- Yu-Gi-Oh! The Movie: Pyramid of Light
- Yu-Gi-Oh!: Capsule Monsters
- Yu-Gi-Oh! The Dark Side of Dimensions
- Yu-Gi-Oh! GX
- Yu-Gi-Oh! 5D's
- Yu-Gi-Oh! ZEXAL
- Yu-Gi-Oh! ARC-V
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Manga and Anime
- Almost every character has undergone or is currently undergoing bullying, abuse, betrayal, torture, genocide, or any combination of the above, and is either broken as a result, or refusing to let it break them.
- Kaiba and Mokuba's childhood. They grew up in an orphanage after Seto's parents died and their relatives spent all their inheritance. Seto was determined to find a way out, so he got Gozaburo Kaiba to adopt him and Mokuba by beating him in chess via cheating. Gozaburo turned out to by a monster, who abused Seto and shaped his worldview considerably, teaching him that losing equals death when Seto usurped his power. By the time he lost to Yugi, Mokuba hadn't seen Seto truly smile since the orphanage days.
- Kaiba's Heroic B.S.O.D. when he begins losing his duel to Yami Yugi in Duelist Kingdom and imagines Mokuba being eaten away inside his decaying Blue Eyes Ultimate Dragon while he can just helplessly watch.
- Yugi completely breaks down after Dark Yugi almost kills Kaiba to win the match.
Yugi: He was willing to go all the way against Kaiba!
- The scene right before Pegasus and Kaiba's duel in Duelist Kingdom where Yugi and friends learn exactly why Kaiba was willing to die to win. Mokuba is Pegasus' prisoner. And how do they find out? Because the one who brings Pegasus his deck is Mokuba, who has been turned into an Empty Shell, as his soul has been stolen by Pegasus's Millenium Eye just like it happened to Grandpa Muto. The kids are understandably horrified at the sight, and Yugi almost cries as it sinks in.
- During their duel with Pegasus, Yugi collapses before he and Yami can pull off their mind shuffle.
Yami: Yugi? Yugi! I can't sense his spirit. I can no longer feel the presence of his young mind. (voice breaking) No! He... he can't be gone!
- It's the first time anything like that happens to poor Yugi, though not the last. It's also the first time we get to see Yami so heartbroken, though it won't be the last time we see that either.
- Pegasus's backstory is rather depressing, especially in the manga. He lost the love of his life that was presumably his only friend at the same time. Looking at him curled up, sitting in a fetal position among the paintings of Cyndia with a blank face is totally gut-wrenching. He even mentions he "stared at the blank canvas of his heart". He goes to Egypt in order to reunite with her in some way, but he only gets to witness a poor man getting burned to death by an ancient artifact in front of his eyes. And that's right before his turn, he even begs Shadi to let him go. The latter convinces him he'd meet his love again if the Eye accepted him. Thinking this is his chance (not that he had much of a choice in the matter), he has his left eye replaced for the Eye. He gets to meet Cyndia, but only for a fleeting moment. He reaches out for her while having tears and blood rolling down his cheek, but then she disappears, leaving him one eye less and with all his pain, breaking him even more. Even Yugi's friends felt sorry for what the man went through. Also, Pegasus kept referring to the Toon Monsters as "a perfect life form" and how they can never die. The death of his beloved hit him so hard he actually stepped back into childhood and denied death.
- Though the circumstances are different, the manga's DDM arc and the anime only duel against possessed Bandit Keith both end the same. The Puzzle has been stolen, chained to a wall/game board (depending on the version), and broken into pieces and now the whole building is on fire. Yugi refuses to abandon Dark Yugi/Yami and the Puzzle and stays in the burning building to complete the Puzzle and try to free it from the chains. Even when he passes out he still protectively clutches the Puzzle and refuses to let go.
- While they are recovering from their injuries, there's a scene where Atem says that he wants to be with Yugi forever, and Yugi offers to give Atem all his own memories in exchange for the ones he lost. It becomes hard to watch after seeing the whole show because you know Atem can't stay, and how this is all going to end up.
