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I made a wish on that puzzle... for friends I could count on... friends who could count on me! No matter what!
Loosely following the original manga made by Kazuki Takahashi (though following it closely at very specific points), there were actually two Yu-Gi-Oh! anime series: The first anime, which covers the first seven volumes of the manga (though with very major changes, including making Kaiba a more frequently recurring villain), which was made by Toei Animation; and this one, the second series, Yu-Gi-Oh: Duel Monsters, was produced by NAS (animated by Studio Gallop) and is adapted from volume 8 (with a bit of re-imagined elements from the earlier volumes) onward, rather loosely in a lot of places (and featuring several Filler Arcs).This adaptation is given the subtitle "Duel Monsters" (taken from Konami's early Game Boy game based on the manga, with the same title/logo but with Toei's artwork on the cover) to demonstrate the elevated prominence of the card game compared with the manga and first series anime — adding duels that are not originally in the manga and changing parts of the story in order to fit the addition of duels and cards. 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.This second series is probably the reason why you are reading this, since it was the one who made the series popular as it today. At least outside of Japan, with 4Kids Entertainment's heavily censored, rewritten, and watered down English dubbed of the anime (which, funnily enough, was a watered down interpretation of the manga to begin with).There's a huge amount of video games based on this series, the most famous of which is Yu-Gi-Oh! Reshef of Destruction. It spawned a movie called The Pyramid of Light. This version of Yugi and his alter ego return in the Yu-Gi-Oh! Tenth Anniversary Movie that teams him up with Juudai and Yusei.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.This series has Tear Jerker, Nightmare Fuel, Awesome Music, and Character Sheet pages.The dub is now available onHulu and is now starting to appear onNetflix.For tropes of the original manga, see this page. For the card game based on the manga and anime, see Yu-Gi-Oh!.Note: In the unlikely chance that you are going by the manga, some spoilers in the manga are not spoilers in the anime. Also, there may be an intermix of examples between the original Japanese version and the English dubbed version of the anime that will likely cause confusion. You Have Been Warned.
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A - M
Abandoned Warehouse: Bandit Keith dueled Yugi in an abandoned warehouse that had its own Duel Monsters arena.
Aborted Arc: Beginning in Season 2 of the anime, the stone tablet that would continue to be a plot point for the rest of the series showed Kaiba and Yugi dueling in ancient Egypt. A vision from Isis to Kaiba showed him 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 differed greatly both visions showed Kaiba was quite clearly the Pharaoh's enemy, but in Season 5 he's completely loyal and the only reason the battle occurs is because he gets possessed.
This can be attributed to Executive Meddling, as Kazuki Takahashi never got to flesh out the story with Seto and Kisara the way he wanted, and rebelling against the Pharaoh was probably intended to be a larger plot point for his story.
In the original version of the anime, Kaiba and Atem even point out that the duel was completely different from what they expected. Atem handwaves it, saying the memory world is probably not an accurate representation of what really took place.
When it first appears, the tablet does not have Kaiba holding the Millennium Rod—it's just a generic staff, and he doesn't have it in the vision Isis shows Kaiba either. Later the fact Kaiba has the Rod on the tablet becomes a major plot point, and over time the image on the tablet changes to the point it is quite clearly the Millennium Rod.
In Jonouchi's case, his abusive father is only ever mentioned and shown in the original manga.
Accent Adaptation: In the 4Kids dub, Joey/Jonouchi was given a Brooklyn accent to represent his plain speech patterns in the original. On the other hand, Ryou Bakura was given a British accent to reflect his politeness. It's hard to get across the dialectical differences in Japanese into a dub, hence the altered accent as a way to convey that.
Acting Unnatural: Since he and Anzu/Tea are stowaways on the ship to Duelist Kingdom (and Joey wasn'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 suspiciously.
Adaptation Dye-Job: While not as bad as the Toei anime, this anime introduces the Blue Blue-Eyes "White" Dragon and the Black Magician is bright purple (he's black with a blue/purple hue in the manga).
Possibly why the Black Magician is changed to Dark Magician in the dub.
In the loose anime adaptation of the Millennium World saga, the Black Magician Girl (Mana's Monster Spirit in the Shadow RPG) has her usual Pegasus-produced modern card game skin color. In the manga, her skin is Ambiguously Brown. Furthermore, some of the Monster Spirits that actually appear in Pegasus's Duel Monsters game actually look a bit different than their actual Monster Spirit incarnations as well. In the anime, however, all Monster Spirits look the same as their mainstream artwork for the TCG.
Adaptation Expansion: The Big 5. In the manga they were just faceless goons in the shadows who cooperated with Pegasus, while in the anime each was given a name and a clear personality, primarily during the Virtual World arc.
