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The Man, the Legend

Pop-culture trends may come and go, but Mario is forever

Illustration Studio Muti


Last year the birds were angry; this year they’re flappy. Video games, like pop-culture trends in general, have the longevity of a fruit fly, but there is one pixelated protagonist who has endured. Since 1981, when Mario first appeared in the arcade game Donkey Kong, the mustachioed character has seen countless fads come and go. With the tiny plumber reappearing this month in Mario Kart 8 for Wii U, we take a look back at all the icons who were left in the suspendered one’s formidable dust.


Donkey Kong
The same year Mario first appeared in this classic arcade game, Christopher Cross won the Best New Artist Grammy. Last we heard, the “Sailing” singer was still at sea.

Super Mario Bros.
Mario got his own game in ’83, and the franchise really took off in ’85, the year Corey Feldman starred in The Goonies. In 2014, Mario’s the one that’s still a teen idol. 

Super Mario Kart
Mario got his own set of wheels just when fellow car enthusiast Jay Leno took over “The Tonight Show.” The Mighty Chin lasted 22 years, but now Jimmy Fallon is in his seat and Mario is still rolling.

Super Smash Bros. Melee
This game debuted the same year Randy Johnson won the World Series. Thirteen years on, Johnson’s famous mullet is a fashion don’t, while Mario’s suspenders are as stylish as ever.

Mario Kart for Wii
The man in red hit the Wii the same year Sarah Palin was an also-ran as the Republican nominee for vice president. For 2016, we’re starting a Draft Mario campaign.

Mario Kart 8
Mario’s latest is out just months after Justin Bieber was arrested for drag racing. If the Biebs doesn’t slow down, he could wind up with a flat tire while Mario pulls ahead.

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