Toad – known in Japan as Kinopio – is a fictional, anthropomorphic mushroom in the Mario series, created by Shigeru Miyamoto. A citizen of the Mushroom Kingdom, Toad is one of Princess Peach's most loyal servants and is constantly working on her behalf. Toad is usually seen as a non-player character (NPC) who provides assistance to Mario and his friends. However, there are times when Toad takes center stage and appears as a hero character as seen in Super Mario Bros. 2 and Wario's Woods.
Toad's original role as a helper has been increasingly taken over by Toadsworth, causing Toad to appear less frequently than he once had in the main series; however, in New Super Mario Bros. Wii, two Toads (Yellow and Blue) appear as playable characters along with Mario and Luigi.
Toad and the Toad species were first seen in the game Super Mario Bros. where the species was revealed to comprise the majority of the population of the Mushroom Kingdom. Toad's design was made directly from the power up, the Super Mushroom as well as the game's general association with mushrooms. In the game, the people of the Mushroom Kingdom had been turned by Bowser into various objects such as bricks; however, some of Princess Peach's loyal servants, known as "Mushroom Retainers" were simply kidnapped.
Toad bears a similar appearance to the rest of his species with his large mushroom cap and clothes. He is extremely small in size, and has no legs visible, with just his shoes showing. Unlike other Toads, he features red polka dots on his mushroom head and wears a blue vest with a yellow outline on it; however, his coloration will change if he gets a fire flower, as his cap's colors will reversed while his clothes turn red. Sometimes, Toad appears with a red vest, though he is most often seen with his blue vest.
In the Mario cartoons, Toad has on occasion removed his mushroom cap, revealing three strands of hair; however, the games have never confirmed or denied this. Toad appears as a mix between a mushroom and a rather small human. However, Toad can appear to be about a normal human's height if he consumes a Super Mushroom, as proven in Super Mario Bros. 2 and in New Super Mario Bros. Wii.
At most times, Toad is portrayed as a rather cowardly character, but the fact that he actually knows about his cowardice makes him one of the more innocent and humbler characters in the series. Despite his fears, Toad is usually one of the few people that tries his best to support Mario when he is on his adventures, from providing items, to actually going along with the hero as well. Despite the fact that Toad is usually seen as a 'happy' character, he can get extremely distressed when a major event occurs, such as the kidnapping of the princess, which causes him to lose a lot of courage at these times.
Through the various games that Toad is playable in, he has been shown with different unique abilities that differ from the other characters. In Super Mario Bros. 2, he had a combination of being the strongest and fastest character in the game with 5 out of 5 stars each. However, he had horrible jumps, just being at 2 out of 5 stars. In Wario's Woods, Toad had the unique ability to run up walls and as well give strong kicks. Toad was once again given superhuman strength in the game, as he was able to lift and throw enemies around; however, these abilities have not been seen since this game, as Toad has gotten less time as a playable character.
In the Super Smash Bros. series, Toad is shown to emit spores like real mushrooms whenever he is attacked as shown when Peach uses her standard special move. This has never been actually seen in the main Mario series games though except in Mario Tennis 64 where Toad has been shown to scatter spores (shown as small mushrooms) if he is hit by a strong force as shown in his winning ceremony where he drops a trophy on his head. In New Super Mario Bros. Wii, Toad shares many of the moves and abilities that Mario and Luigi are able to use such as the ground pound and wall jumping. He has access to Mario's Power ups, but unlike the other games Toad has starred in, this game gives him all round stats (such as average jumps instead of weak ones) similar to the Mario bros.
Toad made his debut appearance in Super Mario Bros. where he plays a minimal role in the game. He appears at the end of every fourth stage as one of the mushroom retainers (toads who serve the princess the most) once Mario or Luigi defeats Bowser, rewarding the heroes with the famous message: "Thank you Mario! But our princess is in another castle!" In Super Mario Bros. 2, he was given a bigger role, being one of the four playable characters. Out of the four characters, Toad was the strongest as well as the fastest. However he had the worst jumps out of the group so he was considered better for speed runs of the game. In Super Mario Bros. 3, Toad appears in the Toad houses where he provides items for Mario to take on his journey. Toad however is the main protagonist of Wario's Woods, where he is trying to prevent Wario from taking over the woods. Eventually with the help of a fairy named Wanda and Birdo for support, Toad fights Wario and in the end he saves the woods from the clutches of the evil antagonist, restoring peace to the area.
