The sixth member of his family to bear the mantle of Sub-Zero, the warrior has become an active defender of Earthrealm from the forces of Outworld. A powerful Cryomancer able to create and manipulate ice at will, Sub-Zero became the Grandmaster of the Lin Kuei, aiming to rebuild it as a force for good in the world. His real name is Kuai Liang.
Taking the name Sub-Zero after the death of his elder brother Bi-Han, the Lin Kuei sent him and fellow warrior Smoke into to Outworld during the second tournament. Their mission was the same as his fallen elder brother's, to assassinate Shang Tsung. He soon learned of Scorpion's grudge against the recently "revived" Sub-Zero. But when he showed mercy to a defeated foe, Scorpion eventually realized he was in fact his younger brother and spared him his elder's fate. Unable to kill their target but aiding the Earthrealm warriors against Shao Kahn, the duo returned home empty handed.
Unfortunately, the Lin Kuei had acquired technology to enhance their warriors and desired Sub-Zero and Smoke to become cyborg assassins. The two refused and fled for their lives. Sub-Zero managed to escape, but Smoke was captured. He was marked for death whilst his friend was turned into a machine against his will. Smoke, Cyrax and Sektor were sent to eliminate him. When Shao Kahn suddenly invaded Earthrealm and claimed the souls of countless millions, as a chosen warrior he found himself one of the lucky few spared and joined Earthrealm's defense against Kahn. Convincing Smoke he had retained his soul and restoring his humanity the two defeated Cyrax and Sektor. Sub-Zero reprogrammed Cyrax to assassinate Kahn (a task he failed in) but Smoke was captured shortly before Outworld's defeat.
Convincing an enraged Scorpion during Shinnok's war that he had no role in the murder of his clan or family and with Quan Chi revealed as the true culprit the Lin Kuei was finally freed from the specter's vengeance. In the events prior to Deadly Alliance Sub-Zero returned to the Lin Kuei and defeated Sektor for the leadership of the clan, claiming the power-enhancing "Dragon Medallion" in the process. Vowing to reform the group into a force for good. When the "Deadly Alliance" struck he saw it as an opportunity to show the clan in a new light. Taking his new apprentice Frost with him, he aimed to aid Raiden's forces against the new threat. However, Frost's ambitions caused her to betray Sub-Zero, attempting to steal the Dragon Medallion from her master. Unable to handle its raw power, Frost was consumed by ice, with Sub-Zero blaming her failings on himself.
In Deception within a tomb in Outworld, he discovered his origins were that of a forgotten race known as Cryomancers. Laying Frost's body to rest and forgiving her treachery he donned an ancient suit of armor within the ruin and headed for an Earthrealm portal. He offered asylum to Sareena for aiding his brother in the past. Sub-Zero then found himself in direct conflict with his fallen sibling Noob Saibot and a reprogrammed Smoke during the events of Armageddon.
In Mortal Kombat 9, the younger Sub-Zero is actively seeking Scorpion for his brother's death, and so heads to Outworld with Smoke to seek him. He is also on the run with Smoke from the Lin Kuei, as they were trying to avoid being turned into cyborg ninja like Cyrax and Sektor before them.
Amplifier Artifact: The Dragon Medallion increases Sub-Zero's freezing powers. It's also the symbol of his status as the new Lin Kuei Grandmaster, and may have been responsible for his apparent age jump in Deadly Alliance. His ancestral Cryomancer armor further boosts his powers.
Badass: He's generally shown to be among the strongest of the heroic characters. Additionally in Mortal Kombat 9 he handily wipes the floor with Scorpion (who bested his brother), and then as a cyborg he thrashes both GORO AND KINTARO at once.
Back-to-Back Badasses: In his MK9 Arcade ending, Raiden tells him the truth about what happened to his and Scorpion's families due to the Lin Kuei. He manages to convince Scorpion of this and they go forth to take on entire armies for vengeance.
BFS: The Kori Blade, his weapon style in Deadly Alliance, Deception, and Armageddon, is a large sword made of ice. In the reboot, he occasionally pulls out an ice sword for combos, but it's much smaller and less intricate.
Breaking the Fourth Wall: If he wins a match in 9 without performing a Fatality, he shoots ice towards the players, freezing the screen.
