his face becomes less angular and his eyes gain pupils.
  • Ascended Extra: The Big 5, Gozaburo Kaiba, Johnny Step, and Professor Hopkins were all minor characters in the manga but were given expanded roles in the anime.
  • Ascended Meme: The nicodouga phenomena relating to the "Enemy Controller" scenes from the Virtual Arc is referenced in a minigame on the Duel Terminal arcade game.
  • Asshole Victim: Bandit Keith, Marik's father, and Weevil in the "Waking the Dragons" arc among others.
  • Astonishingly Appropriate Appearance: A few of the minor characters.
    • Weevil Underwood, whose bowl-cut hair is described as looking like a blue beetle, and his glasses have a beetle motif to them. He uses an insect-themed deck.
    • The pale and sickly-looking Bonz uses an all-zombie deck.
  • Attempted Rape: In a flashback, Tea is lured into a gym hall where a creepy gym teacher with a camera was waiting to blackmail her for going to work at Burger World against school rules. Yugi arrives on time and Yami Yugi emerges to play a "draw the stronger Duel Monster" Shadow Game and gives the pervert a "Mind Crush" Penalty Game. In the dub, the camera and shots of Tea's thighs were edited out, and she's assaulted by a mugger instead.
  • Awesome, but Impractical:
    • Pretty much every character's deck only works because of The Magic Poker Equation and the fact that the writers can let them get whatever cards they need.
  • A Villain Named Zrg: Zorc Necrophades.
  • Ax-Crazy: Yami Marik and Yami Bakura (the latter is more Wicked Cultured in the dub, but still has shades of this). Even our hero Yami Yugi can become Ax-Crazy if you push the right buttons.
  • Badass Adorable: Yugi, mostly because the anime puts more emphasis on his youthful looks, compared to Atem.
  • Badass Normal:
    • Yugi — the normal one, not the Pharaoh one — manages to take out all three God Cards in one turn against Atem.
    • Joey, as well, who's the most normal of the main duelists.
  • Bait-and-Switch Credits: The final opening for the Millennium World arc is more faithful to the manga than the anime, lacking the diadhanks that the priests had in the anime but didn't have in the manga.
  • Beam of Enlightenment: Any time one of the characters has a sudden revelation. Mostly when Yami figures out how to beat his opponents. It happens when Yugi collapses during his second duel with Pegasus. Yugi's friends can sense it, despite his isolation in the Shadow Game.
  • Beast in the Maze: The three-part duel with the Paradox Brothers is all about this.
  • Beauty Equals Goodness: The heroes' ace monsters are drop dead gorgeous, even the Blue-Eyes White Dragon looks noble and majestic. Meanwhile, the villains use monsters that wouldn't look out of place in horror movies.
    • Bakura and Marik are both good-looking, but when their Superpowered Evil Sides take over, they look significantly rougher and are prone to making terrifying faces.
  • Berserk Button: If you don't want to see a very angry Kaiba, don't tell him Yugi lost a duel. Or try to take over his company. Or attempt to kidnap/harm Mokuba.
  • Between My Legs: This shot is how Rebecca is introduced in her first appearance.
  • Beware the Nice Ones:
    • Ryo Bakura is a very sweet, shy, quiet, polite guy with a Superpowered Evil Side that he's only vaguely aware exists.
    • Yugi, later on in the series, shows that he has the ability to kick ass even without his Other Personality, at times.
  • Big Bad: Pegasus, The Big Five, Noah and Gozaburo Kaiba, Marik and Yami Marik, Dartz, Zigfried von Schroeder, and Zorc/Bakura. Subject to the Sorting Algorithm of Evil.
  • Big Damn Heroes: Seems to happen a lot. Notable because oftentimes the mere presence of the friends of whoever is dueling gives them the strength to win, or at least continue playing into the next episode.
  • Big "SHUT UP!": Pegasus tells Dark Bakura to shut up after the latter reads his past like an open book through Duel Monster cards used as Tarot cards.
  • Bilingual Bonus:
    • Played straight with the Egyptian text. Atem's name is written as "Atemu" and the carvings on Odion's face and Marik's back are genuine hieroglyphs. The author knew what he was doing.
    • Subverted with the Enochian text on the Orichalcos cards, which is a random jumble of nonsense. However, the card title spells "Orichalcon" and the rim of the seal spells "Oreichalcos" twice.
  • Bishōnen: Marik Ishtar, Ryo Bakura, and Ryuji Otogi/Duke Devlin. The latter two even have their own in-universe fan clubs.
  • Bitch in Sheep's Clothing:
    • The spirit of the Millennium Ring. He uses the innocent Bakura as his "sheep's clothing". One can almost never be sure who is in control, as one second Bakura is smiling innocently, and the next second when the others have turned their backs the spirit smirks.
    • Marik. When he personally meets up with Yugi's friends for the first time, he pretends to have just found Bakura injured. He actually does this to gain their trust. He introduces himself to them as "Namu", acting as a humble beginner who is participating in the Battle City Tournament. Right afterwards Marik's minions attack and Tea and Joey get kidnapped, then brainwashed. He keeps up the innocent act later, too, claiming to having gotten into the finals only because of dumb luck, even as Joey grows suspicious of him. Now, Marik's past and his dark side business considered, he still shows a rather malicious personality on his own. He doesn't seem to regret any of his actions, either, except for getting Odion hospitalized and the fact that he had blamed pharaoh for the death of his father. Rather, he's just confused as to why Yugi would want to help him after he tried to kill them all. So, it might be that he's still a bitch in sheep's clothing when we see him again later in the series, just maybe not to the same extent as before.
  • Black Box: The IC chips inside the cards are described as this in the Pyramid of Light novelization.
  • Black Cloak: Marik Ishtar and the other Rare Hunters are garbed like this when they are first introduced.
  • Black Magician Girl: Trope Namer due to the "Dark Magician Girl" card, which is actually named "Black Magician Girl" in the original anime.
  • "Blind Idiot" Translation: The card known in Japanese as "Shisha Sosei", literally "Raise Dead", is called "Reborn the Monster" early in the English dub. It's later changed to "Monster Reborn", which makes more sense.
  • Body Surf: Marik causes much grief to the protagonists by doing this during the Battle City arc.
  • Bookends: Yugi's winning card in the last duel of the series is Golden Sarcophagus; it's pointed out that the card looks just like the box the Millennium Puzzle was in, and that the box that brought Yugi and the pharaoh together would be the very thing to bring them apart.
  • Bowdlerise:
    • Of the manga: skipping approximately the first seven volumes of Dark Yugi challenging bullies/criminals to Shadow Games and inflicting Penalty Games, disregarding Kaiba's death-themed amusement park, and changing Dark Yugi's Penalty Games into Mind Crushes, among other things. Duelist Kingdom, Dungeon Dice Monsters, and Millennium World get most of this treatment, whereas Battle City gets less of it.
    • The English dubbed anime is this to the above, notably in Battle City. Marik's Rare Hunters can't invoke shadow games since they don't have millennium items and instead set up elaborate death traps. The English dub had most of them be Shadow Games anyway thanks to Marik's magic.
  • Breakout Character: The Dark Magician Girl, being the Ms. Fanservice of the franchise, is far more popular than any other duel monster from the original series save for the iconic Blue-Eyes and Dark Magician. She's even playable in some of the video games.
  • Breather Episode:
    • A breather arc, actually. The relatively laid back KC Grand Prix story fits right in between the much more intense Doma and Millennium World storylines.
    • The anime version of the Dungeon Dice Monsters story serves as this as well.
  • Broken Bird: Mai Valentine/Kujaku, whose past has made her an aloof, untrusting loner.
  • Broken Bridge: The only thing that keeps Marik from interfering in the events of Noah's arc is... a locked door. Although, he does manage to blow up Noah's control system.
  • Brooding Boy, Gentle Girl: Priest Seto and Kisara in Ancient Egypt, Yami Yugi and Tea in the main timeline.
  • But Now I Must Go: Atem has to pass on to the afterlife after he saves the world from the Shadow Games once and for all.
  • Calling Your Attacks: "DARK MAGICIAN, DARK MAGIC ATTACK!" "BLUE EYES, COUNTER WITH WHITE LIGHTNING!" and so on ad infinitum. Several of these attacks even have their own cards, which require their monster to be out. Mainly used for important monsters early on, with smaller ones just getting descriptions of what's happening.
  • Calvin Ball: Duel Monsters is closer to this in Duelist Kingdom, since the manga storylines and the related cards were closer to an RPG at the time, leading to Normal monsters having effects, being able to destroy your own spell cards, and field power bonuses affecting both sides.
  • CCG Importance Dissonance: Countless examples, the most famous of which are the Dark Magician, Blue-Eyes White Dragon and Red-Eyes Black Dragon. Later releases have done more to keep them viable, but they're still fairly specialized decks.
  • Chained by Fashion: Exodia has chains on his wrists and ankles.
    • Yugi later uses a chain necklace for his Millennium Puzzle.
  • Character Check: In the Doma arc, Yami Yugi regresses to a more vengeful persona without Yugi around, much like the earlier manga, and tortures Insector Haga/Weevil in a fit of rage until Anzu convinces him to stop.
  • Charles Atlas Superpower: Kaiba can throw cards at someone with such force that it hurts like they're shuriken, Joey can break down a wall, etc. Each of them have almost no visible muscle.
  • Chastity Couple: Mai and Jounouchi/Joey. Also Yugi and Anzu/Tea, though the latter has a crush on the former's superpowered evil side.
  • Chekhov's Gun: In the Duelist Kingdom arc, Joey is seen trading for Sword and Shield, which he later uses against Ghost/Bonz to pull off a win. He gets Kunai With Chain and Salamandra in the same trade, which he uses to defeat two troublesome monsters in the team duel with the Paradox Brothers, as well as Baby Dragon, which combined with the Time Wizard given to him by Yugi ends up finishing off Mai in his first duel with her.
    • Kuriboh makes a blink-and-you'll-miss-it appearance in episode 5 to diffuse one of Weevil's traps, before Yugi brings it back in episode 24 to hold off Kaiba's Blue-Eyes Ultimate Dragon.
    • Another, ultra-delayed Chekhov's Gun comes from the first title sequence, where Yugi's shadow splits in two, representing his two sides. 220 episodes later, this happens when Yami and Yugi face each other in the ceremonial battle.
    • If the camera ever pays particular attention to the cards that players put in the graveyard when they have to discard cards for some reason, it's likely that at least one of those will have an effect that works in the graveyard, or that the player will otherwise get to use that card later on.
  • Cherry Tapping:
    • Yugi manages to stall off Kaiba's Blue-Eyes Ultimate Dragon with Kuriboh, one of the weakest monsters in the game.
