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    Entire franchise 
  • Adaptation Displacement: The various shows have come and gone, and are still popular, but the card game is consistently popular and is likely the first thing thought of when Yu-Gi-Oh is mentioned.
  • Archive Panic: There's 343 chapters of the manga, 27 episodes of the Toei anime, 224 episodes of the second-series anime, at least 4 movies, and tons of video games. That's not even counting the spin-offs that all have their own anime, manga, and video games.
  • Ass Pull: Franchise-wide, you could make a drinking game out of all the times a duelist topdecks just the card they need, but you would destroy your liver after a single story arc. 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.
  • Broken Base: There have been millions of hours spent arguing over which (if any) of the spin-offs are any good.
  • Complete Monster: Has its own page.
  • Contested Sequel: Every single spin-off is this both to Duel Monsters and to the spin-off immediately before it.
  • Critical Dissonance: All incarnations of the franchise have been huge financial successes and run for years, but many people outside the demographic consider them to be little more than either a commercial or watered-down garbage. Complaints include over-reliance on gimmicks, friendship, and Aesops.
  • Ensemble Dark Horse: Twin-Headed Thunder Dragon. In the early games of the card game it had some use due to being easy to get its materials into your hand and having high stats. In the video games it's practically a Memetic Badass, as in the earliest games where you could freely fuse monsters just by putting two cards together, entire decks could be built around Twin-Headed Thunder Dragon and the game won with them.note  Ask anyone who remembers playing Forbidden Memories and they'll have a story about Twin-Headed Thunder Dragon winning the day for them. This may have been a reason why they got expanded into a full archetype in the New 10s, and their new boss monster Thunder Dragon Colossus, a very cool-looking boss monster that was easy to summon and extremely powerful, so much so it got banned in 2020.
  • Friendly Fandoms:
    • Quite the overlap has formed between fans of the Yu-Gi-Oh! franchise and those of the Dragon Ball franchise. A major part of this is that both series' abridged versions are in close collaboration with each other, but on the official side of things, the mid-2010s saw both franchises get new anime installments in the form of Yu-Gi-Oh! ARC-V and Dragon Ball Super as well as new movies. It also helps that they aired concurrently for a good chunk of their runs, broadcasting new episodes within hours of each other each week. Even in-universe, Yugi is apparently a fan of the latter, mentioning it in the very first chapter of the manga.
    • The fandom also overlaps greatly with the Pokémon fandom. Both franchises are superficially very similar, as they achieved much of their popularity with kids around the turn of the millennium with an anime dubbed by 4Kids Entertainment in the westnote  and a trading card game, and achieved a notable fanbase of nostalgic adults as the original child fanbase grew up. Both franchises also have powerful dragon characters that became heavily-hyped franchise staples and among the most sought-after cards in their respective TCGs, with Blue-Eyes White Dragon and Red-Eyes Black Dragon for Yu-Gi-Oh! and Charizard for Pokémon.
    • Yugioh fans love to compare the entire show to JoJo's Bizarre Adventure and its sequels. It's easy to see why thanks to both series taking their respective subjects very seriously while acknowledging their over-the-top antics, memetic hand and body poses, and Ham-to-Ham Combat. The storytelling of both series is also similar in execution, split into separate parts that each following a new protagonist contrasting the last, but the same overarching theme of overcoming fate and friendship. There is also a theory that Kazuki Takahashi was inspired to make a card game by the D'arby scenes in Stardust Crusaders.
  • Misblamed: Konami gets flack whenever there's an issue happening in the anime series. But, Konami only creates the card game and the master rules. It's actually NAS and Studio Gallop who has creative freedom for all the animated shows, and most of the Troubled Production happening stems from them. Granted, some weird changes and cards disappearing in the anime are thanks to the banlists Konami releases every year (Firewall Dragon and Pot of Greed for example).
  • Narm Charm: For some, this is the appeal of the franchise. The hammy, over-the-top dramatics people invoke in playing what The Abridged Series lovingly reminds us is a card game intended for children, are equal parts stupid and entertaining. This is especially applicable to cards that have impossible stats or otherwise break the boundaries of what was previously possible in the game — the writers are breaking the rules of the game for the sake of Rule of Cool, but often they do it well enough to get away with it.
  • Pandering to the Base: Thanks to First Installment Wins meaning that most people that ever watched the anime remember Duel Monsters most, the card game in later years began revamping old archetypes like the Dark Magician and Blue-Eyes White Dragon with new cards to keep them relevant to the modern metagame.
  • Periphery Demographic: Since it's been out of style with little kids since about 2004, Yu-Gi-Oh!'s current fandom is composed almost entirely of teenagers and young adults for its surprisingly complex and layered storytelling that younger audiences may not be able to grasp.
  • Play the Game, Skip the Story: Hand-in-hand with Enjoy the Story, Skip the Game. The anime/manga fanbase and the card game fanbase are worlds apart in their interests in the franchise.
  • Too Good to Last: The uncut, uncensored English dub and Western DVD releases. They were very well-received by older anime fans at the time, but were heavily overshadowed by the success of the standard, kid-oriented Cut-and-Paste Translation with preteen audiences, and the dub/release only lasted a few episodes.
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Duel Monsters

    Both continuities 
  • Acceptable Targets: Americans. Of the few American characters we see, there's Bandit Keith, Pegasus, Rebecca, and Jean-Claude Magnum — a bunch of loud-mouthed, egotistical jerks who will resort to underhanded methods to win duels. Though Rebecca Takes A Level In Kindness after her duel with Yugi, her grandfather is a friendly fellow, and Pegasus lives and reforms in the anime.
  • Adorkable: Serenity/Shizuka's shy, cute, and plays games. If her appearances in Dungeon Dice Monsters and Nightmare Troubador are any indication, she definitely checks out as such.
  • Alternative Character Interpretation:
    • How much of Yami Bakura is Zorc and how much is Thief King Bakura is a hotly-debated topic among the fandom, as well as if any parts of them are taken from Ryou's personality, given their shared love of role-playing games. Yu Gi Oh The Darkside Of Dimensions makes this even more confusing, as the Ring possesses Aigami and Mani post-series after Bakura and Zorc are dead. The manga also has lines that imply the Ring corrupted Ryou's normal personality instead of Yami Bakura possessing him, but that's before the Egypt arc where his past is revealed.
  • Alternate Self Shipping:
    • There are ships for Bakura and "Ryo", and Marik and "Malik", fanon names for the evil and good sides of the characters.
    • Kaiba and Set (his past self) is a popular ship.
  • Americans Hate Tingle: Haga (Weevil) is quite popular in Japan, but the Western audience doesn't like him too much for his cheating methods, and regards him as annoying. His ear-splitting dub voice doesn't help.
  • Angst? What Angst?: Dark Yugi/Yami's reaction to learning that he's a deceased spirit and that everyone he used to know is long dead is remarkably cavalier - a dry quip and little else. Word of God says the reason he was so Penalty Game-happy on his initial release was because the long imprisonment drove him towards madness, but he never alludes to it himself, though Yugi speculates he must have been lonely.
  • Anti-Climax Boss: In the final arc, the Pharaoh and Seto's battle in both continuities is resolved extremely quickly when Kisara stops Akhenaden from possessing Seto.
  • Arc Fatigue: Battle City in both versions is where the duels slow to a crawl, and it's the longest arc in the whole series. The fact that several important events happen at around the same times pads things out further.
  • Ass Pull:
    • It was established that Pegasus's 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 passes out through the strain of the Shadow Game, and Pegasus could read Yami's mind. Yugi's friends, who are currently outside of the Shadow Game, stop Pegasus's mind-reading powers with The Power of Friendship giving them a psychic link to Yugi, which is never brought up or used again.
