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Franchise / Yu-Gi-Oh!

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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 game used as an important plot device turned towards the trading card game Duel Monsters, which was eventually revealed to be loosely based on an ancient Egyptian Shadow Game played by the previous owners of the Millennium Items. 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 30-minute movie. In 2000, it received another anime adaptation headed by NAS and Konami, in which the card game aspect is multiplied by ten. This helped the franchise become immensely popular worldwide, where it was dubbed by 4Kids Entertainment.

Yugi's story was eventually completed, but the franchise continued in Spin Offs with new spiky-haired protagonists - the Shadow Games may be gone, but Duel Monsters still has a knack for channeling supernatural or scientific forces beyond comprehension.

The works in this franchise so far are:

    open/close all folders 

    Anime and Manga 
  • Yu-Gi-Oh!: The original Yu-Gi-Oh! manga by Kazuki Takahashi; see also the recap page
    • Yu-Gi-Oh! (first anime series): The first anime series, based on the first 7 volumes of the Yu-Gi-Oh! manga, produced by Toei. Commonly nicknamed "season 0".
    • 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 know Yu-Gi-Oh! by today. Based on the manga from Duelist Kingdom on, and sponsored by Konami; revolving around their version of the card game to ensure their domination of the card game license.
    • Yu-Gi-Oh! R: Non-canon manga-only spinoff right after the Battle City arc, dealing with a plot to resurrect Pegasus.
    • Yu-Gi-Oh!: Capsule Monsters: Anime-only mini-series set before the Millennium World arc; produced by 4Kids after the original series ended.
    • Yu-Gi-Oh! The Movie: Pyramid of Light: 4Kids-commissioned movie that takes place in an alternate version of the second anime series' continuity some time after Battle City. Yugi and Kaiba duel once more, but Anubis lurks behind the scenes.
    • Yu-Gi-Oh! The Dark Side of Dimensions: A Yu-Gi-Oh! film taking place six months after the manga's continuity in Japan and after the anime in the West. The movie is written by Kazuki Takahashi and premiered in Spring 2016.
  • Yu-Gi-Oh! GX: First proper anime spin-off, starring Judai Yuki (Jaden in the dub). It focuses a lot, but not entirely, on Fusion Summonings.
    • Yu-Gi-Oh! GX: Radically different manga adaptation of GX, although with the same characters.
  • Yu-Gi-Oh! 5D's: Second anime spin-off, starring Yusei Fudo and Riding Duels. It introduces Synchro Summoning, which becomes the main focus of the duels.
    • Yu-Gi-Oh! 5D's: Radically different manga adaptation of 5D's, but with the same characters.
    • Yu-Gi-Oh!: Bonds Beyond Time: A three-way team-up between the Duel Monsters, GX, and 5D's protagonists. Ties into 5D's' plot through its villain, who comes from that series' Bad Future.
  • Yu-Gi-Oh! ZEXAL: Third anime spin-off, starring Yuma Tsukumo and Astral, with augmented-reality duels in place of the usual holograms. It introduces Xyz Summoning, which becomes the main focus of the duels.
  • Yu-Gi-Oh! ARC-V: Fourth anime spin-off, debuted spring 2014 and starring Yuya Sakaki and Action Duels. It introduces Pendulum Summoning, but unlike the other spin-offs, all advanced Special Summonings share the spotlight.
  • Yu-Gi-Oh! VRAINS: Fifth anime spin-off, it debuted Spring 2017 starring Yusaku Fujiki and Duels on hoverboards within virtual reality. It introduces Link Summoning.
  • Yu-Gi-Oh! OCG Structures: A manga for newcomers teaching them how to play Duel Monsters.
  • Yu-Gi-Oh! SEVENS: Sixth anime spin-off, it debuted in Spring 2020 starring Yuga Odo and a new format of Duel Monsters called Rush Duel.

    Card Game 

    Other Real Life Games 
  • Yu-Gi-Oh! (Carddas Version): the card game based on the Yu-Gi-Oh! (first anime series), released by Bandai.
  • Yu Gi Oh Dungeon Dice Monsters
  • Yu Gi Oh Capsule Monsters: A short-lived board game released by Mattel, very loosely based on the Capsule Monster Chess game from the manga.
  • 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.