Adaptation Explanation Extrication: Plenty. Dark Yugi stops giving his Penalty Games (Mind Crush-only in the anime) or starts Shadow Games after Duelist Kingdom for no explanation in the anime (in the manga, he stops doing this when Pegasus implies an evil will in the items, and he does not want to be this - whereas in the anime, he plays a Shadow Game with Shadi right after defeating Pegasus). The Millennium Items and how Shadow Games & Penalty Games work is never explained in the anime - and we get oddities like Pegasus and Dark Bakura giving Penalty Games to people without playing a game first, making it as if those are just Milennium Item Super Powers that could be used any time, which breaks all consistent logic within the manga's ficitonal universe (if you could just kill a person without playing a game, why play a game to begin with?). The Black Clown's clown theme and Ryuji's partial clown make-up makes much more sense in the manga. Etc.
Bakura's Ring being able to summon monsters outside of a game in the anime.... and laser beams. What's the point of playing a game to kill your enemies when you could just use that, anime? He calls the random summoning of monsters a game in the Japanese version, even though it doesn't resemble anything close to a game at all. Also, the anime never explains why Dark Bakura was after Mokuba for the key to Kaiba Corporation's safe (he was acting as if he had performed a Heel-Face Turn in the manga, helping Honda when he was trying to save Mokuba at night). The dub actually made a little more sense, with him being after his body instead, even though it still created a plot hole (Bakura being the Chosen One for the Millennium Ring and the Shadow RPG). Granted, the anime version of Duelist Kingdom had way too many instances of making no sense.
Pegasus somehow finding out about Kaiba's defeat at the hands of Yugi during that Not-Death-T first episode, in which the only witnesses to the duel are Jonouchi and Mokuba. Makes more sense in the manga, where there was an entire audience of Kaiba fanboys overlooking its equivalent to the first episode match during the Death-T arc.
You know how the anime never explains how Bakura got the ring back in Millennium World? The manga does◊.
Pegasus gives Mokuba a Penalty Game WITHOUT playing a game. (In the manga, he captures Mokuba's soul off-panel.) The anime clearly broke one of the main rules of the Millennium Items - you need to beat an opponent at a game before you can Mind Rape them. If Pegasus could trap souls at a whim, why on Earth would he ever play a game with anyone in the first place? Taking over Kaiba Corp should be a snap. Heck, taking over the WORLD should be a snap.
Related to that, in the manga right before his duel with Pegasus, when the soulless Mokuba is brought out before everyone Kaiba is horrified and surprised to see that his brother's soul has been stolen, since as stated it happened to Mokuba off-panel, presumably while Kaiba was dueling Yugi. The anime kept this scene intact... despite the fact that Pegasus stole Mokuba's soul right in front of him just a few episodes ago, yet he still acts like this is the first time he's seen Mokuba in a soulless state.
It's safe to say that most of the things that the Abridged Series takes pot-shots at are anime exclusive, if not dub exclusive best quoted in the very first episode.
"Solomon: For some reason, playing a children's card game has caused me to become severely injured."
"Bakura: I say, that plotline made a lot more sense in the original manga" (referring to the loose adaptation of the Monster World RPG arc within the anime's Duelist Kingdom arc)
Aerith and Bob: By-product of dubbing. 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. Somewhat jarring when none of the cast themselves ever notice or mention it. Not at all helped by the fact that certain people, like Tea, still had somewhat unusual sounding names after the fact.
Joey makes sense as a shortening of Jounouchi, and Honda's name might have been changed to avoid confusion with the car company...but where the heck does one get Tea out of Anzu anyway?
In all honesty though, names like Yugi, Seto, Mokuba, and Bakura sound unusual to Japanese ears as well.
Alleged Lookalikes: No-one ever seems to see a difference between short, moe, Tareme-eyed, soft-voiced Yugi and his not-quite-so-short, bishonen, Tsurime-eyed, deep-voiced alter ego. Some fans have tried to explain the (apparently not so) obvious changes as audio-visual cues to the audience that do not actually exist in-universe. Since every once in a blue moon somebody will mention one of the changes in passing, this explanation has not been widely accepted. Maybe the others just can't stop staring at the hair.
Regarding the height difference: probably because in the manga, which is the anime's source material (for the most part), Dark Yuugi is the same height as the normal one. And regarding the vocal difference, the extremely deep voice is only in the dub. The Japanese voice actor portrays Dark Yuugi as a more confident-sounding Yugi, which the manga stated more than once to be the case. And in the manga, the other characters definitely noticed the demeanor change immediately. It's just the anime's flaw for skipping seven whole volumes of material where the characters are getting used to their friend having a split personality.
