[[quoteright:300:http://static.tvtropes.org/pmwiki/pub/images/mother_serieslogo_7662.png]]

->No crying until the end. [[labelnote: (Japanese)]]エンディングまで泣くんじゃない。 (Endingu made nakun ja nai.) [[/labelnote]]
-->--{{Tag line}} of the first game in the trilogy

''For the first game in the trilogy, which shares the same Japanese title, [[VideoGame/EarthBoundBeginnings go here]].''

''MOTHER'' is an EasternRPG trilogy by Creator/{{Nintendo}}, the brainchild of Japanese writer and media personality Creator/ShigesatoItoi as a personal experiment in the ability of the video game medium to tell a story. Yep, it's an auteur-directed game series, and one of the first of its kind, too. It was named for the Music/JohnLennon song "Mother", of whom Itoi is a large fan, and is subject to quite a lot of {{Title Drop}}s.

With an eccentric like Itoi at the helm, it's not a surprise that ''MOTHER'' exemplifies the "WidgetSeries": the crude-yet-oddly unique art style, the self-aware [[NoFourthWall wall breakages]], the parodical interpretation of modern-day Earth (in this case, [[{{Eagleland}} America]]... skewed by the perspective of a foreigner exposed to it only through TV and cinema), and an [[CerebusRollercoaster emotional roller-coaster]] of Dadaist humour and tragedy.

The series as a whole is a chronic victim of NoExportForYou, and while it is rather famous now, that may be more related to, or at least instigated by, its continued presence in the ''VideoGame/SuperSmashBros'' series.

[[SimilarlyNamedWorks Completely unrelated to]] the comedy starring Albert Brooks and Debbie Reynolds.

The series has become a major source of inspiration for indie-produced [=RPGs=] with a similar offbeat-yet-creepy atmosphere deemed "Motherlikes". Notable examples include ''VideoGame/{{Undertale}}'', ''VideoGame/{{Lisa}}'', ''VideoGame/{{OFF}}'', ''Videogame/{{Ib}}'', ''Videogame/{{Anodyne}}'', and ''VideoGame/SpaceFuneral''. ''VideoGame/CitizensOfEarth'' is another game influenced by ''MOTHER'' that focuses more on the offbeat nature rather than creepiness.

! The series consists of the following titles:
[[index]]
* '''''VideoGame/EarthBoundBeginnings'''''[[note]]JP: '''''MOTHER'''''; nicknamed ''Earthbound Zero'' until it got an official English title[[/note]] (1989, [[UsefulNotes/{{Famicom}} Family Computer]]; 2015, Wii U): The series' debut, telling the story of Ninten as he works to uncover his family's connections to an impending alien invasion. [[NoExportForYou There was never a physical release outside Japan]], but an unreleased English cartridge known as ''"Earth Bound"'' was discovered in the late 1990s. This version was finally officially released outside of Japan as a Wii U Virtual Console title nearly ''26 years'' after its release in Japan.
* '''''VideoGame/EarthBound'''''[[note]]JP: '''''MOTHER 2: [[RevengeOfTheSequel Gyiyg no Gyakushū]]'''''[[/note]] (1994/1995, UsefulNotes/SuperNintendoEntertainmentSystem): The series' only official international release for the longest time, and thus the one everyone's most familiar with. The star is Ness, one of the four chosen heroes destined to combat the Universal Cosmic Destroyer and his impending destruction of the universe.[[/index]]
* '''''MOTHER 1+2''''' (2003, UsefulNotes/GameBoyAdvance): A CompilationRerelease of ''[=EarthBound=] Beginnings'' and ''[=EarthBound=]'', [[NoExportForYou released exclusively in Japan]] to promote the release of ''VideoGame/{{MOTHER 3}}'', and notably incorporating practically all the modifications of the then-unreleased English localization. Also has a FanTranslation by the same translator who translated ''MOTHER 3''; however, only the first game was translated, as the translator found that translating ''[=EarthBound=]'' beyond a basic menu translation was too time-consuming (especially because of the system the game uses to display text) and, because of its [[PortingDisaster lesser quality (mainly the sound)]], was not worth the effort. [[index]]
* '''''VideoGame/{{MOTHER 3}}'''''[[note]]nicknamed ''[=EarthBound=] 2'' after the Fourside bulletin in the predecessor[[/note]] (2006, Game Boy Advance): The series' apparent GrandFinale, featuring a wide EnsembleCast headed by Lucas, a timid child promoted to investigate the slow corruption of his home island. Again, [[NoExportForYou only released in Japan]], but is the subject of a particularly famous and polished FanTranslation.
