Honey’s Anime is going to bring you something a little bit different than the traditional top 10 anime list that you all adore. As we evolve and continue to grow, we feel there should be a place for top 10’s in video games. After all, if you consider yourself an otaku, there is a decent chance you’re into video games as well.
This blood-soaked video game franchise debut in 1992 and was literally developed by four guys, Ed Boon, John Tobias, John Vogel and Dan Forden. The first Mortal Kombat was one of the forerunners that sparked the creation of the ESRB (Entertainment Software Rating Board) due to its graphic nature. Now almost a quarter of a century later and it’s still extremely relevant in the fighting community. Its latest release was Mortal Kombat XL that came out this past March.
With Mortal Kombat having such a large fan base particularly in North America, it’s best to point out that this list may be controversial to some. We have ranked the fighters based on character longevity, impact, and style. It’s important to note, this ranking has nothing to do with their fighting tier in-game. Now that we have that out of the way, let us bring you fine folks our Top 10 Mortal Kombat Characters!
Right off the bat we’re going to hit you (not literally) with the red-clad ninja known as Ermac. He is a most compelling character due to his telekinetic powers, ability to teleport and traverse between realms. This fighter is a fusion of many souls that were lost during numerous Outworld wars throughout the years. He was created for the inclusion of Ultimate Mortal Kombat 3, amidst popular fan mythology. There was a rumor that was proven to be completely false about an error that happens in the first Mortal Kombat on the Sega Genesis /Megadrive. It was said that if you overplayed that version of the game, there would be a screen flaw and flash an alert with an error code reading “ERror MACro”. It was supposed to change Scorpion’s yellow on his outfit to red giving the illusion that Ermac was playable.
Initially, Ermac was a red and black palette swap from Scorpion in UMK3. In later iterations he became more of a stand out from the other ninjas in the series. He now wears a hooded trench coat and has bandages hanging from his arms and legs. Between his supernatural look, his telekinetic powers, his ability to levitate and being a fusion of many souls, it’s hard not to put him on this list. He’s completely gnarly.
Making her way onto the list is our number one female fighter in the entire Mortal Kombat universe. Mileena was created in the flesh pits for Shao Kahn by Shang Tsung. She was cloned from Kitana but with Tarkatan physiology in particular, her mouth is lined with long sharp teeth. You could consider Mileena to be the evil half of Kitana. Conniving, ruthless and ever the opportunist, Mileena is one character you don’t want to take lightly. Her most well-known weapon is the sai blades that she implements into her fighting style. There was a time in Mortal Kombat Gold where she did use a longsword, but thankfully she has continued to use the sai blades ever since.
Mileena made her video game debut in Mortal Kombat 2, sporting a tight magenta leotard. Very much reminiscent of her “sister” Kitana, except hers was blue. In future iterations of the game Mileena was seen wearing more revealing clothing. At one point she was wearing nothing but strategically placed bandages to accentuate her overall naughtiness. When it comes to her fighting style, she is a unique breed all to herself. Being half Edenian and half Tarkatan, she possesses great speed and agility while also showing impressive strength, proving that she is a lethal fighter.
Coming in at number eight is arguably the antagonistic poster boy for the original Mortal Kombat. When Goro was introduced he was the sub-boss before you had to deal with Shang Tsung. In some ways, it felt like you had beaten the game if you were able to defeat Goro. If you didn’t figure out a way to exploit him, he became a strenuous fight. His brute strength is tough to match; he uses fireballs that he shoots from his mouth and hand. Oh, and his surprising agility for a big guy. He has the ability to jump off-screen and crush you within seconds, seems fair right?
A menacing figure, Goro, is a four-armed Shokan (half human, half dragon) warrior. He had been one of Shao Kahn’s favorite warriors due to his unprecedented domination of the Mortal Kombat tournament. He had won nine straight tournaments, remaining undefeated for 500 years. Having four arms and towering over every opponent, it was no wonder he was able to sustain such a winning streak. He was able to defeat Kung Lao, something Shang Tsung was not able to do in his younger form. Goro was the commander of the Outworld armies that crushed any opposition in their way to conquer other realms. Needless to say Goro is a beast, literally and figuratively.
