The Mortal Kombat logo

Mortal Kombat (commonly abbreviated as MK) is a popular series of fighting games created originally by the Midway Manufacturing Company. Mortal Kombat began as a series of arcade games, which were picked up by Acclaim Entertainment for the home console versions. Now Midway exclusively creates home versions of Mortal Kombat. It is especially noted for its digitized sprites (which differentiated it from its contemporaries'

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hand-drawn sprites), and its high levels of blood and gore, including, most notably, its graphic Fatality killing

moves. These were so extreme that they, in part, led to the founding of the Entertainment Software Rating Board (ESRB).


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Brief history

Screenshot of Mortal Kombat.

The original Mortal Kombat was developed as a reaction to the popular Capcom fighting game Street Fighter II, with digitized graphics of real game actors as opposed to animated cartoon graphics. The Mortal Kombat storyline and gameplay were conceived in 1991, but not released into arcades until 1992[1]. Critics said the game's graphic violence was only included in order to generate a public outcry and controversy that would gain publicity for the game. Although highly controversial, the mix of realism and violence propelled Mortal Kombat to widespread and historic renown.

Throughout the series, the game was known for its over-the-top violence which included fatalities, uppercuts that sprayed blood and launched players into the air, its theatrical special moves, as well as a tendency to replace instances of the hard c sound with the letter "K" in its written lexicon (including the title itself, with "Combat" changed to "Kombat").


Midway has created six sequels for the arcade and home systems. Mortal Kombat 4 brought the series into 3D, replacing the digitized fighters of previous games with polygon models, while Mortal Kombat: Deadly Alliance dropped the generic fighting style of previous games, in favor of giving each character a number of different fighting styles. This was the first MK game to include a "Konquest" mode, which would be developed for later titles into a story-based adventure Minigame . Deadly Alliance was the first major installment of the fighting game series to skip arcades altogether and go directly to consoles, a symptom of the U.S. arcade market's dramatic decline. The following title in the series, Mortal Kombat: Deception (named Mortal Kombat: Unchained for the PSP) also featured several new gaming modes, such as a Puzzle Fighter-like puzzle game and an Archon-like chess game. The latest release of the series, Mortal Kombat: Armageddon, attempted to wrap up the current story continuity, featured almost all of the characters that have appeared in the series so far, and included a new Mario Kart-like racing minigame called Motor Kombat.

Finishing moves in later games included the Animality (turning into an animal to violently finish off the opponent), the Brutality (decimating an opponent into pieces with a long combination of hits or combos, the Hara-Kiri (a move by the opponent to commit suicide, performed before the victor can execute a Fatality), the Friendship (offering one's opponent a token of friendship), and the Babality (transforming the opponent into a baby). The Babality and Friendship moves were created as a jokey non-violent finishing move, a swipe at the U.S. Congressional Investigation for Violence in Video games who came down harshly on the Mortal Kombat games. Purists, fonder of the earlier style, were upset by the introduction of such finishing moves, yet Mortal Kombat's "purely explicit" and dark gameplay was once again implemented after the release of Mortal Kombat 4.

Palette swapping and character depth

More so than other fighting games at the time, Mortal Kombat was famous for re-coloring certain sprites to appear as different characters. This was most prominent with the series' various ninja/assassin characters. Many of the more popular characters were spawned from these palette swaps.

However, unlike palette swapped characters such as Ryu, Ken, Akuma et al. which featured different heads and thus looked more varied, Mortal Kombat's characters featured totally different special moves, making each more varied from a gameplay perspective.

The palette-swapped characters consisted of eight male ninjas (Scorpion, Sub-Zero, Ermac, Smoke, Reptile, Noob Saibot, Rain, and Chameleon), four female ninjas (Kitana, Mileena, Jade, and Khameleon), and three cyberninjas (Sektor, Cyrax, and an automated version of Smoke), making a total of 15 repaints, or roughly one-quarter the series' total roster. However, when the series made the transition into 3D, all the ninjas were given more differentiated looks (especially Reptile, who became a real reptile).

Furthermore, the 2D Mortal Kombat games are notable when compared to their contemporaries in the terms of character differentiation. The Mortal Kombat characters played virtually identical to one another (with the exception of unplayable bosses and hidden characters). Whereas other fighting games had characters with differences in speed, range, height, normal moves, strength of normal moves, walking speeds, jumping heights and distances, and so on; characters in Mortal Kombat differed only in their special moves and finishing moves. Essentially this led to increased importance placed on special moves, as they were the only unique part of most characters. Compared to similar fighting games of its generation, Mortal Kombat had a wider variety of special moves. There were two schools of thought on this topic. Critics felt that the gameplay of Mortal Kombat was inferior due to having less complexity in the normal moves compared to Street Fighter and other series. Supporters however felt that normal move complexity mostly added to the game's learning curve without adding real strategic depth, and that greater strategic depth and fun factor was created by having more radically different special moves, and thus believe that Mortal Kombat had better gameplay. In any case, the games after Mortal Kombat 4 changed this by finally differentiating characters normal moves and even giving them multiple fighting styles. Most characters would have two unarmed fighting styles, and one weapons style. There are a few exceptions to this, such as monster-like characters like Onaga, who would have only one fighting style. For Mortal Kombat: Armageddon, fighting styles were reduced to a maximum of two per character.

Plot continuity

Up until the departure of John Tobias from the Mortal Kombat creative team, every single game in the Mortal Kombat series featured a different ending for every character. Because many endings in a single game will contradict each other, only one or a few per game are considered canon, and the true endings are never known until the next game is released. The result is that when a new Mortal Kombat game is released, fans speculate about which ending (or endings) are real.

Mortal Kombat is infamous for retconning the established storyline, mainly with such characters such as Johnny Cage, Reiko, Smoke and Scorpion, among others. This is usually blamed on the paradoxical canon issue that runs in the endings of most characters. While it cannot be determined which endings are canon until the following game, certain events that occur biographically in the endings (such as Noob Saibot being Sub-Zero's brother) actually do affect the story.

