When you think of the Super Mario franchise, you’re likely to picture the happy-go-lucky, brightly-colored cartoon plumber bouncing and trouncing his way around some surreal landscape littered with floating blocks and mushrooms.
It all seems overwhelmingly joyful and fun… but is that perception really true?
With this list of 20 Dark Secrets That Actually Ruin Mario Games, we’re exposing some of most wildly nightmarish elements of the Mario franchise, some of which may irreversibly alter your perception of the jolly, jumpy Italian.
We’re not just sticking with the core games either; we’re exploring the deepest, darkest corners of what this franchise has to offer, even if it means challenging Mario’s pedigree, medical education and infamous theatrical folly.
Consider yourself warned, as not even a Super Star can save you now.
20 Mario Destroys The Mushroom Kingdom
A little known tidbit from the decidedly dark Super Mario Bros. manual tells us that the “hero of the story (maybe),” Mario, is actually wiping out the denizens of the Mushroom Kingdom when he breaks the ever-present bricks that dot the landscape.
How? Because Bowser apparently turned just about everyone into “stones, bricks, and even field horse-hair plants.”
19 Princess Daisy Is Sloppy Seconds For Luigi
When Mario saved Princess Toadstool for the first time, there was an implied romantic connection, but that didn’t stop the “don Giovanni” of bouncy plumbers from forming relationships with other princesses.
In Super Mario Land, Mario rescues Princess Daisy, steals her love and admiration, and then basically dumps her.
Nowadays, Daisy is seen paired with Luigi, since she’s apparently nothing more than a hand-me-down between brothers, which is terrible.
18 Mario Slaughters Hundreds Of Sentient Creatures
Most Mario games are simplistic and straightforward adventures with minimal world building. The plumber’s RPG adventures, on the other hand, are filled with all kinds of information that the mainline platformers leave out, such as the specifics of Goomba and Koopa societies.
While that’s fine on its own, it puts the rest of the series in a disturbing light: the supposed hero, Mario, is going around callously crushing mushrooms and turtles who have real lives, families, hopes, dreams and souls.
17 Peach Wants To Be Taken
While more of a theory than a “dark secret,” it’s pretty clear that something weird is going on with the amount of times that Peach finds herself in the grasp of turtle-shelled tyrants.
Despite the consistent regularity of these attacks, we’ve never seen bolstered security around the princess or in the Mushroom Kingdom, and, worse yet, we almost never see Peach tap into her assortment of powerful magical abilities to fight back or escape.
That’s pretty suspicious.
16 Mario Enslaved Donkey Kong…
Donkey Kong may have been the villain of his original arcade game, but the tables are immediately turned in the sequels, where Mario is clearly the villain.
After defeating and humiliating the great ape, Mario decides to cage the poor creature and constantly abuse him for the amusement of paying customers. Despicable.
15 … And Attempted To Slay His Son
While a villainous Mario abusing a defeated Donkey Kong is bad enough on its own, matters are made much worse by the fact that Mario is more than willing to put Donkey Kong’s son six feet under.
It’s one thing to triumph against the overwhelming strength of a destructive ape and then cruelly gloat about your triumph, but it’s another to willfully attempt to slaughter an adolescent who merely wants his daddy.
14 Hostile Aliens Exist
Few wouldn't argue against Super Mario Land being one of the weirdest entries in the franchise, with its armies of rampaging Moai heads, Chinese vampires, and malevolent clouds.
That said, there’s one particular element that few people acknowledge: Super Mario Land not confirms that aliens exist in the Mario universe, but that they’re hostile.
We’re speaking specifically about Tatanga, who was the main villain behind the Sarasaland invasion.
This is actually a big deal. Perhaps even now, an entire armada from Tatanga’s home-world is making its way to the Mushroom Kingdom…
13 Mario’s Sickening Abuse Of Yoshi
For years, people would joke that it looks like Mario is punching the back of Yoshi’s head in Super Mario World. Years later, those “jokes” would be proven all too real after concept art revealed that that was exactly what was happening.
Coupled with Mario’s callous act of jumping off Yoshi’s back to make a lengthy jump (dooming the dinosaur in the process), and we see a disturbing pattern of abuse.
First it was apes, and now it’s dinosaurs. GET HELP, DUDE.
12 Mario and Luigi Abandoned Their Friends And Family
Admittedly, this one is a bit of speculation, but surely Mario and Luigi had friends and family in the real world before their adventures in the Mushroom Kingdom. They had jobs, so they must have had some semblance of real lives.
Presumably, they would travel back and forth between the Mushroom Kingdom and the real world during their early days, but now it seems that they exclusively stay within the surreal realm of their Princess saving quests.
We can only imagine the amount of unpaid bills and frenzied voice mails that await them in their abandoned apartment.
11 Mario Has No Morals
Mario is a hero who reliably saves the day, right? … right?
Saving kingdoms and defeating tyrants sounds good, but Mario also does a lot of… uh… really questionable things.
For example, he dates Pauline, leaves her for another dimension, falls for Peach, dumps and/or cheats on her with Daisy, and then introduces Daisy to his brother. That’s pretty weird, and so is the mindless slaughter of sentient individuals, constant destruction of property, and a seemingly endless lust for coins that don’t belong to him.
