The Elder Gods are deities in the Mortal Kombat series.
About the Elder Gods
The Elder Gods are the ruling deities and creators of the universe, only being overshadowed by entities such as the Titans or the One Being. Unlike Titans, whose powers are linked to the governing laws of reality, such as time, the Elder Gods' powers are more related to physical concepts such as life/death and the elements. The Elder Gods are nigh omnipotent deities that have no limits to their jurisdiction, whereas other Gods only have jurisdiction over a single realm and sometimes represent an element, the Elder Gods are more ethereal and have power in all realms in the universe. The vague faces of the Elder Gods seen in Mortal Kombat 4, and the appearance of Shinnok in the same game, suggest that natural born Elder Gods have blue-gray skin and a humanoid appearance. Another different source of their form is found in Deception's Konquest Mode where an inverted dialogue states that, in their purest form, the Elder Gods resembles the Mortal Kombat Dragon logo.
Beings with this form can be seen in Onaga's unused ending picture found in Deception's Krypt, in Armageddon's Konquest, where Taven finds an inscription of his father talking to dragon-shaped figures, that he states to be the Elder Gods, and Captain Marvel's ending in Mortal Kombat vs DC Universe as well as at the end of Mortal Kombat (2011). The exact extent of their powers remains unclear, but they do not appear to be as omnipotent as they seemed in the early games in the series, with the combined power of the pantheon being temporarily resisted by Shao Kahn in Mortal Kombat (2011) and Cetrion being defeated by Jax and/or Jacqui (empowered by Kronika's crown) in Mortal Kombat 11 and by Sindel (with aid from Nightwolf) in Aftermath. Regardless, they remain the most powerful class of beings outside of the Titans, with only the most exceptional of mortals or lesser gods even hoping to challenge them.
Although their duty is to watch over and maintain balance between the realms, the Elder Gods are mostly non-interventionist, caring very little (if at all) for lives of mortals. Most notably, they permitted Shao Kahn to invade and wreak havoc in Earthrealm, despite Outworld having lost both of the preceding tournaments, and did not intervene until Kahn tried to merge the realms.
Before the realms of Mortal Kombat came into existence, there was the One Being, which comprised all of known reality. The One Being is said to have existed since all creation before the existence of the Titans and the Elder Gods. However, the One Being fed on the Elder Gods at this point, draining their essence and consuming them, and they wished to destroy it and create lesser beings from its essence that they could rule over. The Elder Gods waged war and created the Kamidogu, they were victorious and used these powerful weapons to shatter the One Being into the countless realms that comprise the Mortal Kombat universe.
Even though the One Being was shattered, its divided mind influenced certain exceptionally powerful individuals to merge the realms and reconstitute itself. It acted through Onaga at first and would later through Shao Kahn, both unaware of its manipulations. It also commands Onaga during Mortal Kombat: Deception to fuse the Kamidogus into one, and apparently only Ermac is able to notice its vague presence.
The Elder Gods' rule of non-interference in mortal affairs that do not threaten their own existence was evident when Shao Kahn, Emperor of Outworld, merged Earthrealm with Outworld to reclaim his wife Queen Sindel, in direct violation of the sacred rules of Mortal Kombat. Raiden begged the Elder Gods to stop Kahn, who was required by those rules to win ten consecutive Mortal Kombat tournaments before he could take Earthrealm, but the Elder Gods did nothing. Thus, the Elder Gods show no signs of being truly benevolent or malevolent towards the various threats posed to Earthrealm. They usually only intervene if the villain of the game poses an existential threat to the existence of the realms and risks the return of the One Being.
