Pauline (originally known as Lady) was Mario's original love interest before Princess Peach was introduced. She is the damsel-in-distress in the arcade game Donkey Kong, in which she was captured by the original Donkey Kong. She is one of the few damsels in the Mario series who is not a princess, but simply a civilian. After a large gap of absence, Pauline now makes regular appearances in the Mario vs. Donkey Kong series. There, she fulfills the same role as in prior games, although she has played other supporting roles.
Pauline is stated by Game Over, a 1993 non-fiction book by David Sheff, to be named after Polly James, wife of Nintendo of America's warehouse manager, Don James. Her namesake, however, may be the damsel-in-distress featured in the eponymous movie serial The Perils of Pauline.
Donkey Kong series
The lady made her debut appearance in the 1981 arcade game Donkey Kong as one of the first damsels-in-distress in any video game made before that time.
The lady is kidnapped by a gorilla (Donkey Kong) who was owned by Jumpman (Mario). She is taken up onto a building and loses various objects (such as her umbrella, hat and purse which can be collected for bonus Points) on the way. Jumpman then climbs up the building, avoiding all the hazards in the way, to rescue her. However, when Jumpman reaches the top of the building, Donkey Kong will grab the lady and take her higher up, forcing him to do another level. After four Levels, Donkey Kong is trapped and Jumpman removes the rivets from the platform, sending Donkey Kong plummeting. The lady is finally saved by Jumpman, and they share a special moment together.
Donkey Kong (Game Boy)
Eventually, Pauline is given a revised appearance and is featured in the Game Boy version of Donkey Kong. Mario pursues Donkey Kong (and his son Donkey Kong Jr.) as he carries Pauline across a variety of locales (the original city setting is only the first world visited). Once more, Pauline is eventually rescued by Mario. The two are then shown in a Mushroom Kingdom setting where Pauline supplies Mario with a Super Mushroom. Donkey Kong and son then attempt to best Mario one last time, but the tables turn when the crushed Mario lifts Donkey Kong as Super Mario. Afterwards, they had their photo taken at one of the previous levels, Rocky-Valley.
Pauline appears as a regular character in the Mario series episodes within the Saturday Supercade show produced by Ruby-Spears. Voiced by Judy Strangis, Pauline plays the role as Mario's assistant or partner and is often seen to be alongside him in the various episodes. The two work together to capture Donkey Kong throughout the series. Pauline can also be seen helping Stanley in another episode. Her appearance in this show appears to based on her earlier artwork that is provided on the original Donkey Kong game as seen by her blonde hair as opposed to her future brown colored hair, as well as her general face design.
Pauline appears in the Mario Breakout mode of Pinball, where she is held inside the breakable blocks and has to be caught by Mario before she hits the floor.
Mario vs. Donkey Kong series
Mario vs. Donkey Kong 2: March of the Minis
Pauline makes her next reappearance twelve years after absense, in Mario vs. Donkey Kong 2: March of the Minis. The games starts with the grand opening of the Super Mini Mario World theme park, where Pauline is Mario's guest of honor. While their relationship status goes unmentioned in the game, the manual states that Mario and Pauline are simply good friends at this time.
Donkey Kong is working at the Mario Toy Company, and when he sees Pauline, he becomes infatuated and presents her with a Mini Donkey Kong. When she chooses Mario's proffered Mini Mario over his gift, however Donkey Kong becomes enraged and kidnaps Pauline. Mario eventually defeats Donkey Kong and rescues Pauline with the help of his Mini Marios, and Pauline makes peace between them all by accepting Donkey Kong's Mini.
Mario vs. Donkey Kong: Minis March Again!
Pauline appears again as a damsel-in-distress in Mario vs. Donkey Kong: Minis March Again! for DSiWare. Once again, Pauline is assisting Mario in the opening of Super Mini Mario World. Donkey Kong waits in a line to buy admissions tickets only to arrive at the front when the tickets are sold out. Donkey Kong, furious, pushes his way through a crowd of Toads and snatches Pauline. Mario attempts to stop this, ripping Pauline's dress in the process, but Donkey Kong escapes to the roof with Pauline. Mario then sends the Mini Mario toys in pursuit of Donkey Kong to rescue Pauline.
Mario eventually reaches the top floor, where he opens a door to find Pauline by a window in a small room. However, Donkey Kong turns the lights off and escapes through the window with Pauline, and Mario once more gives chase through another round of floors that the Mini Mario toys must navigate. Once Mario makes it to the end of these floors, he finds Pauline in a similar room, but this time, she is holding a clipboard and standing happily next to Donkey Kong, some Toads and the Mini Mario toys. She informs the confused Mario that the Mini Mario toys have passed the test run, revealing that Donkey Kong had kidnapped Pauline to test the performance of the toys and she is completely fine and happy. Mario shrugs it off seeing as he had such a great time traversing the theme park with his Minis, and all is well.