- Dark Yugi's backstory, when you think about it. Not only does he die at a young age, he's annihilated - he gets trapped in the puzzle with no memories and no knowledge of why he's there, and nearly all references to who he was and how he died are wiped out, so to the generation after Seto's as pharaoh, he's essentially a mystery. In addition to this, his body was lost. It saved him from the process of mummification, but it also reduces him to a roaming spirit. Then he had to stay in the puzzle, with the creator implying he was conscious, either completely alone or trapped in a kind of dark magic environment for centuries. This is the reason he was so violent on release—he's been stuck surviving in his own hostile maze-mind for millennia. Not only this, but there's never so much as a panel flashback to how it happened or how painful was—it's up to fanon as to how violent his death was.
- In addition to this, he had to leave two sets of people he loved prematurely for the sake of duty: his court when he died, and his modern day friends when he left for the afterlife. And he never complains about it. He died at the age of fifteen. For extra tears, think how many people in Ancient Egypt would have died even younger than Atem did, from disease or a higher infant mortality rate.
- The duel between Yugi and the Marik-possessed Jonouchi/Joey. Specifically when Yugi smiles and tells the now depossessed Jonouchi/Joey what happened with tears rolling down his face, then Jonouchi/Joey starts screaming in panic when he realizes Yugi has pretty much set himself up for death...
- "Jonouchi...I love you..." Both the anime and the manga (which survived in Viz's English print) had this in (though the 4Kids dub removes the line, perhaps due to its context), and sets it up for Yugi's final move of the duel.
- After the duel, Yugi and Dark Yugi reflect on the match, and Dark Yugi realizes that Yugi is going to have to surpass him someday. Beforehand in the dub, Yugi thinks about how while they make a good team, it's reassuring to know he can handle things on his own if he needs to.
- The saddest scenes involved Marik's back-story (much of which was cut from the dubbed version): Odion/Rishid approaching an injured Marik with intent to kill him, only to have Marik refer to him as his brother, causing Rishid to drop the knife and burst into tears; seeing young Marik dragged off in front of Rishid for the carving ritual while poor Rishid can only stand by; then seeing Marik's horrified reaction after he discovers that he killed his own father under the influence of his "dark" side.
- The aftermath of Jonouchi/Joey's duel with Dark Marik. Despite being seconds away from victory, Jonouchi/Joey passed out before he could call the attack, went into a coma, and everyone, especially Shizuka/Serenity, Yugi, and Honda/Tristan, is devastated.
- The part in which Jonouchi brings himself out of a coma just to go watch Yugi dueling. Especially when Honda had him by the neck and was shaking him, telling him he had to wake up because Yugi, their Yugi, was fighting, and Jonouchi had to be there.
- After Kaiba loses his final duel against Yugi, he snaps into another Heroic B.S.O.D.. Finding no reason to go on with the tournament and feeling unable to surpass his father, he decides to blow up the island. Mokuba breaks down upon seeing how Kaiba's hatred has consumed him.
Kaiba: (thinking) My... Battle City... The hatred gouged into my by my dead stepfather... my tower of revenge... standing at the top... Yugi... all I ever wanted... was to beat you... I was going... to be the King of Duelists...
Yami Yugi: What you lost to... was the monster called hatred that dwells inside you. The anger in our hearts... sadness... jealousy... greed... our worst enemies are inside us! Only when you defeat all of that... can you walk the road to becoming a true duelist!
Yami Yugi: My friend lent me this card. This card is the shape of his soul. I won... through the power of friendship.
- Afterwards, Kaiba flips out at Yami Yugi saying he won through the power of friendship and at Ishizu saying that Priest Seto and the Pharaoh were friends. The bold and italics make it sound like he's in denial as well as being angry.
Kaiba: The power of what!? You're a fool! I don't want to win if it means depending on others! I don't need friends! I don’t need anyone but myself!
Ishizu: Kaiba. The god cards guided you to start Battle City. And to put an end to these battles... on the tower of Alcatraz... your battle with the Pharaoh's spirit... is...
Kaiba: Enough with the Pharaoh! I don’t want to hear another word!
