It’s a question no one but a lorehound would ask. Did Mario, a native New Yorker, witness the September 11 attacks?
The Super Mario Bros. Movie implies he might have. In an in-universe Super Mario Bros. plumbing commercial, Mario and Luigi pose Superman-style with capes billowing over their shoulders in front of a green screen of the New York City skyline. That skyline includes One World Trade Center, which replaced the demolished Twin Towers.
That’s all it took for gamers to take the reference all the way down the rabbit hole.
The 1993 Super Mario Bros. movie also has a strange connection to 9/11, though it happened well before the World Trade Center attacks. It features a scene where King Koopa detonates an explosive that damages one of the towers. It also unfortunately aligned with a separate World Trade Center bombing that happened about three months before the film released in theaters.
Just typing “9/11 mario” into the Twitter search bar reveals tons of tweets of gamers sharing screenshots and theories about the 1993 movie and the more recent Freedom Tower commerical.
So what does the movie itself have to say about this? Absolutely nothing, but fans have made some educated guesses that haven’t yet been — and presumably never will be — confirmed by the its creators.
In order for Mario and Luigi to have lived through 9/11, they would have to be at least 23 years old. In the movie, the brothers are old enough to drive, grow robust facial hair, and have temporarily worked at a company before starting their own business. In a 2005 interview, Mario creator Shigeru Miyamoto said the mustachioed plumber is between 24 to 25 years old. It’s unclear if Mario has aged at all since then, but Miyamoto’s statement confirms that Mario is at least 24 years old, thus old enough to have lived through 9/11.
That’s not all the proof we need, though. Mario witnessing 9/11 also assumes that he lived in New York City at the time it happened. After all, he and Luigi’s gigantic pasta-loving family could’ve moved there from somewhere else. (Italy, perhaps?) The only clue we have is from one of Luigi’s flashbacks, where Baby Mario saves him from a playground bully in their childhood. It’s a fairly generic playground, though, so it could be anywhere.
The existing canon for Mario and Luigi’s backstories is shaky at best. Wiki articles that compiled data from old comic strips and media claim that Brooklyn is truly their hometown, which implies that they were Brooklyn born and raised, therefore probably there for 9/11.
Other sources, including the original arcade Mario Bros. game and the ending of the SNES game Yoshi’s Island, claim that Mario and Luigi are longtime residents of the Mushroom Kingdom. The Super Mario Bros. Movie again roots them in Brooklyn, and it’s unclear if this invalidates the older lore. But there’s one thing we can say for sure: gaming Twitter probably cares a lot more about the granular details here than Nintendo does.
So did Mario witness 9/11? Maybe. But don’t expect to hear Miyamoto’s official word on the matter anytime soon.