In the Mortal Kombat series of fighting games, a Fatality is a special finishing move that can be used against one's opponent at the end of the final match. When the announcer says "Finish Him", or "Finish Her" if the opponent is female, the player can choose to kill him or her through a fatality move. If input correctly, the background will darken, followed by the desired result.
Unlike special moves, a Fatality may require certain distances and quick button sequences in order to achieve the desired result. For example, in Mortal Kombat 3, one of Sub-Zero's Fatalities requires that he stands close to the opponent and quickly execute Block, Block, Run, Block, Run. Every character has their own special Fatality that must be performed at a certain distance from the opponent. The number of Fatalities varies depending on the game; while characters in Mortal Kombat and Mortal Kombat: Deadly Alliance had only one, Mortal Kombat 3 and its updates featured as many as four.
Fatality-style finishing moves have also appeared in other fighting games from Midway (Killer Instinct, War Gods, Bio F.R.E.A.K.S., Mace: The Dark Age), and other companies (Blood Warrior, Tattoo Assassins, Way of the Warrior, Primal Rage, Samurai Shodown IV, Deadliest Warrior: The Game, Eternal Champions), though they are not named as such usually.
While creating Mortal Kombat, Ed Boon and John Tobias started with the idea of Street Fighter II-like system and retained many of its conventions, but tweaked others. The most notable additions were graphic blood effects, more brutal fighting techniques, and especially the fatal finishing moves (this was a novelty as the traditional fighting games ended with the loser simply knocked unconscious and the victor posing for the players).
According to Boon, "it started with an idea to enable the player to hit a dizzied opponent at the end of the match with a "free hit", and that idea "quickly evolved into something nasty". According to Tobias: "Our first idea was to use them as a finishing move for the final boss, Shang Tsung, who was going to pull out his sword and behead his opponent. Then we thought, What if the player could do that to his opponent?" When we watched players react to the Fatalities, we knew we had no choice but to give them more."
- Animality - This finisher allows the player to morph into an animal and maul or eat their opponent alive. This style of Fatality debuted in Mortal Kombat 3. Some say the precursor to the Animality was Liu Kang's Dragon Fatality from Mortal Kombat II, in which he turned into a dragon and ate the upper half of his opponent. That Fatality was turned into Liu Kang's Animality in UMK3. Also, since Sheeva turned into a scorpion for her Animality, Scorpion got a penguin transformation. Due to this, the MK crew got complaints from the fans, so the crew added, in MK4, a scorpion transformation as one of his Fatalities. In order to perform an Animality, the player must first grant his opponent Mercy, the act which revives the opponent in lieu of delivering a final blow or performing a Fatality by restoring a small amount of health: should the opponent be defeated again, an Animality may be performed.
- Brutality - Introduced in Mortal Kombat Trilogy and the SNES and Sega Genesis ports of Ultimate Mortal Kombat 3, this finisher allowed players to perform a combo which would end in a uppercut, causing the opponent to explode. Brutalities were not very popular, as they were extremely difficult to accomplish, requiring the player to memorize and perform a special 11-hit combo. Many felt the pay-off was lacking with the only result being a fiery explosion where the victim disappears and an unrealistic amount of bone and flesh are sent flying and covering most of the screen. In some versions, the bone and flesh flies completely offscreen. This finisher didn't appear in another game until Mortal Kombat: Shaolin Monks, in which it wasn't explicitly used as a finisher, but rather as a power-up. Brutalities returned and were reworked in Mortal Kombat X, where they function as a variation of special attacks that violently finish off the enemy instead and are only executable under certain conditions.
- Weapon Fatality - In addition to Mortal Kombat: Tournament Edition one Fatality by character, there's also a new kind of (unlockable) finisher. The weapon Fatalities are basically Fatalities, but all the character does is to use his/her weapon of style to kill his/her opponent making a combo of the normal weapon moves. MK:TE is the only one to have it, since that the MK characters have Fatalities through their history that use his/her DA/TE/D/U/A weapon fighting style that are counted just as 'Fatality'; also, when one of those are performed, the announcer also says "FATALITY", in the same time that the game displays "WEAPON FATALITY".
- Multality - Mortal Kombat: Shaolin Monks also features Multalities, which are Fatalities performed on multiple enemies at one time. This was the only Mortal Kombat game to ever use this finisher.
- Heroic Brutality - In Mortal Kombat vs. DC Universe, many of the DC characters are superheroes who have sworn an oath against ever taking lives, Superman and Batman for example. Instead of performing Fatalities, they can perform Heroic Brutalities, which severely injure their opponent, but leave them alive to face justice later on. It should be noted, however, that villains from the DC Universe have no such oath, and perform Fatalities, not Heroic Brutalities.