[[/index]]

----
!!The ''MOTHER'' trilogy as a whole contains examples of:

* ActionBomb: The [[WhenTreesAttack Territorial Oak]] burst into flames!
** All three games feature an exploding robot enemy that can fully heal itself or its allies in two variants, with one type appearing in TheVeryDefinitelyFinalDungeon. Said explosion will kill your partner's if you don't scroll fast enough.
* AffectionateParody: Of ''VideoGame/DragonQuest'', which is natural seeing as that is the game that inspired Itoi to dabble in game-writing. However, ''VideoGame/{{EarthBound}}'''s battle system drifts away from the ''VideoGame/DragonQuest'' clone that is the original.
* AlienInvasion: The Universal Cosmic Destroyer, Giygas.
* TheAllAmericanBoy: Ninten and (in spirit) Ness.
* AllInARow: How the party always travels on the overworld, instead of the supporting protagonists disappearing into the main protagonist's sprite.
* AnIcePerson: The PK Freeze series of PSI.
* AnimateInanimateObject: Many are animated by the series' villains to attack the party, to the point of EverythingTryingToKillYou levels.
* ArcWords: Even though it is stated only as the TagLine of ''[[VideoGame/EarthBoundBeginnings the first game]]'', it can relate to all three:
--> [[TearJerker ''No crying until the end.'']]
* ArtifactTitle: ''MOTHER'' refers to the fact that [[spoiler:Ninten's grandmother, Maria, [[ParentalSubstitute raised Giegue]] from infancy, and the lullaby she used to sing him is what [[EvenBadMenLoveTheirMamas ultimately repels]] Giegue's AlienInvasion.]] But then ''[=MOTHER 2=]'' lacks an important central mother figure, playing this trope straight. ''[=MOTHER 3=]'' averts this trope once more, with [[spoiler: Lucas's Mother, Hinawa, and her death being a major driving force of the Story for the characters and the events that play out, as well as her spirit being very instrumental in the final battle.]] This was averted with the localized names of the first two games, ''[=EarthBound=] Beginnings'' and ''[=EarthBound=],'' respectively.
* ArtStyleDissonance: The ''MOTHER'' trilogy is a prime example of this. Who would think such ''ComicStrip/{{Peanuts}}''-esque looking games would contain stories about [[VideoGame/EarthBoundBeginnings how much]] ParentalAbandonment [[VideoGame/EarthBoundBeginnings can negatively effect a child]], [[VideoGame/EarthBound or contain one of the most infamous]] FinalBoss fights in video game history, or tell [[VideoGame/{{MOTHER 3}} one of the most heartrending stories in all of video games?]]
* AttackReflector: Some of the PSI shielding powers work this way. Enemies sometimes have them too, leading to potentially disastrous results if strong attacks are used against them.
* BadassAdorable: Most of the main characters (especially the younger ones) qualify as this. Those that don't are just plain badass.
* BadassNormal: Any party member without PSI powers compensates with something else, from [[GadgeteerGenius gadgets like flamethrowers and ray guns]], to [[CoolSword swords]] to anything in-between.
* BarrierWarrior: The various shielding PSI in the games, some of which mitigate damage taken, and others which reflect an enemy's attack back at them a certain number of times before the shield wears off.
* BatterUp: Ninten and Ness' most powerful weapons are bats. Lucas trades this for sticks instead, though he can equip a Bat by the endgame.
* BetterThanABareBulb: Considering how many RPG cliches it pokes fun at, are you surprised?
* BigBad: Giygas and [[spoiler:Porky]] for the whole series. In fact, these two are what connect each game to each other: Giygas's defeat in the first game drove him insane and turned him into the monster who we see in the second, and [[spoiler: Porky being manipulated by Giygas and his time travel abuse both make him a recurring antagonist in the second game and the main villain of the third.]]
* BlackBeadEyes: A ''MOTHER'' series tradition, though if the 64DD/N64 development period of ''VideoGame/{{MOTHER 3}}'' is any indication, this may have been more due to technical pragmatism as opposed to deliberate stylistic choices (note that characters such as Ana, Paula, and Lucas in ''Brawl'' have blue eyes).
* BlackMagic: The PK Fire, Thunder and Freeze series are the equivalents to this.
* BookEnds: Quite brilliant, in fact. The major one you find is ''VideoGame/{{MOTHER 3}}'''s title logo, which starts off with a half-wooden and half-chrome design. When the game finally ends, the logo is back to all wooden, with a Earth instead of the chrome O, greatly resembling the logo of the ''[[VideoGame/EarthBoundBeginnings first game]]''.
