The Super Mario Bros. Super Show is a made-for-TV cartoon adaptation of the original two Super Mario Bros. video games produced and run from 1989 throughout ’90s (as reruns). Several cartoon adaptations of popular video game characters were released during this same time period, but none manage to capture the unique humor of the Super Show, given its over-the-top segments and ridiculous live-action bits.
Not only does the show introduce its own canon, and information that is found nowhere else in the game series, but most of the information portrayed on the show is absurdly hilarious. From the fact that Mario is played by a former professional wrestler (Capt. Lou Albano) to the nonsensical facts introduced in the show, the degree of sheer absurdity is high.
10 It’s Actually About Plumbing
Mario is, according to the manual of the very first Super Mario Bros. video game, an Italian plumber. This is a generally well-known fact, although even the best Mario games to play (excepting a brief moment in 3D World) make no reference to Mario’s occupational training.
In the Super Show, however, the intro of the show and first episode both immediately establish Mario and Luigi as plumbers, and explain their excursions to the mushroom kingdom as a whimsical accident in their line of work. The very idea that Mario is in the mushroom kingdom due to a plumbing-related mishap involving the two brothers falling into a magical pipe is quite absurd, and quite hilarious to see play out on screen.
9 “Do the Mario!”
The intro/outro of the show is an original song titled “Do the Mario.” It is sung by none other than the Captain himself, as he does the accompanying dance to the song and he is edited into an animated scene of a desert-like area (think “The Cupid Shuffle” in the Mojave).
The song itself is fairly ludicrous, repeating only the phrases “Do the Mario,” “Swing your arms from side to side,” and “Take one step, and then again,” but something about seeing a former professional wrestler dressed as Nintendo’s mascot dancing around in an animated environment kicks the comedy value up a notch.
8 Toad’s Mushroom Cap
A little-known fact about everyone’s least favorite Mario sidekick is that the mushrooming part of his head adorned with red spots is actually a hat, and is not part of Toad’s head at all. This cap is taken off during the show, although thankfully this is not something that happens often in the series.
While the fact itself may be somewhat mundane, the shock value of seeing Toad remove the hat the first time combined with how extremely small his head becomes without the cap leads to some very unexpectedly amusing situations.
7 The “Mighty Mushroom,” the Toad Warrior
While the entire basis of the 13th episode of the series is fairly inane, there’s a particular moment in the episode that stands out above the rest. In summary, Bowser has rejected his normal villainous ways and transformed himself and his army into a biker gang.
Deciding to rise to the occasion, Toad finds a Power Star (or “Starman” as the show calls it) and transforms into a super-powered biker version of himself that he dubs “The Toad Warrior.” After getting a hog of his own, he then proceeds to engage the King of Koopas in a death race in order to win back all of the spaghetti sauce that the Koopa King previously stole.
6 Guest Appearances by WWE Stars
Given that the Super Show featured a mix of animated segments in the mushroom kingdom and live-action segments in Mario and Luigi’s plumbing business, it was possible for the show to put on several special guest appearances from other famous actors and individuals of the era. This included various WWE superstars, and Magic Johnson.
These appearances were most often by other WWE stars, given the Captain’s close association with the organization, featuring individuals such as Sgt. Slaughter and “Rowdy” Roddy Piper. The absurd part here is not that the wrestlers appear on the show (as it is somewhat common for WWE stars to take on other acting roles), but that they need Mario and Luigi’s plumbing expertise, specifically.
5 Luigi Helps Mario Stay Neat, and Mario isn’t Happy About It
The very first episode of the Super Mario Bros. Super Show features a sub-plot during the live-action segments wherein Mario becomes obsessed with the concept of cleanliness, citing that “Neatness counts!” In this same scene, Luigi points out that Mario has a piece of cooked spaghetti on his overalls.
In response to this, Mario says “Oh, thank you Luigi!” Due to the combination of the tone that Mario takes, the distance from him to the microphone, and the sound quality having aged terribly, it sounds like Mario is saying “Well f*** you Luigi!” Given that Mario has historically been a very family-friendly character, this will cause the viewer to do a double-take, and chuckle at the suggestion.
4 Mario Switches Bodies with Cher’s Dog
Of the various guest appearances on the show, which are all absurd in some form or another, there is a particular guest appearance that stands out as over the top. Pam Matteson appears on the show parodying Cher, and she brings along her English Bulldog, who Mario happens to switch bodies with.
As a result, Mario is left to act like a dog while the camera will regularly pan to “Cher”‘s dog and have a voiceover from Mario bemoaning switching bodies with a canine. This leads to a moment when Mario jumps up as a dog would, which has to be one of the strangest (and most hilarious) moments the plumber has ever been featured in.
3 “You Go to Hell Before You Die”
Following the so-called “War on Drugs” declared in the early seventies and prevalent in spirit throughout the eighties, it became popular in the nineties for TV celebrities and cartoons to feature Public Service Announcements warning children to stay away from the temptations of drug and alcohol usage.
The Super Show followed suit, and featured a close-up style PSA of Capt. Lou Albano in costume as Mario telling kids to not do drugs. A phrase that lives on in the minds of anyone who witnessed this is “Remember kids, if you do drugs, you go to hell before you die.” While his intentions were ultimately good, having Mario say in a PSA that one will go to hell while living ultimately comes across as ironically hilarious (if not horrifying).
2 Luigi’s Tickle Torture (Featuring Count Koopula)
During an episode titled “Count Koopula,” the Mario Brothers find themselves in a tricky situation, taken by Bowser’s minions to “Count Koopula’s Torture Chambers.” The episode is themed around Dracula, and has similar era torture devices where we see Toad on a stretching rack and Mario in a water torture device.
Luigi, on the other hand, received a particularly unique form of ‘torture’ in the episode. He was strapped to a board, stripped of his shoes, and tickled ceaselessly with a feather on the bottoms of his feet.
1 Bowser’s Family Legacy and Life Motto
Many changes have been made to Bowser’s image over the years, making him appear more or less fearsome and villainous depending on the role he plays in whatever game is at hand. In the Super Show, much emphasis is placed on Bowser’s title as King of the Koopas, and he acts as an unforgiving tyrant.
This character portrayal is exemplified in a quote of Bowsers from the third episode, “Like my grandfather Poopa La Koopa always said: Cheat, Beat, and be merry!” Everywhere else in the Mario canon, Bowser is not known to have any relatives other than Bowser Jr. (whose mother is to date unknown), which makes this line completely unbelievable elsewhere in the franchise.