What Team Catastrophe turned out to be; they didn't want to win so much as they wanted to just break shit, and they were Placido's Unwitting Pawns to boot. Heck, Hans didn't even get to duel! This was due to Real Life Writes the Plot regarding a high number of car crashes in Japan at the time.
Sephylon the Ultimate Timelord, Z-one's trump card. It can Special Summon as many of his Timelord monsters from his hand, Deck, or Graveyard as he pleases, turn their ATK into 4000, and then let Sephylon gain their combined ATK. Thanks to an Ass Pull in Converging Wishes (detailed below), it doesn't see the End Phase of that turn.
Arc Fatigue: The World Racing Grand Prix tournament. It consumed two-thirds of the series by being set up in the 3rd arcnote actually called the Pre-World Racing Grand Prix arc and taking place entirely in the 4th, where it's preceding two arcs had their own stories. Another problem is that it didn't need to take so long and was paced terribly: from Episode 98 to 129, many duels took five or even six episodes to complete. Also factor in the duels quickly got very formulaic and predictable with Yusei always being the one to win it for the team bar the second, and this arc just got tiresome.
Rubble King from Episode 10, a card whose effect depends on there being a lot of cards in the Graveyard... and it just happened to be the second-to-last card in Yusei's deck. This card was created out of whole cloth to enable Yusei's victory in that episode and never appeared again, not even being released in real life.note Admittedly, the card wasn't his but belonged to one of the Facility inmates. Technically speaking, he didn't even need it in the first place; he could have activated his winning trap card, Blasting the Ruins, at the start of his opponent's next turn.
Yusei's D-Wheel breaking during his first encounter with Dark Signer Kiryu. It's the first time in the show that someone's D-Wheel is ever badly damaged by a card's effect, and not only does it save Yusei from being beaten, but it allows him to technically earn a tie in the duel since Kiryu calls the duel off because of this.
Misty simply choosing to end her duel with Aki without a winner comes off as this, similar to the Kiryu example above. Not only is it extremely rare for a duel to end without an outcome, but duels with Dark Signers are supposed to be Shadow Games, which usually have to be played out to the end no matter what. Kiryu and Misty both calling off their duels without finishing just comes off as pure Plot Armour all around; it was too early in the arc for Kiryu or Misty to be taken out, but they were also dueling protaganists who couldn't be killed off either.
During the Dark Signer arc, Rex states that the Dark Signers are "no longer of this world" and therefore cannot be revived. They weren't just brainwashed or sent to the shadow realm or whatever; they are actual dead people brought back by dark magic, and their bodies even crumble to dust when they are defeated. But then, in the season finale, they come back to life when Rex is defeated anyway without so much as a Handwave. This is by no means the first time Yu-Gi-Oh! has pulled something like this, but this one stands out due to how firmly it was stated that they were Deader than Dead.
From Episode 136, Ghoul Summoner. Its first effect is basically Call of the Haunted, but only for Synchros. Not so bad. Enter its second effect — as many times as you like each turn, you can Special Summon a Synchro Monster from your Graveyard, then take damage equal to its attack. Yusei revives Black-Winged Dragon and then revives Scar Red Nova Dragon and Shooting Star Dragon, using Black-Winged Dragon's effect to protect himself. Not only is this card absurdly overpowered, but it's worded in a way that its drawback can be negated (most cards like this make you pay Life Points specifically so loopholes like this can't be done).
Z-one not being Yusei, despite sharing the same appearance and heavy foreshadowing.
Converging Wishes from Episode 151, the card Yusei used to defeat Z-one. Its effect is normally situational, but somehow it's perfectly tailored to the situation Yusei used it. 1) The card can only be activated when Shooting Star Dragon (a monster that can remove itself from the field as well as negate an attack) got destroyed by battle in which it'd negate the battle damage. 2) Then it Synchro Summons Stardust Dragon and makes it gain the combined ATK of all Dragon-Type Synchro Monsters in your Graveyard (though it'd be banished at the End Phase), which allows it to surpass Sephylon's ATK. 3) It also allows you to return any Dragon-Type Synchro Monster in your Graveyard to force an opponent's monster to attack, and it can be done any times you want, of which it'd make the card even less flexible as this can only be utilized on the opponent's turn, but Yusei'd need this so he can force Sephylon to attack Stardust before Z-one attacks with any other Timelords (which can win him the duel with their burn damage and battle immunity).
In the manga, Stardust Spark Dragon being a Tuner monster, and this fact being unknown to Yusei until it became relevant. The real card, released as a manga promo beforehand, is a normal Synchro Monster, and had been for a while; the decision in the manga came about both due to the manga cards not stating whether they were Tuners, and due to Hikokubo and Aikawa outvoting Sato on having Black Rose Moonlight Dragon as the Tuner.
Awesome Ego: No one is going to stop Jack Atlas! The fans love his immense ego.
