A taunt, previously referred to as a finishing pose and as Appeal internally (AppealL and AppealR in Super Smash Bros. Melee's Debug menu) and in Japanese, is a move designed to provoke, annoy or mock opponents or to just celebrate a successfully executed move or combo. In Super Smash Bros. and Super Smash Bros. Melee, each character has only one taunt, but from Super Smash Bros. Brawl onward, they have up to three different taunts: up, down and side taunt. To use a taunt, the player must press the L button in SSB and up on the d-pad in Melee. In Brawl, Smash 4 and Ultimate, the direction the player presses on the d-pad (or the buttons on the Wii Remote for Brawl and For Wii U) determines which taunt is used.
In Super Smash Bros., there is only one taunt animation, so characters that taunt either face the screen or away from it depending on whether they are facing left or right. This was changed in Melee so characters that turn towards the screen have slightly different animations, making sure they never face away (unless they are caped). Using this functionality, Pichu and Captain Falcon's taunts in Melee have two distinctly different animations depending on the direction they are facing. While this trait stuck with Captain Falcon for his later appearances, Pichu's different taunts were mapped to different inputs. Additionally, Wario has an extra taunt when he is riding his bike, used by pressing any of the taunt buttons. Taunts can all be done on the ground only and are canceled if the character goes airborne or slides close to an edge during their execution.
Taunts are different between every character - even those who are direct clones of another, with the exception of Ryu and Ken’s side taunt, where they hold their fist forward, though the words they speak while performing it are different, and Ken also bumps his fists together first before performing the animation. However, taunts always have the character doing a motion (such as dancing) and the character may speak or yell out a battle cry, which is often taken advantage of within taunt matches. Taunts have variable durations between characters, some of which are very noticeable, such as Young Link's taunt in Melee, which is the slowest in the game, taking more than three times longer to finish than Kirby's taunt, which is the fastest in the game. However, some characters such as Mario in SSB, Pikachu in Melee and Bayonetta in Smash 4 can interrupt their taunts noticeably earlier than the end of the animation. In Ultimate, this feature is amplified to every taunt in the game except those that affect gameplay (such as Greninja and Luigi's down taunts), being all interruptible on frame 50 regardless of their animation length, although several of them have faster animations than in previous games regardless.
Cloud and Sephiroth are the only characters in non-Japanese versions of the series who still speak Japanese in any of their taunts as of Super Smash Bros. Ultimate. However, some "speaking" taunts change between languages. A notable example is Jigglypuff, whose dialogue changes to reflect its name in other languages, such as its Japanese name, "Purin" or Fox in Melee, when he says "kakatte koi" ("come on").
One of the intended uses of taunting is after KOing an opponent, which is implied by CPUs using them as such at all times in Melee and Brawl; in the latter game, this includes the opponent self-destructing or getting KOed by a teammate of the CPU. Similarly, in SSB, they taunt any time they launch an opponent a far distance away. In SSB4, this was changed so CPUs will not always taunt, with their likelihood decreasing as their level increases: level 9 CPUs will never taunt on the whole. While CPUs usually never use taunts for other purposes (such as removing Copy Abilities as Kirby), CPU Luigi in SSB4 will, interestingly, attempt to use his down taunt against foes hanging on ledges. Unlike in the previous titles, CPUs in Ultimate don’t taunt at all with the exception of Figure Players. Also in Ultimate, Figure Players can use their taunts during the battle, with the frequency of the taunt and which taunt they perform being able to be determined by the player as they learn.
The vast majority of taunts are only for show, having no direct affect on gameplay except shifting the fighter's hurtboxes during the animation. They instead serve as an integral part of mindgames. Taunting at the right time can surprise the opponent and provoke a desired reaction. Situations where a taunt can be useful include when the opponent is losing to demoralize them, when the opponent is winning to goad them into acting reckless and potentially making a mistake, during an attack to catch the opponent off guard, and when the opponent is about to lose as a form of disrespect.
Most taunts are completely deterministic gameplay-wise, with only a few aesthetic aspects that may be randomly determined (such as voice clips or particle effects). Certain taunts have different animations depending on which way the character is facing, and in the case of Captain Falcon, his down taunt is faster when facing left than when facing right. Pac-Man's Namco Roulette is one of the few taunts to be entirely random, summoning a sprite and sound clip from a large variety of retro Namco games, but its animation and gameplay effect is always the same regardless of which sprite appears.
Despite the explanation above that taunts are for show, a small amount of exceptions exist that do tangibly affect the game in a meaningful way. These taunts are the following:
- The cardboard box Snake discards at the end of all three of his taunts acts as a weak projectile. It deals minimal damage (1%-2%) and low knockback if it hits opponents but the box can be used as a niche gimping option.
- Luigi's down taunt in all games (or his only taunt prior to Brawl) deals weak damage and meteor smashes opponents. In Brawl onwards, it deals strong set knockback, being a one-hit KO if used against offstage foes, though this is very difficult to pull off due to the taunt's long startup and the attack's minuscule hitbox. It also cannot practically KO onstage opponents.