In the first series anime adaptation, there is a short scene where Dark Yugi looks at a mirror and the reflection is regular Yugi's. Along with the numerous times in the manga where Yugi's friends don't realize the Pharaoh is in control until he speaks, it suggests that in 'reality', the transformation is much more of Pharaoh's confident body language and manner of speaking (and glowing third Eye of Wdjat) than a physical difference.
Alternate Universe: The PS2 game Duelists of The Roses, which takes place during The War of The Roses. Yugi and Yami are two separate people (although they usually are, in the games), and Yugi's friends represent the Lancastrians, while Kaiba and crew are the Yorkists. Some fans have actually admitted to reading up on the actual historical events after playing the game!
Amulet of Concentrated Awesome: Yugi's Millennium Puzzle given that it has the soul of a 3,000 year old Pharaoh in it and tends to be generally badass when it takes over Yugi's body. Actually, 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 was also the backdrop of the final Shadow Game.
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.
The last and most important arc (Millennium World), however, takes a nose dive into QUALITY and looks absolutely terrible compared to the rest of the series. Though the lack of height difference between Yugi and Dark Yugi during the Ceremonial Battle is much more accurate to the manga, despite the animation being bad.
Season 3 has one of the best quality in the series to the point that almost everyone,especially Yugi, becomes Moe-like. Though it start to go off-model after the final duel with Yami Marik.
Anime Hair: Yugi. All the supporting characters tend to be trying to outdo each other in outlandish hairstyles, at the same time.
Excluding the Kaiba brothers, though. Theirs seem normal enough, for a cereal bowl mullet and a black mop.
Lampshaded in the Abridged Series:
Random Mook (to Yugi): Wow. Your hair's crazy enough for two people!
Head Mook: Attention, Duelists! My hair is now an internet phenomenon!
Arc Words: In the Japanese version at least, "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 Sennen Puzzle, but it's used to refer to many different things since then by slightly altering the way the line is interpreted.
Technically, with 4 items to 3, there are more benign or beneficial cases - the necklace, the key, the scales and the puzzle against the eye, the ring and the rod.
Artifact Title: "Yu-Gi-Oh" means "Game King." The anime (or rather, Konami) goes out of its way to remove every non-card game element of the manga and/or make them card game-related, in order to make it seem as if Duel Monsters is the only game worth existing. Therefore making the anime version of Yugi seem like "The King of a Game."
In-universe, the Duel Disks pretty quickly began resembling things other than disks.
Artistic License – History: Beyond the parts that never would have been accurate to begin with (Obelisk as a God, the costumes, the fact that most of the characters in the Memory World are going around with their own hair), 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. Five thousand years ago - 3000 BCE - would have been before the pyramids were built. Horses weren't introduced to Egypt until around 1700-1550 BCE.
Art Shift: In the first episode. 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.
Attempted Rape: In a flashback which is intended to...well, loosely mirror the manga's early chapters where Anzu gets held hostage by a convicted killer at Burger World and also where she almost gets raped by Kokurano at school (two times where Dark Yugi saves her, albeit blindfolded/passed out, and how she vaguely becomes aware of his existence), Anzu 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. Luckily like the manga where Dark Yugi challenges both of the equivalent assailants to Shadow Games and inflicted Penalty Games on them, Yugi arrives on time and Dark 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 Anzu's thighs) were edited out.
Awesome but Impractical: Pretty much every character's deck only works because of The Magic Poker Equation and that fact that the writers can let them get whatever cards they need. For a fun drinking game, watch the show and take a drink any time a duelist's strategy could be utterly ruined with any simple one-for-one destruction card like Mystical Space Typhoon or Smashing Ground — cards that no one seems to use, not in multiple copies at least.
Rare cards in-universe are Rare Cardsnote the prints possibly only numbering around the double digits world wide, which most of those destruction cards are (ex. Harpie's Feather Duster).
This continues into the spin-offs as well. Most of the protagonists of GX rely on Fusion monsters, which are horrible for hand advantage and are easily disposed of with any of the mentioned destruction cards. There's a reason real-life VWXYZ and Cyber End Dragon decks don't exist in any seriously competitive capacity, and the Elemental Hero ones rely on cards from the manga — they just don't work like the anime shows them.
Badass Normal: Yugi — the normal one, not the Pharaoh one — manages to take out all three God Cards in one turn against Atem.
Jonouchi as well who's the most normal of the main duelists.
Bait-and-Switch Credits: Almost every opening of the anime, but the final opening for the Millennium World arc ("Overlap") is the saddest example. Aside from Kaiba's presence in the opening and a couple of Adaptation Dye Jobs/Dark Yugi-tallness, most of the things that you see in Overlap actually do happen in the manga and is actually quite faithful to it. The anime's version of the arc is almost completely different from the manga, and thus, the events that happen in the opening do not happen in the actual episodes. The opening even lacks the Ancient Egyptian Duel Disks that the priests had in the anime, JUST LIKE THE ORIGINAL MANGA. It's a mystery what went wrong...
