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[[quoteright:350:http://static.tvtropes.org/pmwiki/pub/images/logo-mk.jpg]]
[[caption-width-right:350:[[FinishHim FINISH HIM!]]]]

->''Test your might.\\
Choose your destiny.\\
Flawless Victory.\\
'''MORTAL KOMBAT!!!'''''

''Mortal Kombat'' is a {{long runn|ers}}ing series of {{fighting game}}s. It was started and developed over a long time by Creator/MidwayGames and has since crept out into other media. The series is defined almost solely by its [[LudicrousGibs uber-violence]] and the [[XtremeKoolLetterz odd spelling of its title]].

In its prime, for about three games, ''Mortal Kombat'' was the very essence of cool. It had style [[RatedMForMoney that passed for maturity at the time]], a certain ''[[FamilyUnfriendlyViolence something]]'' that more family-friendly games couldn't replicate. Packed with secrets, {{Easter Egg}}s, and hidden characters (and largely predating the Internet), the first few games lent themselves well to an UrbanLegendOfZelda or two and it seemed like just about anything was possible.

What started as a fairly typical ''VideoGame/StreetFighterII''[=/=]''Film/EnterTheDragon'' [[TournamentArc global tournament]] ripoff quickly transmogrified into a interdimensional war and the mass genocide of the human race, which still somehow managed to shake out in the form of a series of one-on-one matches. The series, once a heavy hitter in the video game world, struggled with the [[PolygonCeiling inability to transition smoothly to [=3D=]]].

In its heyday, it was incredibly risqué. Especially when Nintendo practically owned the video game market, as most games did ''not'' include overt, bloody violence. Pre-''MK'', most designers kept some sort of plausible deniability in their games, claiming that nobody was ''[[NonLethalKO really]]'' [[NeverSayDie dead]], or it was [[WhatMeasureIsANonHuman only monsters]], or some other excuse. ''Mortal Kombat'' was the first game to ditch that pretense, with copious amounts of [[HighPressureBlood high pressure blood]], screaming, impaling, and {{Finishing Move}}s that delighted in how many body parts they could sever. The [[MoralGuardians moral guardians]] went through the roof, but the series was a smash hit anyway.

The designers, encouraged by their success, racked up the body count in subsequent installments, devising entirely new methods of dismemberment and decapitation. Eventually, the violence grew cartoonish in its excess, and the gameplay engine was not enough to sustain its popularity once other companies caught on to the idea that violence was nothing to be scared of. And while other series have made a successful leap to [=3D=], ''MK'' was [[PolygonCeiling "hit and miss"]]. Add that to the fact that [[DeathIsCheap virtually no one ever actually died in the story]], despite the ultraviolent nature of the games (a move that virtually guarantees stagnation), and you've got a series that seemed to be on its last legs...

...until Midway went bankrupt and [[Creator/WarnerBrosInteractiveEntertainment Warner Bros.]] promptly picked up the studio that produces the series (now known as [[Creator/NetherrealmStudios NetherRealm Studios]]). The end result: a complete {{continuity reboot}} (with an in-game explanation, no less) in [=2.5D=]. ''VideoGame/MortalKombat9'' was not only a critical and commercial smash, but also earned a spot as one of the featured titles at the Evo Championship Series, a first for a ''Mortal Kombat'' title.

