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The Most Terrible Things Luigi Has Ever Done

You know Luigi as the most famous sidekick in gaming history. A second fiddle. The guy who's always destined to be Player 2. The Mario Brother who didn't get a starring role in a video game for almost 10 years, and when he did, it was an educational game and his name wasn't even in the title.

Luigi spends so much time in his older brother's shadow, it's easy to forget that he's a fully fledged character on his own—and, depending on the media, not a particularly nice one. Most of the time, Luigi is portrayed as a sniveling coward, but over the years, he's done much, much worse.


Just in it for the cash

Every Nintendo fan who grew up in the '80s remembers the Super Mario Bros. Super Show, the half-hour cartoon series starring professional wrestler Lou Albano and Danny Wells as the titular plumbers. However, that wasn't Mario and Luigi's first turn as animated characters. In 1986, Nintendo and Grouper Studios released Super Mario Bros.: Pīchi-hime Kyushutsu Dai Sakusen! ("The Great Mission to Rescue Princess Peach"), an hour-long anime produced to promote the Japanese Super Mario Bros. 2, known in the U.S. as The Lost Levels.


While the movie is a reasonably faithful adaptation of the first couple Mario games, there's one big difference: in the film, Luigi is the absolute worst. While Mario's motives are (reasonably) noble—he's got a crush on the Princess, you see, and wants to rescue her—Luigi only agrees to go on the quest after an old wise man promises that Luigi can keep all of the coins that he finds on the adventure. As it turns out, that's not a good idea. As Pīchi-hime Kyushutsu Dai Sakusen! goes on, Luigi constantly causes trouble as he hunts for treasure. At one point, Luigi's avarice leads the gang into a gold mine, where the Mario crew is captured by Goombas and the Hammer Bros. While digging for coins, Luigi accidentally floods King Koopa's castle, risking everyone's lives.


This version of Luigi isn't just greedy, either. While tripping on mushrooms, he punches Mario in the face. When the group runs low on food, Luigi thinks about eating Kibidango, the Mario Bros.' dog-like companion. He can't even get his outfit right: for some reason, in Pīchi-hime Kyushutsu Dai Sakusen!, Luigi wears a garish blue and yellow outfit instead of his stylish green duds.

Bailed when the going got tough

Luigi isn't as brave as his brother, and if things get too scary, Luigi has a habit of staying behind and letting Mario do all the work. In Super Mario World: Mario to Yoshi no Bōken Land ("Mario and Yoshi's Adventure Land"), Luigi leaves Mario behind for a much worse reason: he's just pissed off.


Super Mario World: Mario to Yoshi no Bōken Land is an interactive anime film produced for the Bandai Terebikko, a weird Japan-only system that combined a telephone receiver with VHS cassettes. By using the receiver and the Terebikko's buttons, players can make multiple-choice selections at various points during the film. When Mario finds a key, for example, the player can help him decide which door to unlock. When a Wiggler needs help identifying a piece of fruit, players can chime in with the correct answer. (It's an apple, by the way. Kinda reminds you of Dora the Explorer, doesn't it?)

For most of Super Mario World: Mario to Yoshi no Bōken Land, the Mario Bros. get along pretty well, and the only real source of conflict occurs when Luigi collects more coins than Mario, disappointing the elder brother. That changes near the film's climax, when Mario needs Luigi's help blowing up one of the Koopa's fortresses. When Luigi starts hunting for a broken fuse, the bomb goes off in his face. Mario and a group of Yoshis laugh and laugh. Luigi, tired of being laughed at, storms off in a rage.


That's understandable, but the battle with Bowser is a life-or-death situation, and as the Red Yoshi explains, Mario can't beat the Koopa king without his brother's help. Thanks to Luigi's negligence, Mario and Yoshi are captured and dropped into a deep, dark pit, and that would've been the end of both of them if Luigi hadn't changed his mind at the very last moment. It's good that Luigi came to his senses, but you know what would've been even better? If he hadn't wimped out to begin with.

Mad with power

Before the internet, U.S. Nintendo fans got their news from Nintendo Power, a monthly magazine filled with tips, reviews, and comic strips starring popular Nintendo characters. Germany had Club Nintendo, which was basically the same—except the comics were absolutely insane. (For example, in Super Mario in The Night of Horror, Mario, Link, and Kirby team up to fight a group of classic slasher-movie monsters, including Leatherface, Jason, and Chucky.)

In Super Mario Plumb-Won-Do: Muscles are not everything!, Mario enters a mixed martial arts tournament and faces off against the characters from Street Fighter 2. Mario wins, no thanks to Luigi, who puts him down the whole time. And in Super Mario: In the Flush of Speed, Luigi becomes a cop and uses his newfound authority to make Mario's life a living hell.


It's a short story—the comic is only two pages long—but that's more than enough time for Luigi to cause some real problems. First, he pulls Mario over for going too fast—apparently, when he's riding Yoshi down the city streets, Mario needs to obey all the regular traffic laws. Next, Luigi scolds Mario for referring to him as Luigi and not "Officer Luigi," as befits his new position. Finally, when Mario hops off Yoshi's back by spin-jumping—which, let's remember, is the only way to dismount the dinosaur in Super Mario World—Luigi informs his brother that spin-jumps are strictly prohibited between 1 and 3 p.m. And while Luigi's a stickler for the rules, he's not corrupt: he fines Mario, his own brother, 60 coins for his transgressions. Family means nothing in Officer Luigi's jurisdiction.


