In either the anime or the manga, has Yugi (or Yami) ever lost a duel fair and square? By "fair and square" I mean that Yugi wasn't:

  • Against an opponent who was flat out cheating using a Millennium Item to gain an unfair advantage (for instance, using the Millennium Eye to see your opponent's cards is unfair, but using the Millennium Puzzle or Ring to draw on an ancient spirit's wisdom and experience is okay)
  • Coerced into losing because there would be consequences if he won
  • Chose to lose to prove a point
  • Losing in a simulation created by Kaiba
  • Otherwise was not motivated to win
  • Otherwise was against an opponent who had an unfair advantage or put Yugi at an unfair disadvantage

And no, Yami losing the Final Battle (a.k.a. Ceremonial Duel) doesn't count since the two people were split and one of them had to lose.

I would prefer duels that weren't Shadow Games, since the pressure of that can arguably detract from the game being fair, but won't discount that completely.

  • 1
    I recall during the Orichalcos Arc Yami lost a duel and the Seal of Orichalcos was going to take his soul but Yugi took over the body and allowed himself to be taken leaving Yami. however i don't recall who Yami was Dueling and if Yami could bring himself to letting them get sealed away as i do recall that Mai Valentine was brainwashed and was one of the bad guys
    – Memor-X
    May 6 '18 at 7:38
  • Why does the Ceremonial Duel not count? Because it was Yugi against Yami?
    – user38352
    May 7 '18 at 8:26
  • @Kozaky Yeah, since one of them was obviously going to lose, it's against the spirit of what I was looking for. May 7 '18 at 14:55
  • I'm wondering why you exclude "opponents using a Millenium Item", when Yugi is using his all the time. Wisdom of ancient pharaoh? Basically, Yugi is constantly cheating by having two minds on his his side instead of one like almost everyone he duels.
    – SK19
    May 10 '18 at 16:53
  • @SK19 I've clarified that section. Using the Millennium Eye to see your opponent's cards can hardly be called "fair and square". I'm inclined to say that drawing on the experience of an ancient spirit, as with the Puzzle and Ring, is okay. May 11 '18 at 2:16

As Memor-X mentioned, in the Waking the Dragons Arc, Yami duelled against Rafael and lost. Yami was compelled to use the Seal of Orichalcos that Rafael had given him earlier in the duel because he felt like there was no other way to win (though the power definitely went to his head afterwards!). The episode is a three-parter, but Yami/Yugi loses in Episode 158 - Fate of the Pharaoh - Part 3.

If you don't want to include the Ceremonial Duel, I believe that's the whole list. All other duels where Yugi/Yami lost, he either surrendered, deliberately misplayed (I include Yami duelling against a spirit of Yugi in Waking the Dragons in that) or was against a cheater.


Yugi does lose a duel in the manga and Toei anime, but not in Duel Monsters

In chapters 46 and 47 of the manga, and episode 18 of the Toei anime, Yugi plays a game of Dragon Cards (called Dragon Block in the anime) against Imori, a student from his school (this was back when the series used a different game nearly every chapter, before it changed to focus exclusively on Duel Monsters).

Imori stole Yugi's Millennium Puzzle in the hopes of harnessing its power for himself. He broke the seal on the Dragon Cards jar, which triggered a Shadow Game in which the loser's soul would be trapped in the jar. Without access to Dark Yugi, Yugi couldn't formulate a winning strategy and he loses fair and square, getting his soul sucked into the jar.

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But as he collapses, Yugi touches the Millennium Puzzle, which draws out Dark Yugi. Imori agrees to duel him, figuring that he has to defeat him as well to control the Millennium Puzzle. Unfortunately for him, Dark Yugi ekes out a win.

The jar can only hold one soul, so Yugi's is released, and Imori's soul is captured within it. In the manga, his body remains lifeless and his soul is slowly digested by the spirits of the 25 dragons in the game. In the anime, a new, gentle soul is born within Imori and he awakens (Dark Yugi notes that Dragon Block took his haughty soul). Imori asks Yugi to seal away the game again so that it won't harm anyone.


Yugi/Atem/Yami technically did lose fairly to Marik Ishtar/Dark Marik in the final duel of the Battle City tournament. Atem did not win this duel, Yami Marik won this duel, Odion saved Atem from suffering.

Most people think Marik was a weak duelist, yet ignore the fact that he was praised by Kaiba, Atem, and managed to defeat the main villain of the show (Bakura). He adapted to the new rules of the game in Battle City really easily. Atem/Yugi would not have been able to draw a card and clearly lost the duel, all Marik had to do was end his turn then Atem would have decked out and lost. Marik is the only canon loss that Atem suffered: Duel Monsters, episode 142

There are three more times where he lost a duel fairly, but the problem with those incidents is that they are filler and thus not considered canon.

  1. Raphael truly defeated Atem & Yugi in their first duel during the Orichalcos arc. This has already been mentioned multiple times, even in their second duel Raphael would have won if he didn't sacrifice all his life points to bring his monsters back that he did not use to duel anymore. His first duel with Atem was a clear victory where Atem's life points dropped to zero.

  2. Gansley (the first member of the "big five") would have won his duel with Atem if it wasn't for the illogical plot, he literally had the opportunity to win but choose not to, he decided to drag things out instead.

    Atem had low life points (only 500) and his monsters were in attack mode, he had nothing to defend himself and it was Gansley's turn, while Gansley had two monsters he could tribute to summon a monster with 2200 ATK points and Celtic Guardian only had 1400 he would have done 800 points of damage defeating Atem.

    Source: Duel Monsters saga, Virtual World

  3. Bakura (in episode 13) their first-ever duel in Duelist Kingdom rules was anime-only, Yami Bakura was literally winning the whole entire duel until the plot kicked in to save the main character from losing and Yami Bakura switched bodies with regular Bakura.

    Source: Duel Monsters episode 13

Atem was a lucky duelist who rarely won due to skill.

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