List of rumors
Like many other games, the Super Smash Bros. series has had various rumors spread about it, usually through the Internet, and sometimes magazines. Most of the time, rumors claimed to contain information concerning playable characters, though rumors concerning other aspects of gameplay, such as development scheduling, can also appear. Rumors can be proven true or false on arrival via fact-checking or by waiting for relevant information from official sources, though a majority are proven false; some rumors, however, can contain true information.
As with any game, the Smash Bros. series has had various works of fan art being passed off as supposedly leaked screenshots. Box art and character selection screens for Brawl were particularly common, though images of characters in the game also appeared. Shortly before and after the release of the game in Japan, these images had become more and more common, though the use of video streaming sites such as YouTube and Vimeo quickly disproved most of these rumors as more gameplay footage of the game became public.
Many character selection screens for Melee also made the rounds, though these screens were less credible due to the ability to quickly distribute images on the Internet being unfeasible during Melee's release; by then, all the unlockables had been well-known. Some of these fake rosters, however, were merely made as jokes, including a particularly famous image featuring over 108 characters and eight player slots. The inability to easily customise the character roster for the original game has prevented fake rosters from appearing, as there are no empty spaces, and the game was released before the Internet was widespread.
While extremely common, fake character rosters are relatively easy to debunk - for any unrevealed character, they use character images that are either unofficial, such as fanart, or by taking official art from other games. For example, in the image to the right, Luigi's image is a mirrored version of his official artwork from Super Mario 64 DS.
Rumors about Super Smash Bros.
Unlocking non-playable characters
Being able to play as characters such as Metal Mario, Giant Donkey Kong, Master Hand, or a Fighting Polygon was the main source of rumors during the game's era. As with other rumors of the time, the supposed criteria ranged from unusual (spinning the control stick 30 times) to ludicrous (completing the 1P Game as every character in a specific order on Very Hard with a stock of one). Many videos on YouTube continue to claim these rumors, but all of which supposedly work merely use the built-in cheat functions found within Project 64.
A popular rumor about Smash 64 that came around long after its release was that several characters were planned to be playable in the game, but cut due to time and/or memory constraints. The characters most often rumored to have been planned but cut are Bowser, King Dedede, Mewtwo, Peach, Wario, Pit, and Meowth. A page on the official Smash 64 website claims that Bowser, King Dedede, and Mewtwo were indeed planned to be playable in Smash 64, but the reason for their exclusion is not specifically stated. No sources, however, have been proven to support Pit, Meowth, Peach, Wario, or any other characters as having ever been planned to be playable in the game.
Rumors about Super Smash Bros. Melee
Unlocking Sonic and TailsMelee remains one of the most infamous not just in the Super Smash Bros. series, but also in the world of video games. An April Fools' joke pulled by the gaming-themed magazine Electronic Gaming Monthly said that Sonic and Tails could be unlocked after defeating 20 enemies in Cruel Melee, then defeating the two in a two-against-one battle. The blurb also claimed that upon completing Classic Mode with either of the two characters, the player would get a "special surprise". While EGM was famous for its numerous April Fools' jokes, such as the infamous "Sheng Long cheat", many readers still fell for the rumor.
The rumor can be debunked through many pieces of evidence:
The rumor rapidly spread following its publication, to the point where rival publication Nintendo Power would publish an article about how the rumor was false, and the page on Melee in Nintendo's website also spoke about how the rumor was false. EGM would eventually confess in their next issue that the cheat was an April Fools' joke, and like their previous April Fool's Day jokes, mock those who took it seriously. As a prize for people who sent in video proof of getting 20 or more KOs in Cruel Melee, however, they rewarded copies of Sonic Adventure 2: Battle, which was Sonic's first game on a Nintendo system.
Another infamous rumor featuring Toad as a playable character in Melee was first spread in November of 2002. The Toad rumor, initially posted on a small independent site that has since disappeared (an archive can be found here), stated that Toad could be unlocked as a playable character in Melee after obtaining a perfect score during the credits mini-game, which is played after completing any one-player mode; after hitting all the credits, the player would then have to clear Adventure Mode (with a requirement of "easily defeating" the Yoshis in the Mushroom Kingdom stage), after which they would be able to unlock him. The site also gave several fake screenshots depicting Toad in various in-game scenarios, propagating the rumor; it came to the point where the images had become more well-known than the site and the supposed method to unlock him, with explanations sometimes varying strongly from the original.
