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Here's What Bowser From Super Mario Bros. Almost Looked Like

The cast of Super Mario hasn't changed much over the past few decades. Mario and Luigi have always been mustachioed plumbers, Princess Peach hasn't changed out of her pink dress for decades, and the mushroom-headed Toads still haven't figured out how shirts work. But in the case of the series' iconic villain, Bowser, he actually wasn't always going to be the ferocious giant turtle we all know and fear.


The original design of the iconic Koopa King was something wildly different from what he is now. In fact, he wasn't even going to have any sort of resemblance to a turtle at all. Super Mario creator Shigeru Miyamoto was the mastermind behind this radically different version of Bowser, but he eventually scrapped it. However, his design did make it onto the original Japanese box art for Super Mario Bros. The original design wasn't horrible, but the Bowser we have today definitely makes more sense.

The Koopa King was supposed to be the Ox King

Miyamoto's original design for Bowser was inspired by the Ox King from the anime film Alakazam the Great, which was an adaptation of the Chinese epic Journey to the West. Bowser's Ox design, in all honesty, didn't actually resemble an ox at all — he didn't even have horns. What Miyamoto designed was instead a gray creature that shares many of modern-day Bowser's characteristics such as his spiked shell and bracelets, but that's about it. In an interview, Miyamoto admitted that he wasn't fond of the design, either. "I'd been drawing something completely incomprehensible," he said. "A turtle's body with an ox's head!"


Thankfully, Bowser's identity crisis was resolved when Nintendo artist Yōichi Kotabe came up with Bowser's current design. Kotabe insisted that if Bowser was going to be the leader of an army of turtles, he needed to look like one as well. Miyamoto was in agreement and was more than happy to swap out his version of the Koopa King for Kotabe's. But imagine an alternate universe where we had Miyamoto's gray monstrosity instead. We can only imagine what Bowser Jr. would've ended up looking like.