    • How Ra is finally defeated. In the manga, it's established that destruction effects don't work on Ra, but Dimension Magic/Magical Dimension, an ordinary Spell card, is able to destroy it. This is right after Ra demonstrates immunity to Obelisk's Soul Energy Max, because apparently it's such a high-ranked card even Obelisk and Osiris/Slifer cannot use their effects on it. So, the other God Cards don't work, but a normal Spell card does. Sure. The anime tries to step around this by having Yugi use a different card, Ragnarok, which is implied to negate any destruction negation effects, preventing Ra's immunity from protecting it. However, not only was the existence of the card itself not foreshadowed, but it was an anime only card specifically made to justify Ra's defeat. So it just makes a different Ass Pull in the end.
    • It's often an explicit power to be able to draw, or even create whole cloth, the cards needed to win. Dark Yugi has that as his main power for the final duel with his memories restored, and Yuma and Astral's Zexal form explicitly describe their power as being able to create new cards as needed.
    • While exploring the Pharaoh's tomb, Yugi's grandpa was shot in the back and left for dead, barely hanging onto a ledge. Somehow, the Pharaoh—who was still a spirit trapped in the Puzzle at this point—pulled him up and apparently healed him, as the wound isn't brought up again.
    • Dark Marik's existence. The whole of Battle City arc set the normal Marik Ishtar up as an evil bastard, with a complex character, being a threat to the entire cast, 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. His motivation comes down to rubbing how evil he is into other people's faces, then laughing maniacally. He also takes credit for Marik's crimes and was really responsible for killing his father, as if they couldn't justify a Heel–Face Turn any other way.note 
  • Badass Decay: Insector Haga/Weevil and Dinosaur Ryuzaki/Rex are introduced as two of the best duelists around, enough to take first and second at the regional championships. They then proceed to lose every duel they fight against our heroes.
  • Base-Breaking Character:
    • Seto Kaiba. Fans are equally divided as to whether he should or shouldn't win against Yugi, whether or not his abusive past excuses/explains everything negative he does, whether the story and other characters are biased against him or if Yugi and his friends are right, and whether or not the Mind Crush was necessary for him to heal or a plot device to make him not evil. This even crops up in-story to some degree, with Jonouchi/Joey hating Seto, Anzu/Tea chiding him for saying whatever he wants and not caring about what others have gone through, and both Yugis seeing him as a rival and friend. The anime cranks this up by giving him a lot more screen time to the point where he's a Spotlight-Stealing Squad, leading the fanbase to argue whether or not he deserves the extended role.
    • Anzu/Tea. She suffers from Die for Our Ship courtesy of Yugi x Atem shippers, who love to give her flack for her snarkiness and her corny friendship speeches. On the other hand, her fans appreciate that despite not being a Duelist, she actually does have many courageous and assertive actions to her name (see Rescued from the Scrappy Heap), which became even more apparent in contrast with Neutral Female (Ko)tori from ZEXAL.
  • Broken Base: Do you like the manga with the darker, more consistent storyline or the anime with the lighter tone and fun duels? Fans disagree about this often.
  • 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.
    • Three words: Dark Magician Girl. By far the most popular female of the series, even above Anzu, Mai, and Shizuka. And she is frequently seen with Dark Yugi in many fanarts and fanfictions. It helps that this relationship is almost an exact parallel to Seto and the Blue-Eyes, with Black Magician Girl being born from the soul of the Pharaoh's closest friend, who gets shipped with him just as much (usually reincarnated as the monster in question).
    • Solomon Muto (Yugi's grandfather) and Black Luster Soldier wallpaper, thanks toYu-Gi-Oh The Abridged Series.
    • Mako Tsunami and the ocean, also caused by Yu-Gi-Oh The Abridged Series.
  • Crack Pairing:The Official Yu-Gi-Oh Shipping List contains all of the 'official' ship names, and it goes up to six-way pairings and crazy combinations of characters, some of whom never interacted at all. It's more surprising when a ship in this fandom isn't named than when it is.
  • Creepy Awesome:
    • Dark Bakura's more Ax-Crazy moments are thoroughly enjoyed by his fanbase.
    • Dark Marik is also this, especially when he's dueling.
    • Dark Yugi is this during the Toei anime/"Season 0" and the first several dozen manga chapters of the original series, acting more like an amoral monster from a horror flick until Character Development kicks in.
  • Draco in Leather Pants:
    • Kaiba, especially due to the anime. In the manga he was an antagonist at first, stealing the Blue-Eyes White Dragon card and riving others to ruin to get the other three. After his Experience of Death Penalty Game, which was meant to teach him about the heart of the cards, he built a huge death trap to kill Yugi and was fine with killing his grandpa and friends as well. He was still a jerk after his Mind Crush, especially to Joey. Kaiba gets better when trying to save Mokuba and empathizing with Ishizu in Battle City, but overall isn't a nice person. He became a Breakout Character that underwent Adaptational Heroism with the anime casting him as an anti-hero along with Yugi and Jonouchi, and for it is often seen as a main hero alongside the rest of the cast despite still being a jerk. Being Tall, Dark, and Snarky and qualifying for Evil Is Cool also plays a part in this, as does his abusive childhood with Gozaburo Kaiba explaining some of his more extreme actions.
    • Dark Bakura and Dark Marik are ridiculously popular with legions of fangirls, and are often shipped with each other or their alter-egos. Apparently they missed that both of them are both sociopathic murderers who repeatedly try to kill the heroes and each other and care nothing about their alter-egos except as pawns to be used against the heroes.
  • Ensemble Dark Horse:
    • Seto Kaiba, who was originally intended to be a Villain of the Week. The Duel Monsters card game brought him back as a recurring antagonist, and he got more and more popular from there when he became a hero, to the point that the manga-based Dark Side of Dimensions movie was originally all about him. The card game itself only meant to be featured in a single story but got so popular it featured heavily in the manga and they based the second anime adaptation around it, and subsequent series have focused entirely on the card game.
    • "Bandit" Keith Howard was a secondary villain in the Duelist Kingdom arc, was killed off in the manga, and disappeared in the anime, but he's popular among many fans and 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 and Reshef of Destruction video game. Being rather unique among the villains in the series, in addition to how excellently he plays off Joey contributed to this.
    • The Dark Magician Girl is one of the most popular cards because she is powerful and very pretty. She even appears in most of the sequel spin-offs.
    • 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.
    • The Paradox Brothers are very fondly remembered among the Player Killers, from their fun gimmick to the genuinely exciting challenge they put both Yugi and Joey through. This popularity allowed them to return in GX as opponents for Jaden and Syrus in another fairly entertaining Duel, as well as becoming the first Unexpected Character in Yu-Gi-Oh! Duel Links.note 
  • Even Better Sequel: While "Duelist Kingdom" is already very beloved, pretty much the whole fandom agrees on "Battle City" being the best arc of the series.
    • This also applies to the anime itself, albeit as a successor and not a sequel of sorts. Its actually the second anime based on the manga produced, the first one being produced by a different company and only covering the chapters up to Monster World. Once that anime wrapped up, NAS bought the rights to produce their own anime, and the rest is history.
  • Fanfic Fuel: The period of time between the Battle City arc and the Millennium World arc is often abused by fans as an indefinite amount of time where a number of new stories can be placed. It helps that even official material, such as the anime's original arcs, the 4Kids-commissioned Yu-Gi-Oh! The Movie: Pyramid of Light and Yu-Gi-Oh!: Capsule Monsters, and the Yu-Gi-Oh! R manga spinoff do this as well.
  • Fandom Rivalry: There are inter-fandom rivalries between people who like the manga, people who like the anime, and people who like the dub, as well as fans of the individual anime series. Character-based rivalries also spring up, like Jonouchi fans that dislike Kaiba or Kaiba fans who dislike Jonouchi and Anzu.