    Video Games 
  • For Yu-Gi-Oh!
  • For Yu-Gi-Oh! GX
    • Yu-Gi-Oh! Ultimate Masters: World Championship 2006
    • Yu-Gi-Oh! GX: Duel Academy
    • Yu-Gi-Oh! GX: Spirit Caller
    • Yu-Gi-Oh! GX Card Almanac
    • World Championship Series:
      • Yu-Gi-Oh! World Championship 2007
      • Yu-Gi-Oh! World Championship 2008
    • Tag Force Series:
      • 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! 5D's
    • Yu-Gi-Oh! 5D's Duel Transfer (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 World Duel Carnival
  • For Yu-Gi-Oh! ARC-V
    • Yu-Gi-Oh! ARC-V Tag Force Special
  • Others
    • Yu-Gi-Oh! Duel Terminal
    • Yu-Gi-Oh! BAM - a Facebook/mobile game by FRIMA.
    • Yu-Gi-Oh! Millennium Duels
    • Yu-Gi-Oh! Duel Arena
    • Yu-Gi-Oh Duel Generation
    • Yu-Gi-Oh! Legacy of the Duelist
  • Crossover Games

There's also a drinking game. This is the same Yu-Gi-Oh! that spawned Yu-Gi-Oh! The Abridged Series.

The entire franchise, or multiple entries, contain examples of:

  • Absurdly High-Stakes Game: Games are regularly played with lives at stake, up to and including all life. The Duel Monsters card game can have pretty high stakes even without Shadow Game magic.
  • Adaptation Amalgamation: Many of the video games take elements from the manga and the anime and blend them together, ranging from eye and hair colors to characters and plot points.
  • Aerith and Bob: It comes and goes, particularly in the 4Kids dubs. In the second series anime for instance you have characters like Joey, Tristan and Solomon hanging out with Yugi, Seto and Bakura. 5Ds, in both versions, gives us Yusei and Aki alongside names like Jack, Crow, and Rex.
  • All Myths Are True: The franchise draws on elements of Ancient Egypt, Ancient Rome, Atlantis, vampire lore, Judeo-Christian symbolism, tarot cards, the Inca civilization, and Norse mythology — and that's just the important story elements of the anime and manga, the card game draws on far more. This was heavily downplayed after 5Ds, when connections to ancient myths and religions were downplayed in favor of more fantastical and futuristic lore.
  • Alternate Continuity: Each series has its anime and manga and they go in different directions and tell different stories with the same basic premise and characters.
  • Alternative Foreign Theme Song: As usual for 4Kids, the anime universally has different openings.
  • Ancient Egypt: The Toei anime and the 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 and spin-offs have Duel Monsters existing before that and as central to the existence of the multiverse.
  • Animation Bump: Franchise-wide with the anime, important episodes or cards get extra love from the animators, though there are exceptions.
  • Anime Hair: The franchise can easily be considered the Trope Codifier, or at least, the first anime of the franchise is usually the first thing people think of when they think this trope. The original anime had Yugi's trademark hair style and a few others while GX generally had more toned down hair styles by comparison. 5Ds has an equal balance of crazy and reasonable, while ZEXAL has hair styles that are pretty crazy even by the franchise's usual standard. ARC-V takes the middle ground. The styles are generally more toned down compared to ZEXAL, but multi-color hair is all over the place. VRAINS seems to be shaping up to have largely normal styles, but compensating by giving this to the Link VRAINS Avatars.
  • Art Evolution: One major bit of art evolution across the anime series is how the card backs were depicted. Originally they were simply brown backs with gold borders and a black oval in the center, but starting with ZEXAL the depiction was altered to include swirls around the oval, looking more like the real-world card backs without replicating them exactly.
  • Artifact Title: The original manga focused on the protagonists playing many different types of games with each other: that's why "Yu-Gi-Oh" translates as King of Games, as in all games, not just Duel Monsters. Additionally, the main hero was named "Yugi" to further draw back to this title, and the title "King of Duelists" was the title he won for beating Duelist Kingdom; the dub changed this to "King of Games" as another nod to the title. Each subsequent spin-off has further distanced itself from these concepts; GX still has Yugi as a famous duelist and 5D's had Jack as the King of Turbo Duelists before he lost the title to Yusei. Since 5D's though, the franchise name has little relevance to the franchise itself any more.
  • Ascended Extra: Pot of Greed had a grand total of one appearance in the original manga, but was a staple in the DM and GX anime and the card game until it was banned.
  • Back to Base Form: Despite the many new cards and monsters, characters gain throughout their series, they usually end the duels with their regular ace monsters they had at the beginning.
  • 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. Kaiba is an anti-hero example who did this.
    • You Can't Fight Fate: You can if you're one of the heroes, villains on the other hand have a problem with this.
  • Big Damn Movie: Pyramid of Light, Bonds Beyond Time and especially Dark Side of Dimensions are extremely large and epic in scale.
  • 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, Kaiser and Manjoume (at first), and Jack, rely on brute power.
  • Brainwashed and Crazy: Every series has a lot of this trope going on.
  • Breakout Character:
    • 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 season 4, got to be the Big Bad of a video game, made a few cameos in GX, and got a Mythology Gag about him in 5D's.
    • Seto Kaiba started as a minor villain in the manga and became much more prominent later on. He then became a main protagonist of the second-series anime and the main protagonist of Darkside of Dimensions, and most video games revolving around the first series have him in a significant role.
    • 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, as while he does get broken a few times, it never sticks.
  • Calling Your Attacks:
    • 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. If any game involves Monster Battling characters will do this the traditional way when ordering monsters to attack. Some of the attack names contain Gratuitous English.
  • Cast of Expies: The series has a tradition of the characters in each subsequent series being Expies of the original Duel Monsters cast, at least in basic set up. However, this is very much a case of Tropes Are Tools, as the spin-offs generally use the Expy templates as launchpads only, and tend to develop their casts in different directions each time or don't follow the template exactly. It's actually rather interesting to start each series fresh, peg the obvious Expies at the start, and then watch Divergent Character Evolution begin to kick in and the series subverts your expectations. In general these templates are:
  • Catchphrase: The summon chants, which are most prominently featured since the start of 5D's, are basically catch phrases for most characters and their powerful cards.
  • CCG Importance Dissonance: Many of the cards the heroes rely on to win duels are considered Junk Rare in real-life, while cards that are rare and valued in the real world may not even be featured. However, there are exceptions.
    • Cyber Dragon and his variants, during the time of GX, 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.
    • Yusei's Synchrons. While a few of them are gimmicky, overall it's proven to be a pretty solid archetype in its own right, even in today's Power Creep, with a few Synchrons being staples of many Synchro heavy decks, especially Junk Synchron.
    • Completely smashed in ARC-V by Yuya's Performapals. While it got help from its sister archetype, the Performages, Performapals became a prominent and powerful meta deck that the April 2016 ban list had to target to take down a peg.
    • D/Ds in the OCG as well, though the timing of their release in the TCG playing this stright.
    • Subverted by Firewall Dragon, Yusaku's ace monster in VRAINS, which was so good in the real game that it got limited in the OCG and banned in the TCG.
  • Central Theme:
    • Yu-Gi-Oh!: There is something that you can show to others, but cannot be seen at the same time.
    • Yu-Gi-Oh! GX: Individual desires cannot last forever, as mankind must accept the harsh reality and learn the changes of the new age.
    • Yu-Gi-Oh! 5D's: The future will always evolve and mankind has the power to change it.
    • Yu-Gi-Oh! ZEXAL: Anyone can form an unbreakable bond whether if it's a friend or a foe.
    • Yu-Gi-Oh! ARC-V has two:
      • Never abandon your happiness and forgive others no matter how tough your life is.
      • You Are Not Alone, as those whom you supported will do the same in return.
    • Yu-Gi-Oh! VRAINS: Never surrender and keep trying by any means necessary.
  • Cerebus Syndrome: Zig-Zagged. The various series tend to start out light-hearted but the villains and storylines will often run towards Darker and Edgier as they progress. However, the protagonists will typically keep their upbeat nature throughout, save for a few Heroic BSODs and the odd brush with the Despair Event Horizon.
  • Chekhov's Gun: 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. If they have to discard to the Graveyard, if it pays attention to what they discarded, you'll likely be seeing that card again later.
