The ending of the very first episode of the anime. Probably one of the most iconic scenes in the whole Yu-Gi-Oh franchise would be when Yami manages to summon Exodia, who blasts Kaiba and all three of his Blue-Eyes White Dragons in one shot.
From the first manga chapter: Remember (from flashbacks in the anime) that bully (Ushio) that Yugi stood up to and ended up making friends with Joey and Tristan? The one that showed up on 5D's? Well, Yami/Atem confronted Ushio that night, and challenged him to a game. It involved a stack of cash on one's palm, and a knife. The aim was to get as much cash on the knife without stabbing into your hand. And you had to take at least one note. Ushio cheated, of course, when he realized he couldn't win. Yami/Atem cast an illusion on him that made him see money floating down... And when school came along the next day, everyone found Ushio playing with leaves and garbage, thinking they were money.
An escaped convict, prisoner 777, came to Burger World and took Tea/Anzu hostage, and ordered some booze. Yami/Atem challenged him to a game for her freedom. Never mind he had the balls to challenge a dangerous convict with a gun. They sat on opposite ends of a table. The rules were that both players could pick any of all of their ten fingers (both hands), and once the game starts, they could only use that one finger. Note that 777 was holding a bottle of vodka in one hand, pouring into a glass, and a gun in the other. 777 opted to use his trigger finger. Yami/Atem got a lighter, lit 777's cigarette... And left the lighter on the back of 777's hand (The one that was pouring), while it was still lit and he was still pouring. And Yami/Atem reminded him that firing the gun would make the recoil knock the lighter off, and the Vodka was Russian, which was 80% alcohol. Yami/Atem got Tea away in time... As 777, in his panic, dropped his cigarette and set himself on fire.
The first season anime adaption of this can be seen here
During the Doma Arc, Yami Yugi/Atem was extremely pissed off about Weevil Underwood/Insector Haga tearing up a useless insect card and claiming it was the card that held Yugi's soul during a duel. To end the duel, Yami first used Breaker's special ability to destroy a barrier on the opponent's side and reduce Breaker's attack points. Then he employs a card that allowed him to continuously draw from his deck until he finds a magic card, and for every monster he drew, his Breaker could attack. After Weevil's/ Insector's lifepoints reached zero, Yami kept on drawing, using Breaker to strike Weevil/ Insector over and over again until Anzu/ Tea intervened. The English version makes Yami seem as if he's purposefully being sadistic, unleashing his fury against Weevil. The original Japanese scene is a lot more violent, as Atem/Yami Yugi attacks several more times before Anzu intervenes; this can be seen here.
Legendary Heroes is a very overlooked arc. However, in part 3, the gang is on an airship, going to save the Kaiba brothers, when it's attacked by flying Duel Monsters. Iru - the little fairy - is killed protecting Yugi from an attack. As she digitizes, Yugi starts to cry, saying, "I've had it. I've had enough!" Then Yami comes out in this epic blaze of red light for no reason at all - and yes, Yugi looked sort of ridiculous in his Legendary Heroes costume, but on Yami it looks amazing. Yami immediately takes charge, telling Joey to take the wheel and starts sending out monsters to protect the ship. It was awesome.
Another standout moment is when Yugi and Kaiba are up against the Mythic Dragon- a 5000 ATK beast that has already taken down Mokuba, Joey and Mai. To defeat it, Yugi summons Black Luster Solider and Kaiba plays his Ultimate Dragon, they they both combine the two into the epic "Dragon Master Knight"(also 5000 ATK) which destroys the Mythic Dragon.
In his duel against Strings who has A) a God Card that becomes more powerful the more cards he has in his hand and decreases one of the stats of an opponent's summoned monster by 2000 points right off the bat (and if said stat is 2000 or less, automatically destroys it instead), B) a permanent spell card that allows him to draw three cards every time a monster is summoned, C) a monster that can automatically be resummoned to the field when it's destroyed, D) a permanent trap card that makes said monster the first target of any attack, and E) a permanent spell card that removes the 6-card limit to his hand. Yugi simply uses a spell that 1) shifts control of the indestructible monster to his side of the field, which 2) causes Slifer to attack it, and 3) it respawns, which 4) triggers the "draw three cards" effect, and repeat from step 2 until he mills Strings (runs out of cards).
Yami Yugi: That means I win! IT'S OVER!note (English dub anime; It isn't so much what words he said, but how he said it.)
Summoning Slifer/Osiris for the first time against Bakura. The music makes it a very different moment in both versions, in the Japanese, the music is much more triumphant, and you know that Yugi's done it, while in the dub, the music reminds us that this IS a very dangerous Egyptian God that's about to hit the field. Then there's the summon itself; lightning is all over the place, a massive column of it blasts away Dark Sanctuary, and then forms into massive wings, gigantic coils wrap around the blimp because they can, and then the top half of the monster finishes materializing, leans forward and roars in Bakura's face.
The final move he uses in the duel with Noah is golden. He gives both players the maximum amount for a hand and then begins by reviving the Blue Eyes that was sent to the graveyard while Kaiba was dueling. Then, he fuses them into the Blue Eyes Ultimate dragon, a monster far more powerful than anything that Noah has even come CLOSE to bringing out. He then blows his monster out of the water. Noah of course begins to gloat because he feels confident he can survive a few more turns against the Blue eyes, only for Yugi to activate DEFUSION. 8300 life points do not look so nice now that you have three individual dragons ready to direct attack.
What makes it even better is that Noah had been a Smug Snake the entire duel; acting as though he was a great duelist despite the fact he was using blatantly broken Deck and an even worse Deckmaster. Once Noah realizes he's doomed he begins panicking. Yami's words hit home; "You've been exposed as the frightened child you are." Break the Haughty at its finest.
The movie may have been a cash-in, but goddamn if the last blow against Anubis isn't awesome. Faced with a monster with 35000 ATK, Yami quickly deduces what kind of strategy Kaiba had planned to beat him with (using the God Cards), and uses his very last card to activate that strategy in his own favor, returning Obelisk, Slifer and Ra to his side of the field after they had been removed from play, before having them combine for infinite power, finally delivering the last blow. It's so magnificent, the area dome around them starts to crack open to reveal boiling lava around the duelists, before the arena erupts in an explosion.
In the Gaiden manga Yu-Gi-Oh! R, he's dueling against the possessed brother of the Big Bad, who has an "anti-god" monster that causes all non-god monsters to suffer having their stats halved, a special 1000-attack point boost that specifically works for god monsters (negating the "spells only work for one turn on gods" effect), and a trap card that prevents him from summoning a god monster of his own. He summons a fusion monster instead from his King's-Queen's-Jack's Knight combo, along with a trap to negate the anti-god's effect and decrease its attack power by 500 points; in turn, he uses a spell card to increase his fusion monster's attack power by 800 points, which puts him at 100 AP more than the anti-god. The duel is subsequently called off when his opponent is depossessed.
