These are what we call the 'YMMV items.' Things that some people find in this work. We call them 'your mileage might vary' because not everyone sees these things in the same way. This starts discussions in the trope lists, a thing we don't want. Please use the discussion page if you'd like to discuss any of these items.
Acceptable Targets: Americans. The only American characters we see are Bandit Keith, Pegasus, and Rebecca. Though the latter's grandfather is also from America and he's portrayed well, as is his granddaughter after her and Yugi's initial duel, and while Pegasus is certainly a jerk, he's a truly tragic figure.
In the manga, Bakura was reluctant to put on the Millennium Ring out of fear of possession. Some time later, he's shown happily putting it on. What the hell did his alter ego do to him?
Americans Hate Tingle: Haga (Weevil) is quite popular in Japan, but the Western audience doesn't like him too much for his methods, and regards him as annoying. His ear-splitting dub voice doesn't help.
Franchise-wide, we'd say you could make a drinking game out of all the times a duelists topdecks just the card they need, but you would destroy your liver after a single season. Rarely does the more skilled duelist actually win in the show; more often than not the character the writers want to win will pull a victory at the last moment. This is usually done by revealing a new card you've never heard of before that happens to do exactly what they need done to reverse the situation, and this can come up multiple times for both opponents to prolong the match longer. It's justified sometimes due to a few different reasons.
We see on at least a couple occasions that the characters are on the lookout for new cards. Yugi's grandfather owns a game shop and Kaiba is a billionaire known to have briefcases packed full of spare cards, so it's not unfeasible they regularly get new cards off-screen, and it would be silly to give a decklist for them before every duel. Spin-offs similarly give protagonists reasonable ways they could consistently acquire new cards off-screen.
A few duels have the duelists obviously stalling for time while they draw what they need, or trying various strategies and them not working so they tries something new. If there is one card that can help you turn it around, it helps the realism that the opponent has a counter ready, or the duelist has to stall while they wait to draw that card.
Meta-wise, the show is merchandise driven; of course duelists have to constantly produce cards out of nowhere, because the TCG archetypes have to be plugged somehow.
It was established that Pegasus' Millennium Eye can read the mind of his opponents, and that it was able to be stopped by Yugi and Yami switching minds. Then Yugi passed out through the strain of the Shadow Game, and Pegasus could read Yami's mind... only for Yugi's friends, who are are currently outside of the Shadow Game, to block the Millennium Eye and stop Pegasus' mind-reading powers. Although, since friendship is a central theme of the series and had been shown to have a power all its own, it is most likely an example of The Power of Friendship. Of course, this doesn't make it any less of an Ass Pull.
Yugi and his friends showing up at the last minute to help Atem defeat Bakura.
How Anzu/Tea defeats Otaki/Crump: she uses Dark Magician Girl to summon a monster outside of her deck, Dark Magician from Yugi's deck, which would normally violate a ton of rules.The abridged series understandably ignores this and has Otaki/Crump win the duel by making Anzu/Tea not remember how to play Duel Monsters.
One of the worst, if not the worst is from the original manga: how Ra is finally defeated. It's established that such effects don't work on Ra (read; in the original manga it shrugged off the destruction effect of Obelisk, but despite this, Dimension Magic/Magical Dimension, an ordinary Spell card, is able to destroy it. In the anime, a different card is used, with the seeming implication that it either negated Ra's immunity or was banishing it instead of destroying it, which it's effect could not stop.
During Battle City, when Jonouchi is sitting on the brink of getting his mind banished to the Shadow Realm after Marik defeated him, his struggle is represented as a Duel Monsters tournament in his dreamscape. He himself feels that he must win in the finals, or something bad will happen (he'll never wake up). He loses... and then just wakes up anyway. Made even more glaring because Jonouchi's opponent's winning card was Castle Walls, which would've been perfect Rule of Symbolism for the impenetrable border of the Shadow Realm that Jonouchi couldn't escape from, but it just doesn't happen.
This is justified as a Dub-Induced Plot Hole in the original cut as this is a flashback to the district tournament that he lost off-screen in the beginning of the series (In the dub his entrance in the Tournament never happened so it's handwaved as a dream both times he is rendered unconscious) and that he's reliving it to remember the motivation he has to become a True Duelist to face Yugi.
Averted regarding Yugi's Death-T duel with Kaiba. He needed to draw all 5 parts of Exodia to win and he already had 3 in hand.
Honda/Tristan, who goes from a cool, active character to more of a cheerleader for the others by the Duelist Kingdom arc (though he has his moments, such as retrieving Mokuba's body as a Call Back to Kaiba's Death-T, with the help of Dark Bakura), and then went on to rarely appear in the manga's Battle City arc before stepping back into his cheerleader role during the finals of that arc. The decay is exemplified in the anime, where he becomes more of a comic relief character that tries to get onto his best friend's little sister despite said best friend clearly being bothered by it (which the manga version of the character would NEVER do).
Jonouchi/Joey in the anime. When Bandit Keith tries to steal his card during the Duelist Kingdom Arc, Jonouchi beats him up, claiming that while Keith may be good at card games, he's the best at fighting. (Consider that Keith is taller and more muscular than Jonouchi.) In the anime, Jonouchi gets beaten up rather ungracefully instead. Also, the anime likes to put him in dog suits. Notably in the anime's version of Dungeon Dice Monsters, where Otogi has the chance to humiliate him in this way. Naturally, the manga's version of Dark Yugi didn't let it get to that point.
Anzu in the anime too, whose cheerleader role is played up, and her violent side greatly reduced.
Otogi in the anime as well. As noted below in "Macekre", he goes from a serious, somewhat sympathetic character in the manga to a generic villain of the day in the anime that eventually becomes stuck in a comedic love triangle, competing with Honda for Shizuka's affections (which is an overall anime-only running gag).
In his first appearances, Dark Yugi used Mind Rape on anybody who cheated or appeared to screw with his friends, which continued in the manga until the end of Duelist Kingdom where Character Development happened and he decided to stop doing his own Shadow Games. The first anime, despite many deviations, actually followed the manga personality somewhat faithfully. In the Duel Monsters anime, he just played Duel Monsters with a less-disturbing Mind Crush punishment here and there that stopped being used for no explanation (Penalty Games are never mentioned by name and are all replaced by "Mind Crushes", which was a Penalty Game used only once on Manga Kaiba). Comically (if you can call it that), in the anime's "Doma" filler saga, he tries torturing Insector Haga/Weevil in a fit of rage which was too much for Anzu/Téa, who convinced him to stop.
And also the guy that took Ryou Bakura's screentime in the manga for his own in the anime.
Bizarro Episode: Episode 28. Yugi receives a psychic dream (or a simple nightmare, it's ambiguous) from his grandfather encouraging him to defeat Pegasus, there's a few shots of Mai adjusting her deck (which don't conclusively explain what she's doing and simply lets us know she's changing things around). And then Anzu, Honda and Bakura sneak into Pegasus' room to see how he knows his opponent's moves, and find a peephole looking down onto the dueling field which they take to mean he could have a minion with a telescope spying for him. Then Pegasus arrives and teleports them to an ancient temple full of robed figures, including Pegasus himself, who duels and defeats a cloaked figure, then makes to attack the trio before the spirit of the Millennium Ring appears and teleports them all back to their rooms, erasing their memories of the incident. The only thing that occurs in this episode of relevance is resolved in about two minutes over three scenes - Bandit Keith steals Jounouchi's entry card to the tournament. Everything else is just Mind Screw that has no bearing on the story.
The filler arcs, particularly the Virtual World and Doma arcs. Fans found the former to be an unnecessary interruption despite the anime repeatedly telling us that it did happen. Some fans either dislike the latter for getting in the way of the main storyline or enjoy it because its rather serious plot is refreshing. In addition to this, it led to changes to the canon of what magic exists in the universe, and gave Aesop Amnesia to both Kaiba and Yami Yugi, the latter in a more extreme, and not foreshadowed way (depending how you look at it).
And then we have the original manga, whose fans just want people to pay some attention to it so the series could be taken somewhat seriously.
Cargo Ship: Seto Kaiba is very attached to his Blue Eyes White Dragon. At first it doesn't seem so bad. And then it turns out that back in ancient Egypt, the Blue Eyes was born from the soul of a woman he loved. Then again, when you're about power, and keep the only three copies (after tearing up the only other one) in existence to yourself in order to all but guarantee no one can overpower you via ordinary means...
Three words: BlackMagicianGirl. By far the most popular female of the series, even above main protagonists Anzu, Mai, and Shizuka. And she is frequently seen with Dark Yugi in many fanarts and fanfictions.
It goes way beyond just OT 3 pairings. The Shippers List contains all of the 'official' ship names, and it goes up to six-way pairings and possibly more. It's more surprising when a ship in this fandom isn't named than when it is.
Crackier segments of the fandom have even created inter-continuity ships - i.e. crossover ships with people from different shows. Please note that all of the shows take place at least 10 years after the original series ends, and in the case of 5D, it takes place decades later.
Designated Villain: Dinosaur Ryuzaki (Rex Raptor) is an unfortunate contender, most of the early villains were jerks who just happened to get Yugi involved to please their own ego, rather than the later villains who had much more elaborate plans.
In the manga and the early episodes of the anime, while a bit of a jerk, Dinosaur Ryuzaki wasn't really a bad guy. The later episodes of the anime portrayed him as Haga's partner in crime.
Hell, he practically advises Jonouchi against dueling Roba! You'd think he'd have been happy to see him lose, but no. He's also pretty pissed when he learns Jonouchi lost his Red-Eyes to Seeker.
Kaiba is arguably the anime equivalent of Draco himself. Remember in the manga he was an antagonist, him and Mokuba trying to kill Yugi and his friends several times. The manga also didn't have the anime's Filler Arcs, so whatever heroic tendencies he demonstrated in such are absent too. Besides his stint of being a villain, he's a supreme Jerkass at any turn. Yet he still became the Breakout Character. Being Tall, Dark and Snarky is a big factor in that, seeing as how Evil Is Cool.