Crow is by a wide margin the most divisive character in the series, if not the franchise altogether. This is largely due to the fact that the people who don't like him tend to really not like him, accusing him of being the least interesting or charismatic member of the main cast who is only worsened by his status as a Spotlight-Stealing Squad and an Invincible Hero, in large part motivated by the fact that he also comes out of nowhere to become as important as he is. Other fans, meanwhile, find him charming and cool as a loveable Large Ham and enjoy his status as a cog of the much-loved Team Satisfaction, as well as outright appreciating his status as by far the least flawed member of the main cast. The persistent rumor of his presence being in some sense Merchandise-Driven only exacerbates the debate, with it being used as a sign of how unwanted and unneeded his presence is, a sign of how his excessive Character Focus isn't his fault, or a sign that he lacked intrigue enough that people had to create conspiracy theories to justify his presence.
Yusei. About half the fandom considers him one of the best protagonists in the franchise, focusing on his highly strategic mindset and intellect, strong Duels, intriguing backstory, and general cool factor. The other half considers him one of the worst, focusing on his lack of emotional range, Invincible Hero status, and tendency to overshadow the rest of the cast. The latter opinion is in large part motivated by the second half of the series, where a lot of his edges ended up being sanded off and he developed far more Incorruptible Pure Pureness, so much of the debate comes down to how much this hurts him as a character.
Kiryu became one with Crashtown (prior to it, he'd been quite popular). Maybe it was that he put the plot on hold for another six episodes in a season already mostly filler, maybe it was the fact that his new Deck was a complete Game-Breaker, maybe it was because he essentially wrote out non-Team Satisfaction characters from the arc in a season that had already been bad for them, maybe it was because certain elements of his backstory got retconned... All these things either made people love him even more or turn their backs on him in droves.
Bruno. Despite some people finding him a little hard to believe, a lot of people love him after his true nature was revealed.
Better on DVD: Especially when filler episodes can be skipped over and some, like Crashtown, can be treated as a bonus arc.
Let's just say that the only thing that the fandom can generally agree on is that the music is great and the first 64 episodes were better than what came after that. You'll have arguments on anything from how many seasons exist to correct character spellings to anything involving Aki and Crow.
The chants everyone performs when they Synchro Summon, which would become a trend for later series when summoning Extra Deck monsters. Are they cool, or just a waste of time, especially after you keep them hearing over and over again?
Crashtown Arc - pointless filler that ran on for too long and changed absolutely nothing, or interesting arc focusing on a character that until now had been Put on a Bus? The fans may never agree.
This goes double for the "Team Taiyo" arc which is almost twice as long as Crashtown and even more pointless (since at least Crashtown bought back Kiryu and gave him some character development) 4Kids actually skipped over dubbing the entire arc because of this and some argued that actually improved the season as a result. Others cite the fact that this was a legitimately fun duel against a group of normals who came up with a very clever plan to overcome the heroes. At the very least, fans do enjoy the characters for this reason regardless of if they liked the arc or not.
Placido's transformation to fuse with his D-Wheel when he Duels Yusei. The coolest villain in all of Yu-Gi-Oh!, or just silly?
Z-one's true identity - a good plot twist, or poor writing after foreshadowing pointed to something else?
"Common Knowledge": Fans have long circulated theories accepted as fact to justify certain divisive plot changes and character decisions, none of which hold water under an information check. As noted by this Reddit post:
The most commonly given reason for why Aki was Demoted to Extra after the Dark Signers arc is that her voice actress, Ayumi Kinoshita, got married shortly after recording and had a child around this time, thus her character was downplayed so that she could spend more time with her family. However, she got married in 2012, three years after Aki had already become Out of Focus, and had her first child in 2014.
Similarly, the main reason accepted as fact for why Carly was also Demoted to Extra and turned into comic relief after the Dark Signers arc is that her voice actress, Li-Mei Chiang, was discovered to be in the Roma Sophia Cult, a self-proclaimed psychic cult notorious for abusing women, and she was fired and the plot thus changed away from anything fantasy-related and the Arcadia Movement to hard sci-fi to avoid association with it. In reality, by the time the Roma Sophia was caught in 2010, 5Ds had already introduced sci-fi elements, written out the Arcadia, and sidelined Carly as a character, and the episodes introducing Yliaster and the World Riding Grand Prix were produced and released well beforehand.
It's also commonly believed that Crow was originally supposed to be the Final Boss of the Dark Signers arc, and the real reason he became a main character was solely Executive Meddling because of how popular his Blackwings deck was. None of this has been verified; even as early as the first concept art of him, he was intended to be Yusei's friend, he was portrayed as a good guy well before the Blackwing deck became meta-relevant or was even released, and the likely real reason for Crow's promotion was director Katsumi Ono and writer Shin Yoshida's personal fondness of him.
