The Franklin Badge first appeared as an item in Mother (later released outside of Japan as EarthBound Beginnings), in which it is given to the main protagonist, Ninten, after saving his friend Pippi from PseudoZombis in the South Cemetery. Another one is found in a box in Duncan's Factory. In EarthBound Beginnings it is used to reflect PK Beam γ, normally a one-hit knock-out attack, making certain fights easier. It is described as having been used by Benjamin Franklin during his experiments with lightning. It later appears an item in EarthBound when Paula gives it to Ness to protect him from the lightning attacks from Carpainter. In EarthBound it instead reflects all thunder attacks, most commonly PK Thunder. It once again appears in Mother 3, where it first appears as the Courage Badge, which when cleaned by a Mr. Saturn reveals it is actually the Franklin Badge. It serves the same purpose as in EarthBound where it reflects lightning-based attacks, and thus the Franklin Badge is a very important item in all three EarthBound games. In Smash, the Franklin Badge reflects all projectiles, not just electric-based ones.
When Mother was first released in Japan, an official strategy guide was also released, which contained a list of items that are in the game along with a picture of each item; the Franklin Badge was depicted with simply having a smiley. The strategy guide also contained a contest that involved the reader cutting out a seal and sending it to the publisher. Out of everybody who sent in a seal, two-hundred randomly selected people won a Franklin Badge pin. Franklin Badges were also packaged in the limited edition Deluxe Box of Mother 3. The Franklin Badge's design in Smash is based on the Franklin Badge pins that were handed out for the official Mother strategy guide contest and the Franklin Badge pins included in the Mother 3 Deluxe Box.
The player can put a Franklin Badge anywhere on their body, which will protect them from projectiles. When the Franklin Badge is equipped, the player can notice the badge emits light in a sparkling fashion, and it can be noticed by other players. However, the item will not stay on the player the entire match, so players must be sure to notice when it disappears from their character's body or if the sparkling light has vanished.
The Franklin Badge can't be broken like other reflectors; if a projectile overloads the Franklin Badge, it will simply either be absorbed or pass through the character.
The Franklin Badge can also be selected on the Special Brawl mode. When selected in this mode, the Badge remains for the entire duration of the match.
In Smash Tour
While the Franklin Badge itself does not have a Spirit, the item appears as skill which equips the player with it at the start of a match.
Super Smash Bros. Brawl
A badge you can put on to gain the ability to reflect all projectiles. It has exactly the same effect as other reflectors in the game, like the one Fox uses. In Mother, it was used to deflect PK Beam when fighting Starman Jr. In Earthbound, it was used to counter Thunder attacks. The lightning bolt on the badge is proof of its capacity. Its importance and usefulness made a deep impression on players.
Super Smash Bros. 4
While not the most flashy of accessories, the Franklin Badge is actually incredibly useful. When wearing it, any projectiles launched your way will be reflected harmlessly off you. There is no downside, so grab this as soon as it appears. Don't get too confident, though—the bonus doesn't last long.
The Franklin Badge might not be flashy, but it's an impressive piece of kit. This tiny thing acts as a reflector shield for any projectiles fired your way. With no particular drawbacks to consider either, it's a real boon if you can snag it. It will run out, though, so don't get careless!