In the Smash community, a John is an excuse for a player's underperformance that results in a loss in a Smash Bros. game, for example not using the correct attack, having a poor controller, or narrowly losing a match, among others. It can be considered an equivalent to the word "excuse". In addition to its use as a noun, the term can also be used as a verb, where players can be accused of "Johning". "No Johns" has also seen use, primarily to counter players who are said to be Johning. Making excuses for why a player lost is generally frowned upon by the Smash community, and players who repeatedly John are often criticized for making these excuses.
The term "Johning" was started by the Crystal City Crew from Texas, during the late 1990s, following the release of Super Smash Bros. 64. In addition to future professionals such as Caveman and Rob$, another member of the crew was named John; this player became notorious amongst the other members for frequently making excuses for his losses while competing. Eventually, the other members of the crew began to accuse him of "Johning" whenever he made another excuse; the terms "John" and "No Johns" were also eventually used by the players in order to generically refer to excuses.
As the crew began to gain more exposure, including attending tournaments out of state, they still used the term "John" and its variants, spreading usage of the term to other crews and players; the term eventually became widespread throughout the Melee community, and the members of the Crystal City Crew were surprised upon seeing its usage on Smashboards.
The smasher from which the term John originated still plays Melee, under the tag "Turbo Ace".
In Sweden, the term "Yuna" is used interchangeably with "John", here referring to the smasher Yuna, who became known for similar behavior to John. Players say "Inga Yunas", pseudo-Swedish for "No Yunas".
Spain has numerous synonyms to the term "John", with the two most common being "No Veyrons", after a smasher from Catalonia, or "No Joshis", after the smasher Joshi from Andalusia. "No Veyrons" is more common in northern Spain, while "No Joshis" is more common in the south.
In Germany, a counterpart called "No Stacos" evolved, leading back to the player Staco. Staco was known in the German community for frequently using excuses both for victories and losses, often claiming he could have performed better in both cases. While Staco later retired from competitive Smash, the phrase is still commonly used. In written form, especially on Smashboards, the digit sequence "<<" was established by him, stressing his disapproval when something was not in his favor; the sequence is called "kleiner als kleiner als", which, in German, roughly translates to "less than less than".
In Mexico, the term "no Miltons" originated as a synonym after a player known as Milton who often made up excuses (like playing with a broken finger) whenever he lost a game in a tournament in 2009. The city of Tampico uses the term "Tiesar", after a player known as Tieso.
In Italy, a player living in Florence named demLong (a.k.a Dem) became infamous for similar behavior to John, with his most infamous claim being that he lost because his hands were cold. As time went on, his excuses became so creative and well-known that the usage of "no Dems" replaced "no Johns" in the whole country, reaching even the neighboring Switzerland.
In Nintendo media
During EVO 2014's Super Smash Bros. Melee singles tournament, a short video was played that featured Nintendo of America's then-president, Reggie Fils-Aimé, vocalizing Nintendo's support of the tournament. After sharing his appreciation for the Melee players at the event, Reggie wrapped up the video with a challenge for players to face him in the upcoming release of Super Smash Bros. 4; at the conclusion of the video, Fils-Aimé said, "And if we ever do go head-to-head, please, no Johns."