Yu-Gi-Oh! (Japanese for "King of Games") is a multimedia franchise that includes multiple Anime and Manga series, a Collectible Card Game, a line of Video Games, and more.Starting out as a manga by Kazuki Takahashi written in 1996, Yu-Gi-Oh! tells the story of Yugi Mutou, a put-upon teenager who is pulled into a world of intrigue and high-stakes gaming after solving the mysterious and ancient Millennium Puzzle. The puzzle, an artifact from ancient Egypt, grants Yugi a mysterious alter ego, an ancient gambler who spends much of the early series facing evildoers who threaten his friends in "Shadow Games," where mystic forces punish the wicked through games if they lose.Slowly, the main game used as a plot device turned towards the trading card game Duel Monsters (Magic & Wizards in the Japanese manga), which was eventually revealed to be loosely based on an ancient Egyptian Shadow Game played by the previous owners of the Millennium Items, and Yugi and his friends discover that his alternate personality was the spirit of a Pharaoh from those times, who had forgotten his memories. From then on, Yugi and his friends find themselves fighting for their lives in their search to uncover the Pharaoh's name and memories.In 1998, it received an anime adaptation by Toei, which ended after 27 episodes and a movie.In 2000, it received another anime adaptation headed by NAS and Konami, in which the card game aspect is multiplied by ten. And became immensely popular worldwide, where it was dubbed by 4Kids Entertainment.Yugi's story was eventually completed, but the franchise continued in Spin Offs taking place in NAS and Konami's anime universe with new spiky-haired protagonists - the Shadow Games may be gone, but Duel Monsters still has a knack for channeling supernatural forces.The works in this franchise so far are:
Yu-Gi-Oh! The Movie: A 30-minute movie by Toei. Heavily revolves around Duel Monsters in an attempt to help Bandai wrestle the license of the card game from Konami and promote their cards.
Yu-Gi-Oh!: Duel Monsters: Probably what you're looking for; the second anime that most people knowYu-Gi-Oh! by today. Loosely based on the rest of the manga, and sponsored by Konami; revolving around their version of the card game to ensure their domination of the card game license.
Yu-Gi-Oh! 5Ds: Radically different manga adaptation of 5Ds, but with the same characters.
Yu-Gi-Oh! Tenth Anniversary Movie: Called Bonds Beyond Time in English; a three-way team-up between the Duel Monsters, GX, and 5Ds protagonists. Ties into 5Ds' plot through its villain, who comes from that series' Bad Future.
Konami's early promotional card bundled with their video games and starter boxes, made to be more accurate to the manga cards than the Carddas version, in an attempt to conquer the Duel Monsters license (it succeeded). This first group of cards resemble the manga version of the card game more than their finalized version of the TCG/OCG (right up to the card backings◊), and their starter box◊ included six Star Chips and a deck holder to compete with Bandai's promotional movie set.
Various other companies were known to have produced their own◊ versions◊ of the Duel Monsters card game while the Toei anime was still airing. They didn't do as well compared to Bandai and Konami.
Yu-Gi-Oh! GX Tag Force (Rereleased as Tag Force Evolution/The Beginning of Destiny on PS2)
Yu-Gi-Oh! GX Tag Force 2
Yu-Gi-Oh! GX Tag Force 3
For Yu-Gi-Oh! 5Ds
Yu-Gi-Oh! 5D's Duel Transer (Yu-Gi-Oh! 5D's Master of the Cards in Europe)
Yu-Gi-Oh! 5D's Decade Duels (Rereleased as Decade Duels Plus)
Yu-Gi-Oh! 5D's Wheelie Breakers
Yu-Gi-Oh! Duel Terminal
Tag Force Series:
Yu-Gi-Oh! 5D's Tag Force 4
Yu-Gi-Oh! 5D's Tag Force 5
Yu-Gi-Oh! 5D's Tag Force 6
World Championship Series:
Yu-Gi-Oh! 5D's World Championship 2009: Stardust Accelerator
Yu-Gi-Oh! 5D's World Championship 2010: Reverse of Arcadia
Yu-Gi-Oh! 5D's World Championship 2011: Over The Nexus
For Yu-Gi-Oh! Zexal
Yu-Gi-Oh! Zexal Clash! Duel Carnival!