7. Quan Chi
When you talk about villains in the Mortal Kombat universe, without question Quan Chi is going to come to mind. He made his first video game appearance in Mortal Kombat Mythologies: Sub-Zero and then became a playable character for the first time in Mortal Kombat 4. He is a superb sorcerer and necromancer from the hell-inspired Netherrealm. There, he formed a powerful faction known as the Brotherhood of Shadow. Their main goal is to not only take over Earthrealm, but all of reality. Quan Chi is cunning and a skilled tactician. He’s always looking to make deals with people in order to further his purpose.
His manipulative and deceptive nature was showcased during his impending feud with Sub-Zero and Scorpion. Quan Chi devised a plan to have Scorpion’s (Hanzo Hasashi) family and clan killed. Quan Chi proceeded with the plan and killed his family, posing as Sub-Zero (Bi-Han). Although a skilled fighter, he is best known for his sorcery and necromancy. Being able to reanimate the dead or create portals at will, to travel through. He has the ability to shapeshift and steal souls just like Shang Tsung, but he also can create illusions of himself. With that said, he is arguably one of the most skilled villains of all time.
6. Johnny Cage
Our number six selection was a struggling Hollywood actor and martial artist. Johnny Cage is one of the seven original fighters in the first Mortal Kombat. He’s one of the most recurring characters in the franchise and very popular among the fans. His quick-witted nature and sometimes air-headed decisions are some of the reasons that make him popular. Although Johnny Cage is a human, he is able to use superhuman abilities to his advantage. He uses a series of afterimage attacks that propel him towards his opponents with superior strength and speed. Whether he is using his shadow ball or shadow kick attacks, he is a force not to take lightly, despite his quirky antics.
In Johnny’s video game debut, he was depicted from actor, Jean-Claude Van Damme’s character in the movie Bloodsport. Later on he adopts long black pants with blue accents and a chest tattoo with his name. Nothing speaks narcissism more than having your own name tattooed on your chest! The one thing that remained the same throughout the years is his trademark sunglasses. The reason he entered the Mortal Kombat tournament was to prove all the critics wrong that he wasn’t just some stuntman and he that he was a supremely talented martial artist. And boy he did ever prove that!
5. Liu Kang
We’re now at the midway point and we have one of Earthrealm’s mightiest warriors, Liu Kang. This Chinese warrior became a Mortal Kombat Grand Champion on several occasions, defeating the likes of Goro and Shang Tsung. He was widely considered to be the Mortal Kombat mascot for many years. He is one of four characters who had a spinoff game based on them, when he was included in Mortal Kombat Shaolin Monks game. Whichever timeline you follow, Liu meets a rather unfortunate demise. He becomes one of Quan Chi’s revenants and later becomes the emperor of Netherrealm.
Liu Kang goes from being another Bruce Lee knock off character in the first entry of the series, to eventually becoming an intimidating undead revenant that sports a uniform made out of dragon scales, steel and leather. With glowing yellow veins and eyes, while still wearing his trademark red headband in Mortal Kombat X. Liu Kang generally associates himself with the element of fire and is seen using those projectiles in many of the games he’s in. He even has the ability to shapeshift into a magnificent Chinese dragon, during his Animality in Mortal Kombat 3. Regardless if you like him or hate him, he is most-deserving to be on this list, due to his heroic acts throughout the series.
4. Shao Kahn
The number four selection brings us the main antagonist throughout a good chunk of the Mortal Kombat series. Shao Kahn was a conqueror of realms and he led the Outworld invasion during their attack on Edenia and Earthrealm. As the former emperor of Outworld, he is considered to be the embodiment of evil. He made his videogame debut in 1993’s Mortal Kombat 2 as the final boss. He had remained a fixture as a boss or sub-boss throughout most of the series. Unlike most characters Shao Kahn has consistently looked similar from his inception till his death. His frightening warlord’s helmet with the skull on his face and his pure size and stature had always been a threat to the protagonists in the game.
