The Super Mario series has been around for many years. Across its history, the series has typically stuck to one antagonist to oppose Mario. The king of the koopas, Bowser, has made many attempts in several games to take over the Mushroom Kingdom. However, sometimes, Nintendo spices things up.
This led to the introduction of new antagonists. Luigi fought with King Boo to save his brother, the universe-destroying Dimentio from Super Paper Mario, and Bowser’s child filled out the gallery of Super Mario villains. Each of these antagonists brought something new to the table, with more complex motivations than those of Bowser’s. Let us examine these antagonists further.
We all remember the Mario & Luigi games, right? For those who don’t know, the Mario & Luigi games are turn-based RPGs that see the Mario brothers working together to save their world from threats beyond Bowser. In the first title, Mario & Luigi: Superstar Sage, you’re introduced to Fawful. Fawful is an intelligent yet angry individual.
Working alongside the main villain, Cackletta, Fawful always had more stage presence than his master. His dastardly personality and goofy one-liners stay lovable to the end, and even after his master is beaten, this opens the stage for Fawful to return as the main antagonist in Mario & Luigi: Bowser’s Inside Story.
7 King Olly
The main antagonist of Paper Mario: The Origami King, King Olly, immediately makes an impression by taking over the Mushroom Kingdom and defeating Bowser. After this moment, his goal is to destroy all flat paper beings.
While he appears as a simple antagonist, King Olly’s backstory reveals that he was the careless creation of the Origami Craftsman who used the forbidden ‘fold of life’ to bring King Olly into existence. His sister aiding Mario further adds to the complex nature of his character, though the specifics of their relationship help to make one of the more sympathetic Super Mario antagonists.
6 Donkey Kong
While Bowser might be Mario’s most well-known antagonist, he wasn’t the first. In the original Donkey Kong arcade game, this massive ape kidnapped Pauline and had to be taken down by Jumpman. Though Donkey Kong had been thrust into the role of protagonist in the Donkey Kong Country series, he has still taken on Mario occasionally.
Most notably is Mario Vs. Donkey Kong, where Mario must stop Donkey Kong after he’s stolen all the mini Marios from a toy factory. This rivalry slowed down as future Mario games in this series would showcase Mario and Donkey Kong working together in this toy company.
Often accompanying Bowser as his number two, Kamek uses his magical prowess to assist the king of koopas in taking over the Mushroom King. Kamek first appeared in Yoshi’s Island games, where he was a dark inversion of Yoshi. He, too, was a babysitter for a child, though while baby Mario was well-behaved, baby Bowser was an aggressive brat.
Despite Bowser’s somewhat poor treatment of the magi-Koopa, Kamek’s loyalty to the king may come from the connection they shared as a caretaker and their child.
This is one of the most unique antagonists that Mario has ever faced. As expected from his name, Smithy is a blacksmith bent on taking over the world with his army. Appearing as a massive robot wearing a large crown, he crashes his sword into Bowser’s Castle, which destroys the Star Road.
This event kick-started Mario into action as he must venture across the land to obtain the Seven Stars to prepare Star Road. What makes Smithy work as a villain is his ruthless nature. While Bowser is a bad guy, he’s typically portrayed to have some redeeming qualities. Smithy, however, is implied to want all life to be like it is in his world. Dead and mechanical.
3 Bowser Jr
Bowser Jr. made quite the impression in his debut. First shown in Super Mario Sunshine, Bowser Jr. initially appeared as Shadow Mario, an exact copy of the red plumber himself. As Shadow Mario, he covered Isle Delphino in Goo and pinned the crime on Mario.
Upon coming face-to-face, Jr. would kidnap Princess Peach, assuming she was his mother. Throughout the rest of Sunshine, he would battle Mario across the Isle, even stealing F.L.U.D.D. While his actions were wrong, what makes Jr. endearing is he did all this because he believed Peach to be his mother. Even upon learning that she wasn’t, he never held any resentment towards his father, continuing to love him.
What hero doesn’t have a rival? While Megaman has Bass and Sonic has Shadow, Mario has the garlic-loving, greedy, strong man Wario. Wario is a visual distortion of everything Mario is. He transforms the red plumber’s slightly plump, short appearance and exaggerates it to a fat, stocky man.
He first appeared as the main antagonist in Super Mario Land, being one of the first times Bowser wasn’t the main villain. Since then, he has popped up most often in spin-off games such as Mario Kart or Mario Tennis. Despite his hatred for Mario, Wario has been willing to work with him, such as in Super Mario 64 DS.
1 King Boo
Bowser isn’t the only king out to destroy the Mario brothers. King Boo has fought against Luigi multiple times as he attempts to build his perfect portrait collection. First appearing in Luigi’s Mansion for the GameCube, King Boo is introduced as an evil force who already captured Mario before the beginning of the game.
His vile and intimidating personality immediately made King Boo memorable, as he tried every trick to turn Luigi into a portrait. Above all else, King Boo’s design is striking, with his sunken eyes and large jewel crown that gives him an air of majesty.
NEXT: Mario’s Best Outfits Across The Series