Joey Wheeler was one of the main characters of the Yu-Gi-Oh! anime and manga series. He quickly grew to become a fan favorite character, due to his status as the underdog. Yugi Muto was the protagonist of the show, who relied on the ghost of an ancient Egyptian Pharoah to help him win all of his duels. Seto Kaiba was a multi-millionaire, who spent all of his riches on trying to beat people at a children’s card game. Joey didn’t have smart ghosts or bags of money to help on his journey. Instead, Joey relied on his passion for the game and his stubborn refusal to give up. Joey was the Yu-Gi-Oh! character that you are most likely to meet in real life and that is what made him so relatable.
We are here today to talk about one of the most beloved Yu-Gi-Oh! characters of all time. From the deeper meaning behind his name to the creator of Yu-Gi-Oh!’s true thoughts about the character.
Here are 15 Things You Didn’t Know About Joey Wheeler!
15. His And Yugi’s Names Mean Friendship
The name Joey Wheeler was an invention of the English dub of Yu-Gi-Oh! that was first coined in the 4Kids localization of the show. It is an attempt to anglicize the character’s Japanese name, which is Jonouchi Katsuya. In both cases, the first two letters of his name are significant. The Japanese word for friendship is yujo. This is partly why Yugi and Joey/Jonouchi are named the way they are, as the beginnings of both of their names equate to friendship.
Yu-Gi-Oh! once featured a card that referenced the connection between both character’s names. It was called Yu-Jo Friendship and it depicted Yugi and Joey holding hands. This is actually a controversial card that is banned in most tournaments. It involves asking the other player for a handshake, which they can refuse. If you have a card called Unity on the field, then it says that they must accept the handshake. So what if they still refuse? Do they lose the game? What if you spit on your hand first?
14. The Different Cards Of Battle City
One of the new rules introduced during the Battle City story arc was that all participants had to offer up an ante with each match. When you entered a duel with another person, then you both had to offer up your rarest card as a prize. This allowed the main characters to earn new cards throughout the tournament, which they would then use in the finals.
During Joey’s matches in Battle City, he faced off against powerful duelists like Esper Roba and Mako Tsunami. He managed to win both of these matches and claimed the Jinzo and The Legendary Fisherman cards for his own.
In the original Yu-Gi-Oh! manga, these cards worked very differently. Jinzo was originally a level 7 monster, which requires two tributes to summon. The Legendary Fisherman was originally level 4, which can be summoned without tribute. These monsters were changed in the Yu-Gi-Oh! anime and card game, so that Jinzo was level 6 and The Legendary Fisherman was level 5, which meant they both required a single tribute to summon. This meant that Joey’s battles throughout the series that involved these cards had to be rewritten for the anime.
13. Joey’s American Cousin
The fate of Joey Wheeler after the end of the original iteration of Yu-Gi-Oh! is unclear. In terms of the series chronology, he is last seen in Yu-Gi-Oh! The Dark Side of Dimensions. After they graduate from high school. Joey and the rest of the gang tearfully see Téa off at the airport. Joey is referred to several times in Yu-Gi-Oh! GX as one of the best duelists in the world, though he is never seen on screen. The ultimate fate of Joey is unknown.
Yu-Gi-Oh! 5D’s is set in the far future of the Yu-Gi-Oh! world, with the planet almost being at Mad Max levels of post-apocalyptic horror. This means that the cast of the original series have long since passed away, with Pegasus being confirmed as having died long ago (as there is a memorial foundation in his honor). Despite this, the English localization of Yu-Gi-Oh! 5D’s changed the identity of one of the characters to make him Joey’s cousin. An unnamed duelist in the Japanese dub is referred to as Jesse Wheeler, the cousin of Joey. Joey’s voice actor provided the voice for Jesse. This was an invention of the English dub and Joey has no known cousin’s (especially incredibly long lived ones) in the original Yu-Gi-Oh! anime or manga.
12. Who Won The Duel?
Joey Wheeler loses his most prized card, the Red Eyes Black Dragon, just before the start of the Battle City story arc. He loses it to a member of Marik’s Rare Hunters, who uses fake copies of the Exodia cards to win. Yugi later defeats this Rare Hunter and wins the Red Eyes Black Dragon card for himself. He offers to return it to Joey, who refuses, stating that he will only take it back through victory. At the end of the story arc, we see that the final duel of the Battle City tournament takes place between Joey and Yugi, though we never see the results.
In the Yu-Gi-Oh! anime, it is pretty clear that Joey won the duel. He is seen using the Red Eyes Black Dragon card from this point on, which suggests that he defeated Yugi and took the card as his prize, via the ante rule. The original Yu-Gi-Oh! manga isn’t as clear on the issue, as neither Yugi nor Joey use the card after Battle City. Yugi uses the card during his duel against Kaiba in the Battle City semi-finals, which is the last time it ever appears.
11. The Voice Of Joey Wheeler
The voice of Joey Wheeler has always been provided by Wayne Grayson, who is best known for his work with 4Kids Entertainment. Not only has he provided voices for many characters throughout the Yu-Gi-Oh! franchise, but he has also appeared in shows like Pokémon, Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, and One Piece. Wayne Grayson returned to the role of Joey Wheeler in 2016 when Yu-Gi-Oh! The Dark Side of Dimensions was released.
Wayne Grayson hasn’t left the voice of Joey for long, however, as he has been a guest at many anime & gaming conventions in the past. The original cast of Yu-Gi-Oh! have remained popular with the fans over the years, so there has always been an audience for them at cons. He has also appeared at Yu-Gi-Oh! tournaments, where he will provide the voice of Joey Wheeler as part of scripted duels with the other voice actors from the show. If you ever wanted to know what it would sound like if Joey had battled Pegasus, then this cringeworthy clip has you covered.
10. The Million Dollar Duelist
The first story arc of the Yu-Gi-Oh! anime series was the Duelist Kingdom. This was the name of a tournament that was sponsored by Maximillion Pegasus (the creator of Duel Monsters), which was held on a private island. Yugi is forced to enter, as Pegasus had stolen his grandfather’s soul. Pegasus did this because he wanted to take control of Yugi’s Millenium Puzzle. Joey Wheeler also enters the tournament, as he wants the prize money.
Pegasus offered two prizes for the winner of the Duelist Kingdom tournament. The first was the title of “King of Games” and the second was three million dollars! Joey only cared about the money, as he needed that amount to pay for his sister’s eye operation, as she would lose her sight without it.
Three million dollars might seem like an excessive amount for an eye operation (well, maybe not when Obamacare is repealed), and it is. In the original Yu-Gi-Oh! manga series, the prize was three million yen, which is around thirty thousand dollars.
9. Mokuba Almost Murdered Joey
Mokuba Kaiba is a lot more innocent than his older brother. This is partly because Mokuba is allowed to be nicer, as Kaiba has to run a multi-million dollar business, whilst resisting takeover attempts by others in the company. Mokuba is the one person in the world that Seto seems to care about. This has forced Seto & Yugi to go on numerous rescue missions, as Mokuba has a tendency to get kidnapped by the villains of the show.
The original Yu-Gi-Oh! manga series was a lot darker than the anime, with the Pharoah straight up murdering people who didn’t conform to the rules of his games. Mokuba was also a lot more vicious in the manga, as he almost murdered Joey during their first meeting.
Yugi and Joey are invited to the Kaiba home in the Yu-Gi-Oh! manga. Mokuba offers them food on a turntable, which Joey eats. It is revealed that Mokuba had fed poisoned food to Joey and would only give him the antidote if Yugi could win a game of poison food Russian Roulette. Yugi was able to complete the game and save Joey. Mokuba mustn’t’ be too worried about murdering a high school student in his dining room.
8. Joey & The Forbidden Cards
The real life Yu-Gi-Oh! card game has a number of cards that are restricted for use in official tournaments. These are either limited to one or two in your deck or are banned completely. This was originally brought in due to the overpowered Yata-Garasu card, which dominated the tournament scene during its initial release. The list still persists to this day, with popular cards from the anime, like Pot of Greed and Monster Reborn being banned.
One of the complaints about the Yu-Gi-Oh! anime was that it didn’t match the rules of the actual card game. This changed somewhat in Battle City when Kaiba brought in new rules that more closely matched the real life version of the game. The first time that the idea of banned cards was brought up in the anime was during the duel between Yugi and the brainwashed Joey. Joey’s deck was filled with spell cards that dealt direct damage to the enemy. Kaiba had officially outlawed these cards in Battle City, which means that Joey was (unwittingly) cheating throughout the duel.
7. Joey’s Famous Chin
Joey Wheeler has endured in the minds of Yu-Gi-Oh! fans since the show ended (and was replaced with GX). In recent years, he received a resurgence of popularity on the Internet, due to some incredibly creepy faces he used to pull in the anime.
At various points in the Yu-Gi-Oh! anime series, Joey would pull a weird face when he was sure he was going to win (or was bragging about his skills). This face made his chin incredibly pointy and gave him what can only be described as child molester eyes.
Joey’s chin (or rather, Jonouchi’s chin) became the source of a popular Internet meme in Japan, where his pointy chin was added onto the faces of other anime characters. This meme was a huge hit on Twitter in 2014 and eventually made its way overseas, with Americans getting in on the fun of exploiting Joey’s creepy face and pointy chin.
6. The Fate Of Mai & Joey
In the Battle City tournament, both Mai Valentine and Joey Wheeler lose to Yami Marik (a spirit which is in possession of Marik’s body). These duels are some of the most harrowing of the series, as they take place within the Shadow Realm. Yami Marik uses the power of his Millennium Rod to exact tortures on his foes. Neither Mai nor Joey possess a Millennium Item of their own to counteract the effects of the Shadow Realm. This is the reason that Joey lost, as he almost beat Marik, but passed out from the pain before he could give his final command to attack.
There was a Yu-Gi-Oh! video game released for the Game Boy Advance called Yu-Gi-Oh! The Sacred Cards. This game starred a new character, who enters the Battle City tournament. As this character enters the finals, he changes up the order of the duels. In this game, Mai loses to Kaiba in the first round. Joey faces Yami Marik in the first round and suffers the same fate as Mai does in the anime/manga. Joey is put into a coma, with his thoughts slowly being devoured.
5. The Joey Games
The success of the Pokémon franchise was one of the main reasons that Yu-Gi-Oh! saw a release in the West. Pokémon helped to bring anime into the mainstream and production companies went looking in Japan for similar series that they could release, in an effort to try and mimic Pokémon’s success.
The Yu-Gi-Oh! video games have occasionally came in separate versions, in the same way that the Pokémon series usually breaks up each generation into two or three games. In Yu-Gi-Oh!‘s case, the games were based on characters from the anime. Joey has been the mascot character of two different Yu-Gi-Oh! video games. One of these was Yu-Gi-Oh! Duel Monsters 4: Battle of the Great Duelist, which came in three different versions that had unique cards. Yugi/Slifer appeared in the first, Kaiba/Obelisk in the second, and Joey/Ra in the third. These games were released for the Game Boy Color and they never left Japan.
There was a series of Yu-Gi-Oh! games for the PC, called the Power of Chaos. The third game in the series was called Yu-Gi-Oh! Power of Chaos: Joey the Passion. This game allowed you to duel against Joey, who is voiced by Wayne Grayson of the Yu-Gi-Oh! anime.
4. The Gambling Duelist
Joey’s parents are mentioned a few times in the Yu-Gi-Oh! anime series. When he was a child, his parents were divorced. His mother left, taking his sister Serenity with her. Joey was left with his father, of whom we know almost nothing.
In the Yu-Gi-Oh! manga and the original anime series that was produced by Toei, we do get a brief glimpse of Joey’s father. According to these source materials, Joey’s father was an alcoholic gambler, who was likely physically abusive to his son (as he threw a bottle at Yugi and the rest of the gang). This is said to be the reason why Joey hadn’t spoken to his mother for so long.
The fact that Joey’s father was a gambling addict may explain why Joey uses cards based on chance within his deck. Joey uses cards like the Time Wizard, Skull Dice, Graceful Dice, and Roulette Spider in his deck. These all possess an element of chance (relying on either coin flips or dice rolls) and they usually work in Joey’s favor. This might be a commentary on the author’s part about the nature of luck, as Joey only relies on these cards for the benefit of his family and friends, whilst his father gambles for money.
3. Brooklyn Manners
When the Yu-Gi-Oh! anime series was localized into English, the people responsible for the dub changed the location of the show from Japan to America. The show is set in Domino City, which is referred to as being in the United States of America. Luckily, the series didn’t go into Japanese culture or school life that much, so it was an easy thing to gloss over.
Joey Wheeler speaks with a thick Brooklyn accent, which makes more sense if the series is set in America. Joey’s voice actor, Wayne Grayson, is from New York, so at least the accent is somewhat genuine.
There is actually a reason that Joey has a Brooklyn accent. In the original Japanese Yu-Gi-Oh! manga series, Joey speaks without honorifics, which is an incredibly rude way of speaking. The Brooklyn accent was chosen to represent this in the English dub. This is also the reason that Bakura speaks with a British accent, as he uses an overly polite way of speaking in the Japanese version of Yu-Gi-Oh! and a posh English accent was how they chose to emulate it.
2. The Number One Censorship
As the English dub of Yu-Gi-Oh! was provided by 4Kids Entertainment, the show underwent many unnecessary forms of censorship. Everything from realistic guns to the exposed cleavages of some of the bustier characters had to be removed or shoddily edited over. This was one of the inspirations for the acclaimed Yu-Gi-Oh! The Abridged Series, which often mocked the heavy-handed censorship that was done by 4Kids.
One of the most unusual things to ever be censored in Yu-Gi-Oh! happened in the seventeenth episode of the anime. In the Japanese version of the episode, Joey needs to pee, so he separates himself from the group to do it in private. This allows Bandit Keith’s men to get the jump on him. In the English language version of the episode, Joey just sort of runs away from the group without explanation. The fact that Joey needed to empty his bladder was considered to be too hot for TV!
1. The Strength Of Joey
The creator of Yu-Gi-Oh! is a man named Kazuki Takahashi. He started out as a guy who wanted to break into the manga industry as both a writer and an artist. The idea for Yu-Gi-Oh! originally came about because he wanted to do a battle manga series with a main character who never physically hit his opponents. Yu-Gi-Oh! originally focused on numerous different games, before the initial version of Duel Monsters appeared in the story. The fans bombarded the author with questions about this game and it soon grew to dominate the series. This led to Yu-Gi-Oh! becoming the most popular trading card game in the world.
Kazuki Takahashi has stated in interviews that he believes Joey/Jonouchi to be the strongest character in the series, due to the fact that he does not rely on magic or money to solve his problems. He has also said that he managed to convey everything that he wanted to say in Yu-Gi-Oh! through Joey’s character. It is for these reasons that Joey is the most important character in all of Yu-Gi-Oh!