I consider myself a gaming enthusiast, from chess and checkers to "Yu-Gi-Oh!" TCG, console gaming, and beyond.
Remember: Yu-Gi-Oh! Is Full of Creepy Monsters
Most Yu-Gi-Oh! players forget, when looking at their Magician Girl and uncensored Harpie Lady pin-up posters, that every card you can summon is technically a monster. That Warrior Lady of the Wasteland looking at you seductively from the ground? She's a monster. The Dark Magician Girl flying in suggestively on her “magic stick?” Another monster. The entire Amazon archetype, with their toned bodies and curvy physiques? Sorry, buddy, but they're all monsters.
With cards featuring lil’ killer plant and bug girls, little kids pulling pranks, and two zombie buddies singing out of their head-holes, it’s no wonder why Yu-Gi-Oh! monsters changed from being nightmarish phantasms birthed from Freddy Krueger’s basement to a party of cute creatures from the third Gremlins movie.
The Scariest, Creepiest, and Weirdest Archetypes of YGO! Cards
However, just as all dogs bite, all Yu-Gi-Oh! monsters have the power to send you screaming into the Shadow Realm, yet some make us think twice about summoning them into this unholy realm (by unholy realm, the writer means your dining room table that you haven’t dusted for a week). The following list details the top ten most terrifying Yu-Gi-Oh! archetypes. Be warned: This list doesn’t come with your asthma pump, a pacemaker, or a diaper.
Remember those days when vampires were the trope codifier of the relentless, undead terror? Yeah, neither does the writer. As terrifying memories of Interview with the Vampire and Bram Stoker’s Dracula were replaced by the leather-clad and sparkling gimps of Underworld and Twilight (respectively), the genuine fear that vampires brought to the horror genre got staked and left in the sun to burn. However, this hasn’t stopped Yu-Gi-Oh! card designers from trying to resurrect the goosebumps these sexy zombies once instilled.
The artwork for the Shadow Vampire and Vampire Duke cards looks like something you’d imagine in an Anne Rice novel, and many of the archetype’s members, even the sexier ones, maintain the atmosphere of dread evoked by these night-stalkers. With such terrifying artwork, bringing some much-deserved horror back into the cold veins of these monsters, the writer bets you’re wondering why they’re so low on the list. The same answer applies to why they’re on the list in the first place: Because they’re vampires.
The thought of being hunted by a dead person who needs your blood to live is frightening, but it's not as frightening as the damage the “fanboys and fangirls” of the monsters have done to their image. Even if you happen to come across a vampire while taking out the trash, instead of asking yourself, “How am I going to die?” you’ll be asking yourself, “Can I do it?”—or, even worse, “Will it sparkle?”
If you’re an abomination upon man and your prey stops and thinks whether being hunted by you is a bad idea, then it’s time to turn in your monster card (no pun intended). However, the vamps of the Duel Monsters realm at least try to give you a scare, which earns them a spot on this list.
9. Dark World
Despite the large number of fiends available in the game, I was surprised by how few of them actually seemed terrifying enough to put on this list. The Dark Worlds hit the number nine spot (despite their bipedal, possibly relatable appearance) because of how closely they resemble threatening demons invading from hell.
Yeah, we know, the Burning Abyss are horrors from the abyss, too. (You can calm down, fans of the video game, because none of you read the epic poem anyway.) However, the Dark Worlds resemble what invading demonic horrors from a hellish dimension might actually look like, reinforcing their terror potential with brutish weapons a normal person couldn’t wield. Their playstyle only fuels the imagination on the speed and ferocity with which they could rain Cain on our world . . . but they still only make it to the ninth spot.
After all, we haven’t forgotten this eternal truth: Behind the foreboding feeling we get upon seeing a Goldd snarling cold air while chasing us with a massive guillotine, they’re all still Oscar the Grouch’s dumpster babies, and their once-mightiest warrior was named after a rainbow.
8. Earthbound Immortal
I won’t lie: The first time I saw the Earthbound Immortals, namely Ccapac Apu (try saying that five times fast), I was amazed. In the animated show, no Yu-Gi-Oh! monster was the Kaiju-level sizes of these guys, not even Five-Headed Dragon, the largest monster I had seen before these giants with their crop circles of blue fire.