** ''[=EarthBound=] Beginnings'' and ''[=EarthBound=]'' are opposite numbers in terms of their endings. In the original, Magicant is a figurative representation of [[spoiler: Ninten's great grandmother, Maria]], restoring his HP and providing a safe haven at the cost of halting the game's progression; indeed, it gets easier to visit Magicant (via a WarpWhistle item), while getting back "on-track" becomes increasingly harder since Magicant's exit spits you back out at the game's starting point, [[Film/BeingJohnMalkovich like John Cusak flopping into a ditch on the New Jersey Turnpike]]. Eventually, [[spoiler: Maria regains her memory]], and Magicant vanishes for good. However, in ''[=EarthBound=]'', the PlayableEpilogue is a one-way track leading back home; Giygas's minions are all gone, you can guide Ness around the world for as long as you please -- but it'll get boring. There are no new places to explore and nothing left to do but return to Ness's house in Onett.
* BrainwashedAndCrazy: The humanoid enemies and some of the animal enemies in the series are suffering this, leading them to attack the party. Once defeated they "turn back to normal" or "regain all senses." A specific example is [[spoiler:in ''MOTHER 3,'' with Lucas' twin brother Claus during his time as the Masked Man. His mother Hinawa's spirit has to bring him to his senses.]]
* BreakingTheFourthWall: The fourth wall is [[SlidingScaleOfFourthWallHardness a bit soft]] in this series, but manages to avoid total destruction.
* CircleOfFriendship[=/=]ClapYourHandsIfYouBelieve: In each game, the FinalBoss (PostFinalBoss in the third game) cannot be defeated by conventional means.
* CombatMedic: Without exception, the main protagonist is always this.
%% Zero Context example
* CoolPeopleRebelAgainstAuthority: In Earthbound and Mother 3, the protagonists usually fight against authority in some way. Ness ignores a DO NOT ENTER Sign at the start of the game and is then forced to fight against the Cops of his hometown in order to be allowed to move on to the next town. Lucas and his friends fight against the dictatorship of Pigmask Army that are industrializing and corrupting the islands.
* CowardlyMooks: In the later 2 games, the PreexistingEncounters will actively avoid the PlayerParty once it manages to complete whatever dungeon or area they're found in or if they are too strong.
* CrapsaccharineWorld: A somewhat {{downplayed}}, ZigZagged example. The world always starts out looking bright and friendly on the surface, but there's always multiple things horribly, horribly wrong just underneath the surface. However, ThePowerOfFriendship is played unironically a major theme, and even when you see its dark side it still lacks the sense of inexorable despair of a full-blown CrapsackWorld.
* CriticalHit: The SMAAAASH!!! attack is present in every game. This is a critical hit that ignores Defense, and both player characters and enemies can get them.
* DefeatMeansFriendship: So, so many bosses. Teddy, Frank, Everdred, Carpainter, Monotoli, etc. Justified with a couple of them in that they were BrainwashedAndCrazy, and defeat snapped them out of it.
* DubNameChange: In ''[=EarthBound=]'' and ''[=EarthBound=] Beginnings''; for example, the American holiday ThemeNaming of the towns in ''MOTHER'' was changed and several enemies as well as a few [=NPCs=] had their names changed in the English versions.
* {{Deconstruction}}: The first two games are Deconstructions of the usual Eastern RPG genre of Fantasy from around the times that the games were released in, the games of the genre usually set in Medieval-esque times with kingdoms and Monarchies and having the heroes using Magic and Swords to fight their foes, their enemies usually being monsters and demons. With ''MOTHER 1'' and ''MOTHER 2'', the games are set in the Modern Era, Rural America in the 1980s and Eagleland in the 1990s respectively (Eagleland being a parody of America). You explore the world and fight enemies ranging from Hippies, to Possessed Cars, Street Signs, and even runaway dogs. The Party usually buys their weapons from Convenience Stores, their weapons ranging from Bats, Frying Pans, and Yoyos, though there usually is at least one character than can wield a traditional sword. Instead of Magic, some of the party use PsychicPowers known as PSI, and generally have telepathy to understand animals. And instead of the main villains being some Fantasical Villain who is powered by Magic or being God itself, the villains are just Aliens who are invading Earth.
** Interestingly enough, ''MOTHER 3'' is a deconstruction of the traditional Modern Era setting and enemies that both ''MOTHER 1'' and ''MOTHER 2'' established...which more or less brings the series to the usual Fantasy story of a non Modern setting and enemies that most Eastern RPG's are known for.
* {{Eagleland}}: America in ''VideoGame/EarthBoundBeginnings'', and Eagleland in ''VideoGame/{{EarthBound}}''.