Mortal Kombat 9 has retconned this, since Sub-Zero's trailer shows both Kuai Liang and Bi-Han being abducted as children in what is clearly East Asia, contradicting the the backstory of the brothers being born to an American and later taken by their father to China.
Cain and Abel: Upon discovering Noob Saibot's identity as his elder brother reincarnated, Noob has been trying to kill him.
Character Development: In the MK1-MKA timeline, he started out as a silent assassin in II, but when the Lin Kuei becomes interested in cybernetics in 3, he splits because he disagrees with the methodology. From there his character evolves greatly and becomes one of the most morally aware characters of the series, even taking over his former clan to lead them in a more righteous direction.
Every Scar Has A Story: Averted. While it's presumably gained during his escape from the Lin Kuei prior to 3, it's never been officially explained. However, Shaolin Monks instead shows Sub-Zero being mistaken for his brother and attacked by Kung Lao (miraculously keeping his eye in the process), but this is most likely non-canon.
Grievous Harm with a Body: His Grandmaster variation in X lets him throw his ice clones around as projectiles and use them as shields.
Spontaneous Weapon Creation: His aforementioned Kori Blade is created by flash-freezing moisture in the air. He learns to make more improvised weaponry in the WB Games canon, such as smaller swords in 9 and hammers in X.
Icy Blue Eyes: A literal sense as his are often a glowing shade of blue. Played straight in MKvs.DCU and Mortal Kombat 9.
Identical Grandson: According to John Vogel, the Sub-Zero who teaches Shujinko in Deception's Konquest Mode is neither Bi-Han nor Kuai Liang, but their ancestor (most likely their father or grandfather given the chronology).
Irony: One of the promos for Deception shows Sub-Zero killing Baraka. In the aftermath of Armageddon? Baraka is the one who kills him.
Legacy Character: The heroic Sub-Zero that has been around for the majority of the series is actually him, the younger brother of the Sub-Zero from MK1, and Sub-Zero has been the family codename in the Lin Kuei since their great-great grandfather.
Redeeming Replacement: At his best, Bi-Han was a dark Anti-Hero, with interpretation of his various deeds arguably placing him as worse. Kuai Liang, on the other hand, is a compassionate (if not realistically pragmatic) hero who spends a great deal of his early appearances trying to prove that he is not his brother.
Meaningful Name: His real name,"Kuai Liang", can translate into "fast ice," or more prosaically, "quick freeze." Considering his abilities and the fact that he's a Chinese Cryomancer, this is likely intentional even in-universe.
Morality Pet: For Sareena, if her Armageddon bio is anything to go by. Not only did she tail Sub-Zero to protect him from harm while he was following Noob and Smoke, but her feelings for him were so strong that even when driven mad and forced to revert back to her demon form did Sareena flee rather than fight him.
The Stoic: Easily the least vocal and most ruthless of the main heroes.
Stone Wall: Doesn't fully conform to this template, but this is a viable applicable of his freezing powers (especially his Ice Clones). The only time Subby has strictly adhered to this was in 4, where most of his other tactics were nerfed, but his turtling game was not.
Technical Pacifist/Reluctant Warrior: Pinballs between the two, but usually stays rooted in the former. He has an aversion to killing, as seen by his story in II (this is also how Scorpion was able to piece together that he was not the same Sub-Zero he killed in the previous tournament, thus beginning his vow to protect the younger Sub-Zero). He even made peace with Scorpion (his brother's killer), froze Frost out of mercy instead of outright killing her, and is currently trying to purify his brother's soul. All bets are off if you're a irredeemable villain, though.
What Happened to the Mouse?: We know that the Sub-Zero bros. were kidnapped by their father and taken to China, leaving behind their mother and a younger sister in America. However, no mention of their family was ever made afterward (aside from a cameo in Kuai Liang's vignette for 9, which detailed said abduction), and their current status (such as whether or not they survived Shao Kahn's invasion) remains unknown. It was widely believed that Frost was this long-lost sister of his, but this was Jossed.
Younger than They Look: The whitening of his hair and hardening of his features in Deadly Alliance made him look older, but he's in his early 40s at most (he was 32 in II).
"You will learn respect."
Princess of the Realm of Edenia, Kitana has been Shao Kahn's step-daughter and personal assassin, and later an important member of the Forces of Light. Her most memorable trait is her ability to wield a pair of steel fans in battle.