Despite the Tear Jerker that it represents, Atem's final line in the dubbed anime could count as this.
I am the son of King Ahknenkaden. My name is...Atem!
There's also when Yugi banished Kaiba's evil half to the Shadow Realm again, then, as a silhouette against a yellow background (incidentally, it's yellow because it's ON FIRE) with only the puzzle and the rainbow eye on his forehead, yelled at Pegasus, who was watching from a security camera, destroying Pegasus' wine glass.
Even for the dub, the line he gave Pegasus just as the glass shatters was chilling. Considering the look he had when he gave the message.
I'm coming for you, Pegasus!
Yami summoning every monster he has to help take down Dark Marik and the Dragon of Ra qualifies. The sheer ballsiness of it has to been to be believed—by playing Ragnarok, he is throwing away his entire deck, banking that the shock of losing Ra will be enough to let the real Marik regain control of his and Dark Marik's shared body. It works.
In an early episode ("Give Up The Ghost"), when Yami is dueling the Mimic of Doom (who was formerly disguised as a fake Kaiba), he uses Monster Reborn to bring back a Blue Eyes, and increases its Attack with Mystical Elf. Right before he has his Blue Eyes attack Mimic's, he says, "Consider this a message from the real Seto Kaiba...YOU LOSE!!!" He then attacks, wins, and shatters Mimic's soul with Mind Crush.
In the very first Season 0 episode, he challenges the bully mentioned above, except the game is different. They're on a domed roof, and they have to climb up and down using a rope around their waists and looped around a roof feature as a makeshift pully. Ushio ends up getting mad when Yami wins, and climbs to the top where he then snaps the rope, sending Yami plummeting towards the ground 30-40 feet below. Ushio ends up getting his penalty game and also falling, and as the camera pans past the building to follow Ushio, we see Yami has stopped his fall byshoving the pointed tip Millennium Puzzle into the wall of a stone building and hanging from the puzzle with one hand in what has got to be a display of superhuman strength.
When he is dealing with the fake prophet Kokurano in episode 13. They have to catch chloroform bottles that drop from the ceiling at random, and Kokurano tries tripping Yami so he will miss. Yami does trip, but he makes a long, low horizontal leap to try and catch the bottle, but he's just a little too short with his reach. So what does he do? He takes the Millennium Puzzle from his neck and throws it at the bottle, catching the bottle with the strap and embedding the puzzle tip into the wall. Maybe it's a good thing he prefers games over fighting.
Yami: "In the name of the Pharaoh. Awaken from your ancient slumber!"
Corresponding Blue, Red and Gold beam shoot out of the Leviathan
Yami: "Now I call forth: The Three Gods of Egypt!"
Followed by the Egyptian Gods basically Curbstompping the Great Leviathan.
Him taking on the full brunt of Dartz' attack— not a card game attack, a real magic attack— in episode 183. Fuck yes.
The Pharaoh: Alright, come on! All your anger and hatred, aim it at me! All the people's darkness in the world, let it rest on my shoulders!
He makes a similar awesome comment that he will 'take it all on my back!!' when referring to Yami Marik attacking him with the Winged Dragon of Ra (an attack he took to shield both Mai and Joey.)
Destroying Golden Castle of Stromberg by reducing his own deck to one card, so when the Castle requires him to discard half his deck, he can't, so it destroys itself.
Finally recalling his name, summoning Horkathy, and sealing Zorc Necrophades, while in the process concluding his 5000 year old battle with the Spirit of the Millenium Ring. Seeing the final conclusion to that battle, and everyone gathering around Atem, is truly amazing.
We never get to see it, but the fact that he could seal the entire magic of the Shadow Games by himself, and maintain that seal for 3,000 years, willingly sacrificing his life, name and identity in the process, creates a double whammy Awesome Tearjerker. Not only that, but retaining some semblance of sanity whilst trapped for that long (the true state of his consciousness is never explained) must take some willpower.
Yugi Mutou/ Yugi Moto
During the very final episode when he thoroughly whups Yami Yugi during the final duel using a deck based mostly on toy monsters to decide whether or not he goes on to the afterlife. The fact that he falls to his knees in tears afterwards at having to defeat his best friend -and basically kill him doesn't dampen the awesomeness one bit.
All the more awesome since when Yugi "whups Yami" in that fight, Yami has all three Egyptian God Cards on the field... and Yugi dismantles them in a single move.
The real CMOA involving Yugi defeating the 3 Egyptian God Cards wasn't quite destroying them with their own power in a single turn, but spending a whole episode repelling them. Atem was proud of him destroying the most powerful creatures in Duel Monsters.
I still say that Yugi staying to complete the Millennium Puzzle (which took him eight years the first time) in the middle of a burning building that was collapsing all around him, (and refusing to let go of the puzzle and leave it even while practically unconscious) because he wouldn't leave his other self behind was pretty awesome.
If you think that was awesome in the anime you should read the original Manga version - in which the same scene takes place in the Black Crown gaming shop. Yugi has begged his friends to get out while they still can and leave him to complete the puzzle. Physically there is absolutely nothing stopping him from getting up and leaving in either version, but he stays so he can see the Other Yugi "one last time". It's also awesome for Jounouchi in that he stays right there outside of the door waiting until the last possible moment, giving Yugi as long a time as possible to complete his task.
An anime only moment for Yugi and Joey: The finals of the Duelist Kingdom tournament.
Yugi's best move in the last duel was when he used a spell card to seal away Monster Reborn, despite knowing how useful it was to him. It paid off fairly soon afterward, when Yami tried to summon Osiris, but the card prevented him from reviving Osiris and left him defenseless against the powered-up Silent Magician. Not only did Yugi predict what Yami would do (probably based on his using a spell card to fill their hands), but he also made a clear point that the dead cannot remain in the world of the living; as Ishizu put it, "Yugi's trump card was also his way of saying goodbye...
Let's face it, the very first time Yugi transformed in the anime was just plain wow. This also doubles as a CMoA for 4Kids, because let's be honest: For all the crap they catch, rightfully or otherwise, this is one thing where they actually trumped the original. See for yourself.
Even though it was a filler arc, Doma had this moment early on when Yugi, having just received Timaeus in a dream, uses the card Eye of Timaeus on the Great Leviathan and defeats it before it could suck up anymore Duel Monster souls, thus freeing them.
Yugi's entire solo duel with Yami Bakura, holding his own the entire time and eventually managing to defeat him, despite the fact that he has no help from Yami and an entirely new deck.