- Babality - The defeated characters turns into a baby, sitting on the floor and wearing a miniature version of their adult clothing and accessories and/or a diaper (nappy) while crying. In some versions, the sound effect of a baby crying plays, along with a lullaby, and the word "Babality" is spelt out by colored building blocks that fall from the top of the screen. The announcer then declares (Albeit unusually and unnervingly gently) "Babality!!"
- Friendship - Instead of injuring or killing the loser, the victor will make a peace offering, such as Sub-Zero using his powers to make a snowman, Scorpion startling his opponent with a skull in a Jack-in-the-Box, Liu Kang dancing while a disco ball appeared in the stage, or Johnny Cage offering a signed photo of himself. The announcer is generally disappointed when a match ends in Friendship, saying "Friendship. Friendship?!" or "Friendship. Friendship? Again?!"
- Fergality - A finisher performed by Raiden in MKII for the Mega Drive, the defeated characters turns into Probe Ltd. employee Fergus McGovern, who worked on that port of the game.
- Quitality - A new type of "finisher" introduced in MKX and only occur online. Should either player quit during the middle of the match, then that kombatant's head will suddenly explode, punishing the quitter and glorifying the winner.
- Faction Kill - A new type of finisher introduced in MKX, and a variant of the classic Fatality. Instead of the victor killing the opponent, he/she will allow for someone (off-screen) from within their respective faction to perform the kill for them.
Mortal Kombat: Deception and Armageddon feature a modification of the traditional Stage Fatalities, the "Death Traps". Death Traps do not need a special button combination as the opponent only needs to be either standing or hit in a particular spot on the stage. Unlike previous Stage Fatalities, Death Traps can be initiated anytime during a round and only require the opponent be hit into them, meaning an instant victory. However, if they are not executed in the decisive round, the fight does not end, going on to the next round. This action acts as a ring out.
The new kind of "Anti-Fatality" introduced in Deception is the Hara-Kiri. The Hara-Kiri (which is a type of Japanese ritual suicide, that literally means belly cut, is practiced when some person brings shame to his/her own family) is a move in which the defeated player kills him/herself upon defeat at the end of the last match, rather than be finished off by their opponent. This still results in a win for the character who was victorious in battle, it is just seen as an incredibly stylish way to go out. It is the first and so far only time in the Mortal Kombat series in which the defeated player is allowed to perform a finishing move. Each character has a different combination that can only be performed if the input corresponds to which character is defeated. The Hara-Kiri made its debut in Deception and seems to be a popular feature with the fans, although is not included in Mortal Kombat: Armageddon due to the limited Kreate-a-Fatality feature.Although it has been available only in Deception, in some previous MK games showed homicidal-suicidal Fatalities. The first one being one of Kabal's finishing moves in Mortal Kombat Trilogy using a button combination for his Animality from Mortal Kombat 3 was a self-decapitation finisher which allowed various glitches if the extended fatality time is entered including the decapitated head turning into Kano. Another one was Cyrax's "Self-Destruct" from Mortal Kombat 3/Ultimate/Trilogy/Gold/Advance; Cyrax, a cyborg, enters a code on to his arm panel and moments later explodes along with his opponent in a manner reminiscent of the ending of the first Predator movie. Smoke, in MK3, went farther with his Fatality since he destroys the whole planet with his bombs, including himself and his opponent. In MKG, Cyrax borrowed this Fatality from Smoke together with his own while Smoke adopted Cyrax's self-destruct as his Hara-Kiri in Deception. Raiden, in Deception, also has a Fatality in which he sends electricity to his opponent, who explodes. The electricity then returns to Raiden, exploding him as well. In Mortal Kombat (2011), Cyber Sub-Zero has a fatality where he jumps onto an opponent, freezes himself with them, and both explode to ice bits (though the opponent only had the bottom half of his body intact). Mortal Kombat: Armageddon, the Fatality concept was completely revised. In all previous games, Fatalities and finishing moves were in the form of a button combo, activating a scripted animation sequence. In Armageddon, this system was replaced with a new Kreate-A-Fatality (KAF), or "custom chain-Fatality" system. After defeating an opponent in two rounds (with default settings), players are given a limited amount of time to perform one of several violent moves (such as ripping an organ out or snapping their neck) attributed to a button and direction combination. The time then resets and the player can perform a second move, but the timebar decreases more rapidly after each move. The longer a player is able to continue the chain, the higher ranking his Fatality receives; "Killer" Fatality, "Brutal" Fatality, "Evil" Fatality, etc. It is possible, with practice, to pull off a Fatality of up to ten moves or possibly higher. It is also possible to "fail" the Fatality by running out of time before performing a final finishing move (such as ripping the opponent's head off). If time runs out before the player can end the chain with a final fatal move, no rank or reward is given and the Fatality is not counted, regardless of how many moves were completed.
