Outworld's known history goes back millions of years and points at Onaga the Dragon King as its first ruler. Although he would eventually be supplanted by Shao Kahn, they both shared the same vision of expanding Outworld by taking other realms by force. Unwittingly, both were being controlled by echoes of the One Being. Despite the despotism both emperors displayed, Outworld is in a constant state of turmoil, albeit more so under Shao Kahn than under Onaga. Outworld is a large realm of varying landscapes, although its primary landscapes appear to consist of barren, purple wastelands, deserts, pools of acid, dense forests with animated faces, and high, mysterious mountain peaks. Small villages are scattered throughout the landscape, and like Edenia, the realm teems with magic. Beyond the imperial palace, the great temple of the Dragon King, and the city of Lei Chen, no real metropolises have been seen in the series. Outworld also houses a brewery, specializing in 'Outworld Wine,' popularly drank by master Bo' Rai Cho. It's often rumored amongst many Outworld inhabitants that Earthrealm's rice wine 'puts Outworld Wine to shame'. Commuters also ride the Dragonfly, which is said to be the fastest form of transportation across the vast expanses of Outworld, aside from sorcery and actual dragons. There are many of these flying transports, each with its own set of destinations.
Native realm species
Due to Outworld's composite structure, not all races found on Outworld are truly native to it. In addition, many of Earthrealm's wanted criminals have sought refuge in Outworld, most notably Kano.
- Cryomancers - An Outworld race with a natural affinity for ice. Appearance wise, they tend to resemble very pale humans, often with icicle shards protruding from their bodies. Although they are now extinct, a few scattered descendants of this race live in Earthrealm, particularly Sub-Zero, Noob Saibot, and Frost. It is unclear how or why they died out.
- Outworlders - Like most inhabitants of the realms of Mortal Kombat, Outworlders look like ordinary humans, although they seem to have a greater talent for magic and a longer life expectancy. In terms of appearance, they typically resemble the East Asian people of Earthrealm. The only known Outworlders seen thus far are Li Mei, Bo' Rai Cho, Reiko, and Shao Kahn, although some ambiguous canon information identifies Shao Kahn as a god instead.
- Shokan - Described as "half-human, half-dragon", the Shokan are a four-armed humanoid race of towering stature and powerful builds. They are organized in terms of clan-based monarchy and share a fierce, bitter rivalry with the Centaurians. The hostility between the Shokan and the Centaurs is exemplified in Motaro's Armageddon ending, wherein the Shokan place a curse on the entire Centaurian race, removing their hind legs and turning them into Minotaurs. Goro, Sheeva, and Kintaro are all Shokan that appear within the series.
- Centaurians - Although they resemble the mythical Earthrealm creatures of the same name, this race is far more vicious, possessing scorpion-like tails and horns. They are renowned hunters and powerful warriors, and have been violently feuding with the Shokan for ages. The two races compete for the favor of Shao Kahn, and although he seems to encourage this animosity to an extent, he does not allow it to escalate into open warfare that could threaten the already tenuous stability of his realm.
Non-native or of uncertain origin
- Vampires - A race that has been a part of Outworld since its realm was annexed by Shao Kahn. They possess the ability to travel in between realms and are excellent record keepers. Contrary to other fictional vampires, they can move by daylight in most realms, although they are highly allergic to Earthrealm's sun. The realm Vaeternus, from which the vampires originate, was liberated from Outworld by Nitara in Deadly Alliance.
- Zaterrans - A virtually extinct, reptilian race that was once governed by a matriarchy on the realm of Zaterra. Originally from Earthrealm, the war between Raiden and Shinnok resulted in their displacement and subsequent settlement in Zaterra. Despite their ability to blend into their surroundings and exceptional talent as hunters, spies, and assassins, they are generally thought of as untrustworthy slaves.
- Tarkatans - Also known as Mutants or Nomads, the Tarkatans are a nomadic, humanoid race feared for their barbarous nature and extreme bouts of rage. They are a mutant crossbreed of Netherrealm demons and Outworlders, and possess razor-sharp teeth and retractable metal blades in their forearms. They are notorious cannibals and exhibit animalistic behavior, with the men often flying into a murderous rage at the scent of a competing male. Although their demonic ancestors originated from the Netherrealm, the Tarkatans have long resided in the wastelands of Outworld.
- Edenians - This race has inhabited Outworld ever since their native realm, Edenia, lost 10 consecutive Mortal Kombat tournaments to Shao Kahn's minions. Biologically similar to other humanoids, Edenians are rumored to be descended from the Gods themselves, explaining their extremely long lifespans, slow aging process, and natural affinity with magic. Although many returned to the liberated Edenia after the failed invasion of Earthrealm, some Edenians remained in Outworld, having few if any recollections of their native realm and unable to accept the place as home. Liberated Edenia is a diarchy ruled by Queen Sindel and her daughter Kitana, with loyal native Jade commanding the royal Edenian Knights. Since its liberation, Edenia has been a steadfast ally of Earthrealm and an enemy of Outworld. Edenian traitors and defectors include Rain, Tanya, and Daegon.
- Osh-Tekk - A humanoid race with blue skin and power over sunlight, and an acute vulnerability to darkness. They originate from the realm of Osh-Tekk, which was annexed by Shao Kahn millennia ago. Due to the efforts of Reiko and Goro, the Osh-Tekk race has been driven to near-extinction; Kotal Kahn is the sole surviving member after his father, Kotal K'etz, was slain.
- Kytinn - A sentient race of colonial, insect-like humanoids from the island realm of Arnyek. Their realm was easily conquered by Shao Kahn due to its lack of defenses, and the Kytinn have lived in Outworld ever since. They grow from maggot-like larvae inside of victims' bodies, emerging from them as if they were a cocoon, at times within seconds of their implantation. The stronger the host of the Kytinn maggots, the stronger the resultant Kytinn will be. For example, a Kytinn emerging from one of the Elder Gods being nigh unstoppable. The only known Kytinn in the series thus far is the female warrior D'Vorah. No male members of this race have yet been seen.
- Unnamed symbiotic race - A race typically found in the Tarkatan wastelands of Outworld. They consist of a "rider" and a "mount", with the latter dying off as soon as the former metamorphoses into a "rider". The only notable member of this race that has been seen thus far is Ferra/Torr.
- Outworlder: Bo' Rai Cho, Li Mei, Reiko, Shao Kahn.
- Saurian: Chameleon, Khameleon, Reptile.
- Shokan: Goro, Kintaro, Sheeva.
- Tarkata: Baraka.
- Centaurian: Motaro.
- Osh-Tekk: Kotal Kahn, Kotal K'etz.
- Other: Ermac, Onaga, Mileena, Skarlet, D'Vorah, Ferra/Torr.
- Hotaru (Seido)
- Kano (Earthrealm)
- Nitara (Vaeternus)
- Quan Chi (Netherrealm)
- Red Dragon (Earthrealm)
- Shang Tsung (Earthrealm)
- Shujinko (Earthrealm)
- Erron Black (Earthrealm)
- Special Forces (Earthrealm)
- Blood Stone Mines
- Dead Pool
- Dragon Mountain
- Dragon King's Temple
- Drum Arena
- Falling Cliffs
- Golden Desert
- Hell's Foundry
- Kahn's Arena
- Kombat Tomb
- Kuatan Palace
- Lei Chen
- Living Forest
- Lost Bridge
- Lost Tomb
- Lower Mines
- Lumber Mill
- Outworld Spire
- Pit II
- Pit III
- Quan Chi's Fortress
- Sea of Blood
- Shao Kahn's Fortress
- Soul Chamber
- Soul Tombs
- Sun Do
- Wasteland of Outworld
- Cobalt Mines of Shokan
- Outworld Marketplace
Movie & TV appearanceOutworld made its appearance in both the Mortal Kombat movie and its sequel as a vast mystical realm with dark, yet clear purple sky, crumbled cities with heads of huge broken statues, demonic torch-holding statues on Outworld's broken streets and roads, and even frightened human-like Outworlders living in fear under the reign of Shao Kahn. In the Mortal Kombat film, Liu Kang and Johnny Cage travel there by portal to rescue Sonya Blade after she was captured by the sorcerer Shang Tsung while Johnny battled the Shokan prince Goro. After Liu Kang defeats the creature Reptile who was secretly following him and Johnny, Kitana joins forces with them and guides them safely through Outworld's landscape. She explains the realm's origins as a once beautiful, majestic world before the Emperor (Shao Kahn) took it over after defeating her father's best warriors in ten consecutive Mortal Kombat tournaments. After they rescue Sonya and defeat Shang Tsung, All four of them returned to Raiden on Earth, seeking to enjoy relative peace for the next generation. This hope is dashed when Shao Kahn launches a direct invasion, and they are forced to defend Earthrealm from the invading Outworld army.
After Emperor Shao Kahn of Outworld breaks the sacred rules of Mortal Kombat and opens portals to Earthrealm, launching a direct invasion, Raiden and his warriors along with Princess Kitana of Outworld, Sonya's old partner Jax Briggs and the mysterious stranger named Jade (later revealed as a traitor in the movie) take their fight to Outworld. When they arrived, they see broken roads and ruined cities of the Earth colliding with the native landscape as the realm is merged into Outworld.
Outworld made another appearance in the animated cartoon series of Mortal Kombat: Defenders of the Realm as once a majestic realm turned into a dangerous and oppressed world under the iron fist of Shao Kahn the Konqueror.
Outworld has also made its one more appearance in the television series Mortal Kombat: Conquest as an ancient realm whose people are living in dark times with Shao Kahn reigning supreme as its emperor.
Relationships with other realmsLong millennia under the rule of a tyrannical emperor have put Outworld at odds with most other worlds and their inhabitants. The realms which have been merged with it over the years could be loosely called allies, only due to the fact their inhabitants were forced into submission to the emperor's might. Many inhabitants of these conquered realms, in fact, seek to separate their realms from Outworld and regain their freedom. Due to 10,000 years of oppression under Shao Kahn following its annexation, Edenia has come to be a tenacious opponent of Outworld following its liberation. There is also little doubt that Earthrealm and Outworld are opposing realms; long did Kahn attempt to rule the realm through Mortal Kombat, and later through direct invasion during the time of MK3.
Citizens of Chaosrealm seem content to have Kahn rule Outworld (due to his aggressive nature) while the inhabitants of Orderrealm oppose his rule and the civil strife it has created. Under the rule of Onaga, the relationships between the two neutral realms were reversed, with the Orderrealm citizens contented with Outworld's rule and Chaosrealm inhabitants seeking the overthrow of the Dragon King. However, neither world can actively be called Outworld's ally in a true sense, because of the respective strict and chaotic natures of each world and their inhabitants.
The Netherrealm could be considered an ally under Kahn's rule as he has forged acquaintances there himself, although it was invaded during the MK3 timeframe.
- According to the contact page on Midway Games' website, there is a Midway office in Outworld (though not listed with the other offices, it is included in a montage of pictures depicting cities which are home to a Midway studio or office).
- Outworld is nearly always depicted as being almost uniformly purple in color.