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In 1989 video game magnate Nintendo and syndicated animation consortium DIC brought the Super Mario Brothers world to television with The Super Mario Bros. Super Show. Every Monday-Thursday a brief 15-minute cartoon featuring Mario and friends would air, but on Fridays an animated adventure based on The Legend of Zelda took center stage. The cartoon segments were sandwiched with horribly embarrassing live action segments depicting Mario (Captain Lou Albano) and Luigi (Danny Wells) in their Brooklyn plumbing shop.

The Mario animated segments took elements from both Super Mario Brothers and Super Mario Brothers 2 and crafted new adventures for the plumbing duo. Bowser was always behind some chaos (Wart from SMB2 never appeared). The Zelda segments featured Link, crazily in love with the aloof Princess Zelda, as they protected the Triforce from Ganon and his minions.

After running for two years the shows were recycled into reruns with the live action segments being replaced by "Club Mario" segments in which a "Dr. Know-It-All" would spoof other kiddie shows of the day. Mario and Luigi would occasionally appear in these segments. The animated portions of the show remained the same as their earlier incarnation. The series was bought by the now-defunct Family Channel in the 1990s and old episodes were run daily until the network was purchased by FOX. To my knowledge the show no longer airs anywhere. As for the animated adventures of Mario, they continued in the NBC Saturday morning cartoon The Adventures of Super Mario Bros. 3 and Super Mario World. Selected episodes of the series are currently available on DVD.

Mario Episode List

  • The Bird! The Bird!
  • King Mario of Cramalot
  • Butch Mario & the Luigi Kid
  • Mario's Magic Carpet
  • Rolling Down the River
  • The Great Gladiator Gig
  • Mario and the Beanstalk
  • Love 'Em and Leave 'Em
  • The Great BMX Race
  • Stars in Their Eyes
  • Jungle Feaver
  • Brooklyn Bound
  • The Fire of Hercufleas
  • Count Koopa
  • Pirates of Koopa
  • Two Plumbers and a Baby
  • Do You, Princess Toadstool, Take This Koopa...
  • The Pied Koopa
  • Koopenstein
  • Mario and Joilet
  • Too Hot to Handle
  • Hooded Mario and his Robin Men
  • 20,000 Koopas Under the Sea
  • Might McMario and the Pot of Golf
  • Mario Meets Koop-Zilla
  • Koopa Klaus
  • Mario and the Red Baron Koopa
  • The Unzappables
  • Bad Rap
  • Underworld Connections
  • The Mark of Zero
  • The Ten Koopmandments
  • The Koopas Are Coming! The Koopas Are Coming!
  • The Trojan Koopa
  • Stinging a Stinger
  • Quest for Pizza
  • The Great Gold Coin Rush
  • Elvin Lives
  • Plumbers Academy
  • Karate Koopa
  • Mario of the Apes
  • Princess, I Shrunk the Mario Brothers
  • Little Red Riding Princess
  • The Provolone Ranger
  • Escape from Koopatraz
  • Mario of the Deep
  • Flatbush Koopa
  • Raiders of the Lost Mushroom
  • Crocodile Mario
  • Star Koopa
  • Robo Koopa

Zelda Episode List

  • The Ringer
  • Cold Spells
  • The White Night
  • Kiss 'N Tell
  • Sing for the Unicorn
  • That Sinking Feeling
  • Doppelganger
  • Underworld Connections
  • Stinging a Stinger
  • A Hitch in the Woods
  • Fairies in the Spring
  • The Missing Link
  • The Moblins Are Revolting

Memories of watching the show

This is the Triforce of Wisdom, Link. The evil wizard Ganon has the Triforce of Power. Whoever gets both Triforces will rule this land forever. You must help me Link!