Mario vs. Donkey Kong: Mini-Land Mayhem!
Pauline makes another appearance in Mario vs. Donkey Kong: Mini-Land Mayhem!. Mario and Pauline are welcoming customers to the grand opening of "Mini-Land" by giving away Mini Pauline toys to the first 100 customers. Donkey Kong, excitedly charges his way to the front wanting a Pauline Mini toy for himself, but when he arrives, Mario sternly tells him that they are out of stock. Donkey Kong becomes enraged and kidnaps Pauline instead, heading into the theme park. Mario once again gives chase immediately with assistance from the Mini-Land toys.
After navigating the Minis though all the theme park's attractions Mario locates Pauline standing just below a Ferris wheel. She welcomes her hero Mario warmly before Donkey Kong surprises them both by jumping from the top of the Ferris wheel to scoop Pauline up once again, forcing Mario to pursue him through more of the theme park's areas.
After chasing Donkey Kong through the theme park again, Mario finally finds Pauline once more under the Ferris wheel; this time, however, when Donkey Kong appears to confront him, Mario presents him with a Mini Pauline toy. Donkey Kong is overjoyed, and Pauline ultimately finds the whole thing very sweet. She makes her way to the Ferris wheel, where she, Donkey Kong, Mario, and the Minis enjoy a ride in celebration.
Mario and Donkey Kong: Minis on the Move
Pauline reappears in Mario and Donkey Kong: Minis on the Move. She runs Mini-Land with Donkey Kong where they open a game arcade using the mini toys. Pauline is not kidnapped in this game, but hosts the Minigames mode and is seen simply congratulating players on their scores alongside Donkey Kong at the end of certain modes.
Pauline's face appears as an icon in the Mini Target Smash game in Minigames mode. Smashing a Pauline target can cause the player to lose 100, 200, or 300 points, depending on the target's position. Mini Pauline toys also take a more active role in this game; although they are the last toy to be unlocked, they are still available for play early in the game and can be used in all modes except Minigames mode, in which only Mini Mario is playable. As with most characters in this title, Pauline herself takes a background role and leaves the spot light to the Mini toys.
Mario vs. Donkey Kong: Tipping Stars
Pauline is once more the victim of Donkey Kong's kidnapping antics at the very start of Mario vs. Donkey Kong: Tipping Stars this time though no motivation is given, Mario quickly gives chase with his Mini Mario toys in hopes of rescuing Pauline from the gorilla's grasp.
After traversing six puzzle filled worlds, while freeing cursed Mini Mario toys along the way, Mario catches up to Donkey Kong and Pauline in a darkened room, the lights are switched on quickly and Pauline and Donkey Kong are standing at the ready in front of a "surprise" banner with two toads to greet Mario.
The adventure was just a game to lure Mario to a surprise party the two had organised for him (similar to the plot of Mario vs. Donkey Kong: Minis March Again! ). At first Mario is confused, but soon shrugs it off to enjoy the fun, now surrounded by his friends, balloons and mini toys. The ruse revealed, Mario can then continues through more fun worlds and bonus levels knowing Pauline is happy and safe.
Pauline appears in most of the challenges and remixes based on Donkey Kong.
Super Smash Bros. series
Super Smash Bros. Brawl
In Super Smash Bros. Brawl, Pauline makes a cameo in the background of the 75m stage. She also appears as a sticker that increases Diddy Kong and Donkey Kong's attacks. Pauline also appears in her damsel role during the demo of the original Donkey Kong Masterpiece included in the game.
Super Smash Bros. for Nintendo 3DS / Wii U
A trophy of Pauline appears in both Super Smash Bros. for Nintendo 3DS and Super Smash Bros. for Wii U, while Pauline herself appears in the latter version in her original role in the Donkey Kong Masterpiece. Pauline is also alluded to in the Event match titled "1988": "DK and Diddy have gone back in time. Now Mario's angry at them for kidnapping Pauline...but he's got the wrong guys!" The 75m stage from Super Smash Bros. Brawl reappears in the Wii U version, however while Pauline's dropped items are included in the stage, Pauline herself is missing and only her voice can be heard occasionally yelling for "Help!" as part of the levels main music theme. An additional inclusion is in Super Smash Bros. for Wii U where she is mentioned in one of the randomly generated tips that appear on loading screen or in the tips section in the Original Games / Settings category (shown with a blue boarder), and reads: "Mario's Ex-Girlfriend(?) The woman kidnapped by DK in the original Donkey Kong was Mario's first love, Pauline. Originally, she was just called "Lady." We've come a long way."
