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Western Animation / Super Mario Bros.

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Nintendo's flagship franchise, Super Mario Bros. has had multiple Animated Adaptations in the West.

First were the three cartoons by DiC Entertainment. The first was The Super Mario Bros. Super Show!, a 1989 animated/live action production featuring the adventures of those plucky plumbers from Brooklyn. The show ran four days a week in syndication, with Fridays reserved for a cartoon based on The Legend of Zelda.


Saturday morning cartoons titled The Adventures of Super Mario Bros. 3 and Super Mario World were later made (without live-action segments) and would air alongside Captain N: The Game Master on NBC. All three shows are now available on DVD. See also Super Mario Bros. The Parody Series for The Abridged Series version.

Ironically, the shows are (relatively speaking) more accurate to the spirit of the games than any other Mario adaptation on either side of the Pacific.

Fast-forward several decades in the future and Illumination Entertainment was given the rights to make a Super Mario Bros. film, with this one being animated, unlike their live-action movie from 1993. Titled The Super Mario Bros. Movie, the voice cast was confirmed in a Nintendo Direct in September 2021, with Chris Pratt as Mario, Charlie Day as Luigi, Anya Taylor-Joy as Peach, Jack Black as Bowser, Keegan-Michael Key as Toad, and Seth Rogen as Donkey Kong, among others, with Mario's Nintendo canon VA Charles Martinet apparently having an un-announced cameo. The film is slated to release in April 7, 2023.


For tropes unique to one of the three shows, see their respective articles.

Tropes present on more than one show:

  • Aborted Arc: The Super Show constantly reminds us that the Mario Brothers are from Brooklyn, with the live action segments representing their past lives there and the Expository Theme Tune to each episode documenting how they were sucked through a pipe into the Mushroom Kingdom. Many episodes, such as "Brooklyn Bound" and "Flatbush Koopa", focus on or mention their attempt to return home. By the time The Adventures of Super Mario Bros. 3 rolls around, Refugee from TV Land is a common plot device, with the Mario Bros. themselves traveling to "The Real World" in many episodes, but they don't seem particularly interested in staying there anymore.
  • Acrofatic: King Koopa may be large but he sure can be agile when the situation calls for it.
  • Adaptation Dye-Job:
    • Princess Toadstool's appearance is a fairly good direct rendition of her early game sprite: a more Daisy-like redhead.
    • King Koopa is also completely green scaled (likely so he also fills the position of Wart, see Composite Character below).
  • Adaptation Name Change:
    • Bowser > King Koopa.
    • Larry > Cheatsy.
    • Morton > Big Mouth.
    • Wendy > Kootie Pie.
    • Iggy > Hop.
    • Roy > Bully.
    • Lemmy > Hip.
    • Ludwig > Kooky.
  • Adaptational Badass: Princess Toadstool, particularly in the Saturday morning spinoffs. Some episodes had her escaping captivity and even foiling the Koopas' plans on her own.
  • Adipose Rex: King Koopa, though it never is stated as such except when a button pops off his tuexdo in an episode of Super Show.
  • The Anime of the Game: To the extent that sound effects, backgrounds and music from the shows' games (Super Show counting for SMB 1 and 2) are used extensively.
  • Bad is Good and Good is Bad: What Koopa teaches his kids, as long as their bad deeds aren't against him.
  • Bastard Understudy: It seems at times, Koopa did a bit too good a job raising his kids to be underhanded villains. Cheatsy is the most recurring case, though all of the kids have at least one moment they stab their Pops in the back.
  • Big Applesauce: This interpretation of the Mario Bros., arguably more than any other. They've got the accents, appetites, and even a hint of Brooklyn Rage, and their New York originnote  is the source of lots of observations and humor.
  • Big Brother Bully: Bully is portrayed as the oldest of the Koopa Kids and often pushes his siblings around.
  • Birthday Episode: "Reptiles in the Rose Garden" takes place on Kootie Pie's sixteenth birthday.
  • Christmas Episode: "Koopa Klaus" and "The Night Before Cave Christmas."
  • Circling Birdies: Super Stars in this case, and Mario uses it to his advantage.
  • Clumsy Copyright Censorship: The song covers in SMBSS and a few SMB3 episodes being replaced by instrumentals from the latter series, most notably an instrumental version of "Mega Move," an original song created by DIC that first appeared in the Super Mario Bros. 3 series.
  • Co-Dragons: Kooky and/or Cheatsy in the Saturday morning spinoffs are the ones most likely to be on hand in aiding their dad.
  • Composite Character: King Koopa, the cartoons' version of Bowser, appears to be a mix of both Bowser and Wart (especially in the Super Show). Specifically, King Koopa has Wart's crown, green skin and Mooks.
  • Continuity Nod: Uncommon, but it happens, even between series:
    • Salvador Drainado from "Brooklyn Bound" - the greatest plumber to ever live - reappears as a statue (quite appropriately) at the titular academy in "Plummers Academy".
    • The cab driver from "Flatbush Koopa" (Super Show) makes a cameo in "Recycled Koopa" (The Adventures of Super Mario Bros. 3). Possibly a case of reusing character designs, as he was never more than incidental character.
    • "Fire Sale", the first episode of Super Mario World, takes place almost entirely in Ice Land, a location from Super Mario Bros. 3.note 
    • "Rock TV" (Super Mario World) opens with King Koopa reminiscing on what he learned "while [he] was in the Real World." Presumably, he's talking about his experiences in many episodes of The Adventures of Super Mario Bros. 3.
  • Cowardly Sidekick: Luigi, decades before Luigi's Mansion would establish his cowardly personality, and later Yoshi.
  • Damsel in Distress: Toadstool 90% of the time in SMBSS; in SMB3 and SMW she took on a more active role.
  • A Day in the Limelight: All three shows have at least one episode focusing on Luigi - "Quest for Pizza" in SMBSS, "Life's Ruff" in SMB3, and "Mama Luigi" in SMW. Especially notable is that Luigi is the only one of the four heroes to be in "Life's Ruff".
  • Demoted to Extra: Kootie Pie and Kooky were the most prominent Koopa Kids in SMB3, most of Koopa's schemes primarily involving them. In SMW, they have only one limelight episode, limited to non speaking cameos otherwise.
  • The Dragon: Mouser in SMBSS. The role tends to be granted to either Kooky or Cheatsy in the later cartoons.
  • Dub Name Change: Zigzagged for Bowser, who is referred to by his Japanese moniker King Koopa (though a Full-Name Ultimatum is used a handful of times). The writers made up their own names for the Koopalings, called the Koopa Kids in the actual show, before the English version of The Manual was final. That, and some of the references Nintendo ended up using would likely go over most kids' heads anyway.
  • Expository Theme Tune: The Super Mario Bros. Super Show has one in full 1980s cartoon show glory, explaining the Mario Bros' backstory and the premise of the show in the form of a rap. The Adventures of Super Mario Bros. 3 drops it for an expository narration, and Super Mario World for a catchy song that consists mostly of the show's title being repeated over and over.
  • Flanderization: Big Mouth seemed to originally earn his moniker from being a loudmouthed snarker (a role that was admittedly sorta redundant between him and the other mouthy Koopa Kids). By SMW he is a Large Ham Motor Mouth who drives his siblings crazy by never shutting up.
  • Forgot About His Powers: At no point in the series does Koopa breathe fire, even though that's been one of his powers throughout the games. Given the fact that Fire Flowers time out in this milieu, it probably would have made him too broken.
  • For the Evulz: Koopa's motive for doing the things he does. Examples include turning his sons into giants to kidnap Prince Hugo just so he can turn him into a poodle.