For example, in the case of Scorpion, it is explained for two consecutive games that he has sworn to protect the younger Sub-Zero, but we then discover in Mortal Kombat Gold that Scorpion has continuously believed the younger brother is actually the former Sub-Zero (now Noob Saibot), whom he is convinced murdered his family and slaughtered his entire clan throughout all of the games. Although in his Mortal Kombat Gold ending, Sub-Zero told Scorpion that Quan Chi was, in fact, the culprit that killed off his entire clan. This leads Scorpion on a quest to find and kill Quan Chi in the upcoming storyline in Mortal Kombat: Deadly Alliance.

Similarly, in the arcade version of Ultimate Mortal Kombat 3, the robotic version of Smoke can transform into its human form, and it is explained in robotic Smoke's ending that he has reclaimed his soul, and that human Smoke has broken free of his cybernetic confines. However, in Mortal Kombat Trilogy, his story is changed to say that his human form is only a memory. However, in Deception and Armageddon, he seems to have indeed become mostly organic, although now made of smoke. The reason for this is that in Smoke's ending, it is revealed that Smoke is composed of nanobots, therefore, he could resemble smoke.

Easter eggs and secrets

Mortal Kombat was among the first titles in the fighting game genre to include secret characters, secret games, and other Easter eggs. Mortal Kombat 3, for example, included a hidden game of Galaxian. Many extras in the series have only been accessible through very challenging, demanding, and sometimes coincidental requirements.

In the 1992 arcade original when fighting on The Pit stage (the bridge), the player could qualify to fight the hidden character Reptile, provided that he executed a Fatality, obtained a double flawless victory and never hit block during the winning round (due to Sonya's fatality combination including the block button, she was only allowed to face Reptile on the home ports). Moreover, all of the above was useless (with the exception of the SNES version) if shadow figures didn't happen to fly over the background moon, an event decided solely by random logic in the game. This character was a merge between the Sub-Zero and Scorpion characters (nodding to the fact that yellow mixed with blue becomes green). In Mortal Kombat II, Reptile would be developed into a full character with his own special moves and would be available from the outset. The Sega Genesis versions had some unique eggs: in Mortal Kombat, a headshot of President of Probe Software Fergus McGovern flew in front of the moon in Mortal Kombat's Pit stage, while in Mortal Kombat II, Raiden could perform a "Fergality" by pressing Back, Back, Back, Block during a fatality on the Armory stage. It was pioneering ideas like these that has made Mortal Kombat one of the most memorable of the genre.

Another Easter egg actually came about from a rumored glitch. In the original arcade version of the first Mortal Kombat, a rumor stated that the game would sometimes present problems due to a bug and mix two characters together. This would usually be two of the ninja characters, resulting in a ninja in a semi-red suit. The computer would display his name as "ERMAC", short for "error macro." As word spread, people thought they had found a secret character. In the game audits, ERMACS will appear on one of the pages, possibly being a stat to either show how many times a player encountered a secret character or a glitch. That wasn't the case, yet in Ultimate Mortal Kombat 3, it was decided to make an actual Ermac character. Also, glitch characters occurred should the player accomplish the very difficult feat of reaching Reptile in Endurance mode in the first Mortal Kombat. Once Reptile was defeated, the second character would jump down. As Reptile used a special green color palette, the following fighter (a normal fighter) would be a jumble of the character's original colors plus Reptile's green colors.

However, one of the most fascinating elements of Mortal Kombat was completely unplanned and out of the programmers' hands. Following the release of Mortal Kombat II, a myth culture was created around the game. The most famous one is the Goro myth. In the first game, Goro was a four-armed monster that acted as a miniboss to the game's main boss, Shang Tsung. Many fans were convinced that Goro was hidden somewhere in Mortal Kombat II and many were obsessed with finding him. These rumors were later confirmed as untrue, however Goro was replaced with another character who was a Shokan, Kintaro.

Some Easter eggs originated from private jokes between members of the Mortal Kombat development team. The best-known example is "Toasty", which found its way into the game in the form of a small image of sound designer Dan Forden, who would appear in the corner of the screen during gameplay (after performing an uppercut) and sing the word "toasty" (players could face Smoke, when this happened on the Portal stage and after pressing down and the start button simultaneously while the Toasty! image was on screen)." Later games included other jokes that originated in similar fashion; Mortal Kombat 4 had characters quickly uttering unintelligible battle cries in a similar fashion to Raiden's utterances in the first two games. Another note of interest in Mortal Kombat 4, Forden would also appear at the bottom of the screen and sing "Toasty 3D!" referring to the fact the Mortal Kombat 4 was the first 3D game in the series. "Toasty" is also found in Mortal Kombat: Shaolin Monks after pulling off a chain of hits and will appear randomly, but the picture of Forden will not appear. Pressing the start button during the "Toasty" will also result in the player receiving a 1000 experience points bonus. On rare occasions, in Deception's chess mode, when a player puts a death spell on another, one can hear "Toasty" as well. Also in Deception, if you want to acquire the Kamidogu in Earthrealm without knowing the password, Shujinko will try "Toasty" as password to gain access. "Toasty" made an appearance in Peggle after you rack up a bunch of points in one shot, a gopher is shown with a bubble saying it.

Mortal Kombat also became notorious for false secrets hidden in the game's depths, some more obvious than others. Viewing the service menu of Mortal Kombat II revealed that among the statistics of the game, there was a counter for "Kano Transformations", which many took to believe was proof that Shang Tsung could morph into Kano if you knew the right command. In the arcade version of Ultimate Mortal Kombat 3, the intro included brief clips of combatants fighting, and one seen in the video was a purple ninja named Rain who was not normally selectable, creating rumors that he could be unlocked. Both of these, however, were intentional red herrings created to keep determined arcade gamers playing just to unlock secrets that didn't actually exist (though Rain was eventually included as a playable character in Ultimate Mortal Kombat 3's home releases, and his name and color are inspired by the Prince song "Purple Rain").

