We all knew there was no way you could pick 10 definitive fighters from the Mortal Kombat series and not include this guy. Scorpion is one of those love him/hate him kind of fighters, with fans of the Mortal Kombat series usually quickly picking a side. Join individuals just chatting about the game and chances are you will hear someone mention how amazed they are that he could ever be considered someone’s favorite fighter. But no matter how you may feel about the living dead ninja, there is absolutely no denying his popularity.
With his iconic yell of “get over here” that let anyone facing him know that they were about to become a bit too close and his chained kunai, Scorpion is easily one of the most recognizable characters in video games. He is also one of the few fighters to appear in every single Mortal Kombat game, placing him in a pretty exclusive club. Using the power of the Netherrealm (Mortal Kombat‘s hell), he is able to summon hellfire in order to bolster his attacks and is often a critical character in every Mortal Kombat plot.
Add in the fact that Scorpion is voiced by none other than one of the game’s creators, Ed Boon, and you really can’t get much more iconic than Scorpion in Mortal Kombat.
Hey, isn’t this the guy who looks like that other guy, but blue? Well… yeah, he is, but he is so much more than just a color swap. You see, before there was ever Red vs. Blue, there was Blue vs. Yellow. The enmity between the Lin Kuei and the Shirai Ryu is one that spans generations, and even birthed the the rivalry between Scorpion and Sub-Zero. Even without that pretty interesting back story, Sub-Zero would still maintain his status as one of the most iconic Mortal Kombat mainstays.
Sub-Zero is a cryomancer which means he can summon and control ice. This makes for one of the most unique fighting styles found in Mortal Kombat. Leaving a trail of ice on the floor, freezing enemies in mid air, or generating blades of ice are all awesome things to do and will make you the bane of your adversary’s existence. Sub-Zero was also lucky enough to even get his own game, Mortal Kombat Mythologies: Sub-Zero, which took place before the events of the first Mortal Kombat tournament.
Like Scorpion, Sub-Zero has appeared in every installment of the Mortal Kombat series, although as two different people (brothers, in fact) taking up the mantle. The first Sub Zero went on to become Noob Saibot (yet another awesome character). You know a character is iconic when the developers refuse to let the man under the mask ever truly die.
Col. Sonya Blade has several video game accolades under her belt. She was the first female fighter introduced in the Mortal Kombat series (you know, the game that spurred the creation of the ESRB). She is also one of very few fighters who has been in each entry in one form or another. To top it all off, she’s a bad-ass to the highest degree. Sonya Blade is a force to be reckoned with, unless you want your neck snapped by those extremely powerful legs of hers.
Formerly a member a the United States Special Forces, she later on became the Outer World Investigation Agency, where she and her partner Jax look out for threats from less than friendly dimensions. Her romance with Johnny Cage has often played a part in the many Mortal Kombat plots (including the movies), and their daughter Cassie Cage is even making her debut in the upcoming Mortal Kombat X. But, like the previous entries on this list, she is much more than her back story.
She is one of the best combatants in Mortal Kombat, and for good reason. She’s agile, and delivers devastating kicks. Also, her deadly kiss is one to be avoided or else you’ll be on the business end of a horrible beatdown. Just ask Kano and he’ll tell you that fighting this femme fatale is a bad idea.
Quan Chi is one of those characters who is always in the middle of everything that’s going wrong. A powerful sorcerer and necromancer, Quan Chi would like nothing more than to take over the Earthrealm and any other realm he can manage to get his pale hands on. He is the man behind the resurrection of Scorpion, and the original Sub-Zero (in the form of Noob Saibot), so you know he isn’t all for show, he has the power to back up his claims.
His unique appearance strikes fear in the hearts of players. That telltale green energy flowing from his hands let’s you know that this major Mortal Kombat villain is ready to dish out the death, only to resurrect you as his slave later on. Although he was first introduced in Mortal Kombat Mythologies: Sub-Zero on the PlayStation, he didn’t become playable until Mortal Kombat 4, where players discovered just how truly brutal this man was.
Quanchi uses a mix of brute force combined with Netherrealm magic in order to break his opponents down little by little. He has a surprising amount of speed for a man so powerful, and he has no qualms whatsoever with using that to crush you (or anyone else, for that matter) under foot. Vile and as evil as they come, Quan Chi is definitely iconic.
This one is a god. Yes, you read that correctly, Raiden is a god in the Mortal Kombat universe, and he is on the side of good. Sometimes it’s hard to tell that he is in fact a good guy when he’s sending a million volts of electricity through your body, so you’re just going to have to trust us on this one. Raiden immensely powerful, if the whole god thing didn’t immediately give that away. He is devoted to helping the inhabitants of Earthrealm remain free from the control of any outside forces, even if those forces happen to be other elder gods. Now that’s bad-ass.
Some may say using this fighter in Mortal Kombat is unfair. His ability to quickly move about the screen combined with his charged up attacks are not easy to get around. Plus there is the hat, which isn’t as deadly as Kung Lao’s razor brimmed headwear, but is still distracting when you’re trying to dodge electrical blasts from Raiden’s hands. Speaking of the hat, his whole appearance sort of commands respect. He is an elder god, and his attire shows that. He is one well put together fighter.
