Mario character
Bowser, as depicted in promotional artwork for New Super Mario Bros. U Deluxe
First appearanceSuper Mario Bros. (1985)
Last appearanceGame & Watch: Super Mario Bros. (2020)
Created byShigeru Miyamoto
Designed byShigeru Miyamoto
Yōichi Kotabe
Portrayed byChristopher Collins/Patrick Pinney (King Koopa's Kool Kartoons)
Dennis Hopper (Super Mario Bros.)
Voiced by
In-universe information
AliasKing Koopa
TitleKing of the Koopas
ChildrenBowser Jr.

Bowser (クッパ, Kuppa, "Koopa")[1] or King Koopa, is a fictional character and the main antagonist of Nintendo's Mario franchise. In Japan, the character bears the title of Daimaō (大魔王, "Great Demon King").[2] In the United States, the character was first referred to as "Bowser, King of the Koopas" and "the sorcerer king" in the instruction manual.[3] Bowser is the leader of the turtle-like Koopa race and has been the archenemy of Mario since his first appearance, in the 1985 video game Super Mario Bros.

His ultimate goals are to kidnap Princess Peach, defeat Mario and conquer the Mushroom Kingdom. Since his debut, he has appeared in almost every Mario franchise game, usually serving as the main antagonist. Bowser is voiced by Kenny James. In addition to his usual animated and video game appearances, he also appears in the 1993 live-action film, where he is portrayed by Dennis Hopper.

Concept and creation

Bowser was created by Nintendo designer and producer Shigeru Miyamoto. Miyamoto had first envisioned Bowser as an ox, basing him on the Ox-King from the Toei Animation film Alakazam the Great.[4] However, Nintendo designer Takashi Tezuka pointed out that the character looked a lot more like a turtle than an ox. Miyamoto and Tezuka then began to work together to define Bowser's appearance. Since the character was the leader of the turtle-like Koopa Troopas the two began to base his new appearance on them, creating a new illustration. In his final design, Miyamoto commented that he could make Bowser "look cool now".[5]

Miyamoto named him クッパ Daimaō Kuppa. Kuppa came from the Japanese name for , gukbap, a Korean dish. Miyamoto had also considered the names ユッケ Yukke and ビビンバ Bibinba, also Japanese names of Korean dishes (육회 yukhoe and 비빔밥 bibimbap respectively).[6] The Korean name for the character Bowser/Kuppa is not Gukbap, but 쿠파 Kupa, which is essentially a phonetic round-trip translation.[7] The name was anglicized Kuppa rather than Koopa in the Japanese versions up until the release of Super Mario World.[8][9]

In the Super Mario Bros. film, Bowser is portrayed by Dennis Hopper and is called President Koopa. He is also briefly referred to as King Koopa. This incarnation is almost entirely human in appearance, with blonde hair he gels in the shape of a crown, and he frequently wears a black business suit and necktie. However, after brief exposure to his own evolution-reversing device by the Mario Bros., he starts occasionally possessing some reptilian traits. The climax of the film sees Koopa devolve into an enormous green Tyrannosaurus rex to battle the Mario Bros., but he is further devolved into primordial ooze.[10]


Bowser is portrayed as the "King of the Koopas", anthropomorphic turtles that inhabit the world of the Mushroom Kingdom. Bowser differs greatly from the rest of the Koopa clan, which consists mainly of bipedal tortoises. He is characterized by a large, spiked turtle shell, horns, a draconic muzzle, razor-sharp fangs, taloned fingers, three clawed toes on each foot, red eyes and a shock of red hair.

He is physically endowed with immense strength, is nearly indestructible, and can breathe fire. He can also jump surprisingly high for his large size, although his speed and agility are most of the time lacking. He is also accomplished in black magic, thanks to which he can teleport himself or summon objects, fly, generate a huge amount of electricity, use telekinesis or metamorphose.

