While charging such an attack on the ground, players can cancel the charge and (usually) store it by pressing a shield or grab button, or tapping sideways on the control stick or D-pad to roll out of the charge. If they are in the air while in their charging state, canceling it with a shield or grab button will make them cancel it with an air dodge instead. In Ultimate, these moves can also be canceled by jumping.
If a character is hit while charging one of these moves (other than Bonus Fruit and Limit Charge), they will lose the charge completely and have to start over, regardless of whether they had stored a charge before.
Due to its buffer system, charge-canceling Giant Punch in Brawl will result in Donkey Kong performing an air dodge if the input is entered late into the charge animation.
In Smash 4 there is also a variant known as instant charge-canceling which consists of inputting a neutral attack, tilt attack or Smash attack in a certain timing without having to cancel the chargeable move with the shield. It is exclusive to Cloud, Diddy Kong, R.O.B., and Sheik.
There is also a variant known as charge storage canceling, which can occur if the charge move has an animation when being cancelled. This is performed by canceling a charge with a shield/air dodge input or in Ultimate, a jump input and then letting go of the input before the charge storage animation can finish. Holding the input for too long will result in a shield/air dodge/jump but letting go before the animation ends will result in the player being able to access their entire moveset. This can only be done with charge moves with a charge storage animation however.
List of moves that can be charge-canceled
Prior to Ultimate, Samus and Mii Gunner were the only characters who could not charge cancel in midair, since Charge Shot and Charge Blast were unable to be charged in midair; this was changed in Ultimate. Additionally, Mewtwo's and Lucario's auto-charge specials (as well as Sheik's in Melee). will continue charging even at max charge unless canceled or fired during that period, as opposed to automatically stopping like everyone else.
Also prior to Melee, characters could use a normal attack button to unleash the charged attack mid-charge as well.
- Bayonetta: Bullet Climax (charge cannot be stored; cannot be canceled with a jump)
- Byleth: Failnaught (until fully charged; charge cannot be stored)
- Cloud: Limit Charge
- Dark Samus: Charge Shot
- Donkey Kong: Giant Punch
- Hero: Frizz (charge lost upon canceling)
- Kirby: can copy all moves listed here except Limit Charge, F.L.U.D.D., Ultimate Uppercut, Poison Breath, and Gyro.
- Little Mac: Straight Lunge (Ultimate only; charge cannot be stored)
- Lucario: Aura Sphere
- Mario: F.L.U.D.D.
- Mewtwo: Shadow Ball
- Mii Brawler: Ultimate Uppercut
- Mii Gunner: Charge Blast
- Pac-Man: Bonus Fruit
- Piranha Plant: Poison Breath
- R.O.B.: Gyro
- Robin: Thunder
- Samus: Charge Shot
- Sephiroth: Flare (charge cannot be stored; cannot be canceled unless the special button is held down)
- Sheik: Needle Storm (in Melee, the button must be held to charge, and rolling is not possible without pressing a shield button)
- Squirtle: Water Gun
- Wii Fit Trainer: Sun Salutation
Starting with Super Smash Bros. 4, fully completing the charge of any of these specials will briefly display glowing stars on the character's eyes in their battle portrait. In the case of Miis, the glowing stars will appear on their arms.