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  • Accidental Innuendo:
    • In the original Japanese, Aster (having the D-HERO deck), often says things like "the power of the D" or similar in reference to destiny. When "the D" is taken to be the other one, some really hilarious accidents occur. Which puts an interesting spin on his search for "the Ultimate D"...
    • Then there's his caretaker whose name is changed from "DD" to "The D" in English, leading to comments like these:
      "Ladies and gentlemen, I give you... The D!"
      "I've always wanted to see The D in action!"
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    • Kagemaru uses the Sacred Beasts to perform Vampiric Draining on Duel Monsters, producing a Fountain of Youth to turn him into a Hunk. When he summons all three and spreads the draining effect all over the world, we get this line:
      Kagemaru: It's rising... it's rising... it's swelling up!
  • Alternate Self Shipping:
    • The fandom has something called Monochromeshipping, which pairs up Season 3 Manjoume Jun with... Season 2 Majoume Jun (however, in most fanfiction, whatever happens between the two Juns happens purely in his head).
    • There's also Thundershipping, which pairs anime Manjoume with manga Manjoume.
    • Judai×Haou and Johan×Possesed Johan are also fairly common.
  • Americans Hate Tingle:
    • Yubel gets shunted off to the side a lot in the English-speaking fandom, but they (and their relationship with Jaden) appear fairly popular in Japanese fan art. Part of this is likely because their complex motivation was degraded from a sadomasochistic view of love to just being a Psychopathic Manchild in the dub.
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    • The GX anime in general was a lot better received in Japan than in the English-speaking fandom, especially when it was first airing.
  • Anti-Climax Boss:
    • Despite having a prior episode of build-up as "the ultimate D card" and being a fusion of his two strongest monsters, Aster's Destiny End Dragoon hits the field at the end of the turn, does nothing, is KO'd the next turn and Chazz then defeats Aster with Ojama Yellow. What's particularly jarring is that the Dragoon has a powerful effect to destroy an opponent's monster without battling and inflict its ATK as damage, which would have ended Chazz right then and there, yet due to plot contrivances, Aster doesn't go for it immediately when he can, instead fusing it when it's too late to use its effect.note 
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    • Despite having a very powerful deck, Darkness/Nightshroud has a rather poor showing against Jaden in his final Duel with him.
  • Ass Pull: In true series tradition.
    • Jaden's deck focuses on Fusion, so count on him constantly fusing his E-HEROes in different ways never seen before, and the new one will be able to do exactly what is needed to help him win. Not to mention all the E-HERO support cards that are not too useful in real life due to how situational they are, but in the show are pulled out in instances that always let Jaden win.
    • Zane's last couple of moves in his duel with Atticus in episode 83. Not many players can win after throwing out nearly their entire decks via Power Wall.
  • Author's Saving Throw: Season 3 gave most of Jaden's friends fairly unflattering treatment, with most either becoming a Duel Zombie in the first alternate dimension or "dying" in the second, while giving far more attention to the transfer students (with Jesse in particular receiving so much attention even when he wasn't around). Season 4 gave many of them more development and established their goals in life, while the transfer students were shipped back to their own schools for most of the season.
  • Awesome Ego:
    • Kaibaman is about as arrogant as the real deal, and more than earned his ego by destroying Judai, who couldn't even shave off 1000 Life Points before losing to a triple direct attack from three Blue-Eyes White Dragons where just one would have done the job.
    • After his Character Development, The Chazz gets an even bigger and more over-the-top ego than he did when he was just an arrogant rich kid, and it makes him an absolute treat to watch. He even gets his own Catchphrase, which everyone uses.
  • Badass Decay:
    • Chazz in Season 3; he's worfed by Adrian, turned into a Duel Ghoul early on (admittedly after an impressive Last Stand) and beaten by Jaden in a few turns during this point, and like many of the old characters, is sent to the stars halfway through the season.
    • Bastion in the second season, to the point he pulls a Face–Heel Turn, only to be even more mocked.
    • In their first appearance, the Phantom Demons/Sacred Beasts are cards of mass destruction that drain the life of lesser cards just by being summoned and have much stronger effects than their real-life cards to boot. When they reappear in Season 3, they're demoted to simply powerful cards, use their weaker real-life effects, and it takes Armityle, a Fusion Dance of the three, to restore them to their previous status. Later on, Adrian brushes even Armityle aside.
    • Early in Season 2, Aster hands Zane his first legitimate defeat, then gives Jaden his third and final explicit loss. He later gains the "Ultimate D card" Plasma, which requires a specific Destiny Hero from his late father to get past its Nigh-Invulnerability... but it ends up getting worfed by Sartorius, as well as Adrian in Season 3 (partly because its protection effects were nerfed after Aster got it). In Season 4, he gets a more hyped-up "Final D card" Destiny End Dragoon, but that too is quickly disposed of by Chazz, who then wins the duel with Ojama Yellow.
  • Base-Breaking Character:
    • Jaden's happy-go-lucky nature is entertaining to some and annoying to others. The dub doesn't help by making him Totally Radical. Conversely, his more brooding portrayal toward the end of the series is either a reasonable progression from all the crap he's been through or makes him unpleasant to watch. His anime deck of superheroes has its fans as an expansive protagonist archetype, but catches flak for excessive growth and subpar performance, especially the Neo Spacians.
    • Jesse is either a fun parallel to Jaden who forms an endearingly close bond, or a bland sink for too much of Season 3's focus.
  • Big-Lipped Alligator Moment:
    • In Episode 20, while Jaden, Syrus, and Chumley are scrubbing each other's backs, Jaden then realizes that he's scrubbing a bear's back while the bear scrubs a seal. This hilarious incident is never mentioned again, and it was also cut from the dub due to partial nudity.
    • In Banner's duels before he faces Jaden, he wins with a card that causes a meteor shower. You'd think this would foreshadowing for a card he uses against Jaden, but he doesn't play any spell or trap cards that cause a meteor shower, and none of his monsters attack that way either.
  • Broken Base:
    • Yubel being Put on a Bus for most of Season 4. Some say good riddance to them, others want to explore their and Jaden's relationship with each other more.
