Puppet fighters are clones made of the playable characters in Super Smash Bros. Ultimate and are the main antagonists of the game's adventure mode, World of Light. All puppet fighters use the same voice clips as their base fighters fighters.
Puppet Fighters have the same abilities and appearances of the original fighters, with the addition of glowing eyes. In the Light Realm, the puppet fighters being controlled by Galeem have red eyes in battle and on the screen before the fight starts. In the Dark Realm however, the puppet fighters being controlled by Dharkon have purple eyes in battle, but still have red eyes on the screen before the fight starts. Any Miis that are fought are made with actual red/purple, as if they were changed in the Mii Maker, as opposed to having their eyes colored red/purple.
During the beginning of World of Light, Galeem defeats every character in the universe, except for Kirby. Galeem then created empty statue-like clones in the fighters' likeness, and forced the Spirits to control the puppet fighters, allowing the lifeless puppet fighters to move. The spirits tend to posses puppet fighters that closely resemble themselves, such as an Iridescent Glint Beetle possessing a golden Squirtle. These puppet fighters then spread themselves across the world. Kirby must them defeat one by one in order to free the spirits trapped inside.
When Galeem is defeated, Dharkon attacks the Light Realm, and the spirits and their puppet fighter hosts fall under Dharkon's control. In The Final Battle, as Galeem and Dharkon wage war on each other so do their puppet fighters. Defeating one side's puppet fighters will cause the other side to grow stronger, causing either the light or darkness to cover more of the screen. Eventually, after both Galeem and Dharkon are defeated for good, all of the spirits are freed, and, presumably the puppet fighters are either left behind or destroyed.
- Puppet Fighters are similar in their mechanics to False characters and Shadow clones from Super Smash Bros. Brawl.
- Since multiple fighters can appear in one battle, it is implied that one spirit can possess multiple puppet fighters at once.
- Kirby must also fight the playable characters themselves in order for them to be playable in World of Light. It is unknown whenever these are puppet fighters or not, as they are not being possessed by a spirit, but they do have glowing red/purple eyes.
- When a Bowser Jr. puppet fighter is being possessed, both Bowser Jr.'s eyes and the clown cart's eyes will be red/purple.
- Despite the fact that Kirby wasn't captured, Kirby puppet fighters still appear. These could be actually cloned from Meta Knight.