Yami Bakura is the evil spirit of the Millennium Ring. He appears as a reoccurring secondary antagonist for most the series, until the final arc where he is the main and final antagonist. Through the Millennium Ring, Bakura Ryou became host to the spirit, allowing him to possess Bakura; even able to mimic his host's personality almost perfectly to the point that he is able to fool Bakura's friends. Yami Bakura is the longest running and most prominent adversary in the entire series, being an antagonistic counterpart and a great adversary to Yami Yugi. Yami Bakura was killed by the Creator of Light when she destroyed Zorc at the climax of the series.
Yami Bakura's character design was overseen by Kazuki Takahashi.
Yami Bakura usually wears whatever Bakura Ryou is dressed in.
His white hair is pointed downwards in various directions and trails half way down his back. His hair points in more directions than Bakura's and becomes noticeably more stiff and rigid rather than Bakura's smooth flowing hair. Part of his bangs angle upward like wings or horns when Yami Bakura is in control. He wears the Millennium Ring on a cord around his neck.
In the Duelist Kingdom arc, he wears a white wool sweater and green undershirt.
His usual outfit in following seasons consists of a teal short sleeved collared jacket worn over a blue and white horizontally striped t-shirt. In the manga, he wears just the t-shirt more often. In the Battle City arc, he often wears a KaibaCorp Duel Disk on his left arm.
In the Millennium World arc, Yami Bakura wore a black trench coat with the collar flipped up, as an addition to this outfit.
Yami Bakura's fragment within the Millennium Puzzle still wore the teal jacket that his complete form had worn.
3,000 (5,000 in the dub) years ago, a shard of Zorc Necrophades' soul was sealed in the Millennium Ring during its creation. Later, when Bandit King Bakura sacrificed his body, his soul also got sealed within the Millennium Ring, resulting in the fusion between the two souls. This demonic composite was reawakened in the present day when Bakura Ryou's father had acquired the Millennium Ring in Egypt and presented the artifact to his son. Unbeknownst to Bakura and his father, the Millennium Ring contained the malignant spirit and became known as Yami Bakura upon possessing Bakura. He lost many memories as Bandit King Bakura and Zorc Necrophades, due to Zorc's memories being sealed in the Millennium Puzzle. He seeks to obtain all seven Millennium Items so he can resurrect Zorc Necrophades, and reunite the shard of Zorc with Zorc so he can be complete.
Although not a participating player, Bakura snuck onto the Duelist Kingdom island for the tournament.
Yami Bakura traps Yugi Muto, Joey Wheeler, Tristan Taylor, Téa Gardner and Bakura Ryou in their favorite Duel Monsters cards in an effort to take the Millennium Puzzle, however, faces off with Yami Yugi in a Shadow Game Duel instead. Yami Bakura uses several "Morphing Jars" to discard Yugi's monsters while also using cards like "Man-Eater Bug" to destroy his opponent's monsters and "Change of Heart" to turn his opponent's monsters against each other. When Yami Bakura tried to use "Change of Heart" to turn Yugi (as the "Dark Magician") against the others, Bakura took the form of the card and interfered with the Duel. Bakura attempted to sacrifice himself so Yugi could win, but Yami Yugi switched the places of Bakura's two souls, resulting in Yami Bakura's defeat and subsequent trip to the Graveyard. Afterward, he was assumed to be dead, trapped in the Shadow Realm.
Bakura then stayed with the group until the night of the finals of Duelist Kingdom, at which point he, Tristan and Téa go on an adventure through Pegasus Castle. Maximillion Pegasus catches them and sends them to the Shadow Realm for a Shadow Game. Yami Bakura takes this opportunity to retake control over Bakura, then sends everybody back to their rooms, plotting to take both Yugi's Millennium Puzzle and Pegasus' Millennium Eye.
Later, at the beginning of Yugi's Duel with Pegasus, Bakura hears Tristan's idea of trying to find the bodies Pegasus took souls from, and Yami Bakura is intrigued by this plan, taking over Bakura's body again. He saves Tristan from Pegasus' guards while the two of them searched for a way to escape, utilizing the card "Man-Eater Bug" and the magic of his Millennium Ring. Tristan is still somewhat disturbed by Bakura's sadistic enjoyment from torturing the guards before killing them. After Tristan realizes who Bakura really is, Yami Bakura revealed what he wants with him (in the Japanese version, he wanted the KaibaCorp data card that he was entrusted to by Kaiba; in the dub, he wanted to use Mokuba as his new host body), and threatens to kill Tristan if he tries anything. Tristan, however, manages to catch Bakura off guard, knocking him out. Tristan then throws the Millennium Ring into the jungle.