Dude, Not Funny!: In-universe, Anzu replies with this when Jonouchi jokingly suggests that Kaiba died after his soul was stolen by Pegasus at the end of the Duelist Kingdom arc.
Another in-universe. After everyone gets off of Alcatraz Island, Kaiba tells everyone that he knew the blimp's engines weren't working. All the while, he was smirking when he said that, meaning he thought that it was funny. Jonouchi, reasonably, gets mad at him for almost letting them die.
Interestingly enough, the same could be said of the card game, which was only meant to be featured in a single arc but got so popular they had to base the entire anime adaptation around it.
"Bandit" Keith Howard. He was a secondary villain in the Duelist Kingdom arc and was killed off in the manga, but is popular among many fans and even Takahashi himself stated he's one of his favorite antagonists in the series next to Kaiba.
This might have contributed to his large role in the Yu-Gi-Oh! R spinoff.
In terms of actual cards, there's the Dark Magician Girl, because she was powerful and very pretty. She even appears in all of the sequel spin-offs (though, she has yet to appear in ARC-V).
There is also the Dark Magician who attracted the female fans, especially in the final arc where it was revealed he was based on Mahado. Like the Dark Magician Girl, he appears in the first three spin-offs and has yet to appear in ARC-V.
Bakura loses about 30 pounds of baby fat when he transforms into Dark Bakura.
Conversely, Marik gains about 30 pounds of muscle.
Family-Unfriendly Aesop: The final lesson behind Marik's story arc seems to be "never disobey your family's wishes or try to live a normal life, because you'll just end up turning evil until you finally give in and end up doing what they wanted anyway". This is uncomfortable enough in the dub, but is downright disturbing in the original Japanese, in which the physical abuse in the Ishtar family went beyond the ancient back carving ceremony and extended into whipping small children into submission.
Fanon: One of the most widespread interpretations of fans is the relationships between Yugi, Bakura, Marik, and their alter-egos. The fan term "hikari" is used to refer to them while the alter-egos are referred to as the "yamis" (which, on the other, has an official basis as they are referred to as "Dark/Yami [insert host name] in official material"), and there are many fanfics where, for no established reason, the yamis and hikaris are able to exist independently of each other. Dark Marik's grouping with Dark Bakura and Dark Yugi is itself a bit of fanon, because Dark Marik is not a spirit, he's Marik's split-personality. Some fans go so far as to depict Dark Marik as being tied to the Millennium Rod as the other two are to the Ring and Puzzle — anyone remotely paying attention knows that's ridiculous. Equally ridiculous is the fans who distinguish between Marik, Bakura, and their alter-egos, by referring to the "hikaris" as Malik and Ryou, and the "yamis" as Marik and Bakura — Malik is just an Engrish variant of Marik, and Ryou Bakura is the character's full name.
Fan-Preferred Couple: Yugi/Dark Yugi, Jonouchi/Kaiba, and just about every combination of Bakura, Marik, Dark Bakura and/or Dark Marik. On the hetero side, Dark Yugi/Dark Magician Girl (or Atem/Mana), Shizuka/Kaiba, Isis/Kaiba, Mai/Yugi, and among others.
First Installment Wins: Actually, Third Installment Wins — the second series anime adaptation is still the iconic and definitive Yu-Gi-Oh! media in the minds of many. Among western fans this is assisted by 4Kids at least making an effort to make their changes to the dub work (see Woolseyism below), while subsequent dubs have seen a lot more Adaptation Decay. 4Kids themselves recognize this and cater to the fans through scripted duels at conventions with the series' voice actors.
Foe Yay: Let's see. Kaiba spent most of the Toei anime either spying or stalking Yugi to see if anyone was trying to defeat him in a card game, can't go more than four episodes without sending his top minions to attack Yugi's friends and family in an attempt to defeat him, and spent millions of dollars developing advanced hologram technology and building a sky scraper for the sole purpose of defeating him. And we haven't even gotten to Duel Monsters yet.
Also comes up between Jounochi and Kaiba. Kaiba refuses to acknowledge Jonouchi as a duelist, Jonouchi blusters at him, Kaiba insults and ignores him, and Jonouchi has potentially homoerotic dreams about being defeated by him. Certain parts of fandom have fun with that.
Note that the dream is nowhere near so homoerotic in the manga. The anime tends to ham this sort of thing up.
Marik and Dark Bakura's pissing-contest-turned-alliance definitely counts. The scene where they first meet veritably crackles with sexual tension.
Kaiba also gets the rare male/female version of this with Ishizu/Isis in Season 2. Her repeated attempts at beating an acceptance of his past into his head read like romantic interest to a decent-sized part of the fandom.
Game Breaker: Pegasus' Toons and Thousand-Eyes Restrict, Five-Headed Dragon, the God Cards, the Seal of Orichalcos (or basically, all of Dartz's cards).
Genius Bonus: Orichalcum is a legendary metal used as currency in Atlantis.
The freaking creator Kazuki Takahashi mentioned that he liked Bandit Keith in the US Shonen Jump's second issue.