Games in series

Fighting games

Mortal Kombat: Armageddon (2006) is the most recent major fighting game of the series.

Adventure games

Mortal Kombat: Shaolin Monks (2005) is the latest adventure game in the series.

  • Mortal Kombat Mythologies: Sub-Zero: The first in a planned series of MK spinoff games featuring popular characters from the fighting games. MKM:SZ, a platform game, focused on the original Sub-Zero and his missions just prior to the first Mortal Kombat.
  • Mortal Kombat: Special Forces: An action game also set prior to the first Mortal Kombat, featuring Jax's pursuit of Kano. Originally Sonya was to have starred as well, though she was cut after Tobias left Midway.
  • Mortal Kombat: Shaolin Monks: An action game (with a versus-fighting mode as well), starring Liu Kang and Kung Lao, telling an alternate version of the events between the first and second Mortal Kombat. Players could also control Scorpion and Sub-Zero as bonus content.


The One Being and The Elder Gods

At the beginning of time, there only existed two beings: The Elder Gods and the One Being. The One Being gained his power by draining that of the Elder Gods. Eventually the Elder Gods declared war on the One Being to save themselves. In the end, the Elder Gods created 6 weapons called the Kamidogu. When they used the weapon, the One Being split into many pieces, although its consciousness survived. The Kamidogu became lost in 6 different pieces of the One Being. Eventually, these pieces became the realms, and life began to grow inside them. There were 6 main realms: Earthrealm, Netherrealm, Outworld, Orderrealm (Seido), Chaosrealm, and Edenia, each with a representative Kamidogu which held the essence of each realm.

The Armageddon Prophecy

Not long after the creation of the realms, the Edenian protector-God, Argus, and his sorceress-wife, Delia, had two children: Taven and Daegon. Delia frequently had visions and prophecies of the future. One of the events she predicted was the destruction of all the realms due to the warriors of Mortal Kombat growing too powerful and too numerous. The Elder Gods demanded that a safeguard be put in place in order to prevent Armageddon, and left the task to Argus and his wife. Delia predicted that the climax of battle would take place at a crater within the Edenian Ruins. For this reason, Argus had a pyramid constructed underground at this crater, while Delia created a Fire-Spawn known as Blaze. Blaze would contain the power needed to stop the Mortal Kombat warriors. While Argus wanted all of the warriors destroyed, Delia wished a more merciful approach; stripping the warriors of their powers. They decided that they would put their two children in competition, and whichever one defeated Blaze would be gifted with the power to become the new protector of Edenia. On their way to confronting Blaze, each brother would have to retrieve a sword from one of their father's temples in Earthrealm, and a suit of armor from one of their mother's temples, also in Earthrealm. One suit of armor would mean that all of the Mortal Kombat Warriors were destroyed, the other would mean that they were stripped of their power. In effect, this would be like a coin toss between Argus and Delia, to decide which outcome would be achieved. The two brothers were then asked to Argus' temple in Edenia, where they were ambushed and placed in stasis. They were both placed within mountains in Earthrealm, with a Dragon to watch over them. The Golden Dragon, Orin , watched over Taven, whilst the Red Dragon Caro watched over Daegon. When Blaze gave the signal, the Dragons would wake their protectee from stasis to begin the quest.

Shinnok and the War for Earthrealm

The Elder Gods watched over the realms, and governed the realms with untold wisdom; but one such Elder God, known as Shinnok, gave into greed and illusion of false power and wanted the new realm of Earth for himself; however, the Elder Gods had appointed the young God of Thunder known as Raiden to protect Earth. The battle between Raiden and Shinnok was fierce, sending Earth to its near destruction and plunging it into centuries of darkness. Raiden discovered that Shinnok entered the realm through the power of a mystical amulet. It allowed Shinnok to weaken the borders of a realm and therefore enter the realm without challenge and keep the Elder Gods from interfering. Forced to choose between destroying the budding Saurian civilization or to give Earthrealm to Shinnok, Raiden chose the former elder god and stripped the amulet of Shinnok's possession and with the aid of Elder Gods banished the fallen Elder God to the Netherrealm. Raiden buried the amulet deep with the mountains of Asia and created a massive temple to house the amulet and appointed four guardians to serve as the protectors of the amulet. These guardians represented an element that make up the realm: Wind, Earth, Water, and Fire. As long as the amulet remained on Earth, Shinnok would remain trapped in the Netherrealm.

Onaga's Reign

At some unknown point in history ruled an emperor in the realm of Outworld called Onaga. Onaga was the first Emperor of Outworld, uniting an otherwise divided realm. He began to conquer other realms, merging them to add that realm's power to Outworld and expand his ever-growing domain. Onaga's secret to victory was his undefeatable and seemingly invincible army. Onaga's heart gave him the ability to raise the dead, allowing him to revive his dead soldiers over and over. However, Onaga wished to live forever; using the last dragon egg, his followers formed a spell that would transfer his body into the tiny dragon inside and with it, be granted eternal life. It was at this point Shao Kahn, who had been a trusted advisor at Onaga's side, decided to strike. Onaga was poisoned, and with Onaga gone, Shao Kahn took control. However, unlike Onaga, Shao Kahn was not able to rule Outworld as a united realm.