  • Fanon: Some of the most widespread interpretations of fans are 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", 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 (a mistranslation in the English manga says he was around for 1000 years, which adds to the confusion). Some fans depict Dark Marik as being tied to the Millennium Rod as the other two are to the Ring and Puzzle. Other fans distinguish between Marik, Bakura, and their alter-egos, by referring to the "hikaris" as Malik and Ryou, and the "yamis" as Marik and Bakura — Marik is just an Engrish variant of Malik (Malik being an actual Middle Eastern and African name), and Ryou Bakura is the character's full name.
  • Fanon Discontinuity:
    • Most Jonouchi fans, especially ones that don't ship him with Kaiba, tend to dislike the anime due to him being more of a Butt-Monkey, more prone to insults that mostly come from Kaiba, the infamous dog suit business, and the fact that he gets less importance comparing to Kaiba.
    • Some manga fans don't like the anime due to some changes and the large amount of Filler.
    • And fans that do like the anime tend to ignore the controversial Season 4 filler and the Grand Prix arc.
  • First Installment Wins: The franchise is still going, but while the sequels have their fans, they never quite reached the same level of popularity as the original series, both the manga and the anime.
  • Foe Yay:
    • Kaiba spent most of the Toei anime either spying on 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. The Toei anime also has lines like this:
      Kaiba: Looks like we really are connected by the thread of destiny. Try to cut it, but it cannot be broken... A thread that entangles us.
    • 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 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.
  • Germans Love David Hasselhoff: "Bandit" Keith is generally considered amusing... in America! The freaking creator Kazuki Takahashi mentioned that he liked Bandit Keith in the US Shonen Jump's second issue.
  • Harsher in Hindsight:
    • A lot of the duel moves concerning the Blue-Eyes and the Dark Magician, once the Memory World 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.
    • Pandora/Arkana tries to win by extracting his Dark Magician's soul with his Ectoplasmer magic card, and firing it at Yugi. Yugi's Dark Magician is affected by the same magic card because they have the same name, and essentially sacrifices himself for the Pharaoh by shielding him from the attack. Mahad(o) promised to always protect the Pharaoh by becoming the Dark Magician after his defeat by Yami Bakura. It makes a whole new context for whenever villains gloat about destroying Dark Yugi's favorite monster.
    • Yugi and Atem's final duel, while already sad, becomes even worse when Yu-Gi-Oh! The Dark Side of Dimensions reveals Aigami and the Plana's powers activated upon the Pharaoh's departure and Kaiba became determined to find and reassemble the Puzzle, leading to the events of the movie. It turns what was a bittersweet, powerful moment for Yugi—defeating his other self and standing on his own—into a tragic one, because in doing so Yugi almost doomed the world without even realizing it.
  • Hilarious in Hindsight:
    • In an early episode of the English dub of the anime Jonouchi screams "Hasan chop!" An actual character named Hasan would show up and play a pivotal role in the last arc of the series.
    • 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.
    • The widely reviled Exodia deck in the real life card game was used in-series by a generic Rare Hunter, making it even more satisfying to see him get demolished by Dark Yugi. Even better, Marik calls him the weakest duelist in the organization.
    • The franchise basically predicted the rise of gamer culture.
    • When the Pharaoh and Bakura have a battle in ancient Egypt, their monsters battle one another while the duelists are riding horses. Many fans humorously declare this the first Turbo Duel, literally two series (and In-Universe more than 3000/5000 Years) before they were formally introduced. Even better, the 5D's manga presents this as exactly how Turbo Duels were fought in the past.
    • The Winged Dragon of Ra is first revealed in the form of a metallic gold ball that unfolds into the actual monster. A competing franchise would one day come to use a similar idea for all its monsters.
    • The original French run of the manga held a card-designing contest for readers, with the winning prize going to a card based on the smiling face drawn by Anzu as a symbol of friendship. In 2015, an actual card was released based on the very same symbol.
    • In the dub of episode 37 of the first season, Yami Bakura declared that he wanted a new host instead of Bakura (actually, he was after the comatose Mokuba for a special key he had) and Tristan initially thought he was after him. Come the final season, Yami Bakura does end up taking over Tristan's body.
  • Ho Yay: Goes without saying.
  • Informed Wrongness: Any duelist who relies on sacrificing monsters, such as Rebecca or Arkana, tends to receive a mouthful from Yugi for not respecting their cards. Except this is a Card Battle Game, which is all about making monsters kill each other to destroy the opponent, and he's lecturing them for using legitimate mechanics in the game. Also, he himself has regularly sacrificed monsters to Catapult Turtle and for Tribute Summoning, which makes it similarly jarring that his use of the former was supposed to be seen as a sign of the Orichalcos's malign influence.
  • Magnificent Bastard: See here.
  • Iron Woobie: Anyone who isn't visibly broken by what they've been through, since almost every character has a tragic backstory to some degree. Yugi and Jonouchi are prime examples.
  • It Was His Sled:
    • Can you believe that Dark Yugi being a Pharaoh was actually a plot twist in the manga? Also, the Pharaoh's real name being Atem. While a big reveal at the time, it's not uncommon nowadays for people to refer to him by that name instead of "Yami" or "The Pharaoh."
    • Dark Marik's very existence was originally a huge reveal. Not so much anymore.
  • Jerkass Woobie: Kaiba, Pegasus, and for a more extreme version, normal Marik. You'll also be hard-pressed not to feel at least a little bad for Pandora/Arkana.
  • Magnificent Bastard:
    • Shadi remained the primary guardian of the Millennium Items even after death. Once a tomb keeper at Kul Elna, Shadi showed no mercy in punishing thieves and other criminals while being kind enough to take in orphans. In the present, Shadi makes his first appearance by testing and murdering a man who defiled a mummy. Taking an interest in protagonist Yugi Moto and the Millennium Puzzle, Shadi brainwashes Professor Yoshimori and Anzu Mazaki, using the former to distract Katsuya Jonouchi while keeping Anzu as a hostage. Shadi then subjects Dark Yugi to a series of mental challenges, with Anzu's life on the line, and accepted defeat when the boy proved himself worthy. Later, it's revealed that Shadi had a hand in both Starts of Darkness of Maximillian Pegasus and Marik Ishtar, setting them up as opponents for Yugi. However, in the end, Shadi proves himself an ally of Pharoah Atem by aiding him and his friends in the Memory World before sacrificing himself in the fight against Zorc Necrophades.
    • Maximillion Pegasus was one of the series' most fondly remembered Big Bads. The inventor of Duel Monsters and CEO of Industrial Illusions, Pegasus used the mind reading powers of his Millennium Eye to control the few things his billions of dollars could not. Making a deal with the Big 5 of KaibaCorp, Pegasus set up a plan to defeat Yugi as a means to gain control of the company and use its technology (and in the dub Yugi's Millennium Puzzle) to resurrect his deceased loved one. Stealing the soul of Yugi's grandfather, Pegasus lured Yugi to his Duelist Kingdom Tournament, where he pitted him against other Duelists and his handpicked team of Player Killers/Eliminators, designed in a way that would leave Pegasus the winner of the tournament no matter what. When Seto Kaiba came to the island for his brother Mokuba, Pegasus used him as a catspaw to damage Yugi's confidence before claiming the former World Champion's soul as well. Only narrowly defeated by Yugi and Dark Yugi/Yami's tag-team dueling strategy, Pegasus set a high bar for subsequent villains to aspire to, and whether as a duelist, corporate raider, or user of Shadow magic, always seemed to be holding all the cards.