There's also a drinking game. This is the same Yu-Gi-Oh! that spawned Yu-Gi-Oh! The Abridged Series. Recently, there was a real life version of the series called Yu Gi Oh Real Life.If you see a wick to this page and it's not referring to the series as a whole, please change it. If you see something redlinked and want to make a page, go for it! (Just read How to Create a Works Page before you begin.) If you don't see something on this list, add it!
The entire franchise, or multiple entries, contain examples of:
Absurdly High-Stakes Game: In the manga and anime, games (especially of the Shadow Game variety) are regularly played with lives at stake, up to and including all life. In the anime adaptations and spin-offs, the Duel Monsters card game can have pretty high stakes even without Shadow Game magic.
Aerith and Bob: By-product of dubbing from 4Kids. In the first series anime you have characters like Joey, Tristan and Solomon hanging out with Yugi, Seto and Bakura. Slightly lessened in the spin-offs when they began translating most names, but oddities still pop up.
Ancient Egypt: The first series anime and the entire manga states that Shadow Games in general, most notably Duel Monsters, began in Ancient Egypt, with sorcerers and priests battling using monster spirits entombed in stone. The anime-only spin-offs by NAS and Studio Gallop contradict this manga canon by explicitly showing that Duel Monsters has existed far before that and is central to the existence of the multiverse, probably to justify the supernatural centering around that one card game, even after the Millennium Items and their Shadow Game magic were long gone.
Animation Bump: Franchise-wide with the anime, important episodes or cards get extra love from the animators.
Awesome, but Impractical: In general, many characters use decks that rely on the Magic Poker Equation to slip them the cards they need, and in real life a deck like theirs that is reliant on combos and luck would never work outside of your circle of friends. Cards like the VWXYZ and Dark Magician are treated as very powerful in the anime and manga, in the real world, you'll never see them used professionally. Slightly averted by 5Ds, the cards they use are actually quite effective in real life and you could make a viable deck based on your favorite character's, especially Synchrons and Blackwings. But you'd still have to take creative liberties if you want it to actually work, such as not running just one copy of every card, which every character does unless that card is one with an effect that needs multiple copies of it.
Because Destiny Says So: Played with back and forth. Generally, following destiny depends on if the hero decides they're alright with doing so, and if they aren't, they will find a way to change it.
Screw Destiny: See above description — if the heroes decide the destiny set for them stinks, they'll change it.
You Can't Fight Fate: You can if you're one of the heroes, villains on the other hand have a problem with this.
Brains: Evil; Brawn: Good: Inverted. While it isn't always applicable, generally the heroes rely on strategy and are underdogs with weaker cards, while their enemies have powerful cards that overwhelm them until the hero outsmarts them and wins. This is most often apparent with the rivals — Yugi, Judai, and Yusei, rely on strategy and cunning, while Kaiba, Zane and Chazz (at first), and Jack, rely on brute power.
Brainwashed and Crazy: There's so many people out there committing Mind Rape it should be made a criminal offense, because every series has a lot of this trope going on.
Pegasus was a major character in the second series anime and manga. In the manga, he died after Duelist Kingdom, but in the anime he came back for a Filler Arc, got to be the Big Bad of a video game, made a few cameos in GX, and got a Mythology Gag about him in 5Ds. Someone sure liked the guy.
Seto Kaiba. Playing a secondary role in the manga, in the anime he's basically bumped up to a pseudo-deuteragonist, especially in filler arcs and being shoehorned into the final arc, and still has a significant presence in the anime spin-offs. All of this at the cost of demoting Ryo Bakura from a main character in the manga to a minor character in the anime series... probably because he was obsessed with tabletop role-playing games more than card games, so Kaiba might have been more marketable to Konami.
Outside of Dark Magician and the Blue-Eyes White Dragon, the trademark monsters of Yugi and Kaiba, the Dark Magician Girl is easily the most recognizable card of the franchise. She's the iconic Ms. Fanservice with a ton of fanart and doujinshi, and got to be playable in a few video games.
Break the Haughty: You can be sure that any time the hero has a rival who's too smug and arrogant for their own good, they'll be taught a harsh lesson in humility sooner or later. Subverted by Kaiba in the second series anime (not the manga) due to filler, while he does get broken a few times, it never sticks and he never learns his lesson.