Divine/Sayer, is the leader of a group of Duelists training to control and harness their psychic abilities in order to turn them into soldiers of war against the rest of humanity. His earliest Duelist, Toby Lola/Toby Tredwell, was unable to withstand the procedure meant to test his abilities. Believing him to be weak and useless, Divine ordered the intensity of the electric shocks to be amplified, causing the young boy's death. He also does his best to keep his prized Duelist Aki Izayoi secluded from anyone outside the Arcadia Movement to keep her full of hate and resentment at the world for his goals, as well as to hide his own secret motives. To this end, he gasses Luca, Lua, Yanagi and Jin Himuro when they come to him for aid against the Dark Singers. Then he threatens Lua's life in a Psychic Duel to test if he has powers like his twin sister Luca. Later that day he has another Psychic Duel with and murders Carly Nagisa by sending her through a window with a direct attack, beginning her rebirth into a Dark Signer. He then returns from his Disney Death at the hands of Carly, posing as a security agent to attack Yusei and Mikage Sagiri. Divine states that anybody who falls prey to him will simply follow his orders and nothing more, as he takes full advantage of that individual's weakness, just like he did with Aki.
Lotten/Lawton, is a tyrant lording over a small western style town called Crash Town, where he forces those he's defeated to join him or face slavery in the mines. He gets into a match with Yusei while Yusei and the gang are trying to escape the mines, but before it can be decided, he throws a stick of dynamite at Yusei, Kyosuke Kiryu, West and Nico that results in a cave-in; Yusei and Kiryu fall off the mountain, while Nico and West are unconscious on the ground. Lotten takes them back to Crash Town, renaming it Lotten Town after Barbara and he double-cross his brother Malcolm. Later, not satisfied with the number of workers in the mines, he and Barbara begin forcing their henchmen to Duel for their survival, which is stopped by Yusei and Kiryu. Once he does start to lose his 2-on-1-handicap match against Yusei and Kiryu, he quits the Duel and tries to run away, but not before he abandons Barbara to her fate and sets off explosives in the town.
Kiryu, thanks to the fact that his Laughing Mad tendencies rivaled Yami Marik, and were well-received in both versions and for being an extreme badass. He also introduced the game to the powerful Infernity archetype. The fact that he obtained a seven episode long arc focused on him may or may not be acknowledging his fan popularity.
Carly, thanks to her relationship with Jack and being Adorkable in general. Shippers wanted to see more about it. They did not appreciate her demotion to extraat all.
The Familiar of the Crimson Devil is quite popular as well, mainly due to his quirky personality, though it also helps that he was in an arc that was well-received for having Jack Take A Level In Badass.
Martha, the foster mother of Yusei, Jack and Crow is unbelievably nice, despite having lived in Satellite her whole life, even to then-at-the-time Jerkass Ushio and former betrayer Jack.
The whole of Team Taiyou, who were so utterly likable that most fans ended up rooting for them in their match against Team 5D's. Their usage of classic Normal Monsters from the game's olden days really earned them a lot of points in older fans' eyes. This ended up applying in-universe as well after it was revealed that they were trying to summon an almost un-summonable-monster.
Nobody in the entire fandom seems capable of hating the MC, whose ham is absolutely glorious in both the original and the dub. He even stays behind to commentate on Yusei's duel with Z-one!
Card wise, Yusei's Fusion Monster, Dragon Knight Draco-Equiste is rather notable due to being a sensible answer to his Machine Emperor Synchro Killer issue. Sadly, it's also a One-Scene Wonder.
A 2018 popularity poll showed Black Rose Dragon to be the most popular monster in the series, beating out Stardust Dragon and all its upgraded forms by over a thousand votes. Its unique design, powerful abilities, and being used by one of the most popular female characters in the entire franchise all account for this. Come 2021 and lo and behold Black Rose's new upgrade, the first for any Signer Dragon that isn't owned by Yusei or Jack (Lua's Life Stream Dragon is more of a sidegrade than a proper upgrade in the TCG proper).
Mukuro Enjo/Hunter Pace is also fairly popular: It helps that he is one of the few characters from Neo Domino early in 5D's who is not particularly villainous, jerkish, and he is pretty funny in both versions. Fans were pleased to see him cameo again in ARC-V, even if it was just to get beaten by Shun Kurosaki/Shay Obsidian.
Several, but one that sticks out is the thought that Rudger is Jack's father. Or that Godwin is Crow's father. Interestingly enough, in the 5D's manga, Godwin is Jack's adopted father.
Sly is Divine's son.
It is very widely believed that Zone was actually going to be Yusei's future self, but the writers had to change their plans at some point. The were copious amounts of Foreshadowing that Zone was Yusei going back to the character's first appearance, yet then played Zone off as an impostor who just took on Yusei's appearance, making it seem like a Bait-and-Switch to trick viewers. Given that the show suffered Executive Meddling in other areas of the story, it's plausible that they intended to play this reveal straight and then had to change their plans and salvage them as best they could, but it hasn't been confirmed.
Many people theorize that Yusei is now dead thanks to his final shown stunt of jumping over the bridge connecting Satellite and Neo Domino. It doesn't exactly help that Yusei already dodged huge air fans, jumped over a pit of magma, and stood on top of a cliff's railing in the final episode alone.
Fan Nickname: Nearly every character has one, as do some inanimate objects and plot devices. See its section on the Fan Nickname page for more.
Probably the most famous is 'Crabhead' or the phonetic "Yousay" for "Yusei". The fact that an insert song is called Yousay may or may not be a Shout-Out to the fan name.
It's not unusual to compare Aki to Kallen for their similar appearance.
Game Sue and Hat Guy for the main character of the various games, because he usually takes the place of an established character (such as Crow in Over the Nexus) and sidelines the rest so that you can be the one to beat the bad guy.
Germans Love David Hasselhoff: Values Dissonance is in effect as Western fans love the serious tone and think it's the best from the franchise thanks to its Darker and Edgier storyline, the older cast, and everything pretty much appealing to western tastes. But in Japan, it simply couldn't grab the attention of its intended demographic note Young children and pre-teens that's why Yu-Gi-Oh! ZEXAL is the opposite in tone of 5Ds and tried as much as possible to appeal to kids.
Lucciano is a nucking futs, Laughing MadPsychopathic Manchild, and a Large Ham if there ever was one. It gets a bit hard to mock him for it after he is in fact an embodiment of Aporia's despair as an orphaned child.
Carly's role as a Dark Signer when it was eventually revealed that her original voice actress was fired when it came to light that she was part of a cult.
About a month and a half prior to the series airing, Yu-Gi-Oh! The Abridged Series had Tristan ride up on a motorcycle, and when asked he explained that "in the future, card games will be played on motorbikes," before cutting to a promotional artwork for 5D's. Then the series got dubbed, and who should be voicing Yusei but the same guy who voiced Tristan, using almost the same voice he did for Tristan too. Hilarity ensued.
Some fake episode titles mentioned something about a new Earthbound Immortal. With the airing of Episode 112, we learn that the Crimson Devil is actually an Earthbound Immortal that fought one-on-one with the Crimson Dragon and lost. Said immortal was based on a serpent Nazca Line, which wasn't known to exist at the time. In 2014, an actual snake Nazca Line was discovered.
Early in the series a few people speculated that Power Tool Dragon might be a Signer Dragon as well. However, most fans were quick to point out the inconsistencies if such were to be true (such as it being a Machine-type). It was also pointed out constantly in the show itself that Rua couldn't be a Signer, a notable example being a recap episode in the WRGP story arc that also stated the previous point about the dragon's typing. Cue Season 2, after the rumors were already long dead, where it turns out that Power Tool Dragon was actually a dormant form of the final original Signer Dragon, Life Stream Dragon, along with a new Signer mark introduced almost completely out of left field.
In the original Japanese version, Misty's grudge against Aki stems from the idea that Aki is responsible for the death of Tobi, Misty's younger brother. One of the characters Misty's voice actress Junko Minagawa is also known for is Cornelia li Britannia, who despises the Black Knights and, more specifically, Zero for the death of her brother Clovis, and later, her little sister Euphemia. It gets even better with the numerous comparisons of Aki to Kallen visual wise, as Kallen is a leading member of the Black Knights, and hates Britannia for killing her older brother Naoto. Looks like the bad blood between these two spans different series.
The time when Aki summoned Stardust Dragon in the WRGP becomes this (and prime shipper fuel) when you realize that out of the main characters, Aki and Yusei's decks have the biggest synergy in the actual card game (to the point where the Plant Synchron tactic is named "Yusei-hime")... and that Aki's upgraded Ruddy Rose Dragon has the same protection from destructive effects Yusei's Stardust Dragon has.
Macekre: While 4Kids handled their dub of Yu-Gi-Oh! Duel Monsters very well and did good with Yu-Gi-Oh! GX overall, this dub proved a bit more contentious. There are numerous plot holes, a lot of card effects are misstated making duels hard to follow, the flow of duels is constantly interrupted to explain either the stats or effects of certain cards being played (even when one of the duelists is about to explain it) there are radical shifts in characterization and backstory, several episodes were completely cut introducing more plot holes (though some fans were OK with certain filler episodes being cut like the "Team Taiyou" arc and the completely pointless Clip Show episode with Carly), and the entire final arc with Z-One was removed to make Aporia the last enemy, leaving Z-One's fate unresolved.note though given how unsatisfying several fans found the pay-off to Z-One's character, some argued that was a good thing Tack onto all that the typical cases of toning things down and several examples of Adaptational Comic Relief (which is used in scenes that were treated as serious in the Japanese version) and you have a rather divisive dub.
Rex Godwin is the head of Security and a member of the secret society of Iliaster. He rose to this position after being stranded and forgotten in the slum of Satellite, and has single-handedly turned Neo Domino City into a classist technological utopia under his control. Using his power he begins gathering the prophecied "Signers" and awakening their powers, then presents himself to them as a mentor and benefactor who would aid them in their war against the Dark Signers led by his brother Rudger. However, Rex is playing both groups against each other to make his own play for power, allowing Roman to kill him so he can become a Dark Signer, and then using Roman's severed arm bearing his Signer Mark to make himself a Signer. Transforming himself into a Yin-Yang Bomb with the power of both groups, Godwin seeks to destroy the world and remake it in his image, and almost succeeded if not for The Power of Friendship overriding his willpower to force the Signer marks to obey him.
Jose/Jakob is the leader of The Three Emperors of Yliaster. Manifested from the despair Aporia felt due to feeling alone, Jakob works alongside Primo and Lester to prevent the future apocalypse. Manipulating the events that caused Zero Reverse in order to stop the creation of Ener-D, upon it's faliure, Jakob decides to summon Ark Cradle to have it crash onto Neo Domino City. Jakob gathers duel energy to summon Ark Cradle by having Jack duel an impostor that framed him for crimes, and by organizing the WRGP tournament, constantly adapting to the insubordination from Primo along the way. Later having the three enter the tournament directly by altering time to cover Yliaster's tracks, Jakob has Lester and Primo deliberately lose in their duel against Team 5Ds in order to boost his life points as well as the power of his ace monster to nigh-unstoppable levels.
Z-ONE is the secret leader of Yliaster and the final villain in the series. Surviving the apocalypse which wiped out the world's population, Z-ONE went back in time to prevent it from happening, even if it meant dropping the Ark Cradle on Neo Domino City. To ensure this, he gives Yusei Fudo Shooting Star Dragon to create enough Duel Energy for the Ark Cradle to manifest. Upon being confronted by the reformed Aporia, Z-ONE easily defeats him while maintaining a polite demeanor. Requiring the combined efforts of Team 5Ds and the betrayal of Antinomy, Z-ONE decides to spare Yusei's life in place of his own, pleased that he will reunite with his friends.
Bruno, real name Antinomy, is a D-Wheeler from the future and one of Z-ONE's friends. Having his memories removed to be an effective False Friend, Antinomy teaches Yusei Accel Synchro in order to create enough Duel Energy to make the Ark Cradle destroy Neo Domino City. When the time comes for him to have a Duel to the Death with Yusei, Bruno chooses to remain loyal to Team 5Ds and teaches him Delta Accel Synchro while not holding back. Faithful to his new friends in the present day, Bruno is mourned by Yusei, who uses what he learned to defeat Z-ONE.
Nitro Warrior. Nearly everytime it's summoned, the opponent is OTK'd - in Crashtown, Yusei summons Nitro Warrior and OTKs three guys at once!
Jose. He runs down the track after Jack's D-Wheel when it's his turn to duel, and keeps up with him until he merges with his D-Wheel a few moments later. Many jokes ensued about the possibility of him just running around the track for the duel without a D-Wheel, which apparently he could have.
Yusei has been getting this in more recent years. Not only his impressive record, but also the fact he's the only Yu-Gi-Oh! main protagonist that fought people. Not in a card game, but with his bare hands.
Memetic Molester: Aki - a lot of people make jokes about how her usage of Rose Tentacles on Yusei was a little suggestive.
Cup ramen is a major plot point in a couple of episodes. The plot becomes downright ridiculous when Yeager's mother sells her prized show dress to buy cup ramen, and then ramen drives his backstory Off the Rails.
Team Satisfaction as the name of a vigilante dueling group. LittleKuriboh had fun with that in his 5D's parodies.
Let's just say that Placido was more intimidating riding his D-Wheel than becoming his D-Wheel.
The concept of the D-Wheel itself is probably one of the hardest sells about the series. While it does offer much better visual set pieces than two characters standing around, as often paraphrased by Yu-Gi-Oh! The Abridged Series, the concept of card games on motorcycles can be a hard sell for many people and is by far the most mocked thing about 5Ds in particular.
Nausea Fuel: Takasu blowing nose hair at people. Jaeger's picture of his family.
Older Than They Think: The idea that Duel Disks can be used for communication, which many credit for the D-Gazers in Yu-Gi-Oh! ZEXAL, actually appeared first in this show as a plot device in Yusei's Duel Disk as a way for him to clear Aki's name for her involvement in Toby's murder by tricking Divine into admitting it and broadcast it to Misty. Yusei is actually shown using this ability earlier to communicate with Saiga, although the Duel Disk is connected to his D-Wheel at the time. It's also logical to assume that this ability is used constantly in Riding Duels as otherwise it would be impossible to hear your opponent.
Periphery Demographic: While the series is targeted towards young boys, it has also attracted an audience of women aged roughly 13-26 thanks to the Ho Yay and watching the original series as children.
Adding in Bruno to replace Kiryu for a new four-man group in Season 2. This lessened somewhat when more emphasis was put on Bruno being a Sixth Ranger to Team 5D's rather than the fourth member to Yusei, Jack, and Crow specifically.
Crow himself for replacing Aki's status as the third-billed hero. Right after the YGO franchise managed to give the audience an interesting, sympathetic, badass and plot-relevant female human character who has a rather large fanbase! Not help by accusation of being a Creator's Pet. Even after being rescued, he still never achieved Aki's popularity during the first two arcs.
Rescued from the Scrappy Heap: Z-one was initially seen as a case of They Wasted a Perfectly Good Character, given that he was hyped up as Yusei's evil future self, only for a later episode to establish he was just a random scientist that underwent plastic surgery in order to pass himself off as the hero. However, fan reception became much more positive in the following years, with Z-one often ranking high in villain popularity polls. This is largely because the two following Big Bads were the much-disliked Don Thousand and the controversial Zarc; whereas his predecessor, Nightshroud/Darkness, is often regarded as a heavy case of Anti-Climax Boss.
The Scrappy: The Dark Signers were generally well-received for being Tragic Villains with sympathetic backstories and motives... and then there's Demak. He's very one-dimensional, yet he gets one of the longest duels in the series because of a silly plot about Maniac Monkeys in the Spirit World that he's tangentially related to.
Seasonal Rot: After season 1, the series takes a dip in quality, to the point where you could almost start every criticism with the words "After the Dark Signers arc..." Character sub plots are forgotten or go nowhere, numerous supporting characters are Demoted to Extra or just written out entirely without mention, a lot of established backstory is Retconned, and the WRGP Tournament Arcdragged and ultimately had little purpose beyond advertising. With that said, the final Arc Cradle arc is considered a massive improvement over the rest of season 2 (though still not to the highs of season 1), with entertaining duels that have real stakes, tragic and relatable antagonists, and the writers finally remembering to give Rua his Signer Dragon after leaving that plot thread dangling for 90% of the show. There have been very persistent rumors of Executive Meddling, most of which have little support, but the fact that fans have latched onto them so persistently is rather indicative.
Carly is beaten by Divine, thrown out of a building and in her desire to live, she becomes one of the Dark Signers.
Rudger was originally one of the Signers.
Signature Series Arc: The Dark Signers arc is highly lauded for making good use of the main cast as they fight a group of fairly sympathetic antagonists that leads to many emotional resolutions, and the series is generally considered to have taken a sharp decline afterward.
Signature Scene: Yusei beats up two of Goodwin's security guards before going to confront Jack becomes this. 4Kids surprisingly kept the scene, but added white flashes for each impact.
While his plan to destroy an entire city was undoubtedly drastic, Z-one is the last human survivor who was trying to prevent the same thing happening to the whole world. Team 5D's fights against his plan without even trying to think up of an alternative way to prevent the apocalypse besides a generic hope speech.
Yusei himself becomes a rare instance of a protagonist being reduced to a strawman. His idea of trying to duel without Synchro monsters in preparation for the Machine Emperors makes sense, since they get stronger by absorbing the enemy's Synchro monsters, but he gets laughed off as cowardly by Jack, who goes on about power without offering any alternative to fighting the Machine Emperors, and then gets introduced to the concept of Accel Synchro soon after. This might have been intentional however, as the series promptly proceeded to deconstruct Jack's power strategy.
Aki. During the first season, she was instantly popular due to her creepy powers, tragic backstory and for being a prominent female character. Then she was replaced by Crow during the climax of the season and remained Out of Focus for most of the second season, especially when compared to the three male leads. While she did get a small subplot leading up to the WRGP, she only had four duels she took part in during the second half of the series, three of which were Riding Duels, with her last two being against Team Unicorns Andre (where she ultimately lost along with Jack to give them a leg-up), and the one where she was teamed up with Crow against Sherry. To say that this disappointed fans would be an understatement.
Ruka as well. Her spiritual connection with the duel monsters all but outright stated she was destined to play a major role in the series, but she never really went past the point of being the Kid-Appeal Character. It doesn't help that, despite her signer dragon being tailor-made to counter the Dark Signers, she was pushed to the sidelines for most of the arc.
Aki's character arc in the second season began with her wanting to learn more about Riding Duels to understand the adrenaline and energy that Yusei and other D-Wheelers feel, and it was hinted she wanted to get closer to Yusei. There were also clear indications that fellow D-Wheeler Sherry had taken some interest in her, and even watched her first Riding Duel. Once she actually got her license to ride, Aki only ever took part in two more Riding Duels (only one of which was onscreen), with only one as a member of Team 5D's, and was eliminated in the same episode she went in.
The same thing happens to Rua and Ruka; when they get a 2-episode arc involving them in a Riding Duel using skateboards instead of motorcycles, it goes absolutely nowhere. In fact, the only real importance of the twins having that one Riding Duel was the revelation of the second Meklord Emperor, Skiel.
Speaking of Ruka, her first real focus episodes suggested a creepy, psychological, Fair Folk-ish take on the Spirit World and that she might have a major role to play. Then in its next focus episode in the Dark Signers arc...we get an absurd plot about monkeys and minus rods that couldn't be more at odds with the earlier story, in a battle with a villain who has literally no backstory. And then the whole concept is never mentioned again, and Ruka's status as the Spirit World's protector is completely forgotten.