The 3D Mario games introduced Toad's role as a helper who would provide assistance to Mario if he needed it thus making him as one of Mario's major allies. In Super Mario 64, Toad explains the backstory to Mario, as well as telling him what he has to do to proceed in the game. In its remake Super Mario 64 DS, Toad appears with the same role; however, he is given character-specific remarks (such as mistaking Luigi for Mario in green clothes). In Luigi's Mansion, Toad appears in various parts of the mansion as a save point. Different colored Toads appear in Super Mario Sunshine as Peach's attendants. In Super Mario Galaxy, Toads appear at the beginning of the game, and later on appear as the Toad Brigade, who attempt to help Mario or Luigi. Toad himself appears in the intro of the game where he is holding hands with Toadette as the two look at the night sky. Toad is featured as one of the save icons for the game. In New Super Mario Bros. Wii there are two playable Toads, one blue and one yellow. The Blue Toad coincidentally appears very similar to Toad's appearance in Super Mario Bros. 2. These two toads in this game have been unofficially named by IGN Yvan & Wolley respectively. Despite the blue toad's color difference however, it should be noted that in most Mario games Toad's signature color is a standard blue as Mario occupies the red color. There are also Toads strewn throughout different levels that Mario must bring to the finish to save, as well as mini-game levels.
Throughout the Mario RPG series, Toad is featured as more of a minor character due to the large amounts of generic toads which appear in the games who seem to replace his role as a helper. Regardless, in the times he does appear, Toad is once again a minor character who just gives backstory to Mario and the others. In Super Mario RPG: Legend of the Seven Stars, Toad appears as a major NPC character who teaches Mario about the different skills to use in battles in the beginning as the duo heads to the mushroom kingdom (though Toad had to be saved by Mario along the way as he got kidnapped frequently by enemies). Toad appears more throughout the game, from being part of Mario's nightmare to providing a shop in Bowser's keep to support Mario. Toad appears as a playable character in Mario & Luigi: Superstar Saga for a short time when the player is exploring around Mario and Luigi's house. In Super Princess Peach, Toad is kidnapped earlier in the game along with Mario and Luigi by the hammer bros. Once placing the trio in the dungeon, Toad can be seen crying and is called a mushroom headed bigmouth by the hammer bros. Toad appears in Super Paper Mario in three aspects of the game. He appears in the intro, telling Mario and Luigi that Princess Peach has been kidnapped, and later appearing in the Arcade mini-game Mansion Patrol. Additionally, Toad is one of the 256 Catch Cards in the game. In Mario & Luigi: Bowser's Inside Story, a mysterious infection called "The Blorbs" causes the Toads to inflate to many times their normal size and roll around uncontrollably.
Toad has appeared in many of the various Mario spin-off games however it is the Mario Kart series that he is most well known of for his appearances as he is one of the 8 main characters for the series. Toad is usually featured as a lightweight driver with good acceleration to compensate for his speed. His own partner Toadette was created in Mario Kart Double Dash and together they shared the special item the Super Mushroom which allowed them to take multiple boosts for a short while. The item reappears in later Mario Kart games renamed as the Golden Mushroom. He appears in his own tournament for Mario Kart Wii, where the player goes through Mushroom Gorge backwards using Toad as their character. He appears in every Mario Party game, however it is only from Mario Party 5 and up that he is playable (excluding Mario Party Advance) as he was a host for the earlier games in the series. Toad appears in the various Mario sports games, however he doesn't appear with perfect attendance in them such as the Mario Tennis series where he has made an appearance in the Mario's Tennis for the Virtual Boy and Mario Tennis for the Nintendo 64. In Mario Superstar Baseball, Toad appears as a team member who's chemistry refers to his background character such as having good chemistry with Princess Peach and Toadette while his mention of being a rival to Wario is listed as his bad chemistry. Toad appears in the sequel, Super Mario Sluggers again as a team member along with his alternate colorations (other colored toads). His sidekick role is retained in Dance Dance Revolution: Mario Mix, where he accompanies either Mario or Luigi to help get back the musical keys from the villains of the game.
