Master of all?
Given that he's been around for 32 years (and was already a full-formed adult man when he first appeared in Donkey Kong), it's understandable that Mario has been through a few jobs. But this many?
Reading through Mario's CV, it's clear that something is very much up. No one man could have had so many dispirate, utterly incongruous occupations over the course of one career. Not when so many of them require high-level skill sets often years in the making. Mario is either the most eclectic prodigy the world has ever seen, or there's something far dodgier going on. Let's investigate...
Carpenter (Donkey Kong)
Okay, this one we can believe. Hes on a building site. He wears overalls. Hes pretty handy at smashing things up with a hammer.
Alright, so we never actually see him make anything (destruction is far more his thing) but well give Mario the benefit of the doubt on this one.
Plumber (Mario Bros.)
Bit of a career change for Marios second arcade game, but its a plausible one. Hes still in the practical handyman area. Hes still using hand-tools. His overalls still qualify as suitable clothing. Though he does seem to have lost track of his job description somewhat in the excitement of the new.
Mario, your remit involves the installation and repair of domestic piping. That does not give you carte blanche to venture down into the municipal sewer in order to kill any and all wildlife you judge potentially problematic.
Golfer (Golf/NES Open)
Alright, heres where the serious segues start to kick in. Carpenter to plumber we can buy, but golfer? We suppose swinging a hammer is sort of like swinging a golf club, and all those years of strenuous wrench-work should have given Mario the forearm strength required for a powerful, controlled swing.
But look how angry the Mario sprite looks in the original NES Golf. Hes clearly not enjoying this. Hes definitely outside of his comfort zone.
Vietnam soldier (Mario's Bombs Away)
Okay what!? Yeah, seriously. In the the 1983 Game & Watch Marios Bombs Away, the previously carefree cartoon champion of the working man went to Nam. His job? Killing.
In Marios Bombs Away, the cheery stomper of wildlife must transport bombs from one side of his camp to the other so that his platoons officially designated bomb thrower can hurl them into the trees to blow up the enemy hiding there. Along the way he has to avoid igniting the bombs on either the enemys torches or the flaming trail of oil below him. Why's the oil on fire? It's being lit by a soldier lying on the barrel smoking a cigarette (at least it might be a cigarette) and swigging from a bottle of something. Presumably he has a deathwish induced by the horrors of war. Needless to say, its the bleakest Mario game ever made.
Racing Driver (Mario Kart, F1 Race, 3D Hot Rally)
Okay, were in safer territory now. Oh wait, hang on a minute. Were not in safe territory at all. Obviously theres every chance that Mario can drive. Were not disputing that. But to assume that basic skill qualifies him for professional (or at least tournament level) competition in three radically different, deeply nuanced driving disciplines, each of which can take a whole career to truly master*? Someone is going to to die.
Probably Luigi, given how haphazardly hes hanging out of that rally car window. The next tree will have his head off.
*Okay, not go-karting.
Tennis umpire (Tennis)
Marios athletic odyssey continues. All well and good in principle, and a healthy pursuit for one whose primary jobs involve a lot of indoor work. But given his perpetually portly stature its hard to believe a genuine professional dedication to the field. Yet here he is in NES and Game Boy Tennis, a game released in the same year he first branched out in sports games, claiming to already be a fully qualified tennis official.
Mario, youve gone mad. Youve had your first taste of success and youve gone mad with power. Calm down before you go too far.
Tennis champion (Mario Tennis)
Okay, youve gone too far. In the Game Boy Colors Mario Tennis, Mazza has gone right off the deep end. After years spent battling final bosses, he who fought monsters has truly become a monster himself.
Despite never having been seen picking up a tennis racquet in his life, Mario has set himself up as lord and master of the Island Open Tennis tournament, and the last barrier between the player and victory. He is the Colonel Kurtz of Technicolor tennis.
Brewery worker (Mario Bros. Game & Watch)
Back to a more sensible pursuit here. Somewhere during his primary carpentry and plumbing phase, Mario (along with Luigi) found time to man the distribution department of a brewery.
Well maybe were bigging up their role in the corporate structure a bit. They ran the bottling line and loaded stuff onto trucks. Seems fairly plausible, so well let this one go. Odd decision though, as there was surely more money to be had in the plumbing business. Maybe work had dried up. Maybe thats what drove Mario off to Nam.
Cement factory worker (Mario's Cement Factory)
Another one from the poverty years here, but at least Mario is moving up in the world. Hes managing a factory this time around, but once again his qualifications for the role seem to be dubious.
Given that the game sees him haphazardly running back and forth in an attempt to stay on top of mechanical processes careening rapidly out of control, Mario is clearly making a bit of a pigs ear of this job. Still, this embracing of good honest manual work implies that he has his feet well and truly back on the ground after his sporting ego-trip.
NBA player (NBA Street)
Oh wait no. Now hes an NBA player. A chubby, short, untrained NBA player capable of beating lifelong professional athletes.
Steroids. Steroids are the only plausible explanation.
Baseball player (Mario Superstar Baseball/Super Mario Sluggers)
Here too. But at least this time hes just playing against the various goofballs of the Mushroom Kingdom. Some of those guys dont even have proper hands. This one gets a pass.
Doctor (Dr. Mario)
This one categorically doesnt. Once again Mario gets too big for his sewage-encrusted boots and risks innocent lives to fuel the fiction playing out in the selfish ego theatre of his mind.
Mario is not a qualified doctor. His patients are really his victims. Fixing metal pipes does not clear one to tinker around with human innards. He probably made those drugs out of drain unblocker.