After all the focus on Jack and Carly's relationship during the Dark Signers arc, the dreaded Reset Button rears its shiny head. Their relationship is never put into focus or developed in any form or shape again, and instead Carly is reduced to being just another Jack fangirl for the sake of comic relief.
Divine and the Arcadia Movement reek of wasted potential, especially since, with the exception of Aki, Psychic Duelists were never really brought up again once they were gone.
Jack's and Yusei's scarred friendship was one of the main focuses of Season One (and the entire focus for the first five episodes), but it was never fully explained what happened that caused them to grow so far apart after Kiryu's death.
When Sly, one of Rua and Ruka's classmates, was introduced, the series made notice that he had interest in Yusei's Stardust Dragon and wanted it for himself. This was never developed.
Yusei using Fusion was a heavily built-up plotline (by some accounts foreshadowed all the way into Bonds Beyond Time), it made perfect sense to Break Out the Museum Piece, and many fans appreciated the acknowledgement of a mechanic that Konami had previously been doing their best to bury. He uses one Fusion monster in one duel, and not even against the people it was meant to defeat, before he solves the problem of an anti-Synchro strategy through a simple Next Tier Power-Up.
The Familiar was an incredibly fun character, and his boss, Scar Red Nova, had a lot more to do with the Signer's lore than the Emperors and seemed a very legitimate threat that could have easily carried the season they were both introduced in. They only show up for a 2-parter, and their only relevance to the plot was giving Jack's Dragon an upgrade.
During his duel with Yusei, Primo revealed that the different parts of the Meklord Emperors are interchangeable, and he uses parts from Lester's Skiel to augment his Wisel with new abilities. This is never brought up again even when the Pure Nobles duel Team 5Ds.
Z-One was the one who gave Yusei Shooting Star Dragon, hinting the reason why is because he was interested in possibilities that may have involved Yusei defeating the Three Pure Nobles. Additionally, any time he was viewed by the protagonists in a benevolent manner, he was shown upside-down in his life support machine. This never went anywhere: Zone became a pure antagonist who wished to destroy New Domino City (and giving Yusei Shooting Star Dragon actually hindered the Nobles' plans and led to Aporia's defeat), and any symbolism between him appearing upside-down sometimes was dropped without explanation.
A lot of Foreshadowing went into hinting at Z-One being Yusei from the future. When it was revealed that he was just some random nobody who underwent plastic surgery to emulate Yusei, the fandom went nuclear.
Rally. Someone really needs to tell that kid that he dresses like a girl, and the long fluffy hair doesn't help either. This is even lampshaded in Tag Force 4; when Carly tries to question Yusei about his life, Rally forces her and the player character into a duel. Carly whispers to herself, "What is with this girl!? She's cute, I'll give her that, but..." to which Rally angrily responds, 'I'M NOT A GIRL!!!'. Carly completely ignores this and continues talking to herself about accepting the duel.
Jaeger fits the trope, too. Lampshaded in Episode 81, when a holographic Jaeger "clone" can't make up its mind about whether it belongs in the men's or ladies' bathroom.
Lucciano has a long braided ponytail, eyelashes, and a feminine voice. But at least he wears the male school uniform.
Woolseyism: While the dub of 5D's is lacking in comparison to the original Japanese version (as listed in Macekre), there are some that think the dub may shine, depending on who you ask:
Turbo Duels and Duel Runners in comparison to Riding Duels and D-Wheels (the latter name really only suits Jack and Bruno's).
The English dub's "Earthbound Immortals" just sounds more dramatic than the original "Earthbound Gods". There's also a similar instance of renaming the "Polar Gods" to "Aesir" in the dub/TCG. Aesir is a group of gods that Odin and Thor belong to and which Loki is heavily associated with, despite not actually being one himself. And if you missed the name "X Gods", the dub also called them the "Nordic Gods".
A notable instance is changing Himuro's knife that he hid from the prison guards into magazines. The dub simply makes it more subtle and turns it into a Parental Bonus.
Due to Never Say "Die" the dub couldn't bring up Misty's brother's death, so the conversation about Aki's powers in their first duel changed from being about him to being about Aki's actions at the Fortune Cup. The Woolseyism part comes from Misty's Armor-Piercing Question of whether the crowd deserved to get hurt for mocking Aki and whether she actually just enjoyed inflicting pain. Her stunned inability to answer just emphasizes how powerful that question was.
Another one is that Aki in the dub is generally more emotional in her speech pattern than her Japanese counterpart, thus signifies her Defrosting Ice Queen arc and unintentionally made her feelings for Yusei more touching. This can be attributed to the fact that Aki's Japanese VA Ayumi Kinoshita has less experience in voice acting than her English one Erica Schroeder (Bella Hudson), as well as the dub having more lines for her.
The dub changes the silly "Team Satisfaction" to "The Enforcers", not only avoiding the sex jokes but better fitting with what they're trying to accomplish (bringing justice to Satellite).