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.
The Bechdel Test: Despite having only one female character stay from the beginning to the end of the story, and having a maximum of 4 important female characters ever in the same scene (or season), it actually passes. But not by much.
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 Rishid's face and Malik's back are genuine hieroglyphs. The author knew what he was doing.
Subverted in the anime, where the Enochian text on the Orichalcos cards is a random jumble of nonsense. However, the card title spells "Orichalcon" and the rim of the seal spells "Oreichalcos" twice.
Bishōnen: Marik Ishtar. Ryou Bakura. Ryuji Otogi. The latter two even have their own in-universe fan clubs.
The spirit of the Millennium Ring, even more so in the manga. In the anime, he has been an antagonist from the beginning, trying to kill the gang in a duel, attempting to kidnap Mokuba because he needed a soulless body, and everything else that happened. In the manga however, he doesn't show any ambitions to kidnap Mokuba, he just helps Honda, making him wonder whether the spirit was now on their side. Sure, Yugi and the others were still a bit wary of him, but by the time the whole Dungeon Dice Monsters/Putting the puzzle together in the fire scenario was going down, they seemed to almost consider him a (not so trust-worthy, admittedly) part of the gang.
Slightly different in the anime, but maybe a more literal example, as he used the innocent Bakura as his "sheeps clothing". One could almost never be sure who was in control, one second had Bakura smiling innocently, the next second when the others turned their backs, the spirit smirked.
Marik. When he personally meets up with Yugi's friends for the first time, he pretends to just having found Bakura injured. He actually does this to gain their trust. He introduces himself to them as "Namu", acting as a humble beginner who participates in Battle City Tournament. Right afterwards Marik's minions attack and Anzu and Jounouchi get kidnapped, then brainwashed. He keeps up the innocent act later too, claiming to having gotten into finals only because of dumb luck, even as Jounouchi grows suspicious of him. Now, Marik's past and his dark side business considered, he still showed rather malicious personality on his own. He didn't seem to have any regrets of his actions either, except for getting Rishid hospitalized and over the fact that he had blamed pharaoh for the death of his father. Rather, he's just confused why would Yugi want to help him after he tried to kill them all. So it might be that he's still 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 have been described as this in the Pyramid of Light novelization.
Black Cloak: Marik Ishtar and the other Rare Hunters are garbed like this when we are first introduced to them.
"Blind Idiot" Translation: The card known in Japanese as "Shisha Sosei" (literally "Raise Dead") was called "Reborn the Monster" early in the English dub, before changing to "Monster Reborn", which makes a lot more sense.
Body Surf: Marik causes much grief to the protagonists by doing this during the Battle City arc.
Book Ends: For Yami Bakura's involvement in the overall story, anyways. Both the first and last games the Pharaoh plays against him are RPGs with the souls of his friends at risk. Although in the anime, their first game was changed to Duel Monster with a role-playing aspect, if you could call it that.
Bowdlerization: Of the manga: skipping approximately the first seven volumes of Dark Yugi challenging bullies/criminals to Shadow Games and inflicting Penalty Games (a flashback replaces Dark Yugi's infamous "One Finger Battle" game with "Draw the strongest Duel Monsters card"), disregarding Kaiba's death-themed amusement park, changing the few of Dark Yugi's Penalty Games that they're willing to show into kid-friendly "Mind Crushes," etc. — among other things. Duelist Kingdom, DDD, and Millennium World gets most of this treatment, while Battle City gets less of it (most of it comes from Dark Marik). All prime cases of the anime being made Lighter and Softer compared to the manga in order to appeal to an audience on TV.
The English dubbed anime is this to the above, which makes the situation all the more funnier.
Brainwashed and Crazy: Happens quite a bit considering most of the enemies tend to use this trope. Jonouchi and Bandit Keith would be two of the most notable cases — in both cases by Marik.
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.
But Thou Must: The Playstation game Yu-Gi-Oh! Forbidden Memories does this often.
The Sacred Cards does this when you finally collect all three god cards, making it impossible to ever use the third card.
Butt Monkey: Jou at times, usually at the hands of Kaiba. Bakura is even more so the Butt Monkey. That might be hard to realize considering that when most people think of Bakura they think of the Dark Spirit that possesses him starting in the first season, but the very fact that he spends little time in control of his own body shows just what a Butt Monkey he really is. When he rarely does come to his senses, he has no idea what's going on, and sometimes must cope with the consequences of the spirit's actions.
