Pauline is Mario's first love interest, and a seminal damsel in distress for video games. She first appeared in Donkey Kong, where she was kidnapped by the titular character and hauled to the top of a rickety urban scaffold. As Mario, the player had to climb to the top of each of the four stages in order to rescue her.
In more recent years, Pauline has appeared in the Mario vs. Donkey Kong series, in which the love-struck Donkey Kong continues to kidnap her. Rather than rescue her himself, Mario uses a collection of Mini-Mario wind-up toys in order to foil Donkey Kong and come to Pauline's rescue.
Pauline's very first appearance was in the Donkey Kong arcade game. As this game predates the Super Mario series by some years, this means that Pauline was Mario's first girlfriend. Throughout the years, Pauline reappeared again and again in several remakes and re-releases of Donkey Kong. In a piece of spinoff merchandise, Pauline was seen for the first time to have a knack for music, which would later become an integral part of her character. It is rumored that she was the owner of the construction company where Mario was working at, before she was abducted.
After over a decade of being unseen in any games, Pauline reappeared in the Mario vs. Donkey Kong series as the manager of the mini factory. This would also mark the first time that she appeared with her redesigned look.
As of Super Mario Odyssey, Pauline has become a regular recurring character in several sports and party games.
Originally, there wasn't much to Pauline as a character beyond playing the role of damsel-in-distress. By the time of her grand reentry to the Mario series, she was portrayed as a business savvy, intelligent, and industrious. Beyond her character as a businesswoman, she is also shown to derive great joy by seeing people enjoy her products and is forgiving of others' misdoings to a fault.
She is able to see through to the heart of most matters and uses this insight to make sure others get what they want in their products, in their cities, and in their lives in general. Her biggest mission in life is to make others happy, and she does so through her roles as a businesswoman, politician and as a musician.
In her first appearance, Pauline looked strikingly similar to Princess Peach as a woman with long, blonde hair who was wearing a pink dress.
By the time she reappeared in the Mario vs. Donkey Kong games, she had undergone quite a change. She was much taller and more slender than she was before, sporting a red dress and accenting her appearance with eye shadow and makeup. Her hair changed as well, becoming longer, turning brown in color and getting styled into parted bangs. This would become the look that she would be known for from then up to now.
- Business Sense: Pauline is shown to be able to own and run several successful businesses.
- Musical Talent: In several of her appearances, Pauline is shown to be a very talented vocalist. She has been the lead singer of her own band on a few occasions, and is lauded as a celebrity in the musical world. In her game appearances, her musical ability is often worked into her power moves.
Just as Mario was originally named Jumpman, Pauline was originally known as "Lady." Nintendo of America reportedly named her Pauline after the then-wife of an NOA employee. In 2018, this would be confirmed by the NOA employee himself.