— cartoon intro

If you grew up in the 1980s, you probably either had a Nintendo Entertainment System or knew someone who did. And if so, then you were probably exposed to Nintendo's two flagship products and most successful franchises, Super Mario Brothers and The Legend of Zelda. Capitalizing on the success of the games, Nintendo increased their exposure with the Super Mario Bros. Super Show, a half-hour show mixing 15 minute cartoons bookended by painfully unfunny live-action segments starring Captain Lou Albano as Mario. We put up with those to get to the cartoons. Monday through Thursday they showed Mario cartoons aimed at little kids who weren't old enough to be familiar with the movies they blatantly ripped off because that was easier than writing their own stories. But on Friday, oh Friday was something special.

Fridays they didn't show a Mario cartoon. They showed a Legend of Zelda cartoon which was superior in every way. The plots weren't stolen from movies, the art and animation were less cartoony, and the action was far more exciting. The music, inspired by the in-game music, was also very well done. It was obviously aimed at a slightly older audience. Like the Mario cartoon, the Legend of Zelda cartoon was inspired by both the original game and its sequel, taking elements from both. There were a total of 13 episodes animated, which could be watched in pretty much any order.

The magical kingdom of Hyrule is under attack by the evil wizard Ganon, who has the Triforce of Power and an army of magical creatures under his command. His plan is to capture Hyrule's Triforce of Wisdom, because it is written that whoever holds both Triforces will rule Hyrule forever. To stop him, Princess Zelda hires a professional adventuring hero, Link, to guard the Triforce of Wisdom.

And so our stage is set for some non-linear Western cartoon adventures, in which each episode occurs in its own little pocket of time, having little or no influence over events in other episodes, meaning that they can be shown in any order. Ganon is trying to get the Triforce of Wisdom from Hyrule, Link is trying to get a kiss from Zelda, Sprite is trying to get Link to notice her, and Zelda just wants the kingdom left in peace. These goals are all mutually exclusive, setting up reasonably complex stories for the show's 15 minute running time.

Moblins (orc-like monsters) and Stalfos (skeletons) were the most commonly seen enemies, possibly the easiest to animate I guess. They were treated as cannon fodder. Occasionally we'd also see an Octorok (rock-spitting land octopus) or one of the other classic Zelda monsters, but not often. Link generally fought by zapping with his sword, resulting in a kid-friendly, bloodless monster defeat, teleported back to the Evil Jar. Zelda sometimes joined in with a ranged weapon like a bow. Monsters would occasionally drop items when they've been defeated, like they do in the game.


The hero of our games is an ego driven, but competent adventurer who proves more than a match for the bumbling monsters under Ganon's command. That is, unless he gets distracted by his near-constant attempts to get Zelda to kiss him, which are played for slapstick laughs. More used to adventuring on the road and sleeping in the mud, he hates living in a castle, except for being able to hang around with Zelda and fight off the occasional attack by Ganon's monsters. It's interesting to note that Link can still zap if he's been hurt, unlike in the game, and is right-handed, whereas in the game he is left-handed. Whenever he'd screw up (once or twice an episode), he'd use his Steve Martin-esque catch phrase, "Well excuuuse me, Princess."

The princess of Hyrule isn't your typical damsel in distress. As one side character put it, "This is all wrong. Beautiful maidens are supposed to be rescued by handsome heroes, not other beautiful maidens!". Zelda eschewed pretty princess dresses and was typically found wearing her hair tied back with a pair of thigh-high leather boots and a practical blouse, ready at a moment's notice to act as Link's sidekick rather than wait for him to rescue her. When she had the Triforce of Wisdom with her, she became a magical force to be reckoned with. Zelda managed to kick some butt while still being a feminine character, and although she acted more as a sidekick than a hero she helped pave the way for later heroes Lara Croft, Xena, and the Powerpuff Girls.

Link's three-inch tall fairy sidekick was based on the fairies in the game who would recharge Link's heath meter. Sprite didn't do that in the cartoon, but did hang around with him, occasionally helping out with magic, and trying to get Link to notice her and forget about the nigh-unobtainable Zelda.

The evil wizard and villain of the first Zelda game rules the Underworld of Hyrule, a maze of twisting caves and passages occasionally resembling an M.C. Escher sketch. He holds the Triforce of Power and his "Evil Jar", a massive glass jar on a huge stone pedestal in his throne room that holds his magical monsters. When Link zaps them with magical bolts from his sword, they are sent back to the Evil Jar for an undisclosed amount of time, as is Ganon if he takes three hits from Link or Zelda. His powers are vague and tend to follow the needs of the plot, but he is consistently shown to be able to teleport at will, but only in the Underworld, and fire magical bolts of energy from his hands.

Episode List

The episodes had a number of running gags, the most famous of which is Link's attempts to get Zelda to kiss him. Occasionally she would even be willing to admit he deserves one, but something would always happen to ruin the moment (in 8 of the 13 episodes). He never does get that kiss. Sometimes Zelda is captured, but more often than not she is fighting alongside Link as his sidekick (in 9 of the 13 episodes). They were fairly formulaic, but always entertaining.

Episode 1: The Ringer
This is the only episode that's really in any sort of order, it functions as an introduction to the series. Link introduces himself as an adventurer hired by the kingdom of Hyrule to protect the Triforce of Wisdom, but doesn't like living in a castle, staying in one place. He does like hanging around Zelda and fighting monsters, though, so he sticks around. Ganon sneaks into a magician's contest to get close to the castle and steal the Triforce of Wisdom. Ganon causes a distraction during the contest to draw Link away from the Triforce to steal it, Link and Zelda pursue and stop him. Sprite reveals her crush on Link in this episode and starts the running gag of Link and Zelda almost, but not quite, kissing.
Zelda fights with a bow
1 missed kiss

Episode 2: Sing for the Unicorn
Ganon uses a captured flying unicorn to kidnap Zelda's father and puts him in room with a slowly vanishing floor to a bottomless pit, giving Link and Zelda a time limit to turn over the Triforce of Wisdom to him. Link and Zelda go on rescue mission, joined by unicorn's real owner, and the three of them defeat Ganon and save the king.
Zelda fights with a bow and a boomerang
3 missed kisses

Episode 3: Kiss 'N Tell
Link turns into frog by a trick from Ganon's monsters, and Zelda is captured. The Triforce of Wisdom suggests seeing a witch to learn how to break the curse. Sprite is a little nervous about Link's new compulsion to eat small flying things. Link discovers that only a kiss from a princess will change him back, which depresses him because Zelda wouldn't even kiss him when he was human. Upon rescue, Zelda agrees to kiss Link to change him back, but Sprite winds up kissing him when Ganon attacks and separates them, which works anyway because she's princess of the fairies.
Zelda gets captured and does not fight
2 missed kisses

Episode 4: Doppelganger
Ganon creates a magic doppleganger of Zelda to trick Link into bringing him the Triforce of Wisdom, saying they're going to take the fight to the Underworld rather than wait for Ganon to attack. Link figures out the trick when false Zelda fails to cast a reflection, but goes along with it anyway to rescue the real Zelda. When the real Zelda gets tired of waiting for Link to rescue her, she goes ahead and frees herself, meeting up with the fake one. A comical chase ensues in Ganon's labyrinthine underworld fortress, which ends with both Zeldas getting covered in mud, making them indistinguishable. A kissing contest reveals who's the real Zelda when one kisses him and the other slaps him. They get the Triforce back and escape.
Zelda briefly uses Link's sword
0 missed kisses from the real Zelda, but her doppleganger kisses him several times.

Episode 5: Fairies in the Spring
The King of Hyrule is building a water park to cool off the kingdom during a heat wave, when water monsters emerge from the underground spring that was going to supply the park. Investigating, Link and Zelda discover this isn't Ganon's M.O. The Triforce of Wisdom suggests they search the waterpark's drain when the king gets captured by a water monster. They eventually discover the fairies were behind the attacks because the waterpark was draining their spring. They eventually come to an understanding and the fairies are invited to the waterpark.
Zelda uses a crossbow and her own magic boosted by the Triforce of Wisdom's power.
1 missed kiss, plus 1 tease when Zelda agrees to a kiss but Link is blocked by their diving helmets.