Remember that when Joey picks a fight with Kaiba, he usually loses, so it's his own damn fault.
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 was happening, but later in the series and on through GX and 5D's it reaches silliness of epic proportions.
Yami Yugi seemed to use "OBLITERATE" often, for both Exodia and Blue-Eyes.
Though, characters will tell the one calling the attacks to shut it. Episode 120 was a good one, even if Kaiba (who told Gozaburo to be quiet) told us what the card did anyway. The "I know what the card does, you fool" was just marvelous.
Calvin Ball: Duel Monsters seem to be this in Duelist Kingdom, since rules that would be nonexistent happen frequently, such as Kazejin blowing away an attack yet it still affecting the other monsters, Normal Monsters having effects, and Yugi activating a non-Quick-Play Spell from his hand during an opponent's turn.
Card Games: Duel Monsters, obviously. And as the title suggests, it gets a bigger promotion than it did in the manga.
CCG Importance Dissonance: Countless examples, the most famous of which being the Dark Magician, Blue-Eyes White Dragon and Red-Eyes Black Dragon.
Those cards did have importance in the early days of the card game, since effect monsters and monster removal, amongst other meta-defining concepts, were few and far between at the time, thus making the game more about which monsters had the higher stats, with BEWD in particular standing alone at the top.
Even now, most monsters with 3000 or more ATK have some form of summoning conditions to keep Blue-Eyes White Dragon unique (although these conditions often make such monsters easier to summon).
Charles Atlas Superpower: Kaiba can throw cards at someone with such force it hurts like they're throwing stars, Yami Yugi (manga only) can break a dice in two with his Millennium puzzle, Jonouchi can break down a wall, etc. Each of whom have almost no visible muscle.
Chekhov's Gun: Although the fact that we rarely see the characters' entire decks allows players to bring out a previously unseen card to turn the game around, pay close attention when a character specifically singles out or is shown acquiring a new card before a duel. It's bound to be important in the upcoming match.
Played straight in the Duelist Kingdom Arc, where Joey is seen trading for Sword and Shield, which he later uses against Ghost/Bonz (Zombie boy) to pull off a win. At the same time he got Kunai Whipchain and Salamandra, which he used 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 ended up finishing off Mai in his first duel with her.
Kuriboh made a blink-and-you'll-miss-it appearance in episode 5 to diffuse one of Weevil's traps, before Yugi brought 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 (though not guaranteed) 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 managed to stall off Kaiba's Blue-Eyes Ultimate Dragon with Kuriboh, labeled as the weakest monster in the game.
Yugi seems to have a thing for using weak monsters to deliver a disproportionate bitch slap to his opponent.
Whenever he played Capsule Monsters, the game was rigged so that Yugi's monsters were all weaker than his opponent's, yet he destroyed them anyway.
Zigfried VS Weevil and Rex. At the same time. In one move.
Also the first Yami/Kaiba VS Rare Hunters battle. Kaiba summoned Lord of Dragons AND special-summoned all three Blue Eyes and a spare dragon in just the first move, then summoned Obelisk on Round Two (sacrificing his Blue-Eyes to do so) AND sacrificed his other remaining monsters to activate Obelisk's Total Party Kill special ability to defeat both opposing players (the Pharaoh, for what it's worth, only had enough time to play Kuriboh while all of this was going on except Kaiba wanted to flaunt power).
The Winged Dragon of Ra versus basically anything. Except for Mai's Critical Failure attempt at using it.
The first Kaiba/Pegasus battle became one as soon as Toon World was played. Later Kaiba smartened up.
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 (e.g., Marik, Bakura, Pegasus, Aknadin). Yami Yugi is not immune to this effect.
Dead Man Writing: Subverted with Pegasus in the Doma filler saga. He wasn't dead, merely comatose due to his soul being removed. However, one could bring up the manga here...
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 only 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.
Kaiba is a male example, at least in the Japanese version. He becomes more amiable and less openly insulting towards the others.
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, while in the anime, he usually only appears whenever it involves Yami Bakura or if it's Yami Bakura pretending to be the real Bakura (in most cases). Lampshaded in The Abridged Series. Who's Bakura?
Bobasa as well, as his major role in the Millennium World arc from the manga was instead given to Shadi while he was mainly reduced to comic relief for the few episodes he appeared 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.
To be fair, many of Yugi's rivals fall into this trope.
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, just once right after the theft, and then by a friggin' Mook, who should have been unworthy of/too weak to use it, but gets to anyway because he has a power that allows him to have limited control over it.
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.
