The Big Five are major antagonists in the Yu-Gi-Oh! franchise.
In the manga, they serve as background antagonists of the Duelest Kingdom arc. In the anime Yu-Gi-Oh! Duel Monsters they appear as the overarching antagonists of season one and major antagonists in season three. Acting as the main antagonists in the filler arc Legendary Heroes, and the secondary antagonists of the filler arc Virtual World.
Gansley is the leader and founder of the Big Five who started his business career from a lemonade stand that he stole from his neighbor. Crump is an accountant who is obsessed with penguins. Johnson is a legal expert, lawyer, and judge who sets people up (at one point convincing a jury that a hydrophobic man stole a boat). Nesbitt is an expert in technology who wanted to make machines for war. Lector is the former vice president of Kaiba Corp and the best duelist.
The Big Five worked as the main board of directors for Gozaburo, the head of Kaiba Corp. They conspired with Seto Kaiba to overthrow Gozaburo, but he betrayed them, breaking his deal with them. Signs of Seto lacking to give them the power and respect they expected is Seto neglecting Crump's penguin theme park, destroying Nesbitt's lab and taking Lectors position of heir to company president and rendering the former vice president little more then the company figurehead and consultant.
Duelist Kingdom arc
When Kaiba left Kaiba Corp after being defeated by Yugi, the Big Five conspired with Pegasus J. Crawford to take over Kaiba Corp and have Seto killed. Seto survived, however but Pegasus defeated him in a duel and trapped his soul inside a card. The Big Five watched the duel between Yugi and Pegasus, planning to broadcast it if Pegasus won; however, Yugi emerged as the victor instead, and Pegasus released the souls of those he had imprisoned. In the manga, Seto fired the Big Five for their betrayal, and they were never seen again.
Legendary Heroes arc
Upon return to Kaiba Corp, Seto threatened to fire the Big Five, but they told him they were only pretending to work for Pegasus. They also revealed that they had finished Seto's virtual reality game, so he entered it, but they set a trap inside it for him to kill him. Seto's brother Mokuba asked Yugi and his friends to help. Soon Yugi, Kaiba, Joey Wheeler and Mai Valentine faced off against the Five Headed Dragon, which the Big Five themselves seemed to take the form of a five-headed dragon. Joey, Mai and Mokuba were all killed by the Five Headed Dragon (later to be revived by Mystical Elf) and Yugi and Kaiba worked together to summon Master of Dragon Knight, which destroyed Five Headed Dragon, trapping the Big Five in the virtual world.
Virtual World arc
The Big Five remained trapped in the virtual world so long that their bodies were destroyed. They soon came across Noah Kaiba, the son of Kaiba's wicked stepfather Gozaburo Kaiba, and joined forces with him as they shared a common enemy in Kaiba. When Yugi Moto, Joey Wheeler, Tea Gardner, Tristan Taylor, Serenity Wheeler, Duke Devlin and the Kaiba brothers entered the virtual world, Noah and the Big Five separated them for the Big Five to duel them and steal their bodies. They dueled using a deck master system, with the Big Five in the forms of their own deck masters. Gansley was Deepsea Warrior, Crump was Nightmare Penguin, Johnson was Judge Man, Nesbitt was Robotic Knight and Lector was Jinzo.
Yugi defeated Gansley, Tea defeated Crump and Joey defeated Johnson. Tristan, Duke, and Serenity dueled Nesbitt all at once. Though they were able to defeat him when Serenity attacked him, Tristan's life points went down to zero during the duel so Nesbitt stole his body and digitized him into a robot monkey. Seto defeated Lector. Nesbitt kidnapped Mokuba and took him to Noah to brainwash him.
Gansley, Crump, Johnson and Lector returned to chase Joey, Duke, and Serenity and steal their bodies. Adrian and Lector got in a fight over who gets to choose first. Noah, however, recalled them and chastised them for cheating. He then sent them to duel Yugi, all in Taylor's body. They dueled Yugi and Joey, taking it in turns to possess Taylor's body to duel, rotating their deck masters as well. Lector did most of the duel but they were defeated when their deck master was destroyed. They tried again to steal the gang's bodies by force but Noah recalled them again and deleted them essentially murdering them for their failure.