- All three of Kirby's taunts make him lose his Copy Ability. Because of this, his down taunt (only taunt, prior to Brawl) is one of the shortest in the series.
- In Brawl, using Samus's up taunt and then very quickly pressing down and up on the D-Pad causes her to change into Zero Suit Samus.
- Greninja's down taunt damages targets for 2% while inflicting some knockback. If Greninja initiates a jab lock using the second hit of its back aerial, it can perform a true combo from down taunt into up aerial to end a stock around 160%. The taunt itself can KO above 500%. It is also the only attack Greninja can use while charging Shadow Sneak.
- King K. Rool's side taunt briefly gives him Belly Super Armor. However, being attacked while taunting will also damage his armor's hitpoints.
- Kazuya's side taunt, officially titled Demon's Wrath, consists of a high-angled kick with his left leg, followed by a quick straight punch from his left fist, then a low-angled kick from his right leg, followed by a short punch in front of him that creates a burst. It is the strongest taunt attack in the game, being the only one with functional KO potential outside of edgeguarding, although it's still considered impractical to use over other attacks in his arsenal due to it being short ranged and on the slower side, and having unimpressive knockback compared to the rest of Kazuya's moveset.
In Ultimate, while most taunts are interruptible, most of the gameplay-affecting ones are not. The only exceptions are Kirby's taunts.
The side taunt input specifically can be used as a stand-in for the button press on certain moves that have command inputs. This include all variants based on how long the button is pressed. The inputs that can be used with side taunt are the following:
- Shakunetsu Hadoken
- Tatsumaki Senpukyaku
- Burning Knuckle
- Crack Shoot
- Power Dunk
- Rising Tackle
- Power Geyser
- Buster Wolf
- Spinning Demon to Left Hook
- Rage Drive
It should be noted that all moves mentioned either allow or require the use of the B button to activate. All other command inputs not listed require the use of another button.
Some fighters have unique taunts that can only be accessed on certain stages. These taunts are the following:
- Snake and Pit have personalized smash taunts on Shadow Moses Island and Palutena's Temple where they converse with characters from their series about a random opponent. Pit has unique dialogue for every non-DLC character plus Piranha Plant. Snake only has dialogue for characters that were present in Brawl.
- Fox, Falco, and Wolf have smash taunts on Lylat Cruise.
Lists of taunts
One feature of Super Smash Bros. Brawl's With Friends mode when playing on Wi-Fi Connection is that it allows a player to assign four different taunt messages to all four taunt button combinations. If the player were to perform an up taunt on the With Friends mode, their character will display a personalised taunt message written by the player that they have assigned to the up taunt. This feature is disabled in the With Anyone for security and censorship reasons. Each message is limited to 20 characters in length.
The function returns for Super Smash Bros. 4's With Friends mode played over the Nintendo Network. The user is prohibited from including certain inappropriate words, and each message is limited to 16 characters at most.
The custom message feature was taken out in Super Smash Bros. Ultimate in favor of pre-made messages, most likely so they can be translated and shown in every language and prevent any inappropriate words and phrases from slipping past the blacklist. As most taunts are disabled in Quickplay (with Kirby as the exception), taunt messages are only shown at the start of the match and at the results screen. The player can select eight taunt messages, four for use at the start of the match and four for use at the results screen.
A pseudo-taunt is an action that is intended to taunt opponents without using one of the taunts already available in the game. Pseudo-taunts often involve actions that look similar to an ordinary taunt; a well-known example is King Dedede's crouch, though others include Ness's up and down smashes, where he performs yo-yo tricks; repeatedly spamming the start of Mega Man's walking animation, dubbed the "Stanky Leg" by fans, due to the way his foremost leg begins moving before the rest of him, itself a reference to his original walking animation in the NES games; Bowser Jr.'s down tilt, where the Junior Clown Car licks the foe with its tongue; Olimar's down tilt, where he appears to be doing "the worm"; Charizard's slow-walking animation, dubbed the "Zard Walk" by fans; Shulk using Monado Arts while walking, dubbed the "Monado Walk" (which applies to Kirby as well when he copies Shulk's neutral special); many characters' crawling animations (with those of Wario and Zero Suit Samus being the most common); and Mr. Game & Watch's up tilt where he waves a "#1" flag.
Within taunt matches, actions that produce loud, irritating, or otherwise repetitive sounds can become pseudo-taunts; examples include crouching as Jigglypuff and Kirby, Daisy's forward smash, Ganondorf's up smash prior to Ultimate (and his forward smash in Ultimate), Captain Falcon's Falcon Punch, the majority of Wario's moves (especially Wario Waft), Shulk's Back Slash, Little Mac's neutral attack, Olimar's Pikmin Order, and any of Inkling Boy's tilt attacks, where he can sometimes say "Ngyes!".
Some of Incineroar's attacks will cause it to perform a taunting animation if they successfully connect. These moves are:
- The third hit of its neutral attack
- Its dash attack
- Its forward smash
- Its up smash
- Its down smash
- Alolan Whip when sweetspotted
Repeatedly crouching and standing back up (i.e. teabagging) is a common form of pseudo-taunting. Ridley and King K. Rool's teabags make them look like they are "dabbing". This also applies to Falco's spot dodge prior to Ultimate. Also with Falco, canceling his down taunt with down smash at the right time will make him say a phrase that phonetically sounds similar to "Hand off my cock!" In Ultimate, teabagging is notoriously common on Quickplay due to taunts being disallowed, and is a widespread criticism of the mode that is considered a form of griefing. As such, players are often advised to mentally and emotionally prepare themselves for opponents who will attempt to aggravate them.
Super Smash Bros. for Wii U digital manual description
- "Taunting leaves you exposed to enemy attacks, so taunt wisely."
- Mario and Charizard are the only characters to have more than one taunt replaced in a later installment.
- One of the effects of Luigi's Negative Zone is suddenly doing a random taunt.
- Luigi, Snake, Greninja, and Kazuya are the only four characters to have a taunt that can damage opponents.
- Oddly, while the taunts are impervious to staling, they will always have the freshness bonus when used.
- Melee is the only game in the series that did not introduce a character with a damaging taunt since Luigi debuted in Smash 64, Snake debuted in Brawl, Greninja debuted in Smash 4, and Kazuya debuted in Ultimate.
- Luigi's down taunt is technically a looping hitbox. However, since it is only active for one frame, it can never hit more than once.
- Prior to Super Smash Bros. Ultimate, Bowser, the Ice Climbers, Wario, R.O.B, and Luigi (in Brawl only), Rosalina, Little Mac, Bayonetta, Bowser Jr., and Lucario (in Smash 4) were all able to taunt during their Final Smashes.
- Bayonetta, Ice Climbers, Rosalina, and Bowser Jr. are the only characters of this group who can taunt during their Final Smash in Ultimate, however, Inkling and Snake can now do so as well.
- Some taunts have become popular on the Internet, for both the character's motion or phrase spoken, and the mocking purpose they are used for. Some infamous examples are Captain Falcon's "Show me your moves!", Falco's "Hands off my prey!" (often misinterpreted as "Hands off my bread!"), or Sonic's "You're too slow!". Taunt matches often involve irritating serious players with these types of taunts, and other annoying or provocative taunts have also been used frequently, such as Kirby's "Hi!" taunt or Ness's "Okay.".
- Some lines were already popular within their respective communities before their addition in Smash Bros; for example, Inkling Girl's side taunt (where she utters "Woomy!") or Morgana's "Looking cool, Joker!".
- Falco’s "Piece of cake!" and "Hands off my prey!" taunts are additionally notorious in Ultimate due to them appearing as though Falco says "piece of cock" or "hands off my cock" when interrupting one of the taunts with a down smash right before Falco says "cake" or "prey".
- Namco Roulette and Demon's Wrath are the only taunts in the entire series to have an official name.
- Coincidentally, both taunts belong to Bandai Namco characters.
- In SSB, it can be seen that members of the Kirby Team won't lose their copied abilities even if they taunt. In Melee, the Kirbys with copied abilities in Adventure Mode do lose their abilities, but the Kirbys taunting is extremely rare, even though other CPU Kirbys do so as frequently as normal CPUs.
- In SSB, it can also be seen that non-playable characters (excepting Master Hand) have taunts identical to their original character. For example, Metal Mario grows and shrinks just as Mario does.
- The phrase "Come on" is the most common phrase in taunts, being used by seven characters: Pit (from SSB4 onwards), Sonic (from SSB4 onwards), Captain Falcon, Fox (prior to Ultimate), Falco (in Ultimate), Chrom, and Ryu. Variations of "Come on" are also used by other characters: "Come at me!" is used by three characters (Lucina, Chrom, and Fox in Ultimate), "Come" is used by two (Meta Knight and Simon), and Sonic has a unique variant in Brawl ("Come on, step it up!"). Terry also says “Hey, come on, come on!" Sephiroth says "Come after me" in Japanese.
- "Prepare yourself" is used by four characters: Ike, Robin, Richter, and Mythra.
- In Melee, after a CPU KOs an opponent, if it gets KO'd, and the opponent is away just as the CPU comes out of the revival platform, it will walk a distance and apparently taunt for no reason. This can be exploited with characters that have long taunts, notably Young Link.
- Starting in Brawl, Captain Falcon's down taunt animation is slightly faster if he is facing left/away from the screen.
- Inkling's up and down taunts share the same button mapping as the signals from Splatoon that they are based on, those being "C'mon!/This way!" and "Booyah!"
- In SSB4, in rare cases, the CPU may use their Up-Taunt in 1v1 battles when the player is in mid-transformation during a Transformation Final Smash. This occurs in both versions, though without an explanation as to why this happens.
- Several characters possess taunts that are noticeably different in lengths depending on orientation. This is primarily done to characters without stance mirroring with a taunt that needs to face a certain direction. If a character is facing the wrong direction when said taunt is activated, extra animation is given for the character to turn to the desired direction and back, making the taunt last longer overall.
- The only exception to this is Kazuya, whose up taunt is actually faster when facing the "wrong" direction.