Their non-intervention nearly caught them unaware when Shinnok escaped from the Netherrealm and attacked them directly, but due to their status and Raiden's forces defeating Shinnok, this was prevented. Millennia earlier, rumors had it that they had cursed Shang Tsung to consume the souls of other mortals to maintain his existence, either not knowing or not caring that his need to devour mortal souls would lead to him learning the location of Shinnok's Sacred Amulet. Eventually that knowledge would reach Quan Chi, who used it to free Shinnok and take the amulet for himself. Shang Tsung's abilities, however, were taught to him from Shao Kahn centuries ago. Thanks to the intervention of Raiden, Fujin, and the champions of Earthrealm, Shinnok was stopped. For this, Raiden was rewarded by being promoted an Elder God himself and as a result promoted Fujin as the new Protector of Earthrealm to take his place.
However, Raiden soon shed himself of this status when the Deadly Alliance arose as a threat to Earthrealm. Divesting himself of Elder Godhood to lead his mortal friends into direct combat, this time Raiden's efforts were thwarted, with all of his allies either killed or disabled. The threat posed by the Deadly Alliance was rendered moot, however, when The Dragon King appeared at the scene where Raiden had just been defeated by the two sorcerers. For millennia, Onaga had lain in wait from beyond death to be resurrected and complete his conquest of the realms. Empowered by the Kamidogu that he had collected as part of his plan, Raiden, Shang Tsung, and Quan Chi were unable to stop Onaga. As a last effort, Raiden released his godly essence, causing a massive explosion, yet Onaga remained unharmed. Soon, all of Raiden's energies reformed in Earthrealm, but were corrupted by Onaga´s very essence. This drove Raiden to believe that he could neither trust the Elder Gods nor his mortal comrades. Most of all, Raiden was furious with the mortal Shujinko for being duped into aiding the Dragon King's return.
Now aware of a possible threat to them and the continued existence of the realms–as Onaga had acquired all the Kamidogu and the Amulet, the tools necessary to undue the creation of the universe and reconstitute the One Being–the Elder Gods did choose to intervene at this time. The Elder Gods summoned Scorpion to act as their champion and destroy Onaga. In exchange for his services, they agreed to resurrect his clan. However, after Onaga's defeat, the Elder Gods–for unknown reasons–resurrected Scorpion's clan as the undead, rather than as fully restored humans. Scorpion perceived this as an act of betrayal on the Elder Gods' part and turned against them.
In Mortal Kombat: Armageddon, it is revealed that the Elder Gods foresaw that one day the Mortal Kombat tournament would be corrupted, and that the participating warriors would become too powerful and too numerous, jeopardizing the safety and existence of the realms. They demanded a safeguard be put in place to prevent Armageddon. Argus, the protector God of Edenia, and his wife Delia, helped constructed a hidden pyramid and created an elemental warrior known as Blaze to watch over the Mortal Kombat competitions and judge when its participants became too dangerous. When the time came, Blaze would call out, awakening Argus's two sons, Taven and Daegon, who would challenge Blaze on top of the pyramid. Whichever son won the battle would become the new god of Edenia, and be given the power to decide the fate of every other warrior. Should one brother be victorious, the kombatants would be stripped of their power. Should the other be the victor against Blaze, the kombatants would be stripped of their lives.
In Captain Marvel's ending of Mortal Kombat vs. DC Universe, upon defeating Dark Kahn, in order to regain control of his power, Marvel was guided by the wizard Shazam through a focusing ritual. At the end, Marvel has entered and encountered a strange, ethereal world, and found himself face-to-face with the Elder Gods themselves. He found that he was able to tap himself into their powers, and Marvel began to discover he had gained new abilities that he soon began to master.
Before the Elder Gods came into existence, the cosmos was ruled by a group of deities called the Titans. Kronika was one of them, the Titan of Space and Time.
The Elder Gods also appeared in both Raiden's vignette and the Story Mode of Mortal Kombat (2011). Raiden comes to them, hoping they would intervene when Shao Kahn invades Earth. They decline, however, as, even though he did break the rules, they care more about the jeopardy of the realms as a whole than one realm. However, when Shao Kahn finally does step into the Earthrealm and begins to merge the two realms, the gods intervened, seeing Shao Kahn as a threat and saving Raiden, who was about to face the same fate as his future self. The Elder Gods possessed and healed Raiden's body then used him to defeat Shao Kahn before destroying him themselves for his insolence.