The method has been disproven by the same evidence as the Sonic and Tails rumor; additionally, the screenshots of Toad were made by taking images from Toad when he was running around the Mushroom Kingdom of the Adventure Mode of the game. Inconsistencies with the actual gameplay surrounding Toad also debunked the rumor; the site says that Toad has no accommodations in All-Star Mode, has no trophies, and has no videos for his Ending Sequence after finishing a 1-Player game. The site itself also contributed to the debunking of the rumor; it was hosted on GeoCities, a former web hosting site that allowed anyone to create their own pages, causing the rumor to be considerably less credible than the Sonic and Tails rumor (which was featured in a widely-read magazine). The site was also filled with incorrect information; for instance, when speaking about the game's Adventure Mode, the site claims that the ordeal is similar to unlocking Falco - Falco, however, is unlockable in Multi-Man Melee, not in Adventure Mode. Numerous spelling and grammatical errors were also present on the page, such as the misspelling of "taunt" as "taught", and a suspicious "THIS IS NOT A FAKE" statement.
Lucas replacing Ness
A widespread rumor that came around some time after Melee's release was that Masahiro Sakurai planned to replace Ness with the new protagonist of Mother 3, Lucas. This rumor was confirmed by Sakurai himself, where he stated that he was going to replace Ness with Lucas, but the delay of Mother 3 (which ended up getting delayed to 2006, five years after the release of Melee) caused him to renege on the idea and keep Ness in.
Relating to this rumor, after Lucas was confirmed to be a newcomer in Brawl while Ness' confirmation had yet to be made, it was commonly speculated that Ness would not return, being replaced by Lucas, as was originally planned in Melee. A quote on the DOJO!! seemed to suggest this as well, claiming that "There’s a character named Ness who has appeared in the Smash Bros. series up until now, and Lucas is very similar". Such speculation ended up untrue however, as Ness returned again as a playable character in Brawl.
Rumors about Super Smash Bros. Brawl
Additions and removals of characters
Shortly after Brawl's announcement, a rumor claimed that in a radio interview, Masahiro Sakurai confirmed that Ridley, a cel-shaded Link (Toon Link), and Bowser Jr. would be playable characters. Coinciding with this was the rumor of Young Link, the Ice Climbers, and Mr. Game & Watch being dropped. This was proven to be false; while Toon Link does replace Young Link in Brawl, Ridley appears as a boss instead of a playable character, Bowser Jr. only appears as a sticker and trophy, and Mr. Game & Watch and the Ice Climbers do return as playable characters in Brawl.
No more clones
Another popular rumor stated that Sakurai claimed clones would not exist in Brawl, implying that Dr. Mario, Roy, Pichu, Ganondorf, Falco, Young Link, and (to a lesser extent) Luigi, would be either removed or redesigned for Brawl. Despite initially being disregarded as false, the rumor became notable for having truth to it; Ganondorf and Falco returned, but with considerable differences from Melee, distancing them from the original characters of Captain Falcon and Fox respectively. Luigi had multiple changes to his character as well, though the original of Mario also had a few changes. Dr. Mario, Roy and Pichu were completely removed, though data for the former two exists in the game. Young Link was also removed, though he was essentially replaced by Toon Link; Toon Link, however, still has many differences from Link, and is not as complete a clone as Young Link was. Additionally, of the 18 new playable characters added, only Toon Link and Lucas had some considerable sort of cloning, and were semi-clones rather than complete clones. Overall, Brawl has no complete clones and five semi-clones out of 39 playable characters, compared to Melee's six complete clones and one semi-clone out of 26 playable characters, thus validating the rumor by having significantly less cloning.
Sukapon, Animal Crossing characters and Mii
Sukapon from Joy Mech Fight was a heavily requested character for Melee and Brawl; Sakurai stated that this would not happen, though he promised the very disappointed fans that Sukapon would be included in the latter game as a trophy. (citation needed) This did not hold true, though Sukapon makes a cameo as a sticker.