Calling Your Attacks: Not so much in the manga, as the Duel Monster card text is written plain for readers to read, but in the anime, pretty much every time a card is played, even if it's a card seen every time the main hero duels, its effect will be explained. This even gets played with sometimes to As You Know, with the opponent lampshading that as professional duelists they know what the cards do, and then explain it themselves.
Universally, if any game involves Monster Battling (which obviously includes Duel Monsters), characters will do this the traditional way when ordering monsters to attack.
Card Games: A few of them in the original manga, including Duel Monsters. And in the second anime series and spin-offs, Duel Monsters is one that regularly decides the fate of the world.
CCG Importance Dissonance: The cards that the heroes rely on to win them duels are real-life Vendor Trash, while cards that are rare and valued in the real world may not even be featured. A very notable aversion in Cyber Dragon and his variants, during the time of GX they were a staple card that almost everyone ran three of, and the prices for the Cyber Dragon cards could get into the triple digits. After GX the game simply evolved to the point Cyber Dragon wasn't as useful anymore.
Chekhov's Gun: Within Duel Monsters battles, 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. And if they have to discard to the Graveyard, if the shot pays attention to what they discarded, so should you, you'll likely be seeing that card again later.
Collectible Card Game: Duh. Ironically we very rarely see characters actually buy new cards, and when they do it's usually due to the above trope, otherwise they are implied to have a large collection on-hand already or pull their new cards from thin-air. Justified in the second series anime, Yugi's grandfather owns a game shop that sells the cards and Kaiba is a child billionaire, so they'd have access to new cards regularly and easily be able to grab choice ones. No such justification is given in the spin-offs. (However Jaden and Yusei investing so much time and money to children's trading cards would make sense, as they control the fate of the world/campus/city. Therefore it would make sense for Jaden and Yusei to invest in new cards off screen. I mean, new cards get a military envoy in GX, so we can assume that characters spend a lot of time constructing their decks. Why off screen? Because there is nothing more boring then characters acquiring new cards, mainly because of the above trope. Any new card will feature, so it just makes the series more cliche than it already is)
Cosmic Chess Game: Most blatant in the Millennium World arc of the original manga and the second series anime, where the characters play a tabletop RPG with pieces directly based on real people (though the tabletop aspect is somewhat... removed in the anime). However, the spin-offs regularly have an Eldritch Abomination using Duel Monsters as the instrument through which to enact its plan.
Defeat Means Friendship: The best way to make friends in the world of Yu-Gi-Oh! is to beat them in a game. At the worst, they'll become your Jerk with a Heart of GoldRival. This was how Yugi made several of his friends in the original manga, a traditional which isn't broken in its two anime adaptations and subsequent spin-offs.
Deus ex Machina: You could make a drinking game out of all the times the hero draws a never-before-seen card as he's losing and it happens to do exactly what he needs to do to win. But playing it is only advised if you want to destroy your liver, and even then, stay away from the spin-offs if you want to survive it.
Did Do The Research: Though occasionally the exact details are fuddled (which is mostly on the anime's behalf of artistic liberties), the mythological concepts explored throughout the franchise show that someone obviously did their homework.
Dub Name Change: Courtesy of 4Kids, both characters and cards. Konami is guilty of this too.
Rare Hunter: We're here to take your rarest card! Joey: You mean you're gonna kick the crap out of me and steal it? Rare Hunter: No! First we're going to challenge you to a children's card game! Then we will kick the crap out of you and steal it! Joey: Wouldn't it be much easier just to skip the first step? Rare Hunter: Yes! Yes it would!
This results in a very amusing exchange in GX when Judai challenges Saiou to a duel, but Saiou has been Dangerously Genre Savvy enough to find out how to execute his plan without having to duel him, and Judai is at a loss for what to do. He ends up dueling Judai anyway, but only because circumstances he didn't expect force him to.
Early-Installment Weirdness: You may be surprised to learn that the original manga was about games and wasn't particularly focused on Duel Monsters (outside of two big plot arcs), it was just one game of many that was played, but it was the one that took off and eventually consumed its subsequent adaptations and successors. Thank Konami for that!
