The Super Mario Bros. series is one of gaming’s most iconic franchises, and it’s a brand that’s synonymous with revolutionary gameplay and exquisite quality throughout its many entries.
But have you ever taken a step back and considered just how weird it is?
The amount of distressingly bizarre, even psychedelic, content within every last entry is almost staggering when you try to look at things objectively, but the weirdness doesn’t end there. Despite most of the games having paper-thin plots, there’s a surprising amount of lore that exists within the Super Mario universe, and the immense amount of questions and plot holes that exist regarding said universe is something that isn’t discussed nearly enough.
We’re changing that today, though.
With our list of 25 Unresolved Mysterious And Plot Holes The Super Mario Series Left Hanging, we’re doing a deep dive into the most unusual, and sometimes downright chilling, plot threads that have simply been left dangling, along with general questions about the mechanics of Super Mario’s so-called world.
Every game (and even the infamous film) were on the table for dissection and discussion, so we’ve done our best to leave no stone (or floating wall of bricks) unturned. We won’t just be dealing with direct plot points, either, but lingering questions about the nature of various elements most players and fans just accept as “normal” within the adventures of a certain plumber. And yes, we’re totally aware that Nintendo doesn’t really care about logic or plot in most of their games, but still… some of this is just so blatantly mystifying that it needs to be discussed, regardless.
25 Are The Power-Ups Sentient?
Did it ever bother you that most of the items and objects in Banjo-Kazooie not only had eyes, but would speak to you? This includes the honeycombs, the notes, and even the beehives that you’d smash for their innards.
If you thought about it too long, the apparent sentience of the collectibles was kind of creepy… and Mario’s world might have a similar problem.
So many of the power-ups have eyes (as do clouds and other inanimate objects) so that begs the question: are they alive? And, if so, are they sentient? And if so, why do they never communicate?
24 Where Is Sarasaland?
Super Mario Land on the Game Boy is notorious for being… unusual… when compared to its already unusual home console brethren. For example, instead of Lakitu or traditional Koopa Troopas, you’re up against hopping vampires and angry Moai heads.
But the real question is where is Sarasaland, the game’s setting?
We know it exists since its princess, Daisy, appears in other games, but it’s nowhere to be found in Super Mario Odyssey, which offered a comprehensive (but still flawed) look at the realm of the Mario games.
23 That Time Bowser Became A God...
Super Mario Galaxy (and its sequel) were fantastic evolutions of the 3D platforming genre, taking tried-and-true concepts and turning them on their heads with a seemingly endless amount of creativity.
Galaxy’s story was also something of an anomaly in the series as a whole, with a dark and dramatic plot regarding Bowser’s quest to remake the universe in his image. Widly enough, he achieves the god-like power necessary to do it, and it’s absolutely insane to think that he somehow accrued more power than any of Nintendo’s other, most notorious villains like Ganon.
22 ...And The Universe Was Recreated
Perhaps the craziest element of Super Mario Galaxy’s plotline was that, at the end, the entire universe was reborn.
Like, not only did Bowser became a galactic tyrant and maniacal deity, the universe would be entirely reborn, commenting on the cyclical nature of Mario’s games but also being a philosophical and spiritual apex for a series that stars a plumber and cares little for narrative. Why does no one ever comment on how crazy this ending is? This might be the most surprising ending Nintendo has ever crafted, and no one batted an eyelash.
21 Mario Can Breathe In Space... Sometimes?
Speaking of Mario Galaxy, much of the game takes place on small planets and/or planetoids, and Mario seems to have no issue breathing and surviving in the vacuum (unless he’s sucked into a black hole, of course).
That’s fine and isn’t worth questioning, considering the cartoony nature of the series, but in Super Mario Land 2, Mario also goes to space, but this time, he’s equipped with a full on space suit. So what is it: can he or can he not survive in space without a suit?
20 No One Cares That They Were Invaded By Aliens
Despite being taken by a sinister turtle constantly, we’d argue that Peach had things a lot easier than Princess Daisy, since Sarasaland was invaded by aliens. Like, actual, warlike aliens, led by Tatanga. Tatanga used hypnosis to enslave the four kingdoms of Sarasaland, but also brought in his own muscle to guard each realm.
So we have a full-on, legit alien invasion, and no one seems to care or acknowledge this at any point.
Yeah, we know, the world of Super Mario is filled with weird things, but proof that aliens exist (and are hostile) is still pretty serious, no?
19 Are The Worlds In The Paintings Real Places?
Super Mario 64 offered an awesome hub world in the form of Peach’s Castle, which had a series of paintings that, when jumped into, would transport players to various “obstacle courses” on their quest for the Power Stars.
But here’s the thing: are these paintings taking Mario to real places, or are they just worlds contained within the painting?