  • Color-Coded Elements: Since ZEXAL, the six Attributes are colored in six different colors: yellow for LIGHT, purple for DARK, red for FIRE, blue for WATER, green for WIND and brown for EARTH. Whenever monsters overlay, they shine in one of those colors representing their current Attribute. The Overlay Units of an Xyz Monster have the color of the Xyz Monster's Attribute.
  • Cosmic Chess Game: Most blatant in the Millennium World arc of the manga and the anime, where the characters play a tabletop RPG with pieces directly based on real people. The anime spinoffs regularly have an Eldritch Abomination using Duel Monsters as the instrument through which to enact its plan.
  • Cute Indignant Girl Stance: Dark Magician Girl sports this trope (while floating) during the Virtual World Arc in response to Crump being a jerk and a pervert. Despite being the franchise's unofficial sex symbol, she's able to pull this trope off due to how adorable her expression is.
  • 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 Gold Rival. This is how Yugi made several of his friends.
    • ARC-V zigzags between playing it straight and averting, mocking, or having villains exploit it. Then it's played straight again as Yuya's dueling causes a ton of villains turning good.
  • 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.
  • Disappeared Dad: 5D's, ZEXAL, and ARC-V all have plots involving the protagonists' missing fathers. Yugi's father is always away on business.
  • Dub Name Change: Courtesy of 4Kids, both characters and cards. Konami is guilty of this too.
  • Duels Decide Everything: Even if characters can use other means to decide something, including physical force, it generally comes down to games.
    • This results in a very amusing exchange in GX when Judai challenges Saiou to a duel, but Saiou has been 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.
    • Taken to its Logical Extreme in Yu-Gi-Oh! ARC-V, though it's a bit more justified in that the Hard Light setup of most duels makes a pretty awesome tool to wage war with or seriously harm others, and it's later revealed that conventional weaponry can't affect a Solid Vision construct. Whenever hard light isn't involved, the characters tend to resort to diplomacy or physical violence.
  • Early Installment Weirdness: The original manga was about games in general and wasn't focused on Duel Monsters at first. That game was the one that took off and led to Duelist Kingdom, Battle City, and the subsequent adaptations and successors being much more focused on Duel Monsters.
    • GX has a lot more tie-ins with the original series than the later entries in the franchise have with any of the previous ones, including appearances by characters such as Yugi, Kaiba, Pegasus, and the Paradox Brothers.
  • 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.
  • Fantastic Science: Zigzagged not just over the franchise, but over almost every single individual series. If there's a character who studies the various phenomena that the card game tends to cause, there will also be characters who have innate psychic powers/magical abilities that go unexplained.
  • 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 manga and anime's first season, 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.
  • Gag Dub: Yu-Gi-Oh! The Abridged Series, Trope Codifier and Trope Maker for the genre.
  • Genericist Government: World governments don't seem to exist in any serious or influential capacity, and actual military and police forces are sparsely seen but usually fall under the same banner.
    • ARC-V goes so far to have Leo and Reiji forming literal armies of duelists to wage interdimensional war, and at no point are the actual government or military even mentioned. Not to mention the City in the Synchro Dimension is a socio-economic nightmare where the equivalent of their police force runs the city as a Social Darwinism dystopia that uses slave labor to maintain itself, and no outside forces care to do anything about it, if such groups even exist.
  • Godlike Gamer:
    • Yugi Muto, or rather his Super-Powered Evil Side Dark Yugi, is possibly the Trope Codifier for the anime community. Yugi is dubbed the "King of Games" and has the reputation for being an expert in all forms of games. It's played far more straight in the manga continuity and the first anime series where he would play in all types of games from board games to card games. However, all subsequent anime-only series have him only focusing on the Duel Monsters card game. Though he still qualifies for this, where to date he has only lost twice, with one of them due to timeout and the other time being against himself. His amazing success combines both exceptional strategic thinking along with luck manipulation.
    • Seto Kaiba is a Child Prodigy and already a genius at everything. So it's no surprise that when he invested his talents into gaming he became one of the greatest duelists in history, second only to Yugi. The two of them end up as rivals and Worthy Opponents. A battle between him and Yugi will be long and drawn out and can go either way as the two duelists run rings around each other.
  • 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.
  • Iconic Item: Another trend in the anime protagonists. The ones in Duel Monsters, ZEXAL, and ARC-V all have some sort of magically-empowered pendant that kicks off the plot.