      • Also, anything concerning their gender. Most fans play it safe by referring to them with gender-neutral pronouns, but there are many others who were introduced to them by 4Kids who call them a "her" at all times, which the fans who prefer he/him pronouns aren't happy about, and vice versa.
    • Jaden's new personality in Season 4. Is his new attitude too dark and unpleasant, and inferior to his big-hearted and laid back personality from before? Or did it make him much more impressive and provide a lot of character development?
    • Season 4 in general. Either the best season of GX (or of YGO in general), or the worst.
    • The series itself. Fans of it cited the Deconstructor Fleet and Affectionate Parody route it took, well-rounded characters and a tone that progressively got Darker and Edgier. Detractors cited the poor pacing, rushed storylines, large filler at the beginning (the first major antagonist only made an appearance in Episode 29), underused cast, and controversial Season 4.
    • A franchise-wide one that is quite prominent for this series; should one use the Japanese names for the characters, or their 4Kids names? No matter which names you use, there will be some people who berate you for it, even in this very wiki.
  • Complete Monster:
    • The original version of the Light of Destruction stands out as one of the most heinous villains in the franchise. A celestial entity that finds bliss in destruction, this alien malevolence is revealed to be the true Big Bad of the second season. Prior to the story, the entity corrupted the pro duelist, DD, into murdering the father of Edo Phoenix for the card, Destiny HERO-Plasma. The Light of Destruction then had DD trap his soul inside the monster, before delivering the same fate to countless duelists. When possessing the fortune teller, Takuma Saio, the Light of Destruction gains access to the dangerous satellite, SORA, intending to use its laser to wipe out all life on Earth. After defeating Edo, the Light places him on top of a high scale, telling Judai that he'll fall to his death unless he gives the entity the remaining key to activate the satellite. When Judai complies, it attempts to have Edo fall anyway. During its duel with Judai, the Light of Destruction states that the universe is destined to be led to destruction, and that it intends to create a cycle of constant re-creation and destruction of the universe. It then attempts to mentally torture Judai in the hopes of breaking the latter's spirit. In season 3 it's revealed to have been the corrupting influence that drove Yubel insane, having physically and mentally burned them alive for an entire decade.
    • Brron, Mad King of Dark World, from season 3, is demented and sadistic, ruling the Spirit World as its vile dictator and being responsible for its deplorable state and the oppression of its denizens. His right-hand man, Zure, oversaw Brron's will, detaining anyone who defied him in internment camps while killing Duelists who could be threats to him. The executions occurred at his fortress and involved releasing monsters at disarmed Duelists while Brron himself and his minions watched the spectacle. After learning of Jaden's presence in his domain, Brron orchestrates a plot that involves turning Jaden evil by sacrificing all of his friends one by one with his set of "Wicked Doctrine" cards to create the "Super Fusion" card. After his defeat, Brron, before dying, spitefully mocks Jaden by saying that he will never see his friends again.
  • Designated Hero: Zane is this in Episode 8 when it comes to the way he tries to help Syrus. His approach with teaching Syrus about knowing when to use cards, particularly the Power Bond spell card, in the right way is on paper usually a good lesson that duelists should learn, and he's meant to come off as using Tough Love as his way of helping his brother. However, when it comes to actually wanting Syrus to succeed and making sure that he always has self-confidence in himself, Zane is rather apathetic and condescending towards Syrus and does very little when it comes to giving Syrus encouragement, to the point where he even openly states that Syrus doesn't belong at Duel Academy, and he brushes the cruelty of his comment off when Jaden calls him out on it by saying "Because I know Syrus." Zane instead comes off as a Big Brother Bully when it comes to the way he talks to Syrus.
  • Die for Our Ship:
  • Dork Age: Gets hit with this on both sides of the franchise's fanbase.
    • For fans of the show, GX is Lighter and Softer than Duel Monsters, and (for its first two seasons, anyway) is more of a Slice of Life show with major overarcing plotlines de-emphasized in favor of Monster of the Week-type plots (and when overarcing storylines do occur, the antagonists associated with them are often still Monster of the Week-types that are defeated in one episode). Its cast is also polarizing, as several of them seem to be interesting and have potential for storylines, but are sidelined most of the time. Then there's Jaden, who is extremely divisive (among Western audiences anyway) for being as big a contrast to Yami Yugi as could be imagined.
    • For fans of the card game, the GX era had boosters packed with support for Jaden's Elemental Heroes and Neo-Spacians, which didn't even approach being close to a competitive archetype (at the time; later support saw them bounce back a bit). Most of the other anime archetypes that got pushed (Vehicroids, Cyber Girls, Cyberdarks, Arcana Force, Venom) weren't that good either, and the non-anime archetypes coming out also weren't very good, or were more cards "themed" around an idea than something resembling a cohesive archetype. While there were some things of note (Cyber Dragons, Six Samurai, Dark World, Lightsworns, Gladiator Beasts), most of them couldn't compete with the Chaos and Monarch decks that had dominated the end of the Duel Monsters era. This overall meant that the metagame stagnated and cookie cutter decks became prolific, and new boosters tended to have lots of junk in them that would never see play.
  • Draco in Leather Pants: Zane Truesdale for many of his fans after he freaks out and adopts the "Hell Kaiser" persona (featuring actual leather pants) in Episode 65. It's at its worst in Season 2, wherein he doesn't seem to have a single redeeming quality beyond being hot; he's still a very dark Anti-Hero in Season 3, but at least the "hero" part of that label fits again.
  • Ensemble Dark Horse:
    • Jim "Crocodile" Cook, for being an Awesome Aussie Expy of Steve Irwin who uses the very creative Fossil deck. The deck is an Ensemble Dark Horse in its own right, as is Shirley, the enormous crocodile who rides around on Jim's back. Naturally when a poll came for which anime/manga-exclusive archetype should get printed in real life, Jim's fossil deck managed to win.
    • Austin O'Brien/Axel Brodie, who was his companion for most of the third season, is similarly well-liked for his cool attitude, actual Character Development, and decent Deck, as well as being one of the few non-Egyptian black characters in the franchise (and a consistently positively-portrayed one, at that).