  • Circle of Friendship: One is drawn on the main characters' hands in the first episode, and the symbol comes back into play several times later.
  • Clip Show: Episode 74, "The Rescue," is almost entirely a clip show of everything up to that point. Episode 144, "Looking Back and Moving Ahead", is another one.
  • Cock Fight: Tristan and Duke, over Serenity.
  • Collectible Card Game: Duel Monsters, which the entire series is centered around.
  • Conspicuous Consumption: Siegfried has a fancy castle, an army of maids, private jets, and swimming pools filled with fresh milk... to hide the fact that his life of luxury is in jeopardy since SchroederCorp is going broke.
  • Cooking Duel: Figuratively speaking. The series often stakes the lives of its characters, or even the fate of the world, on a game of Duel Monsters.
  • Cool Big Sis: Mai plays this role to both Tea and (especially) Serenity.
  • Cosmic Chess Game: Season 5 has a Cosmic Role-Playing Game between Yami Yugi and Yami Bakura.
  • The Corruption: Multiple instances with various characters. Some of the Millennium Items have an element of evil in them. The entire Doma arc works on this, with the Orichalcos stones being the catalyst.
  • The Cracker: In an early episode, Seto Kaiba goes through a Batman-esque security system to reach a sentient computer, which he uses to hack into Pegasus's computer system to mess with a duel.
  • Crazy Consumption: Yami Bakura and his steak. Censored in the dub.
  • Curb-Stomp Battle: Several examples throughout the series, mostly involving a character getting extremely lucky early-game draws, thus being able to wipe out their opponent very quickly, or their opponent being hilariously inept.
    • Also, the first Yami/Kaiba VS Rare Hunters battle. Kaiba summons Lord of Dragons and special-summons all three Blue Eyes and a spare dragon in just the first move. He summons Obelisk on Round Two, sacrifices his other remaining monsters to activate Obelisk's Total Party Kill special ability to defeat both opposing players.
  • The Dark Side: Many characters in Yu-Gi-Oh! fall into some Dark Side's trap, usually by trying to use an Artifact of Doom. Yami Yugi is not immune to this effect.
  • Darker and Edgier:
    • In the manga, Yugi's grandpa wasn't really kidnapped by Pegasus; his soul was instead sealed inside a video tape, and Yugi could talk with him through a camcorder whenever he liked. The anime makes it a straight case of Your Soul Is Mine, and anime!Yugi is appropriately angstier about the whole affair.
    • While the manga makes it clear that receiving the Millennium Eye was not pleasant for Pegasus, the actual insertion was done off-panel. The anime, on the other hand, lets the audience see every second of Shadi painfully jamming it in the poor guy's eye socket.
  • Dead Woman Writing: Subverted with Pegasus in the Doma filler saga. He isn't dead, merely comatose due to his soul being removed.
  • Deadpan Snarker:
    • Later in the 4Kids dub, Bakura is quite good at this.
    • Kaiba is another.
      Gozaburo: I treated you better than my own son!
      Seto: Thanks for nothing.
    • And again:
      Seto: Anyone who's late to my tournament will automatically be disqualified. Mokuba, make sure Wheeler's late.
    • From the Waking The Dragons arc:
    Kaiba: So you have a dweeb army. Am I supposed to be scared to attack?
    Dartz: Well, only if destroying an innocent soul concerns you.
    Kaiba: Nah. As the president of a major corporation, I have to do that every day.
  • Death by Childbirth: Marik's mother dies giving birth to him.
  • Debt Detester: Kaiba claims that Tea helping Mokuba escape from the Rare Hunters is the only reason he's helping Yugi find his friends. Then he uses it as his reason for saving Tea's life. Considering all the times he makes a point of explaining how he's only "helping" the gang out of selfish reasons, it's pretty clear that it's a shield for his Hidden Heart of Gold.
  • Defeat Means Friendship: Ryuji Otogi/Duke Devlin in the Dungeon Dice Monsters arc. To an extent, Mokuba Kaiba and Marik Ishtar later on.
  • Defrosting Ice Queen:
    • Mai Kujaku/Valentine for the first few arcs, and then heads back to Arctic levels during most of Season 4 due to her Face–Heel Turn.
    • Kaiba is a male example, at least in the Japanese version. He becomes more amiable and less openly insulting towards the others over time.
  • Demoted to Extra:
    • Ryou Bakura in the second anime. In the manga, he appears with the main group most of the time after his initial appearance and has tons of screentime, whereas in the anime he usually only appears whenever it involves Yami Bakura or if it's Yami Bakura pretending to be the real Bakura. This is so bad that on the official Yu-Gi-Oh website, Ryou Bakura does not have a character profile but Yami Bakura does. The same goes for the official Japanese websites.
    • Bobasa as well, as his major role in the Millennium World arc from the manga was instead given to Shadi whereas he is mainly reduced to comic relief for the few episodes he appears in, until his final appearance where he takes Yugi and the others to the Pharaoh's temple. In fact, in the manga, Bobasa is an alternate identity of Shadi/Hassan.
  • Depending on the Artist: The first two seasons of the second series anime follow Kazuki Takahashi's manga style pretty well, but the various animators start to show their specific styles around the end of the Battle City finals and into non-manga material. This causes discrepancies between the proportions of the characters; for example, the ever-changing size of Yugi's hair. Some artists, like Kagami Takahiro, are consistent with art and animation. Others, like Kawaguchi Keiichirou, are very Off Model.
  • Determined Expression: A staple of Kaiba, to the point where many a fanfic has waxed eloquent over his "icy death glare". Yami Yugi usually prefers speech-making, but has been known to utilize this effectively as well. Joey doesn't do this as frequently as Kaiba, but when he does, a crowning moment of awesome will ensue.
  • Detonation Moon: Yugi has Giant Soldier of Stone destroy his own Full Moon card. It recedes the ocean from the field, beaching Mako/Kajiki's monsters. Years later it would be ascended into its own card.
  • Deus ex Machina: Whenever one of the heroes is in a hopeless situation, the solution is often them drawing a card we've never seen or heard of (and in many case never will again) that provides the perfect solution. Also known as "believe in the heart of the cards".
  • Deus Exit Machina: The three Egyptian God cards, which Yugi worked hard to acquire in Seasons 2 and 3, are stolen in the very first episode of Season 4 by the local Quirky Miniboss Squad and are drained of their power. Yugi manages to regain them in time for the final battle, but up until then only one God is used.
  • Did Do The Research: Though occasionally the exact details are fuddled, the mythological concepts explored throughout the franchise show that someone obviously did their homework.
  • Do Not Adjust Your Set: Kaiba appears on every TV screen in the city to announce the Battle City Tournament.
  • Dub-Induced Plot Hole: In Season 2 Ishizu arrives in Domino City via plane. A Domino museum official welcomes her "to America." This is contradicted in Season 4 when the protagonists actually travel overseas to America to investigate the local Filler Villains.
    • In the dub, they are are said to be flying to California. It is perfectly reasonable for people living near the East Coast to need to take a plane to California.
    • A creeping one happens as far back as Episode 2. Joey is motivated to play Duel Monsters to win an upcoming district tournament when he sees the prize is 3,000,000 yen, so he trains under Solomon/Grandpa to get better. After that scene it flashes forward an estimated few days to weeks where he ends up losing in the quarter-finals. In the dub all mention of his entrance in the District Tournament disappears. This ends up causing a bit of confusion when Season 3 rolls around and he ends up comatose after his duel with Marik, where during his time in the coma he relives his memories from the tournament showing how he lost in the quarter-finals to show how much stronger he's become since then, and fighting subconsciously to fulfill his promise and face Yugi again. In the dub he's just straight-up dreaming and is told this by Yugi in the dream, turning it into an Epiphanic Prison of sorts as he fights his way out of the Shadow Realm.
    • The English dub actually fixed some plot holes from the original anime.
      • In the original, Yugi says that duelists were only allowed to have exactly 40 cards on hand. Yugi lost 3 Exodia cards and gave Time Wizard to Joey, meaning that his deck had 36 cards. This line is absent from the English dub.
      • In the original version, Joey tells the Rare Hunter that "only Yugi has Exodia", despite the fact that Yugi lost the Exodia cards in Duelist Kingdom. In the dub, Joey just says that Exodia is very rare.
      • In English dub, a moan is added when Pegasus's body is shown, explaining how he is alive for season 4 and 5.
  • Dub Name Change: The dub was done by 4Kids Entertainment, after all. Jonouchi becomes "Joey," Anzu becomes "Tea," Honda becomes "Tristan," Shizuka becomes "Serenity," Mai's last name changes from Kujaku to Valentine, Dinosaur Ryuzaki becomes "Rex Raptor," etc. Some card names were also changed, for example, Black Magician being renamed to Dark Magician (and the same for the card's female counterpart, Black Magician Girl to Dark Magician Girl) and its corresponding attack card, Black Magic, being renamed to Dark Magic Attack.
  • invoked Dude, Not Funny!:
    • Tea replies with this when Joey jokingly suggests that Kaiba died after his soul was stolen by Pegasus at the end of the Duelist Kingdom arc.
    • After everyone gets off of Alcatraz Island, Kaiba tells everyone that he knew the blimp's engines weren't working. All the while, he was smirking when he said that, meaning he thought that it was funny. Joey, reasonably, gets mad at him for almost letting them die.
  • Dude, Where's My Respect?:
    • Joey says this almost word-for-word upon hearing that Kaiba refused to invite him into the Battle City tournament even though he was the runner-up in Duelist Kingdom.
    • Lampshaded in Duel Academy's school pledge.
  • Duels Decide Everything: Apparently, even before Yami Yugi Duel Monsters games decided a few inane things, but post-Season 2 pretty much every Duel could be a Shadow Game or a Dangerous Bet.
  • Dysfunction Junction: Several characters experienced a tragic and/or depressing past, especially the villains.
  • Early Installment Weirdness: Duelist Kingdom uses completely different rules than later arcs, playing more like an RPG than a trading card game. There are too many to list, but examples include Yugi being able to beach Mako's sea creatures, being able to target separate parts of monsters, attacks being able to miss, etc. The rules of the Duel Monsters TCG weren't really made yet when Duelist Kingdom happened in the manga, which the anime mostly follows. Later seasons bring the rules in closer with the real-life card game.
    • Speaking of Duelist Kingdom, the dub version of it is this when compared to future seasons. While most other seasons go out of their way to censor deaths and death-related subjects, all deaths, implied deaths, and attempted murders are retained in the dub's first season. The Shadow Realm is used as an explanation for the dark field of Shadow Games, as well as a general punishment implied to be worse than death. Kaiba also believes in and plans for Pegasus's use of magic, while in later seasons he's skeptical of it.
