The world of Yu-Gi-Oh! is pretty insane. It may all make enough sense in the moment, but it can be hard to piece together what’s happening if you try to go back and explain it. Still, there is a certain level of mythology around the series, and an avid fandom willing to go down every unexplored path that the show and each of its spin-off series leave open. In going down these paths, fans have come up with a wide array of explanations for what happens on each show, and for how the shows interact with one another.
Some of these fan theories are based around the cards on the show, while others are more interested in the characters inside the stories. Whatever the case may be, each one of them is based in some evidence. It’s true, of course, that some of them feel more possible than others, but part of the fun of this kind of speculation is going down crazy routes that might not actually make much sense.
Fan theories are the life blood of every fandom, and Yu-Gi-Oh! is certainly no exception. There’s even some time travel involved.
Here are the 15 Craziest Yu-Gi-Oh! Fan Theories.
15. Yugi Eventually Ages Into Yami
This theory may seem a bit obvious, but it’s probably also true. In the English dub of the show, Yugi has a much higher voice than Yami, and that’s intentional. The fact that they look almost identical suggests that, in a few years, Yugi could age into someone who’s virtually indistinguishable from the spirit that once lived inside his Millennium Item.
The main backing for this theory comes from the scene early on in Yu-Gi-Oh! GX when Jaden runs into an older Yugi, and is given his Winged Kuriboh. Because Yami has already returned to the afterlife, it’s unclear how he could be the one who gives Jaden the Winged Kuriboh, but his voice sounds almost exactly like Yami’s during the scene. This has led many to suggest that Yugi actually ages into that voice and appearance.
14. Yugi Moves Away From Dueling After the Show
After the end of the show, there are some hints that suggest that Yugi hung up his dueling cape and pursued other interests. It’s not the worst theory in the world, especially considering how much dueling he does over the course of the show’s five seasons. He might be a little worn out. Some have even argued that, like Pegasus before him, Yugi went on to design his own games.
It’s fitting, especially considering the fact that Yugi was named the King of Games after winning precisely one game. Maybe he decided to prove that he was worthy of that title, and hopped into the game design business. Whatever the case may be, we do get a sense from subsequent anime that Yugi doesn’t put down his duel disk for good. He still duels on occasion, just maybe with less frequency than he did during the show, when he didn’t have to worry about things like paying bills.
13. Bastion Misawa Was Supposed to be a More Prominent Figure in Yu-Gi-Oh! GX
Although Bastion Misawa’s role in Yu-Gi-Oh! GX isn’t insignificant, there are some indications that his role in the show was initially much bigger than it ended up being. The main evidence for this theory comes in the opening credits of GX, when we’re introduced to Bastion, and see him summon a fire dragon– a monster he never actually uses on the show.
This is one of the only times in any Yu-Gi-Oh! series that a character is shown summoning a monster in the opening credits that they never actually use on the show. This has led some to theorize that Bastion was initially supposed to be one of Jaden’s primary rivals, and that his role was ultimately diminished as the show developed.
The character was ultimately abandoned at the conclusion of GX’s third season, and it’s clear that a lot of wasted potential was left behind with him. Of course, anime sometimes change course midway through their run, and GX was no exception.
12. Yugi Just Has an Overactive Imagination
The idea of Yugi simply imagining most of what happens to him on Yu-Gi-Oh! isn’t exactly original, but it is a fairly compelling theory. For one thing, tons of really insane things happen in the world of the show, and it’s possible that Yugi’s overactive imagination transformed his small, high school world into the expansive, dueling monsters-focused world we see on the show.
In this version of events, none of the outlandish things that happen to Yugi are real. Instead, they only exist as stories inside his head. This isn’t to say that Yugi is crazy or anything. He’s simply a kid who has a little bit too much time to daydream, and decides to come up with a world that’s worthy of the thoughts in his head.
11. Yugi is the Other Half of Yami’s Soul
The idea behind this theory has a couple competitors throughout this list, but this one works on a metaphorical and literal level. The theory argues that Yugi is actually the other half of Yami’s soul. In other words, Yugi is Yami’s conscience, and keeps him from doing some of the crueler things he considers. On a metaphorical level, this is almost certainly the case. There are numerous occasions where we see Yami considers doing something awful, and he’s only stopped by Yugi’s presence.