Mokuba: Seto! I want you to promise me! Promise me that when the duel tower blows up, you'll forget about your grudge! I want you to go back to the old you... Before we even met our stepfather!
- Even worse is when Mokuba calls him out on blowing up the tower, saying that just because things were bad when they were younger doesn't mean they have to make Yugi suffer too. Mokuba ends it with this plea.
- The Yugi vs. Marik duel. Yugi is chained up by darkness and is soul vanishes more and more whenever Dark Yugi loses lifepoints. The same thing is happening on Marik's side, and Yugi has to find a way to defeat Dark Marik without killing Marik.
- The part in the final battle of Battle City where a part of Marik's soul appears by the side of an unconscious Rishid/Odion. Marik fully expects that it'll be the last time he can say anything to Rishid, because his own soul will disappear if Dark Marik is defeated. He recalls that Rishid had been always loyal to Marik, sharing the pain and making a choice to live in darkness with him. Then Marik tells Rishid that he doesn't have to suffer anymore, he wants him to head towards the light, and thanks him before disappearing.
- After Battle City, Kaiba compares dealing with his grudge against Gozaburo to playing a Shadow Game and wonders what he'll do once his past is buried, staring at his locket of Mokuba while remembering his wish to build amusement parks as a child. While sad enough on its own, it's made worse with The Darkside of Dimensions having Kaiba regress to obsessive levels in his desire to defeat the Pharaoh, his dreams for the future forgotten.
- During the Memory World arc, seeing Thief King Bakura's past is insanely sad. When it show the entire massacre, and then the small child Bakura hiding and seeing it all. And then later on, when he is turned to sand, and is shown to be nothing more than a pawn for Yami Bakura's game.
- It gets worse when, after wondering how on Earth the spirit of the Ring could have someone as kind and gentle as Ryo as a reincarnation/destined vessel/half of a soul, you realize that it's because Bakura was the same, at least until tragedy struck and marked him forever.
- At end of the series, Atem finally goes to the afterlife and says goodbye to Yugi & co.
- When Atem is about to walk into the afterlife, his friends attempt to talk him out of it. Honda/Tristan says Atem can't come in, change their lives forever and then just walk away; Yugi says that they just don't want to say goodbye and Anzu/Téa says it's not fair Atem has to leave just when he and his friends learned who he really is and what he was meant to do. Jonouchi/Joey, showing far he has come, tells them they don't have to understand what's going on, they just have to accept it. As happy as they are that Atem is fulfilling his destiny, it doesn't make it any less painful to see him go.
- In the Digital Pets chapter of the manga, we see Yugi saying good-bye to his at the end of that story. He's so upset over it dying in the morning that he sleeps next to it in bed the previous night.
- Honda's Disney Death saving Yugi from the falling blocks in Death-T. Though he ultimately survives, no one knows that. His speech before the exit is blocked only makes it worse.
- Yugi's reaction to the above. He has an epic Heroic B.S.O.D. as he realizes that what happened to Honda and his grandpa are his fault. His self deprecation turns into seething hatred toward Kaiba. He then realizes that Dark Yugi is trying to take over and stops reacting to anything. In short, Yugi pretty much has a nervous breakdown. His Dull Eyes of Unhappiness do not help at all.
- All of this leads to him confessing Dark Yugi's existence to the others, revealing that the reason why he didn't reveal him sooner is because he didn't want to worry or creep out his new friends. Yugi also reveals how terrified he is of his "other self" and doesn't know if he can trust him.
- The manga has Ryo writing letters to his deceased sister Amane, who died with their mother in a car crash.
- All Pegasus wanted was Kaiba Corp's more advanced hologram technology to revive Cyndia. The manga emphasizes just how futile it is. Pegasus wants his loved one back, but he can't get her back. He tries anyway, and in the end, he is only chasing after an illusion. After telling Yugi his back-story, one may think he's finally redeemed and was let go from receiving the Penalty Game from Yugi... But then Dark Bakura steals his Millennium Eye while mocking him by leaving a replica of it behind, leaving Pegasus to die, but allowing him to reunite with Cyndia again.
