Nabbit's name is a portmanteau of the words "nab" and "rabbit"; it is also derived from "dagnabbit", a word used to express anger or surprise. Being a thief, he steals items, particularly from Toad Houses, before running away with them in his bag, which he almost always carries with him. This almost always serves as a hindrance, making Nabbit an antagonist, though he also appears as the occasional playable character along with other minor roles.
Nabbit is a purple rabbit with round eyes, long ears, and black limbs. He wears a white handkerchief with a drawing of a large mouth with sharpened teeth, similar to Bowser Jr.'s mask, though there is no indication he actually works for Bowser. He also wears orange shoes and white gloves. Additionally, a Play Nintendo article conjectures that Nabbit has buckteeth behind the handkerchief. While Nabbit typically appears as an individual, the Purple Toad House on the Secret Island in New Super Mario Bros. U implies that he is part of a species also called "Nabbits" with records listing the amount of "Nabbits Caught".
In New Super Mario Bros. U, Nabbit appears throughout several levels as a minigame. When encountered by Mario and friends, they must chase him throughout the course within 100 seconds. The heroes can also toss Koopa Shells at Nabbit, slide into him, or throw iceballs or fireballs to stun him for a couple of seconds. Tapping him on the GamePad using Boost Mode will slow him down, making it easier to catch him (multiplayer only). Yoshis can also eat Nabbit. When Nabbit is eventually caught, Toad will give a P-Acorn as a reward in exchange for the bag. If players fail to catch him three times, Nabbit will flee and disappear until conditions are met. Catching him over a bottomless pit also causes him to escape.
Nabbit appears in every world, except Peach's Castle and Superstar Road, and catching him in each of these worlds will congratulate the player. Once he is caught in the necessary worlds, he will still appear in the same levels as before after playing three levels.
He also appears if the player takes too long to open the chest after defeating the enemies in an enemy course, in which case he will steal the item from the chest. To do this, it takes 30 to 45 seconds.
Nabbit finishing a level with the heroes in New Super Luigi U
Nabbit reappears in New Super Luigi U, this time as a new playable character (replacing Mario from the original game). Unlike other playable characters, Nabbit cannot use power-ups (except for Super Stars), hold anything, or ride Yoshis, but he is immune to all enemy attacks, though he can still get knocked back by tougher enemies, such as Grrrols or bosses. Also, despite his immunity to enemy attacks, Nabbit can still lose lives by falling into bottomless pits, lava, or poison, getting crushed by certain obstacles, getting eaten by a Cheep Chomp, exposure to volcanic ash, or running out of time.
The power-ups he collects are released as 1-Up Mushrooms at the end of the level. In single player mode, Luigi must chase him like in the original, in the same world map locations as in New Super Mario Bros. U. Nabbit is also playable anytime in single player mode by holding on the GamePad or the Pro Controller or holding the on the Wii Remote while entering any level, except the Flying Squirrel Ovation level in Superstar Road world where a Mii can be played as instead of Nabbit.
Once again, Nabbit still comes and steals the item from a chest if the player waits too long to collect a chest despite being on Luigi's side. If the player is playing as Nabbit, the screen fades after taking too long.
Beginning with the version 1.40 update of Super Mario Maker, a Nabbit costume is available. The player can unlock it by beating the 100 Mario Challenge on Normal or a more difficult mode after a certain number of attempts. Once unlocked, it can be accessed in-game through the use of a Mystery Mushroom, even though only the Super Mario Bros. style permits the use of the costume.
Nabbit's power-up jingle, death jingle, and victory jingle are all taken from New Super Mario Bros. U; however, the jump sound is distinctive for the character, as a short squeaky noise can be heard while he jumps. Furthermore, the player can press the button on the GamePad to make Nabbit face the camera and release a jolly laugh.
