Pauline (originally known as Lady) is the damsel-in-distress in the arcade game Donkey Kong, the installment that marked her debut in both the Donkey Kong and Mario franchises, along with Mario and her titular kidnapper (confirmed in later games to be a younger Cranky Kong). She was Mario's first love interest.
Pauline reprises her damsel-in-distress role in the Mario vs. Donkey Kong series. In Super Mario Odyssey, she plays a prominent supporting role singing the theme song of the game, "Jump Up, Super Star!"
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, a fact later confirmed by Don James himself at Nintendo's E3 2018 Treehouse Live event.
Donkey Kong series
Lady makes 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.
Lady is kidnapped by Donkey Kong, a pet gorilla who was owned by her boyfriend Mario. She is taken up onto a building and loses various articles (such as her parasol, hat and bag, which can be collected for bonus Points) on the way. Mario then climbs up the building, avoiding all the hazards in the way, to rescue her. However, when Mario reaches the top of the building, Donkey Kong grabs Lady and takes her higher up, forcing Mario to do another level. After four levels, Donkey Kong is trapped as Mario removes the bolts from the platform, sending Donkey Kong plummeting. Lady is finally saved by Mario, and they share a special moment together.
Donkey Kong (Game & Watch)
Lady also appears in the Game & Watch game Donkey Kong. Like in the arcade game, she was kidnapped by the titular ape and brought to a construction site, with the objective being to have Mario rescue her by cutting wires holding Donkey Kong's platform together.
Donkey Kong (Game Boy)
Eventually, Pauline is given a revised appearance and is featured in the Game Boy rendition of Donkey Kong. Mario pursues Donkey Kong (and his son Donkey Kong Jr.) as Pauline is carried across a variety of locales. 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 then attempts to best Mario one last time, but the tables turn when the crushed Mario lifts Donkey Kong as Super Mario, alarming his son. Afterwards, they had their photo taken at one of the previous levels, Rocky-Valley.
Pauline appears as a regular character in the Donkey Kong episodes within the Saturday Supercade show. 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.
Lady appears in the Breakout-like mode of Pinball, where she is held inside the breakable blocks and has to be caught by Mario before she hits the floor. This is technically the first game where she was depicted in her standard brunette appearance rather than her blonde appearance.
Game & Watch Gallery series
In Game & Watch Gallery 2 and Game & Watch Gallery 4, Pauline herself doesn't appear in the Modern version of Donkey Kong (that role instead being taken over by Princess Peach), but she does appear in the game's Classic mode, re-enacting the same role as in the game.
Mario vs. Donkey Kong series
Mario vs. Donkey Kong 2: March of the Minis
Pauline makes her next reappearance after a twelve year absence 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. The manual suggests that Mario and Pauline are just 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!. Once again, Pauline is assisting Mario in the opening of the expansion 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. 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, 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 organized 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.
Super Smash Bros. series
Pauline appears in the Masterpiece demo of the original Donkey Kong included in Super Smash Bros. Brawl and Super Smash Bros. for Wii U. In every installment as of Super Smash Bros. Brawl, one of Peach's alternate costumes depicts her with a red dress that is similar in colorization to Pauline's dress.
Super Smash Bros. Brawl
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!" 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 border), 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."
Super Smash Bros. Ultimate
Pauline along with the Super Mario Players appears in the background of New Donk City Hall in Super Smash Bros. Ultimate if "Jump Up, Super Star!" is selected as the stage's background music. The song's vocals are absent at first, and Pauline appears randomly on a propeller platform as the stage's main platform ascends the tower. If a fighter jumps past her, she starts to sing, and later appears in the plaza with the rest of the band.
Pauline also appears as two Legend-class spirits: one as a grab-type, primary spirit together with Donkey Kong (under the name "Donkey Kong & Lady") using their original artwork, which slightly increases the power of grabs and throws when equipped; and one as a support spirit by herself using her artwork from Super Mario Odyssey, which allows the user to recover health when an opponent attacks their shield. The latter can be obtained in the World of Light, where the player must defeat her puppet fighter, Peach, in 1 minute and 30 seconds while avoiding Mario with a Hammer (in his wedding outfit) and a giant Donkey Kong (in his red-furred alternate costume, resembling the original Donkey Kong) on 75 m.