Other appearances, references and cameos
In the 1993 live-action film Super Mario Bros., Mario has a Brooklynite girlfriend referred to in the script as Daniella Pauline Verducci, although she's referred only to as Daniella on-screen. The woman also roughly resembles Pauline and is even seen in a construction site with a chimpanzee at one point.
Although Pauline does not appear in the Donkey Kong-inspired strip in the first issue of Blip, the damsel who appears in her place clearly resembles her.
Pauline makes small appearances in the Nintendo Monopoly and Donkey Kong Jenga board games. She also makes a cameo in Nintendo Land, where she is seen in the background while playing the Donkey Kong's Crash Course attraction.
Pauline’s original design was somewhat inconsistent, appearing noticeably different in official game art each time. Most often she appeared as a blonde woman with shoulder length wavy to curly hair. Wearing a deep pink to red, usually, torn strap dress and ankle-strap pumps of the same colour. Since Donkey Kong on the Game Boy, Pauline’s appearance was updated closer to her more current appearance with only minor difference to her most recent look. This redesign was speculated in her Super Smash Bros. for Nintendo 3DS trophy to be an attempt to differentiate herself from Princess Peach. Her original redesign gave her a ribbed-chest red halter neck dress, black Mary Jane high heels, dark brown hair, red lips and violet eye shadow. This appearance would be refined over the years to her final look.
Currently Pauline is depicted as having pale to dull blue eyes, long wavy burgundy-brown hair and pale skin. She has large slanted eyes with four long eyelashes at the top and three smaller lashes at the bottom coupled with long defined arching eyebrows that thin out as they extend. Her nose is triangular in shape with an oval shaped face and pointed chin. She is typically shown wearing violet eye shadow, dark red lipstick and nail polish. Pauline has a curvy hourglass figure and is most often shown as average height when compared to other adult human females in the Mario series.
Pauline wears a fitted red halter neck dress with a bow knot connecting the straps behind her neck, and a low cut back. The dress, when not ripped, finishes just above her ankles and loosens to flair out about a third of the way down her legs. Pauline's accessories include a gold bangle on her left arm and large gold bead and teardrop style earrings. She also wears black ankle strap high heel pumps.
Pauline has as of yet not had much character development but, so far she has been shown to be friendly, happy, kind, and even business minded, seen when she tests the quality of the Mario Toy Company’s Mini Mario toys in Mario vs. Donkey Kong: Minis March Again!. She is also quick to forgive others, especially apparent when it comes to Donkey Kong’s numerous abductions of her. She is also implied to enjoy games, this is shown when she opens a gaming theme park called Mini-Land with Donkey Kong in Mario and Donkey Kong: Minis on the Move. Pauline is also shown attempting to be a mediator between Mario and Donkey Kong.
While Mario and Pauline's relationship was implied to be romantic during the Donkey Kong arcade game and outright stated in most home port manuals, Pauline was soon dropped as Mario's love interest and replaced with Princess Peach. In the Mario vs. Donkey Kong series, it is stated that the two are close friends, with her attending Mario's Mini Mario business and theme park events as a VIP, and his racing to her rescue when Donkey Kong kidnaps her at said events. Later, she takes a more active role in Mario's business ventures and helps run his Mini-Land theme park.
In these games, Donkey Kong also has an unrequited crush on Pauline, flying into childish rages and kidnapping her when he feels rejected in favor of Mario. While Pauline is frightened by Donkey Kong when he kidnaps her, he never hurts her and she does not bear him ill-will as a result of his impulsiveness, being quick to forgive him after he is subdued by Mario and shows remorse for his actions. Aside from the kidnapping incidents, two get along well, and while Pauline does not return Donkey Kong's affections, it is implied that she finds his gestures sweet.
Official profile and statistics
Nintendo character guide
Pauline became the first great video game damsel-in-distress when Donkey Kong grabbed her in and pulled her in the spotlight back in 1981. Although she has not been active in video games for over a decade, when the chance came for her to recreate her historic role, she jumped at it. "Quite frankly," she said, "life without Donkey Kong and Mario is pretty dull."
Trophy Information in Super Smash Bros. for Nintendo 3DS / Wii U
Blue indicates exclusive to the Wii U version.
Names in other languages