    • Even the cards are this. In this series the cards are mostly inclined towards the horror genre, religion and mythology, especially but not restricted to Ancient Egypt. Later series since GX have a "futuristic and dragons theme" for the cards and never looked back since.
  • Easily Forgiven: Any villain who undergoes a Heel–Face Turn is almost immediately forgiven by Yugi and his friends, though Joey takes the longest to come around.
  • Environmental Symbolism: Whenever Shadi goes into someone's Soul Room with his Millennium Key, the environment reflects their personality and mental state.
  • Evil Is Not a Toy: Nor is it a card game, Pegasus.
  • Evil Sounds Deep: Played straight with Yugi/Yami Yugi and Marik/Yami Marik. Both played straight and subverted by Bakura/Yami Bakura in the original Japanese. Yami Bakura does have a deeper voice than Bakura, but both have a high-pitched squeaky effeminate voice. Played straight in the dub.
    • Also used with Marik when his Superpowered Evil Side isn't in control. When he's pretending to be a protagonist, and after his Heel–Face Turn, his voice is higher and softer.
    • Also inverted with Noah; when he's a villain, his voice is high-pitched and bratty, but when he makes his Heel–Face Turn, it gets lower and more mature.
  • Evil Versus Evil: The duel between Yami Marik and Yami Bakura is a very clear this, with neither party holding good intentions.
  • Exactly What It Says on the Tin: A lot of the cards, like "Red-Eyes Black Dragon," "Man-Eating Treasure Chest," and "Dark Magician," just to name a few.
  • Expy: At one point, Yugi and Tea go up against a guy named Johnny Steps at a Dance Dance Revolution clone. Doubly hilarious seeing as DDR is also put out by Konami.
  • Extra Eyes: Pegasus' Thousand-Eyes Restrict somehow has, as the name implies, one-thousand eyes covering its body.
  • Face Framed in Shadow: Every major villain has this going on for them, especially friends who have been made Brainwashed and Crazy.
    • Also used to somewhat hide Yami Yugi's identity, first in Season 0 when Tea wonders who saved her and again in Season 2 for Kaiba during Ishizu's Millennium Necklace visions. The shadow even follows him as he stands up.
  • Fade Around the Eyes: Marik does this at the end of his first in-person appearance, as he sends out the Rare Hunters. When he does, he glares at the screen as it fades to black around his Purple Eyes.
  • Fiction 500: Seto Kaiba is the president of a multi-billion-dollar gaming company, which he took from his stepfather while still a kid.
  • Filler Arc: Virtual World, DOMA, and Kaibacorp Grand Prix.
    • Kaiba hilariously lampshades this directly after the Virtual World Arc, directly after they've all narrowly escaped with their lives.
    Kaiba: Alright, that little detour was a complete waste of my time and effort. So let's move on and pretend that nonsense never happened. It's time for us to continue the Battle City Finals! Set us back on course, to Kaiba Corp Island.
  • Filler Villain: Noah and Gozaburo Kaiba, Dartz, and Zigfried von Schroeder, respectively.
  • First-Episode Spoiler: Added in to the dub, the second episode has Pegasus revealing to Yugi that Duel Monsters is based on magical duels performed in Ancient Egypt; an important fact to be sure, but in the original version it wasn't revealed until the next arc entirely.
  • Five-Bad Band: The Big Five. In the DOMA/Orichalcos filler arc, there's Dartz and his men (if you include Mai). You could also make a case for Pegasus and his Player Killers if you wanted. For the DOMA Arc:
  • Five-Man Band
  • Flanderization:
    • Kaiba's rude tendencies in the dub. Compare:
      dub!Kaiba: Mokuba, make sure Wheeler is late.
      Japanese!Kaiba: Mokuba, please show them around.
      dub!Kaiba: Wait and see, you geeks haven't seen the last of me. [Paraphrased]
      Japanese!Kaiba: One day, I will invite you [to Kaiba Land].
    • Similarly, his Agent Scully tendencies are more over-emphasized in the dub.
  • Freudian Excuse:
    • The whole reason Thief King Bakura tried to take over the world in the first place is because he saw the Kul Elna massacre first-hand and was its only survivor, thus making a deal with Zorc for power.
    • Also Seto, arguably, given his orphaned childhood and history with Gozaburo.
    • Marik's Superpowered Evil Side developed as a result of his unwilling upbringing as a tomb keeper (with some help from the Millennium Rod), which involved isolation, abuse, and an excruciatingly painful initiation ritual.
  • Friendless Background: Yugi had one of these before finishing the puzzle.
  • Friendship Moment: Given the main theme of the series, there's bound to be plenty of this.
    • A really touching one in particular is between Yami and Yugi. After Yugi is discharged from the hospital after his duel with Bandit Keith, he becomes uncharacteristically quiet and gloomy. Even though he knows something is troubling him, Yami decides to patiently wait for Yugi to voice his concerns, and only then he realizes that Yugi has been afraid of losing him after his duel with Keith, which made him realize that Yami might have to leave someday. So, Yami, knowing full well that he would have to leave his side in the future, tells him that despite what he had to do, he wanted to be with him forever. And Yugi, despite realizing that Yami would really have to leave, replies that he also wished for them to be together, and that even if the Pharaoh didn't get his memory back, he and Yugi would make new memories together.
  • Frothy Mugs of Water:
    • In the dub, Pegasus is clearly drinking wine, but he refers to it as grape juice or fruit punch. Given Pegasus's character, though, this holds up better than most.
    • Averted in The Movie, wherein Pegasus wakes up from what he thinks is an Acid Reflux Nightmare and says "No more white wine spritzers before bed", and the next day, is drinking a red wine spritzer. This actually isn't too out of character for him, either.
  • Fun Size: Yugi Muto is a shorter version of Yami with fewer blond streaks in his hair.
  • Geo Effects: Field Power Bonus. Emphasized very much earlier in the card game, but dies out to only Field Spell Cards by the Duelist Kingdom finals.
  • Genki Girl: Mana, whose introduction consists of her jumping out of a vase to glomp the pharaoh.
  • Get a Hold of Yourself, Man!: Yami gets one of these from Joey in the form of a punch to the face.
  • Girls Love Stuffed Animals: Rebecca has a teddy bear that she regularly speaks to in her first appearance. By the time she reappears in the Doma arc, however, she's ditched the "cutesy little girl" angle, and Teddy is nowhere to be seen.
  • Gotta Catch 'Em All: Averted. Even though the show is largely about a collectible card game, the collection aspect is rarely seen, with most characters pulling new cards out of nowhere during duels rather than explicitly obtaining them through booster packs or trades, though Battle City has them winning cards in ante duels.
    • Played straight on the part of the evil version of Bakura, who wants to collect all the Millennium Items so he can rule the world and obtain the power of darkness.
  • Graceful Loser: Pegasus, who after being thoroughly trounced by Yami, fulfills his promise by releasing the souls trapped in cards and stops causing problems for the protagonists.
    • Averted with Kaiba though.
  • Grade-School CEO: Seto Kaiba won Kaiba Corp from his step-dad when he was a teenager, and turned it from a weapons-manufacturer to a gaming company.
  • Gratuitous English:
    • Pegasus in the Japanese anime.
      Pegasus: UNBELIEVABLE! Kore wa NIGHTMARE! Bad dream!
    • Most of the cards have names in Gratuitous English too; Red-Eyes Black Dragon and Blue-Eyes White Dragon are completely unchanged from the Japanese version.
    • Also in the Japanese anime, terms like "duel(ist)," "player," "direct attack," "Duel Disk," "deck," "card," "Monster/Magic/Trap Card," "turn," "draw," and the different phases of the duel (i.e., Draw Phase, Standby Phase, Main Phase 1, Battle Phase, Main Phase 2 and End Phase) are said in English. "Reverse card, open!" is another commonly-heard English phrase in the Japanese anime.
    • Rebecca also speaks a lot of English. Her very first line in the series is "Hello, my name is Rebecca." Both Pegasus and Rebecca are American, so it stands to reason that they would speak English. However, Bandit Keith, who is also American, doesn't speak one word of English, strangely enough.
    • The Egyptian God Cards have the names written on them in English in the Japanese version of the anime (being the only cards that do). The names written on them are completely different from what they're called in both Japanese and English - THE SUN OF GOD DRAGON (Ra no Yokushinryū/The Winged Dragon of Ra), THE GOD OF OBELISK (Obelisk no Kyoshinhei/Obelisk the Tormentor) and SAINT DRAGON - THE GOD OF OSIRIS (Osiris no Tenkūryū/Slifer the Sky Dragon).
  • Hacked by a Pirate: Pegasus does this by showing his favorite cartoon rabbit character when he counter-hacks Kaiba trying to hack into his system.
  • Hacker Cave: There is one owned by Seto Kaiba in episodes 9 and 10.
  • Ham-to-Ham Combat: Although many duels feel this way, the Yugi vs. Kaiba ones are the greatest examples. At some points it feels like their voice actors are competing to see who can do the most over-the-top performance and still keep it in the final cut.
    • The Yami Marik vs. Yami Bakura duel is a fabulous example of this, especially since most of their dialogue consists of them making very enthusiastic death threats to each other.
  • Healthcare Motivation: The reason Joey/Jounouchi participates in the Duelist Kingdom tournament is to use the prize money to pay for his sister to have eye surgery.
  • Heel–Face Turn: Pegasus, Marik, Noah, Dartz, Rafael, Valon, Alaister, and Zigfried all undergo this by the end of their respective arcs.
  • Heroic Willpower: Joey/Jonouchi's main strength is this, as he displays in various ways in his confrontations with Marik.
  • Heterosexual Life-Partners: Yugi and Yami Yugi, Joey and Tristan.
    • Yugi and Joey are like this as well, with Yugi calling Joey his best friend. It gets to the point that, when Joey is brainwashed and they're forced to duel, Yugi does his best to help Joey and, when Yugi thinks he's about to die, he tells Joey that he loves him.
  • Hoist by His Own Petard: During his duel with Pegasus at Duelist Kingdom, Kaiba tries to use the Crush Card (which makes it impossible for a duelist who has had this card used against him or her to play any Monster cards with more than 1500 Attack points) to cripple Pegasus's deck. However, not only is Pegasus able to counter this move, he later uses his Doppelganger card to copy the Crush Card and infect Kaiba's deck. Since all the Monsters in Kaiba's deck except Saggi the Dark Clown have more than 1500 Attack points, there is now no way he can win and he loses his soul to Pegasus's Millennium Eye.
