Super Mario has always been more than just a game; it’s a universe brimming with unforgettable characters. As we rank the best Super Mario characters, we’ll meet the heroes and villains who’ve turned our gaming moments into memories, from the ones who made us cheer to the ones we loved to defeat.
Boo, the ghostly character from the Super Mario series, might seem simple at first glance—a shy spirit hiding its face. But there’s more to this spectral figure than meets the eye. Boo has become an emblem of the franchise, not just for its spooky, playful antics but also for its unique behavior in the games. When you look at Boo, it freezes, a characteristic that has been both a challenge and a delight for players. It’s a game of cat and mouse, where the hunter can quickly become the hunted.
Boo’s greatness lies in its simplicity and the joy it brings to the game. The thrill of dodging a swarm of Boos or the triumph of outsmarting a solitary one in a Mario Party mini-game isn’t easily forgotten. Boos may not be the mightiest of Mario’s foes, but their ubiquitous presence and the cheeky personality they’ve been imbued with make them a staple of the Mario universe. They remind us that not all obstacles in games need to be fierce to be formidable, and not all characters need a complex backstory to become beloved.
Pauline may not be as well-known as some of the other faces in the Super Mario series, but her significance is undeniable. Originally Mario’s damsel in distress in “Donkey Kong,” Pauline has evolved far beyond her roots. With her recent resurgence in “Super Mario Odyssey,” she’s taken on the role of a capable and charismatic mayor of New Donk City. Her transformation from a character in need of rescue to a self-assured leader is both refreshing and inspiring, showing that the inhabitants of Mario’s world can grow and change just as we do.
What makes Pauline great is her resilience and her ability to adapt. She’s not just a fixture of Mario’s past but an active participant in his present. Her jazz-infused performance in “Super Mario Odyssey” is not just a catchy tune; it’s a declaration of her character’s reinvention. By taking control of her narrative and stepping up as a figure of authority and inspiration, Pauline shows us that there’s always room for growth, making her a standout character in the series.
Geno, the star warrior from “Super Mario RPG: Legend of the Seven Stars,” is a fan-favorite for many. This sentient puppet, possessed by a celestial spirit, brings a touch of mystery and magic to the Mario universe. Despite appearing in only one mainline game, his impact has been lasting. His quest to repair the Star Road and his powerful, otherworldly abilities set him apart from the typical inhabitants of the Mushroom Kingdom.
What makes Geno great is the combination of his enigmatic backstory and his role as an unlikely hero. He’s not from the Mushroom Kingdom, but his dedication to saving it endears him to players. His cool design, with a blue cape and a shooting star emblem, along with his calm and knowledgeable demeanor, make him a memorable ally in Mario’s journey. His appeal lies in the intrigue surrounding him and the fact that his appearance remains a unique moment in the series’ history, leaving fans yearning for more.
12. Baby Mario & Luigi
Baby Mario and Baby Luigi offer a delightful glimpse into the origins of Nintendo’s most famous duo. With their first notable appearance in “Super Mario World 2: Yoshi’s Island,” these pint-sized versions of Mario and Luigi immediately captured hearts with their playful innocence. The idea of guiding Yoshi as he carries Baby Mario back to his brother introduced a new dynamic to the gameplay, adding a layer of urgency and care that players hadn’t experienced before.
Their greatness lies not just in their cuteness but in their ability to evoke a protective instinct in the player. Their presence adds a fresh challenge to the series, turning each level into a combination of classic platforming and escort missions. These miniature heroes are more than just younger versions of the characters we know so well; they represent the enduring legacy of the Mario franchise, reminding us that bravery and adventure come in all sizes.
11. Bowser Jr.
Bowser Jr. is the spitting image of his formidable father, Bowser. Since his first appearance in “Super Mario Sunshine,” Bowser Jr. has carved out a distinct personality as the mischievous heir to the Koopa throne. Armed with his magic paintbrush and bibs that often double as capes or disguises, Bowser Jr. frequently crafts elaborate plans to thwart Mario and prove himself to his father.
What makes Bowser Jr. great is his combination of determination and ingenuity. He’s not simply a younger version of Bowser; he has a unique charm and a more playful approach to villainy. Whether piloting his Junior Clown Car or scheming up new plots, Bowser Jr. adds a layer of youthful energy to the conflicts in the Mario universe. He is a character that represents the next generation of the series, blending tradition with a new angle on the age-old rivalry between Mario and the Koopas.
10. Princess Rosalina
Princess Rosalina adds a cosmic touch to the ‘Super Mario’ series with her serene and motherly presence. As the guardian of the Lumas and the commander of the Comet Observatory in “Super Mario Galaxy,” she brings a sense of mystery and depth to the franchise. Rosalina’s story is one of self-discovery and duty, as she helps Mario on his quest while caring for her starry children. She is a figure of quiet strength and wisdom, contrasting with the more grounded escapades of the Mushroom Kingdom.
Rosalina’s greatness lies in her calm resilience and the ethereal charm she contributes to Mario’s adventures. She’s not just a princess; she’s a cosmic caretaker, a role that’s unique and compelling in the Mario universe. Her gentle guidance to Mario through the galaxies is not only nurturing but also highlights her importance as a powerful ally. Rosalina’s ability to traverse the stars and her connection to the cosmos add a layer of wonder to the Mario narrative, making her a standout character.
Waluigi, the lanky and mischievous counterpart to Luigi, brings a dash of roguish charm to the Mario series. Often seen as the underdog, he doesn’t have his own game, but his fan-following is strong, stemming from his quirky personality and comical antics. Waluigi is an enigma; his intentions and origins are less clear than other characters, but this mystery only adds to his allure. He’s often seen causing trouble on the tennis courts or the racing tracks, and his exaggerated movements and expressions make every appearance memorable.
What makes Waluigi great is his undeniable charisma and his role as the eternal wild card. In every game, whether he’s competing in sports or causing chaos, he injects an unpredictable element that keeps things interesting. Despite being cast as the villain more often than not, his theatrics and determination make him a character you can’t help but enjoy watching. Waluigi’s reluctance to conform to the hero mold allows him to be unabashedly himself, which is both refreshing and entertaining.
Wario, the yellow and purple-clad anti-hero of the Mario universe, represents the crude and greedy side of humanity, yet he does so with such exaggerated flair that it’s hard not to be amused by his antics. First appearing as a villain, Wario has since gained popularity with his own series of games, including the “WarioWare” titles. His over-the-top greed and lust for gold provide a comical counterpoint to Mario’s altruism, and his robust, bumbling personality offers a unique gameplay experience.
The greatness of Wario lies in his ability to be the bad guy we love to root for. In his own games, he’s the hero, but a hero driven by selfish desires, which flips the script on traditional game narratives. His array of bizarre and wacky microgames in “WarioWare” showcases his unconventional approach to being a protagonist. Wario’s character reminds us that there’s room for all types of heroes in gaming, even the ones who aren’t perfectly noble.
Bowser, the King of the Koopas, stands as the archetypal villain in the Super Mario series, a role he plays with a blend of menace and charm. His relentless pursuit of Princess Peach and his ambition to conquer the Mushroom Kingdom have placed him at the center of countless conflicts throughout the franchise. However, despite his villainy, Bowser is also known for moments of humor and a surprising depth of character, particularly as a father to Bowser Jr.
What makes Bowser great is the complexity beneath his fearsome exterior. He’s not a one-dimensional foe; games like “Paper Mario” and “Bowser’s Inside Story” have explored his personality, giving players a glimpse of his motivations and his less-than-villainous side. His appearances in various spin-offs, like “Mario Kart” and “Super Smash Bros.,” reveal that he can compete with the best of them, not just as an antagonist but as a formidable challenger in his own right. Bowser’s character has become as integral to the Mario saga as Mario himself, proving that a well-crafted villain can be just as beloved as a hero.
Yoshi, the ever-helpful dinosaur, is one of the most adorable and recognizable characters in the Mario universe. Known for his cheerful demeanor and helpful nature, Yoshi debuted in “Super Mario World,” quickly becoming Mario’s trusty steed and a star in his own series of games. Yoshi’s distinctive ability to eat enemies and lay eggs adds a playful and strategic element to the gameplay, while his flutter jump has saved many players from perilous falls.
Yoshi’s greatness comes from his unwavering loyalty and the sheer fun he brings to the game. Riding on Yoshi’s back as he gulps down enemies and turns them into eggs is an experience that’s both unique and joyous. His range of colors and the gentle sounds he makes contribute to his endearing personality, ensuring that his presence in a game is always a welcome one. Yoshi embodies the lighter, more carefree side of adventure, and his role as both companion and hero makes him an indispensable part of the Mario family.
5. Donkey Kong
Donkey Kong is one of the original characters in Nintendo’s lineup, predating even the Super Mario series. Starting as Mario’s adversary, Donkey Kong has since become a hero in his own right with a series of games that showcase his strength and charisma. His transition from antagonist to protagonist is a testament to his depth as a character. As the leader of the DK crew, his adventures have taken him from battling K. Rool to drumming beats in rhythm games.
Donkey Kong’s greatness comes from his iconic status and his versatility as a character. He’s as much a part of Nintendo’s history as Mario himself, representing the beginning of narrative-driven gaming. His sheer physical power makes him a formidable character, while his gentle nature and love for bananas add endearing qualities to his persona. Donkey Kong is the bridge between generations of gamers, a character that has grown and evolved while staying true to his roots.
Luigi, Mario’s green-clad brother, has always been more than just a sidekick. Though often overshadowed by his more famous sibling, Luigi has developed a fanbase that appreciates his quirkier, more timid nature. Games like “Luigi’s Mansion” showcase his ability to take the spotlight, trading the traditional platforming for ghost-busting in a haunted house. His high jumps and unique movements in games provide a different gameplay experience from Mario’s.
What makes Luigi great is his relatability. In a world of heroes, he’s openly fearful, yet he faces those fears, making his moments of bravery all the more impactful. He’s the underdog you can’t help but root for, a character that proves courage isn’t about the absence of fear but the willingness to confront it. Luigi’s distinct personality and his adventures give him a charm that complements the series, making him an essential part of the Super Mario legacy.
3. Princess Peach
Princess Peach is the quintessential figure of the Super Mario series, often catalyzing Mario’s adventures. However, Peach is far from a mere damsel in distress. Over the years, she has shown she can take charge, whether through her diplomatic leadership of the Mushroom Kingdom or taking to the frontlines in games like “Super Mario 3D World.” Her kindness and positivity never waver, even when facing the series’ most daunting challenges.
Princess Peach’s greatness lies in her evolution. She has become a symbol of grace under pressure and the heart of the Mario franchise. Her special abilities, like floating over obstacles, provide a unique gameplay experience emphasizing finesse over brute force. Her continued presence in the series, not just as a character to be rescued but as a playable heroine, showcases the depth of her character. Princess Peach isn’t just a princess; she’s a mainstay demonstrating the enduring power of kindness and determination.
Toad is the ever-present companion and loyal servant to Princess Peach, known for his upbeat attitude and signature phrase, “Thank you, Mario! But our princess is in another castle!” Despite his small stature, Toad has proven to be a valuable ally in Mario’s adventures. His agility and speed have been his standout traits in games where he is a playable character, like “Super Mario Bros. 2” and “Captain Toad: Treasure Tracker.”
Toad’s greatness lies in his unwavering support and courage. He’s often seen managing Toad Houses or assisting, showcasing his resourcefulness. He may not be the strongest or the bravest, but his heart is unmatched, symbolizing that anyone can be a hero. His ubiquitous presence in the series has made him a franchise staple, and his playable adventures show that there’s much more to him than being a mere assistant.
Super Mario, the iconic mustachioed plumber, is the face of Nintendo and a gaming legend. From his early days in “Donkey Kong” to the expansive realms of “Super Mario Odyssey,” Mario has been the quintessential hero. His resilience, bravery, and sense of justice have carried him through countless quests to rescue Princess Peach and save the Mushroom Kingdom. Mario’s ability to adapt to any environment, whether it’s jumping through classic 2D levels or exploring 3D worlds, showcases his versatility as a character.
What makes Mario truly great is his everyman quality; he’s a hero who doesn’t rely on superpowers or a fearsome appearance. Instead, he’s a regular individual who rises to extraordinary challenges. His simple design and relatable persona have made him an everyman’s hero. Mario embodies the spirit of adventure and the joy of discovery that lies at the heart of gaming. His unwavering spirit and determination remind us of the hero in all of us, making Super Mario not just a character but a symbol of the joy and possibility that video games represent.
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