Mario is one of the most famous video game characters ever. Actually… scratch that, he’s one of the most famous fictional characters in the world. He’s outstripped Mickey Mouse in terms of fame and notoriety. It’s insane when you think about it, as in the past 30 years of video game history, we’ve moved from video game characters with increasing complexity, depth, and violence.
We went from dot chomping non-descript beings like Pac-Man, to extremely vague representations of humanity in Kung Fu Master, to extremely well detailed comic-book style heroes in Final Fight. All the while a massive focus has been on more action, more thought out puzzles, and storylines that rival novels (and take almost as long to read… I’m look at YOU Skyrim!). To say that video games are rivaling the film industry as a medium is an understatement. Games developed by major companies can take teams of hundreds, if not thousands, of people and have a budget rivaling major motion picture studios (Skyrim cost $85 million to make. By way of contrast, the original Star Wars trilogy had a combined cost of $61 to $88 million). More recent developments like in the up-coming Call of Duty games are trying to make them basically playable movies.
But the key word here is complexity. Bigger, grander, and more exciting. Even fantasy games which would have been on-par with fairy tales in the 80s (and to some extent, the very early 90s) are now trying to be Lord of the Rings levels in terms of scope.
For all this, there has been one singular anomaly, one singular game character that has not kept up with the times, but whose popularity is stronger than ever. When you think about it, Super Mario games are extremely simple in scope. You’re a little cartoon man living in a cartoon world, trying to save the princess from a laughable villain who’s so harmless that all he can do is probably stand around snickering. Super Mario is one of those characters that you can’t think of being capable of evil. He’s just too simple and too nice. He’s so nice that even Sesame Street’s Elmo would reject him for being too uncontroversial.
However, this would bring to mind an old quote: “Beware the Nice Ones”, and in the following list I’ll show you exactly WHY you probably wouldn’t want to call Mario to fix the plumbing in your home.
15 Mario Started Out As A Villain
Yeah, this one is the kicker. Mario didn’t always like to save princesses and take over castles to the sound of fireworks and roaring applause. He used to be a bad guy. Not in the sense that he was some conquering villain, but a petty, sadistic bad guy who liked to exploit others less for profit than his own amusement.
In the 1984 Game and Watch title, Donkey Kong Circus, an alleged prequel to the world famous Donkey Kong arcade game, you have Mario forcing a terrified Donkey Kong to perform circus tricks while rolling on a barrel. He isn’t even taking it seriously, since he enjoys laughing at Kong’s pain when he grabs pineapples and fireballs. Real life circus animal handlers often take great care of their animals since their livelihood depends on them. He thinks it is fun to watch them suffer. No wonder Donkey Kong escaped and kidnapped his girlfriend.
14 He Throws Yoshis To Their Doom As A Stepping Stone
I’m not going to lie. I loved Yoshi growing up. I watched the cartoons with Yoshi in them. I so wanted to live in a world where I could have a Yoshi companion who not only was fun to play with, but could give me a ride when I needed it. That being said, despite the advantages that Yoshi brings to Mario for no cost to himself, Mario seems to throw Yoshi away like he’s toilet paper. When he needs to do a running jump, he pushes down against Yoshi to give himself that added boost to reach that high ledge… but he lets poor Yoshi plummet to his death. That’s bad enough as it is, but in some levels there’s lava down there. That’s a horrible way to die. Our hero everybody! At least give poor Yoshi a parachute or a little cartoon umbrella that he can use to float down safely.
13 He Punches Yoshis
So we all know that he leads Yoshis to their deaths with reckless abandon, but how about when he gets the Yoshis to consume his enemies and spit out their remains as weapons (it’s disturbing when you think more about it). But how does he get them to do this? He just smacks them on the head to force their tongues to fly out like giant frogs and consume his enemies. Seriously? Smacking them? Just look at the animation frame-by-frame. Mario clear is hitting them on the back of their heads, they make a pained expression on their face, and then shoot their tongues out.