    • Chronos/Crowler is well-loved in the fandom for having a cool deck, consistently great Duels, and going through some of the most significant Character Development in the series, gradually from a petty Sadist Teacher to a genuine hero. True to form, his Ancient Gears have proved one of the most well-supported and popular archetypes of the entire GX era.
    • Koyo and Midori from the manga continuity deserves a special mention: The former is a Big Brother Mentor and an inspiration to Judai and Manjoume, while the latter is a Cool Big Sis and a Badass Teacher who uses the ever famous Darklord deck.
    • Reggie manages to ascend into this trope, not only because she's as busty and attractive as Asuka, but also gives Judai a run for his money during their Duel.
    • In terms of cards, there are the Sacred Beasts, in part for being cool, devilish counterparts to the Egyptian Gods (with the Beasts actually playable, unlike the Gods at the time) that saw some success, especially Hamon for Crystal Beast players. This even extends to today, where they almost won a poll between 19 other archetypes (including Shaddolls and Charmers, beating out the latter and almost winning against the former), and their success is believed by many to have given them the Structure Deck they want within the future anyways.
    • Crystal Beast Amber Mammoth for his absolutely hilarious portrayal in the dub as a parody of Arnold Schwarzenegger, including several rambling moments when he's attacking that can only be described as "Arnold noises".
  • Evil Is Sexy:
    • Post-Fountain of Youth Kagemaru, Hell Kaiser/Zane, Possessed Jesse, Darkness/Nightshroud possessed Atticus and The Supreme King.
    • The ladies have less to offer, but there's still the Shadow Rider vampire Camula.
    • Yubel is in a category all on their own since they can easily appeal to every gender and orientation.
  • Epileptic Trees: Since quite a lot of things were hinted at but never filled in, this should come as no surprise.
  • Fan-Preferred Couple: Many fans either prefer Judai/Asuka (aka "Fiancéshipping") on the het side, or Judai/Manjoume (aka "GX Rivalshipping") and Judai/Johan (aka "Spiritshipping") on the slash side. Judai and Yubel also have shipping moments as well. It also helps that despite just becoming an item with Judai, Yubel was Put on a Bus for most of season 4 and when they appear again such as the BBT movie, they don't really act particularly lovey-dovey with him, but more like a spirit advisor as the Gem Beasts do for Johan, so it's easier for fans to overlook their canon status and focus on other couples. For the occasional threesome pairing, Judai/Asuka/Yubelnote  seems to have gained traction in the recent years.
  • Faux Symbolism: All three Sacred Beasts are named after Judeo-Christian angels.
  • Friendly Fandoms: 5Ds and GX fans typically like each other a lot more then they like ZEXAL and the original series fans, largely due to how they had entire seasons not dubbed by 4Kids. It's also likely because the people who quit after DM probably didn't get back in with 5Ds, while people who stuck through GX probably stuck through 5Ds as well. Then there's a massive Fan-Preferred Couple including the two main characters... Starshipping, anyone?
  • "Funny Aneurysm" Moment:
    • Remember the fun Jaden and the gang had about Syrus' card crush on Dark Magician Girl? Flip it around, add in Stalker with a Crush tendencies, and throw in a pinch of Nightmare Fuel, and you have the premise for Season 3.
    • In 5Ds, Bruno is basically Yusei's Johan, and many fans have fun with the comparisons, and the Ho Yay between both Judai & Johan and Yusei & Bruno. However, considering that Bruno dies while Johan doesn't, the comparison seems pretty sad now.
  • Genius Bonus: Here.
  • Growing the Beard: Season 3 for Jaden's Character Development, better pacing, and an overall darker tone.
  • Hilarious in Hindsight:
    • The voice actor for Takuma Saiou/Sartorius, the one who played Arcana Force XXI - The World in the GX cartoon, ended up voicing Dio Brando in the 2012 cartoon adaptation of JoJo's Bizarre Adventure. For those curious, here's every time he says Za Warudo.
    • Camula and Johan are both voiced by Kanako Irie. Both characters (well, sort of, in Johan's case) duel Zane and win under circumstances where he is severely disadvantaged (Camula blatantly cheats, Yubel benefits from the fact that he's dying). The giant door where Yubel!Johan shows up is also oddly reminiscent of Camula's "Illusion Gate" card.
    • Johan's Crystal Beasts are based off of crystals, with their bodies coming out of them and reverting to being sealed in them when they are destroyed, making it difficult to truly destroy them. Much later, the Gems from Steven Universe, and in particular the Crystal gems, work in the exact same way.
    • At first, GX seems like an Affectionate Parody of Yu-Gi-Oh!, with sillier villains and more light-hearted plot of the first two seasons. Come season 3, however, and everything starts to go downhill. This is pretty similar to Neon Genesis Evangelion which came 10 years before this series, and has the infamous popularity of being a horrific Deconstruction of robot mecha series.
      • In NGE, there are also two characters named Asuka and Rei who are interested in the protagonist, Shinji. Some differences are that NGE's Asuka is the Hot-Blooded, more flirty and loud-mouthed one with a red outfit and red hair, while NGE's Rei is soft-spoken and extremely quiet with a white-and-blue outfit, complete with blue hair. Our Asuka and Rei were probably inspired from this, albeit with the roles reversed.
      • In episode 24 of NGE, there's a new male character named Nagisa Kaworu who is immediately be able to befriend and get closer to Shinji, and their relationship switches between Ho Yay and downright Homoerotic Subtext. Does this sound similar to Judai and Johan? However, there are two differences in that, Johan does not have a Secret Identity like Kaworu does and their relationship has a much happier and more optimistic tone than Shinji and Kaworu's relationship, which ends very messily and tragically.
    • For their Sun & Moon generation sets, the Pokemon Trading Card Game referred to their Super Mode variant cards as Pokemon-GX. Naturally, a lot of "Get your game on!" remarks ensued.
    • English dub example - during the third season, the Exodia cards used by Adrian use the original Japanese artwork instead of the censored International art. Come 2018, Konami released a 'Lost Art' promo set which features an English Exodia set using the uncensored Japanese artwork.
    • A meme known as "The Virgin and The Chad" became popular years after the anime, which compares a loser character to a "cool," usually Jerk Jock character. Chazz Princeton's self-given nickname is "The Chazz," making GX an easy target for the meme. Ironically, his Butt-Monkey status and inability to win over Alexis means he can also fit in "The Virgin" category.
    • In the dub, Veronica Taylor voiced Fonta Fontine and Ms. Dorothy. She would later go on to voice another nurse and young teacher named Manuela in Fire Emblem: Three Houses.
    • One of the biggest mockeries regarding how ridiculously influential the card game has become in the world was the very existence of Duel Academy itself, stating it to be the biggest waste of time and money. Come the rise of professional e-sports in the late 2010's, coupled with the game now having so many new terms, mechanics, and how long and complex the card effects and combos have become, and suddenly a school for dueling isn't so unreasonable.
  • Informed Wrongness:
    • A Season 1 episode features the one-shot character Mitsuo/Pierre, a gambler who uses cards that rely on coin tosses to trigger their effects, and uses Second Coin Toss to redo the toss if he fails to get the needed result. Alexis declares that the only reason he's winning the Duel with her is that he relies on Second Coin Toss to win his coin throws and without it he would have lost them all, and proceeds to destroy it then attack for the win when he gets his last toss wrong. We're supposed to see him as a cheater and a coward, but his strategy is perfectly valid and worked very well. The only reason he lost is that he didn't use his monster's effect to try and inflict 1000 damage to Alexis, if he had taken the risk and got it right, he would have won in just two turns.
    • Dimitri in his Yugi impersonation. Despite Jaden's claim that he can't be favored by the heart of the cards, he does manage to draw and use all of Yugi's ace monsters. While Jaden wins thanks to a lucky draw, Dimitri also makes several lucky draws, including topdecking Black Luster Soldier - Envoy of the Beginning on his last turn, which in most duels would be an amazing comeback. No matter what Jaden says, the idea that the heart of cards isn't with Dimitri comes off as Protagonist-Centered Morality.
    • We're not quite done with Dimitri just yet. He's known as a copycat duelist and before (and after) stealing Yugi's deck, which was pointed out but that's not the lesson they were trying to teach, he tries to copy decks off of strong duelists but fails to win. The idea is that he's supposed to make his own deck and win that way. But why wouldn't he try to base his deck off of a strong duelist, after all it wins for a reason. This is even mirrored in real life as nearly everyone copies competative decks in one way or another, and even casually, some decks are sold off of the sole premise that a character on the show uses it. If anything else, it's more that the decks Dimitri makes are incompatible with his natural style rather than anything wrong with the deck itself and he fails to refine it to both fit with his own style and to minimize the decks' weaknesses.
    • During Jaden's duel with Zane at the end of Season 1, he repeatedly complains and insults Jaden for dueling with his head and not his heart, and Jaden is frustrated that this kind of dueling isn't working for him and Zane keeps outplaying him. Then Jaden stops the duel to have a snack and starts feeling like himself again, and is able to do much better. Thing is, Jaden actually was dueling well and even survived a hit from a Power Bond-summoned Cyber End Dragon, it's just that Zane happened to have the cards to counter Jaden's plays. Besides, a quick card count shows that by the time Jaden stops the duel for his snack, his hand is empty except for two cards he just drew, and he has only drawn two monster cards and one Fusion card since the duel began, so he has used up every card he has and was making the best plays he could. Apparently drawing a brick hand and figuring out ways to make it work means that you're "overthinking things".
    • Near the end of season two, before Jaden duels a Brainwashed and Crazy Alexis, Chazz gets yelled at by Syrus, Hasselberry, and Atticus for being the one who brainwashed her in the first place, and it's treated as his fault Alexis is like this. They ignore the fact that Chazz was brainwashed at the time because he lost to this season's Big Bad. This also ignores how throughout the anime, it's pretty common for people to be brainwashed or cursed, yet this seems to be the only time anyone is ever called out for what they did while brainwashed.
    • Jaden is this throughout Season 3. He's presented with a Fatal Flaw of which his motive for being a duelist is selfish as he duels more for the enjoyment of it rather than for anything responsible such as saving lives and helping people, to which Viper, Yubel, and even his own friends call him out on it. The thing is, dueling to save people, and pretty much helping people in general, is what Jaden has been doing throughout the entire series, and has made it clear that he's more concerned about helping people than enjoying a duel when lives are on the line. In other words, Jaden's motive for being a duelist just for the enjoyment is due to the fact that outside of saving the world and helping people, he's never had a reason to duel that doesn't involve having fun. Not to mention, before Chazz ends up being sacrificed, he gives Jaden "The Reason You Suck" Speech when he sees him dueling Brron and thinks he's doing it just for the enjoyment instead of trying to help Chazz break free along with his friends after they've been taken as sacrifices for Brron's Wicked Rune cards as well as focusing on finding Jesse, except that saving lives and trying to find missing people has always progressed throughout the Yu-Gi-Oh! franchise by dueling enemies and Jaden was only dueling Brron in the first place in order to find Jesse. The only times where Jaden is really in the wrong is when he recklessly rushes to find Jesse without letting his friends catch up with him, but none of that really has anything to do with Jaden being selfish for his reasons of being a duelist.
  • Jerkass Woobie:
    • Viper. All he wants is to reunite with his dead adopted son, and he would no longer have any reason to be an antagonist if he met his goal.
    • Adrian wants to create an idealistic world, and though he kills two people in the process (Echo and Aster), the former willingly sacrifices herself and the latter starts a Duel to protect the former, knowing the consequences of losing. Both end up presumably killed by Yubel.
    • Camula may count, she's the last of a race of vampires that were wiped out hundreds of years ago by humans who attacked them unprovoked, so she sealed herself in a coffin to survive and waited for eons to be freed. She seeks to restore her race but she sacrifices the souls of those she defeats in duels to do so.
    • Zane/Hell Kaiser. He's vicious and sadistic in Season 2, and his actions (especially the duel against Syrus) absolutely cannot be excused. On the other hand, he's eighteen and is tortured into insanity in the Underground, having been lured into that environment during a serious mental breakdown that results from a bad losing streak and no support system. He isn't even told what the collars do until after the first time they zap him. By Season 3, he's dying of a heart condition. He becomes a regular Woobie in Season 4, because by then he's dropped the Jerkass behavior and is an Ill Boy who spends the majority of his screen time in a hospital bed or wheelchair.