And that’s it, guys. The Earthbound Immortals are ENORMOUS, leading you to believe that even if your lifepoints were above their attack points, an attack from one of these behemoths would still spell the end of your dueling career and existence. Taking into account these monsters’ ability to possess the one wielding them even if “the power of friendship” managed to crack the duelist’s misguided notions, the Earthbound Immortals definitely earn a notch in their terror belt.
However . . . of course you saw this coming: One of largest, most intimidating sets of duel monsters to stomp a yard (more like a city) are from the show most Yu-Gi-Oh! enthusiasts have trouble taking seriously, one where deciding the world’s fate with card games must now be done on motorcycles. Sure, this is still the most grim Yu-Gi-Oh! show to date, where reporters get dueled to death out of skyscraper windows, the protagonist and his best friends are essentially ex-cons, and children duel with cardiac arrest-inducing devices strapped to their chests.
Still, the WTFness of the “dueling on motorcycles” theme doesn’t help the Earthbound Immortals gain the same notoriety as Godzilla or a rabid Clifford. By themselves, though, the Earthbound Immortals still earn a mark in scaring the ‘ish out of you, or at least enough of one to make the eighth spot on this list.
We’ve come from the show no one took seriously to the one with the least acclaim (seriously? Dueling on surfboards?). Since these eldritch cyber-dogs are based on the Cthulhu mythos, it’s easy to understand how looking into their dreadful, angular corners can cause fear and madness in any duelist facing them.
The primary thing making the Tindangles horrifying is the fact that, without me looking up what the heck they were, I honestly had no idea what the hell I was looking at. I have to admit, besides the whole surfing thing, Yu-Gi-Oh! Vrains had some of the most interesting, creative monster designs the series has produced so far.
But dragons fused with rockets and . . . whatever the Altergeists are (not looking it up) just don’t produce the spine-tingling, nerve-wracking, lurking fear the Tindangles bring when looking at their cold, dead, triple-threat of 60 degrees, making them the most frightening cards from that era. I just wish they were wielded by someone other than a third-rate duelist from the show.
If you thought Danger! wasn’t going to be included in a terrifying monster list, then I suggest you brush up on your Poe and stop using Leprechaun in the Hood as a reference. I mean, just look at the artwork for these guys: They have a support card featuring a werewolf, thunderbird, and Chupacabra about to gang-murder somebody.
Giving cryptids the horror treatment was an ingenious move on Konami’s part, granting them a solid spot of this list, especially when you consider that the Lair of Cryptids has a secret pact with the Dark World to genocide us meager humans.
There’s just one itty-bitty thing preventing them from making it into the top five. And no, it isn’t because of the silly wordplay used with Danger! Zone and You’re in Danger! It’s because every time I see a Danger! card, I’m reminded of that song by Mystikal. Oh, and I still don’t know whether I’m in danger when I see a Jackalope about to gore me.
Spiders, roaches, locusts, water bugs, cave crickets, centipedes . . . arthropods will always have a frightening place in our hearts, and there are enough creepy cards based on them in Yu-Gi-Oh! to give Misty from Pokémon a mouth-foaming heart attack. However, no insect-based archetype elicits as much terror as these giant bug-men.
Sure, the Inzectors are more dangerous, but the Steelswarm were essentially Monarchs before they were cool, and they have cool cards with “Infestation” in the title. The heart-pounding notion arises when one considers what is meant by infestation in the Steelswarm world.
Are they summoning swarms of their buddies to scoop you away for re-purposing, food, or probing experiments? Or are they perhaps turning you into a new bug-man, using a beam version of the machine that turned Jeff Goldblum into a horrific hybrid in The Fly? Will they come from the dark holes in your doorways via the infestation waves? Or will the waves make your transformation slow, painful, and maddening as you shed your skin and slowly lose every shred of your humanity?
It was never the insects themselves that garnered fear from humans, but rather the fear of what will come after they nest. This allows the Steelswarm to crawl above their bug brethren (bugthren?) to a spot on this list.