- Ryuji's backstory. His father, Mr. Clown, was abusive and revenge obsessed. The only reason for Ryuji's existence was to exact revenge on Yugi for his father, and he was raised to hate him. When Ryuji realizes that his hatred for Yugi is non-existent and renounces it, Mr. Clown not only hammers in that now Ryuji is now worthless, he reveals that he plans on killing him as well.
- Mr. Clown's Heel Realization when Yugi still shows kindness toward him despite nearly killing him. It gets to the point where he's begging for Yugi to be saved from the fire despite hating him earlier.
- Right after the Yugi vs. possessed Jounouchi duel, Tea, Tristan, and Serenity catch up to Yugi and Joey right after the incident, with Joey, rather than being happy to see his sister, being deeply ashamed of himself that he almost killed his best friend. After Mai attempts to slap him out of it (no pun intended), Serenity takes off her bandages after explaining how Mai told her about everything Joey did for her in Duelist Kingdom, and finally getting the courage to open her eyes and her vision gradually fades in to see Joey.
- After Kaiba loses to Yugi at Battle City, he and Ishizu talk over what will happen next. Ishizu says if Marik can't be saved, she'll stay behind on the exploding island and die. This makes Kaiba remember when he was willing to die for Mokuba at Duelist Kingdom, and it's this moment of empathy that drives him to help Yugi—albeit to prove Ishizu wrong about friendship.
Kaiba: (thinking) What did Yugi say? "I won through the power of friendship." In that case... I'll take the one card that might win this fight... and I'll entrust it to you... Yugi... can you perform a miracle?
Yami Yugi: !!
Kaiba: (thinking) There's no such thing as miracles! There's no such thing as the power of friendship! (aloud) Yugi... Take this card! (thinking) Your defeat will be proof of that...!
Kaiba: Ishizu... I want you to know that that stone tablet means nothing to me. Civilizations are built from time and the ashes of countless people… the millions of forgotten dead... I have no connection to someone who lived 3,000 years ago...
Ishizu: No, Kaiba… Kingdoms rise and fall... Civilizations come and go... but the human spirit is eternal...
Kaiba: Hmpf! "Eternal"... "spirit"... Religion and superstition are built from people wishing those things were true. But meanwhile, science and technology prove that they don’t exist. There are no such thing as miracles! Well, Ishizu... I lent him a hand, as you wished… but all this will prove is that miracles don't happen. If Yugi loses... If your brother Marik cannot be saved... Will you sink to the depths of despair? Mheh heh heh...
Ishizu: No. I believe that the power of friendship can defeat a god controlled by an evil mind...
- This page from the manga.◊ It's the night before Atem leaves, and it's about how Yugi wishes he could talk to him, but he's too busy getting ready to fight him.
- In the same bit, you have the conclusion to the Dark Yugi/Anzu/Yugi love triangle sub-plot. Tea goes to Yugi's room so she can have one last talk with Dark Yugi, and it's obvious that she's intending to confess her love to Yami before the duel that decides whether he stays in the modern world or goes to the after-life. She asks Yugi if he's heard Dark Yugi say anything, and she's about to ask him if he can make the Other Yugi come out... but she ends up not being able to do it and leaves the room, having given up her last chance to tell him. Just after she leaves, you see Yugi think to himself "I know how you feel about him, Anzy...", so he knows exactly what she wanted to do... but despite that, he's not jealous because he wants her to be happy.
- In the anime, Seto had quite a prominent role, even after the Battle City arc. He was present during the Memories Arc, and during the final duel between Atem and Yugi. However, in the manga, he wasn't present during the final duel. On the penultimate page, though, he arrived too late, and saw the tomb collapsing.
- In episode 11, Joey and Tristan are having a fight, which gets worse when they punch/shove one another and run off. Still sore about losing to Joey, Mai sics dinosaur duelist Rex Raptor on him, with the added condition that Yugi can't help him out of this one. Joey agrees, feeling that he doesn't need to be babied or rescued all the time and must rely on himself so he can teach Serenity how to rely on herself. Meanwhile, Yugi goes to see Tristan and convinces him that while Joey may not need help, he could still use their support. At the same time, Joey realizes that Tristan was always there for him not because he thought he needed help, but because he was a true friend.