  • Idiot Ball: Here's a drinking game —read the manga or watch the anime and take a drink every time a duelist makes a move and doesn't notice the opponent has countered it until it's too late.
  • Invincible Hero: A universal and recurring trope. 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. Yusei played it just as straight; he technically only lost once, and not only was that in a flashback, but he defeated that opponent later.
    • 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.
    • Starting from ZEXAL, this trope has gradually begun to be phased out, but plays it straight again in ZEXAL II.
  • It Is Pronounced "Tro-PAY": ZEXAL has a silent X and it is pronounced "zeal" (at least in the Japanese dub; in English it's pronounced exactly the way it looks). ARC-V is pronounced "arc five", the "V" being a Roman numeral.
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • 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 Schröder, 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).
  • Letter Motif: All the anime protagonists have names starting with "Yu": Yugi, Yusei, Yuma, Yuya, and Yusaku. The outlier is Judai, but even he has "Yuki" as a last name. The "Yu" also appears a lot in ARC-V, due to Yuya's counterparts and his father sharing the trend.
  • Lettered Sequel: The second anime has GX, and the manga spinoff has Yu-Gi-Oh R!. While the rest of the sequels are word sequels, the sequel titles are all written in uppercase.
  • Lighter and Softer: The Toei anime and second-series anime compared to the manga.
    • 5D's is the first notable aversion, with quite a bit of Gratuitous Violence thrown about that wasn't too far below the manga.
    • ARC-V has become the other notable aversion. Despite lacking the manga's gore, the themes it explores are just are dark as the original manga at times, though this is dialed back considerably for the third season.
    • VRAINS zig-zags this, with Yusaku's backstory being comparable to Seto Kaiba's, but as the series progresses he comes to terms with his trauma and re-learns how to have fun.
  • Long-Runner Tech Marches On: Every anime series expands on the technology used to duel and develops it further:
    • The original Duel Monsters has Battle Boxes, glass boxes that encase a table and chairs where small miniature holograms are projected onto the playing cards placed on the table. This eventually advanced into Duel Arenas, play fields where cards are played on a playing surface and large holograms of them appear in the arena, and eventually the Duel Disk, a portal holographic emitter worn on the arm so you can duel using the Solid Vision technology anywhere. The Duel Disk in turn goes through a prototype phase before being refined into the familiar design incorporating a card tray that Kaiba mass produced for Battle City.
    • GX has progressed to the point Duel Disks are mass produced and everyone owns one, and the Duel Disks have a much more streamlined and compact design as well. Customized Duel Disk designs exist but are mostly confined to the rich and/or influential, otherworldly beings notwithstanding.
    • 5D's has Momentum/Ener-D technology and the D-Wheel, which allow dueling at high speeds. The Disks incorporate the features to automatically eject cards from the deck for drawing or search effects, and will shuffle the deck when appropriate. Customized Duel Disk designs are commonplace, and some are designed to be compatible with D-Wheels, able to attach and detach from them for Riding Duels or Ground Duels as needed.
    • ZEXAL has Duel Pads which are similar to real-life tablet computers and smartphones, with touchscreen controls, phone systems, an the ability to access the internet, including all that this entails. The touchscreen displays also allow duelists to directly view cards in play including their stats and effects. Duel Gazers are an add-on and allow for Augmented Reality Duels where monsters appear to interact with the environment.
    • ARC-V has their Duel Disks look pretty much exactly like real-life tablet computers, just with a slot in the side for the deck to insert into. These disks have no card trays, and instead project Hard Light surfaces the duelists place cards on. Buttons to control the device seem entirely forsaken in favor of voice commands and/or touchscreen prompts. Solid Vision technology has further evolved to allow duelists to directly interact with the holograms, allowing for Action Duels where the duelists run about fantastic fields interacting with their monsters.
    • VRAINS has the Vrains virtual reality system for dueling, although regular duel disks are still around and people play the game in real life as well. The Vrains seems to be like an MMORPG for dueling, and to log on one needs to enter a full-body stasis chamber the size of a closet. The duel disks are much more compact, some as small as wristbands, and the most advanced ones can produce virtual cards for players to use instead of needing real cards. They also have on-board AIs that can help the duelists with exposition and statistics.
