Pokémon, Magic: The Gathering, Yu-Gi-Oh. All card games that we’ve all come to love and appreciate for a variety of reasons. The fact that you can submerge yourself into a world that doesn’t exist is one of the greatest things our imagination has been able to be privy to. While Pokémon and Magic: The Gathering have their own share of faults and successes, Yu-Gi-Oh tends to still go unnoticed. For what reason I’m not sure. However, that doesn’t degrade the fact that Yu-Gi-Oh has some fiercely powerful characters in its world. Now, I’m not going to be the person that only focuses on the duelists, because let’s be honest, a lot of what we believe to be powerful in the Yu-Gi-Oh world comes from the monsters. So, I would like to take this golden opportunity and share with you the top 15 duelist and monsters (i.e. characters) that show up in the Yu-Gi-Oh universe. I’ve talked about Yu-Gi-Oh here before so this shouldn’t be too difficult. But, if I can have multiple opportunities to talk about it, I’ll take it.
Honestly, Yu-Gi-Oh seems to have become the black sheep of trading card games. We’ve got things like Hearthstone and online trading card games, but we’ve never really seen Yu-Gi-Oh take off. Hell, even Runescape has been thrown into the online trading card game, and let me tell you, it’s every amount of badass that you can possibly imagine. Though, I suppose it’d be better for those that grew up with Runescape. Let’s be honest, who didn’t?
Here are 15 Of The Most Powerful Characters In Yu-Gi-Oh
15. Maximillion Pegasus
I’m starting this article on the right foot by bringing up perhaps one of the most powerful characters in Yu-Gi-Oh: Maximillion Pegasus. If at any point in your life you’ve watched Yu-Gi-Oh, you’ll understand right away why this particular character has so much power gleaming off of him. For starters, he is the inventor of duel monsters which is the main theme throughout the entire show. Being the creator of such thing, he comes off as a well mannered but overly dramatic individual whose main purpose is to cheat his way through the game to reap his own rewards. He’s also the man who has the power of the Millennium Eye – which gives the owner the power to read the minds of opposing characters. With this, anybody who owns the Millennium Eye can see the other duelist’s cards in order to gain the upper hand. Basically, it’s the best form of cheating you can accomplish in Yu-Gi-Oh.
14. Joey Wheeler
A lot of people know Joey Wheeler for his inexperience in Duel Monsters, probably due to having to travel alongside Yugi Moto in the adventure. But, like any person following someone who is experienced, Joey Wheeler soon becomes one of the most powerful and greatest duelists in the world of Yu-Gi-Oh. He comes off as this sarcastic and impulsive individual, but you later come to find that he is disciplined throughout the adventure, probably because of the situations he finds himself in. Although Joey Wheeler seems rather inexperienced in the show, he later finds himself in a duel with Rex Raptor. Upon winning the duel, he wins the Red-Eyes Black Dragon card for his deck, a monster of which we will be discussing later in this article. I mentioned before that there are quite a few very strong and muscle packed cards in the Yu-Gi-Oh show and card game, and Red-Eyes Black Dragon is up there.
13. Yugi Moto
Of course, now we get to Yugi Moto (and don’t worry, I’ll be talking about Yami Yugi in this article as well) who in the anime is the main character and known as Pharaoh Atem in regards to his skills in Duel Monsters. If you’re questioning why Yugi Moto is considered powerful, just take into consideration the fact that he not only holds within himself the spirit of Pharaoh Atem, but he also comes to be known as King of Games. While obviously being a very outgoing and intellectual kid, he’s also got many accomplishments throughout the show. He dueled in the Duelist Kingdom, Battle City, Grand Championship and Battle City V2 tournaments, and won every single one of them. A lot of people know him for his use of the Dark Magician card, which evidently caused Yu-Gi-Oh to become infinitely more popular in the real world. Hell, even I had a Dark Magician card, and it was easily the coolest card I ever had.
12. Seto Kaiba
In every single show known to man, you have to have an anti-hero of sorts, or a villain or whatever. Seto Kaiba, or simply Kaiba is known as the anti-hero in Yu-Gi-Oh. While his role in the show is much the same as Yugi Moto, he becomes a rival of sorts toward Yugi Moto, due to his own goal of becoming the greatest duelist in the world. Although he and Pegasus share the same trait of being the anti-hero, Kaiba doesn’t believe in cheating or stealing, even though Pegasus has been known to cheat in the game with the use of his millennium eye. While constantly maintaining his main goal of being the most powerful duelist in the world, Kaiba is also the original keeper of the Blue-Eyes White Dragon. Those who watched the show as a kid will know that along with Dark Magician, the Blue-Eyes White Dragon card was in the top 3 most sought after cards in the real world.