Growing the Beard: The Death-T arc in the original manga, marking Kaiba's ascension toBig Bad and Yugi finally revealing the existence of Dark Yugi to his friends. From then on, things got less episodic and more plot-oriented.
Although some fans wish they'd continued playing other games. Which they do sometimes in the manga, but not as often. And even THOSE become Duel Monsters-related in the anime.
For the second anime series, the series, the Battle City Tournament is where not the card game became more intricate and complex, but the story in general became less of a Duelist of the Episode or Two and far more dramatic.
Harsher in Hindsight: A lot of the duel moves concerning the Blue-Eyes and the Dark Magician, once Season 5 showed us their history. For example, in his duel with Pegasus Kaiba has one of his Blue-Eyes captured and turned into a Toon, and Kaiba eventually has a second Blue-Eyes destroy it. Pegasus mocks that as loyal as Kaiba is to the Blue-Eyes, they don't return the sentiment, and he seizes the second as well. Now think back to Kisara and Priest Seto, and what the Toon Blue-Eyes could symbolize — Pegasus is kidnapping Kaiba's girlfriend and driving her insane to turn her against him.
Hilarious in Hindsight: In an early episode of the English dub of the anime Jonouchi screams "Hasan chop!" An actual character named Hasan (Bobassa/Shadi's alter ego) would show up and play a pivotal role in the last arc of the series.
In one episode, Kaiba claims that the first rule of Duel Monsters is to never rely on a single monster to win. Come Yu-Gi-Oh! ZEXAL, this is how almost every duel plays out.
In the manga, Pegasus kills Bandit Keith by causing him to hallucinate that his hand is a gun and making him commit suicide by pointing at his own head. Years later, 4Kids would edit characters holding guns into characters pointing menacingly at each other. Yes, Bandit Keith was the first casualty of Invisible Guns.
It Was His Sled: Can you believe that Dark Yugi/Yami being a Pharaoh was actually a plot twist in the manga?
Dark Marik's very existence was originally a huge reveal. Not so much anymore.
Jerk Sue: Kaiba, in the anime. In the manga, he learns his lesson at the end of Battle City, and his only appearance after that is a cameo in the final arc. In the anime, he never learns his lesson, gets an entire Filler Arc and large parts of two more to himself, takes down two anime-exclusive Big Bads (though people didn't really complain about these since they were both Crowning Moments), and even gets a chance to humiliate Jonouchi one last time. Jonouchi gets in one last line at the end though, though it's treated as Dude, Not Funny!!
Macekre: 4Kids's dubbing methods aside, the anime's adaptation (both versions, Toei's 1998 anime and Yu-Gi-Oh! Duel Monsters) of the manga is iffy, and especially when you add filler into the mix, the manga comes across as a lot more sensible and better-paced story. When the Abridged Series pokes most of the fun at the changes from the manga than the 4Kids's dub starting with mocking Duel Monsters by turning into a children's card game and lampshading at how Solomon got severely injured over a children's card game, you know that something is clearly wrong with the anime.
Too many glaring differences between the anime and manga to list them all on one TV Tropes YYMV page, especially for the Millennium World arc. The Millennium World arc in the anime is practically an Alternate Universe take on the manga arc rather than an adaptation. Character roles and motivations are changed, plot progression is different, and the manga explains the rules behind the Shadow RPG much more clearly. But one big example regarding the setting used is the fact that the manga arc actually takes place in the Domino City Museum where Dark Yugi and Dark Bakura are revealed to be playing a D&D-style role-playing game, which used a diorama depicting the pharaoh's kingdom, made by Ryou Bakura (who was being subconsciously manipulated by Dark Bakura into making, thinking it was some creative thing for the museum exhibit), as the playing board. They are seen actually playing the game like any other tabletop role-playing game. Dark Bakura even narrates GM-style at some points (as well as Zorc's dialogue), the "game pieces" and their respective character cards had HP bars, Dark Yugi in-character as always tries to trick Dark Bakura using role-player psychoanalysis (or something) at one point, and the rules are explained typical Yu-Gi-Oh! manga-style with narrative text boxes. After The Reveal that everything was actually a game set up by Zorc's soul vessels (the spirits of Thief King Bakura and High Priest of Darkness Akhenaden), the events unfolding in the memory world are simultaneously seen while being played by Dark Yugi and Dark Bakura. Whereas the anime version takes place in some alternate dimension (the Shadow Realm or something, I don't know) in ancient Egypt, where the RPG table from the manga was changed into a gigantic, interactive Ancient Egyptian TV screen? I don't know. The "game" isn't seen being played much and the rules aren't really explained, you mostly just see the events within the memory world, which is also very different from how the events unfold in the manga. Naturally, as this is the anime, more emphasis on Duel Monsters and less "we're actually playing other games" is placed and quite a few plot details are changed because of the incessant need to shoehorn in more card duels and details that are reminiscent of modern-day Duel Monsters. Like the Priests, who in the anime HAD to have ancient Egyptian Duel Disk that replaces the manga's function for the Millennium Items. Or the addition of Seto Kaiba, who is the poster boy of Duel Monsters and was not present in the manga rendition of the arc. Note that, again, this isn't comprehensive in the slightest, and one has to READ the manga and then WATCH the anime to really get a feel of how different, convoluted, and needlessly confusing they made an already-confusing arc of the manga.
The Dungeon Dice Monsters arc (originally called Dragons, Dice & Dungeons in the Japanese manga) is completely different in the anime.
In the manga, it's an important arc that actually progresses the plot. Ryuji Otogi, The Dragon son of the main antagonist of the arc (Mr. Clown/Mr. Otogi, who was once a gaming disciple of Yugi's grandfather that challenged him to a Shadow Game called the "Devil's Board Game" over the possession of the Millennium Puzzle, and lost, being given a Penalty Game that rapidly aged him to the point of looking disfigured), was raised to defeat Yugi Mutou in a series of revenge games that would earn Otogi the Millennium Puzzle and become the "King of Games". Gambler vs. Gambler, a series of bar bet games were played at school, and when he nearly humiliated Jonouchi as per the anime (only no Duel Monsters, just a card-flip game called "Four Aces"), Dark Yugi appears and defeats him like he did in the earlier manga chapters pre-Duelist Kingdom. The entire arc has no relation to the Duel Monsters game AT ALL outside of a mention of Duelist Kingdom (the previous arc), features a private battle of Dungeon Dice Monsters between Otogi and the NORMAL Yuugi in the Black Clown game store (because the Millennium Puzzle was being held hostage), Ryou Bakura (the normal one and also his evil alter-ego) actually has presence as part of the group per the manga and plays a huge role in these events, and then ends off with Yugi trying to put back the Millennium Puzzle while the game shop is burning down and is saved by Jounouchi (within all of these events, Dark Bakura sets himself up as a fake ally and then put part of his soul into the Millennium Puzzle with his Parasite Mind powers). Otogi performs a Heel-Face Turn when he realizes that he doesn't hate the Mutou family as much as his father does during the game.
In the anime, in order to shove the importance of other games to the sidelines in favor of ''Duel Monsters'', the arc was retooled into a Filler Arc, and Ryuji Otogi was given a personality lift from his manga counterpart which removes his Hidden Depths (which is pronounced even more later on when he becomes part of a comic relief duo, competing with Honda for Shizuka's affections - an anime-only concept and gag) and becomes a narcissistic Pegasus fanboy that is angry that his idol went missing before fully endorsing his new Duel Monsters spin-off Duel Dice Monsters (an independent game in the manga, which, in the anime, contains a lot of monsters from the Duel Monsters game to tie it into the card game) who challenges Yugi to Dungeon Dice Monsters in order to out Yugi as a cheat. Otogi humiliates Jonouchi not in a game of flipping traditional playing cards, but in a game of Duel Monsters - and because Dark Yugi, for some reason, does not care enough to do his manga schtick of appearing immediately to save his friends from being tormented, it gets to the point where Jonouchi wears a dog suit and becomes Otogi's bottom for the rest of the arc. Normal Yugi doesn't prove himself by playing DDM - Dark Yugi does his usual act of taking over, and here he acts as if he never played any game besides Duel Monsters in all his life. Otogi performs a Heel-Face Turn when he realizes he was being an immature dick and his game got endorsed anyway after trying to publicly humiliate Yugi. Ryou Bakura, as per the anime hating him, does not make any appearances here (not even as a spectator). All of the plot-progressing details are moved to what otherwise would have been a filler about dueling Bandit Keith in an Abandoned Warehouse (which had a huge dueling arena for absolutely no explanation), requiring the use of the Idiot Ball to happen in the first place (Yugi handing over his Millennium Puzzle to a shady fortune teller on the street because god knows that was a good idea).
Duelist Kingdom has a lot of decay from manga-to-anime.
Bakura's Ring being able to summon monsters outside of a game in the anime.... and laser beams. What's the point of playing a game to kill your enemies when you could just use that, anime? He calls the random summoning of monsters a game in the Japanese version, even though it doesn't resemble anything close to a game at all. Also, the anime never explains why Dark Bakura was after Mokuba for the key to Kaiba Corporation's safe (he was acting as if he had performed a Heel-Face Turn in the manga, helping Honda when he was trying to save Mokuba at night). The dub actually made a little more sense, with him being after his body instead, even though it still created a plot hole (Bakura being the Chosen One for the Millennium Ring and the Shadow RPG). Granted, the anime version of Duelist Kingdom had way too many instances of making no sense.
Pegasus somehow finding out about Kaiba's defeat at the hands of Yugi during that Not-Death-T first episode, in which the only witnesses to the duel are Jonouchi and Mokuba. Makes more sense in the manga, where there was an entire audience of Kaiba fanboys overlooking its equivalent to the first episode match.
