Super Mario Bros: What Is Mario and Luigi’s Last Name?
If their last name isn’t “Mario,” then why are they called the “Mario Bros?” Nobody can agree, and even when they do, they eventually change their minds.
The Mushroom Kingdom is full of mysteries. Just what are the “Hell Valley Sky Trees” in Shiverburn Galaxy? Who is Bowser Jr.’s mother? And most crucial of all, what are Mario and Luigi’s last names? Do they even have last names?
Ever since Nintendo hit the scene, gamers have flocked around the adventures of Mario and Luigi, aka the Mario Bros. These characters have amassed a collection of nicknames throughout the years, but so far nobody has uttered their surname on Nintendo consoles. But just because Mario and Luigi’s last name has yet to appear in the games, that doesn’t mean they don’t have one. In this case, the truth is very complicated
Let’s first dive into Mario’s origins. Back when the studio was trying to recycle its failed Popeye game concept and turn it into a new IP — the seminal 1981 Donkey Kong arcade cabinet — the main character went through several name changes. Initially, the team just referred to the character “Ossan” (Japanese for “middle-aged man” or “middle-aged guy”), but legendary video game designer Shigeru Miyamoto preferred to call him “Mr. Video.” When the time came to settle on a name, the team behind Donkey Kong agreed to name the character “Jumpman.” Yep, before Mario was Mario, he was Jumpman, but no, this doesn’t mean Mario’s and Luigi’s full names are Mario and Luigi Jumpman.
Needless to say, the name “Jumpman” didn’t stick around for long. Nintendo decided to change the name for 1983’s Mario Bros. arcade game. The team settled on “Mario” after the landlord who rented out a Tukwila, Washington warehouse to Nintendo of America at the time, an Italian-American man named Mario Segale. As the story goes, Nintendo decided on the name after Segale angrily barged into the studio demanding overdue rent. But just because Mario was named after Segale, that didn’t mean he adopted the landlord’s last name, too.
The first real attempt to actually answer the age-old question of Mario and Luigi’s last name was in the infamous 1993 Super Mario Bros. movie. Since they were the Mario brothers, someone in the writer’s room suggested they take that literally and give the characters the surname of “Mario.”
“They made him ‘Mario Mario,'” Miyamoto recalled in a 2012 interview with Game Informer, while reassuring fans that he didn’t consider that the character’s canon full name. “I heard this and laughed rather loudly. Of course, this was ultimately included in the film. Based on the film, that’s [how] their names ended up. But, just like Mickey Mouse doesn’t really have a last name, Mario is really just Mario and Luigi is really just Luigi.”
Late Nintendo president Satoru Iwata had said the same thing to Kotaku just a month prior while discussing the character’s origin as Mr. Video, confirming simply, “He does not have a last name.”
But in 2015, Miyamoto changed his mind. While celebrating Mario’s 30th anniversary at an event in Japan, Miyamoto confirmed that Mario and Luigi both share the last name Mario, thus making Mario “Mario Mario” and Luigi “Luigi Mario.”
Charles Martinet, the performer who has voiced the character in one form or other since 1991, but most memorably making his video game debut in 1996’s Super Mario 64, agrees that the character’s name is Mario Mario. While answering fan questions in character at SDCC 2012(watch below), Martinet confirmed the full name, and even went on to explain that Mario comes from a long line of Marios. Apparently, there’s a “Mamma Mia Mario” and a “Papa Pio Mario,” according to Martinet.
It remains to be seen if Universal Pictures and Illumination’s upcoming The Super Mario Bros. Movie doubles down on this tautological surname, provides a different answer, or just sidesteps the question entirely. We’ll find out when the animated film hits theaters on April 5.