    • Thief King Bakura, the original incarnation of Dark Bakura, wished vengeance upon the Egyptian royal family and the High Priests for the slaughter of his village, Kul Elna, to create the Millennium Items. Bakura made himself known by ransacking late Pharoah Akhenamkhamen's tomb and marching into the royal palace with his body, dumping it in front of Pharoah Atem and the Priests, and successfully escaping. When Priest Mahado later attempted to corner and fight Bakura within a tomb, Bakura barely survived the former's sacrifice and made off with his Millennium Ring. Later on, Bakura attacked Priest Akhenaden and corrupted him by sealing a part of his soul into the Millennium Eye before battling and successfully defeating Atem while fleeing from the other Priests. Even after being cornered and defeated in Kul Elna, Bakura's corruption of Akhenaden ensured that the plan of summoning Zorc Necrophades would come to pass.
  • Memetic Badass:
    • Yami Yugi, especially prior to Duelist Kingdom kicking in due to the creative and well-done Shadow Games he played to utterly wreck his enemies, though that's not to say he lost any of his quota afterwards. In the anime, he becomes this after the first episode.
    • Kaiba get this treatment often as well, and Dark Side of Dimensions only amplified it. He tends to utterly flatten his opponents if he isn't emotional at the time, and his ridiculous wealth led to a memorable scene where he bought a sports car on the spot during Waking the Dragons. His peaks are his duels with Ishizu and Zigfried.
    • Yugi is actually the most notable case due to his defeat of Atem in the Ceremonial Battle, who was pretty much the most powerful duelist at the time. Fans tend to see him as the best duelist out of all the series' protagonists, and Dark Side of Dimensions increasing his badassery only helps.
  • Memetic Hair: Yugi's and Saruwatari's/Kemo's.
  • Misaimed Fandom:
    • Various Kaiba fans, to the point that some think he was right to threaten suicide to win instead of considering other options. Jonouchi often appears to be reminding the reader of the hurt Seto has caused and never taken responsibility for, the sorest spot being Death-T. 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. This is most prominent with anime Kaiba, where his character was softened, his backstory was more elaborate and tragic, and he got several exclusive arcs to himself.
    • Thief King Bakura/Dark/Yami Bakura as well. Fans have seen him as trying to avenge the genocide of his village, that he was a victim all along due to Zorc's influence/the massacre, being a crusader for social justice, or that his backstory excuses his actions, not explains them. Actually he doesn't care if he gets revenge on the wrong person or if he hurts other innocent people. The anime has him outright saying he doesn't care about the dead villagers, the manga had rumors of him murdering hundreds in a blood festival and killing civilians in a bar with shadow magic, and both versions had him attack innocent civilians to lure the Pharaoh out, so it's arguably all an excuse to summon Zorc while being as Laughing Mad as possible. And when he does find the person who ordered the Items' creation, he turns him to his side rather than kill him—and in the manga, Bakura made him part of the game from the start.
  • Mis-blamed: There are some people who complained the many differences between the manga/anime duels and the Konami card game, some would even say that the characters make up the rules and card effects all the time. In reality the manga/anime rules and card effects are the original one. See Older Than They Think.
  • Moe:
    • Cyndia/Cecelia, especially as a child.
  • Most Wonderful Sound:
    • The beeping noise every time the life point counter goes down.
    • The Blue-Eyes White Dragon's roar. Gotta hand it to 4Kids, they did an awesome job on it. And when they combine into the Blue-Eyes Ultimate Dragon, it becomes deliciously and ferociously layered.
    • In the Japanese version, many of the ridiculously hammy lines have become this due to Memetic Mutation, like Yami Yugi's "DORO! MONSUTAA KAADO!" and Kaiba's "SHOKAN! BURU-AIZU HOWAITO DORRRAGON!"
  • Narm Charm:
    • Half of the charm in this increasingly outlandish romp of a series is made up by the sheer levels of scenery-chewing of the dialog.
    • And then there's the concept of the series 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 games as a medium through which to channel their powers.
    • Dark Marik's crazy faces. The fans love it when he's doing it.
  • Never Live It Down:
    • Anzu/Téa for her friendship speeches. In the manga and anime Yugi and Joey made the most speeches, not her. It's not helped that in the dub (at the start of the "Waking the Dragons" arc), she mentions the friendship speeches, nor does Yu-Gi-Oh The Abridged Series making this her defining character trait.
    • 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 
    • Yami Yugi's preference for flashy silver after the scene where he advises Yugi to dress up more for his date with Anzu. Also, his fondness for setting things on fire despite only pulling this move twice as a penalty game in the first manga, and arguably only doing it because he was using what he had to work with in his environment against his enemy (an early manga scene in vol.2 has him electrocute a gang who were about to use stun guns to kill Jonouchi, but this goes largely forgotten).
  • Older Than They Think:
    • Some think that the anime or manga is based on the card game. In reality the manga predates everything and the anime was based from the manga. The card game IS the one which is based from the show, which was made later after the release of manga and anime.
    • Believe it or not, Yami Yugi was actually taller than Yugi in the initial chapters of the manga before Takahashi evened out their heights, rather than this idea being exclusive to both anime.
  • Popularity Polynomial: While not to the extent of Pokémon, Yu-Gi-Oh! went through a similar evolution of being insanely popular with kids in the mid-2000s, losing its luster after a couple of years, gaining a large, fervent fanbase of adults who grew up with the franchise as kids, and revisiting characters, cards and concepts from the original series to tap into their nostalgia.
  • Relationship Writing Fumble: As The Abridged Series joked about, Jonouchi and Mai are about the closest thing to an Official Couple the show has. According to Word of God though, the two are "Just Friends".
  • Rescued from the Scrappy Heap: Compared to Kotori, many fans have softened their opinion towards Anzu/Tea for calling out Kaiba over his cruel Batman Gambit on Yugi, Dueling experienced players (Mai and Otaki) twice and winning, getting a short character arc about her dancing career, and formulating a few extremely risky gambits when the situation calls for it. Capsule Monsters also had this, as Anzu knows a lot of historical facts, gets to be a Deadpan Snarker without being overbearing, and has a lot of moments of supporting her friends, including Jonouchi. It helps that she's directly involved in the action, with her Dark Witch being one of the strongest team members initially.
  • 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. This is most prominent among fans of the anime, where Kaiba's character was softened, his backstory was more elaborate, and he got several exclusive arcs to himself.
    • Mai gets hate for being a "slut," apparently due solely to her memetically enormous breasts, and being in the way of slash pairings for Jonouchi, or her regression during the Doma arc, which was justified in the show by the Mind Rape she suffered leading her to the dark side.
    • Fans of Thief King Bakura and/or Marik tend to paint the Pharaoh as in the wrong, being a petty tyrant, actually authorizing the Millennium Items' creation, or blaming the Pharaoh/his entire family for the massacre when it was ordered by one person.
  • "Seinfeld" Is Unfunny: Yugi using Exodia to win an otherwise unwinnable duel against Kaiba was suspenseful at the time the relevant chapters/episodes were released. Since it became a Signature Scene of the franchise and Exodia became one of the most popular, recognizable monsters, most of the tension is lost as a result.
  • The Ship's Motor: The practice in Yu-Gi-Oh! fics of giving Yami Yugi, Yami Bakura, and/or Yami Marik their own bodies to make shipping them with their human hosts easier is so widespread that it's rare to find a fic that actually sticks to the canon portrayal of them as Sharing a Body with their hosts.
  • Stoic Woobie: Dark Yugi and Mai in the manga, less so in the anime.
  • They Wasted a Perfectly Good Character: This trope got shot through the roof with Yugi's friend group whose name isn't Jounouchi and Mai due to the fact that they never received any significant plotline or major character development after the series switched gear into card game. It's even more notable when their introductory arcs and storylines from the manga are skipped and glossed over in the anime. It's saying something that the filler arcs and scenes added to the anime managed to find better use for their character than the manga.
  • Too Cool to Live: It wouldn't be very interesting for Yugi to spend the whole series winning with Exodia, so Weevil Underwood throws the cards off the boat on the way to Duelist Kingdom, rendering Exodia unusable.
  • Uncanny Valley:
    • Ryou Bakura in the manga, especially during Duelist Kingdom.
    • Dark Marik, taken Up to Eleven with the Animation Bump psychotic faces he makes.
    • Shadi is also unnatural looking. Justified as he's a ghost.
    • Pantomimer/Strings is a souless mime, and his face reflects that.
  • Unfortunate Character Design: Zorc's infamous dragon crotch, which was made due to the author's illness. The bunkoban manga revised it into a belt, but the anime went with the original portrayal, furthering its infamy.
  • Vanilla Protagonist: Yugi is the only duelist without a significant quirk. He's not the Blue Eyes White 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 does have a few outstanding quirks, but not as much as other characters. There's a tendency for cute or toy-like monsters to be included in his deck, but this seems to be just as much pragmatism as a personal choice since many are useful in some way.
  • Viewer Gender Confusion: One of Bakura and Otogi/Duke Devlin's fangirls looks like a boy, and can easily be mistaken as one.
  • Wangst: Kaiba, after losing Battle City to Yugi, plans to blow up the island and end the tournament prematurely because he lost when he planned to win and surpass the memory of his stepfather Gozaburo by doing so. The anime makes this worse, as he'd defeated Gozaburo in the previous arc, albeit it was written before Kaiba's reason for holding the tournament was revealed. The dub mitigates this somewhat as Kaiba's planning to leave, but doesn't mention blowing up the island until Yami Marik is defeated.
  • The Woobie: Enough for a page.

    Manga Only 
  • Adaptation Displacement: The original manga has been eclipsed by the anime in peoples' mind, even to the point that the next two series, GX and 5D's, were born before their mangas.
  • Adorkable: Hanasaki is a shy, timid kid who loves comic books, and in cosplay mode he becomes a Large Ham.
  • Alternative Character Interpretation: Bakura fought against Dark Bakura in his first appearance, shattering his own soul to stop him. Afterward, he never defied him again and became fond and protective of the Ring. After Battle City, despite never believing Dark Bakura had turned good and knowing all Dark Bakura had done to him and his friends, he happily reclaims the Ring and puts it on. Many fans have wondered just what was going on with manga Bakura.
  • Ass Pull:
    • At Death-T, Kaiba accidentally hires Anzu Mazaki, one of his own classmates, to work at the Stardust Shooter game at the exact time Yugi arrives.
    • In the Monster World arc Yugi and his friends are stuck in a Death Trap, the only escape from which is for Dark Yugi to roll one specific number using two 10-sided dice. He has three chances, but already used up two of them without success. In other words, there is only a one percent chance that they will get out alive. Of course, on the last possible turn, he just happens to roll the exact number, and Dark Bakura decides not to cheat even though he never specified which was the right number to begin with. note 
    • After the pier duel, Kaiba waits until he's sure Jonouchi drowned to drop the key in the water to free him. The key somehow goes straight down, and despite being chained to an anchor that's dropped in the ocean Jonouchi is able to grab something that small, free himself, and swim up without losing consciousness or sinking too deeply.
  • Badass Decay: Honda, who goes from a cool, active character to more of a cheerleader for the others by the Duelist Kingdom arc, and then went on to rarely appear in the manga's Battle City arc before stepping back into his cheerleader role during the finals and did nothing of importance in the Memory World.
  • Bizarro Episode: Chapter 21 of the manga takes place between Trial of the Mind and Death-T, has the characters act about five years younger than their ages, and there is no Shadow Game—in fact, it's the only standalone chapter where Dark Yugi does not appear. Despite the lack of a Shadow Game, the digital pets are implied to be alive and sentient in some way.
  • "Common Knowledge": The manga starts out dark and bleak with Dark Yugi as a Villain Protagonist, only for it to get much lighter when the card game comes around... except Dark Yugi was always an Anti-Hero (just with more extreme methods that are toned down through character development) who was protective of his friends. The early chapters had many lighthearted as well as dark moments, and Duelist Kingdom and onward did not tone down the darkness, but instead used different methods of expressing it.
  • Escapist Character: Yugi/Dark Yugi was meant to be this, as an invincible gaming hero was something a lot of kids wanted to be.
  • Fanfic Fuel: A month passed between the Millennium World and the ceremonial battle, leaving ample room for fanfiction.
  • Growing the Beard: The Death-T arc, marking Kaiba's ascension to Big Bad and Yugi finally revealing the existence of Dark Yugi to his friends. From then on, things got less episodic and more plot-oriented.
  • Harsher in Hindsight: The early chapters of the manga focused on Dark Yugi challenging bullies and assholes unfortunate enough to target his friends to Shadow Games, and not all of them suffered from Mind Rape, like the escaped convict or Goro, who both suffered from Kill It with Fire. The latter in particular is disturbing after school shootings like Columbine. Adding to it was that before Dark Yugi was revealed to be a Pharaoh, it looked like Dark Yugi was either a split personality or an extension of Yugi's personality.
  • Hilarious in Hindsight: Right before Death-T begins, Jonouchi gets challanged to a street fight. It's especially funny since both of his seiyuu have since gone on to voice Ryu.
  • Moral Event Horizon:
    • Seto Kaiba crosses it when he subjects his own brother to a virtual Penalty Game after he loses to Yugi during Death-T. Of course, Death-T in the first place crossed the moral event horizon, especially when Kaiba subjects Grandpa to a Penalty Game that hospitalizes him, and doesn't care that Honda's infant cousin is in danger when Honda volunteers to go with them.
    • The means how Seto Kaiba acquired his 3 Blue Eyes White Dragons, extorting them from the previous owners including hiring a crime syndicate to take the first, bankrupting one of the owners into surrendering the second and driving the last collector into committing suicide. Card games are Serious Business, indeed.
  • Narm:
    • Dark Yugi dramatically eating spaghetti in Mokuba's Russian Roulette dinner game is often used as an example of how silly the series can be at times.
    • In Viz's translation, when Dark Bakura reveals that he's holding Yugi and his friends' bodies captive in coffins the moment is ruined by the sound effects. "ZZ ZZ ZZ" makes it look like they're snoring.
  • Never Live It Down: Yami lighting 777 on fire is an infamous moment and a prominent example of the manga's Early Installment Weirdness. Many paint Yami in the early chapters as a Judge, Jury, and Executioner vigilante, except few people have (very likely) died from his Shadow Games: the aforementioned 777 (lit on fire), Goro (blown up), the delinquents targeting Hanasaki (trapped in a maze of fire) and Imori (lost his soul). Everybody else was subjected to Mind Rape.
  • The Scrappy: has its entry here.
  • Signature Scene: The most famous non-Duel Monsters Shadow Game is the one where Dark Yugi sets the convict on fire with a lighter and Russian vodka.
  • Unintentionally Sympathetic: Goro Inogashira, one of the Jerkass of the week that ends up the victim of one of Dark Yugi's Shadow Games. While the guy is a colossal jerk who destroyed a stand and beat up people who can't fight backnote , his punishment is a massive case of Disproportionate Retribution. He gets blown up by Dark Yugi. Especially when people worse than him got lighter punishments, such as Kokurano, who attempted both murder and rape and only got exposed as a Phony Psychic.
  • They Wasted a Perfectly Good Character:
    • Hirutani, who was the only villain from the Shadow Games arc aside from Kaiba to have a recurring role, and his last appearance implied that it wouldn't be the last time we'd see him. It would have been interesting to see him as Jonouchi's personal rival, but once the series focused on Duel Monsters full-time, he was written out of the series.