Shao Kahn's Reign

Like Onaga before him, Kahn sought to expand his domain and his power through conquests of other realms. He attacked and conquered many smaller realms, slowly building up power over thousands of years. Eventually, he built up enough strength to take on another realm equal to Outworld's size, to gain even greater power, Edenia. To conquer Edenia, Kahn had to win the sacred tournament protecting the realm, and if he succeeded, it would allow him to merge the two realms. Despite the warriors of Edenia's best efforts, Kahn eventually won and Edenia was conquered. The ruler of Edenia, King Jerrod, was murdered; Kahn took his wife Sindel as his queen and adopted their daughter Kitana as his own. However, Sindel could not bear the thought of being Kahn's queen and committed suicide. At this time, the sons of Argus and Delia who were Taven and Daegon were put into suspended animation as a fail safe, after the foreseeing of an approaching Armageddon in the future. The brothers would then awaken from their slumber and bring balance back to the corrupted realms.

The Beginning of Mortal Kombat

A few millennia had passed, now with Edenia conquered and other realms added to Outworld, Shao Kahn turned his sights to the conquest of Earthrealm. Shao Kahn sent Shang Tsung to establish the sacred tournament as a competition between his armies and Earthrealm. Raiden rallied the best fighters of Earth into the White Lotus Society, a group established to discern a champion every 50 years to defend Earth in the tournament. The Great Kung Lao was one such warrior defeating Shang Tsung and becoming Grand Champion. Lao only kept the title for one generation before eventually falling to Shang Tsung's then-new secret weapon, a Shokan prince named Goro. Goro proceeded to win the following eight tournaments, giving the Outworld warriors 9 consecutive victories.

Before the events of the next Mortal Kombat tournament, Quan Chi had recruited Sub-Zero the Elder to help him retrieve the ancient amulet. Sub Zero proceeded to venture through Earthrealm, defeating the gods of Wind, Earth, Water, and Fire and obtained the amulet. Sub-Zero then delivered the amulet to Quan Chi. Quan Chi later gave the amulet to Shinnok, which happened to be a fake, and kept the real one for himself. Raiden then confronted the Lin Kuei ninja and revealed to him his mistake by giving Quan Chi the amulet. Reluctantly, Sub-Zero then proceeded to return to the Netherrealm and retrieve the amulet from Shinnok. Sub-Zero was successful and preserved the peace of all reality for the time being.

Two years later, Earth rallied some of its best fighters in order to win the tenth tournament and preserve Earthrealm's freedom. Amongst the established warriors were Liu Kang, Sonya Blade, and Johnny Cage. With the help of Raiden, the Earthrealm warriors were victorious and Liu Kang became the new champion of Mortal Kombat. Scorpion, who was a rival clansman of the Lin Kuei, and the same man Sub-Zero killed years before, fought one another again. In the end however, Scorpion slew Sub-Zero in retribution for his own murder.

Unable to deal with Shang Tsung's failure, Shao Kahn ordered the Tarkatan horde to raid the Wu Shi Academy. The Tarkatan horde killed most of Liu Kang's fellow monks. This enraged Liu Kang enough to follow them into Outworld. He was not alone. Kung Lao, Johnny Cage, and Major Jackson Briggs, who was in search of his missing subordinate Sonya Blade, followed right behind Liu Kang into the realm to seek revenge. Though they were running into the Emperor's trap, they eventually thwarted Shao Kahn's sinister plan and rescued Sonya as well. Shao Kahn responded by resurrecting Queen Sindel on Earth and stepping across the realms to claim her, thus successfully merging it with Outworld. The Earthrealm warriors rallied once more, defeating Shao Kahn and ending his threat. He was severely wounded, but most importantly, when he was defeated, Edenia was freed from Outworld, and was returned to a whole realm.

Merging with the DC Universe

Around the same time as Shao Kahn's defeat, Superman had just defeated Darkseid; however, Darkseid and Shao Kahn's defeat somehow caused them to merge into a single being known as Dark Kahn and cause the kombatants & DC heroes/villians to be consumed by a pure Rage and fight against each other. As a result, the two universes began to merge. Eventually, one member from each side remained: Raiden and Superman. Upon discovering that they both have common enemy (Dark Kahn), they team up to defeat Dark Kahn, causing him to split back into Shao Kahn and Darkseid, on opposite universes. Shao Kahn would be trapped in the fragmented Phantom Zone, while Darkseid was punished by the Elder Gods and sent to the Netherrealm.

The Return of Shinnok

During his time in the Netherrealm, Shinnok rallied an army of allies to help him avenge his losses. With the help of disguises and allies in Earthrealm (Noob Saibot) and Outworld/Edenia (Tanya), Shinnok escaped to the newly restored Edenia, eventually returning to the heavens. Shinnok proceeded to kidnap Queen Sindel and Princess Kitana in the process of taking over Edenia, then proceeded to destroy as much as he could in the heavens, including murdering several of the Elder Gods and many of the lesser gods.

Fujin and Raiden escaped to Earthrealm, where they rallied the Earthrealm warriors for yet another realm-threatening battle. After a long and arduous fight, Liu Kang eventually defeated Shinnok, emerging victorious as Mortal Kombat champion once more. Shinnok was banished back to the Netherrealm along with his ally, the sorcerer Quan Chi, where he was believed to have been killed. Scorpion was sent to the Netherrealm with Quan Chi, as it was revealed that the Sorcerer had killed his family, and the Ninja was out for vengeance.

The Deadly Alliance

While in the Netherrealm, Quan Chi discovered much information about the past, including the existence of the Dragon King's seemingly immortal army. He managed to escape from the Netherrealm using a secret portal and approached Shang Tsung with an offer to join forces and rule the realms together. Quan Chi established a Soulnado in Shang Tsung's fortress with the agreement that Shang Tsung would use some of the souls to animate the army. Together, they approached Shao Kahn and attacked him, seemingly killing him in his weakened state. It was later revealed that they killed a clone, and that the real Shao Kahn had escaped. The Deadly Alliance then double-teamed and killed the only one who could possibly stop them, the Mortal Kombat Champion, Liu Kang.