Because the Ring has a bond with its owner, it found its way back to Bakura, causing Yami Bakura to once again be in control, which went unbeknownst to Yugi and company. After Pegasus' defeat at the hands of Yugi, Bakura challenged Pegasus to another Shadow Game. After using several of his cards as tarot cards, Pegasus is freaked out when Yami Bakura revealed that he has lived for centuries. He then tells his intentions to Pegasus and takes the Millennium Eye. As Bakura left with Yugi and the gang off Pegasus Island on the Kaiba helicopter, Yami Bakura licked the Millennium Eye.
Yami Bakura detected the Millennium Puzzle was in distress due to a possessed Bandit Keith. He used the power of his Millennium Ring to release Keith from the possession. Keith shatters the Millennium Puzzle in a rage before managing to run off. Impersonating his own host, he came to the rescue, knocking Keith back. Yami Bakura took advantage of the opportunity to seal a fragment of his soul into a piece of the Millennium Puzzle.
The Millennium Ring later detected the Millennium Necklace, though Yami Bakura was distracted upon seeing the Tablet of the Pharaoh's Memories. Later, he sensed the Millennium Rod, and tracked down its owner, Marik Ishtar. He agreed to cooperate with Marik in a verbal pact consisting of Marik's relinquishment of the Millennium Rod if Yami Bakura defeated Yami Yugi for Marik. Yami Bakura suggests to Marik to use Yugi's friends to get to Yugi, citing it as a huge weakness. As part of their plan, Yami Bakura stabbed himself, then released his host. Marik (as Namu) pretended to rescue Bakura for Joey Wheeler and Téa Gardner.
While Bakura was sleeping in the hospital, Yami Bakura's mind encountered Marik. In the Japanese version, Yami Bakura protested that he lent Marik his strength to get rid of Yugi, and Marik was supposed to hand over the Millennium Rod. Marik told Yami Bakura that he needed to enter the Battle City finals in order to receive the Millennium Rod. Bakura was awoken by Solomon Muto, however, turned into Yami Bakura. Solomon told him that Yugi and Joey are qualified for the Battle City finals. When Bakura got up to leave to try to find them, he was stopped by Solomon because he was still injured. Yami Bakura knocked out Solomon with the Millennium Ring and left the hospital.Yami Bakura acquired a place in the Battle City finals by stealing another Duelist's Duel Disk and Locator Card, but disliked the Duelist's Deck and threw the cards back to the Duelist. He found out from a group of teenagers that Bonz's gang were in the cemetery; wanting to take their locator cards, he set out to find them. When he found them, Bonz's gang used scare tactics which worked previously on other Duelists, but Yami Bakura was not fazed and saw right through the disguises, disarming Zygor with ease. Yami Bakura then challenged Bonz to a winner-takes-all Duel, where the winner takes six Locator Cards. Without telling Bonz, Zygor and Sid, he turned their Duel into a Shadow Game. Yami Bakura launched his "Headless Knight" at Bonz several times but Bonz called out "Great Mammoth of Goldfine". Yami Bakura Summoned "The Earl of Demise" with twice its ATK and destroyed Bonz's monster. Bonz trapped Yami Bakura in "Nightmare's Steelcage" but Yami Bakura activated "Ectoplasmer" to attack directly and win. Yami Bakura obtained six Locator Cards and claimed both that he was going to send the three to the 'Dark World' instead by Summoning Grim Reapers inside of the Dark Game's space and that he was going to send the three to Hell (in the dub, he simply sends them to the Shadow Realm).
During the Battle City quarter-finals, Yami Bakura and Yami Yugi Duel each other. Yami Bakura allowed Yugi to destroy four of his monsters, losing most of his Life Points in the process, but activated "Dark Sanctuary" to turn Yugi's monsters against each other, as well as "The Dark Door" to limit Yugi's attacking choices. He also used "Destiny Board" to allow him to declare an automatic win after playing all five "Spirit Message" letters. Before the final letter was placed on the field, Yugi Summoned "Slifer the Sky Dragon", shocking Yami Bakura. As Yami Bakura was about to lose, Odion Ishtar (pretending to be Marik) supposedly released Bakura host from Yami Bakura's control (although Yami Bakura did it himself), knowing that Yugi would not attack Bakura, since Bakura was still injured and unabled to withstand Slifer's attack. But when Marik mentioned that Yugi may still attack with the fate of the world at stake, Yami Bakura decided that leaving Bakura's vulnerable state posed too much of a risk, taking over his host's body, challenging Yugi to attack. When Yugi declared the attack, Yugi won the Duel but left Bakura comatose. The Millennium Ring was lost in the Duel, but was recovered by Téa (controlled by Marik).When Marik (in Téa's body) later returned the Millennium Ring to its host, Yami Bakura then challenged Yami Marik to a Shadow Game; Bakura teaming up with the real Marik to as long as he acquires the Millennium Rod. Marik's Shadow Game caused the darkness to devour parts of their bodies as they lost Life Points. Bakura lost most of his Life Points but obtained "The Winged Dragon of Ra". Despite this, Marik weakened Ra to be useless. Yami Bakura got rid of Ra as a Tribute to Summon "The Dark Ruler", thinking that no one could use Ra buried in the Graveyard but Marik brought Ra back from the Graveyard with "Monster Reborn", revealing Ra's Point-to-Point Transfer abilities to win the Duel, resulting in Yami Bakura's destruction. Before disappearing, Yami Bakura vowed to return and claimed that he was the darkness, vanishing with a laugh, leaving only the Millennium Ring behind. However, the portion of his soul within the Millennium Puzzle allowed him to continue existing in secret, attempting to find the secret of the Millennium Puzzle's power.
Enter the Shadow Realm
The Millennium Ring appears as a trophy shown during Yami Marik's Duel with Yami Yugi. After Marik was destroyed by Yugi, all of Marik's Penalty Games were undone, allowing Bakura and Yami Bakura to return. Although the Millennium Ring wasn't in its initial owner's possession, the fraction of his spirit still remained within the Millennium Puzzle.
Waking the Dragons
During a vision involving the Millennium Puzzle, Yami Bakura briefly appeared. In the English dub, Dartz mentions of another individual, Bakura, who had threatened to obliterate the world, which made him wait 5000 more years.
Dawn of the Duel
Bakura was running away from Yami Bakura. Not wanting to be possessed again, Bakura attempted to hide in a church. However, Yami Bakura cornered him and told him that the Millennium Items were in possession of only three individuals. Bakura had to find the eight key, the secret of which was hidden somewhere in the Nameless Pharaoh's world of memories. As he possessed Bakura, Yami Bakura claimed that the doors of the nameless Pharaoh's memory opened and the Ultimate Shadow Game would begin.
He takes the Millennium Ring back when Rex Raptor and Weevil Underwood were trying to steal the Egyptian God Cards but mistakenly also took several Millennium Items, knocking the two out (temporarily sending them to the Shadow Realm in the dub). After Yugi Muto eventually catches up with Rex and Weevil, Yami Bakura returns Yugi's Millennium Items and the Egyptian God cards that were in the box the Millennium Puzzle came in, chastising Yugi for failing to protect the various items. However, Bakura kept the Millennium Ring, as he wasn't ready to part with his own Millennium Item yet. He reassures Yugi that he'd return the Millennium Ring once Yugi has all seven Millennium Items to return to the Millennium Stone in Kul Elna to which Yami Yugi asks him what he's plotting. However, he merely responds that they are souls sealed in an Millennium Item; Yami Bakura doesn't know much more than that albeit much more than Yami Yugi does about being a king. Yami Bakura then challenges Yami Yugi to settle their 'pending scores' in a fitting place for them: the Ultimate Shadow Game RPG. Nevertheless, Yami Yugi accepts Yami Bakura's challenge. Yami Bakura departs by saying that it begins once the doors of the Memory World opened.
Yami Bakura next challenges Seto Kaiba to a Duel in an effort to obtain the power of the "Blue-Eyes White Dragon". He first abducted Mokuba Kaiba to get Kaiba to the top of the KaibaCorp building. With Mokuba's life at stake, Yami Bakura repeatedly taunted Kaiba's denial. He almost beats Kaiba with "Diabound Kernel", giving his monster the power that can rival the Egyptian Gods. But when the sun begins to rise, Yami Bakura leaves before they can finish their Duel. He gives Kaiba the Millennium Eye that he took from Duelist Kingdom so Kaiba too may also enter the Memory World. With his real purpose to gain the power to stand up to the Egyptian Gods accomplished, Yami Bakura mockingly refers to Kaiba as "Seto", before leaving the Duel inconclusive.
Yami Bakura figured it would be easier to enter the Memory World, since he controlled it and his ancient self had the same intentions of resurrecting Zorc Necrophades. He then entered the Memory World via the Tablet of Lost Memories, reuniting himself with the fragment inside the Millennium Puzzle, and being complete. He entered the body of Bandit King Bakura, while yet simultaneously playing the Dark RPG with Yami Yugi.