There’s evidence to suggest that the worlds in the paintings were “brought to life” by Bowser, but if that’s true, why are there so many paintings in the castle if they really had no other purpose?
18 Who Is Bowser Jr.'s Mom?
A legendary and chilling question, but one worth asking. Infamously, Bowser Jr. claims that Peach is his mom in Super Mario Sunshine, and alleges that Bowser told him this. It takes both Peach and Mario by surprise, yet… we don’t know.
Why would Bowser tell a lie like this to his son? What harm would it do to tell him about his real mother, if it wasn’t Peach? These loose threads have captivated the Super Mario fandom for some time, but none of the theoretical answers have definitively solved the case.
17 Why Do Hated Enemies Play Sports Together?
Bowser has invaded kingdoms, waged long and bloody wars with innumerable casualties, and even attempted to destroy the universe, yet it’s apparently still totally cool to invite him over to play tennis.
We’re not sure about you, but if someone had tried to set us on fire and tear us apart with razor-sharp claws, we’re pretty certain that we wouldn’t want to spend a millisecond anywhere near them. Despite this, Bowser and an entire legion of adversaries are often spotted at sporting events and parties, and everyone seems fine with it.
16 Is Toad Wearing A Hat?
The kingdom is the Mushroom Kingdom, the princess is Princess Toadstool, there are mushrooms all over, and some common enemies are treacherous, sentient mushrooms, so it only makes sense that Toad, as a citizen of the fungal-themed kingdom, would be a mushroom, right?
That said, many folks believe Toad is wearing a hat, all while multiple primary sources show compelling evidence for both sides of the coin. There are cases of Toad removing his hat in the cartoon series, but there also scenes of Toads wearing hats on their “hats,” meaning it’s a head. This case is far from closed.
15 Abandoned Power-Ups Galore
One of the most exciting elements of many games in the Mario franchise are the variety of unique power-ups available to our plumbing hero. Aside from flowers that let him throw fireballs, he’s got P-Wings, magic leaves, a fungus that makes him grow, superhero capes, or hats that turn him completely metal. With an arsenal as grand as this, why does Mario seemingly abandon an enormous chunk of it from adventure to adventure?
Why not make sure to keep a supply of Metal or Wing Caps, or even the Super Feather or Super Leaf?
No one knows.
14 Who Or What Are The Koopalings?
According to Shigeru Miyamoto, the Koopalings aren’t part of Bowser’s family, and that Bowser Jr. is Bowser’s only child. So what does that make the Koopalings?
For years, people assumed the Koopalings were Bowser’s kids, and that Bowser Jr. was his main heir, or something like that. This was even corroborated in all kinds of material regarding the troublesome group.
But if they’re not his kids, or even his relatives, where in the world do they come from?
The whole thing is bizarre, and with directly contradicting answers, we doubt we’re getting any clarity any time soon.
13 The "Heck Valley Sky Trees"
In Super Mario Galaxy 2, players romping around the Shiverburn Galaxy noticed something incredibly unnerving. Up on the edge of an enormous canyon, a trio of mysterious figures can be seen silently staring at the player. No matter where you go, they follow. The game’s files call them “[Heck] Valley Sky Tree,” and the background is called “Beyond [Heck] Valley.”
Here’s the thing: there’s no such location, and it’s not even the beta or internal name for the level.
Whatever these things are, and whatever their intention may be, we’re terrified of them.
12 What Are Boos Ghosts Of (If They Are Ghosts At All)?
Boos are an iconic enemy of the Mario series, and have made many appearances in multiple games, but what actually are they?
Are they truly the ghosts of the deceased?
In Super Mario World, there’s a sunken ship that’s believed to be the remnants of a missing airship from Super Mario Bros. 3, and the ghosts in the level are the remains of the drowned crew. That said, many other entries seem to portray Boos as simply creatures, even letting Mario turn into one without giving up the ghost first.
11 When Did Stars Become A Power Source?
Full disclosure: Power Stars and Super Stars are apparently two different items within the world of Super Mario Bros.
Super Stars grant invincibility, and Power Stars are a power source… allegedly.
The two designs for these “separate” items are practically identical, with the only actual difference being in their behavior and utility. Later 3D Mario games would have the “Super Star” be a multi-colored item, easily differentiating it from its Power Star companion, but that was a late addition. Before the change was implemented, are we to believe Peach somehow harnessed the invincibility-granting power of these stars for energy?
10 Is Mario Permanently Super?
Back during Mario’s early adventures, he was a diminutive mortal and he found himself up against gigantic mushrooms and turtles. In order to stand a chance against these foes, he needed to become a giant himself by grabbing a mushroom.
In most of the 3D games, though, he seemingly has no need to grow, since he’s already at a size that dwarves his enemies, and he also doesn’t shrink upon getting hurt.
Does this mean that Mario has touched so many mushrooms that he’s permanently “super?”