  • Homage: The card game was originally intended as an homage to Magic: The Gathering, of which Takahashi is a fan.
  • Hostage for MacGuffin: So much so (especially with Kaiba's little brother Mokuba) that LittleKuriboh's Gag Dub of the show has an entire running gag built around it.
  • Hot for Teacher: Subject to interpretation, but Mana in the anime is very devoted to Mahad. Her goal through season five is to become a better magician, both because it's his will for her and because she wants to be able to summon and see his spirit. "Prince can summon him from the tablet, right? Please! Bring me and Master together!" She talks or thinks about him in every scene, and her other goal is to always be with and protect him... which she succeeded in, if the existence of the Black Magician Girl in modern times is any indication. One must note that the subtext is only present in the Japanese version — 4Kids rewrote her dialogue and character entirely until she and Mahad have nothing but a classroom relationship.
  • Hot-Blooded:
    • Jounouchi/Joey is easily riled up and is the loudest character in the bunch.
    • Bakura, especially as Thief King Bakura in season five. He makes the most arrogant pronoun ever (Ore-sama) sound good in constant use, and... "ORE-SAMA NO TURN!" Sort of lampshaded in the Japanese anime, wherein during a duel between Yami Bakura and Yami Marik, Bakura shouts "Ore-sama no turn!" and Marik replies "You're no ore-sama."
  • Hybrid Overkill Avoidance: Usually averted, but played straight in the first tournament when Yugi fuses his Mammoth Graveyard to Kaiba's Blue Eyes Ultimate Dragon to slowly weaken it.
  • Idiot Ball: In the first ever duel between Joey and Kaiba, Joey's entire strategy could be summed up as "summon monster to attack." He apparently forgets that his monsters aren't nearly strong enough to beat Kaiba's, but he just keeps summoning them and having them attack Kaiba's monsters, so they're destroyed instantly and cost him points. He never shows this level of stupidity in any duel before or after this. Justified in that he is unfamiliar with the Duel Disk technology and doesn't know how to set monsters in defense mode. note 
    • Yugi's largest Idiot Ball is when, in his duel against Pegasus, he summons Celtic Guardian to attack Toon Mermaid, hoping to destroy them both. If Toon Mermaid merely dodges the attack, as Toon Blue-Eyes did before, Pegasus can attack Celtic Guardian with Toon Summoned Skull, winning the duel. But then, Yugi is under a considerable amount of stress.
    • Here's a drinking game—watch the series and take a drink every time a duelist makes a move and doesn't notice the opponent has countered it until it's too late. Blame Rule of Drama, since apparently if it'll make for a dramatic twist then duelists can activate cards without announcing such (e.g., Ishizu activating Blast Held By A Tribute to "secretly" infect Obelisk without saying so). However, in the real card game every play of a card must be announced and your opponent given a chance to respond if they are able, and if they choose not to they don't get to just rewind and change their minds once you begin to make another move.
    • From the Waking The Dragons arc, Yami playing the Seal of Orichalcos that Raphael gave him in order to avoid losing the duel. There was literally nothing at stake until he played that card, since the "loser loses their soul" condition of the duels in this arc only applies after the Seal has been played. He could have just taken the loss and walked away to continue his fight against Dartz's organization, but no, he just had to win. Of course, this may well have been the "evil" that Raphael said was in him in the first place.
  • If I Had a Nickel:
    Seto: If I had a dime for every time you said the word "destiny," I'd be even richer.
  • I Have Your Wife: Used by various villains throughout the series. The target is usually Mokuba, who is kidnapped a grand total of 15 times.
  • I Just Want to Have Friends: When Yugi first completes the puzzle, he makes a wish on it to have some true friends.
  • "I Know You're in There Somewhere" Fight: Yugi has one of these with Joey/Jounouchi when Marik takes control of him. Jounouchi has one with Mai in Season 4, the latter having to lose his soul just to snap Mai back to normal.
  • In the End, You Are on Your Own: Seto Kaiba believes in this. He doesn't have any friends, and he doesn't even want any. He thinks depending on no one but yourself is for the strong. From the looks of it, though, it's the "monsters" of Wrath and Envy talking.
  • Inadequate Inheritor: In the Virtual World arc, Gozaburo says he considers Seto this.
  • Indy Escape: Subverted during Duelist Kingdom. The boulder in question was just a balloon with a speaker in it.
  • Ineffectual Loner: Seto Kaiba. As far as he's concerned, the only option is victory. And the only allies... are enemies.
  • Informed Ability:
    • The Kaiba brothers. For all of their supposed awesome skill at playing their favorite games, they tend to fall for very simple ruses. Mokuba and Yugi's Capsule Monsters match is an especially blatant example.
    • There's a reason why we never see Yugi and Seto play chess. King of games or not, you can't use the heart of the chess piece to win a game. And there are no power-ups (other than promoting pawns, which isn't too hard to see coming) or convenient special abilities.
    • Rex Raptor and Weevil Underwood were in a tournament championship facing each other right before the Duelist Kingdom arc. Yet, from then on out they never pose much of a threat to, well, pretty much anyone, effectively becoming Those Two Butt Monkeys who sure don't look like champions of any level of tournament.
      • Rex is an unfortunate case. Of all the duels he loses in the canon arcs, almost all of them are against opponents who are willing to cheat or against Joey (who wins by dumb luck). Admittedly, we don't see anything to suggest that Weevil cheated in their first duel, but considering that it is Weevil who throws Yugi's cards into the ocean it wouldn't be too surprising. (He also doesn't cheat against Yugi in the original Japanese version; the reason he knows about the new rules ahead of time is because Pegasus told him about them as a prize for winning the Regional Championship.)
      • The same could be said of Weevil/Haga really. Other than that, Weevil went up against Yugi/Yami Yugi twice and did very well both times. Certainly Weevil cheats but he's still shown to have great skill. The cheating only seems to serve as a supplement to his own abilities, or because he enjoys it. Other than Joey, Weevil's only ever lost to exceedingly great duelists. The main reason he becomes a joke character is because he's a Smug Snake who Can't Catch Up as far as powerful cards go.
  • Insane Troll Logic: In the anime, Ryuji Otogi/Duke Devlin's evil plan is made up of some pretty epic idiocy. He plans to prove that Yugi must have cheated in his duel with Pegasus... by cheating in his duel with Yugi, by challenging him to a game of Duke's own creation and refusing to explain the rules. Not just cheating, either, but cheating openly and bragging about it. Sure, if he wins he would still get half of what he wanted (forcing Yugi to give up dueling), but even then all he would manage to prove to the world is that he is a liar who can't win without cheating, not Yugi. If his plan works he would lose all credibility, and probably all of his customers and fans, too. Manga Ryuji averts this; not only was his plan more sensible, most of it wasn't even his plan, it was his (legitimately insane) father's.
  • Instant Awesome, Just Add Dragons: The most powerful cards in the game are dragons, and it was carried over to the sequels. The villain in the crossover movie with GX and 5DS summons nothing but dragons, to show how superior they are to the audience. Even Kaiba (the most dragon-obsessed guy in the series) has some variety in his deck.
  • Insult to Rocks: "You know, I'm not quite sure what to call you. I was thinking about 'monster'... but I wouldn't want to insult the cards."
  • Intergenerational Friendship: Big time, between Yugi and the Pharaoh/Yami Yugi.
  • Invincible Incompetent: Katsuya Jonouchi (Joey Wheeler) perpetually comes from behind to win. Granted, everyone does this, but Joey never seems to be picked as a favorite to win anything, despite several finals showings.
  • Invincible Villain: Filler Villain Dartz really pushes it. He's a 10 000 year old man who was around 5000 years before the Millennium Items were created, was King of Atlantis, has the Oricalchos, whose ability is "whatever the plot needs it to be", owns parts of every company on the planet, can spy on the entire cast with no problem, buys out KaibaCorp with ease, has one of his henchmen defeat previous Big Bad Pegasus without a problem, brainwashes Mai into serving him, possesses a monster with infinite attack, and can take on the Pharoah and Kaiba at the same time. And to top it all off, he gets redeemed and is reunited with his family at the end, giving him everything he wanted in the first place. In addition to this, he never apologises, neither in the original nor the English dub, and is acknowledged by the others as being a 'good ruler after all'note .
  • Ironic Echo: In season one, Kaiba threatens that he'll fall from the castle's battlement if Yugi wins the duel, so Yugi forfeits in fear that Yami would finish Kaiba off. In season five, Yugi again faces the decision of defeating his opponent in a duel to kill him. In this case, the opponent is Yami. Yugi hesitates on finishing the duel, but carries it out, as this time, the reason is to send Yami to the afterlife.
  • I Will Show You X: When Tristan has an open crush on Joey's sister Serenity, which Joey is none too pleased about. At one point in the English dub, Tristan talks about how he's going to visit Serenity (read:hit on her) in the hospital, to which Joey responds "I'll send you to the hospital!"
  • Jerkass:
    • Kaiba is an Ineffectual Loner with a lot of money and a superiority complex.
    • Bandit Keith is a bigger one. He and his mooks trap Yugi and the gang in a cave, and he also steals Jounouchi's Glory of the King's Hand card while the latter is sleeping.
    • Weevil might just reign supreme in this category, possessing almost no sympathetic traits and having a noteworthy Kick the Dog moment with almost each appearance he makes.
  • Joker Jury: In the dub version of the Virtual World arc, Johnson, whose Deckmaster and appearance is that of Judge Man, claims he is putting Joey on trial for gambling.
    • He then proceeds to make every trial joke imaginable.
  • Karma Houdini: Ushio, compared to the original manga. In the anime, nothing is really mentioned on what happened to him after the flashback to the scene where he beat Yugi and his friends up. The dub does add in a very quick line where school authorities expelled him, but the original version never says anything beyond that, implying he got off completely scot-free for what he did.
  • Kick the Dog: During a duel using the Orichalcos, Weevil makes the mistake of claiming he has Yugi's soul in his hand, then tearing it in front of Dark Yugi (which was really a normal bug monster card, making it much worse as he was using it as a way to mess with the already broken duelist). This does not end well for Weevil.
  • King of Games: Trope Namer; it's the title the main protagonist has for his mastery of gaming in the original manga. He has some shades of this in the anime, but mostly shows interest in Duel Monsters.
  • King of Thieves: Thief King Bakura, Ryo Bakura's past self. His "King of Thieves" title comes from the "weight" of what he steals. Like other monsters' powers with his "ka", The Diabound, and because he seeks (and even got all) the millennium items, until he was imprisoned into one of them, that is.
  • Knight Templar Parent: This is about the nicest description possible for the way Gozaburo Kaiba raised his children, although it was probably really just the company he was worried about.
  • Know When to Fold 'Em: Mai does this with Tea at Duelist Kingdom, and later in the Duelist Kingdom finals when facing Yugi. Both times, she says she doesn't have a monster strong enough to take down what the opponent has on the field.
  • Large Ham: Pegasus, in the original manga, anime, and dub versions.
  • Lethal Joke Item: Some cards are weak or nearly-useless on their own but devastating in the right circumstance. For example, the Ojamas, three monsters with 0 Attack, have a support card that can wipe out all opposing monsters, spells, and traps, and they can fuse into a potent defensive wall. Or the four Parodius monsters, each with minimal ATK and DEF, but which can combine with one another as Union Cards to have absurd ATK and DEF.
    • Baby Dragon is the earliest example. It starts with only 1200 ATK, easily destroyed, but with Time Wizard, it becomes Thousand Dragon, with 2400 ATK, stronger than most cards in the game at that point.
  • Let's Fight Like Gentlemen: They settle every conceivable difference via a collectible card game, for cryin' out loud!
  • Letting the Air Out of the Band: Happens during Yugi's final duel with Marik. He uses Obelisk's ability to destroy Ra. The triumphant music starts playing and it seems he won, only for the smoke to clear, revealing Ra to still be on the field, at which point this trope plays out.
  • Lighter and Softer: Compared to the manga.
  • The Load: Mokuba, Serenity, Duke Devlin, Tea and Tristan, who are pretty much just around to provide moral support (Lampshaded multiple times).
  • Lovely Assistant: Stage Magician Arkana was in love with his Lovely Assistant, Catherine, and they were engaged—before his disfiguring accident. Although Catherine still loved him, Arkana pushed her away. He later regretted his choice and fell in with Marik when Marik promised he could restore Catherine to Arkana.
  • Love Makes You Evil: Pegasus' motive is to revive his dead lover (wife in the dub).
  • Luke, I Am Your Father: Akhnadin reveals that he is Priest Seto's father to him in the Memory World arc.
  • Lull Destruction: Compare the Dub to the Japanese version. Some scenes have added dialogue, especially if in the original the characters are silent.
  • Magical Eye: Pegasus' Millennium Eye, possessing the power to read minds and probably do other sinister things. According to Word of God, it also brainwashed Pegasus into creating Duel Monsters, making it a literal evil eye.
  • The Magic Poker Equation: Arguably Yu-Gi-Oh's central trope, where "important" players have an uncanny ability to draw the only card that will help them. Some adaptations present that drawing is a matter of skill, determination and faith, and the duelists are aware of this fact.
    • Episodes 41 and 42, while an otherwise unremarkable pair of filler episodes, shows Yugi and Rebecca's duel, which apparently goes exactly like a duel their grandfathers played decades earlier, turn for turn, card for card.
    • Lampshaded in the anime arc Waking the Dragons, along with Plot Armor, in the English dub by Rex Raptor/Dinosaur Ryuzaki, when he and Weevil Underwood/Insector Haga witness Yugi use the Eye of Timaeus with Dark Magician Girl. He mentions how Yugi and company tend to draw the cards they need at the right moment, but he and Weevil don't.
  • Mark of the Beast:
  • Meaningful Name: Happens for a couple of characters, particularly the (ancient) Egyptian ones:
    • If Marik's name were transliterated differently when moving into the English dub, it would be the Arabic name Malik (or "ملك" in Arabic), which is based on the words for "king" or "possessor" in the Arabic language. Incidentally, Marik possesses several people and wants to be the pharaoh/king of Egypt/the world as a Big Bad.
    • Also Odion's name in the Japanese version is Rashid (or "راشد"), meaning "rightly guided" in Arabic. Odion/Rashid is Marik/Malik's older adopted brother and serves as one of his two Morality Pets in the series.
    • Shadi's name is only a phoneme different from the ancient Egyptian word shabti. Shabti are figurines placed in tombs among funerary goods so they can be servants to the tomb's owner in the afterlife. Using representative figurines replaced killing actual servants for this sole purpose. Shadi guards the Millennium Items' original resting place and turns out to be just a ghost since Yami Bakura killed him 5000 years ago when he was one of Atem's priests. And like Malik's and Rashid's names, the name "Shadi" is also Arabic in origin, reflecting that all these characters come from modern Egypt where Arabic is the official language.
    • There's also Ishizu, named after the ancient Egyptian goddess Isis. Isis is the queen of magic, dedicated wife to her murdered and undead husband Osiris, and honored for being a good mother to her son Horus. Ishizu is a Mysterious Waif of a character who can see the future using her Millennium Necklace. One of her major goals is to stop her Face-Heel Turned younger brother Marik from being villainous. She is also another one of Marik's Morality Pets.
    • "Yugi" means "game."
      • Yami means dark or shadow, which means that "Yami Yugi" means "Shadow Game."
    • Oh, also, the whole Yu Jou thing. Take the initial syllables of Yugi and Jounouchi's first names and you get the Japanese word for "friendship." (Which manifests itself in real life as the "Yu Jo Friendship" card.)
    • And the fact that Seto Kaiba, the most dragon-obsessed guy in the cast's surname translates to "sea dragon." On a related note, the same guy's first name translates to "shallow man."
    • There's an even weirder couple of meanings behind his name. "Seto" is basically the Japanese pronunciation of "Set." Combine this with Yugi's name ("Game", "Set", Match) for one meaning, but for the other, Set was the Egyptian desert god, a completely appropriate name for a high-ranking ancient Egyptian priest.
    • Possibly unintentional, but the English surnames for Jonouchi, Anzu and Honda are all occupations: Wheeler, Gardner and Taylor.
    • Yami's real name, Atem, is a variation on Atum, as in Atum-Ra: the creator god, the god of the sun, the first king of the gods, the first pharaoh, etc. Oh, and Atum apparently had a Winged Dragon, too.
  • Mind-Control Eyes: People under Marik's control have their eyes drawn without pupils.
  • Mind Screw: The Memory World arc is a mild version. In general, things make sense and you can follow what's going on, but some really bizarre stuff happens too. The anime-only content/changes doesn't really help things.
  • Mondegreen: No, the dub theme is not misspelling Yami as Yamu, it is actually Your Move.
  • Morality Pet: Mokuba Kaiba is one for his brother Seto. Odion and Ishizu Ishtar are the same for their master/brother Marik.
  • More Than Mind Control: Dartz in Season 4, who is only partially possessed by the Orichalcos god (hence just one green eye) while the rest of him has just been driven insane.
  • Ms. Fanservice: Mai Valentine and Dark Magician Girl, also Tea on occasion.
  • Multicolored Hair: Yugi has black and purple spiky hair with freestanding streaks of blond in it. His grandfather had the exact same hair when he was younger, and although it's now gray it retains the same shape.
  • Mundane Made Awesome: The whole premise of the show is to make card games into epic duels.
  • Musical Pastiche: The track "The Priests" in the Japanese OST is a pastiche of the transformation theme from Cyber Team in Akihabara, it's not too surprising since both show's share the same composer, Shinkichi Mitsumune
  • Musical Spoiler: As if the Like You Would Really Do It nature of the scene is not enough, the lack of the "Life Points hitting 0" sound effect when Dartz brings Yami Yugi's LP down to 0 makes it very obvious that the duel is not over.
  • My Little Panzer: Duel Monsters is such a safe game for little kids, isn't it?
    • Subverted: By itself, the game is perfectly safe; it's the duelists like the Ghouls that add in their own, more dangerous, rules or invoke the dark magic of the Millennium Items that make it so dangerous.

    N - Z 
  • Necromantic: Pegasus got his Start of Darkness after his beloved wife Cyndia/Cecilia passed away and he vowed to bring her back.
  • Never Say "Die": In the English dub, at least, with the exception of the first season, which include:
    • Episode 8 where Pegasus plots Kaiba's death and says for him to have an accident... which actually works as Getting Crap Past the Radar, since that's what a Corrupt Corporate Executive (or a member of The Mafia) would do to a business rival. Kaiba tells Pegasus's men he'd rather die than be captured and promptly leaps to his supposed death, which is mentioned in the next episode where Yugi duels Kaiba's "corpse."
    • Episode 13, when Tristan is first sent to the Graveyard.
      Tristan: According to this tombstone, I'm dead!
    • Episode 15, where Panik attempts to "eliminate" Yugi by blasting a giant flamethrower at him.
    • Episodes 17 and 18, which are all about a deck of dead zombie monsters.
    • Episode 24, where Kaiba threatens suicide (though the dub changes it to be a threat of indirect suicide rather than direct).
    • And Pegasus' entire motivation hinging on the fact that his wife had died.
    • One of the rare non-Season 1 points where the dub didn't censor death was in the Season 2 duel between Yugi and brainwashed Joey, in which it was retained that Marik intended on drowning the loser of the duel, and threatened to crush Tea to death if anyone attempted to interfere.
  • New Powers as the Plot Demands: Frequently, characters reveal to have cards in their decks that they never used before (and never will use again), but which help them win the current duel.
  • New Rules as the Plot Demands:
    • Duelist Kingdom is this writ large. Some make at least a bit of sense, like flying monsters having an advantage over land-based monsters, or machine monsters rusting due to a mist over the field. Others just plain have no basis in fact at all, most prominently the infamous Catapult Turtle move Yugi uses to defeat Panik. However, Duelist Kingdom is stated to use custom rules specific to the tournament.
    • Once the rules were written and pinned down in Battle City, this turned into "New Cards As the Plot Demands," with duelists producing cards never before seen at just the right time. Many of these cards exist for Rule of Cool, as there are other pre-existing cards that do the same thing as the new card but don't fit the theme of the duelist's deck. Change of Heart for example has equivalents with Yugi and Kaiba in the forms of Brain Control and Enemy Controller. And lapses of the random new rules still occurred: Jinzo is supposedly immune to Time Wizard's effect due to being made of special metal, for example, and Flute of Summoning Dragon lets both players summon Dragons from their hand if they want.
    • There's also a ton of cards that were created to allow the duelists to draw cards so the writers can keep their hands filled, such as Card of Last Will, Card of Demise, Nibelung's Ring, and especially Card of Sanctity. Kaiba's "Power Balance" in particular is ridiculously overpowered in this regard, requiring the opponent to discard half their hand and then allowing the user to draw the same number of cards discarded, all with no drawbacks. But hey, it added tension to his duel with Yugi so why not? Though it doesn't beg the question why he only uses it once.