    • Ryo Bakura (the normal one) and Ryuji Otogi don't get much attention after their initial arcs, despite being the only members of the group other than Yugi to be naturally good at games in general. Ryo is shown to have good deck-building skills when it comes to Duel Monsters and is brainwashed by Marik to become a participant of the Battle City tournament, but Dark Bakura is the one that actually duels. With Ryuji Otogi, not only does he sit out of the Battle City tournament as a mere spectator, he's not present in the Shadow RPG, and neither of them play any games after their introductions.
  • Woolseyism:
    • The Viz translation sometimes added completely new lines, such as Yami Yugi describing Mystic Box's effect in a very grandiose way compared to the original, where he described its effects matter-of-factly. When the anime used the original translation, this led some people to think they watered down his personality compared to the manga when the lines weren't there originally to begin with.
    • In the Monster World arc, Bakura tries telling his friends to leave, but Dark Bakura takes control. In the English version, Dark Bakura finishes his sentence "Get out of..." with "...the hall and come in," making for a creepy, effective moment.
    • The Viz translation kept Pegasus's dub name of Maximillion Pegasus, adding in "J" as with his Japanese name.

    Anime Only 
  • Accidental Aesop: The moral of the Dungeon Dice Monsters arc can be seen as "be patient and always check your email." If Otogi had waited a day before going out for revenge he'd have seen the contract and never gotten into conflict with Yugi at all.
  • Alternative Character Interpretation: The dub adds layers to Ryou Bakura by having him give a detailed description of the Millennium Eye and its powers, then claim to know only a little about it, and having Yami Bakura claim he promised to help him collect all the Items in the church scene at the start of season 5.
    • Rex Raptor is either a really bad duelist or a fair, honorable duelist who loses by either luck or someone cheating against him.
  • Animation Age Ghetto: Yu-Gi-Oh! has a bizarre relationship with this trope. The series was first aired on Kids' WB! in 4Kids' typical heavily bowdlerized kid-friendly style, and became a big hit with the preteen demographic. However, the series was originally conceived for the older preteen/young teenage Shōnen demographic, and 4Kids reflected this by releasing a few uncut DVDs of the show with both the original Japanese and a brand-new dub. The DVDs were an Acclaimed Flop and their sales paled in comparison to the "standard" dub, which is widely believed to be what compelled 4Kids to start their infamous practice of never releasing the uncensored Japanese versions of their series. Nontheless, 4Kids and later Konami began officially releasing the uncensored Japanese version of the series and its sequels online over time, which became more popular as the franchise's original kid demographic grew up. While each series has both a dubbed and subtitled version available legally in the West, the dubs are generally family-friendly and marketed towards all agesnote  while the subs are always uncensored and marketed more to the older fans, though older fans aren't prohibited from liking both. Meanwhile, the manga is a shonen manga marketed at kids in Japan despite copious amounts of blood, swearing, and horrific elements.
  • Anti-Climax Boss: In the Big Five's duel against Yugi and Jonouchi in season 3, the baddies manage to summon Five-Headed Dragon, a behemoth of a monster that in the anime was able to destroy all cards the opponent controls, while sporting 5000 ATK and being unable to be defeated in battle by anything other than a LIGHT monster. The mythical dragon was summoned previously on the Legendary Heroes arc and was only defeated by combining Yugi and Kaiba's strongest ace monsters (Blue-Eyes Ultimate Dragon and Black Luster Soldier) into the Dragon Master Knight but not before taking down Mai, Jonouchi and Mokuba with its attacks. Here it's also built up as a threat with the Big Five banking on Kaiba not being present at the moment (and therefore Yugi not having access to Dragon Master Knight) as their key to success. How long does it last? 2 turns later it gets defeated by Yugi's Mirage Knight without much effort at all, and their real boss monster turns out to be Berserk Dragon. Even the Legendary Fisherman made a better attempt at being threatening.
  • Ass Pull: During the Orichalcos arc, it was demonstrated just two episodes in that the Millennium Puzzle just plain doesn't work with the Seal around... only for it to suddenly work when the Pharoah is about to lose his soul. However, it's unclear if the Seal didn't take Yami's soul because the Millennium Puzzle repelled it, or because there was no darkness in Yami's soul at that time for the Seal to work (which has precedence in Yami's second duel with Raphael), and the Millennium Puzzle was simply glowing to look cool. note 
  • Awesome Music: Has its own page.
  • Bile Fascination: Despite being practically impossible to find episodes of, there are fans that want to see if the Singapore dub by ODEX lives up to the mockery it receives.
  • Bizarro Episode: Episode 28. The main plot centers on Anzu, Honda and Bakura sneaking into Pegasus' tower to find out how he knows his opponent's moves, and they 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; but by this point both the audience and Yugi know that Pegasus has the Millennium Eye and can use it to read minds, so this isn't even a Red Herring. Then Pegasus catches them and teleports them to an ancient temple full of robed figures, including Pegasus himself who is dueling and defeating a cloaked figure. He makes to attack the trio before Yami Bakura comes out and teleports them all back to their rooms and erases their memories of the night. As this plot is happening, we also have Yugi receiving a psychic dream (or a simple nightmare, it's ambiguous) from his grandfather encouraging him to defeat Pegasus, and then a vision of Sogoroku's card burning on a cross alongside Seto and Mokuba's cards. We also get a few cutaways to Mai adjusting her deck, but we don't see what she's doing, we just know she's changing something. Only two things of relevance happen and are resolved in a few minutes over two or three scenes, including the first scene for the episode: the match-ups for the finals are revealed along with how the prizes for the tournament will be handed out, and then Bandit Keith steals Jounouchi's entry card to the finals. Everything else is just Mind Screw that has no bearing on the story.
  • Broken Base:
    • The filler arcs, particularly the Virtual World and Doma arcs. Some fans dislike them for getting in the way of the main storyline, or enjoy them as breaks from the story and giving the cast deeper characterization.
    • The 4Kids Entertainment dub receives mixed reactions in the fandom. Detractors decry the edits, saying that the unneeded dialogue changes, ridiculous Bowdlerization, and removing of several subplots (Jonouchi/Joey's goal in Battle City is completely changed) ruins the series, creates several Dub Induced Plot Holes, and ends up toning down the impact of the emotional moments such as when Mokuba stands up to Kaiba in the Battle City arc. Supporters of the dub don't mind the changes believing the series was already ridiculous and also claim that some of the changes in the dub are more in-line with the manga,note  and there is plenty of Woolseyism being given off from those changes that are to the dub's benefit. The over-the-top nature of the dub is a big point of contention; fans of the Japanese version consider it to be an embarassment and liken it to a Merchandise-Driven '80s cartoon, claiming that the original version is easier to take seriously and is generally more respectable despite the ridiculous premise, while supporters praise the World of Ham voice acting by Dan Green and co, as well as the more silly and over-the-top aspects that make the anime stand out more and makes the Japanese version seem boring and nonsensical with how it plays as a typical serious Shonen series with card games being its central plot.
    • In the same vein, 4Kids' short-lived uncut dub. Fans of the dub attest that it was Too Good to Last, preferring it over the "regular" dub by far, and appreciated being able to watch the show uncut in English with some of the flair of said "regular" dub intact, most notably character voices, accents and mannerisms. Others attest that the performances and dialogue were too stiff and wooden (with Kaiba in particular being hit with claims of Sesquipedalian Loquaciousness) compared to the hammy, ludicrous and pun-filled dialogue of the "normal" dub and find it a more boring watch.
  • Cant Unhear It:
    • Regardless of how fans view the 4Kids dub, the English cast has become so iconic that many find it difficult to imagine anyone else voicing their characters, including Yami/Yugi (Dan Green) and Seto Kaiba (Eric Stuart).