  • Launcher of a Thousand Ships:
    • Jaden, due to being the main character and rather good looking. Even though he doesn't know what a fiancée is.
    • Also Alexis, being the main female lead who is extremely attractive.
  • Magnificent Bastard:
    • Sartorius is the head of the Society of Light, corrupted to evil by the Light of Destruction. Born with the power to see the future, he seeks out promising duelists with the power to defy fate and turn them to his cause so they can't stand in his way and derail his plans. He does this through a combination of lectures and brainwashing, telling his victims that only he can help them get what they want, convincing them they want to join the Society. Through these methods he takes over the top dorm of Duel Academy, makes all of its students his loyal followers, and plans to use a Kill Sat to destroy the world (mind control humanity in the English dub) in the name of cleansing, purifying light. Collected, affable, soft-spoken, and using his prediction powers to stay ahead of the game, Sartorius proves himself the most charismatic and intelligent enemy Jaden and his friends ever face.
    • Yubel is a demonic Duel Spirit and the mastermind behind the seeming main villain of Season 3, Professor Viper. Making a deal with Viper to revive his dead son in exchange for gathering Duel Energy to regenerate her body, they dispose of Viper and transport Duel Academy to another dimension to continue their plans themself, possessing the body of student Marcel as a host. They orchestrates Jaden's horrific Trauma Conga Line in order to awaken his dormant alter-ego, the Supreme King, so Jaden can complete the Super Polymerization card which they take it for themself and use it to fuse the twelve dimensions into one. Why? Because they were in love with Jaden's alter-ego in his past life, and they will do anything to rule over the multiverse with Jaden and keep him all to themself again. Yubel is what happens when a love sick Stalker with a Crush decides to conquer all they see in the name of proving their love to someone.
    • Adrian Gecko, the champion of East Academy, has had a desire for power since he was a child. Infiltrating Viper’s lab after a series of manipulation, Adrian finds out about Yubel. Agreeing to spy on Jaden for them in exchange for a portion of their power, Adrian eventually finds the seal of Exodia, intending to make it his servant and betray Yubel. Upon finding out that the sacrifice of a loved one is required, Adrian convinces his childhood friend, Echo, to sacrifice herself to break the seal. Adrian later takes the opportunity to duel a weakened Yubel, declaring that he’ll become the king of the alternate dimension. During the duel, Adrian reveals that his motive is to create a utopia where nobody has to suffer. Cunning and adapting to almost any setback, Adrian proves to be willing to go through any length to rule as a benevolent king.
    • Lyman Banner, also known as Amnael, is the last of the Shadow Riders sent to defeat the heroes and awaken the Three Sacred Beasts. After contracting a disease that's slowly killing him, Banner uses his knowledge of alchemy to create artificial bodies for the sake of prolonging his life. Posing as the headmaster of the Slifer Red dorm, he manages to avoid suspicion while supplying information to his leader, Kagemaru. Once it becomes time to engage the heroes, Banner easily defeats Chazz, Alexis, and Atticus while giving Jaden Yuki his closest victory yet. Upon being defeated, Banner gives Jaden a card to help him defeat Kagemaru before being reduced to a spirit.
  • Memetic Badass:
    • A lot of jokes are made around a) how unnaturally good Jaden is at Duel Monsters, or b) how he, depending on the persona, has a really high death count. Generally, outsiders to the show might only know him as "the guy who killed all his friends".
    • The Chazz has just as much of a dedicated fan club in real life as he does in the anime, who buy his self-declared hype and speak of him as the most unstoppable Duelist around. A lot of this is due to Ruggington's dub clips, and having an Awesome McCoolname that sounds like "The Chad" from the Virgin vs Chad meme.
  • Memetic Mutation:
    • From the manga, Jesse's 'It was a happy Duel'.
    • Taking innocuous or cute scenes and pictures of Jaden, then adding how he "killed millions" and other unspeakably bad deeds. Sometimes he's depicted as being Obliviously Evil with these.
    • Chazz it up! Chazz it up! Chazz it up!
    • His catchphrase in the Japanese version - "1! 10! 100! 1000! Manjoume Thunder!" is also well-liked for the wordplay, and became an Ascended Meme in the effect of Armed Dragon Thunder LV 10.
    • From various poorly worded subtitles we have Bastion's "I've found the way to counter attack your balls!" and "This place has been reserved for the Whites."
    • Twitch's marathon of the 3 post-original series spinoffs spawned several more.
      • Referring to Sartorius/Saiou as "Budget Dartz" or "Dio" due to being a charismatic cult leader and having the same Japanese voice as Dio in addition to having Arcana Force XXI - The World as a major trump card. Persona references are also common due to him being a fortuneteller with a Tarot-themed deck.
      • Dark Zane/Hell Kaiser Ryo is referred to as "Edgelord Zane" or "Akuma".
      • "Everyone is Goku", on account of Goku's English VA Sean Schemmel voicing a vast majority of the characters in the English dub. For example, Crowler is referred to as "KappaPride Goku", and Viper is referred to as "Goku Black".
      • Referring to Crystal Beast Emerald Tortoise as "Turtle Joey", due to sharing the same VA.
      • In Season 3, any mentions of being "sent to the stars" are recognized as "sent to the Shadow Realm".
      • HE'S FAT!explanation 
    • Crystal Beast Amber Mammoth for being voiced by Sean Schemmel doing an Arnold Schwarzenegger impression (specifically of The Terminator quotes or just shouting random gibberish while attacking another card, and yes, you read all of that correctly). Namely the scene where Jesse summons him in his duel against Trapper (who is also voiced by Sean Schemmel and has subsequently been nicknamed "Texan Goku" by the fandom) only to be immediately negated by Trapper's Catcher Snare.