* EverythingsBetterWithMonkeys:
** A singing monkey gives you a part of a MacGuffin in ''[=EarthBound=] Beginnings''. Later, you get to go in a cave full of monkeys. A majority of them lie to you.
** In ''[=EarthBound=]'', the Bubble Monkey helps Jeff cross a lake, and in the desert there is a cave full of monkeys who can teach you [[WarpWhistle PSI teleport.]]
** Salsa, a monkey, is a prominent character and GuestStarPartyMember in ''MOTHER 3''.
* EarlyGameHell: Plagues all three games where you spend a good portion with no allies, so if you die that's it.
* EverythingsDeaderWithZombies: Zombie mooks pop up time to time. In ''VideoGame/EarthBoundBeginnings'', you see them the early graveyard section of the game and Rosemary's house. ''VideoGame/{{EarthBound}}'''s Threed has been completely overwhelmed by zombies, trapping them in a perpetual George Romero movie. In ''VideoGame/{{MOTHER 3}}'', the cemetery north of Tazmily Village when you take control of Duster in Chapter 2 comes up with some as well.
* EverythingTryingToKillYou: Your first two enemies in ''VideoGame/EarthBoundBeginnings'' are a desk lamp and a doll. [[UpToEleven It just gets more off-the-wall from there]].
* {{Expy}}: The Starman race (or at least the visored, silvery suits they wear) is blatantly modeled after [[Film/TheDayTheEarthStoodStill1951 Gort]]. They even fire "beams" as their primary attack.
** Ness is nearly identical to Ninten, down to the red baseball cap and blue-and-yellow striped shirt. Paula is one of Ana, with them both being cute little girls in pink dresses, and Jeff is a glasses-wearing {{Nerd}} who uses gadgets similar to Lloyd. Averted with Teddy and Poo, who have no real similarities to one another.
* FantasyCounterpartCulture: Especially in the second game, with Eagleland (the United States), Foggyland (Europe), Chommo (Asia), and an unnamed continent based on Africa.
* TheFellowshipHasEnded: At the end of both ''VideoGame/EarthBoundBeginnings'' and ''VideoGame/{{EarthBound}}''.
* {{Foreshadowing}}: In ''VideoGame/EarthBoundBeginnings'', visit a certain denizen of Magicant and take his philosophy about happiness into account:
-->''"Happiness won't just walk into your life on its own, but neither will unhappiness. So if you don't want trouble in your life, then you'd best stay still and never move a muscle."''
** [[spoiler: This eventually becomes Porky's [[FateWorseThanDeath ultimate fate]] in ''VideoGame/{{MOTHER 3}}'', [[AndIMustScream doomed to be isolated from the world in an indestructible capsule for eternity]]]].
* FingerlessHands: Nearly all characters in the trilogy have this, even if they are sprites.
* FreeRangeChildren: No one in the ''MOTHER'' universe seems to care about a group of children wandering around the world with no adult supervision. Maybe it has something to do with them being able to regularly beat up any adults, zombies, and {{Eldritch Abomination}}s they meet that stand in their way...
* FrickinLaserBeams: The PK Beam series of PSI in the first game, and beams are a favorite weapon of the Starman enemies. Some of Lloyd and Jeff's guns are laser guns.
* FromNobodyToNightmare: Two examples, both roughly of the same age when they begin their descent: Giygas, originally an infant alien who expressed curiosity about his human co-passengers, to the literal embodiment of all evil; and [[spoiler:Porky]], a comic relief character who is chosen to be Giygas' representative on Earth. [[spoiler:Porky]] turns out to be the most sadistic character in the series.
* FryingPanOfDoom: Ana and Paula's most powerful weapons.
* GenreDeconstruction: ''MOTHER'' is Itoi's meditation on what games are, why they are fun, and the logistics of applying JRPG logic to the real world. For example: Who designs dungeons? And why do people instinctively know to loot them? (Admittedly, the series' mythos got a little deeper with each game.)
* GirlNextDoor: Ana, Tracy, and Paula.
* GottaCatchEmAll: The Eight Melodies in ''[=EarthBound=] Beginnings'' and ''[=EarthBound=]''. In ''MOTHER 3'', Lucas is in a race to stop all Seven Needles from being uprooted [[spoiler:(or, when failure there becomes inevitable, make sure that he's the one that pulls them)]].
* HelloInsertNameHere: A prominent example, as this feature is used to name the game's most powerful attack ''and'' the food your mother gives you to eat every time you see her.
** Not to mention the name of your dog, the friends that you will make along the path of your journey, and the um... "flavor" of the text boxes.