Exactly What It Says on the Tin: A lot of the cards, like "Red-Eyes Black Dragon," "Man-Eating Treasure Chest" and "Dark Magician," just to name a few. Some cards don't have "names" as much as brief descriptions, such as "Giant Turtle Who Feeds On Flames", with Flavor Text that is pretty much the same as the card name.
Exact Words: Very often in the real card game, exact wording on cards determines a lot — for one example of countless, a card that says "discard this card to the Graveyard" instead of just "discard this card" can't be used if some card is in play that would prevent it from being sent to the Graveyard when discarded. This pops up in the manga and anime too, with characters finding loopholes in card effects their opponents didn't expect and using it to turn the tide of the duel. For example, there's Judai using Elemental Hero Necroshade's effect in spite of Necrovalley's effect (Necrovalley stops effects that target cards in the Graveyard from use), because Necrovalley doesn't stop effects coming out of the Graveyard.
Field Power Effect/Geo Effects: Field Spells, which affect both sides of the field and there can only be one in play. The earliest ones gave a power boost to specific types of monsters, later ones have more creative effects like banishing cards or letting you play cards for lower costs than normal. In the first season of the second series anime, before actual Field Spells came into the game, duel arenas already had field terrain depending on the physical location of the arena, and thus placing monsters on favorable terrain and using card effects to modify the terrain was important strategy.
Gratuitous English: All over the place, most commonly with game terminology and card names. This is the reason for the "Doro! Monsta Cardo!!" (Draw! Monster card!) meme in the Japanese fandom. "Ore no turn!" (it's my turn!) is a common one too.
Ham-to-Ham Combat: Sometimes you'd think the real conflict going on during duels is the voice actors (especially in the dubs) trying to out-ham each other. There's a lot of shouting and posturing going on franchise-wide, and the higher the stakes, the larger the hams.
Heart Is an Awesome Power: If you have friends and believe in yourself and your cards, anything is possible. Up to and including new cards appearing on top of your deck via divine intervention, and your deck shuffling itself off-camera so the exact card you need is on top.
Idiot Ball: Here's a drinking game — watch the anime 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 "secretly" infect Obelisk without ever announcing she activated it). In the real card game every action must be announced, and the target of that action announced if it targets, then your opponent is given a chance to respond with an action of their own before you continue your play. And if they pass they don't get to rewind and change their minds once you begin to make another move. Judges definitely pay attention to this both ways, unlike the anime characters who would regularly be disqualified if they tried this type of trick.
Invincible Hero: A universal and recurring problem, for each hero you can count on one hand the number of times they actually lose, and if they do it's probably in a minor game with nothing important on the line. The first protagonist's whole gimmick was that he was the King of Games, meaning that you'll be hard-pressed to see him lose any game let alone Duel Monsters.
On the other hand, this makes for a very effective and surprising twist when they do lose, and a dramatic and plot-important loss happens at least once a series, possibly more.
Jerk with a Heart of Gold: It's pretty much a requirement for the hero's rival to be a snarky and arrogant elitist who is really a good person deep down. The exact balance of Jerk to Heart varies, of course.
Keep Circulating the Tapes: Between 4Kids licensing the footage from the Japanese creators and losing the rights to the franchise to another company, it's very difficult to legally obtain copies of the dub these days. "Season 0" of the first season anime is noted by LittleKuriboh to be very hard to find footage for, as it never got dubbed and isn't re-aired on TV these days, thus it falls to the diehard vans with their VHS releases to do this trope literally.
Lethal Joke Character: All over the place. Possibly most famous are the Ojamas, which have 0 ATK and only 1000 DEF, absolutely silly and ridiculous card art and are treated like Butt Monkeys in other card art, but with their support cards they can be very dangerous. They won't be so laughable anymore when the Ojama King is bearing down on you, using his effect to keep you from playing more than two monsters at a time and Ojama Country is in play to turn his 3000 DEF into 3000 ATK.
Lettered Sequel: The second anime has GX which doesn't carry that much meaning (it is supposed to be Generation Next) and then the manga sequel has Yu-gi-oh R!. While the rest of the sequels are word sequels, it is interesting to note that the sequel titles are all written in uppercase.