    • With 2-on-1 and later 3-on-1 duels throughout the franchise, the rules are never ironclad, sometimes the lone player gets more turns, sometimes more Life Points, or no advantage at all. A few times it seems that the lone player chooses their advantage, which of course is ridiculous. This is particularly blatant in 5Ds where in on 2-on-1 duel, the lone player began with 10 cards in his hand to cover the disadvantage, when his deck theme is based around destroying his own Trap cards to deal a First Turn Kill. No prizes for guessing what he tries to do, and would have succeeded at if not for the predictable debut of cards that negate effect damage.
  • Nietzsche Wannabe: During the duel between Joey and Yugi in the Duelist Kingdom finals, Pegasus's narration, at least in dub town, slips into this. To quote:
    • "Oh, I know you'd like to think that your friendship would be enough to sustain you through any mishap or misfortune, but that's not the way the world works."
    • "... when fate hits you with a cold slap of reality and shows you who's boss. Yes, the world has taught me that only the strong and the ruthless survive."
    • Kaiba is seen reading Nietzsche in his first appearance. (In the Japanese, at least.) No better way to paint yourself a villain immediately, aye?
  • No Kill Like Overkill: Numerous times, characters will pointlessly weaken themselves in order to boost their monsters powers or completely clear the field before delivering a final blow so that not only do their opponents life points drop to 0, but all their monsters are gone too - this being in situations where they could save themselves the trouble and just attack outright and win.
    • A prime example is Atem's fight with Weevil, after the latter pretended to destroy Yugi's soul just to get a rise out of the Pharaoh. Atem used a card that let his monster attack directly every time he drew a monster card, and proceeded to pound Weevil again and again, long after his Life Points ran out. He would've kept going too, if Tea hadn't stopped him. Note that this is during a special duel where you actually feel the pain of attacks.
  • Non-Human Undead: In the first tournament, Yugi defeats Kaiba's Blue Eyes Ultimate Dragon by fusing his Mammoth Graveyard into it... which, because both are incompatible types, slowly weakens the resulting fusion and will cause it's eventual death. After this, the rule is never referenced again.
  • Not a Date: Anzu/Tea goes on one of these with the Pharaoh in episode 53.
  • Not Disabled In VR: In the Virtual World Filler Arc, Seto Kaiba's adoptive father Gozaburo Kaiba originally had the virtual world created for his biological son Noah after Noah was hit by a car and left permanently disabled.
  • Not Just a Tournament: Virtually every Tournament Arc, to the point where it's commented in-story how refreshing it is to go to a tournament that's only a tournament (it still manages to get hijacked by a villain's scheme, but at least that wasn't in the host's plans).
  • Not Too Dead to Save the Day: Yugi gets help from all his petrified friends and Kaiba) in his head before playing his last turn in the duel against Noah.
  • Obvious Trap: The point of Odion's deck is to focus on laying tons of trap cards and then wait for the opponent to spring them. Thing is, he makes the point to play almost no monsters thereby leaving him wide open to attack except for his traps, which you know will protect him, he's not stupid. Unless you pack an insane amount of spell/trap destruction or run an unorthodox deck theme, you're gonna have to attack him sooner or later, and when you do, he'll be ready to turn it back on you. Joey found this out the hard way.
    • Joey and Mai later learn Marik also plays a lot of traps, which are even more brutal and painful than anything Odion used.
    • Besides the specific duelists, quite often the characters know the opponent has a dangerous trap waiting, but they acknowledge if they want to win they either need to find a way around it, or trigger it and hope they can come back from whatever it does.
  • Offscreen Moment of Awesome:
    • Yugi vs. Joey immediately after Battle City, even if we know Joey won (he was battling Yugi for his Red-Eyes and is shown to have gotten it back). Both mediums skip this.
    • After punching Yami Bakura out and throwing away the Ring, Honda carries the unconscious Mokuba and Bakura back to the dueling platform without getting caught by guards while going through a maze with looping flights of stairs and doors to nowhere that even had Yami Bakura confused.
    • The 4Kids dub gave Ryou Bakura one, given the properties of the Shadow Realm. According to the lore, the Shadow Realm has very little food, Duel Monsters can be mentally summoned while there, though doing so puts a strain on your mind, running out of energy while there will shred your soul to pieces, and being trapped there increases the power of Millennium Items. It's also implied the bearer of an Item can leech off your soul for extra power. Despite all those obstacles, Ryou made it out okay.
  • Oh Crap!: Many dueling opponents on the receiving end of a spell, trap, or ability that they didn't see coming have this reaction.
  • Oddly Named Sequel: Yu-Gi-Oh! GX; Yu-Gi-Oh! 5D's; Yu-Gi-Oh! ZEXALnote , Yu-Gi-Oh! ARC-V.
  • The Only One Allowed to Defeat You: To the point where Kaiba throws a hissy fit upon learning Yugi has 'allowed' someone else to defeat him in Season 4.
  • Outrun the Fireball: At the end of the Virtual World arc, Kaiba presses a Big Red Button, sacrificing the greater part of his blimp to accomplish this.
  • Parental Abandonment: Mai lost her parents at a young age.
  • Pensieve Flashback: The Kaiba brothers experience these throughout the Virtual Nightmare arc.
  • Phantom Zone: The Millennium Items each can transport the area immediately surrounding the user (and anyone else in it) to the Shadow Realm, an Alternate Dimension full of the Mons that the Duel Monsters cards are based off of, which can be summoned to fight each other. Alternatively, they can trap a person's mind in the Shadow Realm, leaving their body functioning normally (although from the fact that Jonouchi/Joey breaks out of it and "wakes up," this is implied to be an illusionary spell cast on the victim) or seal their soul into a Soul Jar. (Yami Marik does the former, Pegasus does the latter.)
  • Phantom Zone Picture: Pegasus gives Seto and Mokuba Penalty Games, which involve their souls getting trapped into blank cards. In the anime, this also includes Yugi's grandfather.
  • Pinball Scoring: Every card in the anime does base damage/bonuses/etc in increments of 100; the actual card game has a handful that have 50s.
    • In the Duelist Kingdom season, there are a few duels where damage/bonuses are calculated by percentages of other stats, creating some odd prime numbers. From Battle City on, most all the numbers end in even 0s.
    • Unless you're Marik, in which case you can have attack points that end in —99.
    • A few monsters have ATK or DEF stats that aren't divisible by 50. Castle of Dark Illusions has 920 ATK and 1930 DEF, Reaper of the Cards has 1380 ATK and 1930 DEF, King of Yamimakai has 2000 ATK and 1530 DEF, and Seven-Armed Fiend has 666 ATK and 666 DEF (1000/1000 in the Dub). All but the last are the result of the anime fudging the numbers of the Player Killer of Darkness's monsters so that they have their field power bonus.
  • Plot Tumor: Originally, the manga was not about any specific game, much less a single card game. Here non-Duel Monsters games are few and far between. Given that its title is Yu-Gi-Oh! Duel Monsters, it's no surprise.
  • Powered by a Forsaken Child: Creating the Millennium Items required a sacrifice of 99 human lives.
  • Power Levels: Monster cards have them in the form of Attack (ATK) and Defense (DEF) points.
  • Power Makes Your Hair Grow: When Yugi, Bakura, and Marik become possessed by the spirits of the Millennium Items (or in Marik's case his Superpowered Evil Side), their hair gets even more ridiculous than usual.
  • The Power of Friendship: This is the intended main theme for the series.
  • Power Trio
  • Pragmatic Adaptation:
    • The Millennium World arc in the anime. Among the many alterations to the plot, the tabletop RPG was simplified, and Seto's battle with the Pharaoh took place just before Zorc awoke rather than after his defeat. In exchange, Kisara and Yugi's friends got more to do, and the consequences of Yugi's wish for friends was brought up as well.
    • The Dungeon Dice Monsters arc is retooled from a plot-relevant arc regarding Yugi's development with no relation to Duel Monsters to a Filler arc whose game has a big influence from the card game. The same also applies to Duke Devlin. In the manga he is a troubled child who is purposely raised by his father to become a Tyke Bomb, having a Heel–Face Turn because he doesn't hate Yugi as much as his father. In the anime, he is a fanboy of Pegasus who challenges Yugi to a duel because he believes Yugi won by cheating. He changed his ways because he realized that he acted like a dick to Yugi and his friends.
  • Prestigious Player Title: Duel Monsters players are called "Duelists".
  • Princesses Rule: Princess Adina, ruler of Simlow, in Kaiba's virtual world.
  • Promotion to Parent: Seto Kaiba looks after his little brother after their parents die.
  • Protagonist-Centered Morality: Antagonists who use manipulative mind-games are called dishonorable, ones who keep secrets are called liars, ones that go on the defensive are called cowards exposing their own weakness, and ones that use cheap tactics are called cheaters. Of course, when main characters do these things they're simply said to be using intelligent strategy.
  • Psychic Powers: The Millennium Items give their owners a variety of psychic powers, depending on the item. Examples include mind raping, locating and identifying other Millennium Item holders, mind reading, visiting someone's mental landscape, seeing the future, and possessing other people.
  • Purple Is the New Black: The Shadow Realm is depicted with some swirls of midnight blue or black but mostly purple.
  • Put on a Bus:
    • Bakura doesn't appear in any anime-original arc.
    • Bandit Keith, who, after losing his duel with Yugi, is never mentioned in the story again.
  • Quest for Identity: The pharaoh is trying to find out who he is and regain his lost memories.
  • Rage Quit: Several times, low-ranking villains will screw the rules and attempt to get their job done directly. This has varying levels of success. This is especially fatal in a Shadow Game, which enforces the rules very strictly and very harshly.
  • Railroading: This is the basic explanation for the series and why the main characters who are losing always seem to pull impossible card effects at just the perfect time.
  • Rapid-Fire Typing: Seto Kaiba often utilizes this whenever he's operating or hacking into a computer.
  • "The Reason You Suck" Speech:
    • Kaiba, most notably, to anyone unfortunate enough to lose to him. Joey is victim to this more often than not.
    • Tea, of all people, turns out to be surprisingly good at these, although she doesn't give them often. She gives one to Kaiba at Duelist Kingdom, although it's more of a "the reason Yugi is better than you" speech. She also lets Johnny Steppes have it for running away when his duel with Yami gets too difficult.
    • After Noah defeats Kaiba and turns him and Mokuba to stone, Yugi gives one to him before he combines his deck with Kaiba's and resumes the duel, but it's similar to the above and saying why Kaiba is better.
  • Recognizable by Sound: In the Virtual World arc, Noah plays Serenity's screams into the tunnel where the rest of the gang are. Joey instantly recognizes it.
  • Redemption Equals Death: Sort of. Noah Kaiba gains a body like he originally wanted, then puts himself back Inside a Computer System to save the others out of guilt. So, not dead but close to it.