Raiden once again rallied the Earthrealm soldiers to stop this impending threat. Also included in the battle were newcomers Li Mei and Nitara. Nitara's realm, Vaeternus , had been merged into Outworld against her will, whereas Li Mei was trying to free her land from The Deadly Alliance. Others joined the fight as well, including the newly reprogrammed Cyrax (now working for the U.S. Special Forces Unit with Jax and Sonya), as well as Kenshi, a warrior who had been blinded by Shang Tsung's treachery and who sought revenge. Unfortunately, these heroes were unable to stop the Deadly Alliance, as the two sorcerers overcame all foes, destroying the majority of the opposition.

The Return of the Dragon King

Imprisoned in death for centuries after his betrayal by Shao Kahn, the Dragon King secretly worked to revive his physical body. By transferring his essence into an apparition, he appeared to Shujinko, a very promising warrior who was set to be the chosen Earthrealm combatant in an upcoming Mortal Kombat tournament. Claiming to be an emissary of the Elder Gods named Damashi , he tricked Shujinko into collecting the Kamidogu from the various realms and placing them in the Nexus, a special location created between the realms to ease the travel of the Champion of the Elder Gods. After the Kamidogu had been collected, the egg he was imprisoned in hatched; the Dragon King resumed his physical form by merging with the ninja Reptile, and collected the Kamidogu from Shujinko, informing him that Shinnok's amulet (now in the hands of Quan Chi) was the key to the power of the Kamidogu.

Meanwhile, Raiden (with his allies laying defeated), faced the Deadly Alliance on his own. Despite managing to hold his own for a time, he was ultimately defeated by their combined power. With their victory in hand, Shang Tsung and Quan Chi quickly turned on each other, each looking to grab all the power for themselves. Quan Chi emerged victorious, but once again, the victory was short lived, as the Dragon King returned to Outworld. Quan Chi proceeded to try to stop him, and the quickly recovering Shang Tsung and Raiden aided as well, forming an impromptu alliance against the greater threat. They were unable to defeat the Dragon King, however, as even Raiden releasing his essence and destroying everything around him had no effect on the revived former ruler of Outworld.

The Dragon King then proceeded to continue where he left off, seeking to control Outworld as well as all of the other realms. It is suggested that he is being manipulated by a power that even he doesn't understand, namely The One Being. Scorpion, the Elder God's champion, and Shujinko, the one who gathered the Kamidogu for Onaga, raced to confront the Dragon King. It's not known yet which one defeated Onaga, although it was hinted at the Fight Night interview with the MK Team in 2006 that Shujinko is the one who managed to defeat the former Outworld Emperor, yet Scorpion mentions during Armageddon's Konquest mode that despite performing a task for the Elder Gods (presumably eliminating Onaga, as no other tasks from the Elder Gods were ever mentioned), their end of the deal was not fulfilled.


During the Dragon King's conquest, the beginning of Armageddon, previously predicted by Delia, began. Daegon however, had mistakenly been awakened centuries early, as Caro mistook the loss of Blaze's contact (possibly when he was kidnapped in order to watch over the Dragon King's eggs) as the signal to begin the race.

Daegon discovered what the aim of the quest was, and became obsessed with the power which would be granted to him. He set up the Red Dragon clan (to represent the Red Dragon that awoke him) and enslaved Caro in order to use him to create portals.

The Red Dragon's primary aim was to find Blaze and to assassinate Taven, although they were also a powerful crime organization. When Taven was finally awoken at the correct time, during Onaga's return, he was constantly attacked by Red Dragon warriors. Eventually, Taven made his way to his father's temple, only to find the weapon that was meant to be there had been stolen. As he finally made his way to his mother's temple, which was now occupied by the Lin Kuei, he managed to find the suit of armour that had been placed for him. During this time, Quan Chi assembled other warlords of Darkness, including Shao Kahn, Shinnok, Onaga and Shang Tsung. Quan Chi had managed to find out about the power that Blaze contained, and the power that would be passed as a gift to the one who defeated him and in the process of discovering this, had killed Orin, Taven's protector Dragon. The forces of evil united in order to claim this power, whilst the forces of good united in order to either stop evil, or claim the power for themselves for their own ends.

The battle came to a head in the crater within the Edenian ruins, just as Delia had predicted. As Taven made his way to these ruins, he encountered Blaze who revealed the true nature of this quest: to either use the power to destroy all of the Mortal Kombat warriors, or simply strip them of their power. Daegon revealed that it was he who had killed their parents, with the very weapons that they had intended be used to fight their way to Blaze (as it became apparent that Daegon was the one who had stolen Taven's sword). Taven and Daegon fought, with Taven emerging the victor. As this happened, the warriors clashing within the crater were suddenly stopped as the huge pyramid placed by Argus millennia earlier rose from the ground, with Blaze, now empowered and huge in size, waiting at the top. The warriors began to make their way to the top, fighting amongst themselves and turning on one another in order to claim this prize. With Daegon defeated, Taven took his sword and made his way into the crater himself, in order to defeat Blaze as he was destined to.

Back to the Past

It is not known exactly what happened yet, but either Shao Kahn was the true victor of Armageddon, or since the effect of Taven defeating Blaze increased his strength and overwhelmed the other kombatants. But either way Shao Kahn defeats everyone and rules the realms, with Raiden being the only one left to challenge him. He and Raiden clash in a final battle, and Kahn easily defeats Raiden. But just as Kahn is about to deliver the final blow, Raiden sends a mental message to the past to warn the Mortal Kombat 1 Raiden to not let Kahn become the ruler of the worlds.

Now knowing what the future holds, Raiden's past self attempts to find a way to prevent the Armageddon. However, Raiden's efforts only seem to make things worse and eventually leads to the tragic deaths of many Earthrealm kombatants. This causes his friend and discipline Liu Kang to turn against him, and results in Raiden accidentally killing Liu Kang. Eventually, Raiden discovers how to destroy Shao Kahn for good, and with the Elder Gods' help, manages to defeat Shao Kahn and prevent the future he was warned about. Unfortunately, he, Sonya Blade, and Johnny Cage are the only Earthrealm kombatants left alive.