- 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 possess—and I intend to win!
- During Yugi's duel against Mai, in the dub, he holds Yami Yugi back from dueling at his best, still shaken over the lengths he went to beat Kaiba. When Yami Yugi asks him to trust him so they can win, promising not to go against his wishes again, Yugi's response is heartwrenching.
Yugi: How can I believe you?
- Yami's response in the dub that he had only been trying to help is sad too - he felt responsible enough for Grandpa that he was willing to potentially hurt Kaiba for it, and it almost borders on Kaiba logic of 'to lose means to die'. It's made clearer in the manga, but that kind of stake is what Yami is acclimated to. Bonus points in the dub that this is the first time there's been a real hint that Yami and Yugi are separate people - and it hits Yugi hard.
- Yugi crying over Earu's death in the Legendary Heroes arc is similar to when his virtual pet died in the manga.
- When Yugi chose to let himself be taken by the soul-stealing Seal of the Orichalcos instead of Atem during the Doma filler arc? The fact that Atem himself breaks down into tears and poor Anzu telling him "Pharaoh, please... he's gone..." just makes it worse and worse.
- It gets worse when Atem later battles against Yugi's imprisoned soul in a cursed area -with Yugi yelling accusations at him and turning Yami's earlier, heartless tactics against him, proving that yes, he does, actually, have a mean bone in his body. Turns out it was being cruel to be kind as only by seeing the depth of his errors and defeating Yugi could Yami finally move on. Then seeing Yami run to him and cradle him in his arms, with Yugi still smiling, even as he vanishes for a second time, opens the floodgates.
- Towards the end of the duel against Dartz, Yami is facing down a seemingly indestructible monster. Dartz tried to convince him to surrender, and almost succeeded. Right when the Orichalcos encircles him, Yami sheds a tear, and gives the best friendship speech and "It's my turn! I draw!" line in the franchise.
- Mai, coming out of her brain controlled craze just in time to run across the arena and catch a defeated Jonouchi in her arms, and realise what she's done.
- The ending of Noah's arc. Noah finds out that his father is also in the Virtual World, and is happy to see that his dad really loves him. But reality crushes him when his father says he was a disappointment and basically called him useless. Mokuba sees this and shows pity for his never known foster brother (even though said brother Mind Raped him for most of the season). At first Noah tries to get advantage of this to use Mokuba's body and escape to the real world; but in the middle of the plan he notices that he really does love his "brother" Mokuba and doesn't want him to die. He then gives Mokuba his body back, says goodbye and stays with his father in the Virtual World while it is destroyed. And in the end of the whole thing, Mokuba gives his brother a quick funeral, while Noah's voiceover goes saying that he is not a machine, but a human.
- Not to mention Mokuba's brief memory of Noah after they leave Alcatraz which was cut from the dub.
- Anzu's duel against Mai for her Star Chips. She knows she doesn't stand a chance and still fights, and by the end she's so determined that she will beat Mai that Mai surrenders rather than win.
- Mai's backstory is quite depressing as well. While the dub justifies she was forced to be alone because her parents changed homes all the time, the original version flat out states her parents died, which ruined her childhood and forced her to loneliness due to depression.
- The talk Yugi and Atem have on the school roof in episode 199, about how Yugi's stronger now and he'll be fine if Atem leaves, so Atem shouldn't hold back. Just Yugi's total selflessness and willingness to do whatever it takes to make his best friend happy, even if it means he can't see him anymore. It also shows how far Yugi's come. At the beginning of the series, he'd be crying and begging Atem to stay.
- In the Waking the Dragons Arc, Raphael is quite a sympathetic character. He loses all of his family in a shipwreck, and lives ten years alone on an island with Duel Monsters for company. He returns and there's a big hulabaloo about his return but he's not happy. Then, when he meets with Dartz he's forced to dig up the graves of his siblings and his Guardian Eatos turns evil. Then when we get to his second duel with Yami, he sees visions of his family saying that they'll always be together and he's actually smiling for the first time in years. Then we find out that Dartz intentionally did this, and caused the storm that killed his family.