Of course the one man who many view as the mascot of the series could not be left off of this list. Liu Kang is humanity’s champion who has saved Earthrealm countless times with the help of other fighters and the elder gods. This shaolin monk is about courage, integrity, and honor. It was really a shame when he perished only to be used to commit horrendous acts against those he swore to protect. But even then, this magnificent fighter found a way to reunite his soul with his body to once again to become a Mortal Kombat champion and save the day.
Some may wonder, how exactly is he iconic? His original design was that of a generic Bruce Lee type fighter, and even with the changes made to his design since, not much makes him a standout. Looking at him from an aesthetic angle, they’d be one hundred percent correct. However, it’s his fighting that makes him so memorable. Sit back and think about the first time you played a Mortal Kombat game. Do you remember the first time you pulled off a bicycle kick? Leaping up to deliver a series of kicks to your opponent’s face as you somehow magically refused to drop, defying all laws of physics. Iconic.
There’s a pretty good chance that you read Sonya Blade’s entry a few pages back and have been wondering where the hell is Johnny Cage. How in the world can one be on a list without the other? These characters go together like peanut butter & jelly, although their personalities are more like oil & vinegar. Still, what’s not to like about a pompous movie star who also happens to be really good at the fighting he does in movies. Plus, this dude managed to beat Goro in the first Mortal Kombat movie.
Of course, beating Goro isn’t all there is to this series mainstay. His look is memorable, whether you like him or not. His name tattooed across his chest in later games show his self-importance, and need to be at the center of attention. Plus, who (besides the Terminator) brings shades to a fight to the death? Yet, despite his self-centered demeanor, Johnny Cage is one of the series’ best and most loved combatants. His Shadow Kick, and Split Punch has earned him a spot in history when it comes down to versatile fighters. And who can forget his autographed headshot Friendship? How can you not be a fan of this guy?
No fighting game roster is complete without its very own princess. Why would a fighting game need a princess? Who knows? What we do know is that this particular princess isn’t the dainty, waiting-to-be-rescued type. No way, this princess is all about tearing off heads once she finds out the truth behind her stepfather Shao Kahn. Not one to sit idly by while others fought to save their realms along with hers, she took up arms (in the form of bladed fans) and entered the Mortal Kombat tournament.
Easily recognized by her blue leotard and large fans, she is one of the most well-loved recurring characters in the Mortal Kombat series. Her abilities involved close range hand-to-hand combat, and her signature bladed fans which she could use up close, or throw at your opponent across the screen. She also had the ability to generate enough force to levitate enemies in order to commence (or continue) deadly juggling combos. Kitana is Mortal Kombat‘s very own warrior princess, and she proves her deadliness with each successive installment.
It’s easy to see how Goro made his way on this list just by looking at the image above. In the first Mortal Kombat game, all characters maintained a uniform, humanoid shape despite their different abilities. That was until you got to Shang Tsung’s sub boss, Goro. This huge Shokan warrior had four arms which he used to beat whatever fighter you may have chosen senseless.
Goro was a 9-time Mortal Kombat champion, and Shao Kahn’s favorite warrior. His imposing presence, surprising agility, and his ability to use fire (as if four powerful arms weren’t enough) made him the most difficult boss players ever had to face across all Mortal Kombat entries. So much so, that developers opted to tone him down when they reintroduced Goro several games later. Even after being taken down a notch, Goro still manages to be a tough foe who you don’t want grabbing you. One of the worst sights in an Mortal Kombat game is having Goro grab you with his lower arms only to bash your skull in with the upper ones as he keeps that menacing grin glued to his face.
Secret characters are nothing new to video games. They definitely weren’t a new thing back when Mortal Kombat 2 came out all those years ago, yet that game still managed to make unlocking your battle with this particular combatant so memorable. Heck, people still talk about it today over 20 years later. The developers loved playing games with their fans, hiding things in plain sight, or letting rumors run wild. With Mortal Kombat 2, they showed a fighter who looked an awful lot like a color swapped ninja (just like a couple of other entries on this list), who would leave cryptic messages before vanishing, but nobody had any idea how to get to this elusive fighter.
If during a fight you happened to land a sweet uppercut on your opponent there is a chance that sound designer Dan Forden would pop up in the corner of the screen shouting, “Toasty!” Pressing down and start when this happened triggered a fight with this secret character, although you wouldn’t be able to control him until a later game. The series continues to use mysterious ways to allow fans to unlock these highly coveted secret encounters, but none have ever been as iconic as that fight with Smoke.
Smoke himself proved to be pretty awesome in later games. An assassin for the Lin Kuei clan, he was a master of stealth and it shows in his ability to disappear instantly as well as move his opponents through smoke portals. There’s just something about Mortal Kombat‘s ninjas that makes them all stand out.
Are there any fighters you feel deserve a spot on this list? If so feel free to share.