Unknown to anyone, Shinnok and Quan Chi intend to take advantage of the weakened states of Earthrealm and Outworld and claim both realms for themselves.

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The Mortal Kombat tournament 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.

A realm may declare Mortal Kombat on another realm, if they wish to invade it and conquer it. Once one party declares Mortal Kombat, the other party may not refuse. A tournament ensues, where the combatants will be knocked out until the reigning champion does battle with the challenger. Once defeated, a single Tournament victory is added for the realm. Once that realm earns ten Tournament victories in a row, they earn the right to invade the losing realm. This is the only 'legal' way for a realm to invade another, and any violation of this rule is seen as treason against the Elder Gods. The reigning champion will have their aging suspended by the Elder Gods until the next tournament.

Notable tournaments

  • 1000-500 years before Mortal Kombat: The first known Mortal Kombat tournament, created when 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 held a 9-tournament winning streak, but was cut short in the tenth tournament by the Great Kung Lao.
  • 500-0 years before Mortal Kombat: 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.
  • Mortal Kombat: Liu Kang, who is a young monk, defeats Goro, thus breaking his winning streak and preventing Outworld's invasion of Earth. Shang Tsung challenges Liu Kang to a battle, trying to salvage something from his champion's loss, but is defeated, as well. As such, he is forced to relinquish his hold on the tournament and flee back to Outworld.
  • Mortal Kombat II: A false tournament proposed by Shang Tsung to Shao Kahn, to lure Earth's warriors to Outworld by kidnapping Sonya, 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 merger of the realms regardless of the false tournament's outcome. Liu Kang gains victory. After this, no official Mortal Kombat tournament is held, with all future storylines following all-out war between the realms.
  • Mortal Kombat: Deadly Alliance: Although the main storyline doesn't 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 necromancer Quan Chi to give the Outworld native Li Mei a chance to free her people, who were currently enslaved by the two sorceres in order to build a temple 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 in MK2, with the sorcerers having no intention of keeping their word, regardless of the outcome.

Other media

Mortal Kombat was adapted into two major motion pictures, Mortal Kombat (1995), and Mortal Kombat: Annihilation (1997). Neither film was screened for critics prior to theatrical release, receiving poor critical receptions at the time they were released. However, the first movie was a major financial success, eventually grossing $70 million in the U.S. (and over $125 million worldwide) while jumpstarting the Hollywood careers of Paul W. S. Anderson and Robin Shou, among others. That momentum did not carry over into Annihilation, however, which received a colder reception from critics and fans alike, and took in only $30 million in the U.S.

The franchise also sparked two TV series, the 1996 animated series Mortal Kombat: Defenders of the Realm and the 1998-1999 live-action Mortal Kombat: Conquest. Neither series ran for more than one season (despite the popularity of Conquest). In 1995, an animated prequel to the first movie, titled Mortal Kombat: The Journey Begins, was released straight to home video. Coinciding with the popularity of TV media, the Mortal Kombat: Live Tour was launched at the end of 1995. The tour expanded to 1996 featuring MK characters in a theatrical display on stage.

There have been several graphic novels based on Mortal Kombat. There were official MK and MKII comic books, the latter of which was written by Tobias. Both were advertised in the attract modes on early versions of the first two MK games. Meanwhile, in 1994, Malibu Comics launched an official MK comic book series, spawning two six-issue series ("Blood and Thunder" and "Battlewave"), along with several miniseries, and one-shot character issues, until production ended in August 1995.

Brady Games also produced a trading card game based on Mortal Kombat called Mortal Kombat Kard Game in 1996.

Jeff Rovin penned a non-canon Mortal Kombat novel, which was published in June 1995 in order to coincide with the release of the movie.

An official MK techno album based on the first game was created by The Immortals in 1994. It featured two themes for the game, Techno Syndrome and Hypnotic House. Techno Syndrome was adapted for the 1995 movie soundtrack, and incorporated the familiar Mortal Kombat yell first shown in the MK1 commercial for home systems.[1] Each movie to follow would also have their own soundtracks.

Contributing cultural material

The Mortal Kombat mythology borrows heavily from multiple sources, primarily (but not limited to) Asian cultures, particularly Chinese and Japanese religions, languages and martials. Examples include the following:

Myth and Legend relative

  • Raiden, who is the God of Thunder in Mortal Kombat, takes his name from the Japanese Raijin (meaning "thunder and lightning"), which is the name of a demon-god in Japanese mythology. The shinto Raiden is usually depicted as a man-beast with red flesh, sharp teeth, long hair and a large drum for making thunder. His appearance is however almost similar to a Buddhist/Taoist god in the game. The Mortal Kombat Raiden's trademark glowing eyes and straw hat, however, appear to have been inspired by the Three Storms in the film Big Trouble in Little China. In the early console releases and associated media, he was also named Rayden. This alternate spelling was originally used by Acclaim Entertainment to avoid lawsuit from Seibu Kaihatsu who had a series of scrolling shooters entitled Raiden.
  • Fujin (Mortal Kombat 4) is named after the Japanese wind god Fūjin. The mythological Fujin is Raiden's brother and the two are two of the oldest Shinto gods. Like Raiden, he however looks like a Buddhist/Taoist god.
  • Ashrah's name is taken from the Babylonian goddess Asherah.
  • Sheeva's name can be recognized, as based on the Hindu god, Shiva, both of which have four arms.
  • Moloch shares his name with the ancient Middle Eastern deity Moloch.
  • Daegon's name may be a reference to the Middle Eastern deity Dagon.
  • Onaga is loosely based from the cruel Dragon King who was killed by a child hero named Nezha and he was later reincarnated and tried to reclaim his throne in a desolate war-like realm (possibly Outworld's inspiration) and claim the realms for himself. Also Shao Kahn seems to be one of the enemies of Sun Wuukong. However he somewhat is commented to "look like True Ogre from Tekken to a certain extent".
  • Shinnok is loosely based on the Buddhist Satan named Mara, ruler of Hell and lord of all evil. He is seen to be a deceptive evil god who controls the evil forces in the Universe and deceives people with visions. Like Satan of Abrahamanic religion, Shinnok was formerly a being that was considered good, and fell from grace and now rules from the underworld (the Netherrealm/Hell).