In Mario & Sonic at the Olympic Games he is a referee along with Cream the Rabbit, a Latiku, and other Mario/Sonic characters. In its sequel, Mario & Sonic at the Olympic Winter Games, Toad appears in the adventure mode and as well as a host. He appears in Super Smash Bros. Melee and Super Smash Bros. Brawl as a sticker, trophy, and a counter-attack for Princess Peach. In comparison of the move in Melee, Toad is a much stronger counter-attack in Brawl, due to the fact that the mushroom spores do much more damage and it has better range. Toad can be used by Kirby if he inhales Peach. In Super Smash Bros. Melee, there was a rumor which involved Toad being a playable character who must be unlocked by shooting all the credits after completing a 1 player game mode. The rumor was provided with pictures which had Toad in battles and on the character select screen. However the rumor was proven false as players did not unlock Toad and the pictures were shown to be fake with pre-existing pictures of Toad on them.
In Kirby Super Star and Kirby Super Star Ultra, Toad appears as an audience member in the Megaton Punch minigame along with Mario, Luigi, and Birdo. He also appears in Dedede Stadium along with Mario, Luigi, Wario, and Peach. Toad appears as a main protagonist in the Game & Watch masterpieces in Game & Watch Gallery series as well. Toad appears as one of the eleven Mario series characters that are playable in the Japan only game, Itadaki Street DS which was developed by Square-Enix. Toad had appeared as a playable character in the Japanese sattellaview game Mario Excite Bike.
Toad appeared in the animated series The Super Mario Bros. Super Show! in 1989. Although he usually tagged along with Mario and Luigi in cases where King Koopa had kidnapped Princess Peach, he sometimes got captured as well. Toad's role in the show was to being the sidekick to the Mario Bros. as Luigi was more of a major character. He remained on the show when it spun off into The Adventures of Super Mario Bros. 3, allowing them to live in his house. During the show he got alternate forms such as The Toad Warrior, Fire Toad and even Baby Toad, however these forms of Toad have not made an appearance outside of the show. Toad appeared in the Super Mario Bros. comic books published by Valiant as well. In these comics, Toad often followed Mario on his adventures, seemingly replacing Luigi as the hero's sidekick. He was a regular companion for King Toadstool, and even indulged in the King's activities. Played by Mojo Nixon, Toad appeared as a street musician in the non-canon Super Mario Bros. film. In the film, Toad is arrested for singing a song that badmouths Koopa, who punishes him by having him turned into a Goomba. Despite this, the Goomba-fied Toad (portrayed by John Fifer) still manages to help Princess Daisy escape and distract the other Goombas by playing his harmonica.
Toad had appeared in the Robot Chicken sketch called "Due to Constraints of Time and Budget". In the sketch, Toad appears as the getaway driver for a group of robbers following a bank heist and had outrun the cops using his own kart from the Mario Kart series, however he was sent over a cliff after a blue shell was activated.
Being a character who appears frequently in the series, Toad is considered as one of the major Mario series characters being playable and appearing in many of the games. Toad appears in the Mario merchandise varying from toys and plushies, keychains etc. Toad is featured in Nintendo's board games such as being on the protagonist side in the Mario themed chess set, as well as being a purchasable character in the Nintendo monopoly game. In Animal Crossing: City Folk, Toad's hat is available after getting 3000 points in Tom Nook's Point Tracking system. GameDaily listed the "neglected guy" on its list of top 25 video game archtypes, listing Toad as an example.
Black Pear Tree, an EP by The Mountain Goats and Kaki King, features a song titled "Thank You Mario But Our Princess is in Another Castle," sung from the perspective of Toad. Toad ranked in the seventh slot on Game Daily's top 10 Nintendo characters that deserve their own games list; the site explained that he has a strong appeal that Nintendo has yet to tap into. Toad is listed as number 2 in the most neglected Mario Bros. characters list as he has been described by the site to have been ignored by Nintendo for quite a while due to the lack of starring roles he gets in the more recent games. In an Oricon poll from 2008, Toad was voted as the eighth most popular video game character in Japan. IGN editor Matt Casamassina criticized Nintendo for including the Toads over more notable characters in the Mario series for New Super Mario Bros. Wii, arguing that the developers were being lazy to not include other characters because the Toads were easier to make.