First, his battle with Gozaburo, which ends with disassembling the elder Kaiba's seemingly indestructible Exodia Necros, then destroying it with his Blue-Eyes White Dragon. Next, while fleeing Gozaburo's collapsing undersea building, with everyone else running towards their transport (a large blimp with a big KaibaCorp logo on it), it looks as though Mokuba wouldn't make it. Seto gets his brother onto the blimp by grabbing the back of his belt and heaving him at the gangplank of the blimp, bowling over Tristan and Duke in the process. And then he jumps over their heads into the blimp. And is the only one to stay on his feet when the thing starts shaking in the explosions.
To increase the badassery of this scene, destroying Exodia with his Blue-Eyes was pretty much a Take That to Exodia when he lost a game for the first time ever in episode 1, despite having all 3 Blue-Eyes on the field. If that doesn't say awesome, I don't know what does.
The "Check mate, Gozaburo" line that he says at the end of the duel made it pretty badass as well.
And remember, until he played Kaiba, Gozaburo was an undefeated chess champion, and Kaiba beat him and forced Gozaburo to adopt him and his brother. The whole point of Gozaburo challenging Kaiba was to beat Kaiba at his own game as Kaiba did to him, and Gozaburo knew Exodia was the monster that gave Kaiba his first defeat and used it for that exact reason. So that line is itself a "Take That" to Gozaburo.
How about his duel against Ishizu? "Screw Destiny! I make my own fate!" He did it.
Um, Kaiba disarms guns. With cards. Remember that scene on Duelist Kingdom where he jams Kemo's gun with a card, subdues him with jujitsu, and forces him to lead him inside Pegasus' castle? Well, that scene is nothing compared to the scene in the manga that it was based off of. In the manga, he's flying to Duelist Kingdom by helicopter, but realizes that the pilot (who's on Pegasus' payroll) is flying around in circles. When the pilot pulls out a gun, Kaiba not only jams it and twists it out of the guy's hand, but then points the gun at him, and forces both the pilot and the co-pilot to jump out of the copter into the sea at gunpoint (don't worry; he knows how to fly a copter).
For bonus points, the card he uses to jam the gun is a monster that can be considered a "goddess of luck". For even more Irony, the Japanese name is translated as "Goddess of Reversal".
Stopping the hammer with a card was a serious hallmark in Kaiba's Character Development, showing that he had actually taken away something from Yuugi's lecture after his last defeat and subsequent months-long coma BSOD. It was a pretty excellent He's Back moment showing Kaiba more Badass than ever for understanding the heart of the cardsnote Especially when his earlier appearances had all been based around disdaining the power of respect for his monsters, instead being a pretty intimidating villain relying on The Powerof Hate.
And then after arriving, getting his deck back, and heading to Pegasus's castle, and then demanding to see Pegasus, he's greeted by a very polite guard who assures him that Pegasus will see him eventually, and that there's a room in the annex for him, if he would be so kind as to allow the armed guards to escort him. So what's his status when we check back on him in a volume? He's got that same guard on the floor with his head between the lids of his briefcase, he's got his gun out, and he's making demands, threatening to snap the guard's neck with the briefcase if they aren't met. Then we see how he got there. As soon as the guard told him about his room, he brained him with the briefcase, pulled his gun on him, and intimidated the other guards into backing off from their Mexican Standoff. Then he got the guard to carry his luggage into his room and be his hostage.
His summoning of Obelisk the Tormentor for the first time, the entire scene of full of awesome, from the Ominous Latin Chanting letting the audience know things just got serious, Obelisk destroying the Blue-Eyes Ultimate Dragon with a single punch, to the Duel Robot overloading and exploding from the power surge.
Also serves as a CMoA for 4Kids, proving that they can do a very good job on a dub when they put the effort in. Compared to the English scene the original Japanese scene is surprisingly unimpressive.
Kaiba jumps out of his Blue Eyes White Dragon Jet. While wearing a jet pack. Which then falls off upon landing, suggesting that either it's really durable or Kaiba has more than one jet pack.
His duel against Siegfried, which, filler or not, was probably his finest dueling moment in the series. It is so awesome that it needs to be watched several times to be believed and it best described in steps. To begin with, Kaiba has 950 life points, and Siegfried 3600. Due to various effects, all three of Kaiba's Blue-Eyes White Dragons and an Emerald Dragon have been removed from the game. There is a global spell card in effect that states that a player can gain 500 life points for every spell card he declares he will cast that turn following the draw phase, though if he fails, he suffers 1000 damage per card instead. Kaiba has no cards in hand, and he makes his draw...
Seeing his one card, he declares he will cast four spell cards this turn. His life points rise to 2950 (950 + 2000).
He casts Treasure of Slashing Life (1), letting him draw an additional five cards this turn. Normally, he would have to discard his hand over the next five turns, but that won't be necessary here.
He plays Soul Emancipation (2), a magic card that forces both players to select up to five cards in their graveyards and remove them from the game. Kaiba selects the Chaos Emperor Dragon to be removed.
Kaiba plays Spell Reclaim (3). By sacrificing two spell cards in his hand, he can retrieve one spell card from the graveyard. He selects Dimensional Fusion.
Kaiba pays 2000 life points to cast Dimensional Fusion (4), which special summons all monsters on his side which have been removed from the game, which include three Blue-Eyes White Dragons, Emerald Dragon, and Chaos Emperor Dragon!
But Wait!! Theeeeeeere's More!!
On Siegfried's side is Valkyrie Brunhilde, a monster which gains 300 attack points for every dragon-type monster on the field, and, if overcome in battle, can sacrifice 1000 of its defense points to remain on the field. At this point, it has 3300 attack points; more than any of Kaiba's dragons.
Kaiba attacks with Emerald Dragon, which is far weaker than Siegfried's Valkyrie. Emerald Dragon is destroyed and Kaiba is left with 50 life points. With one less dragon on the field, Valkryie Brunhilde's attack is reduced to 3000.
Kaiba attacks with Chaos Emperor Dragon. Both it and Valkyrie have the same attack points, so Chaos Emperor Dragon is destroyed. The Valkyrie gives up 1000 defense points and is left alive. However, it's attack is reduced by another 300 points because a dragon has left the field, leaving it with 2700.
Kaiba attacks with Blue-Eyes #1. Blue-Eyes has more power than Valkyrie and deals 300 life damage to Siegfried, bringing him down to 3300. Valkyrie again gives up 1000 defense points to remain on the field, leaving it with none.
Kaiba attacks with Blue-Eyes #2. Blue-Eyes deals another 300 life damage to Siegfried, bringing him to 3000. With no defense points remaining to sacrifice, Valkyrie is destroyed.
Finally, Kaiba attacks with Blue-Eyes #3. Siegfried has no monsters left and is attacked directly, bringing his life points to zero exactly.
Even The Pharaoh stared in open mouthed shock at this win.
And in the dub version of his summoning of Chaos Emperor Dragon, which started the whole thing, includes this exchange:
Siegfried: You need to give up 1,000 of your Life Points first, and you can't afford that now!