What makes this even worse is that he mistreats them so badly, even though the only reason why Mario and his brother Luigi are still alive is because they were rescued by the Yoshis in Yoshi’s Island. You’d think that someone who owes his life to the Yoshis, who continue to help him, could come up with a better way to communicate their needs to each other…
12 He Was A Bully To Wario
Wario is Mario’s evil counterpart (NOT TWIN) and like most evil counterparts, he’s hell bent on things like stealing money by bashing chests and taking over castles… hey wait, we are talking about different characters, right? Actually, according to his official (one paragraph) biography, Wario was Mario’s childhood friend who felt he was getting little to no respect from Mario. In fact, the only reason why he took over Mario’s castle in his debut appearance is because he just wanted to get a smidgen of respect from Mario… before our intrepid hero just boots him out, which forces Wario to go out and try to make his own fortune.
Maybe if Mario was a little nicer to the people around him, he would have prevented the sheer level of mayhem that Wario brought to the world… and even then he did that because of the sheer trauma that Mario inflicted on him.
11 He's A Bully To His Own Brother
Luigi is the ultimate sufferer of second brother syndrome. No matter how hard he tries to be likeable and good, he’ll always be living in the shadow of his much more successful brother. That wouldn’t be a problem if Mario wasn’t such a massive jerk to him. In the end of New Super Mario Bros. Wii, Luigi is thoughtful enough to bring a balloon so that he, Mario, and the rescued Princess Peach can escape. Mario’s reaction to this is just to completely ignore Luigi and fly off in the balloon with Princess Peach and leave Luigi behind, not even giving him the courtesy of a thank you wave. If that doesn’t make you scratch your head, then this will… at the end of Mario Power Tennis, if Luigi wins the trophy, Mario walks up clapping and grinds his shoe into Luigi’s foot.
It’s like he’s trying to remind him that even if he gets a touch of the limelight, he’ll never be worth more than the sole of his shoe.
10 He Flooded The Home Of A Wiggler For No Reason
He’s abusive to Luigi and loves it. He bullied Wario, who at least might have had a villainous streak. But what did the Wigglers ever do to him? They’re just regular caterpillars who have daisies on their heads! They don’t even hurt him in-game unless he jumps on them and ticks them off. But what’s even worse is that in Super Mario 64, Mario apparently decides to pick a fight with a giant wiggler by flooding his home and destroying everything in it for… absolutely no reason at all. No joke, here is the actual quote from the poor beast.
“Waaa! You’ve flooded my house! Wh-Why?? Look at this mess! What am I going to do now? The ceiling’s ruined, the floor is soaked… what to do, what to do? Huff… huff… it makes me so MAD!!!” and then Mario continues to provoke the wiggler by jumping on it, leaving it to become even angrier (and justifiably so!)
9 He Can Shoot Fireballs Underwater
Has anyone ever noticed that in many of the games, Mario can shoot fire in the underwater levels? Just what kind of alien world do these people live in? Goombas I can buy. Giant turtle dragon things are fun… but actual fire underwater? I’m sorry, but it’s the little things that often make me question things. Just what kind of drugs are in those flowers and how can I get some?
Joking aside, it isn't even just that he can shoot fireballs underwater, but they also have fireball based enemies and obstacles. It isn't some graphical fluke either, as official game art makes it clear that he's throwing fire like Gandalf the White and to more effect than just lighting up his pipe…
8 He Is Clearly A Womanizer
Okay, we've all heard this before. Mario clearly had a string of girlfriends and despite his princess rescuing tendencies (which is clearly his raison d’être at this point), he just doesn’t seem to be able to stay loyal to them, nor does he even bother to stop them from being kidnapped again.
But what’s really wrong is the simple fact that his first ever love, Pauline (the girl he rescues from Donkey Kong in his first ever appearance), seems to be a victim of abuse and instead of being kidnapped by Kong, appears to be rescued by Kong. In Mario vs Donkey Kong, Pauline makes a comeback as a sexy assistant, so Kong decides to do the moral thing and whisk Pauline away, and she clearly calls him ‘My Hero’ for that. Just what exactly is going on behind the scenes, Nintendo?
7 He Beat People Up... Street Fighter Style
So, this is one of those unbelievably obscure things you really need to dig deep to find, but that’s what’ll happen when you have no life. In 1993, there was an unlicensed NES game that had the cast of the Super Mario games duke it out like Street Fighter. Apparently Mario got tired of just jumping on his foes and took karate lessons from Ryu to learn how to kick some serious butt. Though you might find it interesting that his Hadokens are actually banana peels!
