Luigi first appeared in the 1983 arcade game Mario (series) as the character controlled by the second player, and retained this role in Super Mario Bros., Super Mario Bros. 3, Super Mario World, and other titles. The first game where he was available as a primary character was Super Mario Bros. 2 In more recent appearances, Luigi's role became increasingly restricted to spinoffs such as the Mario Party (series) and Mario Kart (series), though he has been featured in a starring role on two occasions: first in the 1991 educational game , later in Luigi's Mansion for the Nintendo GameCube in 2001 and in Luigi's Mansion 2 for the [[Nintendo 3DS. In both of these games, he is called upon to act as the hero because Mario, the usual hero within the franchise, is in need of rescue. Luigi has also appeared in every episode of the three DIC Entertainment TV series based on the Nintendo Entertainment System and Super Nintendo Entertainment System games.

Originally developed as a palette swap of Mario with a green color scheme instead of red, Luigi has since developed a personality and style of his own. As his role in the Mario series progressed, Luigi evolved into a physically distinct character, taller and thinner than his brother. Although as kindhearted as Mario, Luigi is portrayed as timid and sometimes cowardly, especially in the presence of ghosts or when faced with seemingly impossible tasks to accomplish.