  • Reincarnation: Gets rather complicated. It is heavily implied that Yugi is the other half of Atem that didn't get sealed into the puzzle and just sort of floated around until it was born again. Common Epileptic Trees is that Ryou is something similar in regards to the ancient Big Bad Thief King Bakura (who more complicatedly never did a bad deed until being controlled by Zorc, a completely separate being). Seto (with Set) and Ishizu (with Isis) are straighter examples.
    • It's slightly less complicated if you look at the Ancient Egyptian concept of soul. One of the key pieces being the "ren" or name implies Kazuki may have done this on purpose.
      • Heck, it only makes it more complicated. Consider how differently Kaa and Baa in season five behave to their Ancient Egyptian counterparts (and don't even try to come to a strict definition of how the soul parts work in Ancient Egyptian writings). A tip: never sit down with two fans who also like to study Ancient Egypt and ask them whether the series is accurate to Ancient Egyptian mythology or not. They might have matching opinions... or you might end up with a monstrous debate on the topic.
  • Road Sign Reversal: Marik Body Surfing Bandit Keith has set up arrows to lure Yugi into a trap. Yami Bakura flips the arrows around so Yugi's friends can't follow.
  • Rousing Speech: Kaiba gives Yugi his version of one in the Pharaoh's soul room towards the end of the Virtual World arc. It's probably one of the least encouraging rousing speeches ever, especially since his version of, "don't give up," is, "don't screw up or else," but it seemed to do the trick.
  • Rousseau Was Right: Numerous bad guys, including Dartz and his biker henchmen, Marik Ishtar, Pegasus, etc., seem hopelessly callous and evil only to eventually prove to be good at heart, whether by exorcism of an evil side or simple persuasion, usually by Yugi or Pharaoh. Seto Kaiba is also routinely obnoxious and cold yet occasionally proves to have a compassionate side, which is usually related to his love for his little brother Mokuba.
  • Rule of Symbolism: The author intended to have the cards represent the character and personality of their users.
  • Save Sat: In the English dub, Kaiba sets the Industrial Illusions satellite to crash into their mainframe, bringing down their computer defenses and allowing him to access the data at Duelist Kingdom (in the Japanese version, he's just using the satellite to hack into the mainframe.)
  • Screw Destiny:
    • It's revealed in the final arc that one of the Millennium Puzzle's abilities is to "alter fate", which in the context of the Duel Monsters card game allows him to change the card he's going to draw as long as he believes it will happen hard enough, rendering every past example of Yugi drawing the exact card he needed by "Believing in the heart of the cards" more than just good luck.
    • Kaiba manages this rule in the Battle City Arc. Screw Destiny, I have money!
      • He also changes the future itself by following his instincts and sacrificing his ancient god card to summon a Blue Eyes White Dragon to attack and win his game against Ishizu, whereas her clairvoyance had predicted he would attack with the ancient god and fall victim to the clever damage feedback trap she had set up. He wins the game instead of losing as destiny had foretold.
      • It's actually not instinct. The Millennium Rod reaches out to him, recognizing his soul as its true master, and shows him what to do.
  • Screw the Rules, I Have Money!: The Gag Dub is the Trope Namer.
    • Occurs within the series itself. Kaiba does it, of course. Pegasus, however, even makes special cards that never go into circulation just so that it gives him an advantage.
  • Sealed Evil in a Six Pack:
    • An in-universe fictional example is Exodia, a monster so powerful it takes multiple cards to contain him. The individual pieces are worthless, but a player who reassembles Exodia by getting all five parts in play wins immediately.
    • The Pharaoh was trapped in the Millennium Pendant, which was then broken up into pieces. They were all kept in one place, but putting it back together was a complicated process (which is why it was then renamed the Millennium Puzzle).
  • Self-Made Orphan: Kaiba has a long history of these kind of tropes. Also Marik.
  • Sensitive Guy and Manly Man: Yugi and Yami, respectively.
  • Serious Business: Duel Monsters. The universe runs on it. Didn't you know that?
    • Blown to ridiculous proportions in Yu-Gi-Oh! GX, in which it takes an entire navy and air force to deliver a briefcase of rare cards safely to Duel Academy. The Princeton brothers even plan to take over the world through the three pillars of humanity: politics, economics, and Duel Monsters. No joke.
  • Sexy Whatever Outfit: The Dark Magician Girl wears a sexy Robe and Wizard Hat.
  • Sharing a Body: Yami and Yugi. Dark Bakura and Ryo.
  • Shapeshifter Guilt Trip: Dartz, by projecting the voices and faces of Yugi's soul-stolen friends onto his Mirror Knights, intimidates Yugi into not attacking.
  • Ship Tease: Rebecca kisses Yugi early on in Season 4. Cue Luminescent Blush (and he had an awkward expression on his face before she kissed him) and Anzu's jealous reaction.
  • Shout-Out: Both the card game and anime series feature cards based on Konami's Gradius and Mystical Ninja series, and even one that references Metal Gear.
    • First episode, take a look at the shelf that Yugi covers up just as he answers the phone call from Kaiba. Even Super Robot Wars can find its way into a show about a children's card game.
    • Yu-Gi-Oh! references Dragon Ball on three occasions: the first chapter of the manga references Dragonball by name, when Yugi figures having the Millennium Puzzle grant his wish would be similar to collecting the Dragon Balls. Another instance is that a Dragon Ball poster can be seen in Yugi's room during the Battle City arc. Finally, during the KC Grand Championship, Weevil's and Rex's ambush of Fortune Salim and following masquerade a la Totem Pole Trench replicates a similar scene in Dragonball, where Goten and Trunks use a similar tactic to get into a tournament.
    • One of Pegasus's toons sure loves spinning.
    • In a dub-induced case, Mai irritatingly states in "The Gauntlet Is Thrown" that her sleeping conditions on the ship were "Outrageous! Truly, truly outrageous!", in a bizarre nod to Jem.
    • In the dub for episode 95, a movie Marik sees on TV in the outside world has the line, "Sorry Dottie, I'm a loner. A rebel."
    • In Joey's duel with Siegfried he says, "C'mon, big bucks no Whammy's!"
    • In Joey's duel with Solomon/Grandpa: "Survey Says!".note 
    • In episode 213 Joey references the '80s hit song "Walk Like an Egyptian."
  • Social Services Does Not Exist: Story of the Kaiba brothers' life.
  • Solomon Divorce: Jounouchi/Joey and Shizuka/Serenity were separated when their parents got divorced.
  • Sorting Algorithm of Evil: Kaiba —> Pegasus —> Marik —> Dartz —> Zorc/Bakura. Noah and Zigfried are exceptions, as while formidable, Noah is nowhere close to Marik's level of danger, and Zigfried borders on Harmless Villain.
  • Soul Jar: Millennium Ring, Millennium Puzzle, various gaming equipment. Taken literally with Mai in season 2 when she loses to Marik and her mind gets put in an hourglass in the Shadow Realm.
  • Spared by the Adaptation: Pegasus and Bandit Keith both died in the manga, but are made to survive in the anime, with Pegasus gaining something of a recurring role.
  • Spell My Name with an "S": Marik? Malik? In the Bunkoban series, it's spelled Maric.
    • Logically it should be Malik, which preserves his Meaningful Name from the original Japanese. Not that that ever stops them from changing things.
    • Also Cyndia, although some spell it as Cynthia or Cindia. Then there's her dub name, Cecelia Pegasus, which becomes Cecilia, despite the fact that the proper dub name was shown in episode 40. It gets worse when people assume her original name is Cyndia Crawford, as she does not have a surname in the original.
    • The Big Five consist of Ganzley/Gansley, Crump/Krump, Nezbitt/Nesbitt/Nesbit, Lecter/Lector/Leichter... and Johnson.
  • Split Personality: Not quite, since it's more like another person sharing their body, but it still fits for Yugi and Bakura. Played straight, however, with Marik and Yami Marik.
    • Split-Personality Makeover: How do you know who's in control? Well... just look at the page image.
      • Sometimes averted with Bakura, who often seems to be controlled by the spirit even when he looks like his nice self, which the audience usually finds out mere seconds later. Lampshaded by a close-up focusing on the two front locks of hair moving into a more upright position when the spirit reveals himself to be in control before his duel with Yugi in the Battle City finals.
  • Story Arc: Duelist Kingdom, Battle City, Noah's Virtual World, Battle City Finals, Doma, the Kaiba Corp Grand Prix, and Millennium World, with a Myth Arc spanning all of these arcs.
  • Stronger with Age: Some monsters, like Baby Dragon and Dark Magician, gain stronger forms when they age with Time Wizard's effect. Others, like the Harpie Ladies and Red-Eyes Black Dragon, become decrepit or even fossilized and are correspondingly weaker.
  • Straw Nihilist: "Weapons will not disappear and humans will not stop fighting. Thus, this world might as well be destroyed." — Alister in episode 166
  • Sudden Sequel Heel Syndrome: Season 4 turns Mai Valentine into an angst-ridden member of a villainous biker gang. It turns out she was tricked into Heel–Face Brainwashing by Dartz.
  • Suggestive Collision: Happens to Joey and Mai in the episode "Lights, Camera, Duel." Played with, though, in that Mai fell on top of him because he was catching her as she fell from a dangerous height—and instead of going for the pervert-slap, Mai thanks him for saving her and calls him an "action hero."
  • Sunglasses at Night: Bandit Keith wears his sunglasses even in a dark cave.
  • Superpowered Evil Side: Various characters' Yami versions, including the early appearances of Yami Yugi, who was more like The Unfettered.
  • Synchronization: Between the duelists and their cards, to some extent. Showcased when Yugi's grandfather Sugoroku actually has a heart attack when he loses.
  • Take Over the World: Both Marik and Yami Bakura want to do this by usurping the pharaoh position from Yami Yugi, mostly as revenge for personal beefs they have with him.
    • This is further complicated by Zorc's entanglement with Bakura, as Zorc has no beef with Yami, but only uses Bakura's.
    • Averted by both Marik/Yami Marik and Zorc in the Japanese versions. Marik merely wants to torment the Pharaoh's spirit as part of revenge and Yami Marik wishes to torture and kill every living thing on the planet. Zorc is just an evil demon fueled by the rage of the people sacrificed to create him, making him want to destroy everything. Even Yami Bakura's motives are unclear and don't really seem to involve wanting to take over the world in the Japanese version.
  • Taking the Bullet:
    • Kisara dies to save Seto.
    • Earlier in the series, Yami saves Mai and Joey from Marik's Winged Dragon Of Ra by diving in front of a fireball and blocking it with his body until it dissipates. He promptly collapses.