Another rumor suggested that Miis and a character from Animal Crossing, such as the generic playable male/female character (termed an "Animal Crosser") or Tom Nook, would be playable in Brawl. Sakurai disproved this rumor, stating that "On one hand, they have an innocent charm to them that could be ruined if they were in a fighting game" (citation needed). Despite the lack of a playable character, Animal Crossing is strongly represented in Brawl by multiple songs, trophies, stickers, an Assist Trophy, a stage, and numerous cameos on said stage. Miis can also be used as avatars through Wi-Fi brawling. Furthermore, a Villager made an appearance as a newcomer in the fourth game.
A third third-party
Sakurai said that, after Sonic and Snake, there might be a third third-party character; prior to Sonic's announcement, he also claimed that "one or two" other third-party characters would appear. This led many smahers speculating that a another third party was guaranteed to be included.
Capcom's Mega Man
One of the most popularly-rumored characters was Capcom's Mega Man, from his own self-titled series. The inclusion was considered plausible due to Mega Man having a very strong history with Nintendo consoles, as well as a resurgence in popularity with the Mega Man Anniversary Collection for the GameCube. Rumors claimed that a Japanese website from Nintendo was asking players which third-party characters they wanted to see, with Mega Man being second-most requested (behind only Sonic). No website, however, is known to exist to prove this.
While Mega Man ultimately did not appear in Brawl, he was eventually introduced to Super Smash Bros. by being included as a playable character in Super Smash Bros. 4.
A second Sonic the Hedgehog character
After the announcement of Sonic appearing in Brawl, another rumored third-party brawler was another character from the Sonic the Hedgehog series; Tails, Knuckles, and Shadow were the most commonly speculated, as Tails was Sonic's partner and close friend, Knuckles was a partner and rival, and Shadow was among the most popular characters in the series. Additionally, all three had been playable in the Sonic series. While they did not become playable, Tails and Knuckles appear in cameos on the Green Hill Zone, while Shadow appears as an Assist Trophy.
A popular rumor among some fans is that Nintendo had negotiated with Square Enix to receive a license for the inclusion of their character Geno, from Super Mario RPG: Legend of the Seven Stars (a game which was developed with Square, who disallowed direct sequels to the game without their permission or involvement), as a playable character in Brawl. This rumor suggested that Square declined to allow Geno's appearance, or they demanded a large amount of money to allow him. After the release of the game, rumors went as far as to suggest that the Random Character box on the character select screen was intended for Geno, which ties into the fact that it is located under the third-party characters of Snake and Sonic and a dedicated "random character" box had not previously been featured in the series. There is no evidence to support such a rumor, as not only is there no unfinished character package labeled "Geno" present in the game's data, and there is no Super Mario RPG-related content in Brawl whatsoever.
Leon S. Kennedy's voice actor and Brawl
The IMDB page for Super Smash Bros. Brawl initially listed the voice actor Paul Mercier as one of the many voice talents recruited for the game; Paul Mercier's most well-known role as a voice actor was Leon S. Kennedy of Capcom's Resident Evil 4. Some fans claimed this gave evidence to Kennedy appearing in Brawl. Leon's possible appearance was considered plausible by these speculators; while he appeared in M-rated games, Snake had also done so, and he had appeared more often and more recently on Nintendo consoles than Snake: Kennedy appeared once on the Nintendo 64 in Resident Evil 2, two times on the GameCube for a port of Resident Evil 2 and the original game Resident Evil 4, once on the Wii for a remake of Resident Evil 4, and once on the Game Boy Color for Resident Evil Gaiden. IMDB, however, allows anyone to contribute content, so this rumour was overall not credible. Mercier's name was later removed from the listing, and neither Leon nor Mercier appeared in the game.
Relating to the Megaman and Leon S. Kennedy rumors, Sakurai said, in relation to the fourth Super Smash Bros. game, that he "can't say that it's entirely out of the realm of possibility that some Capcom character could appear in the next Smash Bros." Capcom's Yoshinori Ono also has stated he has an interest in creating a Nintendo vs. Capcom game, in a vein similar to the Marvel vs. Capcom series.  Mega Man was announced at E3 2013 to be in Super Smash Bros. 4, although it was not announced as to whether or not he would be the only Capcom character in the game.
