Overshadowed by his brother Mario, Luigi has a lot of secrets best kept hidden. Too bad for him we’re here today to share everything you never knew about him! This Mario brother was created by Shigeru Miyamoto and first appeared in the arcade game Super Mario Bros. (1983) as simply a palette swapped version of Mario. He then reappeared in Super Mario Bros. (1985), became a main playable character for the first time in Super Mario Bros. 2 (1988), and would go on to appear in many more Mario games. He even got to star solo in his own games, including Mario is Missing! (1992) and Luigi’s Mansion (2001).
Learn about Luigi becoming more than just a palette swap of his brother. From the secrets of his games to fan theories, plus of course his famous meme, enjoy our list of Super Mario: 15 Things You Never Knew About Luigi.
15. Luigi’s Green For A Very Particular Reason
There is a very specific meaning behind Luigi’s color scheme and early appearance in Super Mario Bros. It really boils down to memory limitations. According to his creator Shigeru Miyamoto, due to the memory limitations of the game, Luigi had to look identical to Mario and could not have his own sprite. This obviously changed in future games as the technology evolved.
However, because of the memory limitations in the game, the color choices were limited as well. In the game, there are two particular enemies: Sidesteppers and Shellcreepers. Sidesteppers are the red crabs and the Sidesteppers are the green-shelled turtles. Mario and the Sidesteppers shared a color palette, so Miyamoto decided Luigi should be the same colors as the Shellcreepers. Miyamoto confirms this himself in an interview with Destructoid, in which he says: “we looked at the turtles in that game. Their heads are sort of skin-toned, their shells are green, so what we could do is we could use the color palette from the turtle on this character.”
14. Works For Castle Dracula
Luigi apparently took the wrong job. In Castlevania: Lords of Shadows – Mirror of Fate (2013), skeleton knights can be found within Dracula’s castle. Most of them have notes, and one particular note reads as follows:
“The terrible state of the pipes down here would perturb even my brother Mario.
Some parts have rusted terribly, while others are covered with fungus due to the high humidity.
Not all the mushrooms look good to eat either. Who knows what might happen if I eat one?”
Unless Mario has a third brother we don’t know about, it looks like Luigi’s met a terrible fate. Working as a plumber in Castle Dracula probably wasn’t the best career move for poor ol’ Luigi.
The closest anyone will get to seeing Luigi alive in the same universe with Castle Dracula is in the nonprofit flash game Super Smash Flash 2 published by the indie company McLeodGaming. Castle Dracula is a starter stage in the game and you can fight as Luigi. That’s a much better end for the plumber.
13. His Voice Actor Had Capgras Delusion
Actor and comedian Tony Rosato (Saturday Night Live) voiced Luigi in The Adventures of Super Mario Bros. 3 cartoon. It is sadly ironic that he portrayed a character who started out as simply a double of Mario. See, Rosato suffered from Capgras delusion. It is a mental disorder characterized by the delusion that the person’s friend, spouse, parent, or other people close to them have been replaced by an impostor. In Rosato’s case, he believed his wife and daughter had been replaced by lookalikes. His wife left him because she was worried about their daughter’s safety and he ended up getting arrested and plead not guilty to criminally harassing his wife. Rosato ended up spending four years in custody– two years in jail and two years in a psychiatric facility.
The story does have a happy ending though. Rosato was released in 2009 and, thanks to anti-psychotic medication, he was able to go back to being with his family. In an interview with the Star, Rosato stated, “I’m okay…. Everything is all right. There have been a lot of misunderstandings and they’ve been cleared up.” He still acts to this day, and will be in the Canadian drama Born Dead (2016).
12. Luigi Became His Own Character In Super Mario Bros. 2
Luigi didn’t stay a simple palette swap of Mario. With Super Mario Bros. 2, Luigi became a main playable character for the first time ever. The game is actually a rebranded game called Yume Kōjō: Doki Doki Panic, which was originally a Mario-style tech demo. Nintendo went with this version after they decided Super Marios Bros. 2 was too hard and too closely resembled the first game. Luigi’s character took the place of Mama, who had the ability to jump higher than any other character and could hover a little bit at the top of her jump. But Luigi can jump even higher than Mama.
Luigi’s sprite in this game changed from looking exactly like Mario to being taller and leaner. This and his improved jumping ability would become staples of Luigi’s character. Miyamoto also suggested making his legs flutter while jumping. Hideki Konno, a graphic designer on the Super Mario Bros. games, stated on Go Nintendo that Miyamoto made this suggestion because Luigi had a very slow jump.
11. Luigi Starred In A Game Before Luigi’s Mansion
Some people think Luigi’s Mansion is the first game Luigi starred in. It’s not, but Nintendo may be hoping you continue to think that since they probably want you to forget Mario is Missing! ever existed. Back in 1992, this educational game came out for PC and SNES; then, in 1993, the NES version was released. The game is geography-based and starred only Luigi.