** And you are able to give your own name as well as that of the main group. This can easily put the insanity of [[spoiler:Giygas]] into perspective should you name yourself or Ness after him.
* HeroicMime: The main protagonist is always this. In ''MOTHER 3'' in particular, ''only'' the main protagonist the player is controlling at the time is this; when not the main protagonist, they speak normally.
* HopelessBossFight: Usually there's always at least one of these in each game. In the first game there's the fight against [[spoiler: Giant Robot R7038, who easily decimates the party and gravely injures Teddy. The party is saved by [[BigDamnHeroes Loid who finally returns with a Giant Tank that wipes out the robot.]]]] In the second game there's the Wobbly Robot, that when Jeff and Ness do a significant amount of damage to him, he just eats a Peanut Butter sandwich and heals himself back to full, and the fight only ends when [[spoiler: [[BigDamnHeroes the Runaway Five join the fray and flip the off Switch to shut down the robot.]]]] And there's a couple in the last game, there's Master Eddy and [[spoiler: the Porky Bots.]] No matter what you do, Master Eddy always washes your party away onto the beach of Tanetane Island at the end of the fight and causes them to lose all of their items and be reduced to 1 HP and 0 PP; this forces them to eat the Hallucenogetic Mushrooms in order to recover their strength (and if you try to move forward without doing this, you face another Hopeless fight in Zombieshroom who is blocking your path, as he wipes the floor with your party in their current state). With the second case, it's a very similar scenario to the Wobbly Robot fight in Earthbound; [[spoiler: The Porky Bots don't heal themselves, but they keep constantly spawning new ones and summoning more enemies the more you defeat, the fight only ends when the DCMC show up and destroy the last of the Bots.]]
** With the final boss of Mother 3 however, this is actually subverted: [[spoiler: when you get his HP down to 0, Porky gets into the absolutely safe capsule and makes it seem like he's about to destroy you in battle. But then you realize that while he's in the capsule, he can't actually attack you and is trapped in there for eternity, so the party decides that nothing more can be done and stop fighting, leaving him there.]]
* IconicItem: Ninten and Ness' red baseball caps. Especially so for the latter, with it showing up as a CallBack in [[{{Wackyland}} Magicant]].
* KidsAreCruel/[[ChildrenAreInnocent Kids Are Innocent]]: A major theme explored in the games.
* KidHero: The majority of the protagonists in the games range from 11 to 14 years old during the time of their respective heroics.
* KidsVersusAdults: Some recurring enemies are adults who have been corrupted by evil forces.
* MagicByAnyOtherName: [[PsychicPowers PSI]] is pretty much the game's magic.
* ManaDrain: The PSI Magnet power works this way.
* MayorPain: Mr. Mayor ([[AllThereInTheManual A. Goodman]]) of Podunk is a Wilkins. Fourside's Gelegarde Monotoli is a malevolent Quimby [[spoiler:(or so it seems at first)]].
** Onett's B.H Pirkle and Tazmily's Pusher are both Quimbys.
* MeaningfulName: The franchises name was apparently inspired by one of Music/JohnLennon songs, but that doesn't mean it doesn't have any meaning the series games. [[spoiler:Giygas's connections with his adopted mother Maria and sequential feelings of abandonment]] is what drives a major portion of the overarching plot of ''VideoGame/EarthBoundBeginnings'', and carries over slightly into ''VideoGame/EarthBound''. ''[=EarthBound=]'' also has Ness's mother, who he must call periodically to cure his homesickness. ''VideoGame/{{MOTHER 3}}'', [[spoiler:the loss of his mother and sequential attempts to deal with it]] are a major part of Lucas's CharacterDevelopment, as well as [[spoiler: his Mother's spirit being the one who brings Lucas' BrainwashedAndCrazy Brother Claus back to his senses in the Final Battle.]]
* MentalWorld: In its first incarnation in ''[=EarthBound=] Beginnings,'' [[spoiler:the FluffyCloudHeaven Magicant is the lingering consciousness of Ninten's grandmother Maria]]. Magicant in ''[=EarthBound=]'' is Ness' Mental World.
* MinimalisticCoverArt: All three Japanese boxarts are just the game's logo against a solid red background. Averted with the English ''[=EarthBound=]'' boxart, which shows a towering Starman imposingly framed in front of a psychedelic background similar to the backgrounds used during the in-game battles.
* {{Nerd}}: Lloyd and Jeff, with their glasses and penchant for technology.
* NerdGlasses: Lloyd has the round-rimmed version, while Jeff has the classic thick square frames.