Kaiba: Face it, your Life Points are at 0. That's about as over as it gets.
The scene where Kaiba is cornered before jumping out of the window in the Duelist Kingdom arc is awesome in the original. He deflects a bullet with his briefcase. Kaiba Seto is hardcore, no doubt about it.
What about his duel with Pegasus to save Mokuba when he destroyed the Toon Blue eyes white dragon. Pegasus has the gamebreaker deck and the ability to read his mind. When Yugi dueled Pegasus he was getting stomped with Pegasus taking no damage before he did the mind switch thing. Kaiba was able to do some damage whilst top decking without ever having played Pegasus or using magic. Badass normal indeed.
Or rather, badass abnormal. Kaiba still had at least one Blue Eyes White Dragon, the one card powerful enough to stand up to its toon counterpart. Yugi had no analogue, and he wasn't doing a pure topdecking, sight-unseen strategy like Kaiba was at that moment.
During the Doma arc when Kaiba and Mokuba are making their way to Dartz's headquarters at Paradise Inc., Kaiba commandeers a convertible at an auto dealership to get over there faster. When the owner tells him he needs to pay, Kaiba just casually writes him a check for the car and drives off. Stylish, cool, and hilarious to watch all in one.
Kaiba: Keep the change. (peels out of the dealership)
His summoning of The Blue Eyes Ultimate Dragon in the second Duel against Yugi, early on its revealed he has a Blue Eyes in his hand but hasn't played it which the others note as odd. Unknown to them Kaiba is planning something and after crippling Yugi's deck with the Crush Card Virus and getting his first one out reveals his plan to combine all three dragons into one unstoppable monster. Needless to say, The Oh, Crap meter exploded when it was summoned and we get this from him as he summons it and you know Yugi is screwed.
Kaiba: Now I create a duel monster without peer! With an attack force so great no monster can stand against him! I summon The Blue Eyes Ultimate Dragon!!
His duel with Alister, aboard a plane that's about to crash. Alister plans to give up, and let the Orichalchos take all of their souls, but Kaiba insists on continuing the duel, and ends up saving himself and Mokuba, as well as taking down Alister in the last seconds before the plane crashes.
Even better, he thoroughly trumps Alister in the mind games when Alister insists that by destroying humanity, Doma are saving the world. Kaiba basically nails him by asking him what his desceased brother would think were he still alive. The dub makes it even better with Kaiba going full-on Sarcasm Mode and Brutal Honesty. It also marks the first time one of the villains in the arc has been successfully talked down.
During the final arc in the anime, our Kaiba, trapped in the past, has seen Yami, Priest Seto, and the entire Egyptian army fail to stop Zorc, who still rampages unchecked. So what does our non-believing, out-only-for-himself antihero do? He puts himself in Zorc's path, summons his Blue-Eyes Ultimate Dragon, and singlehandedly slows the oncoming God of Evil's advance.
Kaiba: "Okay boys. Let's show this ancient Egyptian windbag how we do things back home!"
Also, from the same arc, releasing his Ring of Protection to save Yami long enough for the Pharoah to remember his name.
His summoning of Blue-Eyes in the tag duel against Lumis and Umbra was a standout moment. The opponents had Mask Of Restrict in play so he couldn't sacrifice any monsters to summon his dragon. Yugi had Card Destruction in his hand but didn't know if he should use it. Kaiba, disguising his words in his usual arrogant bluster, let Yugi know that the cards in his hand were useless and "better off in the graveyard"...so Yugi played the card so they would discard their hands. That allowed Kaiba to use a face-down Monster Reborn card to get around Mask Of Restrict's effect and summon Blue-Eyes White Dragon...well played, to say the least.
During Joey and Yugi's Death Duel he throws a goddamn card at the Crane's Operator and kicks him while he's down to grab the switch controlling the crane. Did I mention the part where in the original cut the Card stabs into his hand and stays in until Kaiba Retrieves it?
The manga version of the above needs some elaboration. Mokuba is being held hostage by two of Malik's brainwashed goons to stop Kaiba from interfering with the duel. Kaiba, knowing he only has one chance to pull it off, yanks a card out of his deck while silently hoping it's just a common card...and ends up drawing a Blue-Eyes White Dragon card. Nevertheless, he hurls the card so hard at the goon holding Mokuba hostage that the card stabs right in, forcing the goon to let Mokuba go and letting Kaiba close in to beat both of them up and hurl them both into the sea. It's his comment about throwing the card and his Death Glare that really sells it.
Kaiba: "Unfortunately, my draw was too good. Thanks to you, your filthy blood has stained my card! Die, you pigs! Into the bay!"
His summoning of the Winged Dragon of Ra to his side of the field... after it had been summoned by his opponent. Turns out you have to have a connection to Ancient Egypt to control an Egyptian God Card. Shame.
Marik: Great Beast of the Sky, please hear my cry! Transform thyself from orb of light and bring me victory in this fight! Unlock thy powers from deep within so that, together, we may win! Appear in this Shadow Game as I call your name... Winged Dragon of Ra!
Somehow, he still manages to look cool while one side of his face is randomly twisting and distorting.
It's a CMOA for the animators. Marik is supposed to be completely crazy after Dark Marik takes him over. Yet, when the situation calls for it, they make him look calm and collected, with a calculating smile on his face.
After defeating Mai, pulling a knife on Joey.
The first time that he fuses with Ra, during his duel with The Spirit of the Millenium Ring, and again when he does it during his duel with Yami. It's a horrifying mix of Body Horror and One-Winged Angel, as most of his body, minus an eye and a hand and leaking black smoke, joins with Ra, but there is no denying the sheer, mind-bending awesome of it.
Destroying Noah's robots by deflecting laser-fire back at them with the Millenium Rod.
The Anime-only scene in the duel against Jounouchi where Gearfried's attack is stopped inches from his face and he just starts laughing.
The reveal of Ra's phoenix form, and the all out insanity of its assault on Joey, as it sets the entire arena afire.
During his duel with Yugi/Yami, Dark Marik maintains control for almost the entire battle, gets rid of both Slifer and Obilisk (and survives a direct hit from the latter, laughing like a madman the entire time), and ultimately outdueled Yami, forcing him to throw away his entire deck to get rid of Ra. If the shock of losing Ra hadn't allowed normal!Marik to reclaim control of their body, Dark Marik would easily have won the duel.
Katsuya Jounouchi/ Joey Wheeler
His duel against Bandit Keith in the semi-finals of the Duelist Kingdom, despite Keith cheating Joey thoroughly kicks his ass.
Joey's duel against Yugi was also pretty impressive, with both playing their hardest and Joey coming within inches of victory.
