Return is a deck variant that utilizes card effects that remove monsters in the graveyard from play, as a means for swarming the opponent during the mid-late game. The removed monsters are "returned" to the field through the effects of either Return from the Different Dimension or Dimension Fusion. Because of the steep cost of activating these cards, the strategy's primary focus is to end the game during the turn either card is activated. Its explosive approach to victory, as well as its flexibility for achieving this goal gives this deck type its popularity.
Return decks normally fit into the OTK archetype, but can fulfill other archetypes as well.
To remove monsters from the game, monsters have to be sent to the graveyard at a fast pace. The effects of cards such as Card Trooper, Magical Merchant, and Reasoning can "mill" (discard) monsters off the top of the player's deck directly into the graveyard. Monster cards can also be discarded to the graveyard to pay the cost of powerful card effects, such as Lightning Vortex and Enemy Controller, or be sent directly to the graveyard from the deck, via Future Fusion or Foolish Burial. Finally, monsters can simply be played to the field, and destroyed as a result of battle.
Monsters in the graveyard can be removed from play through various methods. The traditional way is to remove them from play as a cost for Special-Summon only monsters like Soul of Purity and Light and Chaos Sorcerer. The most common strategy, however, is to use monster effects with the same cost, but better long-term strength. These monsters include Bazoo the Soul-Eater, Freed the Brave Wanderer, Strike Ninja, and to a lesser extent Lady Assailant of Flames. Borrowing from other remove-from-play strategies, Dimensional Fissure and Macro Cosmos can also be used to remove monsters from play, without sending them to the graveyard at all. Furthermore, certain deck archetypes have their own special means for removing monsters from the graveyard. (ie. Divine Sword - Phoenix Blade for Warrior-type monsters; Survival Instinct for Dinosaur-type monsters)
The final step is to bring the player's selection of monsters from the remove-from-game pile to the field. The two primary methods for this task - Dimension Fusion and Return from the Different Dimension - have different properties.
Dimension Fusion can be used right away, and whatever monsters it brings back will stay on the field until they are deliberately destroyed (in which case, they will go to the graveyard). However, it becomes more dangerous to use during a mirror match (where the opponent might have access to remove-from-play monsters as well), and its utility suffers if the player's Life Points reach below 2000 (the cost for activating the card). Finally, it is a Limited card, meaning the player has only one chance to make it work without requiring card retrieval.
Return from the Different Dimension has a more manageable cost (half a player's Life Points), returns to the field only the monsters of the player who activated it, and can gain the element of surprise attributed to trap cards. However, it has to be set before activation, making it more vulnerable and harder to pull off (specificly against Jinzo). Also, because the monsters returned to the field get sent back to the remove-from-game pile at the end of the turn, the player must rely on card synergy to maintain field presence. Fusion Gate works well for this, as you can use it to remove cards from play, return them, attack in one big charge, and then re-fuse them using Fusion Gate
Return variants often enlist the powers of spell/trap removal (e.g. Heavy Storm, Giant Trunade) and trap negators (e.g. Jinzo, Mirage Dragon, Elemental Hero Wildheart) to ensure that the final push for victory goes unopposed. Some variants utilize retrieval cards such as Mask of Darkness and A Feather of the Phoenix to reuse the strategy's key cards, in case the initial execution failed or the cards were accidentally discarded to the graveyard to trigger various effects.
The following decks are subject to common return variants: