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The Super Smash Bros. series has tons of different characters across its history of twenty years, many of which could be expected to appear in some form. Then there are these total wild cards that nobody could have seen coming... And knowing Sakurai, who outright strives to find the characters that no one would ever consider and loves working with them, it's a fairly big list.


Super Smash Bros. (Nintendo 64)
  • Of the original four unlockable fighters, Luigi is the only one to not explicitly come from out of left field. His not being available from the start like his big brother Mario was somewhat unexpected. But despite this, his absence from Super Mario 64, and the fact that he only made appearances in Mario sports games at the time, Luigi is still an iconic part of the Mario mythos. As for the other three...
    • Ness definitely came from out of left field with few people at the time having actually heard of him, mainly because his game was an Acclaimed Flop when it was first released in the US and was never given a PAL release until much later on the Wii U eShop.
    • Captain Falcon was quite the surprise because he'd only been in racing games up until that point. Granted, his inclusion was mitigated by his in-game background as a bounty hunter, but actually seeing Captain Falcon in-game outside his vehicle still caught a lot of F-Zero fans off guard.
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    • Jigglypuff was another out-there suggestion. While Jigglypuff was certainly a popular Pokémon back in the day, as well as a recurring character in the anime, the chances of it appearing as a playable fighter in any capacity had to have been, at the very least, a bit of a shock. Comparatively, other possibly more appropriate "cutesy" Pokémon like Clefairy (former intended mascot before Pikachu) and Meowth (major antagonist in the anime) merely appear as Poké Ball summons.

Super Smash Bros. Melee (Nintendo Gamecube)

  • The Ice Climbers and Mr. Game & Watch were both this for similar reasons, in that they were 8-bit relics who most people hadn't seen in over a decade, and people who bought this game likely didn't know anything about their franchises. The former's gimmick also counts, as the Ice Climbers were two people controlled at once as opposed to a single entity. The two fighters were picked exactly because Masahiro Sakurai wanted at least one forgotten character to represent Nintendo from The '80s, a tradition he continues to this day.
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  • Not many expected to play as Zelda, as she was almost exclusively an NPC in her home series with zero known combat skills. To put it into perspective, fellow Damsel in Distress Peach was also mostly a non-playable character, but at least had one main playable appearance prior to Melee and several spin-offs that she took part in; Zelda can't even claim to have those. Even fewer expected Sheik, a one-off alter-ego of Zelda, whose identity was supposed to be a plot twist in her home game.
  • Dr. Mario was also quite unexpected, as he's just Mario in a doctor's uniform and throwing pills instead of fireballs. He was also somewhat unexpected as a returning veteran due to the Smash 3DS leak below, as many thought he'd be an updated Palette Swap of Mario like Alph would be to Olimar.
  • Marth qualifies as this, but only for western audiences (as a Fire Emblem game had yet to leave Japan at the time). Although even then, Fire Emblem was hardly the biggest Nintendo franchise in Japan.
  • Probably one of the biggest ones at the time is Roy, whose debut game didn't even come out until after Melee was released due to a delay. He was added for the reason to promote his game, with said delay having not been previewed by the developers and causing his first appearance to be in Melee.

Super Smash Bros. Brawl (Nintendo Wii)

  • Pit was the first major shocker for the game, as his home franchise hadn't had a new game for nearly 20 years at the time, at least until the release of Kid Icarus: Uprising 4 years later. That said, his Trophy description from Melee foreshadowed his inclusion in this game with the line "Will Pit ever fight again?". Likewise, most people weren't expecting Pit to get a complete redesign from cute angel boy to Bishōnen Kid Hero.
  • Zero Suit Samus certainly counts, since Samus had rarely ever been seen without her Power Suit in Metroid games. In most installments, you had to beat the game 100% to even see Samus without it on.
  • Nobody expected a third-party character to appear in Brawl, let alone Solid Snake, whose games are predominantly rated M (at the time he was announced, the T-rated Portable Ops Plus and Peace Walker hadn't been released). Plus, while he has had some games on Nintendo systems (including an Updated Re-release of the much-acclaimed Metal Gear Solid on the GameCube not too long before), most players at the time associated him more immediately with the PlayStation (where the entire main Solid series was being released, with Guns of the Patriots on its way to the PS3 at the time), making his inclusion that more unexpected, even if it was a personal request from Hideo Kojima himself. It also kind of took out the unexpectedness factor from other third-party characters announced later, such as Sonic the Hedgehog, who would be confirmed for the following year. note 
  • The Pokémon Trainer was hardly a concept people expected. If anything, most people expected either controlling a solo Charizard (which actually happened in Smash 4) or controlling the Trainer himself who sends out different Pokémon for each attack note . In addition to that, it's pretty hard to say anyone expected an Ivysaur at all, since it's a mid-evolution that's rarely showcased compared to its pre-evolution, Bulbasaur, or its evolution, Venusaur (Squirtle significantly less so, since it was already a main character in the anime and is a decently popular Pokémon).
  • Lucas was a surprise as his game had not been (and still hasn't at the time of this writing) released internationally, leaving a lot of Westerners confused as to who he was.
  • R.O.B. was the most conventional unexpected character out of this set of characters, if only because he was a gaming peripheral for the NES that was more infamous for not working than anything else (although he had appeared as a playable character beforehand in Mario Kart DS). Any chances were believed to be even more mitigated once it was revealed that R.O.B.s were enemies in The Subspace Emissary as an entire race. Even fewer people expected the role of the playable R.O.B. in The Subspace Emissary as the Ancient Minister.
  • Toon Link also qualifies, simply due to his cartoony design contrasting greatly with Brawl's realistic art-style along with him being a Suspiciously Similar Substitute for Young Link from the previous game. There's also the matter of his main game which, at the time, had a massively Broken Base.

Super Smash Bros. 4 (Nintendo 3DS/Wii U)

  • Villager, especially since the Animal Crossing games were used as an example of the type of series where characters would not be added from, and that Sakurai himself once said that he didn't see any of the characters working as fighters. Another unexpected element, though not to the same extent, was the fact that the Villager (as well as the Wii Fit Trainer, Robin, and Corrin below) came in both male and female varieties, technically making the Villager the first character to come in two gender varieties.
  • While Mega Man was somewhat unlikely given Capcom's treatment of him at the time, he was still an anticipated newcomer for the series. On the other hand, people were pretty surprised to see the Yellow Devil at the end of the Blue Bomber's trailer. Unlike Mega Man, however, nobody expected him to be a stage boss (or the concept of stage bosses in general, for that matter).
  • Sakurai stated that the Wii Fit Trainer was added to Smash Bros. 4 specifically for this reason. They wanted someone that absolutely no one suggested or predicted. It certainly succeeded, since Wii Fit is a casual exercise game that's usually glossed over by Nintendo's hardcore gamers.
  • Since Mario had more characters than any other franchise in Smash already (even more if you include Yoshi, Wario and the Donkey Kong cast), Rosalina and Luma were hardly expected, especially over more established characters like Daisy and Waluigi. The Luma even more so, considering they're usually nothing more than cute little NPCs that Rosalina takes care of.
  • People were expecting a representative from Fire Emblem Awakening in the form of Chrom, the main lord of the game. What they got, however, were two completely different representatives: his Kid from the Future Lucina (whose appearance in and of itself is a massive Walking Spoiler), and the game's Player Character Robin. The arrival of two newcomers in a single trailer especially caught people off-guard, as many thought that the trailer would only focus on a single new character. At the very least, Chrom shows up for Robin's Final Smash, and he becomes a fighter in the next game.
  • Hardly anyone could've truly predicted that Shulk would've actually gotten in, considering his game was a Cult Classic only very recently released outside of Japan in limited quantities, and even if they did, it was mostly wishful thinking. Then came the roster leak for the 3DS version, which showed all of the not-yet-revealed characters for the launch roster including Monado Boy himself. Then shortly after, Shulk's reveal trailer was shown, and it wasn't long before the 3DS version was released, confirming that the leak was indeed real. As for the other leaked characters...
    • Dark Pit: While Palutena was a popular inclusion for Super Smash Bros. thanks to the release of Uprising, and Pittoo was an Ensemble Dark Horse in his debut game (as well as shown in Palutena's trailer), the latter was somewhat unexpected as a proper newcomer as many were expecting him to be, like Dr. Mario above, an updated Palette Swap of his light counterpart.
    • Bowser Jr.: Somewhat downplayed, as Jr. had already made a name for himself in his home series, as well as discussed for a potential newcomer, even if both another addition to the already bloated Mario cast and him using the Junior Clown Car still came as a bit of a surprise. The actual shocker, however, was that all of Bowser Jr's Palette Swaps were none other than the Koopalings, technically making the character eight newcomers at once.
    • Duck Hunt: Perhaps the BIGGEST shocker regarding the leak was the fact that very few (if any) players expected the dog and a duck from Duck Hunt to team up with an in-universe (and offscreen) player with an NES Zapper as one character, especially given the dog's status as The Scrappy of gaming. Many even used Duck Hunt's presence as "proof" against the leak because the idea just sounded that absurd.
  • Almost no one thought Ryu would make it in Smash 4, let alone as DLC; the main reason being that while he's easily one of the most iconic fighting game characters in video games, as well as a massive system seller for the SNES, Ryu is technically a character from Capcom and they already got a playable representative in Mega Man. Even after his and Roy's inclusions were leaked, the idea of Ryu showing up was surprising because the idea of having more than one third-party fighter from the same company was unprecedented at the time.
  • And then, just when everyone assumed Sakurai was out of surprises, came Cloud Strife. Ryu at least makes sense in hindsight given his iconic status and the fact that Street Fighter II was a huge seller on the SNES. But Cloud came absolutely out of nowhere, as his games have been, for the most part, exclusive to PlayStation consoles note  with his debut game being made as a huge middle finger to Nintendo for the way their partnership with Squaresoft (the future Square Enix) ended. And unlike Ryu, Cloud managed to avoid the dreaded "leak treatment".
  • Considering that Fire Emblem already had five playable characters, almost nobody thought that Corrin had a chance of getting in (Sakurai himself was apprehensive about adding Corrin for this very reason until he was talked into it), especially since his game wasn't released internationally just yet, mirroring Roy's inclusion above as a promotional Mythology Gag to Melee's release.
  • Bayonetta is an interesting case. While she was quite the anticipated newcomer and winner of the Smash Ballot, people underestimated just how many people would vote for her and doubted that she'd be the Dark Horse Victory between other highly requested characters like Ridley or King K. Rool (both would later appear in Ultimate).
  • In terms of Non Playable Characters, the Kremlings are this, appearing in the 3DS version's "Smash Run" as enemies. They've been missing in the Donkey Kong Country series ever since Retro Studios revived it with Donkey Kong Country Returns and Donkey Kong Country: Tropical Freeze.
  • As for Assist Trophies, Color TV Game 15 certainly qualifies as one of these, especially considering the fact that it was released in 1977, before even the first Game and Watch games were released. This makes it the oldest game to have been represented in the Smash series. And if we consider that it's Pong, that makes it even older, dating to at least 1972.
  • In terms of downloadable Mii Costumes, Gilgamesh (Gil) from Namco's The Tower of Druaga series was the most unexpected of the bunch. His games, while they have a minor cult following and is often referenced by the company's other games, aren't very well-known by the gaming public, especially in the Super Smash Bros. community. He also stands out among the rest of the Wave 6 costumes which consist of highly requested characters such as Ashley, Takamaru, Tails and Knuckles.

Super Smash Bros. Ultimate (Nintendo Switch)

  • Another interesting case with Zelda. While she was certainly expected to show up, many assumed she would appear in her Breath of the Wild incarnation like Link. They certainly weren't expecting her counterpart from A Link To The Past (with some composite traits of her A Link Between Worlds incarnation) who mainly just played the usual Damsel in Distress trope straight for most of the game. The prior two Zeldas were far more involved and BoTW Zelda, while also a non-combatant, still played a bigger role in her game compared to the ALttP and ALBW Zeldas.
  • Simon Belmont, being the most recognizable protagonist of his home franchise, was a long-debated character for the game, and after fellow Konami representative Snake's triumphant return and a leak prior to the August Direct, he was all but confirmed to finally get his due. What many didn't expect, however, was that he would be accompanied by his descendant Richter, making Castlevania the first third-party franchise to have multiple playable characters.
    • On a related Castlevania note, Alucard (who was already in as an Assist Trophy) is the one to interact with the Kid Icarus cast in the Palutena's Guidance for Richter. The reasons why this is so surprising is that not only did fans expect Snake to do so instead, Alucard isn't known for breaking the fourth wall. note 
  • An unexpected non-playable character to appear was Rathalos from the Monster Hunter series, not only because he's a third-party character like Zero or Bomberman(and fancy meeting you here, while we're at it!), but unlike them, not too many people ever expected something from Monster Hunter to show up (since most human characters of that series are nameless and relatively generic, and the more iconic characters from that series are technically just types of animals). And not just that, he's the first character that's both a boss and an Assist Trophy.
  • Speaking of bosses, not many people expected to see Giga Bowser return as a boss like in Melee, mainly because Giga Bowser was Promoted to Playable as Bowser's One-Winged Angel final smash in Brawl and 4, and Giga Bowser still appears as Bowser's final smash, albeit not as a more powerful or upgraded version of Bowser. Even fewer people guessed that Marx would also appear as a new boss, given that he's not even the main villain of his franchise. And on top of it all, no one expected Galleom from Brawl to return either, namely because it's an Original Generation character, and that it was a boss in the previous story mode.
  • And since we brought up surprising Assist Trophies, pretty much everybody was floored by the inclusion of Shovel Knight. While many people had certainly hoped for the inclusion of the unofficial indie mascot, few expected him to actually be included, and if not as a playable character, didn't expect to see him at all.
  • A representative for Pokémon Sun and Moon was only to be expected note , namely in the form of one of the fully-evolved starters. Considering we already had fire and water type starters in the forms of Charizard and Greninjanote , the assumed newcomer was thought to be the grass type Decidueye to round out the starter triad. Not to mention that it was playable in Pokkén Tournament, and a full-blown archer fighter hadn't been done before in Smash. Imagine some Pokémon fans' surprise when another fire starter, the Fire/Dark type Incineroar, made the cut instead and differentiated himself from Charizard by being a wrestling-oriented fighter, another fighter type that Sakurai hadn't done before.
