Top 10 Most Memorable Nintendo Bosses of All Time

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Top 10 Most Memorable Nintendo Bosses of All Time

VOICE OVER: Kirsten Ria Squibb WRITTEN BY: Garrett Alden
Welcome to WatchMojo and today we'll be counting down our picks for the top 10 most iconic Nintendo bosses. For this list, we'll be going over the most famous and memorable boss characters from Nintendo video games. Our countdown includes Andross from the "Star Fox" franchise (1993-) Ridley from the "Metroid" frnachise (1986-), Bowser from the "Super Mario" franchise (1985-), and more!
Transcript

#10: Donkey Kong

“Donkey Kong” (1981)

While he has gone on to become a hero in his own right, Donkey Kong began his video game career as the eponymous antagonist of this famous arcade game. The tie-sporting ape kidnaps the beautiful Pauline and tosses barrels down girders at Mario, or rather Jump Man, as he makes his way up to rescue her. DK is the progenitor of the modern idea of a video game boss – acting as a constant threat and featuring a memorable design. However, while Donkey Kong may have begun Nintendo’s run of memorable bosses, there are others who have risen higher.

#9: King Boo

“Super Mario” Franchise (1985-)

The “Mario” series has a ton of great bosses, but most of them are the foes of Mario himself. Although Mario does fight him, King Boo is actually more of the nemesis of his younger brother, Luigi. An enormous version of the famed Mario ghost enemies, King Boo differentiates himself from his spectral subjects with a crown, prominent fangs, and a tongue that may or may not be blue. He also has more powerful abilities than his underlings, which vary depending on the game. King Boo makes for the perfect foil for Luigi, since the frightful foe is all about scares – the easily frightened Luigi’s greatest weakness.

#8: Majora

“The Legend of Zelda: Majora’s Mask” (2000)

“The Legend of Zelda” is a storied franchise with a lot of great bosses, and one of its most terrifying and memorable has only appeared in one game. The embodiment of the titular Majora’s Mask, Majora looms over the game – literally, since the moon it’s possibly possessing is set to crash into the world in 3 days if you don’t stop it. A mysterious agent of chaos, Majora is like a cross between the Joker and a Lovecraftian nightmare. Majora manipulates the Skull Kid who wears its mask into causing misery across the land of Termina. And once you finally face off against it, Majora proves to be an incredibly challenging battle, with three phases, each creepier and tougher than the last.

#7: Andross

“Star Fox” Franchise (1993-)

Fox McCloud and the Star Fox team battle many enemies across the Lylat System, but the big bad is almost always the same – Andross. A mad, ape scientist with access to armies of space ships is plenty memorable enough, but what really cements Andross as an iconic boss is his design. In most fights against him, Andross appears solely as a giant head, accompanied by two disembodied hands. It’s a common configuration for bosses in video games, but Andross is arguably the most memorable iteration of this trope. And whether there’s flesh or machine beneath his skin, Andross is head and shoulders above most Nintendo bosses. Well, head and hands, anyway.

#6: King Dedede

“Kirby” Franchise (1992-)

Kirby’s archenemy is King Dedede, a blue, rotund penguin monarch wielding an oversized mallet. Dedede is every bit as goofy as the “Kirby” games themselves, but he still manages to feel threatening, even if it’s because he’s a huge troll. He and his army of minions are always out to take over. Dedede is every bit as popular and famous as Kirby is, appearing in many of the “Kirby” games, as well as in the “Super Smash Bros” franchise, as a playable character. Whether he’s an anti-hero or a villain, King Dedede is always a blast. Plus, his boss theme absolutely slaps!

#5: Master Hand

“Super Smash Bros.” Franchise (1999-)

The frequent puppet master of the schemes that drive this crossover Nintendo fighting game, or else a minion of those that do, Master Hand is a huge, gloved hand. His simple, yet memorable design makes him feel like the villainous disembodied limb of a cartoon character. Master Hand delivers a wide range of powerful attacks designed to wear you down or knock you off the screen, usually with a creative twist on the fact that he’s a hand. “Super Smash Bros.” may be about bringing together Nintendo’s biggest franchises, but Master Hand is an original boss character from the games that has become just as iconic as the fighters.

#4: King K. Rool

“Donkey Kong” Franchise (1981-)

K. Rool may be a tubby crocodilian ruler, but he shouldn’t be underestimated. The archnemesis of the Kong family, King K. Rool has worn a lot of hats, both literally and figuratively. He’s been a pirate, a scientist, a boxer, and many other things besides. Yet he has managed to remain a threatening and entertaining villain for the Kongs, and an iconic character in his own right; even if he was absent from the “Donkey Kong” games for many years. However, the king has returned recently and he’s better than ever! And Nintendo would be “cruel” not to capitalize on his greatness!

#3: Ridley

“Metroid” Franchise (1986-)

The “Metroid” games have plenty of excellent antagonists, and while figures like Mother Brain and Dark Samus are also big-name Nintendo bosses, they’re all eclipsed by Ridley. A cross between a dragon and a pterosaur, Ridley may rarely be the final boss in “Metroid” games, but he’s still considered protagonist Samus Aran’s nemesis. Brutal and terrifying, Ridley may not have much depth as a character, but it’s the air of mystery about him, his many appearances, and his memorable look, that has helped make him the “Metroid” series’ most famous foe.

#2: Bowser

“Super Mario” Franchise (1985-)

Mario is the most iconic Nintendo character, and one of gaming’s biggest icons in general, and his archenemy Bowser is not far behind. The king of the Koopas has been trying to take over the Mushroom Kingdom and kidnapping Princess Peach for decades. Generations of gamers have been helping Mario foil his plans and along the way, we can’t help but love the big lug, even if he is a jerk. Bowser also helped inspire many of Nintendo’s other most famous bosses – just think of how many evil animal kings were on this list already! Bowser is the Nintendo boss that others aspire to be.

Before we get to our top pick, here are a few honorable mentions:

Giygas, “Mother” Franchise (1989-2006)

When All You Can Do to Beat Something Is Pray, It Certainly Leaves an Impression!

Rival, “Pokémon” Franchise (1996-)

Their Names & Faces Change, but They’re Always an Obstacle to Becoming the Very Best

Gruntilda, “Banjo-Kazooie” Franchise (1998-2008)

A Rhyming Witch You Don’t Often See, but She’s an Iconic Boss Fans Will Agree!

#1: Ganon

“The Legend of Zelda” Franchise (1986-)

Like the Triforce that so many of the games feature, “The Legend of Zelda” series has 3 necessary parts – Link, Zelda, and Ganon. Frequently consumed by his quest for power, Ganon and his human counterpart Ganondorf have been a thorn in the side of Hyrule across the “Zelda” games’ various timelines. Ganon has taken plenty of forms over the years, but that constant reinvention has given the character plenty of variety. Ganon has also never lost his edge, remaining a constant, intimidating villain, while also gaining new depths with each new game.
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One of these entries is not a Nintendo Boss.