Stunt bike rider (Excite Bike: Bun Bun Mario Battle Stadium)
At least this time hes only risking his own neck. In this Excite Bike spin-off for the SNES Japan-only Satellaview downloadable gaming system, Mario decided that hurtling around a dirt track pulling backflips on a trial bike was exactly the challenge he needed after mastering all car-based motorsports so early in his career. And lo, a tear rolled down Marios cheek, for there were no new worlds to conquer.
Surely only Super Mario Extreme Downhill Drag Racing With Bombs All Over The Track And Hungry Alligators At The Bottom is the only place left to go from here.
Construction/demolition worker (Wrecking Crew)
Thats better. Back to hitting things with hammers until they break. A disturbing trait in itself, but at least Mario finds productive outlets for it. Though having these aggressive tendencies sitting alongside Marios delusional, identity-troubled egomania is starting to set off all kinds of psychoanalytical alarm bells now.
Artist (Mario Paint)
Okay, good. A nice calm activity for a change. A healthy, therapeutic, creative pastime. No reason Mario shouldnt have natural talent in the creative arts. And painting should be a great way for him to connect with his inner self and maybe work through the rampant identity confusion he so clearly exhibits.
Though theres also every chance that in a minutes time that sun will have Marios laughing face scrawled on it as a cruel taunt to the pitifully earthbound human race. Then hell paint the whole thing black and run off into the night screaming about how theyll all suffer.
Toy maker (Mario vs. Donkey Kong)
Whats that you say, Mario? Youre setting up a toy company? Oh good, that sounds like a healthy new project that can only bring good to the world. Oh whats that? Your only product is going to be a series of walking, talking action figures of yourself? Oh God, here we go again
Theme park owner (Mario vs. Donkey Kong: Mini-Land Mayhem)
By the fourth Mario vs. Donkey Kong game, Marios toy empire has expanded to take in a theme park dedicated to his little automated offspring of an ego. We would like to point out yet again that being good at fixing sinks in no way qualifies him for an operation of this scale.
Boxing referee (Punchout!!)
Given that Mike Tyson was originally an opponent in the NES version of Punch-Out, were definitely looking at the big leagues of boxing here. And somehow a hammer-loving, booze-monging Vietnam vet has managed to worm his way into the arena of athletically legitimised violence. Not only that, but hes inexplicably in charge of the whole bloody spectacle.
It takes over a year to become a British amateur boxing ref, and at least another year to qualify for overseeing professional matches. Where the hell Mario fitted all that in while also running an average of about three different jobs a week is beyond perplexing.
Champion of all sports (Super Mario Strikers, Mario Sports Mix)
Football, volleyball, dodgeball, hockey. Mario is seemingly pro standard at all of them, as well as the aforementioned golf, tennis, baseball, and all motorsports.
Yet the man has clearly never been to a gym in his life. Hes paying his opponents to throw his games in order to make him look amazing. He must be. His whole sporting career is one big sham of deceitful personal propaganda.
Pilot of bat-shaped spaceships (Alleyway)
Wait, what? No. Were not even No.
Marine archaeologist/biologist (Octopus)
The Game & Watch series is a hotbed of Mario moonlighting malarkey. And not even now, at this late stage in the list, does a single one of them make sense.
According to this GBA remake of the 1981 LCD handheld, Mario is--in addition to possessing the implausible raft of skills already detailed in this feature--an expert in scuba diving. And he also has the required knowledge of marine life to safely navigate an encounter with a goddamn Kraken.
Another Game & Watch career switch. Obviously anyone in the world can learn to cook on a basic level. The skill is a fundamental element of our ongoing ability to not die.
But a jack of all trades like Mario, running a professional dining establishment? This is a man who lives on raw mushrooms and cake. His menu will devastate your insides with fungal sucrose nightmares.
Rifleman (Yoshi's Safari)
Given that Yoshis Safari is a bright, breezy, cuddly shooter set in the Mario universe, youd imagine there to be some stylistically in-keeping MacGuffin to safely explain how and why Mario is shooting his opponents. He might be hurling sugary doughnuts at his prey, making them all sticky and slow before the inevitable sugar-coma knocks them out. He could be packing some manner of magical sleep-inducing ordnance made from those weird trip-out plants in Yoshis Island. But no. No, hes just using a massive gun that Peach gave to him.
And apparently hes well enough trained in the use of firearms to accurately fire the thing while riding on the back of a dinosaur. Multiply this fact by the increasingly troubling psychological profile weve built up over the last 20 or so pages and then just stay the hell indoors until the police tell you its all over.
Animal trainer (Donkey Kong Circus)
All this and animal cruelty too? Who is this guy? Does anyone know, really? Certainly not Mario any more, of that were sure. Its a little remembered fact that in the original game Donkey Kong was Marios pet ape, and only went on the rampage after being ill-treated. And now here we are, in another of Marios Game & Watch identity purges, witnessing his barbaric attempt to almost literally turn DK into a dancing monkey.
Donkey Kong must balance atop a barrel while juggling pineapples as fire rains from the sky. Should DK drop one of the whirling fruits or accidentally burn himself, Mario will leap into the air, point and laugh maniacally. Hes one step away from taking his victims ears as trophies, we swear.
Submarine captain (Super Mario Land)
Presumably an off-shoot of his marine biology side-career.
Fighter Pilot (Super Mario Land)
What did you do in the war, Daddy?
"Well I fixed u-bends and installed a load of taps, but then they gave me this plane and it turned out that my skills were completely transferable. I was a natural. I killed loads of Nazis in that thing and didnt even take a scratch."
Daddy, youre talking crap again, arent you?
Jack of more trades?
So, any we've missed? Is that the completely list of Mario's highly suspicious 'skills', or are there yet more to mention? Let us know.
And while we're probing the secret life of Mario is such intimate detail, why not check out some of our similar stuff, like our expose on The sexual politics of the Mushroom Kingdom, or our list of 20 things we've always wondered about the Mario universe.