  • Losing Is Worse Than Death: Many series will have at least one rival character, villain, or hero who is so determined to win that losing is equivalent to death. In the first series, Gozaburo Kaiba taught Seto this, and in the manga Kaiba's desire for revenge was so strong he built a theme park specifically to kill Yugi.
  • 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.
  • Magic from Technology: Even in series without magic, the Solid Vision systems and VR might as well be magic in how monsters are "alive" and interact with opponents. The Dark Side of Dimensions accentuates this, as Kaiba is able to use his technology to magically transcend dimensions and counter actual magic.
  • The Magic Poker Equation: It'd be easier to note times when duelists didn't have just the cards they needed to pull off whatever precise combo they need.
  • Magical Incantation: Characters uses individual summon chants when summoning powerful monsters, starting from 5D's on. Subverted in that the incantations aren't really magic, but summoning monsters without the chants makes the sequences rather dull.
  • Magitek: Magic has been part of the franchise since Day 1, but as things have progressed the line between magic and technology has blurred to the point they're indistinguishable, and from 5D's on the series pretty much stopped differentiating between the two. In ARC-V Action Duels let players interact with their monsters and suffer real damage from attacks, and duelists can seal their defeated opponents in cards. Duel Monsters had these same elements, but there they were done with magic, while in ARC-V it's technology. Vrains is entirely science-focused.
  • Merchandise-Driven:
    • Originally, this was inverted; the card game wasn't intended to be a major part of the manga, but was defictionalized and made the focus of the franchise due to its popularity. Later entries in the franchise play it straight as the focus shifted to hyping new cards, archtypes, and mechanics.
    • An unintentional example happened in 5D's 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.
    • Starting with 5D's, each anime series hypes up a new summoning mechanic for the card game. ARC-V, while introducing Pendulum Summoning, does a decent job of giving all the summoning mechanics equal spotlight. VRAINS introduces new rules entirely for the game, which are showcased in the anime.
  • 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.
    • The original series has Tea and Mai portraying this trope.
    • Alexis in GX fits this trope with her short skirt, shapely body, large and curvy breasts, and an even kind of sexy-sounding voice.
    • Aki Izayoi from 5D's is easily the sexiest major female protagonist. While she herself was never flirtatious or seductive, her large bust, exposed clevage, short skirt and leggings with straps were all censored or altered in the dub.
  • 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. Since ZEXAL, even the side characters have these kind of hair.
  • 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.
  • My Little Panzer:
    • 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.
    • It reaches its Logical Extreme in ARC-V, where the Hard Light setup of most duels essentially makes every Action Duel a Shadow Game. Sora ended up getting sent to the infirmary after his duel with Kurosaki, and the Fusion Dimension uses it to wage war with the other dimensions. Despite this, there's no age limit for children to compete in Action Duels, though there at least seems to be some safety precautions with extremely young Duelist, such as making so they can only duel in extremely well padded areas.
  • 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, as usually when it's used the character had one, two, or no cards left.
  • New Rules as the Plot Demands: 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.
    • This was played straighter in the manga and the anime's Duelist Kingdom arcs, using rules closer to a tabletop RPG than a card game. Later arcs also had occasions of this, though not as frequent.
    • 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. Tag team duels also have some flexible rules at play regarding how teammates can interact with each other's cards, and sometimes teammates share a single Life Point total, or keep their own separate totals.
  • Nice Girl: All the Yu-Gi-Oh! female protagonists are this.
    • Aki Izayoi becomes this after her Character Development however. Before she was very insecure and sadistic.
  • Nice Guy: Its almost a requirement that each Yu-Gi-Oh! protagonist is a kind-hearted, passionate person who is very protective of his friends.
    • Averted with Yusaku. Unlike the other protagonists, Yusaku is a Anti-Hero who doesn't seem to enjoy dueling and doesn't appear to like socializing with people. That said however, Yusaku still shows heroic and noble intentions. He is still protective of any person as he does not want anyone to be harmed in his own mission.
  • No Hugging, No Kissing: Most romances are only implied with Ship Tease at most, and those that are indisputably canon are usually between minor or backstory characters. However, recently they've been letting up on this. Both ZEXAL's anime and manga ended with confirmed ships (and a homosexual ship even in the manga) and ARC-V pushes certain pairings well into the foreground to the point where said relationships are very plot-relevant.