Let's Fight Like Gentlemen: Zigzagged. On the one hand, antagonists mostly abide by the rules of the card game and when they lose, they lose. On the other hand, many of them will still cheat at the card game in various ways. The largest act of defiance of this trope is Siegfried von Schroeder, who went so far as to hack the Kaiba Corp card database to recognize an illegal card, and reprogrammed its effect to be ridiculously overpowered (it forces the opponent to discard half their deck each turn, and that's the tip of the iceberg).
Lighter and Softer: Universally, the anime is very much this trope compared to the manga, especially the original 38 volumes.
Lull Destruction: All the time in the dub, scenes are often edited to remove silent moments or dialogue is added, usually exposition or generic taunts.
Merchandise-Driven: Not much the original 37 volumes of the manga, but what subsequent series became after that with the existence of the real life card game. Why do you think one-shot characters with new deck archetypes keep popping up and the heroes produce new cards out of nowhere to fight them? Most obvious in 5Ds with Crow, who was intended as a minor character, but was made more prominent when his Blackwings cards started flying off the shelves. Also played with in that the real-life card game has plenty of cards you'll never see in the anime or manga.
Multicolored Hair: A requirement for the main hero, with Yugi and his starburst of black, red and blond reigning supreme. Downplayed with Judai, who has brown hair in two different shades.
Mundane Made Awesome: Practically all the games that were in this series. You would be amazed how epic a children's card game can be when it's played in a holographic arena, in a stadium full of cheering fans, being broadcast on national television, for a championship title.
Ms. Fanservice: Each series has at least one female protagonist. While dueling skill varies, shapely bodies and outfits to show them off are a consistent. And then there's the Dark Magician Girl, the living incarnation of this trope for the franchise. Numerous other female Duel Monsters are quite nice to look at too.
My Little Panzer: Played With. In the hands of innocent children, games are harmless fun. In the hands of an ego-maniacal madman bent on murder and destruction, it's their instrument to do the job. But it's usually because they have access to ancient evil magic, the games, themselves, most notably Duel Monsters, are only dangerous to your bank balance.
In all universes of Yu-Gi-Oh!, Duel Monsters seems to be the equivalent of Magic The Gathering.
New Powers as the Plot Demands: See Deus ex Machina above. In addition to duelists pulling new cards from nowhere, often cards will demonstrate new effects from nowhere with the flimsy Hand Wave that it always had that effect and the duelist just didn't use it until now. In a meta sense, because the writers need to keep their hands full of cards so the duelists can play, there are many cards created just for the purpose of letting duelists draw more cards. This is most obvious with "Card of Sanctity", which has all players draw until they have six cards in their hands — you can be sure that when it gets used, they each probably had one or two beforehand.
New Rules as the Plot Demands: Mostly averted, while the above trope is prolific, the rules of the card game are set in stone. New game mechanics like Synchro Monsters and Tuners are usually just introduced to keep the game interesting and new, and never works just as a means to let the heroes win.
Played straight in Season 1 of the second series anime since the game's rules weren't clearly defined yet, once they were, they stayed that way with only a few slip-ups.
While the normal card game's rules are static, there's never been any clear definition for how 2-on-1 or 3-on-1 duels work, and as such they vary as needed. Sometimes the lone duelist gets one turn in-between each of the team's turns, other times they get more Life Points, and in one instance, they got to draw a larger opening hand. Other times though, they get no advantage at all. Sometimes the handicapped player announces what handicap they will be receiving, other times everyone just silently agrees on the rules without discussing them openly.
No Kill Like Overkill: Often a duelist will be able to win just fine by making a simple play like summoning a monster and attacking, no need to summon five monsters at once or power those monsters up to thousands of ATK points. But where's the fun in that?
Not Just A Tournament: Any time there's a Tournament Arc, you can bet the finals will be for the fate of the world. The second-series anime lampshaded in a Filler Arc how nice it is to compete in a tournament for fun without worrying about a villain. Naturally a villain showed up (in the form of the highly effeminate German who makes Maximilian Pegasus look like Bandit Keith), but a comparatively harmless one (although harmless is relative in a universe where villains can be the embodiment of darkness itself. Zigfreid's crimes include cyber-terrorism, espionage, conspiracy to commit industrial espionage, bribery, fraud and cheating at a children's card game).
