15 Forgotten Super Mario Characters From the Depths of the Franchise

Despite featuring some of gaming's most iconic characters, the Super Mario franchise hides some truly obscure figures that most fans have forgotten.

Super Mario
Photo: Nintendo

Mario gets around. The guy has appeared in over 200 video games over the decades. He’s been on so many adventures, has teamed up with Rabbids, punched Cloud Strife in the face, swam against Dr. Robotnik at the Olympics, and has refereed for both Mike Tyson and Mike Tyson’s non-union equivalent. He’s been played by a professional wrestler, a Shakespearian actor, and now Star-Lord.

Speaking of the new Chris Pratt movie, while the movie features plenty of big names and sights from Mario’s games, one surprising inclusion is an appearance by Foreman Spike: Mario and Luigi’s bitter former boss. Foreman Spike was Mario’s rival in the NES game Wrecking Crew and while he’s made a few appearances since then, he’s a very obscure pull.

Then again, Mario has done so much that his supporting cast (and his supporting cast’s supporting cast) has many forgotten names. There are friends and foes of the plumber who have just fallen into the cracks of history. So let’s take a look at the Mario characters forgotten by time.

King Wart (Super Mario Bros. 2)

15. King Wart (Super Mario Bros. 2)

He may not be incredibly obscure by this franchise’s standards, but damn, King Wart is forgotten. Super Mario Bros. 2 is one of those sequels that gets glossed over by history and continuity. It’s like Nightmare on Elm Street 2, but without the subtext about accepting your homosexuality. Though both are about a “Nightmare King,” and, funnily enough, King Wart’s only other major video game appearance is in Link’s Awakening: another game about a Nintendo hero exploring the dream world.

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What really gets me about King Wart and Mario 2 is the way The Super Mario Bros. Super Show handled both. For some reason, Bowser/Koopa was the show’s main villain, but he still had all of Wart’s subjects as his henchmen. Yet, Wart never appeared in the show in any way. At least give the King his own Mario Kart character or something. Hell, add a projectile bubble weapon to the racing game while you’re at it!

Friendly Floyd (Super Mario Adventures)

14. Friendly Floyd (Super Mario Adventures)

If you had a Nintendo Power subscription and there was a multipart comic in that issue, you knew you were about to have a good time. Link to the Past, Super Metroid, and Star Fox each had their own badass comic adaptations, but Super Mario Adventures (a Super Mario World comic by Kentaro Takekuma and Charlie Nozawa) was a truly wild ride every month. For instance, when the comic introduced the plumber brothers to the Yoshi race, they needed someone to give them exposition. Yoshis, unfortunately, can only say, “Yoshi!”

Enter Friendly Floyd: a disturbingly normal-looking middle-aged man who made his trade as a wandering salesman. Floyd explained the gist of the Yoshi species to Mario and Luigi before selling them a Yoshi translation book and bailing. The book ended up being a total scam, but he did make himself more helpful later by helping Luigi dress up like Peach to infiltrate Bowser’s castle and rescue Mario. The same adventure led to a rad and unforgettable image of a pissed-off Peach dressed in Luigi’s overalls, wielding dozens of Bob-Ombs.

Super Mario lore was just about to introduce Wario, so I guess there was no more need for this other dumpy and greedy character.

Tatanga (Super Mario Land)

13. Tatanga (Super Mario Land)

The first Super Mario Land was a bit of a Mad Libs rewrite of your usual Super Mario plotline. It was the same basic rescue mission, but it replaced key elements like the usual fantastical kingdom, kidnapped princess, and evil overlord. In place of Bowser, the series introduced its first alien villain: Tatanga. As the game didn’t come with much lore to its name, Tatanga did not make much of an impact and was relegated to a brief appearance as a boss character in the sequel. He wouldn’t be revisited until years later when he was a Spirit opponent in Super Smash Bros. Ultimate.

