For a time, Yu-Gi-Oh! never even had Archetypes. It wasn't until the release of Gravekeeper's in Pharaonic Guardian when they would become official. An Archetype is a series of Monsters that go together, and are usually referred to in cards by listing the Archetype name in quotations.
Over the course of Yu-Gi-Oh!'s history, Archetypes have evolved into being the main way to play the game. With a game that has been going on for so long and still getting consistently updated, there are hundreds of Archetypes available in the game. These Archetypes stand out as the best of the best, and are by far Yu-Gi-Oh!'s most powerful Archetypes.
Phantom Knights are a Yu-Gi-Oh! Archetype built around building up a small but steady board presence with minimal card investment. They then proceeded to stun the opponent while slowly dwindling away your opponent's Life Points. Phantom Knights can continue to recycle themselves to continuously rebuild any board that might get broken.
Phantom Knights do not require a lot of cards to function, making them one of the most splashable Archetypes out there. They have seen success in builds involving Orcust, Burning Abyss, as well as a stand-alone deck with powerful recent support cards.
14 Sky Striker
Sky Striker dominated the meta during the 2019 "TOSS" Format of Yu-Gi-Oh! and cemented itself as one of Yu-Gi-Oh!'s best Control Archetypes. Unlike most Control decks, Sky Strikers revolved around Spell cards as opposed to Trap Cards to control the gamestate.
There are only two Main Deck Monsters in a Sky Striker deck, allowing for it to be filled with various hand traps and other interruptions. The Extra Deck Sky Striker Monsters can easily be gone into at any point, thanks to the Quick Effect of Sky Striker Ace - Raye.
Tri-Brigade is one of the most recent Yu-Gi-Oh! Archetypes, and claimed the throne of one of the best Archetypes that are used primarily as an engine. While the pure Tri-Brigade deck has seen a fair bit of success, it shines through as an engine for other decks to take advantage of.
Tri-Brigade Monsters support multiple Monster Types, with any deck running Beast, Beast-Warrior, or Winged Beast cards able to use the Tri-Brigade engine. It gives decks access to powerful Extra Deck Boss Monsters and gives many decks much wanted consistency.
Drytron was released in a side Set, and like many other Ritual Archetypes released in them were broken. Drytron is a Ritual Summon engine, capable of cheating around the entire mechanic. When Archetypes do this, they have consistently been the top of the meta, and Drytron is no exception.
Drytron is incredibly consistent, and can Ritual Summon into just about any Monster they want to at any point. Not only that, they're responsible for multiple cards on the banlist due to how powerful it is. Despite this, Drytron continues to dominate the current metagame thanks to all the tools it has access to.
Nekroz is one of the coolest Yu-Gi-Oh! Archetypes, and also one of the best Yu-Gi-Oh! Archetypes ever printed. It is one of the few decks that were able to call themselves Tier Zero. Nekroz at its prime was near unstoppable, with consistency Ritual decks could only dream of before they came along. Not only that, they could cheat around the downside Ritual Monster has by just using one Monster regardless of Level.
Nekroz is able to shut down so many strategies, and on top of having a ton of generic Ritual Support makes it one of the best Ritual Archetypes ever made.
Eldlich is one of the newest Archetypes released into Yu-Gi-Oh!, and instantly stood out as one of the best control decks ever. Eldlich has a ton of recursion on all of their Spell and Trap cards, allowing them to constantly recycle their resources after using their already powerful effects.
Eldlich The Golden Lord is a fantastic Boss Monster as well, as it can easily be Special Summoned while also sending any card on the field to the Graveyard. Due to the lower number of Main Deck Monsters, Eldich is an incredibly splashable Archetype that has seen consistent play ever since its release in all sorts of variants.
The Invoked Archetype has been around forever, and never quite seems to leave the meta. It's been played as pure Invoked, with Shaddolls, and with Mekk-Knights to name a few. This is largely thanks to Aleister The Invoker that can bring out Invoked Mechaba with just one Normal Summon.
Thanks to its splashability, Invoked sees a ton of play. It can constantly recycle its engine pieces as well, which makes it stand out as one of Yu-Gi-Oh!'s best engines and best Archetypes. It's so good that there have been multiple calls for Aleister The Invoker to be banned.