What about his battle with Dark Marik in the semifinals of Battle City? He would've won too if he had just a few more seconds to call out his monster's attack before passing out of complete exhaustion. Hell, even Seto Kaiba had to reevaluate his opinion of him - and Kaiba despises Joey Wheeler!
Even though he was defeated, the aftermath turns this into something of a Broke Your Arm Punching Out Cthulhu. Marik ends up completely physically drained puking in a sink. That's right, Joey literally took the Big Bad to his limit.
And then there's the aftermath of Battle City, where he picks a fight/duel with Seto Kaiba after he insults poor Mokuba during his Freak Out after losing to Yugi. He still loses, but the utter brass balls he displayed when doing so is worth noting. The best part? He uses a combo to summon a Blue Eyes to his side of the field! Kaiba pretty much SNAPS at that point, as he damn well should.
He even had non-duel crowning moments in the first seven volumes of the manga, namely beating up a guy in an alleyway with both of them having knives in their mouths with the help of a can of soda. Not to mention hanging those four yo-yo wielding thugs by their pinkies using nothing but Yugi's millennium puzzle and a conveniently placed hook. It should be noted in the fight with the knifes, the thug had his knife be a fake with a retractable blade, but Jounouchi tells him to take it out anyway, while still keeping the very real knife in his mouth. Serious balls man, serious balls. And it get's better — Joey demands that the other guy pull the knife out of his opponents mouth. His reasoning behind handing the thug a serious advantage? it allows him to punch the guy in his face without killing him.
During the duel against Pegasus, Yugi has passed out and Yami is trying to keep Pegasus from seeing the card he just drew with his Millennium Eye. Suddenly, images of his friend appear and give the usual spiel about Friendship, ending with Joey's image telling Pegasus to stay out of Yugi's head; and Pegasus reels back like he's just been punched in the stomach. Let's face it, mind powers really shouldn't be used against Joey Wheeler.
Half the beatings he gives in the manga qualify as CMOAs. How about knocking out a former Green Beret commander with a SINGLE KICK in the Death-T arc? The beating Jonouchi gave to Bandit Keith in the manga was a damn cool moment.
And of course, there's him knocking out Saruwatari with one punch in the manga when he tries to prevent everyone from entering Pegasus' castle. Especially since that guy was a [SmugJerkass most of the time, so Joey giving him some much-needed comeuppance felt especially rewarding.
From the Death-T arc, his battle against The Chopman. Tricking him into setting himself on fire is the height of Bad Ass.
In episode 87 of the series, after Yugi has basically set himself up to die in a duel so Jounouchi can live (they're both attached to an anchor which will drag the loser of the match down into the ocean, and Yugi's let himself lose leaving Jounouchi with the key to escape. Jounochi makes a flying leap across the platform - doesn't get there in time, so both of them are dragged down. Not to be deterred, Jounouchi unlocks Yugi's restraints using his key while underwater and lets himself sink. Screw Malik, that whole match was basically a CMOA and a CMOH battle back and forth with Yugi and Jou.
How awesome is this scene, which also included the first CMOA for Shizuka below? So awesome that Yu-Gi-Oh! The Abridged Series played it straight. Heck, if anything, it made it even more awesome by setting it to "Total Eclipse of the Heart."
In the manga version of the warehouse duel in which Yugi completed the Millennium Puzzle while the building was burning down around him. After Yugi has basically begged his friends to get out alive and leave him to complete the puzzle, Jounouchi accepts his request calmly, and then stands steadfast outside of the blazing door, giving Yugi until the last possible second he needs, without so much as flinching at the flames. His dialogue sounds nothing if not awesome.
Jou: Yugi... I'll stay with you on the edge of the River Styx... but I won't let you cross over. If you get too close, I'll drag you back, even if I have to hit you!!
All of his duel against Valon, especially his summonings and uses of: Rocket Hermos Cannon, Aura Armor, Lord of the Red, and Big Bang Dragon Blow.
Also, when he wins the duel and punches Valon across the field.
When the Orichalcos-using Mai throws a card at him like a shuriken, and he catches it without breaking stride, instead of being his usual clumsy, idiotic self.
You know, I don't think much can really top dying and coming back to life through sheer force of will. The fact that he doesn't really bring it up again says a lot about how nonchalant he is about life and death by that point. On a related note, the way he calmly talks to Mai after losing his duel - and his soul - is both a CMOA AND a CMOH.
Defeating Espa Roba by making Jinzo attack one of the duelists at random, basically leaving the game up to a coin flip, took titanic balls.
I think the Joey Vs Odion duel contained some CMOA for Joey - from managing to summon all of the rare monsters he had won over the course of the tournament so far, to being the first person to work out that Odion wasn't really Marik, to managing to drag himself back to his feet after being blasted from above by Ra, Joey was pretty awesome in that duel.
Becoming the first person to survive Siegfried's Ride of the Valkyries One-Hit Kill combo.
How Joey defeats Johnson: he required a tribute to power up his Flame Swordsman, but he didn't have another monster at the time and so he trusted his fate in a card that forced Johnson to pick one of two cards. If it was a Monster, Joey has the tribute he needs to finish Johnson off. Otherwise, his turn ends and Johnson could win next turn. Despite looking like one of his usual luck-based gambits, he turned the odds in his favor by giving a pleased grin at Johnson's first choice (with which he endlessly bragged about his Hanging Judge experience), thus causing him to panic and choose the other card: Goblin Attack Force. Especially satisfying considering how Johnson previously rigged all his luck-based cards against him.
Joey beating Solomon in the KC Grand Prix. We reiterate: Joey beat the guy who taught Champion Duelist Yugi how to duel. And Solomon was every bit the tough duelist you'd expect him to be, too.
His rematch with Rex during the DOMA arc, when he uses his Red-Eyes Black Dragon (which he won from Rex) for the first time since the start of Battle City. Not only that, but he adds Metalmorph to it, creating the Red-Eyes Black Metal Dragon, and uses it to turn the duel around, in a great callback to his battle with Bandit Keith. It's made even better when you contrast his performance in this duel to Yami's simultaneous one with Weevil—while Yami is growing more and more uncontrolled and enraged, Joey remains calm the entire time, and beats Rex at his own game. It also marks the reveal of his Gearfried the Swordmaster, a rare card with a great effect, that no one but Joey seems to know about. Perhaps no other duel better represents the degree to which Joey can dominate an opponent when he really puts his mind to it.
In Evil Spirit of the Ring, Flame Swordsman!Joey's Heroic Sacrifice against the Man-Eater Bug. He even goes so far as to whack Tristan in the gut with his sword to prevent him from taking his place.
Shizuka Kawai/ Serenity Wheeler
The Ill Girl's Crowning Moment of Awesome comes right after the duel between Yugi and the Brainwashed and Crazy Jounouchi, when she snatches the key for Jounouchi's bindings and fearlessly jumps into the water to rescue her brother before he drowns.
Hell, just plucking up the nerve to take those bandages off and find out whether or not she was permanently blind was awesome in itself.
And during the Noa arc, when with some guidance from Otogi, Shizuka finally gets over her Heroic BSOD following Honda's disappearance and manages to turn the tables on her and Otogi's rival, summoning Saint Joan and pwning the enemy.
Anzu Mazaki/ Tea Gardner
Anzu's her sheer determination to duel against the much more experienced Mai so she can get the star chips for Yugi no matter what takes huge balls, er, boobs.
Anzu's tendency for telling off people more powerful than she is— including several who could do her serious harm, if not outright kill her— makes for a several CMOAs.
In the manga, it's her directions that get the group through Kaiba's falling blocks of death. An ability she learned from dance classes.
Her dueling skills during the Noah Arc, this was the most serious duel she ever went through in the anime because she would have lost her body to Krump if she had failed. Good scene, good duel.
You have to respect Anzu for calling Seto Kaiba out after he threatened to commit suicide if Yami beat him in the duel atop Pegasus castle; a scene which resulted in a huge bit of moral dissonance for Yami and a Heroic BSOD for Yugi. In spite of the fact that she doesn't fully understand the reasons for Kaiba's actions, she stands there and calls him out on the way he's been acting the whole series. She might ram the Friendship speech down our ears obsessively, but you can bet she'll put her money where her mouth is.
Tea: He spared you! Kaiba, he showed you compassion, which is more than you deserve!
Kaiba: He lost the game.
Tea: The game?! Yugi may have lost one lousy Duel Monsters game, but at least he hasn't lost his heart! Not like you Seto Kaiba - you've spent so much time with your machines, you've forgotten what being human is about! Yugi has a heart, Kaiba. Yugi has us. Friends that will stand with him to the end, no mater whether he wins or loses some lousy game. And what do you have, Seto Kaiba? What do you have at the end of the day? Tell me. Tell me!
She makes a good point, too — Kaiba does prefer spending time working on his holographic emitters and working than he does with other people. His little brother Mokuba is pretty much the only character who can stand him.
It's equally moving the the original Japanese, although not quite so sappy. It's more about the price of victory than an attack on Kaiba personally.
Anzu: You’re the one who lost the game, Kaiba-kun!
Anzu:Kaiba-kun, you’re willing to give up your precious life for those Chips? You lost to yourself! In the end, you couldn’t even rely on your own courage. Whatever it is, as long as you have true courage, you’ll always have Chips in your soul. Since you ran away, you’re the real loser. Yugi chose your life over the Chips!
The manga version is pretty awesome as well.
Anzu: That's not true, Kaiba! You're the one who lost!
Anzu: You say people's struggles are a game! That's totally wrong! Facing yourself no matter how tough things get... and keeping up the fight... That's what games are really about! You bet your chip of life as if it meant nothing! You lost to yourself! When you realized you were going to lose, you didn't have the courage to keep living! Listen... real courage is protecting that chip you have in your hands... no matter what! The moment you give that up is when you lose!
A minor in the Battle City arc: When captured by the Rare Hunters, she doesn't just play Damsel in Distress. She actually hatches a pretty daring escape plan.
Hiroto Honda/ Tristan Taylor
Honda also has some nice CMOA's in the anime, such as when he takes on three Ghouls, who were technically only after Shizuka, all by himself while the others escaped. He wins.
There was also the time he jumped from the top of the castle to distract the monster that was chasing Shizuka in the Virtual World arc.
Death T, where he beats two trained soldiers (A former sniper and assassin!) in a shoot-out, getting off a nice Bond One-Liner at the finish.
When he tosses Mokuba's body at Yami Bakura to distract him, then closes the gap and punches him out. Then he chucks the Millenium Ring into the woods.
In the Virtual World arc during the three-way duel with him, Serenity and Duke vs. one of the big 5, he makes a Heroic Sacrifice with his Deckmaster to protect Serenity and causing him to lose, though he does leave a face-down card behind which Serenity later uses to win.
Mokuba has a surprising CMOA near the end of Season 3. While dueling Yugi, Kaiba makes an impassioned speech about how he plans to forget about his past and leave his old life behind once he wins, which bugs Mokuba because younger Kaiba was a lot nicer than the current one. After Kaiba loses to Yugi, Yugi gives him a speech about how he's so full of hatred of his stepfather, his past, and Yugi himself, that he'll never be able to move on as a person until he gets over them. Kaiba ignores him and leaves, set to board the ride home and destroy the Duel Tower anyway, the implication being he's not going to tell Yugi and the gang and is thus basically leaving them to die. Mokuba, Kaiba's little brother who is pretty much the only cast member who can stand Kaiba, finally snaps and shouts "I think Yugi's right!", and cries that he preferred their days in the orphanage because at least his brother wasn't so angry and bitter back then. Mokuba's words convince Kaiba to swallow his pride at long last and help Yugi beat Marik. When Mokuba, the guy who spends most the series singing his brother's praises, calls him out on being a jerk, you definitely know Kaiba has crossed a line.
Though Mai gets a lot of flak for never winning an onscreen duel, she gets some decent moments, the biggest of which would be using a special ability of one of her monsters to steal Yami Marik's friggin' GOD CARD right out of his deck. Granted, using it backfired on her, but only because of the Deus ex Machina of requiring a player to recite a passage in ancient Egyptian (which only Marik and Yami Yugi and Kaiba knew) to summon it. If not for that, Mai would have blasted Marik's evil little butt back to his little tomb.
If she hadn't tried to use it at all, she actually would have most likely won. She was basically kicking Marik's butt until she tried to summon Ra.
It doesn't even matter that she rarely gets an onscreen duel win, given 1) her supporting character status, 2) she's paired off against the arc enemies more often than not, and 3) always comes one move within victory even when she loses. Winning duels can boil down to dumb luck rather than skill, but the way Mai always put her opponents through their paces, win or no, never did.
Mai's method of cheating. Yes, cheating. Think about it. She didn't rely on some cheap and vaguely explained X-ray contact lenses like Rare Hunter did. She soaked her cards in perfume. And then was able to memorize them to know what card she was about to draw. Let that sink in for a second. She can identify a minimum of 40 different scents.
Mai was willing to wager five of her star chips to let Yugi advance to the finals. You need ten, so everyone thought that'd mean she'd risk disqualifying herself. Valentine's answer? Throw them the chips and show her duel gauntlet with ten full slots. She picked up five star chips as extra.
Until the very end, in Mai's duel against Yugi at Duelist Kingdom, she basically has the upper hand the entire time, and would have beaten Yugi if he hadn't drawn the exact card he needed.