The series' main games are the following:
[[index]]
* Midway canon:
** ''[[VideoGame/MortalKombat1 Mortal Kombat]]'' (1992)
** ''[[VideoGame/MortalKombat2 Mortal Kombat II]]'' (1993)
** ''VideoGame/MortalKombat3'' (1995)
** ''VideoGame/MortalKombat4'' (1997)
** ''[[VideoGame/MortalKombatDeadlyAlliance Mortal Kombat: Deadly Alliance]]'' (2002)
** ''[[VideoGame/MortalKombatDeception Mortal Kombat: Deception]]'' (2004)
** ''[[VideoGame/MortalKombatArmageddon Mortal Kombat: Armageddon]]'' (2006)
* [=NetherRealm=] Studios canon:
** ''VideoGame/{{Mortal Kombat|9}}'' (2011)
** ''VideoGame/MortalKombatX'' (2015)

There are also some spin-offs:
* ''VideoGame/MortalKombatMythologiesSubZero'' (a side-scrolling beat 'em up)
* ''VideoGame/MortalKombatSpecialForces'' (a [=3D=] beat 'em up)
* ''VideoGame/MortalKombatShaolinMonks'' (a [=3D=] co-op beat 'em up)
* ''[[VideoGame/MortalKombatVsDCUniverse Mortal Kombat vs. DC Universe]]'' (2008)

As well as adaptations to other media:
* ''Film/MortalKombat'' (a live action movie adaptation)
** ''WesternAnimation/MortalKombatTheJourneyBegins'' (an animated movie)
** ''Film/MortalKombatAnnihilation'' (the sequel to the live-action movie)
* ''Series/MortalKombatConquest'' (a slightly related live-action television series)
* ''ComicBook/MortalKombat'' (a set of comic books Midway independently published)
* ''[[ComicBook/MalibuComicsMortalKombat Malibu Comics' Mortal Kombat]]'' (another comic book series made by Malibu Comics)
* ''WesternAnimation/MortalKombatDefendersOfTheRealm'' (an animated television series)
* ''WebVideo/MortalKombatLegacy'' (a web series directed by [=NetherRealm=] Studios)
** ''WebVideo/MortalKombatRebirth'' (the pitch video that inspired ''Legacy'')
[[/index]]
----
The general story is about a universe with several different dimensions (called "Realms") and how one of these, called Outworld, is on a mission [[MultiversalConqueror to take over all realms]]. They are bound by laws set up that they must challenge the greatest warriors of whatever realm they wish to invade to a tournament. If the Outworld warriors win, they have free rein, but if the realm's warriors win, Outworld cannot enter the realm. Outworld's next target is Earth, and it's up to a select few warriors to determine the fate of their realm.

Besides that, we have LoadsAndLoadsOfCharacters and their special moves and backstories. Character sheets can be found [[Characters/MortalKombat here]], and are separated according to the various games.

----
!!This series provides examples of:

* AdvantageBall: Originally used the simple "won the tournament and attained victory in all life goals" pretty much every fighter used. With the advent of the later games' storytelling roulette, characters that won fights they otherwise would likely not has become canon. Actually a plot point in ''[[VideoGame/MortalKombatVsDCUniverse Mortal Kombat vs. DC Universe]]'' as the balance of power goes back and forth between characters.
* AllThereInTheManual: If the info's not available in the game, it's mentioned in some hard to find strategy guide. For example, Kintaro's fate (death by Raiden's hands) was only revealed in the ''[=MK3=]'' strategy guide.
* AlmostLethalWeapons: Getting shot in these games really doesn't hurt any more than getting punched.
* AnimatedAdaptation: Two; TheAnimatedSeries ''[[WesternAnimation/MortalKombatDefendersOfTheRealm Defenders of the Realm]]'' and ''[[WesternAnimation/MortalKombatTheJourneyBegins The Journey Begins]]'', an animated short film about the first game.
* AnotherDimension: Outworld, Edenia, Netherealm, and many others.
* AntiHero: In [[CrapsackWorld a universe]] like ''Mortal Kombat'', sometimes it becomes necessary to kill. But the ridiculous gruesome and painful ways in which some characters do so does call their motives into question.
* AnyoneCanDie: Though DeathIsCheap in some examples.
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%% Please don't add MK9-specific examples here.
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* ArtisticLicenseBiology: A staple of the franchise.
** A lot of the fatalities are not physically possible, but particularly in older games when the LudicrousGibs included bones... which often consisted of multiple full rib cages, dozens of femurs, and sometimes even multiple skulls.
** X-Ray attacks qualify as well. They show in graphic detail bones being snapped and organs being destroyed, yet characters keep fighting afterward like nothing happened.
* AscendedMeme: Nearly anything that could be listed under UrbanLegendOfZelda eventually made it into the series (Ermac, Animalities, Skarlet, etc.). It'd be shorter to name what ''averted'' this, such as characters like Hornbuckle.
* AttractMode
* AwesomenessMeter: In the killings at least.
* BadassNormal: Many of the good guys have no special upgrades to fight with.
* BaldOfEvil: Coincidentally enough all of the main characters that are bald in this series are evil. While Kratos on the other hand is a non-canon guest character, he himself is a villan as well. Other examples include Quan Chi, Baraka, and Daegon, [[spoiler: Shao Kahn is bald as well]].