Not only was Tatanga immediately overshadowed by Wario, but he never had any mainstream moments. At least King Wart got to be on the clay-sculpted cover of the first Nintendo Power. Tatanga’s only other notable appearances outside of games included the Valiant Game Boy comic (more on that in a bit) and Kazuki Motoyama’s Super Mario manga. Interestingly enough, that manga introduced the idea of Super Mario characters taking part in a tennis doubles tournament and suggested that Tatanga was Bowser’s partner.

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Wanda (Mario & Wario)

12. Wanda (Mario & Wario)

Once upon a time, Wario came up with the most brilliant plan ever. Using his airplane, Wario would fly over Mario and drop a bucket on his head. Mario would be so disoriented and unable to see from that bucket that he would surely wander into some kind of death trap. The same plan would be repeated on Peach and Yoshi (that’s how good the plan was).

In the Super Famicom exclusive Mario & Wario, the player used the Mario Paint mouse to control Wanda the forest fairy. It’s a variation of Lemmings that sees Wanda would use her magic to keep Mario out of trouble until he could find bucket-removing expert, Luigi. Then Wanda found love with fellow fairy Cosmo and the two starred in their own Nickelodeon show for a bunch of years (non-canonical).

Wanda wasn’t completely forgotten about, as she did have a role in the manga series Super Mario-Kun and she later popped up in Super Smash Bros. Ultimate as a Spirit.

Stanley the Bugman (Donkey Kong 3)

11. Stanley the Bugman (Donkey Kong 3)

The original Donkey Kong games were rather odd when it came to their protagonists and their dynamics. First, it was about a plumber rescuing a damsel in distress from a gorilla. Then it was the gorilla’s son rescuing said gorilla from the plumber. By the time we got the third entry, Mario was nowhere to be found. Instead, the game was about Donkey Kong facing the hero from an obscure Game-and-Watch entry.

Taking place inside a greenhouse, Donkey Kong 3 saw Donkey Kong antagonize bugs and endanger Stanley’s plants. Using an atomizer full of bug spray, Stanley would eradicate the bugs and attempt to spray Donkey Kong enough to make him climb off-screen. It was a simple game that would only really live on via a few WarioWare references.

Stanley did get to show up in the Saturday Supercade animated series in an episode where he teamed up with Mario and Pauline. In a truly confusing design choice, Stanley also looked like a child (only half as tall as Mario) but sounded like a senior citizen.

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Prince Haru (Super Mario Bros: The Great Mission to Rescue Princess Peach!)

10. Prince Haru (Super Mario Bros: The Great Mission to Rescue Princess Peach!)

Do you know what’s kind of bizarre? Different Mario stories in different mediums have used the exact same plot devices when dealing with missing royal characters. For instance, there’s the Super Mario Bros. anime from 1986. While a largely faithful retelling of the game, the anime featured the odd addition of Kibidango: a blue dog who helped out Mario and Luigi in their quest to save the princess.

The big twist was that after Bowser’s defeat, Kibidango transformed back into his true form: Prince Haru. Feeling that viewers would totally want to see Mario get his heart broken, Haru was shown to be Princess Peach’s true love. The generic prince was never shown again after the anime, but his storyline would be retold.

In the live-action Mario movie, the King of the Mushroom Kingdom spent the entire movie as a sentient fungus trying to guide Mario and Luigi into thwarting Koopa. Also, in Wario Land 4, Wario was constantly being guided by a mysterious black cat. In the end, it turned out that the black cat was the missing Princess Shokora and Wario unknowingly released her from her curse.

Mad Piano (Super Mario 64)

9. Mad Piano (Super Mario 64)

Ah, yes. You’re looking for a red coin, you see a snazzy-looking piano nearby, and it turns out to be a possessed piano from the depths of Mushroom Hell. Then you spend the next ten minutes taking deep breaths, gripping your chest, and hoping that you’re too young to suffer an actual heart attack.

The Mad Piano isn’t so much of a “forgotten” Super Mario character in the sense that I will always remember this horrible creature when I’m tossing and turning in bed and about to wake up in a cold sweat. Really, I just want to repress this thing’s existence, but the damned monster simply cannot be destroyed.

Damn you, Nintendo. Damn you for what you’ve unleashed upon the world.