    • Fans of the Japanese version and Memetic Mutation have also turned some of the Japanese voices into this, most notably Kenjiro Tsuda's ridiculously hammy and hyper-masculine pompous Kaiba, to the point that the official PROPLICA Duel Disk collectible includes 40 of his pre-recorded lines for no apparent reason.
  • Designated Hero: Joey comes across this way for the conditions of the bet he made with Duke in episode 46. Duke wanted Joey to be his servant for a week. Joey, on the other hand, wanted Duke to shut down his store if he lost, which would've unemployed several workers who had nothing to do with their conflict. It should be noted that this is only the case in the dubbed version. In the original version, Jounouchi just wanted Otogi's fan-girls to worship him instead, which is closer to the scale of what Otogi wanted. This gets mocked in the abridged series:
    Yugi: Joey, don't you think that's a little extreme? You can't put someone out of business just because you're jealous.
  • Designated Villain: Dinosaur Ryuzaki (Rex Raptor) is an unfortunate contender. Most of the early villains were jerks who just happened to get Yugi involved, 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 who was willing to use the Orichalcos to get back at Joey and stop losing, though this was in a filler arc.
  • Does This Remind You of Anything?: The dub censored the massacre at Kul Elna by claiming that the Millennium Items were forged from the evil spirits inside of the villagers rather than their flesh and blood, while still insinuating that the villagers were all killed. Since we don't see any of those evil spirits, and Aknadin tells this to the soldiers right before brainwashing them, it looks like Aknadin was demonizing (relatively) innocent people to justify killing them and stealing their souls.
  • Fanfic Fuel: Where the Bakuras were in season 4 is a popular topic for fanfiction, with a general consensus being that Ryou was busy building the diorama for the RPG. Note that the game board for the Shadow RPG was a museum diorama built by Ryou only in the manga, while it's a TV screen that's implied to have been in a dark pocket dimension from the start in the anime.
  • First Installment Wins: The Duel Monsters anime is still the iconic and definitive Yu-Gi-Oh! media in the minds of many.
  • "Funny Aneurysm" Moment: The KC Grand Prix arc makes a couple jokes about Yugi's grandpa having a bad back. Then a flashback at the start of the Egypt arc reveals he was shot in the back during his exploration of the Pharaoh's tomb.
  • Genius Bonus: Orichalcum is a legendary metal used as currency in Atlantis, tying in with the Orichalcos card.
  • Growing the Beard: The Battle City Tournament is where the story in general became less of a Monster of the Week format and far more dramatic, particularly halfway through with Yugi's duel against Strings and all the events that followed.
  • Harsher in Hindsight:
    • The Legendary Heroes arc's beginning, with Kaiba uploading himself into the VR world despite Mokuba's objections, becomes a lot harder to watch after Yu-Gi-Oh! The Dark Side of Dimensions, where Kaiba does the exact same thing with the afterlife and may or may not have died for it.
  • Hilarious in Hindsight:
  • Like You Would Really Do It: Anzu says this practically word for word to the Rare Hunter who threatens to drop a crate on her head if she doesn't shut up. Despite the duel being rigged to ensure someone dies no matter what, nobody does.
  • Magnificent Bastard: Maximillion Pegasus was one of the series' most fondly remembered Big Bad. The inventor of Duel Monsters and CEO of Industrial Illusions, Pegasus used the mind reading powers of his Millennium Eye to control the few things his billions of dollars could not. Making a deal with the Big 5 of KaibaCorp, Pegasus set up a plan to defeat Yugi as a means to gain control of the company and use its technology (and in the dub Yugi's Millennium Puzzle) to resurrect his deceased loved one. Stealing the soul of Yugi's grandfather, Pegasus lured Yugi to his Duelist Kingdom Tournament, where he pitted him against other Duelists and his handpicked team of Player Killers/Eliminators, designed in a way that would leave Pegasus the winner of the tournament no matter what. When Seto Kaiba came to the island for his brother Mokuba, Pegasus used him as a catspaw to damage Yugi's confidence before claiming the former World Champion's soul as well. Only narrowly defeated by Yugi and Dark Yugi/Yami's tag-team dueling strategy, Pegasus set a high bar for subsequent villains to aspire to, and whether as a duelist, corporate raider, or user of Shadow magic, always seemed to be holding all the cards.
  • Memetic Badass:
    • Since he is the only one besides Yugi who fairly defeated the Pharaoh in a duel, Rafael acquired this status.
    • Tea Gardner once people realized she has a 100% win rate note  out of all the characters in the franchise, something her successors and even the Invincible Heroes like Yugi and Yusei can't say.
  • Memetic Mutation: Now with its own page.
  • Mis-blamed: Fans who complain about 4Kids skipping the Toei anime. This series is a different show based on the manga. It's not in continuity with the show they did dub, and directly contradicts it and the manga in several places. 4Kids did not buy the rights to the Toei animation, and thus never dubbed it.
  • Moe: Rebecca gets this reaction from some, particularly after her redesigns.
  • Moral Event Horizon:
    • No matter the continuity, Pani K crosses this when he outright attempts to kill Yami Yugi with the flamethrowers of his Duel Arena after losing. He receives swift retribution.
    • Dartz would dispose of any of his servants at any time and his plan involved the sacrifice of billions of monster and human souls from several millennia, but to find out that he messed with his three subordinates' childhoods to make them join him while blaming it on someone else proves how sick he was.
    • Gozuburo Kaiba crossed it when he uploaded his own son's mind to a Virtual World and then abandoning him.
    • Insector 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.
  • Most Wonderful Sound:
    • The lifepoint counter, especially once the counter hits zero.
    • The Blue-Eyes White Dragon's roar.
  • Narm:
    • Tara Sands' performance as Mokuba Kaiba in the English dub can create this since most of her emotional takes don't have much inflection and can really make the emotional moments involving him practically laughable.
    • The 4Kids localization turns what is essentially a paint-by-numbers shonen series with card games to a paint-by-numbers '80s cartoon centered around the merch. Whether this is a good or bad thing depends on the fan, though overall the divide isn't as strong as for 4Kids' later work.
  • Narm Charm:
    • The 4Kids version of the show is this by some, mostly the ones who came into the series via the dubbed version. The dub as a whole is pretty over-the-top compared to the Japanese version. The voice acting can be pretty hammy during duels and the dialogue is silly or stupid at times, but because of how silly the series can be as a whole, these elements gel pretty well with it.
    • Japanese Dark Bakura is voiced by Rica Matsumoto (aka Satoshi/Ash Ketchum). Let that sink in for a moment. Then hear him laugh. It's both scary and funny at the same time.
  • Never Live It Down:
    • Poor anime Jonouchi will never live down the time Ryuji Otogi made him wear a dog suit and bark for him. It's often used to compare him to manga Jonouchi in a derogatory way, and him wearing one in the manga-based Darkside of Dimensions made a lot of his fans angry.
    • People in dueling community remember Rebecca more as "that one girl who uses Cannon Soldier" or "that one girl who uses that annoying Heal / Burn combo" than anything related to her personality or deeds such as hacking into Kaiba Corporation computer system.
  • Older Than They Think: A lot of the jokes in Yu-Gi-Oh! The Abridged Series were directly inspired by the 4Kids dub, which constantly threw in plenty of metacommentary and Breaking the Fourth Wall lines. LittleKuriboh even credited them with this on Twitter.
  • Padding: The three filler arcs, consisting of the Virtual World saga, the entirety of the fourth season and the first half of season 5. The first one at least explores some of the Kaiba brothers past and provides some Character Development on their part, but the other two could be excised without affecting the remainder of the series at all.