* BeautyIsNeverTarnished: Usually this is played as straight as any other fighting game, with the exception of Fatalities; the females are just as subject to brutal, gory deaths as anyone else. It was subverted completely in ''9'', however, where the characters were injured during the fight, and even the winner was usually badly wounded by the end. Kitana's lovely face was just as likely to be marred by bruises and black eyes here. It is, however, played ''completely'' straight in the Story Mode, where the blood and gore is taken out and Fatalities aren't allowed (in the Story Mode, a fighter can't actually die unless the plot requires it, so it can't happen during a match).
* BeatEmUp SpinOff: First came ''[[VideoGame/MortalKombatMythologiesSubZero Mortal Kombat Mythologies: Sub-Zero]]'', which fleshed out the origin story of the original Sub-Zero and introduced Sareena, Quan Chi, and Shinnok. Next came ''[[VideoGame/MortalKombatSpecialForces Special Forces]]'', which starred Special Forces agent Jax as he took on the Black Dragon. And most recently, ''[[VideoGame/MortalKombatShaolinMonks Shaolin Monks]]'', where players took control of Liu Kang and Kung Lao as they fight Shang Tsung's forces shortly following the first tournament.
* BladderOfSteel: The earliest installments had ''no pause mechanism whatsoever''. The Start button was used for blocking.
* BloodierAndGorier: Compared to other games in the genre, which was its selling point.
** And of course, each game released is BloodierAndGorier than the last.
* BigBad: Shao Kahn in the first 3 games and ''[=MK9=]'' , Shinnok and Onaga also served this role.
* BigBadDuumvirate: The Deadly Alliance, Shang Tsung and Quan Chi.
* ButtonMashing: The Test Your Might minigame, and later the "Dial-A-Kombo" in any game with the infamous "Run" button.
* CanonForeigner: Since most of the games' appeal involve having the characters killing each other with their Fatalities that when the games were adapted into comics and films, the authors of these adaptations had to create several new characters in order to have the main characters display their Fatalities without killing off any of the canon characters.
* CasualtyInTheRing: Pretty much every variation of this has been presented across of the installments. After all, it's ExactlyWhatItSaysOnTheTin.
* CharacterAlignment: Downplayed; the Bio Cards shown in ''Deception'' and ''Armageddon'' merely label the characters as Good/Neutral/Evil, sans the Lawful/Neutral/Chaotic.
* CharacterRosterGlobalWarming: The series handles this very oddly: every MightyGlacier in the series is a boss and is only playable (barring a few exceptions, such as Goro and Shao Kahn in the [=GameCube=] version of ''Deception'' and its PSP port ''Unchained'') in the [[DreamMatchGame full cast games]].
* ConvectionSchmonvection: Invoked with any lava level (and there are quite a few).
* ColorCodedMultiplayer
* {{Combos}}: While not a major mechanic, combos were made especially easy in the third game with the Run Mechanic. Several games have a strict Dial-A-Combo system. ''Mortal Kombat'' is also the series that introduced juggling to fighting games.
* ComicBookTime: Surprisingly averted (for a while, anyway). Most title in the series is actually set in the year the [[CapcomSequelStagnation final revision of each game]] was released, seeing as ''Deadly Alliance'' (2002) is stated to occur a full decade after the events of the first ''Mortal Kombat'' (1992). ''Deception'' and ''Armageddon'', however, take place immediately after ''DA'', whereas ''[=MK9=]'' is a [[AlternateContinuity second]] [[ContinuityReboot timeline]] which returns to the time of the original trilogy.
* TheComputerIsACheatingBastard: One of the reasons ''Mortal Kombat'' especially does not really stand up today is that the computer has [[PerfectPlayAI godly reflexes and is able to block nearly everything you throw at it]] while throwing all the special moves at you before you can block. ''Mortal Kombat II'' at least is a little more broken in ''your'' favor.