Yugi wasn't at his best, and Mai could have taken advantage of that. Instead, she called him out on it. It was like, "Hey! You promised me an honorable duel! What is the matter with you? Bring it!" That's sportsmanship.
In the Doma arc, Mai taking down a group of bikers by throwing her cards at them and causing them to crash.
Remember Bakura's noble attempt at a Heroic Sacrifice during his first appearance in the Duel Monsters anime? The manga's equivalent of that scene was even more awesome. During Volume 7 chapter 56 of the manga, while playing the Monster World RPG, Yugi and his friends are on the verge of losing against Dark Bakura thanks to his brainwashed dice ("Mind Dice"). After a fatal hit from Zorc, the party is assumed dead by Dark Bakura. His confidence is quickly shattered when he discovers that they all have one hit point left on his computer. Right after this, some strange force takes control of his left hand and types the following message on Dark Bakura's computer: "I am Ryou Bakura. I won't let you kill my friends. I'll fight too." revealing that the real Bakura had been fumbling his dice rolls all along. That's just plain awesome. Especially after you take into account that Ryou has been tormented by his alterego for the longest time, having his previous handful of friends being put into a coma and having their souls trapped in miniature figures. He certainly gave Dark Bakura a sweet taste of Karma.
Unfortunately, this is the last awesome thing Bakura will ever do in the manga. After he gets integrated into the main group, his most notable moments consist of doing things that make fangirls go Squee and being The Woobie. In the anime, he gets Demoted to Extra.
His non-chalantly stabbing himself in the arm with a knife. And he laughed. Creepy, yet awesome.
The duel at the graveyard. Hell, the whole episode was a big CMOA for him.
Laughing in the face of death, more than once.
If Thief Bakura qualifies, his battle against all High Priests at once definitely counts.
His horseriding stunts deserve mention as well.
After his good counterpart's Moment Of Awesome as stated somewhere above, Yami Bakura proceeds to impale his left hand through one of the sharp towers on the RPG board and then laughs. He seems to have a creepy trend of stabbing himself and making it look awesome.
In the manga, his (rather obvious) fake Heel-Face Turn. Watching him help Yami Yugi outsmart the Paradox Brothers during the Duelist Kingdom saga and helping Yugi defeat Ryuuji Otogi (Duke Devlin) in Dungeon Dice Monsters by outright telling Otogi that fate denies him was pretty damn awesome. All of this was part of his Gambit Roulette.
Might be more of a CMOA for the anime directors, but there's an anime only part where Yami Bakura repossesses Ryou by chasing him into a church and basically telling him that he owns his ass. The scene is one of the most stylised and awesome-looking in the series, and it really highlights just how creepy Yami Bakura is.
In the anime, Yami Bakura's duel against Kaiba where he manages to hold against him evenly throughout, and by the end of it actually starts backing him into a corner. He's forced to end the duel abruptly to follow Yugi and the others to Egypt, but all things considered, if he and Kaiba had continued their match Yami Bakura likely would have won.
He not only took out one of Kaiba's Blue-Eyes and weakened another to the point Kaiba had to tribute it, and though the duel ended with a draw because Bakura had other plans to work on, when he left the score was 1400 to 900 Life Points for Bakura, and if he had taken his next turn Kaiba's Blue-Eyes would have been taken out again because he had a 3300 ATK monster on the field. Let's face it, Bakura would have beaten Kaiba in just a few more turns if he hadn't left.
Also, the whole reason for the duel? He just wanted to destroy Blue-Eyes with Diabound to absorb its power in preparation for the next phase of his plan. He was beating Kaiba and he didn't even care about winning.
Hell, his duel with Bonz should get special mention if only because it's the one duel Yami Bakura has in the entire series where he actually wins rather than losing or ending in a draw.
Yami Bakura/Zorc Necrophades: That's right, I AM ZORC!
When Yugi duels the Rare Hunter Arkana, Arkana uses a more sinister-looking copy of the Dark Magician. At first the creature appears just as evil and twisted as his master, but it shows genuine fear and shock when Arkana uses him as a sacrifice for a cheap shot at Yugi's life-points. Then, when Yugi summons the Dark Magician girl and gains a power boost from Yugi's Magican being in the graveyard Arkana thinks she's still not strong enough to beat him, then, to his horror he spots a faint image of Yugi's Magician, and his own standing by her side! Thus giving her the power she needs to wipe out his master. The look on the no doubt formerly evil Magician's face is surprisingly not one of rage or maliciousness, but simply of utter contempt for his former master. A very awesome moment for a monster who sadly never appears in the series again.
Mahad, in a sheer moment of utter coolness, sacrifices himself to beat Bakura's thieving little rear. Of course, being the archenemy, Bakura escapes via deus ex machina, but we have to applaud Mahaado's unflinching loyalty.
Also important in that this is how Mahad becomes the Dark Magician. Not to mention that unlike the Kisara -> Blue Eyes duel monster reincarnation that Kaiba wields, the Dark Magician used by Yugi is true to its old spirit.
Mana gets one with her development from someone who couldn't even see spirits, to summoning the Dark Magician Girl to save Mahad and fight alongside him
The Priest Seto is possessed by his father, and it looks like Akhenaden's about to use him and the Blue-Eyes White Dragon to kill Atem. What does Kisara do? She takes control of the Blue-Eyes White Dragon and then enters Priest Seto's soul room to destroy Akhenaden for good.PowerOfLove, Baby!
When Raphael brings out Guardian Eatos and raises her ATK up to 10000note Ironically, this mirrors the Pandora example above with Yugi's monsters being pissed at him for sacrificing them so recklessly.
Raphael beating Yugi. Fairly.
Pegasus giving the Penalty Game to Bandit Keith in the manga. While Keith is threatening him with a knife, he raises his hand at his bodyguard that there is no need to draw his weapon. Then he calmly explains to him he must be punished for cheating. Then he tells Keith to get ready, and deals the Penalty Game to him. Pegasus' bodyguard is somewhat shocked at the sight, but Pegasus walks on without flinching one bit.
For all its Macekreing, the dub does add an incredibly Bad Ass (and simultaneously hilarious) line to that scene:
Pegasus: Oh, yes, Keith, I'll do whatever you say. Just give my body a moment to recover from the complete paralysis that your terrifying demands have shocked me into!
Keith gives him until the count of three. Pegasus goes "Okay, one, two, three" then drops him through an emergency trap door. Do not screw with Maximillion Pegasus.
His duel against Chronos and Napoleon in GX is also awesome. He takes advantage of their situation, telling them that the player with more Life Points remaining will get the better position at his company, causing the two to fight against each other instead. He outsmarts them both and no one realizes it, allowing him to win the duel easily.
Pegasus' anti-friendship monologue in the dub, which foreshadows his reasons for holding the tournament and the fate of his wife Cecelia.