Bowser's physical size tends to vary from game to game. In most games, he towers over the majority of characters, but there are exceptions. In Super Mario RPG, he stands only slightly taller than Mario. He is shown changing his size at will or through others' sorcery in games including Yoshi's Island, Super Mario Galaxy and Super Mario Galaxy 2.

Bowser aspires to take over the Mushroom Kingdom and merge it with his own realm. He is infatuated with Princess Peach,[11][12][13] and routinely kidnaps her as part of his plans for domination.[14] Sometimes, he kidnaps Peach simply to lure Mario into a trap, but occasionally he hopes to marry her.

The character's role in the franchise varies. He is typically the main antagonist in the main series, but in the RPG series, he sometimes works with the heroes to defeat a greater evil.[15] The RPGs also portray Bowser in a more humorous light as a blustering, buffoonish bully with a hidden softer side. He also cares for his minions.

Bowser has a son, Bowser Jr., who helps his father kidnap Princess Peach. Bowser Jr.'s mother is unknown, as Bowser isn't officially confirmed as having a previous marriage yet. Originally in Super Mario Bros. 3, Bowser was stated to be the father of the Koopalings[16] with subsequent official sources adding that he was their biological father,[17][18] but since their return in New Super Mario Bros. Wii they have been referred to as Bowser's minions. In a 2012 interview, Shigeru Miyamoto stated, "Our current story is that the seven Koopalings are not Bowser's children. Bowser's only child is Bowser Jr., and we do not know who the mother is."[19]

Voice and portrayal

Up until the release of Super Mario Sunshine, Bowser's voice consisted of mostly stock roars and snarls synthesized from various animal sounds as well as modulated laughs from Mario's primary voice actor, Charles Martinet. Then, in the 2002 release of Super Mario Sunshine, radio personality and voice actor Scott Burns gave Bowser his first spoken dialogue and continued portraying him for several more years. With the late 2005 release of Super Mario Strikers, Kenneth W. James became the new voice actor for Bowser. Although, for a few years, old recordings of Burns were reused for games after James took the role, such as Mario Party DS. Between Burns and James, Bowser was briefly voiced by Eric Newsome in Super Paper Mario. Bowser's pre-Sunshine sounds are still used occasionally in such games as the Super Smash Bros. series.


In video games

Super Mario series

Bowser has appeared in almost every Super Mario game, starting with Super Mario Bros., often serving as each game's main antagonist and final boss. With few exceptions, the common goal of the player is to defeat Bowser and rescue Princess Peach. In some entries, Bowser is aided by Bowser Jr. and the Koopalings. A child variant of the character, Baby Bowser, made its first appearance as the final boss of Super Mario World 2: Yoshi's Island, and has since primarily appeared in games in the Yoshi spin-off franchise.

Other games

  • Bowser makes various appearances in the Mario RPGs.
    • In Super Mario RPG, he uses Mario and the Koopa Troop to become an ally only to reclaim his castle which is stolen by the main antagonist Smithy.
    • The Paper Mario series
      • In the first Paper Mario game, he is the primary antagonist, stealing an item called the Star Rod and using it to empower himself.
      • He is a lesser antagonist in The Thousand-Year Door and a minor playable character, and is a major playable character in the sequel Super Paper Mario.
      • He also appeared in Sticker Star as the main antagonist where he invades the Sticker Fest ceremony and serves as the final boss with the sixth and final Royal Sticker. Unlike the other games, this is the first Paper Mario game he doesn't talk.
      • He appears in Color Splash as the main antagonist. However, unusually, he is unintentionally evil in this game, having been corrupted by poisonous black paint he accidentally created by mixing the six colors of the rainbow, turning him into Black Bowser. Under its influence, Black Bowser plans to cover Prism Island, as well as the Mushroom Kingdom in black paint.
      • He appears in The Origami King as an ally to assist Mario in order to stop King Olly.
    • The Mario & Luigi series