Super Mario Odyssey
She first appears shortly after Mario arrives at New Donk City, where she, alongside several New Donkers, observes Bowser's Airship in the sky and the city being hit by a rainstorm. She then explains to Mario she can't talk with him because New Donk City's currently in a crisis: she explains that Bowser had arrived at the city and has been causing chaos, and admitted she was not impressed with his plastering posters advertising his planned wedding with Princess Peach, stating it was "tasteless". Afterward, she then thanks Mario for saving the city as it meant everything to her, and invited him to set up the city festival.
Prior to the upcoming city festival itself, Pauline asks Mario to help rebuild her band, for which she serves as the lead singer. After that, she then tasked Mario with checking out the underground power plant and restore power. Ultimately, by the time Mario arrived at the power plant, Pauline was present, as she decided to assess the situation herself and deduced Bowser was responsible for the sabotage. They then fixed the power together, and then she personally invited Mario for the New Donk City festival as the guest of honor to repay him for making the festival possible. She is the interpreter of "Jump Up, Super Star!", the theme song of the game. In addition, the reason she returns and acts as mayor of New Donk City is to avert the idea that the presence of a kingdom necessarily means that the people in charge are royalty.
She is later seen at the wedding between Bowser and Peach on the Moon Kingdom just as Mario enters, having been forced by the former to attend. She tells Mario he is "just in time."
In the post-game, Pauline is able to quiz Mario on facts about herself. She says that her hat is her favorite possession, she loves eating cake, and that her capture in Donkey Kong was "traumatic", although it helped her grow as a person. She also indicated that she had already seen Seaside Kingdom by the time she met up with Mario, and desired to see Cloud Kingdom next, due to it having "clouds that go on forever."
She later appears at Darker Side alongside the New Donk City Band and various other characters to root for Mario as he undergoes the rigorous challenge. During this time, she replaces her hat with a hat similar to that of Mario's own hat.
In the game's secret ending, she appears at the Mushroom Kingdom.
Mario Tennis Aces
Pauline reappears in Mario Tennis Aces as a character that was first available by participating in the March 2019 tournament. This marks her first fully playable appearance and her first appearance in a Mario sports title, as well as the debut of a sport outfit akin to that of Peach, Daisy, and Rosalina. She is classified as a Speedy type player, and her emblem resembles a pair of red lips stylized into a heart shape.
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 is 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 (the latter being Anthony Scapelli having been de-evolved by President Koopa).
She was given an indirect mention in the Nintendo Comics System story Cloud Burst, where Mario alluded to a past girlfriend who was comparable to Princess Toadstool as well as to some extent Luigi and Bowser.
Pauline appears in volume 11 of the Super Mario-Kun manga. She is described as a person whose appearance is "brighter" and "more gorgeous" than Peach. She is a major character in the Donkey Kong history of this volume: in this history, she runs a shop called "Pauline's Fashionable Store", that sells fire and frog suits for Mario. Donkey Kong later enters the store to buy a new tie. Mario is also in the store and recommends Donkey Kong to buy a collar. Donkey Kong get furious and takes a tie and Pauline to the top of a construction site, resembling Donkey Kong's (arcade) scenario.
In the 2nd volume of Super Mario-Kun on the Donkey Kong (Arcade) rechapter, Lady is shown in her usual damsel-in-distress role, but when Mario comes to save her she says "Kong is still better."
Although Pauline herself does not make an appearance in Donkey Kong Country 2: Diddy's Kong Quest, she, and more specifically Cranky Kong's abduction of her in the original game was alluded to in the manual (intro in the GBA version) where Cranky, while lecturing Donkey Kong, said "Whisking off maidens and throwing barrels around the place seven days a week, I was."