Downloadable content rumor
Shortly after Brawl was released in America, a newspost appeared on the Internet, claiming that Brawl would feature four downloadable characters and two downloadable stages, as well as a new Wii Channel of "Wii Want More". The discovery of multiple unused character files present in the game also added credence to the rumor, under the assumption that the empty files render it easier to create add-on content.
The rumor was quickly proven as false; Masahiro Sakurai himself stated that downloadable content would never be coming for Brawl, as the Wii's flash-based internal hardware is incapable of patching or otherwise modifying a game based on a downloaded file. The supposed release date of 13 May 2008 also passed without a "Wii Want More" channel being released or announced. Additionally, in a vein similar to the Toad rumor, the site was hosted on 110MB, a hosting site where anyone on the Internet can publish content.
Brawl is the last game
During the development of Brawl, Sakurai reportedly said statements along the lines that he was making Brawl as the last game; additionally, some advertisements had the tagline of "One brawl to end them all!". This led several to believe that this is the last game in the series. The rumor, however, is taken out of context; Sakurai stated he was making Brawl like it was the last game, not that it was the last game. Additionally, Sakurai said that Melee would've been the last game on Smabura-Ken, and that did not hold true. This rumor was ultimately proven false at E3 2011, where a new Super Smash Bros. title was announced for both the Nintendo 3DS and not yet released Wii U consoles; development started in February 2012.
Rumors about Super Smash Bros. 4
Super Smash Bros. Universe rumor
Shortly after the official announcement of the fourth Super Smash Bros., an image circulated around the Internet detailing what appeared to be an advert or design document that was said to be from the official Nintendo headquarters in Japan for "Super Smash Bros. Universe"; multiple imageboards worked to translate the document, leading to some supposed preliminary idea for the games. However, Sakurai stated that he had not begun working on the new Smash Bros. at the time and was focusing on Kid Icarus Uprising.
"2 out of 3" rumor
Shortly after the release of Kid Icarus Uprising, a multitude of screencaps appeared on All is Brawl, showing a conversation on social site Twitter between Sakurai's official account and a Canadian fan. The conversation began with the fan asking for Geno from Super Mario RPG, Isaac from Golden Sun, and Mega Man from his eponymous series to appear. Sakurai's response was "2 out of 3", which the blog author claimed gave credence to the possibility of two of the three aforementioned characters appearing. However, the author also claimed that the Tweet in question from Sakurai was deleted only half an hour after being posted.
The rumor was proven false almost immediately; images showed that in both Sakurai's real Twitter feed (where the Tweet did not appear) and the image showing Sakurai's feed with the "2 out of 3" Tweet both had a Tweet count of 8807. The plausibility of the situation of Sakurai revealing very notable information, then immediately retracting it, was also doubted.
Super Smash Bros. Memories rumor
According to an anonymous source who wrote to Zelda Informer, Super Smash Bros. 4 for the Nintendo 3DS would be called Super Smash Bros. Memories. The letter outlined that Nintendo has confirmed that both Super Smash Bros. games – for Wii U and Nintendo 3DS - will not be identical, and the source also claimed that it knew the main difference between the two.
According to the rumor, Wii U's Super Smash Bros. would focus on modern characters while Super Smash Bros. Memories would star retro characters, such as Donkey Kong Jr., Ridley, Pac-Man, Takamaru, Mach Rider, "Dig-Dug", and Stanley the Bug Man. The source also claimed that Nintendo would put the game on store shelves in the fourth quarter of 2013, around December.
This rumor ended up proving false, with the E3 2013 reveal stating that the main difference between the two versions of the game would not be between characters, but between stages. Sakurai also later confirmed that both versions would have the same playable cast. The rumor's set timeframe of Q4 2013 was also proven false, as the game was later set for release sometime in 2014.
Namco worker rumor
On 12 December 2012, a thread on GameFAQs was started by a user named Halibuton; the user claimed that he worked for Namco and had some information told to him by his co-workers concerning the development of Super Smash Bros. 4.