Episode 6: The Missing Link
Ganon unveils a new weapon, a wand intended to send Zelda to his Evil Jar, but accidentally zaps Link instead. Ganon holds Link hostage, demanding the Triforce for his return. Link, however, only received a glancing blow and is turned ghost-like becuase only his physical body was transported to the Evil Jar. Only Zelda can see him, which according to Ganon is because she loves him, providing evidence that Spire (who can't see him) only has a crush. Zelda grabs Link's sword and heads off to save his body. While Zelda fends off Ganon's Moblins, Link goes into the Evil Jar to get his body back, using a bomb to blow his way back out of it. It's revealed that the huge jar is filled with a pink liquid, which washes Ganon and most of his forces out of the throne room. The Evil Jar, meanwhile starts to malfunction, shooting liquid and magical rays out in all directions, and they escape just in time. Zelda denies that she loves Link any more than just a little bit.
Zelda uses Link's sword, but has trouble controlling it. Apparently the zapper has quite a kick.
1 missed kiss, plus 1 tease when Zelda agrees to a kiss, knowing link is insubstantial.

Episode 7: Underworld Connections
Some of Ganon's minions split the Triforce of Wisdom apart with a bomb to carry it back to the Underworld in three pieces. Link saves one of the pieces but the other two are stolen. Link and Zelda use the remaining piece of the Triforce to zap the monsters carrying the other two parts from long-distance, and soon Link, Zelda, and Ganon are searching the Underworld for the lost pieces. For the second time in the series, after the unicorn episode, Zelda nails Ganon with the final hit to send him back to the Evil Jar, and the Triforce is saved.
Zelda fights with boomerangs
1 missed kiss.

Episode 8: The Moblins Are Revolting
Two groups of monsters get in each other's way when trying to steal the Triforce, resulting in failure of the mission. The monsters decide Ganon's poor planning is responsible for their continued failure and decide to mutiny, capturing Ganon in his own latest invention, a magic bubble that is impervious to everything except the Triforce of Power. Soon, the monsters have laid siege to Hyrule Castle, surrounding it and trying in their own bumbling way to break in. Link and Zelda, confident that they'll never get in, leave the castle to find the Triforce of Power in the now abandoned Underworld. Link finds Ganon in his bubble, but while toying around with him, accidentally tosses the bubble into the Triforce of Power, freeing him. Rather than pursue the fleeing Link and Zelda though, Ganon heads to the surface to gather up and punish his rebellious minions, forcing them to clean up the throne room with their tongues.
Zelda does not fight in this episode, and for that matter Link doesn't really fight much either. The monsters do a fine job of defeating themselves.
Zelda never agrees to a kiss in this episode.

Episode 9: The White Night
A noble White Knight prince comes to Hyrule just in time to help fend off Ganon's latest attack when an overconfident Link is nearly defeated by an Octorok. Zelda is smitten by the handsome, gallant hero and Link is soon all but forgotten about. Ganon, meanwhile, finds out what happened from the Octorok that was returned to the Evil Jar, and reveals that he's met the knight prince before, and knows his weakness is his vanity. Taking a page from the Big Book of Cartoon Cliches, Link tries to compete with the prince on the prince's terms, only serving to embarrass himself by failing to dress and act the part of nobility properly. With Link feeling rejected and Ganon confident he can evade the prince, who is unwilling to pursue his monsters through a filthy swamp, Zelda is soon captured and sees the prince for his true, insufferably self-centered nature. When Link hears Zelda's screams for help, he realizes the prince failed to come through when it mattered, and arrives just in the nick of time to save her.
Zelda is captured and does not fight in this episode.
For the second episode in a row, Zelda fails to give in to Link's near-constant requests and never agrees to a kiss.

Episode 10: Cold Spells
Springtime is here, which means to Link that love is in the air, but to Zelda that it's time for the castle's spring cleaning. Link pretends to be sick to get out of mopping, and Sprite offers to help out with magic. Zelda isn't buying the act but Sprite insists that Link be allowed to rest. Ganon decides the cleaning is the perfect distraction to take advantage of, and heads to the surface to see what havoc he can cause. Seeing Sprite using magic to help clean up, he increases her power to levels she doesn't know how to control, resulting in a rip-off of Mickey Mouse's The Sorcerer's Apprentice, complete with animated buckets flooding the castle. Ganon uses the distraction to grab the Triforce of Wisdom, and Link and Zelda are soon in hot pursuit. Sprite decides to tag along to help because she helped cause the trouble. Ganon captures Link and Zelda in a glass jar but Sprite's extra-strong magic frees them. Zelda grabs the Triforce of Wisdom after zapping Ganon (personally defeating him for the third time in the series), but they have to flee before she can get the Triforce of Power as well. Back home, the castle is in even worse shape than before and everyone is set back to cleaning.
Zelda fights with a bow and a boomerang.
Once again, Link is denied even the hope for a kiss but at least the audience is spared the contrived excuses to prevent them.

Episode 11: Stinging a Stinger
Link saves a peddler from a band of robbers, who gives him a new sword for saving him, promising Link that the sword has the magical power to make him irresistible to ladies. Seeing his chance to win over Zelda, he gladly trades his trusty short sword for it, only to break his new sword the moment it sees actual combat. Link and Zelda are quickly captured by Ganon as a result, and discover the peddler was hired by Ganon to get Link's sword away from him. When he asks an outrageous price to sell Link's sword to Ganon, however, the insulted evil wizard grabs the sword and takes him prisoner as well. With the untrustworthy peddler's help picking the dungeon's locks, the three escape and consult the Triforce of Wisdom for advice. They discover they can't match Ganon's magical power without Link's sword, so they collect beehives and termite mounds to use as weapons instead. With Ganon's forces swarmed and stung, Link is able to steal back his sword, and Ganon is forced to retreat. Meanwhile, the peddler, looking out only for himself as ever, tries to steal the Triforce of Wisdom, but falls for Sprite's fairy illusion and steals the termite mound instead.
Zelda fights with a lasso
1 missed kiss, and this time it's Zelda who offered!

Episode 12: A Hitch in the Works
It's been weeks since Ganon's last attack, meaning Link is demoted from hero to handyman to earn his keep around the Castle. Meanwhile, the Castle's regular handyman is trying to invent a golem to help him maintain the castle, resulting only in unfortunate but comical malfunctions. When Ganon's monsters finally do attack, the golem proves somewhat capable of helping Link defeat them but was better at making a big mess. Taking another page from the Big Book of Cartoon Cliches, Link gets the handyman to build some fake Moblins to pretend to attack Zelda so he can save her so he can get out of doing chores, but Zelda overhears the plan and resolves not to let the ruse work. Unfortunately, real Moblins attack and carry off the unsuspecting Zelda, who was expecting the fakes, and after a few moments of confusion Link is in pursuit. Ganon puts a magic mind-control necklace on Zelda to force her to marry him in a ceremony presided over by the Grim Reaper(!). Link, of course, arrives just in time to save the day.
Zelda is captured and does not fight in this episode.
Yet again, Link is deprived even the opportunity for a kiss.

Episode 13: That Sinking Feeling
Link takes Zelda off on a picnic, which unfortunately turns out to be directly on top of an Underworld entrance. After fighting off some Tektites, they find out Ganon has some new magic, an "Overworld Magnet" that can pull objects down to the Underworld from the surface. Zelda decides to invade the Underworld and defeat Ganon once and for all, and they grab the Triforce of Wisdom to help them. Just as they head off, however, Ganon uses the magnet to pull the entire castle down to the Underworld, expecting the Triforce of Wisdom to be in it. A showdown with Ganon reverses the magnet's power, which uses the last of its energy to push the castle back to the surface before destroying itself.
Zelda fights with a boomerang and her own magic, boosted by the Triforce of Wisdom's power.
2 missed kisses, both in the first 5 minutes.

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