* CrapsackWorld: Outworld, obviously as explained in DeathWorld below, but really the entire multiverse counts. As presented in ''VideoGame/MortalKombatDeception''... There's a LawfulStupid realm that basically runs on perpetual tyranny. There's a ChaoticStupid realm where people do whatever they feel like, which is usually "murder each other for fun". There's the Netherrealm which is basically Hell, [[DevilButNoGod but there's no Heaven]]. There are gods who are more or less benevolent, [[TheGodsMustBeLazy except that you can't count on them for anything]]. It really doesn't even matter if you're good or evil in the end anyway as it seems that once you die any demon, sorcerer, emperor, or god that wants can come along and [[YourSoulIsMine just take your immortal soul]] and there's nothing you can do about it.
* DarkerAndEdgier: It seems like, with every installment series, (except for [[VideoGame/MortalKombatVsDCUniverse the crossover with DC]]) they go with this:
** ''[=MK4=]'' removed Babalities and Friendships, and included armed combat and fatality cinematics.
** ''Deadly Alliance'', with Shang Tsung & Quan Chi murdering Liu Kang in the ''opening'' cutscene.
** The ''Deadly Alliance''/''Deception''/''Armageddon'' trilogy added more and more graphic death scenes, (in ''Armageddon'', the player must "build" the Fatality).
** Finally, ''VideoGame/MortalKombat9'' added the X-Ray Moves, and the Fatalities and Stage Fatalities are more graphic.
** And from the look of things, ''VideoGame/MortalKombatX'' will push up the ante even further from the previous one. The X-Rays and Fatalities revealed so far don't pull any punches with the gore and shock factor.
** Also, ''[[WebVideo/MortalKombatRebirth Rebirth]]'', which is the director's way of pitching his idea for a new film to Warner Bros.
* DeathByCameo: The creators tended to do cameos in the games as severed heads on spikes. Their names also appeared on headstones.
* DeathWorld: Outworld, and any realm that gets merged with it. The dominant biomes are {{Mordor}}, ShiftingSandLand, and [[DontGoInTheWoods Evil Forest]], and every single one of them [[SceneryGorn is perpetually littered with muilated corpses]]. Further, anyone not a part of the Emperor's inner circle can look forward only to a life of hardship and enslavement, and even those who are a part of Shao Kahn's cadre get punished harshly the first time they screw up (just ask Shang Tsung about that). Luckily Outworld does get a little better over the series, as the heroes beat back Kahn's forces.
* DebugRoom: Nearly all games had one.
* DigitizedSprites: A distinguishing feature of the series for the first several games. It were among the first to make this successful, thanks to smooth animation and consistent hitbox detection, two things its imitators usually lacked.
* DivergentCharacterEvolution: Due to using digitized sprites, the cast was expanded by taking the same sprites and re-colorling them to create new characters. Most famously, this was the case for the male ninjas (Scorpion, Sub-Zero, etc.), female ninjas (Kitana, Mileena, etc.), and cyborgs (Sektor, Cyrax etc.). After the series made the jump to 3D, different models were used for those characters further distigushing them. In particular, Reptile, who started off with Scorpion and Sub-Zero's moveset combined, was given his own unique moveset and becoming more reptilian in appearance.
* DontGoInTheWoods: Seriously, do not go for a walk in the forests of Outworld. [[WhenTreesAttack Those trees]] have mouths [[ManEatingPlant for a reason]].
* DragonsUpTheYinYang: All over the place.
* ExposedToTheElements: Just look at all of the fantastic and bizarre locales the cast visits and try to tell us that the [[WalkingShirtlessScene shirtless men]] and [[{{Stripperiffic}} half-naked ladies]] are appropriately dressed.
* FantasyKitchenSink: Ninjas, shaolin monks, cyborgs, gods, aliens, U.S. Special Forces, cops, and actors all beating the ever-loving crap out of each other.
** Interestingly justified in case of Outworld. A myriad of different lifeforms inhabit Outworld, and it was Shao Kahn's lust for conquest that brought them all together. Whenever he defeated a realm in Mortal Kombat, he subsequently annexed that realm (along with the resident population) and merged it with Outworld. So don't be surprised if you see reptilians, insectoids, four-armed humanoids and various other monsters running about Outworld.
* FarEast: The series loves this.
* FinishingMove: Multiple fatalities for each character, brutalities, animalities, and stage-specific fatalities. The friendships and babalities are the LighterAndSofter versions of this.
* FireAndBrimstoneHell: The Netherrealm. ''[=UMK3=]'' even called it "Hell".
* FixedFloorFighting: The first two games, as well as the reboot.
