Super Mario Bros. is one of the best-selling video games of all time, and its story presents an interesting issue of criminal law. In the game, Bowser invades the Mushroom Kingdom, turns all of its inhabitants into inanimate objects, and kidnaps the princess in order to prevent her from undoing the spell. Then, Mario sets off on his quest to free the princess and the kingdom. At the end of the game Mario confronts Bowser, pushing him into a pit of lava to free the princess. This raises the question of whether Mario’s killing of Bowser was a crime or whether it was done out of necessity or self-defense.
After killing Bowser, Mario would likely be charged with some form of homicide. Illinois law breaks homicide down into four categories: first-degree murder, second-degree murder, reckless homicide, and involuntary manslaughter. Of these types of killing, Bowser’s would probably fall into either first or second-degree murder. First-degree murder occurs when a person kills someone either with the intent to kill them or do them serious bodily harm, or when a person kills someone by taking some action that they know will kill or seriously injure the person. Second-degree murder is the same, except that the killing is mitigated by the fact that the killer is either acting under extreme emotional provocation or that the killer has an unreasonable but sincere belief that they have a legal justification for the killing, such as self-defense.
In Mario’s case, it seems most likely that he would be charged with second-degree murder since Bowser had just turned everyone he knew into inanimate objects, which would definitely fall into the serious provocation version of second-degree murder. Furthermore, Mario probably has a strong legal defense to the killing, which he no doubt sincerely believed.
Mario could raise two defenses in his case that would probably allow him to escape with a not guilty verdict: self-defense and necessity. Both of these are covered by the justifiable use of force section of the Illinois Criminal Code. For the purposes of self-defense, a person is allowed to use deadly force only if they reasonably believe it is necessary to prevent “imminent death or great bodily harm” to themselves or another person. Since Bowser had kidnapped the princess and stolen her kingdom that would probably be grounds for reasonable belief that he was going to kill or seriously harm her.
Mario could also use a defense of necessity for the murder, and it would probably succeed. The concept of necessity allows a person to do something that would be criminal if the harm that arises from it is less that the harm that they prevent with the act. Since Mario’s killing Bowser freed the kingdom, and there were no members of law enforcement left, a court would likely find what he did to be necessary.
If, like Mario, you have recently been the subject of criminal charges, seek help from a criminal defense lawyer in Illinois today. We represent accused citizens in the northwest suburban area, including in Rolling Meadows, Arlington Heights, and Schaumburg.
About the Author: Founding partner of Drost, Gilbert, Andrew & Apicella, LLC, Colin Gilbert, received his J.D. from Chicago-Kent College of law in 2005. Colin argues cases across many practice areas including criminal defense, collections, civil litigation, real estate law, and corporate law. Colin is an active member of the Board of Governors of the Northwest Suburban Bar Association and the Illinois Creditors Bar Association. He is currently Vice President of the Arlington Heights Chamber of Commerce, and is a Commissioner for the Village of Arlington Heights. Colin has a 10.0 Attorney rating on Avvo, and was named one of the 2014 “Top 40 Under 40” Trial Lawyers in Illinois by the National Trial Lawyers Association.