The theory goes further than that, though, and suggests that Yugi is literally the other half of Yami’s soul, and that they are reunited when he finishes the Millennium Puzzle. This is ultimately what allows Yami to move on, and it provides much of the best dramatic tension that the show has to offer.
10. The Plot of Yu-Gi-Oh! Mirrors the Selling of Ouija Boards.
Ouija boards are familiar to any teenager who has ever been terrified by their friends. Before the game was popularized in modern times, a Chinese emperor decided that the boards were probably a bad idea, and banned them to prevent any problems. It wasn’t until centuries later that a businessman discovered the idea of the boards, and realized how profitable they could be if they were mass produced.
If that sounds familiar, it’s because it’s also almost exactly what Maximillion Pegasus does when he first creates duel monsters. Pegasus discovers an ancient Egyptian game that was banned for all sorts of reasons, and decides humanity should start playing it again. Of course, this makes him incredibly wealthy, but it also leads to a world on the constant brink of danger. Pegasus may have made a boatload of money by re-popularizing an ancient game, but he put the world in constant peril as a result.
9. Yugi’s Dad is Dead
We know that Yugi lives with his grandpa by the time Yu-Gi-Oh! begins, but we don’t get a ton of explanation for why that is. It’s not that Grandpa Moto isn’t a cool guy, it’s just pretty clear that Yugi’s parents, and his dad especially, are out of the picture. Now the manga makes it clear that Yugi’s father is really just away from home on business, but there are some fans who believe that’s really just a cover story to comfort Yugi.
While we get an appearance from Yugi’s mom that makes it clear she isn’t dead, we never see his father throughout the entirety of the show. When you combine that with the pseudo-parental relationship that Yugi has with Yami, it becomes easy to see why some fans might suggest that Yami is a stand-in for Yugi’s father because his actual father is deceased.
8. Yugi is Atem’s Reincarnation
By the end of Yu-Gi-Oh!, we come to understand that the spirit that has been inhabiting Yugi is an ancient pharaoh from Egypt who goes by the name Atem. Initially, it seems as though Yami or Atem is simply an extension of Yugi’s mind, a voice that offers him guidance and sometimes takes over to protect Yugi from rough duels. Although we eventually learn who Atem really is, there are some who argue that the resemblance between Yugi and Atem is more than mere coincidence.
This theory suggests that Yugi is actually a reincarnated Atem, and it works alongside the theory that Yugi eventually ages into him. In the world of Yu-Gi-OhI, it’s definitely a possibility, but it’s tempered somewhat by the differences between Yugi and Atem’s personalities. Yugi is always shown to be more kind and gentle than the spirit who lives inside of him, which may throw cold water on those who believe that the two are actually one and the same.
7. The Duel Between Yugi and Jaden Never Happened
The finale of Yu-Gi-Oh! GX sees Yugi, the protagonist from the original Yu-Gi-Oh!, and Jaden, the protagonist of GX, going head to head. We don’t get to see how the duel ends, or which character emerges victorious, which has led to plenty of speculation about which protagonist ultimately prevailed. One prominent fan theory suggests that this duel never actually happened, though; it actually took place inside of Jaden’s head.
This “it was all a dream” idea may not be totally original, but the evidence behind it is solid. The idea is that Jaden skips out on his graduation trip to take a nap. After all, it does seem ludicrous that Yugi would randomly arrive on Duel Academy Island, and it’s unclear how Yugi would send Jaden back in time. What’s more, in the film Bonds Beyond Time, Yugi acts as though he’s never met Jaden before, which suggests that the duel between them is not one that he remembers, and that Jaden’s memory of it comes from a dream.
6. The Cards Are Actually a Creation Myth
The cards at the center of duel monsters already align quite a bit with a variety of mythologies and religion. One fan theory suggests that one set of cards actually depicts a version of the creation story, one in which light and darkness are brought into the world. The theory revolves around “The Creator God of Light, Horakhty”, a card that brought light into the world, and life with it.
A great city was built in the light, represented by the card “Realm of Light”. Eventually, a group wanted to take all the light for themselves, and called themselves the “Malefic,” represented by the card “Malefic World”. Horakhty was unable to defend the light herself, and so she created the three Egyptian God Cards to do it for her. The Malefic eventually made their own versions of the cards in the form of Uria, Raviel, and Hamon. After the Egyptian God Cards defeated their imitators, Horakhty sealed the light away inside the “Pyramid of Light.”