  • Misaimed Fandom: Alexis is a Deconstruction of Ms. Fanservice. She is annoyed by the fact that people see her only as an attractive girl, and wants to be a strong duelist instead of using her looks to get ahead. Some viewers seem to deliberately disregard this — haters bash her and call her a slut due to her appearance and outfit (despite the fact that it's a uniform), while others ignore her personality because it's counter-productive to Shipping and porn.
  • Moe:
  • Moral Event Horizon:
    • Zane Truesdale in the second season crosses the line after donning his Hell Kaiser persona when he electrocutes and almost kills his little brother Syrus in a Duel, never giving a damn about doing this, only about winning.
    • Adrian when he sacrifices Echo and apparently kills Aster to obtain Exodia.
    • Yubel at every attempt to prove their love for Jaden by hurting him in the third season.
  • Narm:
    • 4Kids' attempts to invoke Never Say "Die" reach truly ludicrous levels in Season 3, when defeated Duelists are "sent to the stars", and characters repeatedly use the phrase verbatim as a threat. There are any number of other things they could have gone with, including the old stand-by "send them to the Shadow Realm", but they chose that one. To be fair, it turned out nobody was actually dying.
    • Many dramatic episodes and scenes get utterly ruined by the dub's voices and dialogue, but Episode 65 may be the worst. An absolutely nightmarish duel full of Electric Torture, Zane's Despair Event Horizon, the resulting Freak Out... and an opponent with a ridiculous Mike Tyson caricature for a voice.
  • Never Live It Down: Jaden/Judai, as the Supreme King, committing genocide.
  • No Yay: Camula makes some extremely creepy comments about Zane. Note that she is several hundred years old and he is seventeen. Surprisingly, quite a bit of her suggestive tone and dialogue (including the scene of her in the bathtub while stalking him via spy bats) makes it into the dub.
  • One-Scene Wonder:
    • Dimitri, especially in the dub. He may only have two episodes and is a minor character who never appears again, but the usage of the original series themes and cards, the genuinely good Duel he gives Jaden, and of course Marc Thompson's Narm Charm impersonation of Dan Green's Large Ham voice acting, make Dimitri far more memorable than a lot of other characters with larger roles.
    • Franz, a rogue card designer from Industrial Illusions that uses a counterfeit copy of The Winged Dragon of Ra, and is very good with it; he summons it on his first turn, uses a Field Spell to force it to obey him, and is able to fully utilize all of its abilities. He's only around for one episode but his schtick sounds like he could be the main villain of a season.
    • In the manga, Zane only gets one duel, but it is an absolutely awesome one-turn Curb-Stomp Battle against Chazz, who is much more formidable than his anime counterpart and has just beaten Jaden.
    • The Egyptian Gods. Ra appears during a single Season Two episode in a well-enjoyed (if wasted) subplot that highlights it as less of a tool of destruction that it was previously, while the patron of Jaden/Judai's dorm, Slifer/Osiris, appears when it is summoned by Yami Yugi during the final episode.
    • For that matter, Yami Yugi himself is a One-Scene Wonder. Yugi appears a few times, but Yami only shows up during the final episode's closing scene with Awesome Music to boot.
  • Rescued from the Scrappy Heap:
    • Judai/Jaden is an Americans Hate Tingle case in the first half, mainly for his speech mannerisms in the dub and being Yugi and Dark Yugi's replacement as well as his Elemental HERO and Neo-Spacian cards getting too much focus and being not very good in real life. However, he gets less and less flak as a result of his Character Development in the second half and his manga counterpart receives a lot of praise for his characterization and master-student relationship with Koyo. It also helps that Judai's manga Elemental HERO cards fix the flaws of their anime counterparts.
    • Yubel too. At the time of their introduction, Yubel was a Base-Breaking Character at best, especially in the eyes of American viewers. However, since the release of ZEXAL and ARC-V, fans have started to take more interest in their character and relationship with Judai. Yubel has also gotten a slow but steady popularity boost over the years, if fanart on Pixiv is anything to go by. Being a canonically intersex character and Judai's official Love Interest doesn't hurt a bit.
  • Rooting for the Empire: Yeah, Chazz is technically the "bad guy" whenever he's dueling Jaden, but by God, so many people just want to see him come out on top for once! In their final duel, he actually could have.
  • The Scrappy:
  • Signature Series Arc
    • Camula's three-part episode is one of the bright spots of the first season (and the show as a whole for people who don't like the third and fourth seasons). This is due to its attractive villain, frightening atmosphere, and some very impressive duels that don't involve Jaeden.
    • The first half of Season 3, due to having plenty of Darker and Edgier Growing the Beard moments but not being as dark as the second half of the season.
  • Superlative Dubbing: Episode 18 and 19 with Dimitri, the copycat Duelist. In the original, Dimitri is just himself and only decides he is Yugi towards the end of the Duel, but in the dub Dimitri acts like he's Yugi all along. What really sells the episode though is the absolutely Narmtastic impersonation of Dan Green's Yami Yugi that Marc Thompson delivers, taking Green's Large Ham, cranking it up, and giving a few lighthearted jabs at his mannerisms and catchphrases. The dub also re-uses parts of the original dub soundtrack as further nostalgia fuel when Dimitri makes his moves. Taken even further in the german version, where Dimitri is actually voiced by the Pharaoh's original voice actor in the parts where he impersonates him.
  • Tastes Like Diabetes: Episode 20 with Blair's Maiden in Love deck is absolutely sickening.
  • They Wasted a Perfectly Good Character:
    • One of the more prominent issues with the series is that ultimately, Jaden has to solve all the conflicts on his own. His friends will generally do nothing against the antagonists at best, and at worst get worfed or brainwashed by them to build them up as a threat.
    • The Shadow Riders are introduced as a threatening and dangerous group of villains, but only Nightshroud, Camula, and Amnael live up to that potential. Tania is still a powerful duelist but not treated like a serious threat, Abidos and Don Zaloog only get one episode each and are pretty pathetic both as characters and as duelists, and Titan is a returning character who had been humiliated before and is also beaten in one episode, embarrassing after his original duel being a two-parter.
    • Blair Flannigan. After being re-introduced at the end of Season 2 and seeming set to join the main cast as a second female protagonist, she spends the first half of Season 3 just being Marcel's friend and doing nothing of importance, doesn't appear at all in the second half of the season, and in Season 4 got a prominent role in just two episodes that otherwise focus on Jaden and Alexis.