Dub-Induced Plot Hole: In Season 2 Isis/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 (For reasons not revealed until the next episode). And so he trains under Solomon 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 he wants to train to get better at the game for no reason other than to get better, all mention of his entrance in the District Tournament disappears if for no reason other than to make him look more hopeless at the start of the series, this ends up causing a bit of confusion when Season 3 rolls around and He ends up comatose after his duel with Marik, 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. However in the Dub He's just straight up dreaming and he is deliberately told this by Yugi in the dream. Kind of killing the tension and giving the Idea he's just going about his life without a care in the world, oblivious to what he was doing before.
Dub Name Change: The dub was done by 4Kids Entertainment, after all. 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.
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.
Duels Decide Everything: Apparently even with Pre-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 event in their life, especially the villains.
Early Installment Weirdness: Duelist Kingdom used completely different rules (if there even were any, with the series often functioning with New Rules as the Plot Demands) 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.
Later seasons brought the rules in closer with the real-life card game. Before Duelist Kingdom, the source material manga didn't have as many instances of the Duel Monsters game, and overall, entire manga in general was much darker; for example, Ironic Hell as the consequence for whoever lost Dark Yugi's Shadow Games or any of the villains. In comparison, this anime adaptation and its spin-offs are much lighter.
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.
Earworm: The Japanese openings and endings. The biggest offender is Rakuen from season 3.
Shuffle and Overlap count as big offenders too - the former's very catchy and the latter is just damn awesome.
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 followed him as he stood up.
Failure Is the Only Option: Even though they're playing a card game, of which the consequence of losing would normally only be a hit to the loser's ego (if that), the main characters are frequently involved in "shadow duels" where the gist is losing = death, making Failure Is the Only Option (for the villains)/Boring Invincible Hero played straight. This applies to all Yu-Gi-Oh anime, not just this one.
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.
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 had been afraid of losing him after his duel with Keith, and 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, realizing that even though 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.
Girls Love Stuffed Animals: Rebecca had a teddy bear that she regularly spoke 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 actual collection aspect is barely seen, with most characters pulling new cards out of nowhere during duels rather than explicitly obtaining them through booster packs or trades.
Yugi's grandpa owns a trading card/game shop and Kaiba is rich. The Battle City season has the rule that a loser must hand over their rarest card after they lose, with Jonouchi's (formerly Dinosaur Ryuzaki's) Red Eyes Black Dragon being a significant plot point. Jonouchi often uses cards he received from winning, such as Jinzo.
Possibly an Aversion of a Subversion (maybe?). Unlike in real life, where serious players usually have 2 or more decks at once for a Collectable Card Game, all the characters in Yu-Gi-Oh! have only 1 deck that they retool constantly. That being said, those retoolings might as well count as entirely separate decks unto themselves.
Mai Kujaku, who switches from Harpies to Amazons from Duelist Kingdom to Battle City, is probably the closest-to-real-life player in that she has an entirely new deck, though she still includes her Harpies. Then again, can you blame Kaiba for wanting Blue-Eyes in every deck?
The Pharaoh does, at one point, buy a booster pack which contains a card seen in later duels. While on a date with Anzu. Who notes grimly that it's the happiest he'd been thus far.
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 (dub) or obtain the power of darkness (Japanese anime and manga).
Depends on which version of Bakura from which version of the anime (or manga) you ask, though collecting them all is still featured prominently either way. Also in the manga and first anime series, when he would collect the souls of his victims into miniatures.
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.
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.
We're talking about a card game here. Two years practice tops is all anybody needs to be good at it...
Along with several thousand dollars spent on building a deck.
And yet the two finalists in Duelist Kingdom were still in high-school, one of whom had to work just to pay for his own school. Although, he won pretty much of his duels in that arc using either Time Wizard (gift from Yugi) or Red-Eyes B. Dragon (won from Rex using Time Wizard). After that, he always wins using either a rare card he won or just luck.
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.
Hollywood Hacking: Complete with virtual doors that can be blown up with virtual dynamite...
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.
I Never Said It Was Poison: You could practically make a drinking game out of the number of times this basic scenario shows up: Yugi activates a card effect. Opponent believes it to be targeting their best monster and make moves to protect it, scoffing Yugi's "wasted effort." Yugi then reveals he was going after something else instead. Opponent has a massive Oh, Crap moment and, usually, loses shortly thereafter.
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 forgot that his monsters weren't nearly strong enough to beat Kaiba's, but he just kept summoning them and having them attack Kaiba's monsters, so they'd be destroyed instantly and cost him points. He never shows this level of stupidity in any duel before or after this. Justified as he was unfamiliar with the Duel Disk technology and didn't know how to set monsters in defense mode.