When Shinnok escaped from the Netherrealm and renewed his war against the Elder Gods, he attempted to absorb Earthrealm's lifeforce, the Jinsei, and use Raiden's portal to the heavens to allow his hordes of demons access to the Elder Gods. His plans were thwarted by Earthrealm's warriors, and when Shinnok was sealed inside his own amulet, Raiden brought the relic to the Elder Gods, bidding them to destroy it. Explaining to Raiden that destroying the amulet would only free Shinnok once again, they instead banished the amulet into a dark dimension using the Kamidogu bound in Raiden's blood.
The amulet would be freed by the chaos cleric Havik many years later, and Shinnok freed some time after that. Shinnok nearly succeeded in staging his coup against his former brethren but was defeated once again.
After the former Elder God Shinnok was beheaded by Raiden, Kronika began to enact her plans to restart the timeline. Various past versions of kombatants were summoned, including a past Raiden who went to consult the Elder Gods about the discourse. They said that even their immense power was useless against Kronika due to her status as a Titan, and that Raiden must take control of her Hourglass in order to stop the reset. After Raiden returns to consult them again, all the Elder Gods had been vanquished by Kronika's time effect. Cetrion, Elder God and daughter of Kronika was spared this fate and ends up betraying the other Elder Gods as Shinnok did, siding with her mother in order to properly revive her brother. As for Fujin, he was sent to a a voided place by Kronika for openly refusing her offer and met both time-displaced Shang Tsung and Nightwolf there, unbeknownst to their respective allies. Cetrion is later willingly to be absorbed by Kronika in order for her to complete her plan.
In Liu Kang's ladder ending in Mortal Kombat 11, Liu Kang shared Kronika's power with Bo' Rai Cho, Kitana, Raiden, and Kung Lao. Together with the closest people that he trusts the most, they replaced the Elder Gods to guard the realms as the new Elder Gods.
Appearances in other media
Mortal Kombat: Annihilation
In Mortal Kombat: Annihilation, the Elder Gods are represented by ethereal beings of fire, air, water, and aether. They lived in the Eternal Palace, an ancient arena-like structure, while their place of worship was the Temple of the Elder Gods.
Shinnok, the Elder God of Wind, was the father of Raiden and Shao Kahn. He wished nothing less for power not only over all realms, but over the gods as well. Shinnok favored Shao Kahn, considering Raiden too weak and caring to be his son. He ordered Shao Kahn to kill his brother, while guiding him in his path to merging the parallel universes of Earthrealm and Outworld.
Later, Shinnok was stopped by two of his fellow Elder Gods, Fire God and Water Goddess, who now learned of Shinnok's plot to rule the universe. After Liu Kang and his friends won the fight against Shao Kahn and his warriors, the Elder Gods imprisoned Shinnok forever and restored all the realms back to their natural form. They then resurrected Raiden and offered him Shinnok's position in their ranks.
Mortal Kombat (2021 film)
Raiden is the only Elder God to appear in the 2021 Mortal Kombat film. Similar to the situation with Shao Kahn and the Elder Gods in Mortal Kombat 11, Shang Tsung states in the film that the other gods are too lazy to stop him from doing what he wants when it comes to things such as declaring victory before the tournament has even begun.
- Statues of the Elder Gods depicting their mortal forms can be seen in both the opening of Mortal Kombat X and on Raiden's Sky Temple. Three are seen: a woman in robes, a robed archer, and a cloaked figure.
- Elder God characters can be created or promoted from a prior status, but the necessary parts must be unlocked in the Konquest mode. If all the necessary parts are collected, then your character's appearance would resemble a man or woman in golden armor.
- The Elder Gods are mentioned many times by Raiden during his in-game dialogues in his appearance as a guest character in Injustice 2.
- The Elder Gods also make a cameo appearance in Raiden's ending in the game, there they are seen destroying Brainiac, similiarly as they did to Shao Kahn in MK 2011.