In the English dub, when Yusei meets Leo and Luna for the first time, he can't remember his own name and decided to duel Leo to help him remember, with Leo looking like Rally (whom he only vaguely remembers). In the Japanese version he knows who he is and is trying to get away from the twins but duels Rua because he reminds him of Rally, even though he's literally putting the twins in danger by sticking around to duel them. The English dub's reason for having him duel is much more logical.
Video game examples
Anti-Climax Boss: For a character touted as the King, Jack Atlas in WC 2009 is a pushover compared to the Sequential Boss before him, due to a lack of focus in his cards as opposed to the previous opponents' refined archetypes.
The Team New World fight in Over the Nexus at the end can also fall under this. At first glance, it can seem like a daunting task, seeing as you have to fight all three of them in a row (as you're the last duelist on the team and Primo already wiped out Jack and Yusei) and they start with a monster with 6000 attack on the board. And it would be... if you didn't have Synchro Material (a card that lets you use a monster your opponent controls as synchro material at the cost of attacking for the turn) on the board, and Sangan on the field to support it. As long as you have a tuner in your starting hand, you can easily take care of the big threat in seconds. And since their decks are solely focused on bringing out the emperors with little offensive capabilities beyond that, you should be fine as long as you can keep them from destroying their own monsters/packing some handy removal cards of your own if they can bring them out. It'll still be a long bout, given that you have to defeat all of them in a row, but unless you get really unlucky its unlikely you'll get a gameover.
Big-Lipped Alligator Moment: At one point in WC 2011, the player is visited by a mysterious Turbo Duelist who tells them to "evolve their Synchro Summon" to stand a chance at beating the Meklords. While intended to parallel a similar moment in the anime between Yusei and Dark Glass, this ends up serving very little purpose as the player cannot reliably obtain the resources to do so, nor do they need to anyway.
Crutch Character: Due to being one of the earliest archetypes in the game's history, a Gravekeeper's Deck can be very easily assembled from some early packs, on top of being reasonably powerful when the field allows you to put out a 2000-ATK Level 4 monster. The archetype does dwindle in usefulness once the player gains access to the newer archetypes due to the game's inherent Power Creep, but it not being reliant on Synchro monsters helps dramatically with the lack of access to them in Stardust Accelerator, on top of the archetype countering three quarters of the game's infamous penultimate boss gauntlet.
Ensemble Dark Horse: Toru and Misaki (especially Misaki) from WC 2011. They're one of the few game-original characters in the WC series to be important and heavily fleshed out and make a great ¡Three Amigos! with the player. They also have unique decks with uncommon archetypes (Scraps and Watts, respectively), as opposed to some of the cookie-cutter decks most NPCs have.
Hilarious in Hindsight: Despite being based off of the original Japanese version of the 5D's anime, some of the story changes the WC 2011 game made would end up lining up closer to the English dub, such as not adapting the final arc and having Nico and West's father Sergio survive.
The four clones of the protagonist in 2009 is the penultimate boss but is also easily one of the most difficult fights in the game. It takes the form of four Duels in a row while your remaining LP carries forward to each next one. While the first two decks may be moderately challenging, the third is a Lightsworn deck which was in its prime during the time of the game's release, and the fourth is a variant of the tournament-dominating Tele-DAD deck.
Dark Signer Bommer in 2010. A Turbo Duel is painful enough since the game introduces it not long beforehand, but you also must allow him to summon his Earthbound Immortal before you can win. Not helping matters is the mechanics of the Earthbound Immortals — their Achilles' Heel is a moot point in a Turbo Duel due to the un-removable Field Spell, and their inability to be attacked (on top of not allowing direct attacks if they're the only monster on one player's field) can bring a planned assault to a screeching halt.
Dark Signer Kiryu from the same game could count during the first time you face him in story mode. Facing a boss playing an Infernity deck when both players start with no cards in hand is a nasty challenge for the unprepared. Though he can become a Breather Boss if you run a pure beatstick deck; being limited in draws means he can't build up any sort of counter.
Dear God, Lawton in 2011. He starts with ten cards in his hand and runs pure burn. Do the math. Sometimes you need a miracle not to be killed on the first turn. Not helping matters is that it's a Tag Duel, and if you go second, Kalin takes your team's first turn, and his AI might make matters more difficult.
Team Catastrophe from the same game is also a major headache, which is ironic since given their status in the anime. They don't have their Hidden Hook Knight...but they replace it with decks focusing on changing your monsters to defense position, while using Karakuri monsters, an archetype which love changing their battle positions. You'll often find yourself getting ready to swing for game, only to be stopped by a Zero Gravity or No Entry, forcing all of your monsters into defense mode and giving them a chance to turn it around on their next turn. Mercifully, you only have to defeat two of them, but don't expect to do it quickly.
The stealth missions of sneaking past Security. This was a pain to complete in 2009 and they mercifully toned it down in 2010.
The "battle" against the Ghosts in Over the Nexus, thanks to an Unexpected Genre Change to Bullet Hell. Better hope you've been keeping up with your D-Wheeler parts because without a decent amount of health and good maneuvering ability you will be destroyed and have to start over.