The fighting tournament and namesake of the Mortal Kombat series of fighting games. Mortal Kombat was originally thought to be a solely human conception, until later retcons revealed it to be universal among the series' featured Realms, created by the Elder Gods as a way for other Realms to defend themselves against Outworld after it grew too powerful.
Rules of Mortal Kombat
The rules of the tournament are simple:
- Every generation, competing realms would send their best fighters into a single-elimination martial arts tournament; the victor of the tournament is crowned the Mortal Kombat Grand Champion. If a realm can garner ten straight victories via their Grand Champion or another representative of theirs, they earn the right to invade the opposing realm. The Grand Champion themself is granted stunted aging and immortality until the next tournament. This is the only permissible way for a realm to invade and conquer another.
- The defending realm's fighters cannot be attacked by the opposing realm's fighters until the tournament begins.
- Mortal Kombat, once declared, cannot be refused by either party.
- Special powers can be used in the tournament (Mortal Kombat: Conquest only, although it is entirely possible this rule was in place prior to the first game, storywise).
- Any violation of the above rules is considered an act of treason against the realms and the Elder Gods themselves, and will be dealt with accordingly and swiftly.
The rules of Mortal Kombat were slightly revised in Mortal Kombat (2011), in that they only forbid the merging of realms without victory in Mortal Kombat. Merely invading another realm is not considered a transgression.
- 10.000+ BMK: Ten consecutive Mortal Kombat tournaments are held in Edenia. Edenia inevitably loses the tournament to Outworld, allowing Shao Kahn to merge the two realms.
- 1000+ BMK - 500 BMK: The first known Mortal Kombat tournament in Earthrealm, created when the sorcerer Shang Tsung, under orders by Outworld emperor Shao Kahn, took control of an Earthrealm Shaolin tournament in a bid to upset the Furies and invade Earth. In this time span, Shang Tsung (as a Grand Champion too) held a 9-tournament winning streak, but was cut short in the tenth tournament by the Great Kung Lao.
- 500 BMK - 0 MK: The Great Kung Lao held his position as Grand Champion for only one generation, after which his title - and his life - was taken by Shang Tsung's newest warrior, Goro, who held the title for another nine victories.
- 0 MK (Mortal Kombat): Liu Kang, a young monk of the Shaolin Order, defeats Goro, thus breaking his winning streak and preventing Outworld's invasion of Earth. Shang Tsung challenges Liu Kang, trying to salvage something from his champion's loss, but is defeated as well. Shang Tsung is thus forced to relinquish his hold on the tournament, and flee to Outworld.
- 0 MK - 1 AMK (Mortal Kombat II): A false tournament is proposed by Shang Tsung to Shao Kahn, to lure Earth's warriors to Outworld, where Kahn's forces would have a distinct advantage. It also posed as a distraction away from Kahn's revival of his wife, Queen Sindel on Earth, which would force a merging of the realms regardless of the false tournament's outcome. No definite winner is declared, as Kahn's adopted daughter Kitana warns Earth's warriors of the tournament's nature before it could conclude.
- In the alternate timeline established in Mortal Kombat (2011), the second tournament is actually a legitimate one, proposed by Shang Tsung as a means of replacing the old system of ten tournaments. Liu Kang defeats Shao Kahn and wins the tournament - supposedly forcing Outworld to abandon its claim to Earthrealm forever. However, Shao Kahn, with the aid of Quan Chi, simply launches an invasion of Earthrealm instead. Because the invasion itself is not considered a transgression of the rules of Mortal Kombat, the Elder Gods do not interfere. Only when Kahn enters Earthrealm and attempts to merge it with Outworld, do the Elder Gods intercede and destroy him.
- 7 AMK+ (Mortal Kombat: Deadly Alliance): Although the main storyline does not involve a tournament for the main characters, at this time, there WAS a tournament, going on; one set up by Shang Tsung and his partner, the Netherrealm sorcerer Quan Chi, to give the Outworld native Li Mei a chance to free her people, who were currently enslaved by the two sorcerers in order to build a palace fortress over a soulnado, a means of which they could achieve their goals of ultimate power and immortality. This tournament has not been expressly stated as a Mortal Kombat tournament, and it is highly debatable among fans whether or not it can be called such, but regardless, it was as fake as the one set up by Shao Kahn in Outworld, with the sorcerers having no intention of keeping their word, regardless of the outcome.
Appearance in other media
Mortal Kombat (2021 film)
In the 2021 film Mortal Kombat, the ability to participate in the Mortal Kombat Tournament is signified by a dragon marking on one's skin, which indicates that the individual in question has the ability to unlock their Arcana, gaining a superhuman ability of some type. One can either be born with this marking or gain it killing somebody else who already bears the marking. However, Cole Young is the only character within the film said to have been born with such a marking.
Although the Mortal Kombat Tournament is mentioned numerous times within the film, it is never actually shown. This is because Shang Tsung and the warriors of Outworld have chosen to fight dirty by attempting to kill the champions of Earthrealm before there can even be a tournament. Shang Tsung and Outworld have already won nine previous tournaments and either winning the next one or killing the warriors of Earthrealm before they can even fight would allow them to invade Earthrealm. At the end of the film, the forces of Earthrealm, victorious, begin gathering fighters for the next tournament, as Shang Tsung warns that he will return with armies.
- In the 1995 film Mortal Kombat, the "Mortal Kombat Tournamant" is referred as 致命格鬥 (致命格斗 "Fatal Combat"; Wade-Giles: Chih4-Ming4 Ko2-Tou4; PY: Zhìmìng Kédòu) on flags and 生死搏鬥 (生死搏斗 "Fight (Combat) of Live-and-Death"; Wade-Giles: Shêng1-Ssŭ3 Puo2-Tou4; PY: Shēngsǐ Bódòu) on Johnny Cage's invitation.
- In the Japanese localizations of the first three Mortal Kombat games, the Tournament is referred as 殺戮の宴 ("Banquet of Carnage" Satsuriku no Utage).