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. In NES Remix, she appears in most of the challenges and remixes based on Donkey Kong and Pinball. She also has the same role in Ultimate NES Remix, which combined games from both NES Remix and NES Remix 2 for Nintendo 3DS.
Pauline appears as a statue in Super Mario Run during the Super Mario Odyssey event. Along with the three other main character statues of Mario, Peach & Bowser (in their respective wedding outfits), the Pauline statue makes an appearance between November 14, 2017 - November 19, 2017. She also appeared in Captain Toad: Treasure Tracker for the Nintendo Switch and 3DS in a cameo on one of New Donk City's billboards.
Pauline also appears in both WarioWare: D.I.Y. Showcase and WarioWare Gold in the microgame Donkey Kong, where she plays her role from the original Donkey Kong arcade game. She appears in the same stance in another Donkey Kong-based microgame from WarioWare, Inc.: Mega Microgame$!.
Although she does not appear in either Mario & Luigi: Bowser's Inside Story or its remake, she is indirectly referenced by Kuzzle in the latter, during the Bowser Jr.'s Journey mode when he spots Kaley and Beef fly past, mistakes the former for one of his grandaughters. While rattling off the names of his granddaughters, "Pauline" is one of the names listed.
Pauline, or more accurately her debut role, was given an indirect reference in Baten Kaitos Origins, where the character Guillo sarcastically asks Gibari, "What are you, some monkey who's run off with a pretty wench?" after witnessing the latter take out several guards with a barrel.
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 long wavy to curly hair wearing a deep pink to red, usually torn, strap dress and ankle-strap pumps of the same color. In addition, her design on various sticker packs depicted her with long orange-colored hair. In her sprite in Donkey Kong for Game & Watch, she was given short curly orange hair, and had on a pink blouse and purple pants (in the Game & Watch Gallery versions, she instead has blonde hair and either a red dress, or otherwise a red blouse and yellow skirt depending on the specific game version).
Since Donkey Kong for 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 suggested in the American version of her Super Smash Bros. for Nintendo 3DS / Wii U 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.
In Super Mario Odyssey, her face is slightly refined even more; her eyes are somewhat smaller than in the Mario vs. Donkey Kong games and her face is more rounded, while her makeup is more vibrant. According to the developers, she was given a new design that reflected the current view of the world while handling the original features with great care.
In the west, the name Pauline first appeared in licensed media after the original arcade release of Donkey Kong and was eventually used in the NES version; however, in Japan, she was still known as Lady in the Famicom version. Because the name Pauline was not used uniformly until her return in the Game Boy game where she was redesigned, the original version of the character and redesigned version were treated as separate characters in certain media in Japan, with the original version of the character being known as Lady and the new version being known as Pauline, although the two incarnations are never shown meeting together. This is likely due to the fact that Pauline was described as a "new heroine" when Donkey Kong for Game Boy was released in Japan, despite the fact that Shigeru Miyamoto and game director Masayuki Kameyama acknowledged in an interview that Pauline was previously used as the name of Lady outside Japan, as well as stating that the game was intended to be a prequel to Super Mario Bros. since Pauline was Mario's "old flame" (昔の彼女) before meeting Peach. After the release of the Game Boy game, the name Lady retained usage to refer to the original version of the character in Japan; for example, during the Cat Mario show's coverage of some NES games, Cat Mario, when asked by Cat Peach about the woman's identity, simply identified her as Lady.
In the Perfect Edition of the Great Mario Character Encyclopedia, published in 1994 by Shogakukan, Lady and Pauline are given separate entries. Curiously, both of them have "New York" listed as their place of origin, but Lady's personality is described as "docile" (おとなしい) while Pauline's personality is "vigorous" (活発).
Kazuki Motoyama's Super Mario manga introduced Lady during the Super Mario Kart story arc as Mario's childhood girlfriend who established an automobile repair shop and volunteers to become Mario and Luigi's mechanic during the kart race. Later on, during the Donkey Kong story arc, Pauline was introduced as an acrobat hired by Peach for her circus alongside Donkey Kong Jr.
