Super Mario Bros. Super Show optical illusion inspires debate over whether Mario is going up or down stairs

An image from 1989’s The Super Mario Bros. Super Show cartoon has resurfaced recently, thanks to the New York Post digging up an old Reddit thread. The image in question features Mario running along a castle staircase that seems like it came from an M.C. Escher painting. The question that everyone’s arguing over: Is he going up or down the stairs?

While the Internet’s opinions on this one are divisive as always, the consensus seems to be that Mario is indeed traveling up said stairs. This conclusion comes from careful analysis of his foot placement, as well as context from the episode itself (Season 1, Episode 23: “Mario & Joilet”) in which Mario is apparently running up the stairs as he’s being chased by enemies from below.

We can probably blame the Super Mario Bros. Super Show’s original animators and lack of budget for not managing to make this image clearer, but at least it’s resulted in a fascinating discussion all these years later. Which side of this important debate do you land on?

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