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In the Yu-Gi-Oh! franchise, there are a set of stories that one could easily miss, a set of stories told through a highly unconventional medium; these are the metaplots found on the cards themselves.

The card art found on many of the cards in the card game would often feature recurring characters, objects, and depict events that progress chronologically as new cards are released and the storyline progresses. Card archetypes are the easiest places to see connections between characters and events, and allow a careful viewer to construct a coherent plot from these cards. These stories are not merely fan speculation; they are fully-fledged stories with characters, personalities, structures, and climaxes, all told through the limited space of a single card.

While telling stories with cards is not wholly unique to Yu-Gi-Oh, as cards in Magic: The Gathering would also tell stories and develop characters, card stories in Yu-Gi-Oh are nontheless distinctive due to their standalone nature. While cards in Magic all share one setting, the cards in Yu-Gi-Oh have no shared central settingnote . The Magic franchise's spin-off media also primarily develop the world and story inside the cards, while the Yu-Gi-Oh franchise's media works concern stories and worlds set outside of the cards.

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Because of this standalone nature, much of the details of the metaplots in Yu-Gi-Oh remain speculative. However, there are official sources that offer detailed background info on the lore of Yu-Gi-Oh cards, and some are more detailed than others. The Master Guide series of books are the most comprehensive sources on card lore in the entire Yu-Gi-Oh franchise, and has provided detailed setting, character, and story information on multiple card archetypes across its multiple publications.

Obviously, these cards are used as resource for fan fics writers, trying to explain their stories or giving them new meanings.

Of note is that this page is not about card stories as they relate to the anime; information on cards and their stories as they appear in the anime can be found on here. Interestingly, while metaplot-relevant cards (including those from the famous Duel Terminal storyline) have appeared in the anime, anime card plots and game card metaplots have almost never interacted with each other.

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Please refrain from adding single characters examples that could be summarized in one sentence, like "Inpachi gets burned, turns to charcoal, and gets remade into a robot." We have a character page for those.

Also, only add examples which are CLEAR. Let's try to avoid speculation as much as possible.

Add links to the card which tells that part of the story, in case the troper wants to see it for itself.


Yu-Gi-Oh! Metaplots With Their Own Pages


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    Blue-Eyes 
Centuries ago, a mysterious shining stone was found. It was dubbed "The White Stone of Legend" because all who saw it never forgot it. Eventually it hatched, revealing to be a dragon egg, and eventually the dragon acquired a rider who wore Raregold Armor, becoming the Paladin of White Dragon. It eventually grew up, becoming the Blue-Eyes White Dragon. But, in the throes of its power, it killed its owner.

In shame, it underwent a ritual to remove the evil from itself, with it being personified as the Malefic Blue-Eyes White Dragon. With the evil gone, it became the Blue-Eyes Toon Dragon. However, the powerful Black Luster Soldier used the Black Luster Ritual to fuse them back together, the ritual being so powerful it created the Blue-Eyes Ultimate Dragon. The Black Luster Soldier took it as its own, and together, they were called the "Dragon Master Knight."

Eventually, the Black Luster Soldier left the dragon when it grew old, and its death caused the original parent of The White Stone of Legend, the strongest of all the forms, the Blue-Eyes Shining Dragon, to be reborn. Eventually, desiring to live out the rest of its days in peace, it transformed into a human, the Maiden with Eyes of Blue; if she feels the need, however, she can create a new Blue-Eyes White Dragon, or bring one back from the dead, to protect her. At the end of her days, she ascends, becoming the Azure-Eyes Silver Dragon, a mighty creature with the power to raise the dead.

Tropes

  • Samus Is a Girl: If the Blue Maiden is any indication, the Blue-Eyes White Dragon is female.

    World of Magistus 

The world of Magistus is an expansive world that connects a dozen of magic-using archetypes. Set in a world where magic is commonplace, the three central characters of the world are the titular Magistus: Endymion, Aleister Crowley, and Rilliona. From these three characters, a dozen other archetypes are connected to them: these include Endymion, Prophecy, Spellbook, Invoked, Witchcrafter, and Mythical Beast.

Tropes

    Gagagigo's Journies 
His story started out in his younger days, as Gigobyte serving Eria the Water Charmer as her familiar. During this time, he fought alongside her, the other elemental charmers and their familiars. He grows up into Jigobyte via Triangle Power, and when Eria sacrifices her soul before being revived by the Ribbon of Rebirth, Jigobyte possesses her, as did the other charmers and familiars.

At some point he leaves her and Jigobyte/Gagagigo sets off on his path to darkness. He eventually comes upon a warrior of light, Freed the Brave Wanderer. They both engage in a battle that results in Gagagigo getting dragged into the other dimension through a Dimensional Prison that Freed creates. After being sent through Freed's Dimensional Fissure, Gagagigo finds himself trapped in another dimension (possibly Pandemonium or the Dark World). Forced to wander the area for some time, Gagagigo stumbles across what seems to be a bone yard. Trouble soon ensues and he almost gets sacrificed on the Archfiends' Altar for Tribute.

Luckily, he is rescued by the Marauding Captain and his soldiers. However, before they can escape, they are attacked by an Inpachi who was defeated by the Marauding Captain. It soon came back empowered by the fiends to become Blazing Inpachi. They battle it and it is eventually defeated by Chopman in a desperate attempt to escape his Archfiend captors, leaving Inpachi as charcoal. During the battle, the Marauding Captain saves Gagagigo by taking a direct hit from a blast launched by Blazing Inpachi. This act deeply moves Gagagigo, bringing about a catharsis that inspires him to help his new-found friend. He then joins Marauding Captain in a war against the Invader of Darkness.

During one battle, Gagagigo deflects a blast from the Invader of Darkness that is aimed at one of Marauding Captain's men, saving the man in the same fashion the Marauding Captain saved him with, and proving his redemption. Some time after the battle, a weakened Gagagigo gains aid from Kozaky in the hope of gaining the necessary power to defeat the Invader of Darkness. With the help of Kozaky, Gagagigo has his body reconstructed to become Giga Gagagigo.

However, it turns out that Kozaky was working with the Archfiends to repair their Inpachis and the archfiend cybernetics that are fitted onto him prove to corrupt his mind, reverting him back to his evil self. Kozaky then launches Giga Gagagigo with his Compulsory Evacuation Device into a Monster Gate in the sky and returns him to his native dimension. As he is mindlessly wandering the dimension in search of opponents, Giga Gagagigo comes across a Venom Cobra and battles it to test his strength.

Afterward, Giga Gagagigo stumbles across Freed again and attempts to finish him off by launching an attack . However, Freed proves to be the stronger warrior and deflects Giga Gagagigo's attack. Giga Gagagigo gets his attack redirected back at him and is soon defeated. Obsessed to continue gaining strength to defeat his rivals, Giga Gagagigo continues his rampage, transforms into Gogiga Gagagigo, and truly loses his soul to his undying craving for power. Yet again, he engages Freed in a battle, but this time he was able to outpower him. When he was about to give him a finishing blow, the Marauding Captain appears to protect Freed. Instead of following his corrupted instincts, Gogigo Gagagigo understands Marauding Captain's actions, and gives up on his quest for power, thus finally becoming the strong warrior of justice he once sought to be, Gagagigo the Risen.

This story provides examples of:

  • Big Bad: The Invader of Darkness
  • Canon Welding: Inverted; it's implied that Gagagigo's stories with Eria are completely detached from his stories with Marauding Captain and Kozaky, effectively splitting Gagagigo's stories into two different canons.
  • Cybernetics Eat Your Soul: Starting from Giga Gagagigo sapping him of his free will and ending with Gogiga Gagagigo collapsing Gagagigo's soul.
  • Downer Ending: At first, but then came Gagagigo the Risen.
  • From Nobody to Nightmare: He goes from a cute child and familiar before becoming evil. After an Enemy Mine situation where Marauding Captain took a blow for him he attempted a Heel–Face Turn that was stopped by Kozaky's reconstruction of him into a cyborg to save his life. This path lead to the once adorable and tranquil Gigobyte to becoming the soulless engine of destruction known as Gogiga Gagagigo.
  • Heel–Face Revolving Door: Gigobyte starts out good, then turns evil once each at the Gagagigo and (Go)Giga Gagagigo stages. However, only the first turn to evil was of a conscious choice. After fighting with his old enemy, Freed the Brave Wanderer, he is purified by the Marauding Captain, becoming the Awakened Brave Warrior - Gagagigo.
  • He Who Fights Monsters: Much of Gagagigo's journey was to defeat the Invader of Darkness. In a bit of tragic irony, one of the Gagagigo forms who could actually beat IOD in a fight is Gogiga Gagagigo.
  • Hero of Another Story: The main story is about Gagagigo, but his other allies, especially Freed and the Marauding Captain, have rather lengthy adventures of their own.
  • Horrible Judge of Character: Gagagigo, namely regarding Kozaky.
  • Obviously Evil: Kozaky. At least his horns were reduced outside of Japan.
  • Tragic Hero: After having a genuine change of heart after Marauding Captain saved his life, he went to Kozaky to save his life so he could follow through. However, despite it turns out Kozaky wasn't The Mole and Gagagigo's cybernetics killed his free will and subjected him to a Heel–Face Door-Slam. This would eventually lead to him becoming Gogiga Gagagigo and losing his soul. Thankfully, his suffering ends with his soul restored and his Heel–Face Turn truly completed.

    The Tyrant and the Revolution 
This story starts at the end of "The Emperor's New Clothes" (The Emperor's Holiday). After realizing that he was lied to by his soldiers, he blamed his soldiers for the said lie, (Tyrant's Temper, Tyrant's Tirade). He then vented his temper out on the goblin attack force, (Tyrant's Tantrum). After doing so, he tried to forget his troubles by eating, (Tyrant's Tummyache). This did not seem to work, he had a violent tantrum after eating, with his soldiers trying to calm him down (Tyrant's Throes).

The lie to the emperor and his own actions apparently made him forget about the Huge Revolution, which had gained power to the point that the emperor's soldiers make the emperor go out and stop the rebellion (Double Payback). The emperor then stopped the rebelling people by having his army surround them and declare that their movement is at an end (The Huge Revolution is Over).

After that, he tried to relax down from all of his troubles (Asleep at the Switch). In doing so, he let his guard down on the entire castle, and allowed the rebelling people to destroy the castle and reclaim their freedom. The emperor was then removed from his position (Turnabout). Afterward, he is scorned by his former subjects (Retort).

This story provides examples of:

     Warrior Lady of the Wasteland and Dai Grepher's Rivalry 
Once, there were two warriors. One was Warrior Lady of the Wasteland and one was Warrior Dai Grepher. They met each other and got into a fight, which resulted in them being catapulted into different dimensions. Dai Grepher ended up at the Paths of Destiny and Warrior Lady ended up in the Different Dimension, becoming DD Warrior Lady in the process. Dai Grepher picked the Path of Light and became Ryu Senshi. However, he lost that form when he was beaten by Guardian Baou. He beat Baou and took his sword, the Wicked Breaking Flamberge. Unfortunately, the sword corrupted Dai Grepher and Dai Grepher became Dark Lucius Lvl. 4. A while later, DD Warrior Lady and Dark Lucius ran into each other and fought again. The result was DD Warrior Lady sending Dark Lucius into another dimension. As time went by, Dark Lucius became even more demonic. Eventually, Dai Grepher was freed from the influence of the sword, and decided to travel the lands as a force for justice, becoming Lightray Grepher.

This story provides examples of:

  • Action Girl: Take a wild guess.
  • Came Back Strong: D.D. Warrior Lady is much more useful.
  • Cowboy: The Warrior Lady of the Wasteland. She seems to have lost her hat when first sucked into the DD, and sheds the attire all together to the futuristic wardrobe all the DD residents prefer.
  • Dimensional Traveler: The Warrior Lady and friends.
  • Hero of Another Story: They both are this to each other, with the Warrior Lady befriending her fellow residents of the DD and leading those bunch of misfits into a dimension-hopping vigilantes troupe; while Dai Grepher at first is commander of an annihilated army, stranded in a branching paths that either way has him twisted into evil warrior (Dark Lucius on the left and Dark Grepher on the right), and finally trapped in Warrior Lady's tailor-made dimension, growing even more evil than ever.
  • Obviously Evil: The sword is purple, glowing, and belongs to a demon. Then there's the name. Not the kind of thing one would want to pick up.
  • Rival Turned Evil: Forced unto Dai Grepher as a result of wielding Wicked Breaking Flamberge