Volume 2 of Yukio Sawada's Super Mario-Kun featured a gag in which Lady leaves Mario for Donkey Kong. However, Volume 11 of the same manga would introduce Pauline as a clerk in a clothing store that Mario frequents with no mention of her having a prior romantic relationship with Mario (or Donkey Kong for that matter).
The Japanese versions of both Super Smash Bros. for Nintendo 3DS and Wii U would eventually confirm to Japanese players that Pauline and Lady are indeed one and the same on Pauline's trophy description. Similarly, in the Japanese version of Nintendo Badge Arcade, Arcade Bunny has dialog introducing the arcade character as Pauline instead of Lady.
Due to the initial name Lady sometimes being mistaken as the generic term lady, Pauline has several naming discrepancies across media. In at least one ad for the Game & Watch version of Donkey Kong, Pauline was referred to as Louise. However, the instructions leave her unnamed. NES information packs, mailed as late as April 1986, referred to her as Paula instead.[dead link]
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 (a total of seven), 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, in comparison to other human female characters. She is most often shown as average height when compared to other adult human females in the Mario franchise, although some sources such as StreetPass Mii Plaza's "Nintendo Heroines/Starlets" 3D puzzle with Peach, Rosalina, and herself indicated that she was at least as tall as Rosalina (who is shown to be very tall), and is also shown in Super Mario Odyssey to be fairly tall among the New Donk City populace, especially in comparison to Mario. In Mario Tennis Aces, she is shown to be slightly shorter than Rosalina.
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. In Super Mario Odyssey, she wears a red-colored pantsuit as well as a purple hat while out in public, and her trademark dress during the festival, however with sparkly details.
In Mario Tennis Aces, she wears a red sundress derived from her trademark dress, and black and white sneakers resembling her heel pumps. Similarly to Peach, Daisy, and Rosalina, she wears a yellow and white sweatband on her right wrist that matches the color of her earrings. In addition, she appears to have a black sports bra barely visible under her dress, and she wears a red sun visor over her forehead with a golden heart on the left side of the brim.
Until Super Mario Odyssey, Pauline did not have much character development. She is 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, which 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 also acts as a mediator between Mario and Donkey Kong. As mayor, she is apparently adept at city planning, as one of the residents of New Donk City mentioned that he was surprised at how fast she managed to get the city up and running again. In Super Mario Odyssey Pauline has been given more character (re)development overall. She enjoys peppy and jazz music because it brings people together, frequently practices singing to prepare for the next New Donk City Festival, has such a love for New Donk City that she often takes walks to admire it all, and also mentions she adores cake, stating that "It has to be 'good' cake and 'not that package stuff'". On another hand, however, she admits that she is not good at fixing machinery, and implies that she is also bad with flowers. She also goes on walks as a hobby due to her love for New Donk City, and has indicated that she likes Fried Mushrooms and Flower Stew (the former due to being a massive Mushroom fan), but is not fond of Leaf Salad.
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 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, the two get along well, and while Pauline does not return Donkey Kong's affections, it is implied that she finds his gestures sweet. In some instances, Pauline also plots alongside Donkey Kong for the latter to "kidnap" her in order to test the abilities of the Mini Mario line and luring Mario to a surprise party.
She is shown to not be fond of Bowser, especially when his wedding plans resulted in New Donk City being attacked and him plastering billboards for his wedding to Peach all over the city (which she deemed tasteless, especially in light of the city's crisis). In addition, when Mario arrived at the Moon Chapel after Pauline and the others were forced by Bowser to act as "guests" for the wedding, Pauline said that Mario was "just in time", implying she was not happy with Bowser forcing her to attend the wedding.
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."
Perfect Edition Great Mario Character Encyclopedia
Birthplace: New York
Birthplace: New York
Super Smash Bros. series
Super Smash Bros. Brawl sticker
Super Smash Bros. for Nintendo 3DS / Wii U trophy
Blue indicates exclusive to the Wii U version.
Super Smash Bros. Ultimate spirits
Super Mario Run
Names in other languages