5. The Millennium Puzzle Keeps Yugi Winning
If you weren’t already aware from watching the show, Yami and Yugi both believe in a concept called “the heart of the cards.” The idea goes that if they simply believe in their decks, they’ll be carried to victory, and will always be capable of drawing the card that they need when they’re on the brink of disaster. One theory suggests that it isn’t “the heart of the cards” that keeps Yugi winning– it’s actually his Millennium Puzzle.
Over the course of the show’s run, each of the Millennium Items seems to have some supernatural power that is granted to its owner. Some theories suggest that, in addition to the power of the pharaoh, the Millennium Puzzle also grants Yugi extraordinarily good luck, or even control over his own destiny. Because Yugi believes so firmly that he will draw the card he needs, his Millennium Item makes it happen for him. It would certainly explain how he managed to win so many duels.
4. The Show Intentionally Doesn’t Play by the Rules
The Yu-Gi-Oh! card game has many well-defined rules, and has become quite competitive in the real world. Having said that, the version that’s often played in the world of the show rarely resembles the actual game. As a result, kids who are interested in playing the game the right way can’t rely on the show at all to teach them how to play. Instead, they have to sift through the rule book.
Some fans theorize that the anime’s characters play the card game wrong not just to enhance dramatic tension, but also so that kids will buy more cards. The idea is that the simplified version of the game, where every moment is tense and every card is life or death, will make kids more interested in buying the cards, even if it makes them less prepared to use them correctly. As a result, the show has even been labeled as something akin to propaganda, although that might be a bit harsh.
3. There are Multiple Timelines
Although this may seem ludicrous to a casual fan, the shows that take place inside the world of Yu-Gi-Oh! may actually be taking place in two different timelines. The first two shows, Yu-Gi-Oh! and Yu-Gi-Oh! GX take place in a single timeline. From there, things split into two different universes. The theory suggests that Yu-Gi-Oh! 5D’s takes place 20 years after GX, and that Yu-Gi-Oh! Zexal takes place in a separate timeline from 5D’s.
The theory goes that Zexal is missing many of the elements of 5D’s, including Kaiba Corporation. A year or two after the end of GX, Kaiba begins working on a system known as the Ener-D, which leads to events from 5D’s. The theory continues by explaining that this device was not built in the Zexal timeline, which leads to the notable differences between the two worlds. In Zexal’s world, something happens to Kaiba that keeps him from creating Ener-D, creating two parallel universes.
2. Exodia is God
There’s plenty of talk about gods of various forms in the world of Yu-Gi-Oh!. After all, the anime is heavily steeped in Egyptian mythology, and has cards that actually represent some of the major gods of Egypt. One theory argues that Exodia, the card that grants its user an instant victory over their opponent, is actually a representation of God, the supreme being that rules over all of humanity.
Even though duel monsters is based on Egyptian hieroglyphs that Pegasus discovered, there are some who suspect that Exodia was a monotheistic God who ruled supreme over all other gods in ancient Egypt. He’s referred to as “The Forbidden One” because the Pharaohs forbid their people from worshipping him, and his supreme power suggests that the Egyptians were ultimately wrong. They may have discovered Exodia and recognized his supreme power, even as they attempted to retain their privileges as god kings.
1. Yugi Sends Jaden Back in Time to Create a Time Loop
This theory’s pretty complicated, so hold onto your hats. Early on in the first episode of Yu-Gi-Oh! GX, Jaden meets Yugi and gets “Winged Kuriboh” from him. During the final duel between the two of them, Jaden actually travels back in time to duel Yugi, because Atem isn’t around in the present day. What’s more, this theory suggests that Yugi actually gave Jaden the “Winged Kuriboh” because he had already met Jaden, and associated him with the card.
This would lead to a time loop, wherein Yugi gives Jaden “Winged Kuriboh” at the beginning of the series because he’s already seen Jaden use it at the end of the series. This may seem paradoxical, but many time travel stories use a similar time loop to create a scenario where it’s impossible to determine which event happened first. That’s part of the fun of time travel stories.
Do you believe any of these Yu-Gi-Oh! fan theories? Let us know in the comments