Nabbit reappears as a playable character in New Super Mario Bros. U Deluxe, retaining abilities from New Super Luigi U, but having new voice clips. Nabbit can now hold objects and Baby Yoshis (unlike in New Super Luigi U) and is also playable in the New Super Mario Bros. U levels for the first time. He can also bounce on Yoshis, as opposed to only going through them like in New Super Luigi U (he remains incapable of riding Yoshis however), and has swimming physics like the penguin form. In addition, Nabbit is resistant to slipping on ice. Toadette also has the aformentioned two abilities. Because of this, along with being immune to enemies and being able to collect lives from items, he is not playable in Challenge Mode. On the character select screens, he is labeled as "Easiest" ("Very Easy" in the British English version). When playing as Nabbit, 100 seconds are added to the timer. However, no bigger time bonus is given when both Nabbit and Toadette are being played. Additionally, any level completed in single player as Nabbit is marked as purple. It is still possible to visit the next level, though.
Nabbit also retains the role of stealing items from Toad Houses. However, he does not appear in this capacity if he is being played as on the world map.
Nabbit appears for the first time in the Mario Golf series, as well as his first spin-off and handheld appearance, in Mario Golf: World Tour as a DLC-exclusive bonus character. He is obtained by purchasing the Flower Pack, either individually or via the Season Pass. His normal driving distance is 213 yards, while his star driving distance is 274 yards. His shot trajectory has a huge draw that travels at the lowest height out of all characters, making his shots harder to fly over obstacles. However, they are the least affected by wind out of all characters. The player can also win a Nabbit costume by completing a costume challenge at Bowser's Castle.
Nabbit after getting an Eagle
If Nabbit gets a Par, he swings his bag. If he gets a Birdie, he runs around the place. If he gets a Eagle or better, he goes onto a New Super Mario Bros. U level and flies in the air. If he gets a Bogey, he hides in his bag, and if he gets worse than Bogey, he gets eaten by a Piranha Plant upon hiding in his bag.
Nabbit makes an appearance in Super Smash Bros. for Wii U in the Mushroom Kingdom U stage. After Kamek changes the stage's layout, he may appear and attempts to catch fighters in his bag. If he does so, he blasts off and takes the fighter with him, knocking them out in the process (unless they get out in time before he crosses the blast zone by button-mashing). Nabbit can also be attacked, grabbed, and is affected by items like a regular fighter. He has knockback akin to playable fighters, and even has the same blast animation when crossing any blast zone (it is colored white, like CPUs). His fall speed is very fast, and can even jump in mid-air like most fighters for recovery.
Nabbit also appears as a random event in Smash Tour, moving along the map and picking up any item he comes across. A player that manages to bump into him can retrieve the items he took.
Nabbit appears as a support spirit in Super Smash Bros. Ultimate that causes items to gravitate towards the user. It can be summoned using a Duster core and any support core. Nabbit also reprises his role on the Mushroom Kingdom U stage.
Nabbit makes his Mario Party debut in Mario Party 10 as a non-playable character. He appears if Team Mario lands on a Bowser Block -1 Space to take a Dice Block away from Bowser. He also appears in the credits if the dice lands on a Bowser mark.
Nabbit makes an appearance in Mario & Luigi: Paper Jam, making his first appearance in a Mario RPG as well as his first appearance in the Mario & Luigi series. His role in the game is to provide new Bros. Attacks throughout the game if Mario and Luigi successfully capture him, effectively replacing Attack Pieces from the previous two games. At the start of the game, the trio will see Nabbit running off from Toads with several items in his sack, while dropping a Red Shell and a Fire Flower before escaping. Most of the Bros. Attacks come from catching him, except Mario's final Bros. Attack, Toad Trail, which he receives after King Bob-omb is defeated.
As part of retrieving Luigi's final Bros. Attack, Mega Thwonk, the trio must chase Nabbit and fight six battles. Three of these battles are against Nabbit, while another three are alongside him against Bowser's troops. It is possible to skip the first two battles against Nabbit by chasing him around until he engages in battle with an enemy.