Pegasus gives Mokuba a Penalty Game WITHOUT playing a game. (In the manga, he captures Mokuba's soul off-panel.) The anime clearly broke one of the main rules of the Millennium Items - you need to beat an opponent at a game before you can Mind Rape them. If Pegasus could trap souls at a whim, why on Earth would he ever play a game with anyone in the first place? Taking over Kaiba Corp should be a snap. Heck, taking over the WORLD should be a snap. Related to that, in the manga right before his duel with Pegasus, when the soulless Mokuba is brought out before everyone Kaiba is horrified and surprised to see that his brother's soul has been stolen, since as stated it happened to Mokuba off-panel, presumably while Kaiba was dueling Yugi. The anime kept this scene intact... despite the fact that Pegasus stole Mokuba's soul right in front of him just a few episodes ago, yet he still acts like this is the first time he's seen Mokuba in a soulless state.
Magnificent Bastard: Pegasus. During Duelist Kingdom, even Kaiba fears and respects him. Also in GX against Chronos and Napoleon, who ambush him with the pleas to accept them into Industrial Illusions. In order to get rid of them, he duels against the two, but not before riling them up to deplete each other's Life Points with a seemingly innocent offer.
Hell, in the manga, he succeeds in faking a Heel-Face Turn. This guy really knows how to pull everyone's strings.
Dark Marik. As batshit insane as this guy is, he's also one of the best duellists in the entire show and an absolute master of both Batman and Xanatos Gambits.
Mary Sue: In pretty much all the video games based around the franchise, your character will usually be a blank slate with no personality, no relevant backstory and no dialogue. However, they will inevitably become best friends with the heroes, if they aren't already, will become an excellent duelist capable of defeating the best duelists in the franchise, and will become The Hero of the game and defeat the villains while the anime heroes act as cheerleaders. Most prevalent in Yu-Gi-Oh! The Sacred Cards, Yu-Gi-Oh! Reshef of Destruction, and Nightmare Troubadour where your hero is the one who defeats the villains (including Dark Malik, Bandit Keith, Pegasus, and the Rare Hunters), can control the God Cards (and gets all three of them to boot), duel all the supporting characters of the anime and defeat them, all the while of which Jonouchi, Kaiba and Yugi are next to useless — not to mention that you will also eventually duel and defeat them.
AIBOOOOO! (Explanation: Yugi's soul is stolen during the DOMA arc, and it was partially the Pharaoh's fault. The Pharaoh... does nottake it well. The scene where he screamed "AIBOOOOOO!" [his nickname for Yugi, meaning 'partner'] rapidly became a meme.)
In Japan, the green hairstyle of Seto and Noah is compared and even referred to as a cabbage. Afewexamples...
According to the Japanese fandom, the Pharaoh is pretty much obsessed with silver.
Pretty much the entire scene where Atem goes completely batshit on Haga/Weevil just for joking about killing Yugi counts as a meme, what with the insane amount of remixes it's gotten.
"SNOT HIM!"note "It's not him!"
"TELL ME!"note Dark Yugi vs Ota/Nezbitt
"Oh, you'll find out! I'm about to summon it!"
YOU CAN'T WIN X.
The pharaoh is the world's biggest musical fan.
A 4chan frequenter had a habit of making "If my post number ends in 5" bets accompanied by pictures of Dark Yugi from Season Zero and consistently winning (or if it were funnier, losing). He was then dubbed the "King of GETs. Apparently when they meant "King of Games", that includes forum games.
SAY GOOD-BYE TO EXODIAAAAAAAAAAA!
Dark Marik's crazy facial expressions. Characters from later series eventually do the same.
Misaimed Fandom: Various Kaiba fans. A troubled past alone does not a Woobie make. Especially when you're one of the top-ranked duelists AND the richest man in the world, and tend to be pretty apathetic towards other people's suffering at times.
Mis-blamed: Fans who complain about 4Kids skipping the very first series. This series is a different show based on the same manga — it's not in continuity with the show they did dub, and directly contradicts it in several places.
Indeed, it should be noted that they were different shows made by different companies — 4Kids did not buy the rights to the Toei animation, and thus never dubbed it.
Moe: Once you get past the crazy hair, it's difficult not to go "Aww, lookit" with Yugi.
Cyndia/Cecelia, especially as a child.
Moral Event Horizon: You always knew that Dartz would dispose of any of his servants at anytime and that his plan involved the sacrifice of billions of monster and human souls from several millenia, but to find out that he messed with his three subordinates' childhoods just for them to join him while blaming it on someone else that proved how sick he was.
Dark Marik crossed it when he tortured Mai in a Shadow Game duel and then sending her soul to the Shadow Realm after defeating her. It was always only going to be a matter of time though...
Gozuburo Kaiba crossed it when he uploaded his own son's mind to a Virtual World and then abandoning him.
Insector Haga crossed it when he tricking the Pharaoh into believing that Yugi's soul was in a card. He then rips the card and after upsetting the Pharaoh, points out that it was just a bug card that he tore up. He gets his just desserts.
If anything, both Haga and Ryuzaki crossed it by willingly joining up with Doma in the first place and trying to respectively steal Dark Yugi and Jonouchi's souls. While Doma's main three warriors, as well as Mai, were all manipulated into joining them, both Haga and Ryuzaki did so completely of their own volition after viewing Raphael in action and being impressed with their power.