* FollowTheLeader: ''Mortal Kombat'' was the first fighting game series to include {{gorn}} as a main attraction, popularized the Finishing Moves, and digitized sprites. A lot of games that followed either had one of these features or all three.
* FreeFloorFighting: Most of the games starting with the third one, corresponding to the switch into 3D.
* FromBadToWorse: Starting in ''Deadly Alliance''.
* GameplayRoulette: The endless minigame cycles in the 3D entries.
* GenreShift: ''MK'' started out as another tournament fighter in ''Enter the Dragon'' fashion. Then came the second installment, which introduced the battle-for-souls plot that has driven the series since, and then the third installment, which took things in a post-apocalyptic direction.
* TheGodsMustBeLazy: Averted by younger gods like Fujin and Raiden, but the elder gods definitely play this trope straight. They are loathe to interfere in the events of the multiverse. Even when [[GodzillaThreshold their hand is forced]] by [[TheEndOfTheWorldAsWeKnowIt a cataclysmic threat to the multiverse]], they're more likely to institute some roundabout scheme like the Mortal Kombat tournament or Blaze's contest in ''VideoGame/MortalKombatArmageddon'', to keep from having to deal with it themselves.
* GoodIsNotSoft: The various heroes are ''very'' willing to kill if it'll protect their homeworlds from the Forces of Darkness. Most of them are shown to be otherwise morally upstanding, virtuous, and overall likable characters when the fate of the universe isn't at stake.
* {{Gorn}}: Being a series flooded with over-the-top violence, this was expected.
* GoshDangItToHeck: Despite all the violence, ''MK'' has almost little to no swear words uttered at all. So far, Scorpion has indulged in it in ''Shaolin Monks'', which sometimes he'll alter his iconic "Get Over here!" into more profane versions. It's subverted because they (mostly) avoid the phrases where the swears would go, obviating the need for narmy substitute words. Sonya also swears a few times in ''9'', with most of her profanities [[CurseCutShort being somehow interrupted.]] This is averted in ''Mortal Kombat X'', where there is actually quite a bit of profanity, ''especially'' from [[SirSwearsALot Cassie Cage]].
* GreaterScopeVillain: The One Being.
* GuideDangIt: Every SecretCharacter and fatalities in the older games.
* HammeredIntoTheGround: Has been seen throughout the series, especially with Sheeva's Nail Driver fatality which involves her driving her defeated opponent to the ground with her four arms.
* HighlyVisibleNinja: In all the colors of the rainbow.
* HighPressureBlood: Several entries definitely enjoyed seeing blood rocket out of the body.
* HotterAndSexier: The fanservice gradually increased in every game, especially once graphical technology got good enough to the point where real actresses/actors were no longer required to make a decent 3D model. In addition, each game in and of itself would feature alternate costumes that were usually sexier than the defaults. Reached its logical peak in ''9'', featuring [[{{Stripperiffic}} outfits]] that you really ''would'' expect to see in a strip club. This trend was reversed in Mortal Kombat X, which opted for realistic proportions and less revealing outfits. Compare [[DarkActionGirl Mileena]], who has the skimpiest outfit in both games, [[http://mortalkombat.wikia.com/wiki/Mileena/Gallery?file=Mileena_Render.jpg between 9]] [[http://mortalkombat.wikia.com/wiki/Mileena/Gallery?file=Millena_render2015-04-14_13-07-57.png and X]].
* AnIceSuit: Sub-Zero and Frost's outfits.
* IconicLogo: It's hard to imagine a [[DragonsUpTheYinYang Yin Yang Dragon]] without thinking of this series.
* ImpaledWithExtremePrejudice: Anyone who gets knocked into The Pit.
* InevitableTournament: Even after the story progresses beyond the necessity of the tournament, the games still function as one-on-one battles. Also, in order to accomplish anything in the series, a character inevitably has to enter and win -- there's no chance of just sniping the BigBad from fifty feet away, or just fighting until you've killed the guy you're after then quitting while you're ahead, or whatever. [[GameplayAndStorySegregation Some characters actually do just that in the story.]]
* InstantAwesomeJustAddNinja Plus Cybernetics.
* InteractiveNarrator: In the early games, the announcer is Shao Kahn. Understandably, if he beats you, instead of "Shao Kahn wins", he just declares "''I'' win."