Burning Abyss came out inside the powerhouse Duelist Alliance Set and has been a staple of the meta, be it tiered or rouge. The Burning Abyss Archetype has seen multiple cards on the banlist. Recently, they have been freed from the banlist, save for their main Boss Monster Beatrice, Lady Of The Eternal.
Burning Abyss's ability to flood the field with Special Summons, then go into powerful Extra Deck Monsters, is what makes it so good. It gets outside support from other Level Three focused Archetypes as well such as Phantom Knights. Burning Abyss has never quite died, and will likely stick around for years to come.
Released in Duelist Alliance alongside other fan-favorite Archetypes, Shaddolls have always been a force to be reckoned with. They have some of the best Fusion Monsters in Yu-Gi-Oh!, consisting of powerful floodgates and Monsters that can easily take care of others.
They have had a resurgence thanks to their Structure Deck and cards getting unbanned. Shaddoll is a Fusion-heavy Archetype and has a plethora of cards with effects that trigger off of Fusions. Since so many effects happen at the same time, you can guarantee effects resolve thanks to Chain Blocking.
Frogs have had two major versions in their history in Yu-Gi-Oh! The first of them would be one of the best decks ever released, the incredibly consistent Frog FTK, which was capable of defeating your opponent before they had a chance to play.
Later on, Frogs kept on living as a strategy that was part of a control deck, thanks to Paleozoic Trap cards and Toadally Awesome. They can constantly refresh their field with new Frogs, which in turn can be used to make more powerful Extra Deck Monsters.
True Draco is one of the only modern Tribute-focused decks that have appeared in Yu-Gi-Oh!'s recent history. The Archetype could Tribute Summon their Monsters by using Spell and Trap cards, which allowed them to get them out quickly.
Each of the True Draco Spell and Trap cards has effects that trigger off of being sent to the Graveyard as well. Their original Bos Monster, Master Peace, The True Dracoslaying King was such a good card that it was banned. Even without it, True Draco is still a solid control Archetype that sees play today.
Zoodiac is perhaps the strongest Xyz Archetype ever released in Yu-Gi-Oh! So long as you have a Zoodiac Monster on the field, it could be used as the entire material for a Zoodiac Xyz Monster. Being able to cheat the entire Xyz mechanic was incredibly broken, and led to pure Zoodiacs being a Tier 0 deck at their height.
Zoodiacs as an Archetype was easily splashed into other decks as well, since most of their cards are in the Extra Deck. It saw success in all sorts of variants and was so good that two of the best Xyz Monsters, Zoodiac Broadbull and Zoodiac Drident are currently banned.
Spyral started out as a fairly unimpressive Archetype in their release during the end of the Xyz era. However, come the Link Era they would take on a Tier 0 status, making them one of the best Archetypes in Yu-Gi-Oh! Their cards were easily searchable and consistently able to set up near unbreakable boards.
The Spyral Archetype always benefitted from outside support, but their core is what made them so powerful. With so much power packed into one Archetype, they're no stranger to the banlist. While it isn't the powerhouse it once was, it's still a solid Archetype that is never too far away from taking the spotlight yet again.
Blackwings were one of the first true meta Archetypes. During their prime, they absolutely dominated the meta to the point where you were either playing Blackwings or you were losing. The Archetype is known for being able to flood the field to then go into powerful Synchro Monsters.
Cards like Blackwing Kalut The Moon Shadow and Blackwing Gale The Whirlwind were both able to assist your Monsters to beat over high Attack stats. Blackwings are one of the most versatile Archetypes in Yu-Gi-Oh!, and one of the best in its vast history.
Without a doubt, Dragon Rulers are the most powerful Archetype in Yu-Gi-Oh!, and it's unlikely that any other Archetype will be able to take their crown. After all, every one of the main Dragon Rulers is banned except for the Wind Dragon Tempest because they were so good. Even if one of each were limited, they would likely dominate the meta all over again.
The Dragon Ruler Archetype function so perfectly with each other, and their ability to Special Summon themselves multiple times to make all sorts of powerful Extra Deck Monsters is incredible. They tore apart the meta at their prime, and would likely tear it apart all over again if given the chance to.