After catching Nabbit, a battle against him starts. Nabbit's main attack is to throw a bunch of coins at the trio with the occasional spiked ball, most of which roll along the ground but some of which bounce. Nabbit follows this with a bag toss before taking a group of enemies out of his bag and making the trio fight them while he takes a nap. The three enemy groups are four Paper Paragoombas, three stacks of Paper Boos, and five Mechakoopas. When Nabbit's turn comes up while the enemies are still on the field, he sneaks behind the trio and attempts to steal one of their hammers to bonk them with; this can be dodged by swinging the hammer just as he gets a firm grip on it, flinging him away. Hitting Nabbit causes him to drop coins instead of dealing visible damage, with the maximum amount of coins being earned in this quest being 950. Once the summoned enemies are defeated, Nabbit returns to the battle proper. Once he takes enough hits and drops a reward, he runs away and the battle ends.
When Nabbit engages Bowser's troops, he fights alongside the trio. In this state, he can do three things on his turn:
Jumps on a random enemy. Usually gets the first Action Command right, but the second one is less often.
Uses a triplet of Mushrooms that heals all of the trio for 60 HP each.
Pairs up with either Mario or Luigi to kick a Buzzy Shell in the same manner as the 3D Red Shell. The shell's speed is erratic, and missing a kick hurts the victim. Nabbit is always the one to make the final kick, which he'll sometimes miss.
During the credits, Nabbit is seen three times. First, he is seen in Doop Doop Dunes running past the parade. He stops, takes a look at the landscape, notices the Papercrafts, and dashes away. Later, he is seen in Twinsy Tropics running away from a Yoshi with a Melon. Finally, he is seen on Mount Brrr with six Yoshis chasing him. He trips and drops the Melon, then quickly runs away while the Yoshis celebrate.
Mario & Luigi: Bowser's Inside Story + Bowser Jr.'s Journey
Nabbit appears as a new playable character in Mario & Sonic at the Rio 2016 Olympic Games. He is only playable in 100m in the Wii U version and 100m and 100m Plus in the Nintendo 3DSversion. During his special action he speeds up and leaves a cloud of dust behind him. This game also marks Nabbit's first game with dialogue.
For his victory animation, Nabbit will laugh before doing a back flip, attempting a midair split, and finishing off with a sideways flip that nearly sends him falling off the podium. For his second or third place animation, he will start running in place before doing a back flip and a twirl. For his losing animation, Nabbit will prepare to take off before he suddenly stops and lets his ears droop down.
Nabbit appears as a doctor as Dr. Nabbit in Dr. Mario World. He was added on April 2, 2020. Dr. Nabbit is available as a special stage reward in World 24. His skill in Stage Mode is represented by him sprinting to the right with his sack, and it increases the player's score by 3000 points, which will do nothing in Daily Booster or special stages as they do not keep track of score. In Versus Mode, his skill transforms objects, mainly viruses into shells, exploders, or rainbow capsules, where the amount of transformed objects is two at level 1, four at level 2, six at level 3, eight at level 4 and ten at level 5. The transformed objects are marked with Baby Rosalina's emblem despite being a different character.
The character Ravio from The Legend of Zelda: A Link Between Worlds has a similar appearance to Nabbit, as pointed out by several fans in the comments of a Miiverse post with an in-development screenshot showing the character. However, Satoru Iwata, during the October 1, 2013 Nintendo Direct, officially dismissed the similarities as an unintentional coincidence. Additionally, Iwata added that the developers work so closely together that it is not surprising that similar designs could manifest in different, unrelated games.
Nabbit is referenced in Star Fox Guard by a robot in the Chaos Class known as Nabbot that boasts similar characteristics. Its description mentions that it "races around stealing precious metals and then runs away."
Nabbit seems to inhabit the Purple Toad House, as aside from the similar color, it is filled with item bags like the one he carries and has his silhouette visible on the ceiling. This is confirmed via his flag description in Mario & Sonic at the Rio 2016 Olympic Games.