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"This guy is to Donkey Kong what Bowser is to Mario. This crowned Kremling has a serious attitude problem."

King Koopa Copy. Try to say that really fast. It seems that the Super Mario Bros.' archnemesis, King Bowser Koopa, serves as the inspiration for many villains in other video games.

There are two main reasons for this: One, simply that the Mario franchise is so well known that most creators know enough about Bowser to base these characters on him. Bowser is one of the first, and certainly one of the most long-running video game villains. It also certainly helps that the game in which he debuted was released in The '80s, when most people who are creators nowadays were kids, and likely to play the game and remember its antagonist. Two, he uses many tropes associated with villainy (An Obviously Evil appearance, a fire motif, a menacing growl, etc.) For this reason, Bowser is kind of a go-to inspiration when designing a villain for a video game, or anything else.


The classic fairy-tale dragon, a gigantic, spiky, fire-breathing reptilian monster that kidnaps and guards princesses in a cave or a castle, is one of the main inspirations for characters like these. The Big Red Devil is another major inspiration, being bulky, horned and ruling over a Fire and Brimstone Hell, occasionally aided by an army of demonic minions.

These characters may:

Subtrope of Fountain of Expies. Not to be confused with King Kong Copy (who is also large, scary and often kidnaps women, but that's where the similarities end).


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    Anime and Manga 

    Tabletop Games 
  • Boss Monster has you playing as these, designing side scroller dungeons that will kill heroes.

    Video Games 
  • Super Mario Bros.:
    • King Bowser Koopa, of course, is the Trope Namer. Starting with Super Mario Bros., he is the Big Bad of the franchise, the ruler of an empire of turtles, is himself a dragon-ox-turtle, has massive brute strength and fire breath, and is always trying to kidnap Princess Peach and take over the Mushroom World.
    • The Final Boss of Super Mario Bros. 2 is not Bowser, but a grumpy, tyrannic toad named Wart. This is because the game was originally conceived as Doki Doki Panic, which happens to have borrowed many Mario elements beforehand.
    • Tatanga the extra-terrestrial is another Mario Big Bad from Super Mario Land. However, his "Bowser expy" side was mostly used in the Game Boy comics.
    • King Totomesu, the first boss of Super Mario Land, fits the bill a bit more closely than Tatanga, being a large red-and-yellow fire-breathing creature fought on a bridge.
    • Wario was originally conceived as one of these. As an exaggerated Evil Counterpart to Mario, Wario was depicted as a bigger, fatter, crazier, and more powerful version of the iconic red plumber, as well as a straightforward villain. He would undergo Divergent Character Evolution in later games and become a comic relief anti-hero, headlining a series of adventure games and another series of quirky minigame collections.
    • Midbus in Mario & Luigi: Bowser's Inside Story is designed as a bit of a Mirror Boss for Bowser, and he has the same build except he's pink, has a pig face, his spikey shell looks a bit like an armadillo's, and he uses ice attacks in contrast to Bowser's flame breath.
    • Super Mario Odyssey has Madame Broode, a giant female rabbit who appears to be a Distaff Counterpart to Bowser. Much like how Bowser is a father to the Koopalings and Bowser Jr., Madame Broode is the mother of the Broodals. Both of them also wear spiked cuffs.
  • The Legend of Zelda's Big Bad, Ganon (who came from the same creator as Bowser), started out as mostly one of these, although he was always intended to be a lot scarier than Bowser.
  • Wizpig from Diddy Kong Racing is an oversized sorcerous pig with a really terrible attitude.
  • Conker's Bad Fur Day parodies this trope with the Panther King. Despite being a big, menacing tyrant with an army of Wicked Weasels, a horrifying voice, and even a similar facial structure to Bowser, he's an incompetent manchild who doesn't even survive long enough to be the Final Boss.
  • Baron Dante from Croc is a big green-skinned monster king with a deep voice and magic powers. He even has a mohawk!
  • Pete already has some similarities to Bowser, being an imposing antagonist known for kidnapping Minnie Mouse, but the Disney's Magical Quest games really play up the similarities between the two by making Pete an Evil Sorcerer, and making him much, much bigger than Mickey. The character himself debuted in the 1920s, making him far, far older then the trope namer!
  • Donkey Kong's villains are highly reminiscient of the Koopa King:
    • King K. Rool from the Donkey Kong Country trilogy is often seen as the series' answer to Bowser. He is an overweight yet muscular crocodile who is green, has sharp teeth, menacing claws, and is the leader of an army of crocodiles known as the Kremlings. K. Rool's first appearance (using the 'King' moniker) is the most easily comparable to Bowser, though as his series progresses, the Kremling King undergoes Divergent Character Evolution. Among the things that distinguish him from Bowser, K. Rool gains an affinity for Cold-Blooded Torture, suffers Sanity Slippage (to the point of voluntarily risking his and his minions' lives by starting up an untested Blast-o-Maticnote ), and develops a flair for theatrics, dressing up in various costumes in each new game.
    • Donkey Kong Country Returns has Tiki Tong, leader of the villainous Tiki Tak Tribe. He's get Red Eyes, Take Warning, a Jagged Mouth, and a scary roar.
    • Donkey Kong Country: Tropical Freeze's main villain, Lord Frederik, is a powerful warlord who leads the vikings known as Snowmads. Like K. Rool, he too is pretty tubby, but still able to put up a fight. Interestingly, he's An Ice Person, while Bowser is Playing with Fire.
  • Garland, the Big Bad from the original Final Fantasy I was that on a minor level (kidnapping Princess Sarah and such) but it really was expended in the Dissidia Final Fantasy series which added to his design a BFS, a menacing voice, and more Spikes of Villainy.
  • Five Nights at Candy's 3: In the Retraux-style platformer minigame "Candy's Adventure", the final boss is the Boss Dog, an enormous red-furred Angry Guard Dog who breathes fireballs, leads an army of smaller red dogs, and wears a spiky collar.
  • In one level of Guacamelee!, you are running away from an enormous dragon who resembles Bowser. The dragon is defeated by luring him onto a bridge, then hitting a switch that causes the bridge to collapse, a tribute to Super Mario Bros., where Mario defeats Bowser the same way.
  • Bernardo from High Seas Havoc is a Wily Walrus who heavily resembles Bowser due to his large frame, Evil Eyebrows, and similar color scheme. He also kidnaps the hero's girlfriend.
  • King Dedede of the Kirby series was a straightforward example in his first appearance in which he stole all the food in Dream Land, forcing Kirby to rise and stop him. However this gets subverted in the second game Kirby's Adventure, in which Dedede breaks the Star Rod from the Fountain of Dreams, causing everyone in Dream Land to be unable to dream and gives the pieces to his minions. But it turns out he only did this to prevent Nightmare, a Sealed Evil in a Can born of nightmares from getting loose. Since then, he's become more of an Anti-Villain, butting heads with Kirby until a worse threat shows up and often goes out of his way to quell bigger threats to his kingdom. These days, most of his grievous acts are only committed when he's befallen Demonic Possession. The creators of Super Smash Bros. are aware of King Dedede's similarity to Bowser: one of the first events in Brawl Lampshades it by pitting you against Bowser and Dedede, describing them as "selfish kings".
  • Ridley from Metroid could be seen as a combination of this trope and Xenomorph Xerox. He is often associated with fire and magma along with the areas he makes his domain in, he has sharp claws and red eyes, breathes fire, and is a large, reptilian leader of a roving band of Space Pirates, who in some games also appear to look reptilian. He also kick starts the events of Super Metroid by kidnapping the Baby Metroid that Samus was trying to protect, prompting her to go back to Zebes to rescue it (but in that game, Crocomire is the beefy reptilian killed by a collapsing bridge).
  • Rocket Knight Adventures:
    • In the original game, Emperor Devligus Devotindos is the leader of the pig-like Devotindos Empire. He is a large pig who has sharp teeth and claws, and wears a black cape, pants, and spiked shoulder pads, while his minions usually have green armor and vehicles. He has also hired Sparkster's arch-rival and Evil Counterpart, Axel Gear, to kidnap Princess Sherry and retrieve the key to the seal to unseal his ultimate weapon of destruction, the Pig Star. In the battle against him, he is revealed to be a Terminator-like robot, and one of many such robots stocked aboard the Pig Star.
    • In the sequel, Sparkster: Rocket Knight Adventures 2, King Gedol is the leader of the lizard-like Gedol Empire. He is a large green lizard who has long horns, sharp teeth and claws, uses spells and summons during the battle against him, and his minions wear purple armor, like Axel Gear. He has also hired Axel Gear to capture Princess Sherry's cousin, Princess Cherry, and seek out the seven Holy Swords.
  • Zavok from Sonic Lost World has huge fangs, spiky shoulders, Evil Eyebrows, and menacing claws. He's also the leader and the strongest member of the Deadly Six.
  • Asgore, the king of the Underground of Undertale, is inspired by Bowser and Ganon, being a goat-beast monster with sharp horns and carries a sharp trident. His personality, though, is much different: while Bowser is a greedy, abrasive tyrant with a soft side to him; and Ganon is a megalomaniacal and cunning manifestation of evil itself seeking to dominate all he sees, Asgore is a docile Gentle Giant who was put into a horrible Trauma Conga Line that cost him the lives of his children and his wife's affection, and simply just doesn't want to fight anymore by the time you meet him.
  • Deltarune has Susie who is a big, violent, arrogant, toothy beast, and physically resembles Bowser if he were a teenage girl, complete with spiky arm bracelets; the only thing missing is the fireballs. Notably, her personality draws more from Bowser's appearances in the Mario RPG titles than the mainline games - she tries to act big and tough, but is, in fact, a pretty big goofball and overall not as bad as she, or anybody else, thinks she is. She also occupies a similar niche as Bowser in Super Mario RPG as a tanky physical attacker with below-average spells, and the Fastball Special she pulls on Ralsei even resembles Bowser's Hurly Gloves from the same game.
  • Wario Land: Shake It!: The Shake King is basically Wario's version of Bowser, with an evil glare, large horns, red-and-yellow colors, a huge army, and a kidnapped princess. He also greatly resembles Wario, which is ironic because Wario was an example of this trope in his first appearance.
  • The Final Boss of Pikmin is the Emperor Bulblax, a giant-sized green Bulborb with a sludgy texture and mushrooms in its back capable of eating Pikmin with its large, purple tongue. Though it doesn't breathe fire, it shares other attacks from Bowser like Ground Pound (first game only) and Pikmin-scaring roars (second game only).
  • King Drool III in the Bonk series. A large, green, crowned Tyrannosaurus rex with wings. He conquers the dinosaur world and kidnaps and brainwashes the Damsel in Distress Princess Za in the first Bonk game. He settled on just taking over the world afterwards, though.
  • The Spyro the Dragon series:
    • The Sorceress of Spyro: Year of the Dragon is another female example. She's a big, hefty dinosaur/hippo monster who's also a powerful sorceress, is implied to be a queen or at least hold a position of high authority (going from her crown, her castle, and the huge statue of her in Enchanted Towers), has an arrogant and cruel personality, and the crux of her plot is the kidnapping of unhatched dragon eggs, on top of capturing five other characters over the course of the game, including Spyro's ally Hunter. Her boss battle also takes place in an arena surrounded by lava, and one of her attacks is to shoot magic fireballs at Spyro. The only things missing are the red/green colour scheme - she's blue - and the army of similar creatures; her chosen soldiers are instead anthropomorphic rhinoceros-like creatures called Rhynocs, who she frequently forces to participate in monster creation spells.
    • In a similar vein, Gnasty Gnorc from the original Spyro The Dragon also broadly fits this trope, being a large, intimidating, green monster with magic power, spiky armour and a deep, growly voice - though you only get to hear him talk once in the whole game. He also commands an army of Gnorcs much like himself, and is so proud of himself that he turns all the dragons into crystals because one called him ugly. This is more apparent in the Reignited Trilogy remake of the game, which makes his resemblance to his Gnorc minions much clearer thanks to the improved graphics.
    • Of the antagonists from the original trilogy, the only one who averts this is Ripto, being a physically scrawny Napoleon with a non-threatening - if shouty - voice who relies solely on magic power, doesn't kidnap anyone, and doesn't seem to have any minions besides Crush and Gulp - most of the enemies Spyro battles in the game are entirely unrelated to him.
  • Gokuu Densetsu by Allumer features a character named Gyumaou. He is a red armor clad, bipedal, fire breathing bull of royal descent who has several spikes on his body. Also amusing to note that he and The Bull Demon King/King Gruesome (mentioned under Anime/Manga above) are both derived from the Bull Demon King from the Chinese novel Journey to the West.
  • Dragaux of Ring Fit Adventure fits the bill, being a buff dragon bad guy in a Nintendo game.
  • Super Bernie World, a Super Mario Bros. parody starring Bernie Sanders, depicts Donald Trump as the Bowser stand-in complete with parody minions and a boss battle based on Super Mario Bros..

