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The Super Mario Bros. TV Show You Forgot Existed

With the long legacy that "Super Mario Bros." has, it's no surprise that Nintendo's beloved franchise is getting a new movie for 2022. The animated project from Illumination is leaping with an all-star cast that includes Chris Pratt as Mario, Charlie Day as Luigi, Anya Taylor-Joy as Princess Peach, Keegan-Michael Key as Toad, and even Jack Black as Bowser (via The Hollywood Reporter). With such an exciting project, it might surprise some fans that this isn't the first time the adventurous plumbers have traveled to the magical world of adaptations.

In 1989, hot after the sales of the first two NES titles in the "Mario" franchise, Mario and Luigi came to life before many children's eyes thanks to a well-known comedic actor and charismatic pro wrestler/manager. DIC Entertainment and Saban Entertainment produced "The Super Mario Bros. Super Show!," a unique TV series that, despite only lasting one season, still left a memorable impact among young fans of the beloved Nintendo characters.

The series blended live-action and animated segments

With only 52 episodes, "The Super Mario Bros. Super Show!" was primarily based on "Super Mario Bros." and "Super Mario Bros. 2." The show also took inspiration from "Pee-Wee's Playhouse" and combined live-action and animated segments (via The Ringer). It respectively starred future WWE Hall of Famer "Captain" Lou Albano and actor Danny Wells ("The Jeffersons") as Mario and Luigi, who not only also voiced their cartoon counterparts but, per Genius, also provided the vocals for the infectious "Plumber Rap" opening. Before switching to the cartoon, the show usually opened with a comedic live segment featuring Albano and Wells. During these segments, Mario and Luigi were often joined by other prominent celebrities of the time, including Magic Johnson, Cyndi Lauper, and Vanna White (via Boys' Life).

Fans might have noticed that the cartoons often drew from literature or popular films at the time for their episode plots. That's because Nintendo was actually not so hands-on with the series, and the show's writers were desperate to expand the story beyond just Mario saving the princess in "another castle." As such, they spoofed classic literature and films for episode content. This pull from pop culture also extended to "The Legend of Zelda" cartoon featured in the show, where Link's infamous "Well, excuse me, Princess!" line came from a Steve Martin bit (via The Ringer). Although, in the case of Link, fans probably wished that his cartoon version had stuck more to his silent NES roots.