* NowWhereWasIGoingAgain: In the instruction manual, Itoi personally implored gamers to play though ''VideoGame/EarthBoundBeginnings'' at "a leisurely pace." This ended up being [[http://starmen.net/mother1/miscinfo/maps/eb0map_small.png pretty redundant]].
* OncePerEpisode:
** All the games have a sequence where a band gets up on stage and plays a song, be it the protagonist themselves in ''VideoGame/EarthBoundBeginnings'', The Runaway Five in ''VideoGame/EarthBound'', or the DCMC in ''VideoGame/{{MOTHER 3}}''.
** Similarly, all the games have a mini-arc that deals with the undead in some way. [[note]]Podunk Graveyard in ''VideoGame/EarthBoundBeginnings'', Threed in ''VideoGame/EarthBound'', and chapter two in ''VideoGame/{{MOTHER 3}}''[[/note]]
** Additionally, all the games have an area where you encounter PeopleJars. [[note]]Though in ''Beginnings'' case, this wasn't in the Japanese original and was only added in the American prototype, which ended up sticking for future rereleases of the game.[[/note]]
* OurGhostsAreDifferent: Ghost enemies appear in all three games.
* OurTimeTravelIsDifferent: Ness' party travels to Giygas's lair, a cavern at the center of the Earth teeming with plant life, but it's otherwise empty. They deduce that Giygas is attacking from the past, and use Dr. Andonuts' [[TimeTravel phase distorter]] to send them there.
** [[spoiler:After disappearing at ''[=EarthBound=]'''s climax, Porky got lost in extensive time travel abuse, to the point where by the time of ''MOTHER 3'', it's warped him to be an immortal old man with the mind of a child.]]
* ThePinIsMightierThanTheSword: The Franklin Badge, which reflects electrical attacks back at the opponent. PlayedForDrama in ''MOTHER 3'', when [[spoiler:Claus intentionally commits suicide]] by shooting lightning at Lucas.
* PlayingWithFire: The PK Fire series of PSI.
* PoliceBrutality: In ''[=EarthBound=]'', the cops attack Ness just because he refused to read the "DO NOT ENTER" sign at the traveller's shack leading to Giant Step, despite the fact that he clearly received the shack's keys from the equally incompetent MayorPain B.H. Pirkle.
%%* PoliceAreUseless
* ThePowerOfFriendship: Invoked in all of the games, but specifically in ''[=EarthBound=]'' when it's [[spoiler:the combined power of the friends Ness and party made over the course of the game that enables them to defeat Giygas.]]
* ThePowerOfLove: Lucas' signature PSI attack, "PK Love" is a literal example. [[spoiler: Giegue is only defeated [[EvenBadMenLoveTheirMamas by the memories]] of his [[ParentalSubstitute surrogate mother Maria]], and Hinawa's love for Claus is what snaps him out of his BrainwashedAndCrazy spell as the Masked Man.]]
* ThePowerOfRock: Ninten's mission to reassemble the song of Queen Mary, the only weapon against Giygas. A similar quest awaits his successor, Ness. Then there's the English name of Ness' SignatureMove, which was changed from PK Fighting Spirit to PSI Rockin'.
* PsychicPowers: A Staple of the series, is part of the shifting of the traditional setting of the eastern RPG to the modern era, psychic powers -- or PSI -- act as the analogue of the traditional RPG magic.
* RayGun: Some of Lloyd and Jeff's guns are these.
* RecurringElement: The main protagonist always wears a striped shirt and is a CombatMedic, as well as having a PSI power unique to himself.[[note]]4th-D Slip for Ninten, PSI Rockin' for Ness, and PK Love for Lucas.[[/note]]
* SameStoryDifferentNames: ''[=EarthBound=]'' shares many plot similarities and musical cues from ''[=EarthBound=] Beginnings'', to the point that some theorize it to be a [[VideogameRemake re-envisioning]] of the Famicom title.
* ScriptedBattle: Every game at least has one of these, usually them being the Final Boss. In ''Earthbound Beginnings'' [[spoiler: Giegue, who you need to sing to 8 times in a row in order to defeat him.]] In ''Earthbound'' we have the final battle against Giygas, who you have to [[spoiler: continuously pray against in order to call aid from your friends and the player to defeat him.]] And in ''MOTHER 3'' we have [[spoiler: The Masked Man, Claus, who you have to constantly keep yourself alive against while [[IKnowYoureInThereSomewhereFight Hinawa's ghost fights to get him to remember himself and stop fighting.]]]]
