What happens when the hero falls? It's a curious question, one that we won't ever really be able to answer. We often get so caught up in saving the world, the princess, the whatever, that we never stop to think: What would happen when there's no one left to save that which needs saving? Here's our speculative glimpse at the Mushroom Kingdom's could-be future should Mario ever meet his demise. Fair warning, though--it ain't pretty.
Year 1: Rumors circulate of Mario's fall
The first year was the easiest. No one really knew what was going on. Mario hadn't been seen since he took off for Bowser's castle to save Princess Peach, and folks were starting to worry. "He'll be back," they'd say. Some thought he slipped away on vacation to the tropical resort of Isle Delfino. Others heard rumors that he'd gone to patch things up with his old rival, Donkey Kong. A few even claimed to have seen him eloping with Princess Peach--but no one knew anything for sure.
Citizens clung to false hope, reassuring one another by recalling tales of Mario's past triumphs. Their quivering bodies betrayed the false confidence escaping their lips. It was easy to read between the lines and hear the desperation in their voices. "He'll be back--he always comes back," they'd stammer. But Mario never came back.
Year 2: Luigi defects to Sarasaland
Once the inhabitants of Mushroom Kingdom realized Mario was gone for good, they held an official mourning ceremony at Peach's castle. Denizens from all over the land, as well as from the galaxy's surrounding planetoids, made the pilgrimage to honor the noble plumber's sacrifice (assuming it was a sacrifice, anyway--no one knew for sure). But two people were notably absent from the memorial: Princess Peach, who was assumed to still be enslaved by Bowser, and Mario's brother, Luigi.
Luigi couldn't handle the pressure. Everyone started to question who, if anyone, could take up Mario's princess-saving mantle. So Luigi, knowing he was but a fraction of the man Mario was, did the only thing a person in his position could do: He left. Rumor has it he sought Princess Daisy's hand over in Sarasaland, was rejected, and spent the rest of his days eating Mini Mushrooms so his physical size accurately reflected how small he felt inside. Unfortunately his actions had a pretty obvious side effect. Mushroom Kingdom was now vulnerable to Bowser's unquenchable lust for power.
Year 3: Bowser becomes the ruler of the Mushroom Kingdom
Big surprise there, right? With Mario and Luigi both out of the picture (and Princess Peach still missing), Bowser's ascendancy to the throne went unchallenged. He ruled with an iron claw. His first decree? To banish all power-ups in the land, a move that led to the the mass destruction of Fire Flowers, Super Mushrooms, Stars, and more. It was a wise move on his part, really, as doing so ensured that no individual could rise up to dispute his rule.
At first, things weren't all that bad for the kingdom's citizens once Bowser took over. In fact, they found their day-to-day lives to be more or less the same as they had been, so long as they didn't cause any trouble. This was quite vexing for most at the time, but that's because they didn't know Bowser had been attending nighttime sessions of Bad-Anon. Sure, he was ruthless, but he still wanted his subjects to like him. But that all changed fairly quickly.
Year 4: Wario becomes Bowser's right-hand man
As it turns out, being a feared dictator can get pretty boring when everyone's unnerved by your obsession with fire and scared of your spiked shell and the razor-sharp talons on your strong, large koopa hands. Bowser grew to crave excitement--he wanted to live on the edge, man. He wanted to drive motorcycles; to grow a mustache that screamed "strictly business"; to yell YOLO in a way that made contextual sense (even though Bowser himself banned that horrible phrase from the Mushroom Kingdom, he could do whatever he damn well pleased). And so he called upon the one man he knew could thrust a bit of adventure into his boring life: Wario.
Granted, Wario's idea of "adventure" mostly involved stomping on Toads' heads and wiggling his rear suggestively at innocent bystanders. But Bowser was happy to finally have a good friend that he could trust to watch his back, so he appointed Wario as his second-in-command and became much more agreeable to interfering with the lives of his subjects.
Year 5: The two do some pretty horrible things
Half a decade after The Fall, things got bad. Real bad. Bowser and Wario were a force to be reckoned with, and they loved stirring up trouble. Their pranks started off simple. At first they were satisfied with removing the coins and other goodies from all the blocks in Mushroom Kingdom, replacing their contents with cement, which was an unpleasant surprise for anyone hoping to make a quick buck. Unfortunately, the kingdom's economy imploded the second all of the coins were gone, causing mass panic to spread like flower fire.
Soon after, all pipes were corked, which cut everyone off from secret underground treasure rooms and nearly wiped out the kingdom's flora. And, just when folks thought it couldn't get any worse, jumping was outlawed. Jumping. The clouds stopped smiling. The hills stopped smiling. The angry sun didn't even have it in him to be angry anymore. The inhabitants of Mushroom Kingdom grew weary. They began to hope for a new hero. One gorilla--one buff, strikingly handsome gorilla whose musculature was more defined than that of any other--answered the call.
Year 6: Donkey Kong aids the people of Mushroom Kingdom...
It's hard living under the shadow of a famous father, especially when that father is emotionally abusive and thinks you're a colossal disappointment. Donkey Kong knew what it was like to be constantly criticized by his cranky dad. See, good 'ol DK was the first in his family to abandon his ancestors' mischief-making ways, and it didn't work out very well for him. People kept stealing his bananas. He kept getting trapped in barrels. He'd had enough. So when he heard that tyrants in Mushroom Kingdom were wreaking havoc, he set off on a great adventure to prove once and for all he could be a hero.