    The Goblin of Greed 

There was once an Upstart Goblin. He was so rich that people prostrated in front of him for his money. When the Duel Monster World stock market crashed, he did some odd jobs, but that failed too. As a result, he decided that he will steal the Jar Of Greed and the Pot Of Greed. He was caught and was forced into servitude. The Dark Scorpions robbed the slaveowners' place. The Goblin went after them but failed. The slaveowner fired the Goblin and the Goblin had to pay for the broken jar and pot. Eventually, he worked in a Mokey-Mokey factory, but he found out that there were more pots of greed to steal over there.

This story provides examples of:

     Six Samurai 

In Feudal Japan, a great war was ensuing. From that war, a young warlord named Shien and his soldiers won battle after battle. When the dust settled, Shien stood on top, and was poised to become even stronger. As his power grew, he made many enemies, who hired the Ninjas to try and eliminate him. But from his spy, Shien caught wind of the plan, and asked his advisor for help. He used Kagemusha to try and create an impostor of himself while enlisting the help of his soldiers. Days later, Shien's enemies, along with the White Ninja and the Vengeful Shinobi came and attacked the Temple of the Six. Vengeful Shinobi took care of Shien's troops. The invading army pushed all the way up to the entrance. There, they fought the Samurai waiting for them. The Samurai fought valiantly, but in the resulting battle, Shinai was killed. The White Ninja made it through the gates, and found the impostor Shien, and killed him. The alarm was sounded, and Zanji and Irou attacked and defeated the Ninjas. The Samurai celebrated their victory. However, this was to be short lived. Shien was starting to become stronger and more corrupt. He used force to keep his people from rebelling. Kizan was starting to worry, and attempted to overthrow Shien. He attempted to kill Shien, but was stopped by Enishi and wounded. Shien banished Kizan, who spent many years in hiding, waiting. Enishi eventually became chancellor to Shien, Kageki became Shien's Chamberlain, and Mizuho, mourning her husband's death became the Hand of the Six Samurai, but her husband lived on. Many years passed and Shien grew old and weak. Kizan chose this moment to overthrow Shien. He killed Enishi and Shien. Shien's former adviser later came to Kizan and taught him how to seal Shien's soul in a scroll using an old medallion. Kizan could now unleash the power of Shien on all who opposed him.

  • Animated Armor: Shinai's final fate.
  • Body Double: Kagemusha
  • The Magnificent Seven Samurai
  • Protagonist Journey to Villain: Shien
  • Retired Badass: Many of the Legendary Samurai are a form of other members of the Six: for example. Enishi, Shien's Chancellor has battle armor in the background of his image. That battle armor is what is worn by The Legendary Six Samurai - Enishi. It can be assumed that Shien and Shi En are the same obviously, but The Legendary Six Samurai - Kizan is closely related to the Grandmaster of the Six Samurai, and so forth.
  • Sealed Evil in a Can: Shien's soul is contained within a medallion and can be brought out under Kizan's command.
  • Sigil Spam: Most card artworks featuring the Six Samurai and their supporting cards contain a heraldic crest/coat of arms(紋章 - monshō or 家紋 - kamon) representing the Six Samurai. The crest is composed of a bolded outer-circle and an inner-circle. The inner-circle contains six smaller dotted circles which are connected to each other (in a specific path) and 6 other irregular shapes that are likely to represent the initial Six Samurai. To date, the only Six Samurai related cards that do not feature the Six Samurai crest are "Great Shogun Shien", "Tenkabito Shien", "Shien's Footsoldier", "Shien's Daredevil and "Shien's Castle of Mist". However, it appears that if you look at the art in some of the Shien cards that Shien and elder have an alternate symbol between them, as evident in "Tenkabito Shien", "Shien's Advisor", "Elder of the Six Samurai", and even "Shien's Smoke Signal"