* InvisibleToNormals: With the exception of a few key individuals, towns, sects, and organizations scattered the world wide, most of Earthrealm did not know of Outworld's existence (and by proxy, the existence of the other realms) until Shao Kahn's invasion in ''3''. Even so, most Earthrealmers are probably considered {{Muggles}} on the overall scale.
* JigglePhysics: Only present in the ''DA-D-A'' trilogy and ''9'' in any great measure.
* JokerImmunity: ''Every single character'' has it, apparently. Seriously, despite the fact that cruelly killing your opponent in the most brutal ways possible is ''encouraged'' in this series, it's almost ''impossible'' for a character to stay dead, at least plotwise. As far as GameplayAndStorySegregation goes, the two conflict so often that it almost makes the series a contradiction.
* KillEmAll: As revealed at the start of ''[=MK9=]'', roughly 99% of the established characters from ''[=MK1=]''-''Armageddon'' are killed in the Battle of Armageddon. The only ones left alive in the original timeline are Taven, Shinnok and Shao Kahn, who is the one that ultimately wins and dooms the original timeline.
* KissOfDeath: How some of the female combatants finish off opponents.
* LeotardOfPower: Nearly every female character has this as a main or alternate costume.
* LoadsAndLoadsOfCharacters: Armageddon may have placed all the characters together, but even that was only just main characters, with no trace of some more minor characters.
* LudicrousGibs
* MadeOfPlasticine
* MajorInjuryUnderreaction: Characters rarely display more than minor annoyance towards such injuries as broken limbs and being impaled by their opponent's weapons.
* MechanicallyUnusualFighter: Shang Tsung is capable of [[DittoFighter turning into other characters.]] In some games, he can turn into any character at will. In others, he can only turn into his opponent (at least, [[TheComputerIsACheatingBastard when used by a human player]]). In later games, he can also heal himself by taking energy from his opponent.
* MergerOfSouls:
** Shang Tsung's power is said to be derived from his having absorbed the souls of his vanquished opponents. He is dangerous because he is not one opponent, he is thousands.
** Ermac, who is made up of the thousands of souls whose shells died resisting Shao Kahn's rule.
* MonsterModesty: Goro and Kintaro both wear little black briefs and nothing else. Sheeva (depending on the game) either wears a leotard or a ChainmailBikini. Other characters, like the Netherrealm oni Moloch and Drahmin, wear as little as {{loincloth}}s, in the comics Goro's father King Gorbak just wears a cape and a {{loincloth}}.
* MoralGuardians: Hoo boy, did they go apewire over this one.
* {{Mordor}}: Outworld is often depicted like this under Shao Kahn's rule.
* MultipleEndings: For each character. Most of them contradicted each other, to the point where figuring out the official canon is a massive undertaking; to some fans, it's just easier to ignore the endings that contradict one another and see what's left. In the past, all you had to do was go by Liu Kang's ending. But well... he's kinda KilledOffForReal. [[spoiler:Well, he's ''technically'' BackFromTheDead, but he's a mindless zombie slave, so it doesn't really count.]]
* NegativeContinuity
* NiceHat: Some of the ''MK'' cast have some funky headwear, with Raiden's [[AllAsiansWearConicalStrawHats conical Chinese fisherman hat]] being most memorable. Kung Lao's is a special example as ''[=MK2=]'' proved that [[WeaponizedHeadgear it was an outright lethal weapon]].
* {{Ninja}}: Nine males, seven females, four cyborgs at last count. Only one is ''literally'' a ninja, however. The rest just have the look/style.
** McNinja: At noted above, Scorpion is the only ''actual'' ninja, hailing from Japan. The Lin Kuei are not ninjas, since they come from China, and in ''VideoGame/MortalKombatMythologiesSubZero'' they even [[BerserkButton get offended]] at being referred to by that word. The other "ninjas" (Kitana, Mileena, Ermac, etc.) are all from other dimensions where ninjas aren't even a thing, they just happen to use similar stylings.
* NintendoHard
* NoFlowInCGI: At least in the first games.
* NonLethalKO: Averted by fighting game standards: This series ''beats the crap'' out of this with a scythe, then breathes fire on it for good measure.
* OffWithHisHead: A lot of fatalities involve this. Johnny Cage's fatality in the first game can even take off three heads... somehow.