The story is about Bowser planning to flood the Earth. He has his Koopas steal famous landmarks so he can get the money necessary to put his plan into action. After all, why would a buyer think twice about buying the Eiffel Tower from a giant dragon? Mario goes into Bowser’s castle alone and is captured, so Luigi must rescue him, as well as get all the landmarks back by answering three questions about them. Yay for education?
Luigi would not star in another game until Luigi’s Mansion in 2001. Probably because the game was pretty badly panned by critics, and even got featured on The Angry Video Game Nerd.
10. Luigi Is The Only One Who Has Seen Shy Guy’s Face
One of the great mysteries of the Mario universe is the identity of Shy Guys, who have been a Mario enemy (and possibly ally) since Super Mario Bros. 2. One Mario fan theory speculated that Shy Guys were the result of experimental mutations while others suggested they are secretly part of an international mercenary-spy conglomerate, or are enslaved Shaolin monks. The only one who knows what Shy Guys’ true face looks like is Luigi.
During Shy Guy’s victory celebration at the end of Mario Power Tennis (2004), Shy Guy falls down in front of Luigi, who sees his real face. His reaction is shock, but gamers are never shown what he sees. It’s questionable whether Luigi recognized Shy Guy’s face from the enemies he fought in Luigi’s Mansion (pictured above). The Shy Guys only appear as undead ghosts in the game. Their masks, when taken off by Luigi’s vacuum, show a dark face with glowing eyes. Is this what Luigi saw, or do living Shy Guys have even scarier true faces?
9. Origins Of Luigi’s Mansion
Luigi’s Mansion featured Luigi winning a mansion that turns out to be haunted by ghosts. But when you win a mansion in a contest you didn’t even enter and it turns out to be in the middle of a dark and spooky forest, what do you expect? Luigi finds out Mario has been captured by King Boo and he must rescue him. This game cemented Luigi’s cowardly personality.
There are a lot of rumors about Luigi’s Mansion that mention earlier versions of the game and content that was cut from the final version. The general belief is that the game was supposed to be darker and more violent. One cut piece of content was a hunter ghost in a Safari Room who wants to add Luigi’s head to his trophy collection. Even though data for the ghost isn’t found in the game, Nintendo Power’s October 2001 issue showed the Safari Room and said “When your ghoul-busting mission takes you to the trophy room, proceed with caution. If you meet up with the ghost of a hunter, he’ll want to add Luigi to his collection.” There was also a rumor that the game was supposed to have a time limit of 24 hours and if the player fails to complete it in that time, the Mansion, along with Mario, would disappear. Quite a dark fate indeed.
8. Fan Theory: Luigi Dies in Luigi’s Mansion
Among the many dark theories surrounding Luigi’s Mansion, one popular speculation is that Luigi dies pretty much at the beginning of the game. When Luigi walks into the mansion, a flash of lightning strikes as he walks across the entrance. The shadows that are a result of that flash of light seem to show Luigi hanging from the ceiling with a noose around his neck. Some think it’s a glitch while others take a more… imaginative approach.
Some fans think this hanging Luigi shadow is actually a sign that Luigi commits suicide in the game. In order to make this theory work, though, games that came out after Luigi’s Mansion would have to take place before this game. So, fans suggest it’s the last game in the Mario series in which Luigi appears alive. Like a lot of fan theories, while this is creatively dark, it’s most likely untrue. It has to be… right?
7. Hidden Messages In Luigi’s Mansion: Dark Moon
The sequel to Luigi’s Mansion, called Luigi’s Mansion: Dark Moon (2013), was released as part of the “Year of Luigi,” celebrating 30 years since Luigi first appeared. There are many hidden messages and Easter eggs to enjoy in the game. The first letter of every mansion, possessor, and bonus mission spell out “ghost.” And if you include multiplayer area ScareScraper, you get the word “ghosts”. The German translation spells out the word “geist” and the Dutch version spells out the word “spook”. And in the French version, the first letter of each bonus mission spells out “Luigi”.
Another nice little Easter egg is the house Luigi lives in. It’s uncannily similar to the mansion you get if you earn a D rank when you beat King Boo in Luigi’s Mansion. You can also see the A rank mansion next to the Luigi Circuit racetrack in Mario Kart Double Dash (2003). Looks like Luigi’s house has gone downhill in the ten years between games.
6. Created Controversy By “Promoting Lesbianism”
Luigi caused a bit of controversy when he was accused of promoting lesbianism. Apparently, in the game Mario Golf: Toadstool Tour (2003), Luigi celebrates a good shot with his L-shaped hand gesture on his chin. Some players thought this was the American Sign Language word for “lesbian.” They didn’t take into account the fact that Luigi isn’t using his right hand and the sign is in the wrong position. Other than that it’s totally the same thing. It’s not like the L-sign could represent anything else. Except for, you know, Luigi.
It’s sad that something like this would cause some controversy, but Luigi seems to have a lot of bad luck. The “Year of Luigi” coincided with Nintendo reporting a$456 million operating loss and Luigi was listed as the “Queen” in the Mario chess set– although that last one isn’t really bad luck considering the queen is the most powerful piece in chess!