  • 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 Siegfried von Schröder, but he was a relatively harmless one after the likes of Dartz and Dark Marik. Granted, Siegfried still engaged in cyber-terrorism, corporate espionage, fraud, and cheating at Duel Monsters, so his harmlessness is indeed relative.
  • 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. A notable exception is the anime version of Dark Bakura, who is very good at impersonating his harmless and meek host's appearance and mannerisms to avoid detection.
  • Oddly Named Sequel: GX, 5D's, ZEXAL. While the names are odd, they have meaning inside each series. The GX was for "Generation Next", 5D's for the Five Signer Dragons, and ZEXAL is the Super Mode the hero receives. ARC-V comes from the machine that Leo Akaba intends to fuse the dimensions with and Zarc, the titular main antagonist of that series. VRAINS stands for Virtual Reality Artificial Intelligence Network System.
  • Personality Powers: Duelists often use deck themes that reflect their character, and their ace monsters particularly tend to symbolize them. ARC-V goes so far as to use this trope as Foreshadowing: Sora's Fluffal monsters split apart to reveal blades and demonic eyes when he fuses them into Death Toys, which reflects Sora himself and hints at what's really under that smug child exterior.
  • Pinball Scoring: Monsters have ATK and DEF in increments 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 they were played during a duel where they had a 30% power boost and their original ATK and DEF were unkhown, 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 focused on many types of games at first, and Duel Monsters was only meant to appear in one chapter. Fans kept asking if there were real versions of those cards available and if the game would be revisited, which it was—without it the series would have been canceled very early on. The author realized that focusing on a single game allowed him to have more story focus, and so it became the focus of long story arcs in the manga, became the central focus of the anime, and snowballed until the entire franchise centers around it to the point where non-card games are very rare.
  • The Power of Friendship: 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.
  • Recurring Character: Tetsu Ushio, the first villain Yugi faced, seems to appear or is mentioned in every series.
  • Reincarnation: All over the place, especially in the manga and second-series anime.
  • Rousseau Was Right: This is the philosophy that all installments in the franchise portray. Yu-Gi-Oh! regularly proves that people are human, complex creatures. It shows humanity and understanding in many of the characters. The series where this philosophy is the strongest seems to be in the more serious series like the original, 5D's and VRAINS.
  • Rule of Symbolism:
    • A duelist's dueling style and even specific cards is often reflective of their personality. For instance, take 5D's. 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.
    • ARC-V even has a few scenes where some duelists physically beat the crap out of their enemies, and their fighting style reflects their dueling style. Gongenzaka punches head-on and relies upon strength, while Kurosaki avoids taking direct hits and aims for the neck and weak spots of his opponents to OTK 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? A mildly hilarious example happened with Scar-Red Nova, an Immortal from a then-non-existent serpent line, but a serpent line was later discovered.
  • Serious Business:
    • If you haven't figured out this trope applies to the card game, you haven't been reading very closely. In the original manga, this applies to gaming in general.
  • Shades of Conflict: Morality is often challenged in each installment but in the end seems to end towards White-and-Grey Morality.
  • Shown Their Work: Any time there's a duel when the enemy is using a deck depletion strategy to win by deck-out, it almost inevitably comes down to the hero winning on their last turn after drawing the last card in their deck. If you trace the duel back to the first turn and track the cards played, usually the math does add up to them starting with 40 cards and having one left by the time the last turn comes.
  • 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.
  • Sliding Scale of Idealism vs. Cynicism: This franchise overall has a very idealistic tone to it. Its just that it takes a lot of redeemed characters and a heavy dose of Earn Your Happy Ending to make it there.
    • The original series has a number of darker moments, especially in the manga, but still relies heavily on the idealistic end, with only truly evil villains not getting redeemed.
    • GX is heavily idealistic in the first half of the show. The second half gets much darker and cynical but still has a heavy dose of idealism.
    • 5D's involves a more dystopian city, corrupt people, and criminals just trying to get what they can, it gives a more cynical setting, though the tone, spirit, and characters still makes this series more on the idealistic end of the scale.
    • ZEXAL is idealistic, as the villains are very human and many are redeemed, though it takes time for some to stick.
    • ARC-V slides back and forth on the scale, with a light beginning, very dark middle, and a surprisingly upbeat end.
    • VRAINS is the bleakest and most cynical series in the franchise so far. It adds bleakness and cruelty with Yusaku's backstory being comparable to Seto Kaiba's, but as the series progresses he comes to terms with his trauma and re-learns how to have fun. This makes the series start off cynical but slowly heading more towards the idealistic end.
  • 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.
    • What the Synchro summoning mechanic is based on, with it requiring a tuner monster and a variable number of non-tuners whose total levels match up with that of the synchro monster you're trying to summon.
    • ARC-V has Yuya, Yuto, Yugo and Yuri all capable of doing this with one another. Fittingly, it debuted in one of Yugo's duels in the Synchro Dimension.
  • Sufficiently Analyzed Magic: Every series has at least one character who studies dueling via the scientific method—and since Duel Monsters are magic, their experience comes in handy.
  • 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.
  • There Is 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. But where's the fun in that?
  • Token Super: The Protagonist of almost every series, will be the sole member of their team to possess the particular unusual power of the series. (The only exception is Yusei Fudo in Yu-Gi-Oh! 5D's, where his whole team shares his power).
  • Tournament Arc: In the anime series these regularly occur, usually one a season, but not all the time.
  • Unreliable Canon: All that is known for sure is that the anime of Duel Monsters, GX, and 5Ds, all take place in the same timeline, thanks to the 10th anniversary movie where their protagonists time travel into the past and meet each other. Everything else is very blurry. Confusing things further is that time travel exists and characters have used it to change the future, and it is well established that alternate dimensions are a thing, and either could be used to sort the various parts of the franchise into connected but separate continuities.
    • The original DM manga and anime are very different and have their own continuities. The manga got the spin-off Yu-Gi-Oh! R, which is seemingly non-canon, and then later the film Yu-Gi-Oh! The Dark Side of Dimensions was based on the manga continuity, not the anime, but it has discrepencies with both. Yu-Gi-Oh! The Movie: Pyramid of Light and Yu-Gi-Oh!: Capsule Monsters are anime spinoffs that are nebulously canon, and the mostly-ignored Toei anime gets acknowledged in the anime of GX.
    • Zexal, Arc-V, and Vrains have Mythology Gag references to the first three spin-offs, but it's otherwise ambiguous if they take place in the same universe. Arc-V has parallel dimensions which are not only based on the past spin-offs GX, 5Ds, and Zexal, but alternate versions of characters from those shows appear in it; there is no explanation given for how this is possible or what it means.
    • The various manga all take place in an Alternate Universe from the anime that shares the name, but the mangas don't take place in a single timeline themselves.
    • Most of the spin-offs all have their own versions of the Duel Spirit dimension, with GX actually saying there are twelve such dimensions. Then 5Ds and Zexal have their own parallel dimensions that may or may not be Duel Spirit dimensions or something else, and Arc-V dealt with one original dimension for humans that was split into four.
  • Unspoken Plan Guarantee: Does a duelist draw a card without mentally expositing what it does or even naming it? It'll counter the opponent's move and save them. Do they mentally plan out a combo of cards to counter the opponent? It's gonna blow up in their face. Sometimes the unspoken plans fail and the explained ones work perfectly, but it's usually played straight.
  • Vendor Trash:
    • There are thousands upon thousands of cards in the real-life card gamenote , and a large chunk of them are completely useless even for casual duelists who use gimmicky deck themes.
    • In-universe in the original series and GX to a lesser extend, most cards 6 stars upwards and some 4 stars are so rare note  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.
    • A minor plot point in 5D's, where Yusei's deck is explicitly said to be made up of a mishmash of cards from the junk heap, with some exceptions, and Crow obtained his powerful Blackwing deck from someone who likely had it before Zero Reverse.
  • Weirdness Magnet: How many types of mystical forces has Duel Monsters channeled now?
  • Well-Intentioned Extremist: Where many villains usually resign. This makes them much more human and sympathetic.
  • World of Ham: If you are a duelist in a Yu-Gi-Oh! series, you are a Large Ham obliged to shout at the top of your lungs, activate cards with dramatic hand gestures, use a summon chant when you summon your ace monster, and even announce your draw with a mighty roar of "It's my turn! DRAW!"


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