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Oogtar (Super Mario World Cartoon)

8. Oogtar (Super Mario World Cartoon)

From the late-80s to the early-90s, there was a trilogy of cartoons based on the Super Mario games. While The Super Mario Bros. Super Show was a hybrid of the first two games, The Adventures of Super Mario Bros. 3, and Super Mario World explain themselves. As the last show was based on the game that gave us Yoshi, the setting was changed to a land filled with dinosaurs and neanderthals. Gone were the Mushroom Kingdom and the mushroom people who lived there. That also meant getting rid of Toad, who was a major part of the cast up to this point.

Even though Yoshi joined the cast as an annoying giant baby, Toad’s voice actor John Stocker was given a replacement sidekick role known simply as Oogtar. Appearing only in this series, Oogtar’s deal was that he was a cool cave kid who was constantly getting into trouble. He felt like somebody understood the gist of Bart Simpson and decided to give him a prehistoric Saturday morning makeover. Surely, his catchphrase of “Dinobunga!” was put together by a committee.

Hey, at least he was an original character. Alucard from Castlevania will always be tainted by his early-90s skater dude redesign from Captain N.

Anthony Scapelli (Super Mario Bros. Movie)

7. Anthony Scapelli (Super Mario Bros. Movie)

Just like Foreman Spike in the new movie and Sergeant Kooperman from the animated series, Anthony Scapelli is one of the rare examples of a Super Mario antagonist from Mario and Luigi’s pre-Mushroom Kingdom lives. Played by Gianni Russo, Scapelli ran Scapelli Construction, making him an enemy of both Mario’s plumbing company and Daisy’s archeology excavation team. It was Scapelli’s sabotaging of Daisy’s work that ultimately weakened the barrier between worlds and allowed the threat of Koopa’s invasion.

As the Super Mario movie was completely bonkers and there was so much weird shit going on in it, Scapelli was quickly forgotten about after the first fifteen minutes. Yet, he returned late in the movie to get his just desserts by being hit with a laser that turned him into a suit-wearing chimp. That’s how we got the unforgettable moment of Dennis Hopper happily saying, “Monkey!”

Scapelli was so forgettable that even the manga adaptation of the movie scrubbed him completely. Yes, that’s right. There was a manga adaptation of the live-action Super Mario Bros. movie. What a world, man. What a world.

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Mushbert (Mario Party Advance)

6. Mushbert (Mario Party Advance)

Toad is fine, I guess, but you know what would make him better? If he was obsessed with anime and made it his entire personality.

Enter Mushbert, a character who pops up in Mario Party Advance whenever you need to pick his brain on the totally radical series Toad Force V. Mushbert, who is so cool that he wears shades in his bachelor pad, has no time for your plumber bullshit unless you want to talk shop about TFV. Well, and later Koopa Quest. Why did he stop watching Toad Force V? Probably because he realized that its theme song is totally a knockoff of Fatboy Slim’s remix of “Apache.”

King Fret and Prince Pine (Yoshi’s Safari)

5. King Fret and Prince Pine (Yoshi’s Safari)

Listen, not every endangered fantasy kingdom in Super Mario’s universe has to be ruled over by a young princess. Every now and then, you have to bail out a royal dude or two. Hell, remember when there were all those random kings back in Mario 3? Whatever happened to those guys?

Anyway, back when Nintendo was trying to get people interested in the Super Scope accessory, they released Yoshi’s Safari for SNES. In this game, Peach found out that Bowser was rampaging in Jewelry Land and asked Mario to do her a solid by saving its king and prince. To make things a bit more fun, Mario was gifted a Super Scope so he could just go Ted Nugent on Bowser’s armies.

While Prince Pine seemed pretty appreciative of Mario’s efforts, King Fret was more insistent and demanding that Mario get going and go save the day. This is probably why he was never invited to go-kart racing, tennis, or that giant board game. When Mario is more willing to do party games with a turtle skeleton than you, you know you screwed up.