However in the 4Kids English version of the anime, Noah imprisons each of The Big Five in some isolated part of his virtual world til the place's destruction eight episodes later.
In the manga, after the Pegasus arc, The Big Five are fired and are never seen again as both virtual world arcs are filler.
- In LittleKuriboh's parody series, Yu-Gi-Oh! the Abridged Series, in addition to their roles in the original anime, the Big Five are also depicted as being board members of 4Kids Entertainment, which is depicted as a ruthless organization. After their diabolical plan to cancel Yu-Gi-Oh! the Abridged Series succeeds at the end of Season 2, they plan with Noah on how to deal with Yugi and his friends, setting up Season 3. The Big Five sound relatively similar to how they do in the anime (with only Lector's voice being slightly deeper and rougher). They are also voiced by different voice actors than LittleKuriboh. Despite 4Kids's censoring death, the Big Five do not have a problem with killing people themselves, as they have attempted to kill Kaiba multiple times, and discuss killing Yugi and his friends in ways similar to their deck masters. They also retain much of their original personalities; Crump is obsessed with penguins just as much, if not more, as he is in the anime. In Season 3, Gansley claims that they have new voices (as a reference to voice changes when the voice actors or dubbing companies are replaced); Gansley's voice at least does sound different. Unlike the original anime, Crump defeated Tea and possessed her body, but was eventually kicked out by Marik. Additionally, following their failure, Noah sent each of them to the darkest corners of the internet (Gansley to Mega Upload, Johnson to The Dangerous Box, Nesbitt to Chat Roulette, Lector to Fanfiction.net, and Crump to 4chan). They also make their entrance similar to Team Rocket.
- The Big Five are expanded upon in the anime, being more evil and prominent in the anime, whereas in the manga they are never mentioned again after Duellist Kingdom, their fate also changes from manga to anime. While they're never punished aside from being fired in the manga, they are banished into the virtual realm by Seto in the anime, and later killed by Noah Kaiba for failing him.
- Daimon takes the form of Android - Psycho Crusher in the virtual world. Psycho Crusher's mask resembles that of Hannibal Lecter, which may be where Daimon gets his English dubbed name Lector.
- The Big Five are not the only evil team of five to start out shadowed and later be revealed. In Dragon Ball Z, the Ginyu Force are shadowed as they leave Planet Freeza for Namek, and are not fully seen in color until they arrive and strike their poses. In Sailor Moon S, the Witches 5 (with the exception of Eudial) are all shadowed, until later Mimet is revealed (Mimet even plays Twister with Telulu, who unlike Mimet is still shadowed). The remaining three witches are fully seen in color in their respective episodes, but only last one episode before each is killed.
- Three of the Big Five resemble figures that are evil in Family Guy. Gansley resembles Jerry of the El Dorado Cigarette company in the episode Mr. Griffin Goes to Washington (even has the same uniform and tie), the leader of the FCC, which censors everything in PTV, resembles Nesbitt and in the episode FOX-y Lady, the leader of the Fox channel (Lois' boss), whom Brian says is evil and is later proved to be right, resembles Johnson. This is like a coincidence, however. This is also comparable to the Abridged Series, where they are members of 4Kids, who are portrayed as evil in this series likely seeing as they were shut down in real life.
- Alongside Gozaburo, the Big Five are the first characters to unambiguously die in the dub without any censorship (though their original deaths were censored from the Japanese version, which only forestalled their deaths eight episodes). Noah was destroyed along with them but his death was censored by characters speculating that he had survived. Other villains to die as such are Anubis, Dartz (though the existence of his seemingly-corporeal spirit form downplays this), Bakura and Zorc though they're monsters not humans.
- A Yu-Gi-Oh video game spells Nesbitt and Lector's names "Nezbitt" and "Leichter", making the true spelling of their English dubbed names up for debate. Their real name spellings ARE Nesbitt and Lector.