Obviously Evil: If we put all the villains of the franchise in a line-up, you'd be able to peg more than half of them as evil. Notable exception to the anime version ofDark Bakura, who is very good at impersonating his harmless and meek host's appearance and mannerisms to avoid detection.
Oddly Named Sequel: GX, 5Ds, ZeXal. While the names are odd, they have meaning inside each series. The GX was for "Generation Next", 5Ds for the Five Signer Dragons, and ZeXal is the Super Mode the hero receives. The fourth spin-off, ARC-V, has yet to have its significance revealed.
Pinball Scoring: Monsters have ATK and DEF in incriments of 100, and cards that affect Life Points follow the same. Occasionally there's a card with an ATK or DEF ending in 50. Five cards from the first season of the second-series anime have cards ending in random increments of 10. This is because in the anime they were played during a duel where they had a 30% power boost and their original ATK and DEF were unshown, so the real-life versions got a 30% power loss, resulting in the odd values.
Plot Tumor: Possibly one of the finest examples in fiction. The original manga began focused on many types of games and had Duel Monsters (Magic & Wizards) as an on-and-off card game, it was almost a Slice of Life story where the heroes played all sorts of games with each other or villains used game-themed schemes. That's why the franchise's title translates to "King of Games", as in all games, not just Duel Monsters. But fans kept asking if there were real versions of those cards available and if the game would be revisited. Thus it became the focus of a few story arcs in the manga, became the central focus of the anime loosely based on said manga, and it snowballed until the entire franchise centers around it.
The Power of Friendship: Despite the Misaimed Fandom focusing on the card game and hating this trope to the point of mocking it, this is the central concept of the entire franchise. The bonds of friendship and the power they have to make anything possible comes up all the time. No matter how powerful the villain is, they are helpless against a hero who has the support of his/her friends.
Reincarnation: All over the place, especially in the manga and second-series anime.
Rousseau Was Right: Regularly proven and defended by the heroes, and challenged by many villains.
Rule of Symbolism: A duelist's dueling style and even specific cards is often reflective of their personality. For instance, take 5Ds — Yusei, who was raised in the slums and had to make a deck out of what cards he could scrounge, relies on combos of weak cards, while Jack, who believes in absolute power and cares for nothing but himself and his glory, relies on powerful monsters to smash through an opponent's defenses and overwhelm them.
Sadly Mythtaken: All over the place. For instance, did you know the Nazca Lines are actually the markings left from when ancient Eldritch Abominations that manifested as giant animals were sealed in the earth?
Serious Business: If you haven't figured out this trope applies to the card game big time, you haven't been reading very closely.
In the original manga, this applies to gaming in general.
Sliding Scale of Free Will vs. Fate: Mostly a Type 3 or Type 4 — while there is a definite hand of fate guiding actions, destiny is not impossible to change, and characters who believe in destiny can fulfill theirs while those that do not have the power to change it.
Social Services Does Not Exist: Nor do police, therapists, the military, or government, at least not in any serious and influential capacity. When The Abridged Series declared "card games are the only law!", they weren't exaggerating all that much.
Sorting Algorithm of Evil: Typically, early antagonists are jerks and bullies, maybe they have some actual political or financial influence but not a lot. By the end of any given series, the fate of the world is in danger from an Omnicidal Maniac or an Eldritch Abomination, and usually there's going to be another one or more before the end of the series that's not as powerful as the last one coming up.
Synchronization: Often between a duelist and their deck, less often between friends but it isn't uncommon.
Theme Deck: All over the place. The main characters adhere to it less than others, while a particular archetype will compose the core of their deck, they've probably got several unrelated cards for flavor.
Tournament Arc: In the anime series these regularly occur, usually one a reason, but not all the time.
Vendor Trash: There are thousands upon thousands of cards in the real-life card gamenote Dueling Network, one of the largest online sites for dueling, has a database of over 6,000 cards, and it isn't complete, and a large chunk of them are completely useless even for casual duelists who use gimmicky deck themes.
Note however, that in-universe, most cards 6stars upwards and some 4stars are so rarenote Numbering in the single digit world-wide sense that casual duelists would not likely have any, let alone more than a few in his/her deck. So what we would consider Vendor Trash is often what the characters have to work with.