    Web Animation 
  • Erog from Gregzilla's Rebb is a spiky and bulky villain who kidnapped the princess and has several mooks looking like him (including the titular Rebb). This is no coincidence, as the show is filled with these kinds of video game tropes.

    Western Animation 
  • Chowder does this twice. This is likely a case of Author Appeal, as series creator CH Greenblatt is a video game fan:
    • In the episode "Big Ball", the sports arena is thrown into a giant trash can by an an enormous Bowser-like monster.
    • In another episode, there is a brief Art Shift where all the characters become pixelated. Resident Jerkass Gorgonzola turns into a similar monster, complete with spiky shell.
  • Wander over Yonder:
    • Characteristically, Lord Hater shares a lot of traits with Bowser, more specifically the Bowser of the Paper Mario and Mario & Luigi games. Like Bowser, Hater is in control of an army of species-specific minions that are loyal to him and has a tendency to use his power for selfish and petty reasons. Both have a miserable record of failures when it comes to evil plans and tend to be subject to a number of Amusing Injuries and embarrassing situations. They both have bizarre relationships with their arch-enemies that vary from animosity to grudging respect and sometimes even share in recreational activities. They also share some physical similarities, as they are Large and in Charge with a deep voice, and Hater's lightning-shaped spikes on his cloak resemble Bowser's Horn Of Villainy. Plus, they both have a Rotten Rock & Roll music motif.
    • King Drakor is another example, complete with supposedly kidnapping a blonde princess only for it to turn out she wants to marry him with Brad Starlight (the so-called hero who says he's destined to defeat Drakor then marry Demurra) being the villain.
  • Lord Tirek from My Little Pony: Friendship Is Magic averts this at first, being introduced as a small and sickly red and black centaur with a raspy voice, but he starts fitting the mold once he starts absorbing magic from ponies in his plot to conquer Equestria. Tirek's voice gets deeper and more growly, and he grows larger the more magic he absorbs. Near the end, and after draining a populations of ponies, Tirek is a towering, imposing figure who captures and imprisons three Alicorn Princesses Celestia, Luna, and Cadence in Tartarus. He also gains massive horns, bulging muscles, glowing eyes, as well as wielding fire-based magic and being extra brutish and rough in fighting, willing to throw and tackle the much smaller Twilight Sparkle through a mountain. Tirek doesn't have a legion of minions at his disposal, but he managed to coax Discord into doing his dirty work for him, until betraying him once he was done being useful. To cement this, in his Bad Future scenario in the Season 5 finale, he has turned Equestria into a Lethal Lava Land.


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