You Just Activated My Trap Card!

You Just Activated My Trap Card!

Part of a series on Yu-Gi-Oh!. [View Related Entries]

Updated Mar 08, 2012 at 03:14AM EST by Hiroman.

Added Aug 02, 2010 at 12:30AM EDT by richies^ghost.

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“You just activated my trap card!” is a catchphrase derived from the Yu-Gi-Oh Trading Card Game, which is typically used as a warning from one person to another that something malicious is about to occur or someone is about to get owned.


Yu-Gi-Oh Trading Card Game is a Japanese collectible card game developed and published by Konami, based on the fictional game of Duel Monsters created by manga artist Kazuki Takahashi. The game was first launched in 1999 and distributed worldwide throughout the 2000s, mainly in Japan, North America, Europe and Australia. In July 2009, it was named the top selling trading card game in the world by Guinness World Records with over 22 billion cards sold worldwide.[1] In the game, Trap Cards[1] are a special type of playable card that can be used to inhibit your opponent and make the duel turn easier for you. These cards could also be “activated” during your opponent’s turn.[13]

Fake Trap Cards

Fake Yu-Gi-Oh Trap cards were shared on DeviantArt as early as July 22nd, 2004, when ~MaJoRoesch[14] uploaded a fake trap card featuring child television show character Barney. Since then, over 1000 other fake cards[15] have been posted to the site and they continue to be shared on Tumblr.[22]

“The Playa”

The phrase is often associated with a demotivational image macro of a man playing Yu-Gi-Oh cards in a library. The image became popular through its usage in You Laugh, You Lose forum threads throughout 2008[6][7], with the earliest dated instance posted to Digg on July 23rd, 2008.[8] The man depicted in the image remains unidentified.


As early as in September 2005[12], YTMND users began using the phrase “you have activated my trap card” outside the context of the card game, often paired with “Not So Fast, Kaiba”[16], another catchphrase that stemmed from a Yu-Gi-Oh! fanfiction[17] that year. In 2007, the phrase “you’ve activated my trap card” was referenced in the Ars Technica forums[18] and 4chan.[19] It was first defined on Urban Dictionary[5] in July 2009.

Due to its atypical method of play, many Yu-Gi-Oh card players sought out help with using Trap Cards on Yahoo! Answers between 2008[2] and 2009.[3][4] The image macro featuring “The Playa” has also appeared on the Body Building Forums[20] and gaming site Joystiq.[21]

Advice Animal

The image has also evolved into an advice animal style image macro called Cunning Black Strategist.[9] As of February 2012, there are over 1000 different instances and has appeared on FunnyJunk[10] and Tumblr.[11]

Usage on the Korean Web

Circa 2008, the image macro of “The Playa” also spread across the Korean imageboard site DCInside, where it became primarily associated with bait and switch threads. The image macro was initially posted onto the Board Game gallery, but became heavily used as a bait and switch image with the Yu-Gi-Oh soundtrack “Passionate Duelists” on the World of Warcraft gallery.

By July 2010, the image spawned numerous parodies on DCInside’s Photoshop Source Material gallery (shown left) and quickly gained mainstream exposure through usage on other websites like Naver webcomics. The meme was also referenced during the broadcast of a pro-league Starcraft match that same month, when pro-gamer Gu Seong-hun (shown right) performed a victory ceremony in tribute to “The Playa” image.

Search Interest

According to Google Insights, online interest in Yu-Gi-Oh trap cards predates 2004, however, online interest in the phrase “you’ve activated my trap cards” did not commence until January 2008. This interest gradually increased until it exploded in June 2010.

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I’ve been looking at this for a while and finally decided to check something out. It turns out that the picture was taken at my local library, the main Detroit Public Library that’s near downtown. Exhibit A.

Now, maybe you’re thinking, “Maybe the libraries just have similar architectures” or “The rooming looks different on the right side!”. To the latter, I say “DUH”, because the picture was originally taken circa 2008. Still not enough? I have the textless version, and only need to compare two things in order to know it’s the same place.

The exact same fan, and the exact same busts? That’s no coincidence.
So much for my theory that Detroit is over a Hellmouth. Turns out it just is/is in the “Shadow Realm”…..


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