* OurSoulsAreDifferent: If you lose your soul in ''Mortal Kombat'', you're usually dead. Unless you are a fully converted cyborg.
* PaletteSwap: The ninjas, at least initially. Something funny about this is when you use the term for the {{mirror match}}es: in ''Mortal Kombat'', only Sonya had a completely different color set for her mirror match (red instead of the usual green). The other fighters were merely covered in a slightly darker shade, which sometimes makes the difference just that subtle (picture Liu Kang in a time he had neither the MartialArtsHeadband, nor the highlights on his pants).
* PersonalityPowers: Not everyone per se, but there are standout cases, such as [[UnstoppableRage Scorpion]] ([[PlayingWithFire fire]]), [[TheStoic Sub-Zero]] ([[AnIcePerson ice]]), and [[MadeOfEvil Noob Saibot]] ([[CastingAShadow shadow/darkness]]).
* PolygonCeiling: Subverted. The transition was made much more successfully than most other 2D fighting game series. Of course, the ''MK'' fanbase isn't as known for hardcore meta-gaming as some. The game's combo system has changed with just about every 3D incarnation released. In ''Mortal Kombat 9'', the game plays in 2D.
* PowerEchoes
* {{Pun}}: About ninety percent of the Fatalities are puns. Every once in a while, though, you'll receive a few {{stealth pun}}s.
* PurelyAestheticGender: In the early games, while all of the normal attacks looked/were performed the same, moves tended to have slightly different effects for each character. Also, the hitboxes were determined by the poses and body size of the actors who were greenscreened.
* ReallySevenHundredYearsOld: Nearly everyone who isn't from Earthrealm is several centuries old, even if they don't look it. An extreme case are Edenians: Kitana, for instance, is around ''10,000 years old''. And there's her mother Sindel, too.
* [[WorldOfBadass Realms of Badass]]
* [[WorldOfBuxom Realms of Buxom]]: Apparently, UsefulNotes/{{Pettanko}}s don't exist in the ''MK'' universe. This is ''especially'' true [[HotterAndSexier as]] [[FanservicePack of]] ''Deadly Alliance''.
** The only exception is Ferra, who looks more like a kid, and so doesn't have the same... "[[Film/MontyPythonAndTheHolyGrail tracts of land]]" as the other female kombatants. D'Vorah and Jacqui also do not have big breasts.
* ReptilesAreAbhorrent: Reptile and Khameleon subvert this, at least as far as lizard-humanoids are concerned: both are ultimately motivated simply to revive their extinct species, and Khameleon tries to convince Reptile to undergo a HeelFaceTurn in ''Trilogy''. Reptilian traits are used more as a straight example, though; when Reptile especially goes nuts, he becomes more reptilian and less humanoid, and in Kano's ''Armageddon'' ending, when he defeats Blaze, [[spoiler:the Red Dragon Clan's experiments on him seems to finally come to fruition, as he becomes a reptilian black dragon]]. On the snake side of things, Shang Tsung has a [[AnimalMotifs snake motif]]; he has snakes on his robes, he's turned into a snake multiple times, and he even uses Snake-style kung fu.
* RetCanon: Many, from [[Film/MortalKombat the first movie]]:
** Kano went from an American of Japanese descent to Australian by background.
** The requirement of winning 10 Mortal Kombats in order to invade another realm.
** The affection between Liu Kang and Kitana, which was inserted into the games after the success of the first film, starting with ''VideoGame/MortalKombat4'', where [[spoiler:in Liu Kang's ending, Kitana offers him the chance to rule by her side in Edenia and presumably other rewards. He politely declines [[JustForPun in lieu]] of continuing to be Earthrealm's champion. Then Liu Kang gets killed at the beginning of ''Deadly Alliance''. [[YankTheDogsChain Burn.]]]]
** Johnny Cage and Sonya Blade received quite a bit of ShipTease in ''9'', mirroring their interactions in the first film. [[spoiler:It turns out that, over the course ''Mortal Kombat X'' (which reportedly spans 25 years), the two eventually hooked up, settled down, and had a daughter named Cassie. The catch? They divorced at some point.]]
* {{Retcon}}: Some of the characters have had their backstories altered thorough the series:
* RobotHair: The Lin Kuei robots had a set of cables on the back of their heads which resembled pony tails.