Culex (Super Mario RPG)

4. Culex (Super Mario RPG)

It’s a damn crime that the characters introduced in Super Mario RPG are in limbo. There are so many awesome designs like Croco, Jonathan Jones, Booster, Smithy, and so on. There’s a reason why so many people were holding out for Geno, the energy spirit from beyond the cosmos, to show up in Super Smash Bros., only to receive a simple Mii costume. Space Pinocchio was such a damn cool character.

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However, one of the more obscure characters in that game was the secret boss Culex. Hidden in Monstro Town, your party could fight this purple demigod who was made to seem like he came directly out of Final Fantasy IV. Culex is easily the mightiest opponent in the game, dwarfing the power of even Smithy himself. In defeat, Culex bids respect to Mario and breaks the fourth wall to acknowledge that he would be more at home in another game.

Kurokyura (Super Mario Land 2: The Six Golden Coins)

3. Kurokyura (Super Mario Land 2: The Six Golden Coins)

Super Mario Land 2 has a lot of lore to unpack. Why does Mario have a castle and a kingdom? Why is there a giant robot Mario? Does Mario own the moon? Something buried within this Wario debut title is the inclusion of the mysterious vampire known as Kurokyura.

You would think Mario fighting a Dracula knockoff would be some kind of memorable moment, but not really. Kurokyura appears just once in the game’s Pumpkin Zone and isn’t even a boss character. He’s just there near the end of one level, throwing bats at our hero. And that’s it!

Kurokyura had a supporting villain role in Kazuki Motoyama’s Super Mario manga, where he was depicted as Wario’s right-hand man. Kurokyura ended up being Luigi’s rival during his appearances and even disguised himself as Luigi in an attempt to ruin his reputation. So, in a way, this Japanese Dracula parody was arguably the prototype for Waluigi.

Herman Smirch (Valiant’s Gameboy Comic)

2. Herman Smirch (Valiant’s Game Boy Comic)

If you’re a fan of “too weird to exist” content and you don’t know of Herman Smirch, then strap in.

Back in the late-80s, Valiant Comics had the Nintendo license to play around with. They published comics based on the Super Mario cartoon, the Zelda cartoon, and Captain N: The Game Master (which was way better than it had any right to be). They also did a Game Boy comic and it was…interesting, to say the least. Rather than simply adapting a Game Boy game like Super Mario Land, though, they wanted to find a way to emphasize the Game Boy itself.

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What we got was Herman Smirch: a sleazy, hateful, middle-aged man in “the real world” who acted as the comic’s protagonist villain. Hypnotized by the Game Boy (which he shoplifted from his job) he became the herald to Tatanga, bringing his forces from the Game Boy to the real world to conquer the human race. This would lead to some random kid figuring out how to summon Mario to save the day in each issue.

What you really need to know, though, is that Mario, Tatanga, and the rest of the crew were all very, very tiny. They were also drawn and colored differently from the “real” people like Herman. Herman would serve as Tatanga’s reluctant henchman in each issue and they didn’t even bother to give him any kind of redemption arc before cancellation. Though they did have an issue where Mario almost died from radiation poisoning!

Redneck Kong (Diddy Kong Pilot)

1. Redneck Kong (Diddy Kong Pilot)

Finally, he’s here for you: the most obscure member of the DK Crew.

Back in 1997, we got Diddy Kong Racing: the Nintendo 64 title that makes me realize that, wait… is Conker the Squirrel technically a Super Mario expanded universe character? Anyway, the game was going to get a direct Game Boy Advance sequel, but over time, it was transformed into a 2005 Game Boy Advance release called Banjo-Pilot.

Before deciding to make that game a Banjo title (due to Microsoft acquiring Rare, long story short), that project was going to be called Diddy Kong Pilot. The project went through various iterations and rosters, including a version of the game that was going to feature pilots from both the Mario and Donkey Kong sides of their world. Most notable was a very early version of the game that featured only the Donkey Kong Country cast, including a mysterious new character only ever known as “Redneck Kong.”

This hillbilly gorilla was already in the process of being chopped when the game was being shown off at E3 2001. Rare programmers had reportedly decided to drop the bucktoothed, overalls-wearing ape and replace him with Candy Kong. They didn’t get far enough into that build to erase him, though, and he remained on the select screen.

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