C’mon now, Exodia belongs on this list whether you believe this magnificent creature is powerful or not. In the Yu-Gi-Oh trading card game and even the anime, Exodia is the one creature that seems to spread fear into people’s minds. It’s unique in the way that the main use of it is through the power of five separate cards. Back in the day, if you had even one or maybe two of the five cards needed for this creature to be played, you were considered the cool kid on the playground. In the anime, it’s seen to its full potential when Yugi Moto assembled all five pieces during a duel against Seto Kaiba, when Exodia was used to wipe out three Blue-Eyes White Dragon cards. This prompted Yugi Moto to then take the win. So, not only did Yugi Moto eventually win the duel, you saw one creature take out three separate super powerful creatures. Hency why Exodia is thrown on this list.
10. Blue-Eyes White Dragon
Speaking of Blue-Eyes White Dragon (I literally was talking about it in the last section, pay attention!), I want to include this creature card on this list because not only was it one of the first Yu-Gi-Oh cards I’d ever seen, it’s also quite powerful. Even though I still consider Exodia to be one of if not the most powerful creature in Yu-Gi-Oh, Blue-Eyes White Dragon is not too far behind. I mean, fair enough, Blue-Eyes White Dragon got wiped off the map when Exodia unleashed one attack on it, but that doesn’t mean Blue-Eyes White Dragon hasn’t had his time to shine. Seto Kaiba used a Blue-Eyes White Dragon to take down Joey’s same card, and instead of destroying Joey’s card, he destroys his own in the process not allowing Joey to use it again. It also has a toon version known as Blue-Eyes Toon Dragon which honestly…it’d go on a list of “cutest Yu-Gi-Oh characters!” *hint hint*
9. Red-Eyes Black Dragon
Known both as Red-Eyes Black Dragon or Red-Eyes B. Dragon, it definitely goes alongside Blue-Eyes White Dragon in regards to power. As a card, it’s a level 7 with an attack / defense level of 2400 / 2000. It is actually seen in several episodes of Yu-Gi-Oh, but one of the most memorable for most people is during a duel between Joey Wheeler and Rex Raptor where in one of the later turns, Rex Raptor summons the Red-Eyes Black Dragon. At this point, the duel is nearing its end, and with Joey Wheeler taking the win, he then wins the Red-Eyes Black Dragon card along with the Dragon Nails card which allows the Red-Eyes Black Dragon to receive a boost in attack. While the Blue-Eyes White Dragon is notoriously powerful, especially when seen with Seto Kaiba, I feel the Red-Eyes Black Dragon deserves way more praise. Especially considering it just looks deadly.
8. Dark Magician
Something I find really cool and exciting about Yu-Gi-Oh is the fact that there are certain monsters and characters throughout the show that are not only powerful, but memorable as well. When I think of Yu-Gi-Oh, I think of Yugi Moto and Dark Magician. Since we’ve talked about Yugi Moto already, I feel it’s appropriate to talk about Dark Magician. Seen in the anime and the trading card game, Dark Magician has a level of 7, same as Red-Eyes Black Dragon. It’s got an attack / defense level of 2500 / 2100. The description on the card itself is even read as The ultimate wizard in terms of attack and defense. It’s seen much like the other cards I’ve mentioned in the anime, where Yugi Moto draws his Dark Magician cards in one of the first duels we see in the anime. He unleashes the Dark Magician’s power against a Judge Man which causes Seto Kaiba to lose life points.
7. Yami Yugi / The Pharaoh
Although I already talked about Yugi Moto in this article, I feel it’s appropriate to talk about the fact that even Yugi Moto holds a deeper power than he gets credit for. If it is your first time ever watching the anime, you’ll come to the conclusion right away that Yugi Moto seems like this little kid pushover. However, him having the power of the Millennium Puzzle under his belt, it’s then seen that Yugi Moto holds more than meets the eye. Throughout the anime, Yugi Moto is seen transforming into Yami Yugi, who is a much older and wiser character. Yami Yugi takes the figure of the spirit of Pharaoh Atem, who is the centerpiece and driving force behind a large chunk of events that happen in Yu-Gi-Oh. Basically, if you wanted any source of power in the anime or the trading card game, the Millennium Puzzle would be the one you want to search for.
For those that don’t know, Yu-Gi-Oh has been spread across multiple series and has been home to a few different main antagonists that we come to know and love. During the second series of Yu-Gi-Oh and more specifically during the Waking The Dragons story, you come to know a guy by the name of Dartz. Although his assumed identity is that of Gozaburo Kaiba, he still has his own unique traits that make him a powerful foe. Throughout his career, he’s been known to be the King of Atlantis, the President of Paradius/Doma, and has been affiliated with several organizations such as Doma, Paradius, Industrial Illusions and KaibaCorp. As a duelist, he uses the Orichalcos deck which features cards revolving around The Seal of Orichalcos: which gives all monsters in control a +500 attack stat. If you’ve ever had this card in your deck or are looking for a powerful card to put in your deck, this one will certainly do the job.
5. Mai Valentine
Every anime in the known universe has to have a female counterpart to the main antagonist that evens the playing field. Mai Valentine is just that, and much more. Although she comes off as this self centered full of attitude individual, she’s also quite powerful. You watch Mai Valentine participate in several duels throughout the existence of the show, and she wins more than she loses. She’s had duels with Rex Raptor, Joey Wheeler, Maximillion Pegasus of which she won every single one. Though, even if she is quite powerful and good at the game, she does have a soft side. During the anime, you find Mai Valentine seemingly in several relationships, or so we think. Two characters that she has been rumored of being with Joey Wheeler and Seto Kaiba. Joey and herself are very close friends, and Kaiba and her are very similar in the way of their upbringing and independence. Although it’s not been confirmed, it’s heavily stressed that she has been in romantic pairing with the two of them at separate occasions.
Raphael is a bit of a wild card (no pun intended) in regards to the Yu-Gi-Oh world. Although his anime debut was during episode 145, he’s been known to have defeated Yami Yugi in a duel, along with defeating Seto Kaiba and Yugi Moto. He’s also known to be the strongest of Doma’s Swordsmen and has been known to be one of the first characters to have seen Duel Spirits. He is associated with the Guardian deck, which of course consists of several guardian monsters known as Baou, Ceal, Dreadscythe, Eatos, Elma, Grarl, Kay’est and Tryce. While not only being powerful in the card side of things, his physical demeanor comes off as someone you don’t want to mess with. Super muscular and very much in charge of his physique. It’s not very often that you see someone like this in an anime, so of course he’s going to be included in this list.
3. Bakura Ryou / Yami Bakura
Believe it or not, Yugi Moto/Yami Yugi isn’t the only “two person” character in the Yu-Gi-Oh universe. Bakura Ryou also falls into that category but not in the same regard that Yugi Moto/Yami Yugi fall into it. Bakura Ryou and his other self known as Yami Bakura, are a counterpart of each other, but the only differing quality between them and Yugi is the fact that Bakura Ryou and Yami Bakura rarely converse. Although this is true, Yami Bakura is released in the same way Yami Yugi is released, and that is through a Millennium artifact, specifically known as the Millennium Ring. In the same way as the Millennium Puzzle, the Millennium Ring contains the soul of Bandit King Bakura and Zorc Necrophades, giving a merging quality of Yami Bakura. During the Battle City tournament, he was in the end, put into the top 8 while using the Occult deck.
2. Marik Ishtar
As we move closer to the end of this list, we have got to include easily one of my favorite characters and one of the most powerful in the Yu-Gi-Oh universe. He goes by the name of Marik Ishtar, and some of his qualities include: being the leader and founder of the Rare Hunters (whom are known to be a society of rogue duelists and con artists, basically the Team Rocket of Yu-Gi-Oh), and heir to the Tomb Keepers. He’s known as the main antagonist of the Battle City and Battle City Quarterfinals story arcs, up until he defeats Odion. This of course prompts Marik to be taken over by his alter ego, Yami Marik. Marik Ishtar has been known to use several different decks throughout the anime series such as Machine, Slime / Slifer, and Burn. Of course, next to all of that, the Millennium Rod was used by Marik Ishtar to fuel his quest of world domination.
1. The Winged Dragon of Ra
Bringing this list to a close, we’re going to discuss one of the most powerful if not the most powerful creature card in Yu-Gi-Oh. Across several lists, it’s been described as the top level creature in regards to creatures. I’m talking of course about The Winged Dragon of Ra. With a level of 10 and a mystery regarding its attack and defense levels, The Winged Dragon of Ra has several different effects that can be used, one being that if you pay 1000 life points, you can target one monster on the field, and destroy it. The card itself is based off the creature of the same known, and shown in the anime as one of the most powerful of the Egyptian Gods alongside Obelisk the Tormentor and Slifer the Sky Dragon. Let’s just say if you have The Winged Dragon of Ra in your deck at any time, consider yourself a very lucky individual.