5. Luigi Can Turn Into A Kitsune
Back in Super Mario Bros. 3, when Mario or Luigi picked up a tanooki suit, they would turn into basically an advanced version of the Raccoon Mario with the ability to turn into a stone statue. The name references the tanuki, a Japanese raccoon dog. When Mario turns into a statue while in this form, he looks similar to Kshitigarbha, a beloved deity who protects travelers and is the guardian of souls. Luigi was also able to attain this form in Super Mario Bros. 3, but that changed in Super Mario 3D Land. In this game, Mario can transform into a tanuki, but Luigi transforms into Kitsune Luigi or Fox Luigi.
A kitsune (the Japanese word for fox spirit) is part of Japanese mythology and is described as being intelligent and capable of magical powers. They are also able to shape-shift into human form. A popular version of this creature is the nine-tailed fox, who has appeared in Chinese and Japanese folklore. You may remember such a creature from the anime Naruto. So yeah, Naruto and Luigi have something in common– they can both access the power of the fox spirit!
4. He Has The Most Nicknames Of Any Mario Character
Out of every Mario character, even his own brother, Luigi has the most nicknames. In total, he’s been called over 30 different things, including some of these gems: “The Eternal Understudy” (Super Smash Bros.), “King of Second Bananas” from Super Smash Bros. Brawl (2008), “The Other Guy” from Mario & Luigi: Superstar Saga (2003), “Plunger Puss” from Mario is Missing!, and “Long John Spaghetti ” from The Super Mario Bros. Super Show! (1989).
But the list goes on! There’s “Mr. Lime-Green” from Luigi’s Mansion, he gets called “Mr. Eyeballs” by Waluigi in Mario Power Tennis (2004), and even “Mr. Lean ‘n’ Green” in Mario & Luigi: Superstar Saga. One of his more popular nicknames is “Weegee,” which Mario called him in Super Mario Adventures (1992-1993). When Mario calls you something, it seems to stick. Weegee is actually the name of a photoshop meme using Luigi’s avatar in the DOS version of Mario Is Missing!
3. The Many Different Meanings Of Luigi’s Name
The meanings of Luigi’s name are also plentiful. The name is actually a pun on Mario. Apparently, “ruiji” in Japanese means “similar.” The similarity of the word to Luigi is not a coincidence. After all, Luigi used to just be a palette swap of Mario. His name indicates their similarities. Ironically, the meaning of Luigi’s name is “Renowned fighter”– so despite Luigi being cowardly, he might have more power than meets the eye, correlating with the Mario fan theory that Luigi is actually extremely powerful. There has also been a longstanding rumor that the pizza place closest to Nintendo’s headquarters was called Mario & Luigi’s, which inspired the brothers’ names.
It’s interesting to note that despite the Super Mario Bros. movie insisting Mario and Luigi have last names (“Mario”, which led to some pretty bad humor), the two brothers do not have last names. At least, that’s what their creator states. In an interview with Game Informer, Shigeru Miyamoto comments, “just like Mickey Mouse doesn’t really have a last name, Mario is really just Mario and Luigi is really just Luigi.” The man of so many nicknames actually doesn’t have a last name.
2. “Luigi’s Death Stare” Meme
Luigi isn’t just known for his Weegee meme but also the briefly popular “Luigi’s Death Stare” meme. This is about the various memorable facial expressions Luigi makes in the game Mario Cart 8 (2014). According to Know Your Meme, his death stare was first noticed in a Youtube video, “Waluigi vs Luigi”, posted to Youtube by YouTuber Rizupicorr. The same day, the Youtube video “Mario Kart 8 – Luigi’s Death Stare” was also posted by Mega Beardo.
It only grew in popularity when CZbwoi parodied the original clip by playing Ridin’ by Chamillionaire. Then the Luigi death stare GIF was posted and it all blew up from there. Numerous “Luigi Death Stares” have been cropping up since then, but the meme has pretty much died out. But the meme became so big that Nintendo even referenced it during the E3 2014 Digital Event and used the stare for their Japanese ads.
1. his rumored appearance in the original game
There has been a longstanding rumor that he was going to be a playable character in the original Super Mario 64 (1996) game. It became known as “L is Real 2401”. A lot of people created fake codes and videos showing Luigi in the game, but it is not possible to play as him. A Game Shark cheat can also give Mario his brother’s outfit. But why did this rumor persist?
Creator Miyamoto Sigeru stated in a Wired interview that “With Mario 64, we had an experiment that took advantage of the idea of the screen growing larger and smaller depending on how far apart the characters were. So we had Mario and Luigi running around in that 3-D world, but we ended up not using it.” When asked why they didn’t include Luigi in the final product, Miyamoto said, “Ultimately, it’s the idea of processing speed and working within the constraints of the hardware. The DS Mario 64 had a mode with something similar to that, where you were playing with four characters.” Luigi can be unlocked as a playable character in Super Mario 64 DS (a remake of the original game for the Nintendo DS). But you’ll find a lot of people trying really hard to convince you he’s a playable character in the original game.
So now you know some of Luigi’s deep dark secrets. What else do you know about Mr. Lean ‘n’ Green? Let us know in the comments below.