     Warrior of Zera 

There was once a great and powerful warrior, famous for his awesome strength and his unshaken determination. He had vast potential and was destined for grand things, good or evil. But this mighty warrior had one serious weakness; one that was meant to be destructive for his future life. His heart was easily tempted by the forces of darkness, and when that used to happen he was becoming savage and dangerous. Afraid of his evil side and not wanting to cause any trouble to his people, he abandoned his birthplace, the land of Zera, and vowed never to return unless he mastered his own power.He left on a quest to find the legendary land where the Archlords used to live. He hoped that those divine beings could shield him from the temptation of the wicked fiends and also teach him how to use his power safely. After an exhausting travel he eventually found the place he was seeking. Those who ruled the afore mentioned holy land eagerly accepted him, realizing his great potential. Soon he was granted new powers and was beginning to become powerful and respected in his new home.

Apparently he succeeded in his newly acquired duties and soon he was offered the inconceivable power of the heavens; he truly reached perfection and thus he, a stranger, became the ruler of the sanctuary. However, despite his new status still he wasn’t able to fight off his inner demons. He desperately tried to resist but the temptation of the evil fiends was just too strong… He gave in completely. The Archfiends corrupted him to such degree that he was possessed by such a desire for destruction that he was turned against his own kingdom. Its residents tried their best to defend it, but our hero’s newly acquired power was far too strong and irresistible.

Alone now, standing in the center of the wrecked scene, he gazed at his new self. His body was largely changed, struggling to support his new powers. His feather wings which used to represent his virtue were turned into red bat wings. His divine sword, with which he was fighting evil, was now a menacing looking weapon of destruction, still soaked into the blood of his former friends. He screamed with an ominous screech, thinking about what he lost. But he couldn’t change the facts. He was from now on a dark angel.

Soon, he realized that he couldn’t stay there for long. The ruined sanctuary was emanating a weird aura that was somehow affecting him. Besides, it was only a matter of time before the other Archlords were informed for the destruction. He had already killed those who stayed in the sanctuary but there were many more scattered in the four corners of the world. He felt weak…he knew he wasn’t in a condition to fight.

Desperate to find a place where he could hide but also build his new life, he once again made the terrible mistake to accept help from the Archfiends. He was taken at their lair; an underground place full of dust, ashes and fire. While the sanctuary he used to live could be considered the doorway to heavens this place could only be leading to Hell. But he was forced to stay. He knew that Hell itself was the only place in the world at which the Archlords wouldn't look for him.

He was however a fool to believe that the demons wanted to help him. The fallen angel was imprisoned and through some unknown means the devils managed to subjugate him. Before long, Zerato took a new form; he was no longer an angel. He was turned into a disgusting and diabolical fiend. Everything was lost; there wasn't a way to turn back. He could only go lower and lower; and that's precisely what he did. Driven by his hatred for his former peers and his lust for more power he decided to undergo the final evolution.

For that to succeed he needed to somehow return to his original form. Through some kind of evil ritual that was accomplished. During the same ritual he offered both his body and soul to gain the ultimate power. His offerings were accepted and he was given what he desired. He became pure evil, one of the most powerful shadow creatures that ever walked the Earth. He no longer resembles his older self...

This story provides examples of:

    Sangan in the Forbidden Realms 

Sangan was a simple-minded monster, and despite his three eyes, he didn't often find himself seeing the obvious. In this story he made his greatest mistake: instead of boarding the Tour Bus from the Underworld, he found himself on a very different bus which was leaving around the same time. Unbeknownst to him, this bus would take him to the Forbidden Realms, where all the Forbidden cards go.Note 

Distressed by this sudden turn of events when he arrived, he boarded a taxi with the Angel of Graceful Charity. Unfortunately for Sangan, it could only get worse, as the driver of this taxi, one of the Delinquent Duo, was involved in Pot of Greed smuggling, and Sangan and the Angel were mistakenly implicated in this. He found himself locked away in the Forbidden Realms' jail, with his cellmate being Witch of the Black Forest.Note 

It can be presumed, that since these events, Sangan has been released.Note  Meanwhile, the police-Fiend who arrested Sangan has continued to work with monsters moving in and out of the Forbidden Realms, as seen when he oversaw the release of Thousand-Eyes Restrict.


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