    • Early in Season 2, we learn that Edo Phoenix is looking for the man who killed (or kidnapped, in the dub) his father. Said man turns out to be DD, the world champion of Duel Monsters and his adoptive father, who's been stealing the souls of duelists (including Edo’s father) using the power of the Light of Destruction for ten years without anyone discovering him. Unfortunately, both the audience and Edo learn most of this in the same episode that he's introduced. He's defeated (and presumably killed) in the very next episode, reducing him to a mere agent of the season's Big Bad when his dueling ability, his heinous crimes, and his relationship to Edo could have made him a very effective twist villain.
  • They Wasted a Perfectly Good Plot:
    • When Judai receives his half of the spirit charm from the Gravekeepers in season 1, Yasmin requests that if he finds the person with the other half, to tell him she's still waiting for him. Though said wielder turns out to be Atticus, how he got the charm and his relationship with Yasmin is never explored.
    • The whole concept of there actually being vampires in the Yu-Gi-Oh universe. It gets introduced in Camula's 3 episodes during the Shadow Rider arc only to then be completely dropped as it turns out that Camula's defeat resulted in the death of the last vampire.
    • Zane/Ryo is one of the more prominent characters in the series, and his Face–Heel Turn where he takes a severe level in jerkass is widely regarded as one of the franchise's best subplots. Too bad it's never resolved; by Season 3 he's reverted to a combination of his Season 1 and 2 personalities with no explanation or resolution whatsoever.
    • Jesse is The Chosen One, but of what?
    • Where is Yubel during the twenty episode absence after possessing Jesse but before confronting Jaden?
    • Rogue card designer with a counterfeit Egyptian God? The whole thing resolves in one episode.
    • At the end of season 3, it's implied that Jaden and Yubel are off to kick the Light of Destruction's ectoplasmic patuckus at its source to extinguish it for good, but this epic battle and fulfilment of Jaden's destiny isn't actually shown to us.
    • While the concept isn't really wasted, the history of the Phantom Demons/Sacred Beasts is not explored at all, such as how evil versions of the God Cards were created and how they got sealed under the island.
    • It's mostly based on the video games but a lot of people would prefer if Blair used Lightsworns instead of her anime deck considering how much better the former is.
  • Tier-Induced Scrappy:
    • Jaden's Elemental HERO cards are terrible — their Main Deck monsters have subpar stats and subpar effects, if they have any at all. They have many situational support cards that only work on a single HERO card (and usually aren't that good anyway), and they are reliant on Fusion to get out their best cards, forcing the player to invest multiple cards of their own into one monster and demanding the player have the proper Fusion materials to get out the one they need. The OCG/TCG boosters were dominated by Elemental HEROes while GX aired, and no one took them seriously. It took the later releases of the manga HEROes, who are actually viable and effective, to redeem the archetype among the fanbase.
    • The Neo-Spacians took all the problems of the Elemental HEROes and made them worse while retaining none of their strengths; weak monsters with terrible stats and effects, the archetypes centers on a single core main deck monster being in play to summon their Fusions, and said Fusions only stick around for one turn before returning to the Extra Deck unless you have a specific Field Spell in play. No one has ever played a Neo-Spacian deck in any serious capacity (the closest thing to a viable Neos deck that existed was built around Rainbow Neos and avoided most of their support cards like the plague). Grand Mole and much later, Aqua Dolphin are the only cards of the series people remembered or cared about for being the only monsters they had that were worth using. It took well over a decade after the show's end for Konami to introduce Neos cards that made the archetype not completely terrible.
    • The Cyberdarks. The series had only three main deck monsters that had terrible stats and bad effects, and their ability to power themselves up demanded players run a Dragon/Machine hybrid deck with a few specific Dragon-types. They also relied on a sub-par Fusion Monster that needed all three main deck monsters to summon, and just wasn't worth the investment. This made for a deck with very few monsters that were very weak and easily run over, and had nowhere near the power that the game-defining Cyber Dragons had. Like the Neo-Spacians, it took well over a decade for some cards like Cyberdark Cannon and Cyberdark Claw to help improve the power and consistency of the deck.
  • Too Bleak, Stopped Caring: The second half of Season 3 elicited this reaction from some viewers. The protagonists are thrown into a hopelessly bleak dimension in which losing duels equals death. Several of them start displaying uncharacteristically unpleasant behavior before dying right and left. The only characters that remain unequivocally "good" are Ojama Yellow, Jim, Axel, and Syrus (after the latter overcomes his doubt and anger toward Jaden).
  • Tough Act to Follow: Most fans will widely agree that the GX manga was easily the best after the original, and subsequent manga haven't lived up to the bar that it set. The Arc V manga came close to toppling it, unfortunately its ending broke the fanbase even more then the anime ending.
  • Ugly Cute: The Ojamas.
  • Unintentionally Sympathetic: Manjoume/Chazz across the series. He starts off as a Jerk Jock before undergoing Character Development into a Jerk with a Heart of Gold, at which point he spends the rest of the series as a Butt-Monkey, which is usually treated as deserved due to his extreme arrogance and his condescending, snarky attitude towards Judai/Jaden and his friends. However, Manjoume is genuinely a talented and skilled duelist who repeatedly proves he can keep up with the Academy's best when his opponent isn't Judai, he never really does anything that could be considered villainous or evil,note  and some would say that his treatment of Judai is not unwarranted, given that Judai repeatedly humiliates him in dueling despite being an Idiot Hero. The result is that a character we're supposed to laugh at for being so ineffectual and arrogant, comes off as pitiable because he deserves better than what the show lets him be. He finally gets thrown a bone in Season 4, when he publicly defeats Edo/Aster Phoenix and earns major chops in the Pro Leagues, ensuring he'll probably have a good career when he graduates.