This new system required that other forms of finishing moves, such as Deception's popular Hara-Kiri self-Fatalities, be left out of Armageddon. This was met with a mixed reaction, some fans preferring the more interactive nature and freedom of the Kreate-a-Fatality system, and others missing the previous games' character-specific ending moves and alternatives to killing the opponent. Also, originally, there were individual character-specific Kreate-a-Fatality moves for each character, with other characters unable to access them, but this idea was dropped somewhere along the way, and in the final product all characters' pool of moves are identical, except for Shokans (Goro, Sheeva and Kintaro) and beast characters (Moloch, Blaze, Onaga and more) with the only exception being Motaro, since he has the normal characters´ moves.
The Fatality concept originated from various developers' wishes to further emphasize victory at the end of a match, so much as to rub it in the loser's face, although Steve Beran himself stated in a G4 interview that he wondered if it was possible to "rip a guy's heart out". Ed Boon and his fellow staff often come together to collaborate on ideas of different Fatalities often derived from movies, especially those from Japan.
The effect of dismemberment simply came from digitally editing body parts of the actors. The charred skeleton sprite came from a small skeleton figurine, animating it via stop-animation and adding fiery effects and resizing it to match the actors' size. In the History of Fatalities, the original figurine was stated to have been destroyed from constant bending, the only remnant existing being the arm, the main part used for MKII's burning animation. The bloody effects were digitally drawn on the actors when body parts were edited off. Kung Lao's Hat Slice vivisection effect was done by capturing footage of the actor falling to one side, cutting the images in half and then mirroring it.
For the gruesome audio uses for finishers, the audio staff employs the use of food or substances and records the sounds. Celery or hard fruit like apples are utilized for crunching and snapping bones while stirring, dropping, blowing into, or pulling thick gelatin (often with a plunger) is use for tearing flesh, leaking or gurgling blood.
- In the first movie Mortal Kombat, Shang Tsung consumes the soul of his opponent, leaving behind a Fighting Monk's corpse. He says: "FATALITY!"
- In Mortal Kombat: Legacy Season I, Baraka uses his Blade Lift Fatality on one of King Jerrod's decoys, and Cyrax performs a Fatality on Hydro, decapitating him with a forked blade from his wrist. In Season II, several Fatalities are performed by the various kombatants of the tournament: Kenshi telekinetically thrusts his sword Sento through Ermac's heart, Kitana decapitates Mileena with her Fan Slice Fatality, and Scorpion performs the classic Spine Rip Fatality on Sub-Zero.
- The Fatality concept was listed #8 on ScrewAttack's "Top 10 OMGWTF Moments"
- In addition, Screwattack also created the list "Top 10 Mortal Kombat Fatalities". Some of them included Scorpion's Spear Shot from Deadly Alliance (Number 4, nicknamed 'Party Popper') and Quan Chi's Leg Beatdown from MK4 (Number 9).
- Screwattack also made the list "Top 10: Worst Mortal Kombat Fatalities". Some of them included Quan Chi's Neck Stretch from Deadly Alliance and Liu Kang's Flipping Uppercut from the first Mortal Kombat, as well as the censored versions of MK vs DC Fatalities.
- In MK 2011, before the characters perform a Finisher, they do a "battle cry"-like position (e.g. Scorpion gets to a slide like pose and shouts fiercely; Jade plays with her staff saying "Too easy."; Johnny Cage says "Watch this!"; Kratos unsheathes his Blades of Exile, even if the Finisher does not use them at all).
- The newly-founded ESRB gave Mortal Kombat a rating of M, deeming the game too violent for audiences under the age of 17. It's worth noting that, in the United States, the ESRB has no legal standing to prevent the sale of video games to minors, and therefore many people under the suggested age were able to play the game. Arcade owners were asked to monitor the ages of players, although few did.
- The first Mortal Kombat game is the only one not to have a "Fatality" graphic like the ones that appear onscreen when the move is performed in later games.
- There are ten characters in the series who have never received unique Fatalities: Blaze, Chameleon, Daegon, Darkseid, Khameleon, Meat, Mokap, Moloch, Onaga and Taven.
- In the game Trials 2: Second Edition, if you bail out from the bike or crash and manage to kill the rider, a voice will say "Fatality!"