* RuleOfCool
* SceneryGorn: The fighting stages.
* SdrawkcabName: Noob Saibot's name is the last names of the series' creators spelled backwards.
* SerialEscalation: The Fatalities get more outrageous with succeeding titles. Not satisfied with simply melting, decapitating and immolating your enemy? How about you scare their souls out of their bodies? Or blow up the earth? Or whack them to death with a bunny rabbit?
* ShiftingSandLand: The desert stage, complete with quicksand.
* ShoutOut: With its [[ShoutOut/MortalKombat own page.]]
* SigilSpam: The sigil of the Elder Gods -- the stylized Asian dragon logo -- is ''everywhere''.
* SkywardScream: The famous TV ad.
* SpeakingSimlish: Most of the fighters tend to belt out odd, usually incomprehensible warcries during attacks, leading to [[{{Mondegreen}} hilarious misinterpretations]] [[http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Vb4pEXK5Gdk on the player's part.]]
* SpontaneousWeaponCreation: The Kori Blade that Sub-Zero uses as his weapon style from ''Deadly Alliance'' onwards is created by Sub-Zero himself using his ice-based powers. Frost, being Sub-Zero's protege, uses the same technique to produce her own ice weapons, though her relative inexperience means that she can only create a pair of small daggers as opposed to Sub-Zero's entire sword.
* ThereIsNoKillLikeOverkill: Some fatalities (like Hotaru's triple NeckSnap in ''Deception'' or Johnny Cage's fatality in ''9'' where he uppercuts his opponent's head off then rips off their torso too) go above and beyond what is required to end the opponent's life for pure showmanship.
* ThighHighBoots: Kitana, Mileena, Jade, Khameleon, Skarlet, Sindel, Tanya, Sareena, Nitara, and Li Mei all wear them at some point.
* TitleDrop: [[RunningGag Several times]].
* UnbreakableWeapons
* UnexpectedGameplayChange: Several games in the series contain the old arcade shooter ''VideoGame/{{Galaga}}'' as a hidden minigame, unlocked after an unfeasibly large number of versus matches.
** The game-within-a-game modes in ''Deception'' (Chess Kombat and Puzzle Kombat) and ''Armageddon'' (Motor Kombat) may also be this.
* UnwillingRoboticisation: Smoke in ''3'', [[spoiler:Sub-Zero (the younger one, Kuai Liang)]] in the 2011 game. It's implied to have happened to other Lin Kuei as well, given the wide scope of their automation program.
* VictoryPose
* {{Video Game Cruelty|Potential}}: It was the whole purpose behind the Finishing Moves and the success of the series. You already won the match, but pulling off the finisher was likely the most stressful part of the game.
* WorldWreckingWave
* WrestlerInAllOfUs: It's a good thing to know that if the forces of good and evil ever get bored, they can always go into showbiz and start their own wrestling federation.
* XMeetsY: The overall series design can best be summed up as ''Franchise/{{Stargate|Verse}}'' (and later on ''[[Series/StargateSG1 SG1]]'') meets the {{Wuxia}} genre with ScienceFiction, and horror overtones, and a dusting of ''[[Literature/AGameOfThrones A Game of Thrones]]''.
* XtremeKoolLetterz: Consider the first letter in the second word of the title to be the first of thousands of instances. Some games in the series will replace every single usage of the hard "c" (except in names such as Johnny Cage, titles such as ''[[Series/MortalKombatConquest Conquest]]'', or third party character names such as [[ComicBook/{{Shazam}} Captain Marvel]]) with "k". Most arcade machines have an eternally blinking "Insert Koin" for example.
** According to Creator/SteveRitchie, he came up with "Kombat" specifically [[http://pinside.com/pinball/forum/topic/steve-ritchie-interview-from-2001-i-think because of this.]]
--->'''Steve Ritchie:''' "I made up that name and gave it to Ed Boon. They had 'Mortal' on the white board. I added the word 'Kombat'... Because it was cool."
* YouDontLookLikeYou: A common problem with the character designs for the games as they move from one to the next. Liu Kang and Jax in particular has this pretty bad as they never seem to maintain a consistent appearance.
* YourSizeMayVary: If you've bothered to pay attention to official heights, you'll see that most of them are not accurately conveyed in-universe.
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