All talk

Luigi fluctuates between looking up to his brother and being absolutely, inconsolably jealous. In Paper Mario: The Thousand-Year Door, he's the latter. Oh, sure, Luigi is pumped to see Mario every time his brother returns from a quest, and Luigi goes on and on about all the adventures that he's having and all the heroic things he's doing while the red-capped plumber is busy saving the world.


But here's the thing: while Luigi's stories are phenomenally detailed, it's all a pack of lies. After talking with Luigi, players can also chat with Luigi's party members—many of whom can't stand Luigi—who reveal the holes in Luigi's stories. For example, Luigi says that, in order to defeat a monster, Luigi threw the squid-like Blooper named Blooey at the boss' weak spot. According to Blooey, that's true, but Luigi conveniently leaves out the part where he missed, sending Blooey flying into a puddle of lava. Hayzee, a playwright, notes that Luigi played a grass patch in her play, and not an avenging spirit like he claims.

Luigi's total disregard for the truth doesn't stop him from profiting from his lies, either. As Paper Mario: The Thousand-Year Door rolls on, books based on Luigi's adventures begin to appear in Rogueport, the game's main hub. Like Luigi's stories, the books are pure fiction—propaganda designed to make the younger Mario brother look better than he actually is, all while making a quick buck in the process.


Fraternal abuse

Most of the time, Luigi's love-hate relationship with his brother ends up coming across as passive-aggressive. In Mario and Luigi: Bowser's Inside Story, there's nothing passive about it. Early in the game, both brothers get hammers, which they can use in combat and to solve puzzles. While Mario uses his hammer in reasonable ways, like destroying obstacles that block his path, Luigi uses his to beat on his older brother.


Pummeling Mario is the only way to proceed in the game, but you better believe it hurts. One of the main reasons to use Luigi's hammer is to transform Mario into Mini-Mario—y'know, the form Mario takes when he's damaged by an enemy, leaving him unable to break bricks and teetering on the brink of death. But hey, it also allows Mario to pass through small passages, so why not gamble with your brother's life? Other hammer-related attacks include swatting Mario to send him up to far-off platforms and smacking him while standing on snow or sand, trapping him underground.

Watch the video. Luigi doesn't even flinch when he learns he has to hit Mario on the head. That's not a loving brother. That's a cold-hearted menace.


Totally uninhibited

In Super Paper Mario, Luigi isn't just comedic relief—he's the game's main villain. According to the Dark Prognosticus, a book of prophecies written by an unknown author, the "man in green" is the perfect host for the Chaos Heart, which will destroy the world.


Hey, you know who wears green? Right. While trying to save Princess Peach from the nefarious Count Bleck, Luigi is captured by Nastasia, Bleck's second-in-command and a master hypnotist. The next time Luigi appears, he's wearing a mask and a green bandana and calling himself "Mr. L," or, sometimes "The Green Thunder."

Most of the time, Mr. L works to further Bleck's insidious agenda, but his complaints about Mario seem a lot more personal than simple brainwashing. In the first Paper Mario game, Luigi builds a secret room in the Mario Bros.' house, where he keeps a diary. And we know from the diary that Luigi is jealous of his older brother. As the cocky Mr. L, Luigi doesn't bother to keep his feelings a secret. Mr. L openly envies Mario's jumping ability and makes a move on Princess Peach. He teams up with a robot that he calls the Brobot and spends most of the game attacking Mario and his friends again and again and again.


Oh, and that prophecy totally comes true. A mercenary named Dimentio, who ends up being Super Paper Mario's real bad guy, embeds a Floro Sprout in Luigi's subconscious, which transforms him back into Mr. L once Nastasia's influence wears off. From there, Dimentio fuses with both Luigi and the Chaos Heart and tries to bring about the end of the world—and he would've succeeded, too, if Mario hadn't been there to stop him.

A dark secret

While all of this stuff is pretty bad, Luigi's done something much, much worse—we just don't know what it is, exactly.

In Mario and Luigi: Partners in Time, your group—which consists of Mario, Luigi, and their baby counterparts—needs to pass through a living doorway called the Star Gate in order to proceed. However, there's a catch: only people who the Star Gate deems worthy can proceed. Mario passes the test with ease. The babies don't even need to be judged since they're, well, babies. And, yet, Luigi doesn't make the cut—as the Star Gate explains, there was "that odd ... incident. And that other thing as well." It also says Luigi's heart is "muddled with certain questionable things." At Luigi's request, it doesn't elaborate.


So what made Luigi unworthy of passing through the gate? We'll never find out. In order to secure passage for the whole party, the Mario Bros.—all four of 'em—track down something called the Aurora Block, which proves a person's worth. Unfortunately, it moves out of the way when Luigi tries to hit it. The Star Gate eventually reveals that it was just gaslighting Luigi with the Aurora Block. It eventually lets all four of them through, leaving Luigi's deepest secrets hidden for the rest of time.