As Tristan famously asked on LittleKuriboh's Yu-Gi-Oh! Abridged Series, "don't our parents even care that we're missing?" When it comes to the official Yu-Gi-Oh! anime, the answer is a resounding no. It's really no surprise, given all the hardcore Yu-Gi-Oh! moments that had to be censored for American audiences. Parents in Yu-Gi-Oh! are usually dead, abusive, or so negligent that you have to wonder why CPS isn't involved. Some of the worst parents on Yu-Gi-Oh! include Mr. Ishtar, the Egyptian monster who forced his kids to live in an underground crypt and ritualistically tortured them. Then there was Joey's dad, who beats his son and ignores his critically ill daughter, and Kaiba's father, who uses one son for financial gain and uploads the other's consciousness to a computer and then ignores him once his sanity starts to erode.That's just the terrible parents in Yu-Gi-Oh! DM, and it isn't even all of them. Seriously, where are Yugi's parents, anyway? In Yu-Gi-Oh! GX, you'll find parents who let their kid's leg get replaced with a dinosaur fossil, parents who foist caring for their dying son onto his younger brother, and more. The parents in 5D's, Zexal, and ARC V aren't much better. Keep reading if you think you can handle the neglectful details.
For generations, the Ishtar family was tasked with guarding the Millennium Items in an underground crypt. If you think that that sounds like a recipe for terrible parenting, you're totally right. Mr. Ishtar forbade his three children from ever leaving their underground home. Being trapped underground with no access to the outside world would be hard enough in a functional family, but for the dysfunctional Ishtars, it was a living nightmare. Basically, it was a way more terrifying version of The Room.
Rishid (or Odion in the English dub) was an orphan who the Ishtar family adopted. Mr. Ishtar, ever the class act, never acknowledged the boy as his son. Instead, he treated him like a servant who he could assault when he got angry. Mr. Ishtar didn't beat his younger son, Marik, but he did expect him to have his back carved open in a brutal ritual. When Rishid tried to protect his adoptive brother, Mr. Ishtar threatened to cut off his tongue.Eventually, Marik and his sister Ishizu attempted a day trip to the outside world. When they left, Mr. Ishtar blamed Rishid and attacked him with a heated whip. This particular scene was cut from the English dub. When Marik found out what his father did, he snapped and murdered him, and developed a second, evil personality to handle the trauma. That's right, Mr. Ishtar was such a horrible parent his own son straight-up killed him to escape the abuse.
When people think about bad parents in Yu-Gi-Oh!, they usually think about Gozaburo Kaiba first. This might be because they want to block out the existence of Mr. Ishtar, but it also might be because Gozaburo sucks Millennium Rod. Gozaburo first met his adopted children, Seto and Mokuba, when he was visiting an orphanage as a publicity stunt. After Seto defeated Gozaburo in a card game (this is the only way anything ever happens in Yu-Gi-Oh!, sorry) he begrudgingly adopted the brothers.
After losing his company to Seto (it was a whole thing, card games were involved a non-zero amount) Gozaburo committed suicide, but not before reminding the viewer of how terrible he really was. Gozaburo had another son named Noah, who nearly died in a car accident years before. Noah's body was destroyed, but his mind lived on in a virtual world Gozaburo created. Once Noah started to go insane from the isolation, his father began to ignore him. To repeat: Gozaburo trapped a mortally wounded child in a virtual reality, forever, and then forgot about him when he became slightly inconvenient.
Before Gozaburo killed himself, he uploaded his own consciousness to the same virtual world. Apparently, he was so ignorant of the hell he forced upon his child, it didn't occur to him that was a bad idea. A fitting punishment for a terrible father.
Jounouchi (Joey)'s dad, known as Mr. Wheeler in the dub, is one of the best-known terrible parents in the world of Yu-Gi-Oh!. While some of these examples involve nebulous magic and are therefore a little hard to judge, this one's pretty clear cut. Jounouchi's father is an abusive alcoholic who once threw a bottle of booze at his son's head. Most likely, Jounouchi constantly defending himself against his father caused him to become a high school bully at the beginning of the series.Besides physically abusing his son, this man completely failed to involve himself in his daughter Shizuka's life, even when she was hospitalized with a degenerative eye disease. While Shizuka was probably better off, that's still some serious negligence.
Aknadin, brother to Pharaoh Aknamkanon, was father of Set, the ancient Egyptian counterpart to Seto Kaiba. Not only was he a terrible dad, but an outrageously terrible person in general. Aknadin created the Millennium Items by viciously slaughtering an entire village. Hoping to shield his wife and child from the backlash that would inevitably arise from his genocidal activities, he abandoned them.
Eventually, after his son has became a successful adult without any help from his murderous father, the two reconnected, and Aknadin started training Set to try and overthrow the current pharaoh, Atem. He created an army for his son by extracting ka (energy) from peasants, and forcing them to fight to the death. When Set found out what was going on and tried to save one of the peasants his father was trying to kill, Aknadin tried to take over Set's body and mind-control him into attacking Pharoah Atem. The whole ugly scene ended with Set stabbing his father to death.
When you think about Set's reincarnation Seto Kaiba, and his relationship with his adoptive father, you really have to feel sorry for Set. Can't he just get reincarnated into a kitten or something next time? Or at least a person with nice parents? Seriously, even medium parents would be an upgrade.