From the Super Mario Wiki
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Concept and creation
The reason for the fake Bowsers in the original Super Mario Bros. is due to the fact that, while the game was still in development, since all enemies have their sprites flipped upside-down when they are defeated (except for Piranha Plants, which simply disappear, and Bullet Bills, which stay rightside up, while defeated Koopa Troopas and Buzzy Beetles turn into upside-down shells), one of the programmers accidentally inserted an upside-down Koopa Troopa shell when portraying Bowser's death animation as if he were defeated with fireballs. The developers liked this idea, and as a result, this idea was extended to most of the Bowser battles in the game.
Super Mario series
Super Mario Bros. / Super Mario Bros.: The Lost Levels
In Super Mario Bros., the seven fake Bowsers are placed in each castle, with Bowser's Castle containing the real one. Defeating a fake Bowser with five fireballs reveals that they are really just common enemies disguised as Bowser. The enemies and their abilities are:
Super Mario Bros.: The Lost Levels additional worlds:
The "You VS. Boo" challenge of Super Mario Bros. Deluxe:
Like Bowser, the blue Bowser's Brother in World D-4 is also a fake revealed to be a Spiny when defeated with fireballs, and only breathes fire. In Super Mario All-Stars, both of these fakes are replaced with the real ones, although Bowser's Brother is now green and looks identical to his twin.
Super Mario Advance 4: Super Mario Bros. 3
In Super Mario Advance 4: Super Mario Bros. 3, a fake Bowser appears as a boss in the World-e level Classic World 1-4, where it plays a similar role to that played in Super Mario Bros., though it looks identical to the game's real Bowser. It is revealed that the fake Bowser is a Goomba if it is defeated with fireballs.
Super Mario 3D Land
Super Mario Run
Name in other languages