It seems likely, aside from some inconsistencies in games like Super 3D World.
9 Why Are Coins, Bricks And Blocks Floating All Over The Place?
For years, we’ve been asked to accept that the Mushroom Kingdom has bricks, coins and “?” blocks floating in midair. This isn’t even limited to the Mushroom Kingdom; it appears all over the Super Mario universe. Has no one ever realized that none of this makes any sense? How are they floating? These clearly aren’t natural formations, either.
Bricks were laid, blocks were crafted, and floating coins were forged, but why?
We actually DO have an answer for two of those questions, but we’ll discuss it a little later.
8 Bowser Is Alive Despite Being Totally Destroyed Multiple Times
Bowser is Mario’s biggest rival, and they’ve gone head to head for decades. Despite his hostile takeover attempts and rampant stealing, Bowser always meets his match and is defeated fair and square by the mustachioed plumber.
But what about the times Mario straight up destroys Bowser?
There are multiple occasions where Bowser’s defeat isn’t some nebulous event, but explicitly shows him being taken down. There’s even that one time he gets CONSUMED BY THE SUN.
How does Bowser survive these experiences?
7 Mario's Unnatural Acrobatic Abilities
Much like how we’ve long-accepted that blocks are just floating around the Mushroom Kingdom, we’ve also accepted that Mario can jump abnormally high. Then, when he transitioned to 3D, he was also shown to be quite the acrobat, performing complicated aerial maneuvers and feats of strength. He’s supposedly a normal human plumber, so how is this even possible?
The film actually tries to explain this by showing off a special pair of boots that allow for enormous jumps.
Is the movie going to be the only explanation we ever get?
6 The Fourth Wall Break
Once you get all 120 Stars in Super Mario 64, you’re able to get onto the roof of Peach’s Castle, where Yoshi will grant you with 100 lives, a new triple jump, and a special message from the developers. Here’s where it gets weird, though:
Yoshi tells all this, including the message from the developers, to Mario directly.
Does this mean that everyone in Mario's universe is aware that they are video game characters? That would explain just about everything in the franchise, but it’s also a wild thought that they would know their origins.
5 Mario's Gigantic Kingdom In Super Mario Land 2
This detail seems to have been forgotten by just about everyone, and that’s a shame because it adds a whole new dimension to Mario’s character. According to Super Mario Land 2’s manual, Mario not only owns a castle, but a colossal island called “Mario Land.”
Basically, our humble plumber is living like a king due to his heroic deeds.
Why does no other game mention the fact that Mario essentially owns an entire kingdom to himself? Heck, Wario’s debut was taking the place over, and still, no one mentions it!
4 The Actual Origin Of The Mario Bros.
The Mario brothers are plumbers, and the original lore goes that they stumbled upon the Mushroom Kingdom while working on pipes in the sewers (presumably during the course of the original Mario Bros. arcade game), and then went on to save the land and stay there. This origin is also reflected in the film adaptation, and it makes sense to us.
So, where does the whole Baby Mario in Yoshi’s Island thing come from?
Surely Mario wasn’t born in the alternate dimension where the Yoshis live, right?
With these conflicting bits of lore, we’re not sure what to believe.
3 The Casual Acknowledgement And Application Of Multiple Lives
The Super Mario franchise employs the concept of “multiple lives” for extra tries when a player is defeated. That’s fine, but the Mario universe tries to come across as a living, functional world, and that means that extra lives are a thing that legitimately exists for them.
Coins dot the landscape, and a hundred clearly earn Mario a new chance at life.
Coins are also shown to be an entirely functional, existing currency in Odyssey, too. There’s also the green mushrooms that are happy to help anyone on their quest for immortality. Is this why Mario and Co. never age?
2 Where Do Defeated Enemies Go?
The following conundrum has likely never once crossed your mind, but we’re bringing it up anyway: when Mario defeats enemies with fireballs or jumps on certain enemies’ heads, their entire corpse seems to fall right through the ground into who knows where. This even happens to Mario himself when he perishes.
Yes, we get that it’s a video game, but that doesn’t mean it’s not staggeringly bizarre.
Where do the bodies go? Is the afterlife through the ground? Why does Mario look directly at you in his final moments as he plummets to his doom?
We may never know…
1 The Bricks Are Alive
Earlier we wondered why bricks, blocks, and coins are just floating haphazardly across the Mushroom Kingdom. While we’re not sure about the coins, but we’re pretty sure about the blocks and bricks… and it’s not pretty.
The manual for Super Mario Bros. states that the bricks, stones, and bushes used to be people.
Bowser actually turned the inhabitants of the Mushroom Kingdom into inanimate objects, and you spend a good deal of the game destroying these innocent souls. Super Mario the hero, heading off to save the Princess, but wiping out the entire kingdom along the way.