Toad is a humanoid mushroom in the Mario series of video games, developed by Nintendo. Toad is the general collective name of the "Mushroom People" found in the Mushroom Kingdom, who are a sapient, anthropomorphic race with a peaceful and human-following monarchistic culture. Like other characters in the Mario games such as Yoshi, Toad is both a unique character and a specimen of an entire, homonymous race. The Toad species first appeared in Super Mario Bros. as seven guards that serve Princess Peach, called Mushroom Retainers. In games before Paper Mario, which featured an entire race of Toads inhabiting Toad Town, the capital of the Mushroom Kingdom, manuals referred to the Toads as Mushroom People, which is derived from the Japanese name. However, certain comics called them Toads before Paper Mario. The character Toad is also the chief retainer of the Mushroom Kingdom.
Toad plays a minimal role in Super Mario Bros.. He appears at the end of every fourth stage after Mario or Luigi defeats Bowser. Instead of meeting Princess Peach (also known as Toadstool), however, these earlier levels reward the heroes with the infamous message: "Thank you Mario! But our princess is in another castle!". In Super Mario Bros. 2, a character named Toad first appeared as one of the four playable characters. Toad was also the main character of Wario's Woods where he had to defeat Wario from taking over the once peaceful area.
Apart from Super Mario Bros. 2 and the Mario Kart series, where he is a light, high acceleration driver, Toad is seldom a playable character or protagonist—more often officiating, such as in the earlier Mario Party games, or helping other characters. He is a playable character in later Mario Party games, starting with Mario Party 5, and again in Mario Party 6, Mario Party 7 and Mario Party 8. Toad is the main protagonist of Wario's Woods; his partners in this game are Birdo and Wanda. Toad was a playable character in Mario Tennis 64 as a technique player. When the later Mario Tennis game, Mario Power Tennis, came out, Nintendo decided not to bring Toad back into the game with Birdo, Baby Mario and Donkey Kong Jr., though he appeared as a cameo with Toadette in the opening movie. Toad is a playable racer in every Mario Kart and Mario Party DS. In Mario & Sonic at the Olympic Games he is a referee along with Cream the Rabbit, among others. He appears in Super Smash Bros. Brawl as a sticker, trophy and attack for Princess Peach. Toad is a counter attack which releases spores if hit by another character. In Super Smash Bros. Brawl the attack is notably stronger than its Super Smash Bros. Melee counterpart and can even kill characters at higher percentages.
Toad appears in Super Paper Mario in four aspects of the game. He appears in the intro, telling he Mario and Luigi that Princess Peach has been kidnapped. He also appears in the Arcade mini-game Mansion Patrol. In it, the player must defeat the Boos in a dark location resembling Luigi's Mansion. Some of the Boos hold Toads, and by shooting the Boos holding them, the Toad will drop to the ground and give the player a power-up before running away. The downside to it, however, is that if the player shoots the Toad rather than the Boo, they will lose points. Additionally, Toad is one of the 256 Catch Cards in the game. Finally, if the player does a stylish move on an enemy, he appears as one of the members of the audience, along with Shy Guy, Koopa Troopa and Goomba.
In Luigi's Mansion, Toad appears in various parts of the mansion. The player can save their game by talking to Toad.
In Super Mario Galaxy, many Toads (as well as Toadette) appear at the beginning of the game, and later on, several Toads (but not Toadette) appear as the "Toad Brigade", helping Mario on his quest to defeat Bowser and save Princess Peach. A running gag in the game is that the yellow Toad is almost always asleep. It is rumoured that the Red Toad (leader) is in fact Toad because of his actions and behaviours and Toad Brigade is actually a group of Toads previously seen in Super Mario Sunshine.