80

It is a known fact that Mario and Luigi are plumbers.

But when was that defined, and did it ever have any effect on the plot of a game?

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    Yeah, at least in Mario and Luigi Superstar Saga, where they repair pipes in one area – Unionhawk Aug 5 '16 at 1:17
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    They regularly bring their plumbing expertise to bear when jumping down huge magical pipes. – DCShannon Aug 5 '16 at 1:20
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    @DCShannon : True enough. Perhaps especially in SMB3, when the screen scrolls according to the direction of the pipe (particularly in World 7, which is pipe-themed). Although your answer may sound overly simplistic, it is really quite true. And, for that reason alone, it actually deserves up-votes as an actual answer. – TOOGAM Aug 5 '16 at 3:28
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    @TOOGAM Indeed, the speed at which they move through the pipes makes it clear that they have cleared all the clogs along the way. – DCShannon Aug 5 '16 at 3:31
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    I'd rather believe they are gardeners. Makes much more sense, considering they're fighting turtles and carnivorous flowers all the time. – Diti Aug 5 '16 at 8:44
92

They were first shown to be plumbers in the original Mario Bros. game

Mario Bros. NES box art
(Thanks to Chase Sandmann for the box art correction.)
Mario Bros. gameplay screenshot

The original Mario Bros. game, first released in arcades in 1983, was the first game in which Mario and his brother were shown to be plumbers. In fact, the entire premise of the game was about their plumbing, in which they were attempting to eliminate strange creatures in the sewers of New York. During the game, enemies would come out of the pipes at the top of the screen and make their way down to the pipes at the bottom, which they would enter to loop back to the top.

This was a change from Mario's first appearance in Donkey Kong, where Mario (at the time called Jumpman) was instead a carpenter.

It was a plot point in Mario & Luigi: Superstar Saga

Mario & Luigi: Superstar Saga

Relatively early on in this RPG for the Game Boy Advance, the Mario Bros. are required to fix the plumbing system in Beanbean Castle, supposedly to prove their identities. Having been explicitly called out in dialogue, this is likely the most well-known instance of the brothers' profession being relevant to the plot of one of the games.

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    Not a bad answer at all. I would add that in Mario Bros., those pipes are not just background. They are the entry points and exit points of most threats. So they do, very much, impact the game. (As much as anything else in this rather simplistic game.) – TOOGAM Aug 5 '16 at 3:27
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    Also, they were plumbers in the original TV show. – user150878 Aug 5 '16 at 3:42
  • @TOOGAM But doors may have been used instead, it wouldn't change the plot of the game, as the question ask. – A.L Aug 5 '16 at 15:43
  • Note that it is possible that Mario previously worked as a carpenter before becoming a plumber. So there isn't a contradiction to the original Donkey Kong. – jpmc26 Aug 5 '16 at 15:52
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    @A.L : The arcade's panel had written plot (by instructions) : "PESTS COME POURING OUT OUT OF THE WATERPIPES. MARIO CLEANS UP THE PLACE." This predates the NES cartridge. Saying pipes could have been doors is like: jumping in SMB could have used a jet pack instead, nets instead of bubbles in Bubble Bobble, a grappling hook with a rope in Bionic Commando, a sword as Castlevania's base weapon, human enemies instead of robots for Mega Man, & vice versa for Contra. These things could have been, but weren't/didn't (except Contra's). M.Bros's actual plot, which was really used, involved pipes. – TOOGAM Aug 6 '16 at 4:52
49

In Super Mario 3D World for the Wii U, the intro shows the Mario Brothers stumbling upon a broken pipe and they set about fixing it with their plumbing powers. It's an extremely minor plot point but a plot point nonetheless.

Part of the Super Mario 3D World intro Fixed pipe in Super Mario 3D World intro

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    Plumbing Simulator – Captain Man Aug 5 '16 at 14:03
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    I haven't met many plumbers that use a large mallet. – Mark Rogers Aug 5 '16 at 14:57
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    @MarkRogers Plumbers using a large mallet are totally a thing. There's even a stock photo and we know all stock photos are completely realistic, right? – Zach Lipton Aug 5 '16 at 21:51
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    @A.L That's how most video game characters fix things. It's called Percussive Maintenance. – Pharap Aug 7 '16 at 10:50
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    It looks like Mario and Luigi have incredibly long arms in the "ta-dah" picture. They could probably touch their toes by leaning forward about 2 inches. – nailbones Aug 8 '16 at 6:26

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