Tabuu (タブー, Tabuu) is the leader of the Subspace Army, the main antagonist and final boss of Super Smash Bros. Brawl's Adventure Mode: The Subspace Emissary. He is a powerful, supernatural entity who embodies the dimension of Subspace and rules it as a god. He uses the Subspace Bombs to send entire locations to his dimension, where he absorbs their power to increase his own, pursuing his plan to conquer and subjugate the universe. His name is a corruption of the word taboo, referring to something that is forbidden.
Role in The Subspace Emissary
Tabuu is the true embodiment of Subspace. His plan was to cut World of Trophies into pieces and take them to Subspace for his world. However, he himself cannot leave Subspace, which is why he created the Subspace Army to act in his stead. Tabuu took over the Isle of the Ancients, the home of the R.O.B.s, and forced them to serve him under the threat of annihilation. Tabuu first discovered that Mr. Game & Watch had Shadow Bugs in him and captured him to harness the power, and thus the Subspace Army was born. Tabuu studied and took control of the master of the World of Trophies, Master Hand, binding him with chains of light. Tabuu used Master Hand to enlist the help of Ganondorf, Bowser and Wario. These three were sent to hunt down any fighters that would stand in the way of Tabuu's plans, while remaining unaware of Tabuu's existence. However, King Dedede learned the truth about Tabuu and began interfering with his plans.
Later in the story, after the heroes destroy the Subspace Gunship and enter Subspace, Ganondorf betrays Bowser by using a Dark Cannon. Ganondorf then goes to greet Master Hand. Ganondorf then realizes that Tabuu was actually controlling Master Hand, and that he was not actually following Master Hand's orders but was being tricked by Tabuu. Enraged, he charges a futile attack at Tabuu who effortlessly knocks him back. Ganondorf's body hits the puppeteered Master Hand, thus breaking him free of his chains of light (and turning Ganondorf into a trophy in the process). Master Hand also charges at Tabuu, but to no avail. With Master Hand lying motionless on the ground, Tabuu uses his Off Waves to turn everyone into trophies as soon as they approach.
However, thanks to the Dedede Brooches, two trophies who had been left behind - Luigi and Ness - were later revived, and they proceed to revive King Dedede himself after Ness realised that it was thanks to him that they were restored. King Dedede joins their team and they rescue everyone else by collecting their trophies in Subspace (Part I), including Bowser, who had a fight with Dedede, and joined the team because Tabuu is so powerful, and he killed Master Hand. Around the same time, Kirby was revived by the brooch the captured princess had when he swallowed it and went out to save the rest of the fighters in Subspace Part II, between the characters, there are Wario, and Link and Zelda, who revive Ganondorf, and suggest him to join them, he accepts, because he can not do anything to Tabuu, Wario does the same, because King Dedede, Luigi and Ness pointed him where are going everyone, so all the characters enter to the adventure. Tabuu then creates a maze out of the worlds that have been consumed by Subspace and brings back the old enemies. He also creates dark clones of all of the heroes to slow them down. Once the player reaches Tabuu, he attempts to turn everyone back into trophies again, but is ambushed by Sonic the Hedgehog, who shatters his wings with a Spin Dash before he can do so. As a result, Tabuu's Off Waves are weakened, becoming "only" a one-hit KO attack instead of causing immediate trophification for any Smasher in reach.
A selection of characters from Sonic, Bowser, Kirby, Luigi's group and those revived by these two groups (first: Luigi, Ness and King Dedede; second: Kirby), then fight Tabuu, until he is defeated. After his defeat, the Subspace Army is gone, lands are restored, and the Isle of the Ancients disappears afterward because of the effect of so many Subspace Bombs going off at once (commanded by Ganondorf so Tabuu could get a Subspace Gunship into the World) making it impossible for the Isle to escape Subspace. A glowing X is left behind.
Tabuu's true fate is unknown - he is last seen contorting in pain shortly before the Great Maze was restored to its original places and forms - though it is likely he was destroyed.
As the final boss of The Subspace Emissary, Tabuu possesses a wide variety of dangerous attacks, which increase in power and speed on higher difficulties. Nearly all of his moves are guaranteed OHKOs at least on Intense difficulty (14 out of 16 or 88%). Additionally, Tabuu's attacks are faster and stronger in The Subspace Emissary than in Boss Battles at comparable difficulty ratings - as usual. Notice that his moves' knockback in Boss Battles is usually the same of the previous difficulty in the Subspace Emissary, thus KOing at about the same percentual of that difficulty, while damage can be severely reduced. The gap is wider on the lower difficulties (Easy overall) than on the highest ones (Intense in particular).
Tabuu's attacks are considered to be extremely powerful but predictable. Even on Easy difficulty in Boss Battles, almost all his moves will KO middleweights not over 70% (usually below), and some will even OHKO if properly executed (with the exception of Eye Lasers, which KOs below 110%). However, dodging most of his attacks can be very easy if the player knows what is coming; this doesn't apply to Off Waves, which are very hard to avoid, cover the entire screen and required the use of very well-timed dodges. Without the Off Waves, many people consider Tabuu to be an easy boss due to his predictable moves and how he needs to wait until he can attack again, although some OHKO attacks are very difficult to prevent or avoid (such as Golden Bracket, Ghost Projection and Explosive Teleport).
