- "Pick a box! Its contents will help you on the way!"
- — Toad, Super Mario Bros. 3
Toads, also known as Mushroom People or formerly Mushroom Retainers, are a recurring species in the Mario series. They are the dominant species of the Mushroom Kingdom. Toads are native to almost every city in the entire kingdom, including Rogueport, but most prominently Toad Town. Many Toads are also loyal servants and citizens to Princess Peach and the Mushroom Kingdom. Numerous members of the species serve Peach as castle attendants, guards or as her Mushroom Retainers. Toads seem to live and act very similar to humans, but with a more friendly habit.
Their vests all seem to match the color of the dots on their heads, except for the main Toad. This main Toad has red dots on his mushroom cap, but sports a blue vest. He is shown as Mario's companion throughout many of the games.
Toads have been appearing in Mario games since the very beginning of the Mario series. In most iterations, Toad are common NPCs, but in some of the RPGs, Toads are shop owners and innkeepers. They have frequent appearances in sports games as both audience and playable characters. Additionally, there have been a few instances where Toads are playable characters in the mainstream Mario games.
Toads first made their debut appearance in this game like many of the other characters in the series. Within the story of the game, they were originally the dominant population of the Mushroom Kingdom and were ruled by the fair Princess Peach. However, when the evil King of the Koopas (Bowser) arrived to take over the kingdom, he eliminated many of the Toads by turning them into various objects such as bricks and pipes by using his magical powers. Sensing the Princess's magical abilities which could recover the Toads and restore the kingdom, Bowser soon kidnapped Toadstool as well as a few of her Toad servants (the Mushroom Retainers); thus starting the story of the game.
In the actual game, the Toads made a rather minor appearance themselves as the only Toads that were present in their original form were the kidnapped Mushroom Retainers. They could be encountered once Mario (or Luigi) defeats a false Bowser within the castles. The Mushroom Retainers would then be freed and would give the famous message "THANK YOU MARIO! BUT OUR PRINCESS IS IN ANOTHER CASTLE!" to the hero in return. The Mushroom Retainers can be saved in each castle level of the game except for the final level where Princess Toadstool is instead rescued. The Mushroom Retainers make a returning appearance in Super Mario Bros. The Lost Levels with the same role however in this game, more Mushroom Retainers are available to be rescued.
In Super Mario Bros. 2, a single Toad was introduced as a playable character for the first time in the Super Mario series.
While not a playable character, Toad ran the special area called Toad's House in Super Mario Bros. 3. In some of the houses, Toad would have Mario (or Luigi) to pick from three treasure chests with each having different items that would help the hero on his way. In other houses, the hero can play minigames to win extra lives.
Other Toads can be seen in the King's castles, and are seen in a panicked state after the Kings are turned into various creatures by the Koopalings.
Toad starred as the main character in Wario's Woods where he had to stop Wario and his minions from taking over the Mushroom Kingdom. The game played in a tetris like manner and Toad had to stack up multi-colored bombs to defeat the monsters in the game. His superhuman strength from Super Mario Bros. 2 returns in this game as he is able to carry large stacks of enemies or bombs with no ease at all. He is also capable of running up walls in this game as well. In the end of the game, Toad fought Wario himself (with some help from a fairy named Wanda and Birdo). Once having defeated the evil antagonist, Toad chases the defeated plumber out of the woods for a while. He then later watches him fly away in his plane until he crashes into a tree.
In the game, the Toads were sealed behind the walls of the castle and could only provide tips to help Mario on his quest. Some Toads, however, were able to give Power Stars that they had found. In the remake of this game Super Mario 64 DS, the Toads played the same supporting role. However, Toad himself (who is found by the entrance) gives characters specific remarks such as dismissing Luigi as to being Mario in green clothes or not even trusting Wario on the quest. He also returns the character's cap back if they had lost it in one world in some cases.
Toads appeared frequently as NPCs in the first of the Mario RPGs. Instead of dots, some Toads have stripes on their hats. Toads run the shops in the Mushroom Kingdom area. Later in the game, Mario has to protect the wedding of two Toads from a cake monster.
Toad himself is also present in this game, having various supporting roles from venturing with Mario to running a shop in Bowser's Keep.
Toads appear as employees of Mario Industry in Mario vs. Donkey Kong. They are later kidnapped by Donkey Kong.
The Toad species are unlockable. Purple Toad can be found in a bush, Green Toad can be found in a bush as well, Red Toad can be found after you talk to Toadsworth, Blue Toad is in front of Peach's Secret Garden.
In Super Paper Mario, a Toad comes to tell Mario that an enemy has abducted Princess Peach, and has taken her somewhere, Mario and Luigi think that Bowser has kidnapped the princess and rushed off to his castle, leaving the Toad at the brother's house. Many Toads are also seen at Peach and Bowser's wedding as guests. A Toad appears as a capture card during the game.
In this game, Yellow Toad and Blue Toad, are playable in the multiplayer mode. They share the same stats and abilities as the Mario Bros. themselves. Toads also appeared in the intro, in the Toad Houses, in Peach's Castle, in the Enemy Courses and in the normal levels in the special Toad Rescue missions.
Vim is the life force of the Toad species. The Toads pass away without their vim. In other words, vim is the Toad equivalent of the Human's blood. However, the vim is green, as opposed to the blood's red coloration. The vim was only referred to in Mario & Luigi: Partners in Time, where the Shroobs harvested the Toad's vim to use it as a fuel for their spaceships. It is unknown if vim is unique to Toads, or if other fungal species such as Goombas possess vim as well. However, the Shroobs did not target any other species, so this could indicate only the Toads possess vim.