Although he initially didn't seem to care, his ancient counterpart's anger would sometimes motivate his actions. As Thief King Bakura, he did a series of fights with Pharaoh Atem, who was controlled by Yami Yugi. He first invaded the palace, introducing the Thief King's ka,Diabound, to the Pharaoh and his priests, and lost to Obelisk, forcing him to flee. He lost to a battle against Mahad, making the Dark Magician in the process, but survived. He invaded the Shrine of Wedju, putting part of Zorc's soul within Aknadin's Millennium Eye, putting an influence on his mind. He later fled, with Atem in pursuit. Bakura battled with Diabound, whereas Yami battled with Slifer the Sky Dragon, with Bakura emerging as the victor. However, Yugi and his friends arrived, rejuvenating Atem. He then summoned The Winged Dragon of Ra, and killed Bakura. However, the Bakura at the RPG table used an Hourglass Token to reverse time, thus making Bakura steal the Millennium Pendant. Bakura also had Tristan Taylor possessed by a part of his soul. At Kul Elna, he and Atem battled, with Diabound being destroyed. Yami Bakura then left the Thief King's body, and reduced him to sand, as he had 'outlived his usefulness'. Later, Aknadin, corrupted by Zorc, arrived. Yami Bakura then used his second Hourglass Token to freeze time for all sans Aknadin, making him obtain the other priests' Millennium Items. He then partially summoned Zorc Necrophades, and Zorc transformed Aknadin into the Great Shadow Magus. Later, Yami Bakura revived the Thief King, and had him toy with Atem and the priests. He was ultimately successful in Zorc's resurrection via the third Hourglass Token, and the Thief King's sacrifice. Zorc destroyed everyone and everything in the way, killing several of Atem's priests.Meanwhile, the fragment of Yami Bakura's soul possessing Tristan Taylor acted as a spy after Tristan's friends got into the Millennium World. To prevent the revelation of the Nameless Pharaoh's true name, the clone that possessed Tristan eventually reveals himself and challenges Yugi Muto to a Shadow Game Duel. During the Duel, Bakura utilizes "Necro" monsters, limited Yugi's attacking options using "Narrow Corridor" and focused on a Deck Out strategy with "Cursed Twin Dolls" and "Counterbalance". He ultimately reduces Yugi to 1 card but that card turns out to be "Gandora the Dragon of Destruction" which destroys Bakura's cards and his strategy. Yugi is then able to use "Silent Swordsman LV0" with 4500 ATK, killing the clone and releasing Tristan from his influence.
The Yami Bakura at the RPG table revealed to Yami Yugi that he is a portion of the ultimate evil's soul, and made him and Yami Yugi enter the Memory World, and merge with their Egyptian counterparts, with Bakura becoming one with Zorc, and Yugi with Atem.
When Zorc Necrophades is ultimately killed by the Egyptian Gods' divine fusion, the Millennium Ring's malevolent spirit lost the Ultimate Shadow Game and perished once and for all.
Yami Bakura appeared in a flashback after Franz stole the copy of "The Winged Dragon of Ra". When Franz told Jaden Yuki about the Egyptian God cards, footage from Yami Yugi's Duel with Yami Bakura from Battle City was played.
- He and Yami Yugi have many similarities. They were both ancient Egyptian spirits sealed in a Millennium Item for over 3,000 years. Also, both their past selves (in Yami Bakura's case it's Bandit King Bakura, whereas in Yami's case it's Pharaoh Atem) are their modern-day hosts' ancient Egyptian past incarnates. Not only that, but in the final season of the anime, they both entered the bodies of their ancient selves. Also, both of their modern-day hosts are shy, meek game-loving high-school freshmen.
- In some ways, his showdown with the Sacred Guardians resembled the one with Moses and the pharaoh's magicians in Jewish, Islamic and Christian traditions. Furthermore, his Diabound resembles a serpent.
Yami Bakura often uses cards that resemble ghouls or specters, undead creatures (though not necessarily Zombies), and demons of the underworld or undead. His Decks often perform locks, attempting to prevent his opponent from making many moves while trying to either instantly win through "Destiny Board" or through a mill strategy, like "Cursed Twin Dolls". He's also one of the few Duelists who doesn't rely on his monster's strength to win, instead favouring the effects of cards like "Dark Necrofear" and "Zoma the Spirit" to turn his opponent's attacks against them.