Some of Tabuu's moves share a unique property: they could potentially OHKO the same players twice in a row, on the proper difficulty, if they are hit at the beginning and then immediately after they respawn. These moves include: Shuriken Boomerang, Ghost Projection, Electrical Shield and Explosive Teleport. Off Waves are usually too fast to fulfill the required conditions but, if the players intentionally jump into the third ring, they can suffer a second OHKO. Notice that all the listed attacks require a very strict timing to OHKO twice in a row, and are not guaranteed to do so.
Note that the attack names are not official, except for Off Waves and the Chain of Light, whose names were announced on the Dojo.
If played on co-op mode, Tabuu will try to smash the caught player into the other, with even more power. This results in a guaranteed OHKO on every difficulty in the Subspace Emissary and on Normal and above in Boss Battles. The same happens if two players are caught by the attack and smashed together; like Chain of Light, damage drastically increases if both players are hit, reaching a huge 100% on Intense. There is no predetermined way the brackets fly, and when the player is not able to make a jump, he should try an air-dodge. It is one of the least predictable attacks of Tabuu and the second more powerful behind Off Waves (at least in knockback terms), making it really dangerous. On Very Hard difficulty and above, its power is more than enough to one-hit KO even metal or giant characters, making survival nearly impossible. This move resembles Tabuu's wings as seen in the background of the Portal in The Great Maze.
If a character air dodges or techs into the Chain of Light, or if Tabuu is defeated while grabbing a character with the Chain of Light, the Tabuu Whip glitch will occur. Additionally, if one uses a heavyweight fighter with a strong flinch resistance sticker, and uses a Super Mushroom or a Metal Box, at very low percentages on Easy difficulty the attack will not cause the player to flinch, and they will remain stuck on the chain in the T-pose until Tabuu teleports. Tabuu Whip glitch can potentially occur on Easy difficulty in Boss Battles if the player tries to tech into the attack at 0%. This move is very swift and unpredictable: on higher difficulties, it requires less than a second to land, making it one of the most dangerous.
If the player is on the exact endpoint of the move's range, he will probably suffer multiple hits by the sparks before flinching and getting sucked by the vacuum, which Always results in a guaranteed OHKO regardless of difficulty, due to the immense damage output (surpassing 250% on Intense). However, this is really unlikely unless he is on the precise endpoint. Anyway, since the attack has a very powerful vacuum effect, it is possible for the same player to be sucked again repeatedly until he is KOed; it usually works on Easy difficulty or up to Normal difficulty in Boss Battles (where it doesn't OHKO). It is only possible if the player is close enough to the sparkling rings, which have a decent range (seemingly increasing a bit for every difficulty). Another dangerous property of this move is that it has a very fast beginning, and also Tabuu's body will continue to have KO (or likely OHKO) power even when the last sparks fades: this means that Tabuu can be directly attacked only after he uses Teleport. Eventually, if the player is offstage before the attack begins, Tabuu himself will probably appear offstage while executing the move, in some cases cancelling every possibility to harm the player.
The following list shows the maximum damage inflicted by this move for every difficulty, both for each spark and combined (assuming the player is far enough from Tabuu to suffer multiple hits before being sucked into the "core" or his body, which may happen more times in a row on the lower difficulties; notice that a complete damage output is unlikely, since the player usually sustains a single hit):
The following list shows the maximum damage inflicted by this move for every difficulty, both for each hit and combined (assuming all slashes land):
A glitch can occur in the Subspace Emissary if Tabuu is hit by a Green Shell while performing this attack. The Shell will remain stuck into Tabuu's body, which completely nullifies and blocks the move, instantly destroying every projection he shoots until the attack ends (regardless of clones' direction). This allows the player to stay still without taking any damage or knockback by the attack, preventing its ludicrous damage and very high KO (or OHKO) power. An interesting fact of this glitch is that the Green Shell doesn't get destroyed, but remains freezed for some seconds, until Tabuu uses Teleport and vanishes.
The following list shows the maximum damage inflicted by this move for every difficulty, respectively the first hitbox only and both hitboxes (assuming all hits connect):
Being able to deal nearly 400% in less than four seconds, this attack is one of the most damaging moves in absolute, only surpassed by multiple Floows’ lament on Intense difficulty, Bucculus' kiss and Lugia’s Aeroblast.
Unlike the other three sets, where the moves are picked at random, Tabuu will always alternate between Off Waves and Eye Lasers for his fourth set (i.e. Off Waves on 4th and 12th move, Eye Lasers on 8th and 16th move), making him even easier to predict. Due to this repeated scheme, it seems that Tabuu needs to charge his power for a while before unleashing his Wings to release Off Waves.