  • The Tape Knew You Would Say That: In episode two of the anime, where Pegasus contacts the protagonist. Granted, it's less so a tape and more of an enchanted two way face cam... thing.
  • Tarot Motifs: Inevitable, considering the series-wide obsession with card games.
    • Yugi and Atem are both the Magician. Especially notable, since the Black Magician is their signature card.
    • Joey is The Fool.
    • Ishizu is the High Priestess.
    • Téa is the Empress.
    • Kaiba is The Emperor.
    • Shadi is The Hermit.
    • Malik is The Heirophant.
  • Tattooed Crook: Big Bad Marik Ishtar has a large tattoo covering his back and he is the leader of his own criminal organization. However, it was his reception of the tattoo that originally caused him to turn evil, rather than him getting the tattoo after turning evil. The tattoo was carved into his back in the Japanese version, though it’s similar, and the dub changes it to a tattoo.
  • Theme Deck: The card game is the Trope Namer.
  • There Are No Therapists: Several characters would be better off with professional help, most notably the villains.
  • Third Eye: The card "Goddess with the Third Eye." Also, Millennium Item holders connected to ancient Egypt (i.e., the Pharaoh and Yami Marik) sometimes get a glowing eye symbol on their foreheads when using their item, as do people possessed by Marik.
  • Took a Level in Badass: Joey/Jounouchi. As late as the Duelist Kingdom arc, he spams monster after monster without any regard of strategy, because he relies too much on the idea of beating things to death even though the attack stat is too low. It becomes apparent in the second episode of the show that he lost to Tea/Anzu, probably the least competitive player of all, because she knew a thing or two about magic and traps. It takes a lot of encouragement and guidance on the Pharaoh's part to help him, but by Battle City he grows into a very competent duelist and becomes a finalist, managing to go toe-to-toe against Marik.
  • Too Many Mouths: Slifer the Sky Dragon has two.
  • Toon: Pegasus's Toon Monsters.
  • Toon Town: Pegasus's Toon World card.
  • Tournament Arc: Every arc except the Virtual World, Waking the Dragons, and Dawn of the Duel arcs.
  • Tsundere: Mai Kujaku/Valentine and Jonouchi/Joey, most frequently toward each other as a form of Ship Tease.
  • Traintop Battle: Or blimp-top, in Battle City. Played straight in Season 4 when Yami Yugi duels Weevil. In Season 5, there's a ferris wheel-top one.
  • Trauma Conga Line: Happens several different times, to several different characters.
  • Triang Relations: The DOMA arc gives us Jounochi and Valon for Mai, albeit not in a strict romantic sense: Both men view the other as an obstacle to Mai, but Valon seems to be in it for a relationship whereas Jounochi just wants her friendship, and for her to be free of her pain.
  • Truth in Television: Pegasus's Toon cards are said by Yugi to be kept out of circulation for being too powerful, but Pegasus is the creator of the game so he kept them for himself. The Seal of Orichalcos, a Game Breaker if there ever was one, exists in real life and is limited to a few copies that were used by members of Upper Deck's R&D department in a special tournament until years later, when it got an official release to the public.
  • Ungrateful Bastard: Kaiba, after several rescues from Yugi and co. He does show some limited thanks for Yugi, and only Yugi, at times, such as freeing him from Pegasus and the Big Five.
  • The Unfettered: Yami Bakura, Yami Marik, Dartz, Gozaburo Kaiba, and to an extent Seto Kaiba
  • Unstoppable Rage: Specifically, after Yugi's soul is taken by the Orichalchos, and Insector Haga/Weevil Underwood taunts the now rather unstable Yami by tearing up a card in front of him after claiming it contains Yugi's soul, just "as a joke," Yami... well, he goes totally and utterly apeshit, really. He defeats Haga/Weevil using a card that grants extra attacks by drawing and discarding monsters, and then he continues bashing at him by trashing more monsters long after Haga/Weevil's life points have hit zero. He would've kept going too, if Anzu/Tea hadn't stopped him. Here's the scene... Not pretty.
    • There's (possibly deliberately) an added Meaningful Echo — the last card in his hand (the one he would have tossed next if Anzu hadn't stopped him) is Dark Magician Girl. Not only is she the card spirit who asked him for help at the start of this arc, she quite frankly has seen enough of the Orichalcos effect to last a lifetime and could do without watching her master going nuts about it again.
  • Utopia Justifies the Means: Dartz's entire motivation. He will do absolutely anything to "cleanse" the world of its problems.
  • Vendor Trash: When the rules got more defined, a lot of the worse cards didn't have Deus ex Machina powers anymore and were pruned, though some of them got updated versions that are useful.
  • Viewers Are Goldfish: Hey Yugi, remind me again, what does Pot of Greed do? Or how about flashing back to that play that happened one minute ago for those who missed it? Even if you have no idea how the card game actually works, you can follow every single duel in the later seasons because every single card will have at least ten seconds spent explaining its effect. Even if the card is used every single duel, its effect will be explained. This continued into Yu-Gi-Oh! GX, right up until Pot of Greed got put on the real-life banned list and the anime suddenly stopped using it.
  • Vitriolic Best Buds: Jonouchi/Joey and Honda/Tristan.
  • Virtue Is Weakness: This is the moral position of antagonists (Kaiba, Mai, Marik) in the series until Yugi or Joey, the Embodiments Of Virtue, defeats them.
  • Voice of the Legion: Marik's servants gain a double-voice when he is possessing them.
  • Waterfall Shower: The first season has this due to the fact that players are camping outdoors at night while they play the tournament.
  • We Can Rule Together: Noah makes this offer to Yugi in the Japanese version of episode 118, after Yugi manages a formidable counterattack and after Noah turns some of Yugi's True Compnions to stone:
    Noah: Seriously, though, that was splendid, Yugi! You possess both the skill and judgement necessary to catch your enemies off-guard the second they lose focus. When you think about it, you and I have no reason to be enemies. If you swear your loyalty to me, I'll save all your friends from Hell this very instant!
  • Warrior Therapist: Mai during her duel with Yugi in the Duelist Kingdom finals. She manages to talk Yugi out of his funk so that he can duel her with a clear and focused head. And it works! Definitely one of her most brilliant moments.
  • Welcome to Corneria: Both virtual realities suffer from this, despite how fleshed-out everything else in them is. Deconstructed in the latter, since Noah spent years trapped in his world and was driven mad by everyone saying the same lines.
  • Wham Line: From episode 52:
    Ishizu Ishtar: And the young man who stands behind the pharaoh... Above his head is the Blue Eyes White Dragon.
  • What Happened to the Mouse?: Gurimo from the first two episodes of the Waking the Dragons arc. Once he's finished being Mr. Exposition, everybody forgets about him, including his cohorts, even when all of the souls are being restored. Only the battle is referenced briefly during Raphael's last fight, prior to his Heel–Face Turn.
    • Also, the last time we saw Bonz and his friends, they were put into the Shadow Realm by Yami Bakura. Nobody ever rescues them, although they may have been freed upon Yami Bakura's own defeat at the hands of Yami Marik. They're dead in the original Japanese version.
  • What the Hell, Hero?: Rebecca does this to Yami when his reckless use of the Seal of Orichalchos results in Yugi losing his soul. Even Weevil does this effectively, pointing out that although he might be an asshole, at least he didn't knowingly endanger his friend simply to win.
  • Wine Is Classy: In the original, there's a scene where Pegasus is drinking a glass of wine. For the dub, this got changed to "the world's finest fruit juices".note 
  • With Friends Like These...: Joey is often the subject of mistreatment from Anzu and Honda, particularly in filler arcs. It reaches egregious levels in Dungeon Dice Monsters and the KC Grand Prix—though they support him just as often, particularly in the manga-adapted arcs and the Virtual World.
  • Wok Fu: Yugi faces off against Vivian Wong inside a Chinese restaurant. His friends get distracted from their usual cheerleading routine by all the food.
  • The Worf Barrage: Kaiba's Crush Card. Number of times he tries to use it: Seven. Number of times it actually works: Three, and of those three times, Yugi found ways to work around it and lost for entirely unrelated reasons and Ishizu made its effect work to her advantage and turned it back on Kaiba. So, really, of the seven times he uses it the Crush Card only works the way he plans it to once. Though, the one time he couldn't get it off normally, he was able to combine it with the Fang of Critias and win that way.
  • The Worf Effect:
    • The anime adds several duels not in the manga for Joey, most of which he loses.
    • Mai Valentine/Kujaku. Top-notch duelist who gets seeded off against the most dangerous opponents, eventually becoming deconstructed in Season 4. Despite being a very skilled duelist, she keeps going up against super-powerful opponents to show the viewers how hard it'll be for the other heroes to win. On top of what Marik does to her, she starts to have a breakdown over it (to the point of destroying a first-place trophy she just won), and Dartz is able to brainwash her over to the villains' side because of it.
  • World of Ham: Especially when two hams duel against each other. The Kaiba/Yami matches go Up to Eleven compared to others because of their rivalry.
  • Xanatos Gambit:
    • Used by Yami Marik during his duel with Yami Yugi. Marik manipulates the game so that when a player takes damage to their life points, normal Yugi and normal Marik suffer the damage as well. If Yami Yugi loses the duel, then Yugi is consumed and Marik walks free. However, if Yugi wins then Yami Marik walks free anyway, seeing as his good half is destroyed instead. It's subverted at the last minute.
    • Used in the final duel between Yugi and Atem. Yugi correctly predicts that his opponent has a Mirror Force trap, used to destroy any attacking monsters. He attacks anyway. Had he been wrong, his attack would have gone through anyway and destroyed Atem's monsters. Had he been right (which he was), then Yugi had a plan in place to immediately counteract it.
  • You Gotta Have Blue Hair: Some minor characters. Also, Yugi and Yami's hair has some purple in it.
  • You Would Make a Great Model: Happens to Anzu/Tea, who is promised a chance to be a dancer like she's always wanted.
  • Zeno's Race: Inverted with the pharaoh's backstory, seeing as how more information is revealed from the early manga, to Duelist Kingdom, to Battle City, to the Millennium World.
  • Zerg Rush: At one point, Yugi uses Monster Multiply, which causes Kuriboh to multiply each turn, in conjunction with Kuriboh's special ability that allows it to nullify the damage done by one enemy monster. Due to there being no limit on how many monsters can be summoned with one magic card in the anime's version of the game, this allows him to create a virtually impenetrable barrier of the little guys.
  • Zettai Ryouiki: Rebecca Hawkins manages to pull off a grade-A in her initial appearance. Also, she's twelve years old.

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