  • Rescued from the Scrappy Heap: Rebecca in season 4, carrying on into season 5. She became a lot less bitchy than she was in Season 1. It also helped that Season 5 gave her a memorable deck that combined the niche healing burn strategy in the TCG with the Gem Dragons in a way that's coherent and playable in real life compared to other anime decks.
  • The Scrappy:
    • Miho from the Toei series has very few defenders. Aside from being a shallow girly girl who speaks in the third person, which is a completely different personality from her manga self, she strings Honda along when she's clearly not attracted to him, other characters' awesome moments are given to her to make up for being a Satellite Character, and she's very shallow in her selection of guys (Kaiba for his wealth, Fuwa for his fame and possible wealth, and Ryou for his attractiveness).
    • Rebecca was a notorious one during her first appearance on the show for being a Bratty Half-Pint who refused to listen to reason, threw tantrums and talked to her teddy bear to hide her strategy, and technically defeated Yugi when he surrendered the match to teach her a lesson in respecting her cards. Many were surprised to suddenly find themselves liking her when she returned in later seasons as a more mature character.
    • Otogi/Duke Devlin's cheerleaders from the Dungeon Dice Monsters arc are near-universally disliked. Instead of just fawning over Otogi/Duke, they boo Yugi, demean and physically assault Jonouchi/Joey, and rub the fact that he's wearing a dog suit in his face, which is played as comic relief and could be excised without losing anything. They're not shown apologizing and/or getting comeuppance for their actions, and many fans see them as emblematic of problems with the arc in general. The fact that one of the girls has a very gonk design doesn't help.
    • Vivian Wong, for those who don't find her Fangirl antics to be amusing, particularly when she crosses the line into manipulating and abusing Yugi's grandfather as part of a plan to make Yugi her "love slave".
  • Seasonal Rot:
    • The fourth season, "Waking the Dragons" aka the Doma arc, is considered to be one of the weakest parts of the anime due to it not only being a Filler arc that doesn't add anything to the main story involving Atem's past or the Millennium Items, but also a Cliché Storm involving Yugi, Kaiba, and Joey as The Chosen Ones, which ran contrary to the personal stakes that the manga and previous seasons intended. The different powers of the Orichalcos, which is the central element of the arc, is frequently expanded upon via Ass Pull in the episodes where it feels like they are all just made up on the spot. The dub didn't help with this, often removing nuance, such as giving the villains generic Black-and-White Morality, or adding in plot holes, like downplaying Mai's trauma at the hands of Marik to make her regression feel incredibly forced rather than a response to trauma They also gave the Seal of Orichalcos the power to turn it's wielders evil, as opposed to the original simply revealing and testing one's true nature, making Atem's use of it look like Aesop Amnesia from Duelist Kingdom. This compounded to make an already rather flawed arc a near kiss of death for the series to western audiences (It's no coincidence that 4kids almost immediately started airing the dub of GX after this arc with season 5 of Duel Monsters being hidden in more obscure time blocks). Naturally, this arc and especially the dub is a frequent source of mockery in Yu-Gi-Oh! The Abridged Series.
    • The following arc, KC Grand Prix was completely skippable in comparison to Virtual World and Waking the Dragons, which at least offered good character exploration. Joey is turned into a total Butt-Monkey, Arc Villain Ziegfried is derivative of other, better villains (Pegasus in particular) and the duels are mediocre at best, with the exception of the widely liked duel between Kaiba and Ziegfried.
  • Signature Scene: Dark Yugi defeating Kaiba with Exodia in the first episode is one of the most iconic moments of the series. The smiley scene also counts to a lesser extent.
  • Squick: Yami Marik's gross tongue movements and increasingly veiny appearance are nauseating to watch.
  • Subbing vs. Dubbing: As mentioned under Broken Base, there is heated debate in the fandom on whether the original Japanese or English 4Kids localization of Duel Monsters is better due to the Cut-and-Paste Translation nature of the latter. When Yu-Gi-Oh! was first released stateside, many older fans were made aware of the show through the dub but were revulsed by the many changes 4Kids made (often citing the Animation Age Ghetto), and in its early days there was a niche but noticeable Western fandom for the subbed version. However, as dub watchers grew up, they came to appreciate some of the various Woolseyisms and the ludicrous World of Ham snarkery that was inserted into the series, and support for the dub grew among older fans. At that point, 4K Media made both the subbed and dubbed versions of the show officially available on their website and on Crunchyroll, appeasing both camps. That said, there's still debate in the fandom on which is the superior version, and it doesn't help that Yu-Gi-Oh! The Abridged Series is often thrown into the mix as an "alternate" dub to turn it into a three-way debate.
  • They Changed It, Now It Sucks!: Considering that the English dub was produced by 4Kids, company known for its changes to the anime whether it's because of its infamously overbearing censorship that's enforced by Broadcast Standards and Practices, to make the anime more marketable to international audiences, or just because they took some liberties with it themselves such as replacing the music with their own in order to make profits off of other countries using their music in the dub through royalty fees, it was inevitable that 4Kids was going to get this once again. Even though the heavy flak for the dub has died down in recent years thanks to the Abridged Series and has even brought in new fans, as well as the dub quality of later Yu-Gi-Oh! series being all over the place, it still gets this every now and then from fans of the Japanese version and 4Kids' anti-fandom in general.
  • They Wasted a Perfectly Good Plot: When Jonouchi loses to Yami Marik at Battle City, he falls comatose as he struggles to survive, and has a flashback to a tournament he entered before Duelist Kingdom (in the dub, he's fighting to not fall into the Shadow Realm and is hallucinating). Jonouchi winning the tournament would have provided great symbolism for him overcoming Marik's powers and surviving, particularly since his opponent's ace monster is Metal Dragon, paralleling Marik's Winged Dragon of Ra as a mechanical dragon. Instead he loses the tournament and wakes up anyway because it reminded him of his vow to become a true duelist.
  • Toy Ship: Between Yugi and Rebecca. For some fans, Mokuba and Rebecca or Leon and Rebecca.
  • Unexpected Character: No one thought Rebecca would show up again after her introduction, but she became a major part of seasons 4 and 5.
  • Viewer Gender Confusion:
    • Alister looks very girlish.
    • Mokuba is this in certain countries, due to the fact that some dubs gave him a very girly voice. His Opposite-Sex Clone Princess Adena does not help at all.
  • Vindicated by History: Much like the Ghost Stories dub, the 4Kids dub has, in time, gone from widely despised for its liberties with the source material to considered hilarious and prone to Narm Charm for the same, with excellent voice acting performances, plenty of Woolseyism, and generally absolutely running with how ridiculous the premise and characters can be instead of playing it straight and seriously, not to mention the nostalgia factor. While many of their later dubs remain divisive, this one gets a pass in comparison, though not without its own detractors. In particular, the Abridged Series encouraged many to revisit the dub and realize just how much Abridged-style humour 4Kids themselves put in (Seto Kaiba in particular is just as snarky as his Abridged Series counterpart).
  • Watch It for the Meme: There are fans of Yu-Gi-Oh! The Abridged Series that check out the English dub to see all the satirical references Little Kuriboh made to it such as this scene, as well as its reputation for being over-the-top and memetic akin to '80s cartoons like The Transformers and Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles (1987).
  • WTH, Casting Agency?:
    • While Kenjiro Tsuda is a great Japanese voice actor, his deep, roary and masculine voice probably wasn't the best match for Seto Kaiba's snarky and calm characterization, but regardless, it's still a great performance in its own right with many Large Ham moments.
    • Sam Riegel's voice as Tristan Taylor in the first couple of episodes in the dub came off as Narm because of how nasally and uninflective his voice sounded. Luckily, Greg Abbey replaced him after the first eight episodes and was more well received.
  • Woolseyism: Has its own page.

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