With another Nintendo Direct announced for September 23rd, it seems like we are about to finally learn who Smash Ultimate's final DLC character will be. Needless to say, speculation on who it may be is at an all-time high.
Ever since the Kazuya reveal, speculation about the final DLC character has generally fallen into two camps: those expecting a big, bombastic reveal of a major gaming icon as a proper grand finale, and those expecting a more low-key reveal, most likely from a first-party franchise. That said, there are a few more fringe possibilities, and it's worth taking the time to look at them.
A Grand Finale
The first camp is by far the most vocal on social media—you can't swing a stick on Twitter these days without hitting at least three tweets each about Sora, Crash or Master Chief—and it's understandable why. Smash Ultimate has already delivered on so many of the Smash community's most-wanted characters, from Ridley, King K. Rool and Simon Belmont in the base game to Banjo in the first Fighter Pass, and Fighter Pass 2 has given us two of gaming's most iconic characters in the form of Steve and Sephiroth.
There's a compelling narrative to the idea that the final DLC character will be a big reveal on similar scale, if not bigger. The literal ultimate Smash game ending on the ultimate reveal, and there is a strong case to be made for some of these.
Crash has the strongest case in his favor: He's another iconic platforming icon, and one who, while technically never owned by them, is heavily associated with Sony, the one major console manufacturer to not have a character in Smash. He's also one of the last major platformer mascots, as the genre became more niche as the 3D era went on. Despite his status as a former Sony mascot, he also has a presence on Nintendo consoles, including Switch ports for his most recent outings.
Sora is another interesting one, since Kingdom Hearts is one of the most iconic gaming franchises of the 2000s, and he's been a popular request since Brawl. At the same time, there's also the issue of having to work with Disney to make him a reality, and they tend to be infamously controlling over their IP. Even if Nintendo was able to secure a deal with Disney, the crossover aspect is a huge part of Kingdom Hearts, to the point that omitting the Disney references entirely may feel like an incomplete representation of the series. Sakurai has gone on record saying that Smash will only include gaming content, so this presents something of a barrier to Sora's inclusion.
As for Master Chief, while he's been something of a dark horse pick up until now, it's certainly understandable why he's had this boom in popularity. Halo is another one of the most iconic franchises of the 2000s, a time when many Smash players were growing up and coming of age, and it's one that helped define the first-person shooter genre in ways that persist to this day. While the presence of two other Microsoft characters in Smash Ultimate does hurt his chances, it could also prove to be a boon. Steve and Banjo were the only two Microsoft characters really seen as competition for him making it in, so if there were plans for a third Microsoft character, it's basically guaranteed to be him.
Beyond those three, there are also a few other characters that could fill a similar role. While we already have two Microsoft characters, we don't have a Sony character, and someone like Kratos, Aloy or perhaps even Nathan Drake could all bring some interesting things to the table. Despite working very closely with Nintendo over the past 10 years, Ubisoft still doesn't have a playable fighter in Smash, and they have plenty of choices with interesting gameplay potential, such as Ezio, the prince from Prince of Persia, Rayman, or maybe even a Rabbid.
Following the Pattern
On the flip side, several members of the Smash community have pointed out that Smash reveal cycles usually don't play out like that. It's more typical for one of the last two reveals to be someone more low-key, with the biggest reveals happening early on or somewhere in the middle. Brawl and Smash 3DS/Wii U had some of their biggest reveals for the base game towards the beginning, while their final pre-release reveals included Olimar for Brawl and Shulk for Smash 3DS, with a few post-launch reveals for characters like Toon Link and Wolf for Brawl and Bowser Jr. and Duck Hunt for Smash 3DS.
Likewise, while Smash Wii U's DLC did end on a high note with Bayonetta, that moment of hype also came mere minutes after the reveal of Corrin, who might be one of the most controversial inclusions in the series history. Meanwhile the last character revealed for Smash Ultimate's base game was Incineroar, who fills a similar niche to Olimar and Shulk: a character with a respectable following, but whose presence isn't a huge shock. Likewise, the final character for the first Fighter Pass was Byleth, another more low-key first-party character.
As for who could fill that niche this time around, there are still a surprising number of characters who could fit this niche. In his prediction video, Delzethin offers three such possibilities: a Generation 8 Pokemon, Euden from Dragalia Lost, and one of the Champions from Breath of the Wild, and all of them can bring something unique to the table.
Pokemon Sword & Shield has plenty of variety in terms of its most prominent Pokemon and the fighting styles they would bring to the table, from a long-range sniper like Inteleon to a quadrupedal swordfighter like Zacian. Euden comes from a first-party franchise that has no prior presence in Smash (and would be the first mobile game character in Smash) while also offering a unique gameplay concept with his dragon transformation. Each of the Champions not only has plenty of potential for a unique playstyle, but they'd also be the first new Zelda character since Brawl (and the first one who isn't a clone or semi-clone since Melee).
Two other possible, albeit less likely candidates along similar lines are Akira Howard from Astral Chain and the player character from Ring Fit Adventure, both characters from recent original first-party titles. While their respective games have had spirit events already, and recent enough that Fighter Pass 2 would likely be in planning phases by the time those events happened, they might not be out of consideration entirely, especially since the Min Min DLC shows that existing spirit battles can change to reflect DLC. The aforementioned Pokemon Sword & Shield character would also be in a similar scenario, but that game also has a lot more material to pull from for new spirits.
Of course, there are some other possibilities beyond the ones highlighted in this video. Many Smash players anticipate that rather than a Generation 8 Pokemon, we might see a Generation 4 Pokemon to tie in with the upcoming Pokemon Legends: Arceus as well as Pokemon Brilliant Diamond and Shining Pearl. While Sakurai usually tries to avoid tie-ins to games that are still upcoming at the time of a DLC character's release, a Generation 4 Pokemon does have the benefit that there is plenty of existing material for Sakurai to work with. These upcoming titles likely won't render that material too outdated, giving him an avenue to sidestep the usual risk that the tie-in for an upcoming title may end up inaccurate due to changes made late in development.
There are also a few one-off theories that fall outside of those two camps. In his video discussing Smash speculation following the Kazuya reveal, PapaGenos brought up a few less talked-about possibilities for who may come next. The evidence for of these is kind of a stretch, but also interesting possibilities nonetheless.
The first of which was Chorus Kids, who stand out in a few notable ways. There are several bits of content and unused files in Smash 3DS/Wii U that indicate that some sort of Rhythm Heaven character was planned at some point. They're also the only character listed in the Gematsu leak who hasn't made a playable appearance in Smash yet, and considering Chrom was considered for Smash 3DS/Wii U at one point, it's often assumed that leak was accurate, but based on outdated info. Of course, there are also plenty of other Rhythm Heaven characters who could be interesting in Smash, including Karate Joe, Marshal, the dancer from Tap Trial, or really anyone from the series' huge ensemble cast.
There's also the possibility of a Shin Megami Tensei character. PapaGenos anticipates that if we do get one, it would be Nahobino, the protagonist of the upcoming Shin Megami Tensei V. That said, Sakurai usually avoids adding characters whose debut title won't even be out by the time they appear in Smash, so if the final fighter is from Shin Megami Tensei, it might be someone from an older title, like the Demi-fiend from Shin Megami Tensei III: Nocturne or an iconic demon like Jack Frost.
There's also another, more out there prediction I've seen, particularly from gaming news youtuber Arlo in his video about who the final DLC character could be: what if the final character is something a bit more meta? While the usual joke of it being Sakurai himself or some other prominent figure at Nintendo as a playable character is probably not going to come true, there is the possibility for some non-playable, Smash-original character getting added as a playable character, be it Tabuu, Master Hand or perhaps even a Primid. It's very much a long shot in terms of its likelihood, but it's out there
Of course, it could also be someone completely out of left field. A huge chunk of Smash Ultimate's DLC characters, especially the previous three, have actually been pretty far removed from whatever the community discourse was focused on at the time, and most of the ones that the community did anticipate were either thanks to leaks (real or otherwise) putting attention on them, or the fact that we were given an early hint in the case of Min Min. Perhaps we'll get someone that nobody anticipated.
Who knows? Maybe this time tomorrow, we'll all be talking about how insane the Frogger reveal was, or asking whether Warden counts as an anime swordfighter if he's from a Western game from a realistic art style, or maybe we'll be watching younger players ask "who is Mike Jones?" It's even possible there just won't be a Smash reveal and we'll have to keep waiting until later this year. For now, only time will tell what comes next.
Editing: @Sari & @Thirdkoopa