About the groups

  • The White Lotus Society to which Liu Kang belonged may have been named after the secret White Lotus Society which existed in China during the Yuan Dynasty and Ming Dynasty. A white lotus is traditionally symbolic of death as well as purity. This is also seen as a Buddhist society.
  • The Lin Kuei assassins' clan that Sub-Zero hails from is based on the Lin Kuei, a secretive Chinese cult that was known for its espionage, thievery, and living in the wildernesses of China. They were called "Lin Kuei" or "forest demons" because they lived in the forests and were known to terrorize nearby villages in order to steal goods and items for the benefits of their clan. It was said that they were one of the causes that helped developed the art of Ninjutsu in Japan. Some of the elements may have been used in Takeda's departure from the Lin Kuei to set up his own ninja clan in Japan, the Shirai Ryu. Also, The Lin Kuei are commonly thought as a ninja clan, something impossible, since the Lin Kuei are Chinese, as said on Mortal Kombat Mythologies: Sub-Zero, by himself: "I am not a ninja. I am Lin Kuei! Scorpion was a ninja."
  • The Wu Shi Academy follows Theravada Buddhism.
  • The Black Dragon clan may be based loosely on the historical Black Dragon Society.

About the concept

  • The Elder Gods are taken from the concept of Buddhist Elder Gods headed by the Jade Emperor who watch over the Universe. Even the places attributed to the Elder Gods looks like those in Chinese Mythology.
  • The Netherrealm, which Shinnok rules resembles Di Yu or the Chinese picture of Hell. The prison cells almost resemble Di Yu's level where the prisoners are shredded to pieces as the Chamber of Grinding. Such a stage can also be seen in The Slaughterhouse in Mortal Kombat: Deception. Shinnok's Spire is somewhat like the chambers of Hell.
  • The Orderrealm and Chaosrealm resemble the Yin and Yang of Taoism. The Orderrealm is similar to the Heavenly Courts in Chinese Mythology, responsible for enforcing order.
  • The concept of the One Being comes from Pangu, where his body became all of reality.

Foreign words

  • Shujinko (Mortal Kombat: Deception) is from the Japanese shujinkou (meaning "protagonist"). His character is somewhat seen to be the mentor of Sun Wuukong.
  • Damashi (Mortal Kombat: Deception) is from the Japanese tamashi (meaning "spirit").
  • Hotaru (Mortal Kombat: Deception) is from the Japanese hotaru (meaning "firefly").
  • Kenshi (Mortal Kombat: Deadly Alliance) is from the Japanese kenshi (meaning "swordsman").
  • Oni is from the Japanese oni (meaning "Demon").
  • Shang Tsung as a name is an actual expression for "temple elder". Deriving this from the fact that Chinese mysticism often entwined spirituality and magic, this may be a reference to Shang Tsung's actual call as a sorcerer.
  • The word "Kahn" in Shao Kahn's name means "the ruler" in Mongolian.
  • Baraka's name is taken from berakhah or barakah. See Baraka.
  • The name Bo' Rai Cho is a play on the Spanish word borracho, meaning "drunk".
  • Mavado comes from malvado, the Spanish word for express something "evil", and the Portuguese word for "the person who makes the evil".
  • The name Onaga contains Japanese Ou ('大',meaning "big" or '王', meaning "king") and Sanskrit Nāga (meaning "cobra" in Sanskrit, dragon in Fareastern Buddhism).

Mortal Kombat crossovers

  • Characters from the Mortal Kombat series have sometimes appeared in other video games as secret characters, particularly other Midway games:
    • Raiden had a cameo appearance in a pinball machine, Midway's World Cup Soccer, in a bonus round.
    • Shooting the Damsel Ramp in Midway's Medieval Madness continuously will result in a random "Toasty" or "Finish Him!" quote.
    • Winning the video mode in the Bally pinball Creature from the Black Lagoon results in a bloody animation and "Fatality".
    • Raiden, Reptile, Scorpion and Sub-Zero appeared as playable characters in early versions of the arcade game NBA Jam TE and its Sega Saturn conversion. [2]
    • Raiden and Shinnok appeared as unlockable characters in the original NFL Blitz game.
    • Raiden appeared as an unlockable character in Unreal Championship 2: The Liandri Conflict (which coincidentally also included a fatality system similar to MK's). Shao Kahn's voice is also an alternate to the default announcer.
    • Sub-Zero and Scorpion both appear as secret characters in MLB Slugfest 20-04.
    • Scorpion can be unlocked as a skin for the main character of the Midway game Psi Ops.
    • Scorpion, Noob Saibot and Sub-Zero can be unlocked in the third-person arcade shooter The Grid. [3]
    • In NBA Ballers: Phenom, in the Training Academy stage, characters such as Sub-Zero, Raiden and Liu Kang in the background watch streetball with the crowd.
    • In the (officially unreleased) Judge Dredd arcade-game, a miniature version of Goro can be seen walking through the streets, being kept as a domestic animal.
  • A fanmade version of Pong based on the Mortal Kombat series called Pong Kombat was released in 1994.
  • The Mortal Kombat characters are also featured in the trading card game Epic Battles which pits them against characters from other fighting game series.
  • Modal Kombat is a parody of the game Mortal Kombat, where gameplay is controlled by players performing live on guitars.
  • Scorpion made an appearance in the Comedy Central animated series Drawn Together.
  • The TV show ReBoot had a small parody of Mortal Kombat, including dressing the character Enzo as Scorpion.
  • The fatality style has been seen in the MTV show Celebrity Deathmatch which consists of plasticine celebrities fighting to the death.
  • During a slow-motion mode in True Crime: Streets of LA where the player can launch a special kung-fu attack by pressing a button combo in a short amount of time, Nick Kang will sometimes shout "Finish Him!" as he executes the move.
  • A parody of Mortal Kombat in a workplace, called Office Kombat, appeared in one of the episodes of Robot Chicken.
  • Scorpion, Sub-Zero and Smoke (ninja version) appear to help Joey Fatone train in "Enter the Fat One" in an episode of Robot Chicken.
  • Johnny Cage and Kano appeared in one of the episodes of Robot Chicken.
  • There is an internet sitcom based on the series called Mortal Komedy.
  • Toro from the Together Everywhere! Franchise appears in Playstation All-Stars Battle Royale. His moveset is notable for transforming into different forms that reference other fighting game franchises. His ninja form specifically uses Mortal Kombat moves, such as Liu Kang's Bicycle Kick, Sub-Zero's Ice Slide, Scorpion's Spear, and Noob's Teleport. Toro puts a humourous twist on each move, such as leaving behind fishbones rather than icicles during the Ice Slide.

See also


Official websites

Other websites

Principal Games
Mortal Kombat | Mortal Kombat II | Mortal Kombat 3 | Mortal Kombat 4 | Deadly Alliance | Deception | Armageddon | MK vs. DCU | Mortal Kombat (2011) | Mortal Kombat X | Mortal Kombat 11
Updates and Ports
Advance | Gold | Tournament Edition | Trilogy | Ultimate | Ultimate Mortal Kombat 3 | Unchained
Adventure Games
Konquest | Mythologies: Sub-Zero | Shaolin Monks | Special Forces
Army of Darkness | Black Dragon | Deadly Alliance | Dragon King's Army | Edenian Resistance | Elder Gods | Forces of Darkness | Forces of Light | Kahn Guard | Lin Kuei | Outer World Investigation Agency | Red Dragon | Seidan Guard | Seidan Resistance | Shirai Ryu | Shaolin Monks | Special Forces | Tekunin | The Brotherhood of Shadow | Titans | White Lotus Society | Wu Shi Academy
Main Characters
Ashrah | Baraka | Blaze | Bo' Rai Cho | Cassie Cage | Cetrion | Chameleon | Cyrax | Daegon | Dairou | Darrius | Drahmin | D'Vorah | Ermac | Erron Black | Ferra & Torr | Frost | Fujin | Geras | Goro | Havik | Hotaru | Hsu Hao | Jade | Jarek | Jax Briggs | Jacqui Briggs | Johnny Cage | Kabal | Kai | Kano | Kenshi Takahashi | Khameleon | Kintaro | Kira | Kitana | Kobra | Kollector | Kotal Kahn | Kronika | Kung Jin | Kung Lao | Li Mei | Liu Kang | Mavado | Meat | Mileena | Mokap | Moloch | Motaro | Noob Saibot | Nightwolf | Nitara | Onaga | Quan Chi | Raiden | Rain | Reiko | Reptile | Sareena | Scorpion | Sektor | Shang Tsung | Shao Kahn | Sheeva | Shinnok | Shujinko | Sindel | Skarlet | Smoke | Sonya Blade | Stryker | Sub-Zero | Takeda Takahashi | Tanya | Taven | Tremor | Triborg
Guest Characters
Alien | Batman | Captain Marvel | Catwoman | Dark Kahn | Darkseid | Deathstroke | The Flash | Freddy Krueger | Green Lantern | Jason Voorhees | The Joker | Kratos | Leatherface | Lex Luthor | Predator | Rambo | RoboCop | Spawn | Superman | The Terminator | Wonder Woman
Arenas | Artifacts | DC Storyline | Glossary | Main Storyline | Minor Characters | Realms | Secret Characters | Species | Unplayable Characters | Weapons
Film and Television
Annihilation | Conquest | Defenders of the Realm | Legacy | Legends: Battle of the Realms | Legends: Scorpion's Revenge | Mortal Kombat (1995) | Mortal Kombat (2021) | Rebirth | The Journey Begins
Actors | Card Game | Comics | Tour
Ashrah | Baraka | Blaze | Bo' Rai Cho | Cassie Cage | Cetrion | Chameleon | Cyrax | D'Vorah | Daegon | Dairou | Darrius | Drahmin | Ermac | Erron Black | Ferra/Torr | Frost | Fujin | Geras | Goro | Havik | Hotaru | Hsu Hao | Jacqui Briggs | Jade | Jarek | Jax Briggs | Johnny Cage | Kabal | Kai | Kano | Kenshi | Khameleon | Kintaro | Kira | Kitana | Kobra | Kollector | Kotal Kahn | Kronika | Kung Jin | Kung Lao | Li Mei | Liu Kang | Mavado | Meat | Mileena | Mokap | Moloch | Motaro | Nightwolf | Nitara | Noob Saibot | Onaga | Quan Chi | Raiden | Rain | Reiko | Reptile | Sareena | Scorpion | Sektor | Shang Tsung | Shao Kahn | Sheeva | Shinnok | Shujinko | Sindel | Skarlet | Smoke | Sonya Blade | Stryker | Sub-Zero | Takeda | Tanya | Taven | Tremor | Triborg

Alien | Freddy Krueger | Jason Voorhees | The Joker | Kratos | Leatherface | Predator | RoboCop | Rambo | Spawn | The Terminator
Batman | Captain Marvel | Catwoman | Dark Kahn | Darkseid | Deathstroke | The Flash | Green Lantern | The Joker | Lex Luthor | Superman | Wonder Woman


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