Halibuton claimed that there would be a Nintendo Direct on the fifth anniversary of Brawl's Japanese release (31 January 2013) and said it would be centered around Smash 4, though likely more of a series retrospective with minor new info than a full-blown reveal trailer. He also said that he knew a bit about the early roster and claimed to know a few newcomers: Takamaru from Nazo no Murasame Jō and Little Mac (chosen as recent-popularity classics and an "East vs. West" concept supposedly due to previous games being too Japan-only-series-centric) as well as King K. Rool and Ridley (chosen due to popular demand and having movesets based on more recent games). Other claimed, less-finalized newcomers are Shulk from Xenoblade, Dillon from Dillon's Rolling Western, Ghirahim from the Legend of Zelda series, a "Debu" from the at the time rumour-only Yarn Yoshi (supposedly a partner of Yoshi, with "Debu" possibly being just a nickname or placeholder), and a Platinum Games character possibly from The Wonderful 101. Aside from characters, multiple stages were listed: Starship Mario (Super Mario Galaxy 2), Giant Chasm (Pokémon Black 2/White 2), Pushmo Park (Pushmo), and Cookie Country (Kirby's Return to Dream Land).
Halibuton's claimed date for the reveal of 31 January 2013, however, ultimately passed without a Nintendo Direct presentation, significant news about Smash 4, or mentions of any of the aforementioned characters, thus ultimately disproving the rumor after two months of speculation.
An AllIsBrawl post made early on the 25 June 2013 claimed that an image had been leaked on the Smash 4 website, presumably from the "image of the day". The image shows Mario and Lucina (from Fire Emblem Awakening) on a Fairy Isle in the Great Sea. There was no evidence on the site, however; the image of the day instead featured Link doing an aerial Spin Attack in Skyloft.
This image, while initially appearing to be legitimate, was actually compiled using a variety of elaborate hacks available for Brawl. The stage seen in the image is a Fairy Isle hacked stage, and the Mario in the image uses a texture hack to make his model more closely resemble his newer model in Super Smash Bros. 4; Lucina herself is identical to a PSA hack seen in "The Lucina PSA". While not particularly widespread outside All is Brawl, this was the first known rumor to showcase the level of elaboration that Brawl hacks bring to rumor producers.
Ness and Jigglypuff rumor
In November 2013, two supposedly leaked images of Ness and Jigglypuff in Super Smash Bros. 4 began to circulate on Smash-related message boards and other resources. One of these images depicted the "official" artwork of Ness for SSB4, while the other picture featured both Ness and Jigglypuff standing on the Battlefield stage in the 3DS version. The gameplay image, however, was proven fake after cross-checking it with an actual image of Link and Toon Link standing on the same stage; numerous graphical differences could be seen between the two images, primarily in regards to the rendering of the outlines and shadows in the faked image.
On 22 January 2014, two supposedly leaked images of Palutena in the 3DS version of Super Smash Bros. 4 began to spread around the internet. Though no solid evidence has been shown that proves or disproves this rumor, it has been noted that both of the characters poses and Palutena's model have never been seen in any photo before, helping the credibility of the rumor, and that known existing Brawl hacks have not been able to replicate what is seen in the images. Of particular note is that after the two images were released, a series of Kid Icarus-related images were released on Miiverse, leading some observers to speculate that Sakurai is aware of the Palutena images.
On 3 February 2014, a supposedly leaked image, first posted by the local news site examiner.com, depicted a screenshot of the Japanese version of the Smash Bros. website containing an image of Falco's head. The leak claimed this confirmed Falco's return in Super Smash Bros. 4. The image, however, was later proven false with the reveal of Little Mac as a playable character; the characters in the faked image follow a chronological order, with the most recently revealed characters appearing closer to the left. With Falco's image on the far left, this implied that Falco would be unveiled as a playable character directly after Lucario; in reality, Little Mac was revealed on 13 February 2014, thus disproving the rumor. Adding to this, the rumor suffered from a similar problem to the Toad rumor from Melee and the Wii Want More rumor from Brawl. While operating as a compiler of news from different sources, Examiner.com allows any "pro-am contributor" to submit news or articles; as a result, this harmed the rumor's credibility.
A second image of Falco in gameplay appeared on AllisBrawl the next day, appearing to be fighting on the Mario Galaxy stage in the Wii U version of Smash 4. This image, however, uses a different model and texture for Falco's head than that from the Examiner.com post, harming the credibility of both images; furthermore, Falco lacks the standard headgear that he wore in both Melee and Brawl. As Fox wears such headgear, it is considered unlikely by some that Falco would not be donning such an accessory. In the image posted, Falco's left leg also looks somewhat misplaced.