Yugi's largest Idiot Ball was when, in his duel against Pegasus, he summoned Celtic Guardian to attack Toon Mermaid, hoping to destroy them both. If Toon Mermaid merely dodged the attack, as Toon Blue-Eyes had done before, Pegasus would attack Celtic Guardian with Toon Summoned Skull, winning the duel. But then, Yugi was 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 its too late. Blame Rule of Drama, since apparently if it'll make for a dramatic twist then duelists can activate cards without announcing such (ie, Isis activating Blast Held By A Tribute to "secret" 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.
"I Know You're in There Somewhere" Fight: Yugi has one of these with Joey/Jounouchi when Marik takes control of him. Also Jounouchi to 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, I'd say it's the "monsters" of Wrath and Envy talking.
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 was an especially blatant example.
There's a reason why we never see Yugi and Seto play chess. King of games or not, but you can't use the heart of the chess piece to win a game. And there are no power ups (other then 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 recurring joke characters who sure don't look like champions of any level of tournament.
Rex is an unfortunate case. Of all the duels he lost in the canon arcs almost all of them were against opponents who were willing to cheat or against Joey (who won by dumb luck). Admittedly we don't see anything to suggest that Weevil cheated in their first duel but considering that it was Weevil who threw Yugi's cards into the ocean it wouldn't be too surprising(he also didn't cheat against Yugi in the original Japanese version, the reason he knew about the new rules was because Pegasus told him about them ahead of a time 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: 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 his own creation and refusing to explain the rules. Not just cheating either, but cheating openly and bragging about it. Sure, if he'd won he would still have gotten half of what he wanted (forcing Yugi to give up dueling) but even then all he would have managed to prove to the world is that he is a liar who can't win without cheating, not Yugi. If his plan had worked he would have lost all credibility and probably all of his customers and fans too.
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."
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.
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!"
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 did add in a very quick line where school authorities found about him and properly punished him, but in the original version never says anything beyond that, arguably implying he got off completely scot-free for what he did.
Killer Yo Yo: Hirutani's gang in one story in the manga and one story in the Toei anime
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.
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 Duelists 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 had 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, but have a support card that can wipe out all opposing monsters, spells, and traps, and 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 was 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.
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 and revealing Ra to still be alive making this trope ensue.
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 he promised he could restore Catherine to him.
Lull Destruction: Compare the Dub to the Japanese version. Some scenes have added dialogue especially if in the original, the characters are originally 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.
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 actualservants for this sole purpose. Shadi guards the Millennium Items' original resting place and turns out to be just a ghost since Yami Bakura had killed him 5,000 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.
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 he apparently had a Winged Dragon, too.
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.
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.
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.
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 Nietzche in his first appearance. (In the Japanese, at least.) No better way to paint yourself a villain immediately, aye?
Maybe. Maybe not. Anyone who reads Nietzche and truly understands his philosophy would know how to be the Übermensch, a character that some would think is a villian, but can be a hero (think Batman).
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.
Another example are Bonz's monsters brought back from the grave.
Not a Date: Anzu/Tea goes on one of these with the Pharaoh.
Not Just a Tournament: Virtually everyTournament 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).
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.
Off Model: Several moments. These actually make some of the more threatening characters even scarier.
Offscreen Moment of Awesome: Yugi vs. Jonouchi 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.
Well, in his defense, the place where the password needed to be entered was so far into the program that it seemed impossible that anybody could get that far. Shame that Kaiba isn't just "anybody".
In the original anime, the password is "Alcatraz," which matches the scene - an island prison which, once entered, can never be left.
Pensieve Flashback: The Kaiba brothers experience these in spades during the Virtual Nightmare arc.
Phantom Zone Picture: Pegasus gave Seto and Mokuba Penalty Games, which involved their souls getting trapped into blank cards. In the anime, this also included Yugi's grandfather (who got his soul sealed into a video tape instead in the manga).
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 were a few duels where damage/bonuses were calculated by percentages of other stats, creating some odd prime numbers. From Battle City on, most all the numbers ended in even 0's.
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 get a field power bonus.
Plot Tumor: The ultimate one, possibly. Originally, the manga was not about any specific game, much less a single card game. He's supposed to be the King of Games.
Lampshaded in The Abridged Series. Yugi is just referred to as "The King Of Card Games".
To be fair, after the point where the Plot Tumor hits, the card game is only played during Duelist Kingdom saga, the Battle City saga, and the Ceremonial Battle. In the manga, the Dungeon Dice Monsters saga (which is completely different and isn't useless filler in the manga) and the Pharaoh's Memory saga are almost completely devoid of Duel Monsters. It's much more prevalent in the second series anime, where even flashbacks to chapters where the card game wasn't even introduced yet in the manga were altered to involve cards. This also doesn't stop every other related spin-offs from focusing exclusively on the card game after the original manga ended.
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.