Upon arriving in the kingdom, he discovered things were worse than he had anticipated. He met up with Toadsworth and convinced him to rally the Toads and anyone willing to fight. For the next several months, they organized the resistance by using Warp Whistles to meet up in secret. Then, after countless hours of preparation, they launched an assault on Bowser's castle, dropping in from above using Lakitu's Clouds.
Year 7: ...but the War of Toad Aggression is lost
The assault on Bowser's castle quickly fell apart once DK discovered that Toads are deathly afraid of fire. Many of them burned their rumps and fled the scene. But Donkey Kong wouldn't give up, not now--not after he'd made it this far. He single-handedly defeated the Koopalings with his strong, muscular arms (which glistened with sweat thanks to all the fire), and finally breached Bowser's chambers. But he was not prepared for what he would find there.
"Welcome to my lair," Bowser said. DK couldn't help but notice the expertly curled mustache gracing King Koopa's reptilian upper lip. "We've been waiting for you." Wario and Bowser congratulated DK for making it as far as he had. They were impressed by his gumption, and presented him with an offer. They wanted him to join their ranks. "Think about it, Donkey Kong," Wario shrieked. "You can finally get the respect you deserve." DK did think about it--and after a bit of soul searching, decided he needed to take that opportunity to finally make his father proud. The three then developed a heinous plot to take out what remained of the resistance once and for all.
Year 8: A tennis tournament is held (as a trap for the resistance)
Knowing how much the denizens of Mushroom Kingdom loved tennis, Bowser, Wario, and DK scheduled a tournament--one they knew the leaders of the resistance couldn't possibly resist. The stakes were made clear from the beginning: should Toadsworth and his loyal followers win, they'd receive the coveted Star Cup. Defeat, however, meant death. To ensure his team's victory, Bowser had Wario spike the opposition's water with Poison Mushroom extract.
The tournament yielded fierce competition at first; Donkey Kong defeated Toadsworth during their singles match (his magnificent, muscular arms gave him an advantage), but Bowser and Wario would've surely been met with defeat had they not poisoned their opponents beforehand. The final outcome of the tournament remains one of the most tragic events to ever befall the Mushroom Kingdom. Toadsworth and his followers were detained and lined up before a series of Bill Blasters. Within a few moments, all that remained of any of them were Toad-stained Bullet Bills.
Year 9: The dictators divide the Mushroom Kingdom amongst themselves
While no one knows what, exactly, spurred the fallout between the evil three, most Mushroom Kingdom historians agree that Donkey Kong played a huge role in the events leading up to the division. His betrayal of Toadsworth's resistance riddled him with grief. The only thing that could make him happy again, he reckoned, was approval from his father. But Cranky Kong was horrified by his son's actions. He couldn't even bring himself to look DK in the eye. "You're no son of mine," he whispered in shame. Poor DK, he lost it.
He rushed back to Mushroom Kingdom, stricken by grief, and approached Bowser and Wario. He demanded a section of Mushroom Kingdom for himself so he could go and be alone with his torment. Bowser chuckled in disbelief, but Wario got to thinking--he wanted his own kingdom, too. The three warred amongst themselves. Donkey Kong relied on his strong, well-defined arms to bash the others, while Bowser breathed fire and slashed with his sharp Koopa talons. Wario mostly made lewd jokes and stroked his mustache a lot, which creeped the others out. In the end, the Mushroom Kingdom was divided evenly amongst them. Chaos ensued.
Year 10, part 1: A three-way civil war breaks out
A horrid dark age fell upon the Mushroom Kingdom after the division. The leaders engaged in a three-way civil war, fighting to gain more land. The lack of an economy meant citizens were forced to join the armies of their militant dictators to survive. After countless months of bloodshed Bowser developed the ultimate plan to reclaim the Mushroom Kingdom and end the war once and for all.
He built a massive silo where he stockpiled weapons of mass destruction. Wario and DK formed a temporary alliance to try and discover what Bowser was hoarding, but were never successful. The day they had planned to unite and invade Bowser's territory was the day they finally found out what Bowser had in store. Blue turtle shells erupted from the structure, blotting out the sky. The kingdom went dark as winged carapaces plummeted from the heavens, annihilating everyone in sight. When it was all over, nary a soul was left standing. "What have I wrought?" Bowser gasped in horror.
Year 10, part 2: The kingdom comes to an end
All Bowser ever wanted was to be loved. But there was no one left--there would never be anyone to love him now. He sulked back to his castle, alone. He sat on his throne, alone. As he choked back tears, he murmured to himself. "Mario... Peach... if only things had been different," he sobbed. "If only you hadn't..." But he didn't have the strength to continue.
Down the hall, he heard a peculiar noise. It was strangely familiar; it resonated with him so very deeply. He thought about his now-dead subjects. He thought about the immensely toned arms of Donkey Kong, and of his stylish tie. He thought about his own mustache, his first-ever mustache, which in turn made him think about Wario. The sound got louder--it reminded him of an alarm. Then he saw it. A blue turtle shell. Perhaps the only one left. And it was coming right for him. "So it has come to this," Bowser sighed. He rested his strong, firm Koopa hands. He rested his weary eyes. He put his mind at ease, and he awaited whatever destiny had in store. The tyrant's rule had ended.
The moral of the story is...
Don't be a jerk. If there's one lesson we can learn from the Mushroom Kingdom's horrible fate, it's that hopefully Mario won't ever die. But if he does, how might things actually go down? Share your Mario fanfic in the comments below.
Want more Mario speculation? Check out the things we want to see in Super Mario Wii U.