Whether he is clubbing you with his Wrath Hammer or simply ridiculing you, he’s one boss that you don’t want to mess with. He has made many people rage throughout the years, trying to defeat him without the means of exploits. Apart from his Wrath Hammer he also utilizes a Light Spear and Explosive Ball that he launches at his enemies. If that wasn’t enough, he uses his speed and physical prowess with an Uplifting Knee and Charging Spikes to further plant seeds of doubt in your mind. Without question, Shao Kahn is the villainous face among not only Outworld, but the entire Mortal Kombat universe.
Lord Raiden the Thunder God is our selection for the number three spot. He has been the main fixture for the forces of good in every sense of the series. Making his debut in 1992’s Mortal Kombat, he hasn’t changed a great deal (films aside). His iconic straw Chinese coolie hat and his glowing white eyes are paramount to his character. Because he is the God of Thunder, he has several supernatural abilities such as teleportation, the ability to fly, and of course control lightning. That to us makes him extremely captivating.
Raiden is notorious for yelling out gibberish while using his Torpedo move. It’s had many people convinced over the years that he was yelling something in Japanese or English. The line was often misconstrued and therefore subject to many parodies. It was confirmed by Midway many years ago, that he was indeed just yelling gibberish. Raiden was instrumental in the aiding of Earthrealm’s warriors, most notably Liu Kang. With an ironic twist of fate, Raiden ended up accidently killing Liu in Mortal Kombat 9. It was a landmark moment in the series and it’s something still mired in controversy to this day. Despite that, this Thunder God is one of the coolest looking fighters in the series and his powers demand respect.
Kuai Liang or better known as Sub-Zero is the younger brother of Bi-Han, the original Sub-Zero. This particular Sub-Zero that we are talking about made his debut in Mortal Kombat 2 in 1993. The reason we chose this one over the original, is because he has elevated his style and characteristics throughout the series. Despite the fact that he wasn’t the original, he has carried the Sub-Zero moniker and colors for a greater period of time. In Mortal Kombat 9, he was altered and turned into a cyborg known as Cyber Sub-Zero. He retained most of his fighting abilities but his strength was enhanced through cybernetics.
Kuai Liang has served in the Lin Kuei and is a descendant of Cryomancers, an Outworld race with the ability to generate and control ice powers. At first, both brothers seemed to be very similar but Kuai formed his own path, assisting Raiden and Earthrealm’s warriors against Shao Kahn. As Cyber Sub-Zero he is arguably the strongest of the cyborg ninjas. He was able to defeat his former Lin Kuei brethren Sektor and his older brother as an undead Netherrealm wraith, Noob Saibot. His biggest accomplishment was defeating both Shokan warriors Goro and Kintaro at the same time. We already know the credentials for Goro, so beating him AND Kintaro together is jaw-dropping.
The number one and two picks could be interchangeable, and we know a lot of online lists express that. There’s always Scorpion fans who clamor he is better than Sub-Zero and vice versa. It’s only natural since they’ve been rivals for a very long time and the fan bases facilitate that. Hanzo Hasashi is rated higher for us for numerous reasons. One of the reasons is because he has some of the most iconic lines in the entire Mortal Kombat series. “Come here!” or “Get over here!” Those lines are universally linked to that series and even if you’re not a big fan, chances are most will recognize it.
Scorpion has been one of, if not the most compelling and popular characters in this game's universe. It started with his family and Shirai Ryu clan being slaughtered, to his resurrection and murdering of Bi-Han. To his seemingly everlasting rivalry with Sub-Zero and finally having the truth revealed that it was Quan Chi who manipulated him the entire time. I think a lot of people can connect emotionally with his motives from a family standpoint. He is the true anti-hero and it’s no wonder he has his face plastered all over Mortal Kombat collectables and apparel worldwide.
That was a fantastic look back on the history of Mortal Kombat. It has brought us 24 years of great memories and characters. With the ever-expanding roster reaching over 70 fighters, it was no easy task to make the final cuts down to 10. Regardless, we feel you should be able to relate to some of these selections.
Now that the list has been completed, what did you folks think? Was it completely predicable? Let your opinion be heard! If nothing else, tell us your favorite Mortal Kombat character in the comments section below.