Kart Fighter isn’t a licensed game, but it counts, since unlike most of the many unofficial games released on the internet, this one actually got media attention and positive mainstream reviews. It possibly inspired the Super Smash Bros. series (along with the superior and much more violent Outfoxies, but let’s not talk about that…)
6 He Masqueraded As A Doctor With No Qualifications
Being a doctor is one of the many job titles Mario has had, but unlike being a carpenter or member of a wrecking crew (breaking the buildings he probably helped build… genius! Get paid to build, the get more pay to tear it down! Why didn’t I think of this scam before). But his pretend doctor game is just a whole level of wrong. Becoming a doctor requires years of learning and dedication, and just what qualifications does Mario have? His entire game leads to the belief that you can crush viruses with pills. Not only is that not even the way viruses work, but it's clearly giving the idea that ODing is the best way to cure an illness. That’s not the work of a doctor, that’s the work of a mushroom and flower eating junky.
This isn't some quack theory either, even Shigeru Miyamoto made it clear he was never really a doctor and even that isn't the only thing he isn't qualified for.
5 Tried To Get Little Mac Killed
Boxing is a well-established sport with many rules and regulations to minimize the boxer's chances of going to the emergency room for head injuries. Some of those regulations include weight classes, which is why you don’t see heavyweights like Anthony Joshua duke it out with minimumweights like Katsunari Takayama. The other regulation is the concept of the TKO. TKO doesn’t mean Triple Knock Out, it means Technical Knock Out. Long story short, if a boxer gets really hurt, but is still standing, the referee can call an end to the fight on that grounds. The other way it can end is when one boxer so utterly dominates a match that his/her/whatever opponent just can’t fight back.
This is the true extent of Mario callousness. He doesn’t care about the safety of this little man standing at a mere 140 cm (4’ 7 inches) taking a massive pounding by people who can bend time and space. No matter how clearly outmatched Little Mac is, he never, EVER calls an end to the match when he has the authority to do so.
4 Commits Genocide Against The Inhabitants Of The Mushroom Kingdom
Little Mac survived, but the same cannot be said of the countless people he slaughtered in his adventures. I’m not talking about the koopa troopas and goombas here, I’m talking about the very simple case of his bashing blocks for money and eating the fire flowers… How does that constitute genocide? Here’s how: the original game description in the manual stated that after the Koopas took over the Mushroom Kingdom, they cursed the people of the Mushroom Kingdom by turning them into stones, bricks and plants. So every time Mario was destroying one of those he didn't need, he was knowingly killing somebody.
3 Mario Ruined An Island Paradise
In Super Mario Sunshine, Mario and Princess Peach are on their way to a very nice tropical paradise to get some much needed rest from their usual habits of being kidnapped and committing genocide against hapless inhabitants, only for Mario to utterly ruin it by using his water nozzle to cause a massive oil spill to ruin the Island’s beauty and turn it into something BP and Exxon would be proud to take claim of (if you don’t know what I’m talking about, count yourself lucky…). From there, a court order was given to him to force him to clean up the island… using the same water nozzle that caused the whole problem.
For those who’re saying that it isn’t an oil spill, you need to wake up. They’re just too polite to call it what it really is.
2 His Voice Changed Abruptly And For The Worse
Everyone know Mario’s voice. The lovable and somewhat racist stereotypical Italian accent that just makes you want to start doing hand gestures and talk about meatballs and spaghetti. We can thank Ronald Ruben for that, who first went with the racist angle when he voiced him in the first iteration of Mario Teaches Typing. The previous voices had some tough-guy grit to them that made you think of Mario as a tough Italian-American from Brooklyn (The Super Mario Bros Super Show had him voiced by Lou Albano for Pete's sake!). Then, suddenly, his voice went to some over the top depiction of a racial stereotype. My guess is that he wasn’t content with merely killing people turned into stone and ruining tropical islands, but that he secretly just hates Italy, too.
1 He Designed T-Shirts?
The only job Mario has actually been good at was when he designed T-shirts. Back in 1986, there was a Japan-only game that involved the player designing a sweater and adding pictures of Mario characters on them. The player could then save the design on a floppy disk and send it to an actual Japanese clothing manufacturer (Royal industries Co. Ltd.) and have them make it for you and mail it for 2,900 yen (24$ US). Its name was I Am a Teacher: Super Mario Sweater.
This isn’t a WTF but a Why-TF moment. Why wasn’t this released in the US? Geekdom must know! My fellow nerds, we must find out why and rectify this at once!