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The Real Reason Mario Is A Plumber

Super Mario — and occasionally his younger brother, Luigi — has been jumping into gamers' hearts for 35 years. Throughout that time, he has changed jobs on multiple occasions. Mario has been a professional racer, doctor, and Olympic athlete, even been to outer space. Yet, Mario always returns to his primary occupation as the Mushroom Kingdom's heroic plumber, which raises the question of why he is a plumber to begin with.


Out of all the occupations Nintendo could have been chosen for Mario, "plumber" seems pretty random. People who spend their time fixing and replacing leaky pipes aren't exactly known for their ability to fend off armies of evil turtles, sentient bullets, and angry suns. However, Mario is always called a plumber on his adventures. Why? What was going through Shigeru Miyamoto's mind when he finalized Mario's occupation?

Mario was limited by technology and meant to represent the "Everyman"

When Mario hit the scene in 1981, he was not a plumber, and he wasn't known as Mario. He was a carpenter going by "Jumpman." He became a plumber and gained his titular name later.

Miyamoto told CNN Business the secret behind this decision. Apparently, the limited technology of the era served as a key design philosophy for Mario's appearance — which also determined his job. Consoles and arcade cabinets could only render so many pixels at one time, so Mario had to look simple yet distinct. This drew Miyamoto to the wide, colorful world of plumbing. "We wanted him to be someone who might live near you, and not a superhero," explained Miyamoto.


As for why Mario maintains his iconic red cap and shirt with blue overalls — and plumbing profession — throughout his 35 years of adventures, you can blame manga. Miyamoto was inspired by manga artists who, at the time, recycled characters for their different works. So, Miyamoto took a page out of the manga artist workbook and inserted Mario wholesale into different games. The rest is Nintendo history.

As the saying goes, "If it ain't broke, don't fix it." Mario and his successful career speak for themselves.