Endurance is a special recurring match dating back to the first Mortal Kombat, in which the player must fight more than one opponent alone.
Endurance matches are often typically reached near the end of the tournament. Unlike normal matches, the opponent uses two or more characters to fight you with, though you fight one at a time. Once the previous opponent is defeated, the next takes their place immediately. Any damage taken is carried over to the next opponent, hence the term 'Endurance'. The player must defeat both kombatants to win the round. Endurance matches are only possible by computers, though modes in future games allow a similar experience for the player.
After the Mirror Match is finished, the player must face off in three Endurance matches. The final match always takes place in Goro's Lair. As this battle goes on, occasional tremors and Goro's roar can be heard. After the match is finished, Goro immediately steps in, though the player this time has their health refilled. When an Endurance opponent is defeated in the Arcade version, their bodies remain on the floor, only vanishing in a puff of fire when Goro arrives.
Endurance matches return in UMK3, now represented by E portraits in the Tournament Ladder and take place before the battle against Motaro. In Mortal Kombat Trilogy, the Endurance Round portrait is given a set of two more colors. Each color pertains to specific opponent sets, though chosen at random (i.e. purple background and yellow E usually results in Jade/Reptile or Kung Lao/Cyrax). Some matches may pit the player against three kombatants instead (in these instances the third opponent will not appear at the start of the match, which is designed to catch the player by surprise the first time it occurs). In Shao Kahn's Lost Treasures, it's possible to select the Mega Endurance Kombat in which the player must face off against every secret character: Noob Saibot, Classic Sub-Zero, Human Smoke, Ermac and Mileena. In Mortal Kombat Trilogy, the opponent explodes into pieces after being defeated. In the N64 version, holding down and pressing Start while highlighting Kano unlocks a special, elongated set of Ladders filled with Endurance matches, sometimes facing against the same set of opponents more than once.
Endurance is no longer a match, but now a selectable mode featuring three different variations: the normal Endurance which has the player go through any Ladder without health replenishments, Vs. Endurance where both players fight one another in endless matches until the other falls and Ultimate Endurance where the player confronts an endless onslaught of progressively harder foes.
In Mortal Kombat: Unchained for the PlayStation Portable, the Endurance mode was attributed to compensate for the Versus mode. With 20 characters to fight, the first 18 characters are random and the last 2 (Noob-Smoke and Onaga, respectively) are fixed bosses, the player will have their health restored every 5 characters defeated. If the player defeats the twentieth character (Onaga) successfully, the character's ending will be available. Koins are only acquired if the player defeats the last character successfully.
On the Wii version of Mortal Kombat: Armageddon, an Endurance mode is featured. However the player is put against 15 people. The first 14 are either bosses or kombatants chosen randomly. The last opponent is always Blaze. Defeating an opponent will give the player koins, with higher amounts paid should the player defeat more opponents. Defeating 3 opponents will rejuvenate the player, giving them a small burst of health. If playing as a boss character, the rejuvenation reward is higher. The amount of koins also changes depending on the difficulty. There is also a timer that checks how quickly the player defeats the opponents. Defeating Blaze in Endurance mode will also allow the player to see their ending.
Endurance matches make another appearance in Mortal Kombat 11, in the Towers of Time. It happens at random, and is symbolized by an E portrait, like in UMK3. In this iteration of endurance matches, the player will have to fight against multiple opponents, without getting their health replenished in between.
- Endurance mode was originally going to be in Mortal Kombat (2011), but had to be cut because of time restraints.
- However, something similar to the Endurance mode appeared during Raiden's chapter. Raiden had to face three undead characters with the same health bar twice.
- Something else similiar to the Endurance mode appeared in the Challenge Tower, where you have to stop multiple enemies from reaching you, first Tarkatans as Johnny Cage, and then zombies as Stryker.