- In the dub Raphael was washed onto an island, then came back and his family forgot about him. Just about anyone would Madden Into Misanthropy if your own family "moved on" and didn't accept you even when you came back after years...
- The part in Yami's first duel with Raphael when Yami, under the influence of the Orichalcos, starts sacrificing his monsters left and right in a reckless attempt to win. Dark Magician Girl becomes terrified and actually begs Yami not to kill her, but he does it anyway.
- That entire duel is a huge Tear Jerker. First we have Yugi breaking down, frantically begging Yami not to play the Seal of the Orichalcos, grabbing his arm and reminding him of the promise they made. When Yami plays it anyway Yugi's despairing "Nooo!" just before he's locked away is heart-wrenching. He spends the rest of the duel trying to reach Yami.
- Then Yami, loses the duel thanks to his own short-sighted pride/fear and cruelty towards his monsters (which are at the time, real), while the Seal of Orichalcos is on the field. This means that Yami's soul must be taken as per the Seal's rules. At the last second, Yugi breaks through the seal that had been separating them and gives up his soul instead, saving Yami. That's depressing enough, but just as painful is Yami's My God, What Have I Done? moment when he realizes what has happened. He spends the next few episodes in a Heroic B.S.O.D. and even when he snaps out of it he's shown to be constantly replaying the moment in his head for the rest of the arc.
- As much of a Jerkass Kaiba can be sometimes, seeing him during the latter part of his duel with Noah can make you pity the guy. Right before Kaiba can pull off a win, Noah uses the possessed Mokuba as a human shield. Kaiba can't bring himself to attack, and chooses the safety of his little brother over a sure victory. Later, Noah is whaling on Kaiba, who is close to tears trying to snap Mokuba out of his trance. Mokuba does break free, but Noah manages to beat Kaiba anyways. He gloats by turning the two brothers into stone. All they were trying to do at the time was be in each others arms.
- Yami and Kaiba's duel against Dartz "Mirror Knights".
- The end of Yami's duel Vs. Weevil during the DOMA arc, but only in japanese though. Weevil had promised to tell Yami where Yugi's soul is after he'd lose the duel, knowing full well he couldn't keep the promise. After his soul has been taken Yami runs up and keeps shouting in his face "HAGAAA! You promised! I won! Tell me where Yugi is! Where is my partner?!". Tea even points out, much to Yami's dismay how Weevil never intended to keep his promise, sending the poor guy into even more sadness. Yami just sort of...stares at his hands afterwards, like he wonders what he's just been doing or has even unnerved himself with his freakout against Haga.
- An understated tearjerking moment from Ishizu is when she goes to comfort Serenity as they watch over Joey's body.
Serenity: I just want my brother back!
Ishizu: ...I understand.
- During his duel with Kaiba in Battle City, Joey calls Kaiba out on not having fun with dueling and asks if winning is all that matters to him, even eclipsing his love for Mokuba.
- When Yugi and his friends attempt to find the Pharaoh's name, they learn the wish made on the Puzzle must be returned to it in order to pass—meaning Yugi's friends must fall into the abyss. Thankfully, everyone manages to survive, but Yugi's anguish when he tells them that they were his wish really hurts to see.
- Remember that Yugi came from a Friendless Background, and that out of the wishes he could've had granted, he wished for something as sincere and gracious as that.
- Téa's "You never told us that," is more proof that completing the puzzle really changed Yugi's life (and their's) forever.
- The final duel of the series has a moment from Seto Kaiba. After choking Yugi to the point of leaving him gasping for air when he wanted to duel the Pharaoh, and almost walking out on the duel when he was losing, Kaiba is left completely stunned when Yugi destroys the Egyptian God Cards after spending an episode repelling them.
Kaiba: Yugi may have fewer Life Points, but he managed to come up with an unprecedented strategy to defeat the Egyptian God Cards. I've never seen anything like that before. I can see now that I was wrong, Mokuba. He is the King of Games.
- Just as the door to the afterlife starts to close, Tea runs forward in tears, but Joey silently holds her back and shakes his head.