** Another example is also in EarthBound, where you play as Poo for a segment. He goes to meditate before heading to meet the rest of the party, and this meditation sequence takes place in a "battle" where the enemy systematically takes Poo's limbs and senses. You emerge completely fine, with a rather nice level up, despite being reduced to 0 HP during the sequence.
* SerialEscalation: One of the largest plot points in the second and third games? [[spoiler:How many times can Porky Minch ruin everyone's lives.]] And boy, does it escalate.
* SheatheYourSword: A full-on assault on Giygas and [[spoiler:The Masked Man]] is pointless. To win, you have to eschew violence (the antithesis of every JRPG at the time) and instead appeal to the humanity inside them.
* ShockAndAwe: The PK Thunder series of PSI.
* TheSmurfettePrinciple: The main playable party always consists of three male characters and one female character, who is the GlassCannon and SquishyWizard of the group. [[DownplayedTrope That being said]], this trope only ever applies to the main party, and supporting characters of both genders are prevalent throughout each game. In fact, one of the reasons the games are called ''Mother'' in the first place is because they were explicitly designed to feel less exclusively-masculine than other JRPGs at the time, and the importance of characters who are mothers or mother figures is constantly emphasized.
* SomethingCompletelyDifferent: ''[=EarthBound=] Beginnings'' and ''[=EarthBound=]'' star an [[TheAllAmericanBoy All-American Boy]] and his friends saving a [[{{Eagleland}} fantasy pastiche of America]] from an AlienInvasion. ''MOTHER 3'' departs radically from that setting and formula and de-constructs the tradition of the series itself, which more or less brings it back to the common Fantasy setting and Heroes that you usually see in JRPGs. This is perhaps one of the reasons for its more lukewarm reception in Japan.
* SpellLevels: The PSI powers of the games are divided into this by Greek Symbols, from the weakest version of an ability ([ability name] α) to the strongest version of an ability ([ability name] Ω). Some abilities have fewer levels than others, and ''[=EarthBound=] Beginnings'' [[EarlyInstallmentWeirdness also included π as a level, which did not reappear in either of the subsequent games.]]
* SpiritualSuccessor: Though ''[=EarthBound=]'' shares the same villain with its predecessor, it's more this than a direct sequel to ''[=EarthBound=] Beginnings,'' keeping the same overall plot and very similar characters in a different setting.
* StatusBuff: The [=OffenseUp=] and [=DefenseUp=] PSI, which raise physical attack and defense, respectively, as well as the ''[=EarthBound=] Beginnings''-only [=QuickUp=], which raises speed.
* StandardStatusEffects: Everything from "Blindness" to "Petrification" to "Sleeping," with the usual "Poison" effect (losing HP each turn) being split into no less than three effects depending on the game (head cold, poison, nausea, etc.).
* SurrealHumor: A staple of the Mother games, especially with enemy designs. ''VideoGame/EarthBound'' and ''VideoGame/{{Mother 3}}'' are probably the best examples of this.
* TalkingTheMonsterToDeath: It's a common theme in the series for the FinalBoss to be defeated in a non-violent way.
* TankGoodness: A rental. In ''[=EarthBound=] Beginnings'', Lloyd shows up in another tank to defeat the second giant robot.
** Kumatora, Wess, and Salsa face a Pork Tank in ''MOTHER 3''.
* {{Telepathy}}: An in-game mechanic in the first game that uncovers the solution to certain puzzles, and used by Paula to contact Ness and Jeff in-story in the second. Broadly, this is likely how Ninten, Ness and Lucas can understand the thoughts of animals.
* {{Teleportation}}: A PSI power in the first two games that enables instant travel to towns that have already been visited. It [[WhatCouldHaveBeen may have been planned to be in the third game]], if [[DummiedOut unused teleportation sprites of Kumatora and Duster]] are any indication.
* ThemeNaming: Most towns in ''MOTHER'' are named after a holiday. {{Woolseyism}} changed these names in ''[=EarthBound=] Beginnings'' because the translator thought they were silly.
** Eagleland's towns (with some exceptions such as Happy Happy Village) are named Onett, Twoson, Threed, and Fourside. The seasonal theme from the first game sort of continues in Foggyland with Winters and Summers (though not Toto). (Chommo's sole settlement, Dalaam, does not share either of those traits.)
* TitledAfterTheSong: After a song by John Lennon.
* TrademarkFavoriteFood: All of the games allow players to enter its name at the start; by default, it's prime ribs for Ninten, steak for Ness, and omelettes for Lucas.