The worst part was that Raphael beat Yugi whilst Yugi had the Seal of Orichalcos and a Legendary Dragon. It was his bond with his monsters that let him beat Yugi, so in other words there was no point in joining up.
Seto Kaiba crosses it when he has his brother, Mokuba, duel Yugi in Death-T. He was fully aware that his brother may have died if he lost the duel and yet, he let it happen anyway.
Of course, it was the darkness inside Kaiba that was making him do these decisions. Still pretty heinous, though.
Dark Bakura, almost crosses it in the anime when he tries to take over Mokuba as a new host, but still maintains the presence of a Hidden Agenda Villain, he truly crosses it for his various Kick the Dog moments, such as desecrating Atem's father's tomb, killing Atem's best friend, reversing time to remove the Hope Spot of The Power of Friendship and overall planning to use Zorc Necrophades to kill everyone.
Narm Charm: Tons of it. If you're not into this trope, you're going absolutely hate the series. Half of the charm in this increasingly outlandish romp of a series is made up by the sheer levels of scenery-chewing attained by some of the voice actors.
"AIBOU WA DOKO DAAAA??!!"note WHERE IS MY PARTNER?
And then there's the very concept of the show itself—ancient Egyptian magic is brought back to life in the 20th century and the reincarnations of the ancient priests and warlords who controlled that magic battle each other to determine the fate of the world once again...by using a collectible trading card game as a medium through which to channel their powers. Though to be fair, it's all in the name "Shadow GAME."
Or (in the manga), any (penalty) game that gives Dark Yugi excuse to mentally or physically screw you over if he wins.
The 4Kids version of the show is this by some. Mostly the ones who came into the series via the dubbed version.
Dark Marik's crazy faces. The fans love it when he's doing it.
Neutrality Sue: Sometimes it seems as if Kaiba, with a few exceptions, is never called out by the narrative due to his indifference.
Never Live It Down: Anzu/Téa for her friendship speeches; Mai's on-screen win-loss record making her dueling skill appear to be an Informed Ability to many, even though she always came one move within victory at the very least, and against the most prominent duelists to boot. Part of this is due to the Abridged Series turning it into a Running Gag, especially losing to Anzu.note In the actual series, she had the means to win, but decided to just give her the victory for her sheer guts in standing up to her for Yugi.
Ron the Death Eater: A lot of Kaiba fans have seen Yugi and his gang of friends as this, either for finding their friendship spiel lame in comparison to his angst and love when he snarks on them even when he gets to the point of a Hannibal Lecture, or that they're in fact just a bunch of jerks who don't care to understand what he's been through (who cares if he never really lets them know what he's been through?)
Shocking Swerve: Dark Marik's existence. The whole of Battle City arc set the normal Marik Ishtar up as an evil bastard, with a complex character and solid motivation. Then in the finals, comes this evil alter ego out of nowhere. He's twice the evil bastard Marik was, and that's about everything he's about. Even his motivation comes down to rubbing how evil he is, into other people's faces, then laughing maniacally. Though Marik's backstory was provided in bits and pieces anyway, so it's possible that Marik's dark side and the fact that he killed Marik's father were planned from the beginning.
Shadi is also unnatural looking. Justified as he's a ghost.
Strings is this.
Vanilla Protagonist: Yugi is the only duelist without a quirk. He's not the blue eyes dragon guy, or the bug guy or the dino guy or even the gambling card guy. His own alter ego has that "age old pharaoh" thing going on. Downplayed in the manga, where he definitely does have a few outstanding quirks (i.e. getting mad when somebody mistakes his age, having the tendencies of a Covert Pervert, e.t.c.), but just not as much as other characters.
Filler Villain Dartz really pushes it. He's a 10 000 year old man who was around 5000 years before the Millenium Items were created, was King of Atlantis, has the Oricalchos, whose ability is "whatever the plot needs it to be", owns parts of every company on the planet, can spy on the entire cast with no problem, buys out KaibaCorp with ease, has one of his henchmen defeat previous Big Bad Pegasus without a problem, brainwashes Mai into serving him, possesses a monster with infinite attack, and can take on the Pharoah and Kaiba at the same time. And to top it all off, he gets redeemed and is reunited with his family at the end, giving him everything he wanted in the first place.
Dartz's Dragon, Rafael is nearly as bad. Not only does he become the only villain to defeat Yami & Yugi in a fair duel, but after he loses their rematch, we discover that his soul is somehow so "pure" that the Orichalcos won't take it—despite the fact that he's just spent an entire season stealing souls for Dartz, and being a part of an end the world plot and was the one who played the Orichalcos seal in the first place, an act which the season had previously established as darkening the soul. Throw in the fact that he's got the weakest Freudian Excuse of any of Dratz's henchmen and we've got a real problem.
Wangst: Kaiba, after losing Battle City to Yugi. Seriously, you want to blow up the island and end the tournament prematurely just because you lost!? Get over it!
Especially egregious because (in the anime) he had just gone through a ton of character development and defeated his stepfather aka: the very person he was trying to prove his superiority to by winning the Battle City tournament in the previous arc.
The dub mitigates this somewhat. Kaiba's planning to leave, but doesn't mention blowing up the island.
The Woobie: Everyone. With one or two exceptions, pretty much everyone 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 (which paradoxically makes them more of a woobie). You'll pick out your favorite woobie early enough in the series.
No one is a bigger Woobie than Ryo Bakura though, who spends the entire series under the control of a sadistic ancient spirit.
He had to constantly change schools, living with the guilt and negative stigma of having his friends fall into a coma whenever they played a game with him because of the evil personality within the Millennium Ring. After Yugi and his other Domino High friends free him of the Ring's influence the first time, he is tricked to give his body up to Dark Bakura yet again so they could escape the underground maze of Duelist Kingdom, becoming an unknowing pawn for the spirit thereafter. At the beginning of the Millennium World arc, Bobasa refuses to let him into the Pharaoh's mind, despite his desire to help his friend, because of the darkness within his heart, which we all know is the evil spirit of the ring. He puts on a smile, and runs away, in tears. What does the anime do to make it better for him? Nothing, he gets Demoted to Extra and gets his screentime reduced compared to his presence in the manga.
Jerkass Woobie: Kaiba, Pegasus, and for a more extreme version, normal Marik.
Woolseyism: Some of the changes 4Kids made were to the show's benefit.
The dub's "Shadow Realm", an alternate dimension that may or may not even be Hell, where the Shadow Games take place and people's minds, souls or entire bodies can be banished. The original anime contained no such concept, there were just "Dark Games" and people who lost died or went comatose. The "creation" of the Shadow Realm gave 4Kids an excuse to Never Say "Die" while still keeping the Dark Games and their fatal results, and also was a bit easier to swallow in terms of suspension of disbelief — people being banished to an alternate dimension and then coming back, rather than being killed and their body fading into nothingness, then they come back to life.
The Accent Adaptation with Jonouchi and Bakura. In the Japanese Jonouchi had rude and loose speech while Bakura was polite and formal. In the dub Jonouchi has a Brooklyn accent and Bakura is British.
In the Japanese version of the Duelist Kingdom semi-finals, Yugi is duelling against Mai. He is completely focused on his duel with Pegasus, however, and is becoming cocky, not taking Mai seriously. She snaps him out of his funk by saying he has to beat her first. In the English dub, Yugi isn't using the spirit at all, he doesn't trust it after it nearly killed Kaiba a few episodes prior, and Mai has to remind him that she promised him an honorable duel. Whichever is better is up to interpretation, but both are decent lessons.
The dub also foreshadows the fate of Pegasus's wife by having him give an internal monologue about it, which his VA Darren Dunstan delivers excellently. In the original version it was a filler conversation between Yugi's friends and Bakura.
In Season 2, Marik wants to kill Dark Yugi and doesn't care about the Millennium Puzzle, while in the dub he wants to take the Millennium Puzzle from him and is only allowed to do so by beating him in a duel, by the laws of Ancient Egypt. This gave a convenient Hand Wave to the Why Don't Ya Just Shoot Him? problem Marik has, he can't just kill Dark Yugi/banish him to the Shadow Realm, he has to beat him in a duel first, then he'll kill/banish him. Additionally with the Shadow Realm, Marik's plans to kill Dark Yugi were rather foolish in the original Japanese since Dark Yugi is an ancient spirit inhabiting the Millennium Puzzle, you effectively can't kill him by chopping off his legs or drowning him, you'll just kill his host. In the dub, Marik plans to send Dark Yugi to the Shadow Realm, so 4Kids made his death traps magical in nature and thus they pose a danger to him. The original manga makes it clear that they're dependent on their host souls to survive and if their host dies, they will too, but this detail is glossed over in the anime.
As a side-effect, when Marik had Dark Yugi duel the possessed Jonouchi, 4Kids did not censor the idea that the loser will be dragged into the sea chained to an anchor, or that if Dark Yugi refuses to duel Malik's minion will drop a crate from a crane onto Anzu. So by making Malik's death traps magical, the one trap he used where it was obvious the loser would die had more impact — in the dub banishment to the Shadow Realm is a slap on the wrist, death, that's final.
Though it isn't actually part of the translation, the dub changes the images on a lot of the cards for various reasons, and some come out looking cooler for it. In fact, with some cards use the US anime designs over the Japanese anime designs, even for their Japanese real-world releases. Some examples include Mystic Box, Brain Control and Shadow Spell, all of which look much more vibrant and mystical than the original◊ Japanese◊ versions◊.
The fact that Pegasus mentioned drinking fruit juice one time during the Duelist Kingdom arc instead of what it actually looks like adds to his Manchild tendencies along with his toon deck.
In the original version, Dartz drove the cruise ship Rafael was on with his family into a tidal wave and only he survived, lived on an island for awhile, then after he was rescued, decided Humans Are the Real Monsters for no discernible reason. In the dub, however, Dartz drove the ship into a tidal wave, he 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 seem to accept you even when you came back after years...