10 There’s An Epidemic Of Souls Never Making It To The Afterlife
Have you ever noticed the amount of haunted houses that appear in the Mushroom Kingdom and nearby lands, or the amount of ghosts, in general?
There’s some kind of epidemic going on, because there are more ghosts in the Mario series than there are in actual horror games.
So what’s going on here? Are they all just a bunch of beings with unfinished business, or are we supposed to interpret this as evidence that maybe there isn’t an afterlife?
9 Mario Might Not Be A Human
Mario and his assorted cast-mates, both friends and foes, are all delightfully cartoonish in their design and actions. Things get weird in Super Mario Odyssey, though, where Mario visits New Donk City a place that is an incredibly realistic rendering of a New York-styled city.
Almost every one of its citizens has realistic, real world proportions, making Mario stick out like a mutated, sore thumb.
Does this mean Mario isn’t a normal human and never actually came from “the real world?”
8 Mario Is A Staggeringly Offensive Italian Stereotype (And No One Cares)
You can practically feel the pure joy behind each and every one of Charles Martinet’s lines for Mario, particularly the nostalgia-laden ones from Super Mario 64.
Still, Mario’s cartoonish, exaggerated faux-“Italian” accent is nothing short of an embarrassingly offensive stereotype, and apparently no one cares.
Frankly, we don’t care that much about it ourselves, but that doesn’t mean that it’s any less bizarre, blatant, or cringey.
7 The Horrifying Mysteries Of Mario 64
The implications of Mario 64’s unexplained mysteries are truly upsetting.
For starters, are the worlds inside the paintings real places, or were the paintings brought to life? All narrative material is vague regarding the nature of these courses, but let’s assume they were brought to life by Bowser.
If that’s true, when Peach (presumably) undoes the rest of Bowser’s magic, does everyone in the painted worlds cease to exist?
Speaking of Bowser’s magic, Toads keep telling Mario that people are “trapped in the walls.” Are they literally trapped in the walls, or do they mean “paintings?”
6 The Movie Secretly Makes A Lot Of Sense
It’s easy to make fun of the notorious Super Mario Bros. movie, as it's typically considered to be one of the worst films ever made, but if you put its reputation aside really watch it, you come to the horrifying conclusion that it’s a terrifyingly accurate adaptation of the series.
The movie gives us adequate explanations for Mario’s ridiculous jumping ability, how people shoot fireballs out of their hands, and so much more.
It doesn’t look like the surreal worlds of the games, but instead gives us a realistic interpretation.
5 Mario’s Obsession With Being Number One
Mario seems like a cheerful and kind fellow, but he clearly has an obsession with maintaining his position at the top of the food chain, particularly when it comes to his brother, Luigi.
Throughout the main series and its many spin-offs, Mario repeatedly gives off vibes of elitism and superiority, and he isn’t afraid to show it off, subtly or otherwise.
If you need evidence, look no further than Mario’s psychotic behavior during Luigi’s victory celebration in Mario Power Tennis.
4 The Horrors Beyond Hell Valley
In Super Mario Galaxy 2’s Shiverburn Galaxy, eagle-eyed players will notice a trio of strange figures following and staring menacingly at them from atop the gigantic canyon that surrounds the level.
Labeled as “Hell Valley Sky Trees,” these unnerving figures have never been explained, and have been the subject of numerous rumors and myths throughout the years.
If there was ever an embodiment of “nightmare fuel” in a Mario game, these are it.
3 Mario Gets Off On Exterminating Entire Families
The Super Mario Galaxy series is all fun and games, right? There’s nothing like soaring through the cosmos from planetoid to planetoid and defeating some bosses for Power Stars, am I right?
Speaking of SMG bosses, have you ever noticed that a good chunk of them feature a large creature accompanied by a smaller one in what appears to be a parent-child dynamic?
For whatever reason, Nintendo is basically having their mascot crush a child and then finish off the grieving parent for a piece of loot.
Seriously, this fundamentally altered the way we feel about the SMG games.
2 Dr. Mario Is Not A Real Doctor
Oh that Mario! A man of a thousand faces! He’s a plumber, carpenter, kart racer, Olympian, doctor, and so much more! … well, that’s the perception, at least. The truth about Mario’s jobs, education, and credentials is far darker, particularly when it comes to medical expertise.
According to a 2015 interview with Shigeru Miyamoto, stated that being a doctor is an “unbelievable role for Mario” and that, in some way, he’s “not necessarily legitimate.”
Yeah… the terrible implications of that statement speak for themselves.
1 Peach Doesn’t Deny That She’s Bowser Jr.’s Mother
Super Mario Sunshine involves Bowser Jr. kidnapping Peach because he believes that she’s his mother. Of course, this turns out to be false (obviously) and Bowser himself basically admits that he made the whole thing up... or did he?
Maybe it’s just us, but when Bowser Jr. tells Peach that she’s his mother, her reaction is… bizarre.
She doesn’t deny the boy’s claim. Instead, she just looks kind of surprised, as if Bowser Jr. being her kid is a real possibility.
We’ll let you come to your own conclusions.