  • Unintentionally Unsympathetic:
    • Jaden's friends who suffer from the Hate Plague (Tyranno, Chazz, Alexis, Atticus and Syrus) during the Dark World arc of Season 3. While it's certainly true that Jaden had an unhealthy obsession with finding Jesse, the way they keep blaming him for everything bad that happens to them can end up more grating than saddening, especially after they had ignored Jaden's protests to their following him into the Dark World. We're supposed to think that Jaden is at fault for them getting captured to be sacrificed for Super Polymerization, as they apparently can't take responsibility for themselves. When Jaden realizes that they'll die each time he damages Brron, he isn't willing to surrender (which would kill him, and leave them at Brron's mercy anyway), but avoids attacking. Then Brron uses a Spell Card that forces Jaden's monsters to attack Brron against his will, and his dying friends claim that he sacrificed them to win even though, again, his monsters were forced to attack against his will (Syrus at least had the excuse of not seeing the Spell's activation). Ultimately, with the exception of Syrus, their sole purpose in the arc was to throw Jaden into a Heroic BSoD with unfair accusations over their inability to look after themselves.
    • Yubel is Easily Forgiven by Jaden once he learns that they sacrificed their human form for the sake of his previous incarnation, who in turn promised his eternal love. However, Yubel was a Yandere to an extreme degree; even before unintended exposure to the Light of Destruction warped their mind, they drove Jaden’s childhood friends away by making them ill just for beating Jaden in causal duels. Yubel would proceed to put Jaden through hell as part of their twisted perception that love means shared suffering, and ultimately tries to erase all of existence so Jaden will have absolutely nothing else, but still ends up with the eternal bond with Jaden that they always wanted.
  • Vindicated by History: Yu-Gi-Oh! ZEXAL and Yu-Gi-Oh! ARC-V's issues put this series in a much better light, and people in the west look at it much more fondly than they used to. Jaden has also been looked more favorably on, especially with his relationships with Yubel and Jesse, both of whom he loves dearly. It got to the point that most players of Yu-Gi-Oh! Duel Links were excited rather than annoyed by the update that added the GX characters alongside the original series characters.
    • The third and fourth season were given a rather mixed reception when they were first airing, mostly for being such a massive tonal shift from the prior seasons and making a number of characters Demoted to Extra (not helped by the dub really having no idea how to handle them). Today, they're regarded as the series's Growing the Beard moment, and the thing to watch the series for.
    • Yubel was widely loathed (especially in America); between the highly inconsistent 4kids dub, mixed reviews of the third season in general, and some fans claiming that Yubel "got in the way" of more popular ships, there were a lot of complaints. But the years have been kind to them, and today, Yubel's usually considered one of the best villains in the entire franchise, with their competence, well-developed personality, creepiness, and interesting relationship with Judai/Jaden often being cited. The potential inherent in their Heel–Face Turn and their canon intersex gender don't hurt either, especially due to gender conventions being a hot topic in The New '10s.
    • The English dub has also become this nowadays. Back when it premiered, it was met with criticism for its edits that weren't present in the anime, and for some of the voice acting, particularly Matthew Labyorteaux as Jaden Yuki. But nowadays, thanks to the popularity of Yu-Gi-Oh! The Abridged Series, the fans have begun to look more fondly upon it since the dub leans more towards meta and self-aware humor, making it come off as sometimes a Gag Dub that pokes fun at itself, but still takes itself seriously when it needs to. Matthew Labyorteaux has also begun to be viewed more favorably for his role as Jaden Yuki, especially thanks to his recent voice work as the character in Yu-Gi-Oh! Duel Links.
  • WTH, Casting Agency?: This was mainly back when the show first aired, but Matthew Labyorteaux caught quite a lot of flak for his performance as Jaden Yuki in the English dub. While he wasn't considered a miscast by any means necessary, his radical mannerisms were what he got criticized for due to them killing the mood of very serious moments. For example, in Season 3 when Jaden duels Brron, Mad King of Dark World, Jaden becomes consumed by anger and rage which allows the Supreme King to awaken inside of him, and yet even though Jaden is meant to sound like he's angry and full of rage from watching his friends vanish, he stills speaks in his radical mannerisms which makes it kind of difficult to believe that he's really as angry as he should be.
  • Woolseyism: Yes, the dub did manage a few.
    • The Bio Bands and Survival Duels in the dub were originally known as Death Belts and Disclosure Duels (in Japanese, the "dis" becomes "des", making it a pun on the word "death"). God knows why the faculty weren't tipped off to the true nature of Viper's actions when he pitched the idea in that version. ARC-V turned this into an even more accidental one with its own Survival Duels.note 
    • Banner gets a German accent in the dub to tie into his alchemy theme, referencing the fact that many historical alchemists were German.
    • In Season 2, the dub keeps Aster's father's fate a mystery until the final confrontation between Aster and his stepfather. In the original, Aster knows he's dead from the beginning, but in the dub he disappears the same night he was robbed of his best card, and Aster searches for him for the majority of the season. This ultimately adds to the horror when it's revealed his soul has been swallowed by D-HERO Plasma, and the nightmarish sequence that results is completely unedited.
      • "Destiny HERO Bloo-D" was the name in Japanese, and it was pronounced as it was spelled, "Blue D", which comes off as a mangled attempt at a pun. The English renamed it "Destiny HERO Plasma", as in blood plasma.
    • While the deliberate literalism of the name is lost, it could be argued that "Nightshroud" is a much more impressive name for a villain than the generic "Darkness".
    • The D, in the Japanese named "DD" for "Destiny Duelist". The dub established "The D" was an alias and gave him the proper name "Kyle Jables", take from Kyle Gass and Jack Black of Tenacious D. Appropriate, since one of the D-HEROes is named Captain Tenacious.
    • A bit of a mean one that nonetheless works — the monkey Duelist being trained by Kaiba Corp in Season 1 was named "Sal" in the Japanese version, meaning "Super Animal Learning" and a pun on the Japanese word for "monkey". The dub renamed it "Wheeler", after one of Kaiba's favorite insults for Joey, "dueling monkey".
    • Youtuber MegaCapitalG argues that Syrus's Dub Personality Change makes him a more likeable character compared to the original Japanese. He's snarkier and more prone to throwing zingers like the other dudes he hangs out with, giving him additional charm on top of being a shy nerd overshadowed by his big brother.

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