Pegasus: That's the way life goes, Joey. Never as you planned! The world is a very arbitrary place, isn't it? It's a place where you can be locked in battle with your dearest friend for stakes neither can afford to lose. 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. No, the world is a place where fate intervenes when you least expect it, with consequences that can turn your world upside down. Just when you think you've etched the perfect portrait of your future, and your life couldn't get any better. Just when you let down your guard at last and open your heart—when, against all odds, you've found that one special person in all the world that fills your heart with joy! The person you know you're destined to spend the rest of your life with... That's when tragedy strikes. When fate hits you with the cold slap of reality and shows you who's boss. Yes, the world has taught me that only the strong and the ruthless survive. In memory of all I have lost, I fight on with all I posses—and I intend to win!
Arkana/Pandora using actual magician's tricks to make sure that he had his Dark magician on the first hand.
While the final battle against Zork has several, special mention has to go to Shimon (the ancient egyptian counterpart to Yugi's Grandfather) summoning fricken' EXODIA to battle Zork.
Bakura Ryou gets one every time he manages to one-up his Superpowered Evil Side, most notably in the early manga chapters/Season 0.
Rafael at the end of his second Duel with the Pharoah. His big bad boss monster, Guardian Deathscythe, has been destroyed. But he's still in the game. What does he do? He activates Soul Charge, a Magic Card which allows him to revive his monsters from the Graveyard, but in exchange, forces him to pay 500 Life Points for each one. He resurrects all of his Guardians, but in the process is forced to pay more Life Points than he has left. So let's summarize: he could have just forfeit the game, but instead he chose to essentially forfeit while apologizing to his monsters for throwing them aside to power up Deathscythe. And the best part? After this, the Orichalcos tries to take his soul, but it can't because Rafael has no darkness in his heart. Plain. Freaking. Awesome.
Personally I thought it was pretty awesome how Odion, upon regaining consciousness after going into a coma for a while managed to drag his injured self all the way up to the top of the tower where Yami Marik and Yami Yugi were duelling to show his unwavering support for Good Marik.
His entire duel with Joey. Considering so many opponents have cheated him, including all his Battle City opponents except for Mako, Odion gives Joey his toughest duel yet, but flying in the face of both Joey's past opponents and the Rare Hunter organization as a whole, he does it completely fairly. Not only is it an awesome duel but it helps establish Odion as a Noble DemonAnti-Villain even without the flashbacks through it all.
The Gate Guardian's first summoning was rather powerful, as it came out from either three scroll cases or coffins depending on what those three boxes are meant to be. The dub's Rhymes on a Dime theme for the Paradox Bros. adds to it.
Elements of Thunder, Water, and Wind,
Suijin, Sanga, Kazejin begin.
Meld your powers in eternal light,
Show these fools your unstoppable might!
From the Trading Card Game: During a Top 32 match at the 2012 European Championships, Thibault Giordan may have ultimately lost the match, but he made the crowd go absolutely berserk in game three when he Tribute Summoned Dark Magician.
And Thibault continued the awesome the next turn. His opponent summonned an XYZ monster with whom he attacked Dark Magician. Cue "Forbidden Chalice", which boosted Dark Magician's attack to 2900, culminating with it overpowering the XYZ! The crowd goes wild again!!!
For all the times it's been mentioned in regards to those on the receiving end, Siegfried has to be given some props for the first appearance of his One-Hit Kill. In his debut duel, he takes on Rex and Weevil, who start things off by using small card combinations to bring out their biggest monsters. Siegfried draws for his turn, and (since how "Ride of the Valkyries'" effect works isn't explained just yet) appears to instantly defeat them both with one card, slaughtering their monsters and Life Points in a hurricane of rose petals. Ladies and gentlemen, this arc's Magnificent Bastard has arrived.
On the villainous side of things, Lector managing to regain control of the Big Five's team duel with Yugi & Joey not once, but three times. Nesbitt, being an idiot, has left the Big Five in dire straits. Lector manages to take back control, using his Deck Master, Jinzo, and his Injection Fairy Lily. When that's undone, he summons The Big Five's ultimate monster, the Five-Headed Dragon, forcing Yugi and Joey to put their Deck Master's in play to defeat it. Then finally, just when it looks like Yugi & Joey have him beat, Lector activates A Deal With Dark Ruler and summons Berserk Dragon, leaving the duel in his hands again. For a guy who only learned how to duel in the short time since being trapped in the Virtual World, Lector acquits himself extremely well.
In the R! midquel, we have Yako Tenma's complete 180 during his duel with Kaiba where after spending a few chapters getting beaten with little to no trouble he manages to effortlessly turn things around and completely curbstomb him. Even better? He's the only Big Bad in manga or anime canon to defeat Kaiba without cheating.
It's also worth noting that, during the duel between Kaiba and Jonouchi/Joey in the Battle City arc, Kaiba was understandably pissed off when Joey managed to summon a Blue Eyes White Dragon on his side of the field. So imagine how Kaiba must have felt when Yako summoned all three of Kaiba's Blue Eyes on his side of the field... and then treated them as sacrifices as if they were nothing.
In a much similar vein, Yako's twin brother Gekko's duel with Ted Banias definitely counts as this. At first, Gekko appears to be using a half-baked strategy built around building up his hand with Graceful Charity and playing the defensive. He begins to lose so badly that Banias and Keith begin taunting him with the implication that he's losing on purpose, just so that he'll allow his brother to continue on with his plans. But then, just when Gekko's about to lose, he summons five of his equip-spell cards from the graveyard, and then it's revealed that he was planning this all throughout the entire duel, using Graceful Charity as means of sending his equip spells to the graveyard only to bring them back later. He then activates their abilities, allowing them to cut through Banias's monster and move in on his life points, granting Gekko victory. Pegasus clearly didn't call Gekko a perfect duelist for nothing.
Yako gets another one when Yugi calls Ra from the graveyard, and you think that he's either going to go One-Turn-Kill or God Phoenix (probably the latter), just as Yami Marik used to do so...and then Yako negates the Summon. One of the previous Big Bad's best moves used by the protagonist made wasted just like that.
And finally, the final Duel against Yako is a massive one ( unless you're disappointed by Yugi only Summoning one God and Yako only two) with heaps of tributes to Yugi's duels with and Kaiba Marik thrown in. And how is the Wicked Avatar, READ: ALWAYS the strongest monster on the field by one point finally taken out? Yugi Summons Obelisk, uses its effect to boost itself to infinity, thereby making equal to Avatar's, and THEN upping it's divine rank to avoid the utter failure he had when he used that effect against Ra, resulting in Obelisk gaining a completely awesome new form, and both monsters destroying each other.
Let's face it, almost every time a God shows up in R, or the series in general.
The part when Tristan judo-throws Kemo through the air, only for him to land on his feet, leap up, and nail Tristan with a missile dropkick.