  • Full-Name Ultimatum: Mario does this a handful of times he is delivering smack talk to Koopa. These are also the only times he is referred to by his game moniker of Bowser.
  • Hate Sink: King Koopa was made as unlikable as possible in the Super Show. Later shows balance this out with his affection towards the Koopalings.
  • Implied Love Interest: Averted. Unlike the games, where Mario and Peach are both young adults in their twenties, Mario is a middle-aged man, and Toadstool, at seventeen, is young enough to be his daughter, so them being the Official Couple wouldn't work. In fact, there was never an attempt to give Toadstool a love interest, or really much attempt in these cartoons to have romance at all.
  • Inevitable Waterfall: In Mama Luigi episode.
  • Loud of War: One episode had a group of cute little aliens saving the day by using their kazoo-like noses to hum a tune which drove King Koopa nuts and forced him to flee. The song they sang? The theme of The Legend of Zelda!
  • Meaningful Name: All of the Koopa Kids' names but some (such as Bully, Big Mouth and Cheatsy) are more blatant.
  • Off-Model:
    • Every. Freaking. Thing. There are countless animation errors, all around sloppy animation quality, and some blatant inconsistencies between drawings! (note, for example that in the "Night Before Cave Christmas" episode, that Mario inexplicably grows large between cuts when he's talking to Oogtar about being "good". And the Super Mario World cartoon is probably the least frequent offender.)
    • This scene features Luigi in Mario's cap and Mario calling Luigi "Mario" in Luigi's voice. In the exact same shot!
    • The intro meanwhile has some very good animation, so much so that one could think it was for a different show.
  • Once per Episode: In each series, the Mario Bros. and Koopa (with the Koopa Kids in the latter two) fight to the beat of a musical montage. Each episode of Super Show, along with a few SMB3 episodes, has a pop music song covered by the cast. The rest of the SMB3 episodes and the entire SMW series have songs specifically written for the shows.
  • Pet the Dog: King Koopa thrives on being as underhanded and nasty a villain as possible. In the later two shows however, it's clear he genuinely cares for his kids, particularly Kootie Pie who he spoils rotten.
  • Pie Eyes: Almost every character has these in Super Show; while only Toad and the Goombas retain these in the other cartoons.
  • Planet of Hats: The Super Mario Bros. Super Show has a new one Once per Episode, always denoted by a name like "[Hat] Land." There's Caveman Land, Car Land and Rap Land, just to name a few! The Adventures of Super Mario Bros. 3 borrows a few (considerably less wacky) lands from the game's Single-Biome Country environments, like Desert Land and Ice Land.
  • Quicksand Sucks: A few times the good guys got stuck in it and needed someone to help them out, apparently forgetting they have the ability to hop out of the quicksand.
  • Refugee from TV Land: A common gimmick in The Adventures of Super Mario Bros. 3 has the Koopas traveling to "The Real World" to cause havoc, and the Marios following to fix it. Although it doesn't really show up in the other shows, though Koopa flashes back to his time spent in the Real World at the beginning of the Super Mario World episode "Rock TV."
  • Ret-Canon:
    • Luigi's status as a Cowardly Sidekick debuted here, though it's played slightly differently here, as this Luigi isn't very timid.
    • Toad's oddly screechy voice is eerily similar to Toad's modern voice.
    • The games version of Bowser shares several traits of King Koopa from game to game (eg. Deadpan Snarker moments, a loyally Card-Carrying Villain, genuinely love for his offspring).
  • Royals Who Actually Do Something: Princess Toadstool. Possibly King Koopa too, though it's arguable if he's a real king since his crown appears to be taped together.
  • Saving Christmas: The Christmas episodes of The Super Mario Bros. Super Show and Super Mario World do one of the different types of this.
  • Shout-Out:
    • Inspector Gadget appeared in two live-action segments and was referenced in a third.
    • Wheel of Fortune is referenced twice. King Koopa hosts a spoof in Super Show and he spies on a family watching the show in Super Mario World.
    • Star Trek gets a reference in every cold open to the Super Show in the form of the "Plumber's Log" Mario narrates to himself at the beginning of each episode.
    • Documenting all the Shout Outs in the Super Show would be a task daedalian in scope. Nearly every episode is a reference (either a full-blown Whole-Plot Reference, or an In Name Only reference in the form of a Punny Name title) to a film (such as "The Mark of Zero" for Zorro, "Toad Warrior" for Mad Max 2: The Road Warrior, or "Crocodile Mario" for "Crocodile" Dundee), and the ones that aren't are usually a reference to folklore, literature, celebrities or something else.
  • Sliding Scale of Idealism vs. Cynicism: All the games are heavily idealistic.
  • Tagalong Kid: Toad in first two series and Oogtar in Super Mario World. Yoshi also generally acts like an infant, though leans more as a Team Pet.
  • Team Rocket Wins: Happens in at least one episode of each series
  • Theme Twin Naming: Hip and Hop.
  • Took a Level in Badass: Princess Toadstool took a more active role in the adventures and was less prone to kidnapping than in the Super Show. She and Toad were even able to use power-ups in the same way as the Mario Bros.
  • Vague Age: The Koopa Kids in the cartoons are a special case. It's averted with Kootie Pie, who is sixteen, along with Hip and Hop, who are both six. The rest are allegedly in their teens.
  • Villain: Exit, Stage Left: King Koopa frequently pulls this off in the Super Show, usually by way of a warp-generating potion (based on the doors to Sub-Con in the American Super Mario Bros. 2), and a few times on the later two as well.
  • Women Are Wiser: Princess Toadstool is generally the smartest member of the cast.
  • You Can't Go Home Again: Mario and Luigi in the Super Show. Even in the episode "Brooklyn Bound", where it looks like they'll finally be able to return to Brooklyn again, they miss their chance when Koopa swoops in at the last minute to threaten the Princess.


Video Example(s):


Don't Just Help Him!

Cheatsy Koopa sarcastically tells his Monty Mole minions "Don't just help him! Stand there!" which is exactly what they do.

How well does it match the trope?

2.43 (7 votes)

Example of:

Main / SarcasmBlind

Media sources: