Final Fantasy X faced a bit of criticism when it first released for being more linear than previous games in the franchise to that point, but otherwise, it was another stellar entry in the world’s most famous JRPG series. Protagonist Tidus also marked a departure from series heroes at that point, since he was an upbeat star athlete who participates in the underwater soccer sport known as Blitzball. However, in an interview with Famitsu (via Kotaku), Final Fantasy X writer Kazushige Nojima explained that Tidus was originally going to be a plumber.
The “initial plan” was just to get Tidus “in the water,” so making him a plumber was Nojima’s way to get him there. Character designer Tetsuya Nomura drew some sketches of this workman-like version of Tidus, with his overalls seeming to be the only aspect that carried over into the final design. Final Fantasy X producer Yoshinori Kitase was the one who had the idea to make Tidus an athlete instead, inspired by sci-fi movies with race or sport elements. Kitase also noted that till then “there hadn’t been sport components in the Final Fantasy series, so I thought this would be a new challenge.”
Had Tidus kept his plumber gig for Final Fantasy X, it probably could have paved the way for a future Mario x Tidus at the Plumber Olympics. Alas. But for more Final Fantasy X news, check out this discussion from Square Enix of how a Final Fantasy X-3 is still possible.