Add in the Five Nights at Freddy’s appeal, along with the swag of the Puppet Master, Annabelle, and some Child’s Play, and you have the horrid stuffing that the Frightfurs are made of. These Earth-angels turned playhouse fiends not only look like something you wouldn’t want to trip-on-nothing-over while fleeing for your life, but they also look genuinely dangerous. The chainsaws and blades these hell-toys wield leave nothing to the imagination on what would happen if they caught you.
Oh, and did you know these monsters were smart enough to create a factory to mass-produce themselves? I, for one, am glad the Frightfurs are restricted to card form, for it would take one hell of an exorcism, most likely one from the Catholic Church of Hellsing, to put these monsters’ souls to rest. Until then, I’ll just keep a shotgun and a golf club in my closet. Unless I see Frightfur Chimera—then I’m running, because that S.O.B. has rockets in its mouth.
What’s worse than being transformed into a creature devoid of humanity, representing a frightening shadow of whatever amicable qualities you once possessed? How about having most of your body attached to a foreign entity while the rest of you is fully conscious of the grotesque deeds you’re about to commit?
Such is the fate of any monster afflicted with the curse of the Amorphages. While most Yu-Gi-Oh! cards, especially those embodying the characteristics of being monsters, showcase cool artwork or creepy imagery (like Jason, Michael Myers, Candyman, and Pinhead all having a horror catwalk on a runway of disembodied heads), the Amorphage cards simply showcase the terror the Dracoverlord unleashes upon the Dueling World. The dragon-growth manipulates the majority of the monster’s flesh to do its bidding, the rest of the creature helpless in its compliance.
Sadly, the Amorphage infection comes with a heavy price, like the price those dumb aliens paid in War of the Worlds by not sending drones to scout Earth first: The husks they inhabit rot after one turn, and the ones in reserve explode, too, if they can’t feed on the corpse before they rot away. It's a heavy price that still racks up a grim toll, one making the Amorphages reach the bottom of the top three.
The Shaddolls are the runners-up for the scariest Yu-Gi-Oh! monsters, because puppets are creepy—*mic drop*. No, but seriously, puppets—and their big, voluminous cousins, marionettes—were simply made to give children nightmares so they don’t want to spend all night sleeping in la-la land, strapped to the IV beds from Inception, and you can’t convince me they were made for any other purpose.
My personal prejudices aside, no archetype better embodies the qualities of “Wow, these guys are more evil than a man with an all-black leather outfit wearing sunshades at night, riding around in a black SUV with an obsession with monologues” than the Shaddolls.
The Steelswarm? We’re actually the invading aliens, and Earth is their home. The Frightfurs? They're actually good-hearted toys under the control of a madman obsessed with emulating immortality. And those Amorphages? The Earth is overpopulating, and this is the only way to correct it. The Tindangles? You don’t care, and neither do I, because you don’t know what they are anyway.
But those Shaddolls . . . I’m sorry, my friend, but if your best bud comes at you, begging to be saved, his arm joints now balls and gears, his face splintered wood, then you'd better save your prayers and give him a swift end. For he’s on a string, and the only end results will be either you joining his master’s puppet army or him snatching another unfortunate soul for Sasori’s workshop. Besides, is that even him, or is it a puppet made to look like him?
So, unless you want to end up in worse shape than a volunteer for Vincent Sinclair's wax “museum,” you'd better start believing in the terror of the Shaddolls. There is no salvation—only strings.
1. Gimmick Puppet
If the scientist from the Human Centipede formed an alliance with the Reapers from Mass Effect, created a Yu-Gi-Oh! deck, and gave it his blessing, it would be the Gimmick Puppets. This deck has monsters so horrid that the English dub had to censor them for non-erotic reasons, and one has to wonder where the inspiration for such creepy monsters came from.
Are they possessed with the spirit of the Devil? Are they just physically dangerous, like the Frightfurs without all the sharp blades? Or were they concocted from the mind of a mad toymaker who escaped an internship from EA Games?
Whatever crazed mind formed these monstrosities and translated them to paper, the Gimmick Puppets are still the most frightening Yu-Gi-Oh! monsters ever to spread dread from the Duel Monsters realm. Don’t believe me? Spend the night with a Gimmick Puppet Shadow Feeler or Bisque Doll on your nightstand, and find out.
© 2020 Zeron87