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. Then there's the time she let Johnny Steppes have it for running away when his duel with Yami got too difficult.
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.
Well, it was only the dub which decided to call Yuugi Atem's reincarnated other half. In the Japanese version of that scene, Ishizu just said that she believed that Yuugi had been fated to be Atem's host. The real confusion is caused by the view of almost the whole court when Atem walks through the door to the underworld, even though up till then, Seto and Ishizu had been played as pretty straight reincarnations.
Road Sign Reversal: The Marik-brainwashed 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.
Rousseau Was Right: Numerous bad guys including Dartz and his biker henchmen, Marik Ishtar, Pegasus etc all 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.
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, 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.
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 Isis, 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 reached out to him, recognizing his soul as it's true master and showed him what to do.
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.
And 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).
Justified in Real Life, where the card game is truly serious business, one could make you some hefty prize money in grand tournaments. The manga & anime series now serves a double role along with being an entertainment medium: strategic documentations!
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.
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 has referenced 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. There is also Big Bang Shot, which has a picture of Vegeta doing a Big Bang Shot.
That one's more of a self-imposed exile by Bakura, because Very Bad Things keep happening to people around him. At the very least, he still writes letters to his dead mother and sister and keeps in contact with his father.
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.
This is further complicated by Zorc's entanglement with Bakura, as Zorc has no beef with Yami, but only uses Bakura's.
Subverted 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 were unclear and didn't really seem to involve wanting to take over the world in the Japanese version. It eventually becomes clear that he really just seemed to subconsciously desire to collect the Items throughout the manga so he can revive Zorc.
For the newcomers, Pegasus duels Yugi in the second episode via prerecorded video tape sent to Yugi's house. Pegasus wins.
Actually, he didn't duel through the tape. The tape was enchanted to pull Yugi into a Shadow Game, where the actual Pegasus was waiting. The recording only made the announcement and activated the spell. Straighter in the manga where Yugi doesn't get pulled anywhere (unless the whole living room with his friends and Grandpa got pulled in too and it wasn't noted in any way).
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 had originally caused him to turn to evil, not the other way around with 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.
Third Eye: The card "Goddess with the Third Eye", and most Millennium Item holders when using their item.
Took a Level in Badass: Joey/Jounouchi. As early as the Duelist Kingdom arc, he spammed monster after monster without any regard of strategy, because he relied too much on the idea of beating things to death even though the attack stat was too low. It became apparent in the second episode of the show that he lost to Tea/Anzu, probably the least competitive players of all, because she knew a thing or two about magic and traps. It took a lot of encouragement and guidance on the Pharaoh's part to help him, but by Battle City he grew into a very competent duelist and became a finalist, managing to go toe to toe against Marik.
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, which 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!
He does show some limited thanks for Yugi, and only Yugi, at times, such as freeing him from Pegasus and the Big Five.
Unstoppable Rage: Specifically, after Yugi's soul is taken by the Orichalchos, and Insector Haga taunts the now rather unstable Yami by tearing up a card in front of him after claiming it was Yugi's, just "as a joke", Yami... well, he goes totally and utterly apeshit, really. He defeats Haga 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's lifepoints have hit zero. He would've kept going too, if Anzu 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) was Dark Magician Girl. Not only was she the card spirit who had 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.
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.
We Can Rule Together: Noah makes this offer to Yugi in the Japanese version of episode 118, after Yugi managed a formidable counterattack and after Noah turned some of Yugi's Nakama 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 suffered from this, despite how fleshed-out everything else in them was. Deconstructed in the latter, since Noah had spent years trapped in his world and was driven mad by this.
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 and only the battle is referenced briefly during Raphael's last fight, prior to his Heel-Face Turn.
Also, the last time we saw Bones and his friends, they were put into the Shadow Realm by Yami Bakura. Nobody ever rescues them. Maybe Zorc's ultimate defeat released them.
That's the dub. They're dead in the original Japanese anime (and manga)
What the Hell, Hero?: Rebecca does this to Yami when his reckless use of the Seal of Orichalchos results in Yugi losing his soul. Heck, even WEEVIL does this effectively, pointing out that while 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 Funny enough, this could still allude to it being wine. After all, wine is often made from fruit and would be considered the "world's greatest fruit juice" by some.
Wok Fu: Yugi faces off against Vivian Wong inside a Chinese restaurant. His friends get distracted from their usual Power of Friendship 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 2nd anime series added several duels for Joey, most of which he lost. The most offensive example being in the final filler arc where he loses disgracefully to the effeminate German Filler Villain.
Mai Valentine/Kujaku. No, seriously. 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 villain side because of it.
Zeno's Race: Inverted with the pharaoh's backstory, seeing 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 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.