* TragicVillain: Giygas. [[spoiler: He felt betrayed by his adopted parents when his adopted father stole secrets [[note]]Implied to be the ability to use PSI[[/note]] from his people that could be use against them, and pushed away his adopted mother who still loved him as a result. He eventually attempted a full scale invasion of Earth in retaliation, only to be stop by his technically great-nephew who reminded him about his feelings of his adopted mother. He swore he'd come back for revenge later, and attempt to throw off any feelings he had for his adopted parents, and it [[SanitySlippage all went]] [[AlmightyIdiot down hill]] [[EldritchAbomination from there]].]]
** [[spoiler:Porky]] too, believe it or not. Age did not make him any better.
* TrueCompanions: Every single game's party consists of four friends, and all of them are fine examples of this.
* TwoPartTrilogy: An odd case of this trope in that it applies in two different ways. ''VideoGame/EarthBoundBeginnings'' and ''VideoGame/{{MOTHER 3}}'' are unrelated in about every aspect, but ''VideoGame/EarthBound'' serves as the second and first parts of each TwoPartTrilogy, respectively. Of note, ''EarthBoundBeginnings'' and ''[=EarthBound=]'' are connected by [[spoiler:Giegue / Giygas, the former showing his StartOfDarkness and the latter being the game where he's finished off for good.]] ''[=EarthBound=]'' and ''MOTHER 3'' are connected by [[spoiler: Pokey / Porky, the former [[NotSoDifferent showing his]] StartOfDarkness and the latter being the game where he's finished off for good. However, it has nothing to do with Giegue / Giygas, nor are the events dealing him even mentioned in ''3'', making both ''1'' and ''2'' a TwoPartTrilogy with ''[=EarthBound=]''.]]
* UselessUsefulSpell: Very much [[AvertedTrope Averted]] series wide. In the [[VideoGame/EarthBoundBeginnings original game]], the InstantDeathAttack spells were near flatout {{Game Breaker}}s thanks to working on nearly ''all'' enemies, only balanced out by the fact that you can't get it before all that's left are [[ScriptedBattle plotline bosses]] and the fact that [[NintendoHard most enemies late game will pretty much require you to spam them.]] Even though [[VideoGame/EarthBound the latter]] [[VideoGame/{{MOTHER 3}} two games]] would better balance {{Instant Death Attack}}s by making PK Flash more likely to make the enemy start crying instead of auto-killing them, even that can still come in handy. Most bosses are still at least fifty percent weak to at least ''one'' of the game's status aliments in ''VideoGame/EarthBound'', and lowering and buffing stats in ''VideoGame/{{MOTHER 3}}'' is pretty much required to beat some of the game's bosses.
* TheVeryDefinitelyFinalDungeon: Holy Loly Mountain (Mt. Itoi in the English version) in the first game, the Cave of the Past in the second, and the [[spoiler:Empire Porky Building, specifically its basement]], in the third.
* VileVillainSaccharineShow: Giygas and [[spoiler:Porky]] are the core reasons the series is so dark. When they aren't involved, the games are much, ''much'' lighter.
* WhiteMagic: The [=LifeUp=], Healing and buff PSI are the series' equivalents to this.
* WidgetSeries: It's most apparent in ''VideoGame/EarthBound'', which mostly keeps things silly and wacky outside of its infamous FinalBoss. While ''VideoGame/EarthBoundBeginnings'' and ''VideoGame/{{MOTHER 3}}'' have their silly moments, they're generally far more serious in tone than ''VideoGame/EarthBound''.
* WorldOfWeirdness: The entire premise.
* YearX: Averted in the Japanese version of the first game, which takes place in 1988; played straight when the English [=eShop=] release gives it as "198X." Played straight in both versions of the second game, which take place in "199X."
* YinYangClash:
** Just as Ninten and Ness are all about the melody, the antagonists of ''MOTHER'' have ear-rending theme music. Some of it would send Music/JohnCage running in terror. (Incidentally, this is the first hint that [[spoiler:Porky]] is going to be trouble.)
** Giygas has no melody at all, only an [[HellIsThatNoise incessant, high-pitched ring]].
** Magypsies fill the role left behind by Queen Mary and the Mr. Saturns: benign but weird. "Magypsy Party" is one of the best songs in ''MOTHER 3'': a heavenly synth with a {{scatting}} sax overlay. [[spoiler:Fassad is the traitorous Magypsy]]: once he falls off the Thunder Tower, he reappears as a cyborg with an array of horns strapped to what used to be his nose: a rocket-powered, robotic "translator" does the talking for him. His "speech" is [[spoiler:a hideously off-key version of "Magypsy Party".]]
* YouCannotGraspTheTrueForm: The second game is the Trope Namer, and it's a tradition of final bosses (Giygas in the first two games, [[spoiler:Porky]] in the third) to use this type of attack.
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