  • It's probably safe to say that nobody guessed that a regular mook from the Super Mario Bros. series would become playable, let alone a regular Piranha Plant. It was so unbelievable that when it was shown on the November Direct, many people initially thought it was an Assist Trophy or a joke. Notable in that, unlike other common enemies such as Goombas, Koopas, Boos, and even Chain Chomps, Piranha Plants have never been playable up until this point (unless one counts Petey Piranha, but unlike the standard plant, Petey actually had legs). How it got made into a character was also unexpected, taking features of other Piranha Plant subspecies across the franchise (including a nod to the long-forgotten Putrid Piranha) to make a fully capable fighter. Like the Wii Fit Trainer above, the Piranha Plant's inclusion garnered an Intended Audience Reaction as it was a pre-order bonus made purely for fun, and even Sakurai himself had to clarify that this was real.
  • Joker was definitely a huge surprise, partially because his game is exclusive to the PlayStation 3 and PlayStation 4. note  It also came right off the heels of the announcement that Nintendo themselves chose the characters for Sakurai this time around, leading to assumptions that they'd simply be promoting upcoming Switch titles like what they did with Corrin, notably Fire Emblem: Three Houses or Pokémon Sword and Shield, which turned out to be far from the truth. Seemingly in an attempt to make things as whiplash-inducing as possible, the initial announcement was made with Joker himself interrupting the 2018 Game Awards with what initially seems to be a random Persona 5-related animation... until we see him brandishing an envelope sealed with Smash's iconic logo. To paraphrase a Youtube comment in reference to the sheer amount of confusion and excitement in the wake of his reveal: "Only Nintendo can garner so much hype from the reveal of a wax seal with a logo on it."
  • A Dragon Quest hero was quite expected, due to being a big franchise in Japan, as well as being a generally well-known and revolutionary franchise that has collaborated with Nintendo in other games in the past (that, and the fact that there was a leak suggesting it would happen). What people DIDN'T expect was that, like Bowser Jr. and the Koopalings above, there are going to be multiple Dragon Quest heroes from four different titles; prior to E3, everyone just assumed that it would either be just Arusu/the Erdrick (one of the heroes in question and easily the most iconic), his descendant (the first hero), or Eleven/the Luminary (the main hero, and the most recent). While we do get Eleven as the main playable hero, we also get Arusu as an alternate costume, along with Solo and Eightnote . Sure, they're alternate costumes so they play the exact same, but it's surprising nonetheless. And to top it off, the remaining seven heroes appear in the Final Smash for anyone lamenting their lack of playability.
  • Downplayed compared to how unexpected it could have been, but a representative from SNK was certainly not a commonly discussed topic before the idea was accidentally leaked. Despite SNK themselves being a recognizable company, many people in the modern era were confirmed to have responded with a confused "Who's SNK?" Of course, once the SNK rep was leaked, almost everyone pointed directly at Terry Bogard getting the invitation.
  • During the Version 5.0.0 trailer's introduction of new Mii Costumes, the roster at first was standard fare, with the majority being returning Mii Costumes from the previous game and new ones, one of the latter for the Mii Gunner single-handedly blasted the internet. Who? None other than Sans, complete with Megalovania as a bonus track. Though his popularity in an already well-known game is undeniable, and he was a popular request for the game, many people brushed it off as another meme request like Goku and Shreknote . Many also assumed he wouldn't get acknowledged before Frisk, the game's protagonist, as his existence as the True Final Boss of the No Mercy/Genocide run is a Walking Spoiler in and of itselfnote .
  • Another unexpected costume came in the form of Goemon, a fairly obscure character from Konami's lineup that hasn't been acknowledged since as late as 2005. The fact that they managed to top themselves with Sans shortly after is nothing short of impressive.


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