Simply touching Winged Tabuu on the background deals the same knockback and damage of the Waves itself, usually the maximum possible since they coincide with the sweetspot. It is a guaranteed OHKO in every situation, regardless of difficulty and even in Boss Battles (although, in this mode, heavyweights could survive on Easy difficult only). Tabuu can't take damage in his Winged form.
This infamous attack is not easy to dodge but is most straightforwardly possible by either sidestepping or rolling three times in a row with accurate timing. If playing as Pokémon Trainer or Zelda/Sheik, the temporary invulnerability granted by using the down special transformation at the right time (the instant Tabuu extends his wings) also works. It can also be avoided by using perfect shielding or by using moves with armor, but the timing involved with these techniques is extremely difficult. With characters like Kirby and Jigglypuff, the player may also air dodge if they jump high enough (very close to the upper blast line). It is possible to actually survive being hit by a wave if the player is in the air under the stage, where she or he can DI and ceiling tech, but only on lower difficulties, also this requires a considerably good reaction time and tech skills to pull off, and the character must also have a good recovery to make it back. Off Waves' speed is very high and increases with the difficulty, with less than half a second of pause between each ring on Intense.
When faced in Boss Battles, Tabuu's Off Waves are made much slower and relatively weaker, to compensate that the player has only one stock instead of six and also has no continues, items or stickers. On Easy difficulty, one wave will deal 22% to 36% damage with very high knockback, OHKOing Mario only on its sweetspot or if he touches Winged Tabuu. The sourspot KOs around 35% instead. Normally, it is a guaranteed OHKO on characters not heavier than Lucas even if the player is far from Tabuu, but still onstage. DIing can help, but it will not prevent an OHKO for characters as heavy as Zelda. Ironically, on this difficult only, offstage characters will have higher odds to survive, which keep increasing if they are closer to the blast lines (but not too near). On higher difficulties, both damage and knockback rapidly increase, and regain their guaranteed one-hit KO status on Normal difficulty and above (where even the sourspot always OHKOs offstage characters). On Intense they can deal over 160% damage, like on Very Hard in the Subspace Emissary.
Off Waves are so powerful that even metal or giant characters will be OHKOed, usually starting from Hard difficulty (corresponding to Very Hard in Boss Battles, where items are not allowed though). When playing in co-op mode in the Subspace Emissary (but not in Boss Battles), Off Waves are made much slower to compensate the fact that they are Tabuu's strongest attack and cover the entire screen. This doesn't affect their power, though, also the difference is less evident on the higher difficulties (Intense overall).
The following list shows the maximum damage inflicted by Tabuu's Off Waves for every difficulty (calculated on the sweetspot or by direct contact with Winged Tabuu):
Technically, the highest damage can be reached on Normal difficulty in the Subspace Emissary: if the player uses a Metal Box or a Super Mushroom, he could potentially survive at 0% and suffer a second hit before being KOed, leading to a maximum potential damage of 220%. However, this is unlikely and difficult to realise, also starting from Hard difficulty even these strong items can’t protect the player from an invariable OHKO.
A glitch can occur if the character defeats Tabuu when he's using Eye Lasers. When the battle shows him flying off into the Subspace background, in pain, his head will be covered in the same red colored light that shot out from his eyes. This results in a sort of crimson "aura" surrounding his head. This effect lasts until the screen fades to black.
Though not playable, Tabuu is controllable by hacking the game in Boss Battles Mode. After hacking the game, the controller used must be a GameCube Controller and must be plugged into the player 3 slot. The start button will cause him to self-destruct, as it does for all other bosses.
HP and damage taken
Like all bosses in Brawl, Tabuu gains an additional ×0.6 damage resistance modifier when fought in co-op mode, effectively gaining 67% more health. This modifier is applied whenever the second player is in-game, and is no longer applied if the second player loses all his stocks. In Boss Battles Mode, the same change is applied without any difference, but either player being KO'd results in a game over. Notice that the health gap between the Subspace Emissary and Boss Battles Mode is higher on lower difficulties (around two thirds on Easy) than on the higher ones (around 40% on Intense).
Tabuu's main trophy is unlocked by using a Trophy Stand on Tabuu. Ways of doing this include:
The Tabuu (Wings) trophy is obtained by beating Boss Battles Mode with all characters, and can't be unlocked with a hammer, except for the PAL version. In the original Japanese version and several translation, this trophy is called Winged Tabuu instead.
In Super Smash Bros. Ultimate, Tabuu appears as a spirit in Adventure Mode: World of Light. Presumably, he is one of countless spirits captured by Galeem during his takeover of the universe. Afterward, Dharkon takes control of Galeem's spirits, including Tabuu.
Tabuu is located in the Mysterious Dimension as the penultimate battle before Marx. Prior to his battle, the player is quizzed on which spirit is the creator of the Subspace Army. During his Spirit Battle, Tabuu uses a Metal Bayonetta puppet fighter, possibly due to her butterfly wings, and the player's fighter is occasionally inflicted with sudden damage.
At least three glitches can occur during the battle against Tabuu:
Two of these glitches are shown in the apposite "External links" section.