Kitana was adopted by Kahn, as an infant, to strengthen his claims to the Edenian throne after he killed its king, Jerrod, and married Jerrod's wife, Queen Sindel, who were Kitana's parents. Kitana grew up dutifully loyal to Shao Kahn, whom she believed was her real father. She grew up to be one of Shao Kahn's personal assassins, alongside her good friend Jade and her evil "sister" Mileena. At some point in Kitana's life, she finally discovered the truth about her real father, Mileena's origins, and how Shao Kahn had conquered her realm. Devastated that her whole life had been a lie, Kitana vowed to overthrow the Emperor and restore Edenia to its former beauty. Kitana's chance finally came during Mortal Kombat II, when Shao Kahn and Shang Tsung lured Earth's heroes into Outworld. Kitana entered the tournament and secretly contacted Earthrealm's heroes, but Mileena discovered her efforts and she was forced to kill her in self defense. Kitana was imprisoned and sentenced to death for killing Mileena, but managed to escape and rejoin her friends from Earth. Kahn sent Jade and Reptile after her, but rather than kill her childhood friend, Jade helped the Princess to defeat and capture Reptile. Then she converted her recently resurrected mother, Sindel, to her cause, and when Liu Kang managed to defeat Kahn had his invasion forces, Kitana and Sindel freed Edenia as well. But there was little time to celebrate, as a new threat presented itself in the form of Shinnok and his grand vizier Quan Chi. They invaded Edenia and imprisoned its legitimate rulers, then Raiden and his comrades come and saved the day. Kitana Offered Liu Kang to rule Edenia by her side, but the monk reluctantly rejected to keep his role as Champion of Earth.
Kitana would later negotiate an uneasy truce between the Centaurians and the Shokans, gaining Goro's trust. The combined armies of Edenians and Shokans, led by Prince Goro and Kitana herself, marched against Outworld's armies a few years later, with much success at first. However, in the decisive moments, Goro was mortally wounded, and the battle ended with a draw. Shortly thereafter, Kitana learned about the demise of both Shao Kahn and Liu Kang at the hands of the Deadly Alliance, and their plan to resurrect the Undead Army of the legendary Dragon King. Unfortunately, the Forces of Light were and the princess killed along the other heroes, only to be revived by Onaga into his mindless slaves.
After the fall of the revived Dragon King, Kitana would gather her Edenian forces once more and prepare to face the Armageddon.
In Mortal Kombat 9, Kitana actually gets involved with the story at an earlier time than the previous games' canon, actually meeting Liu Kang during the events of the first game, resulting in her and Liu Kang becoming much closer than in the previous games.
Ass Kicks You: Her Square Boost in 9. While she's had the attack in her movelist numerous times before (as the Square Wave Punch), here she propels herself through the air rear end-first with a hip drop.
Awful Truth: Shang Tsung, under the orders of Shao Kahn, created clones of her. And then, the latter tells her the whole truth.
Noble Fugitive: She becomes one in both timelines, after being sentenced to death by Shao Khan; she escapes on her own in the original, and is rescued from a public execution in the timeline of 9 by Liu Kang, both versions causing her to join the side of Earthrealm.
Mileena is a clone of Kitana, created by Shang Tsung's sorcery for Shao Kahn, using Tarkatan physiology. Vicious and evil, she despises Kitana, and feels that it is her own right to rule Edenia as Princess in her place.
The Emperor feared if Kitana should ever discover the truth about her past, she'd turn against him. Kahn then ordered his sorcerer Shang Tsung to create an evil, vicious, and loyal clone of Kitana who would take her place. Tsung combined Kitana's essence with a Tarkatan's to achieve this purpose. However, something went wrong and the clone's face deformed into a hideous Tarkatan's mouth. Rather than disposing of her, she was given the name Mileena and introduced as Kitana's twin sister. During Mortal Kombat II, Shao Kahn began to grow suspicious of Kitana and Mileena was ordered to watch over her sister. After finding out that Kitana was indeed conspiring with the Earthrealm warriors, Mileena attacked the princess, but Kitana proved to be the superior fighter and killed her. Damned to the Netherealm, Mileena found herself recruited by the fallen Elder God Shinnok. She served the rogue deity as a spy during Mortal Kombat Trilogy, and then assisted in Shinnok's invasion of Edenia during Mortal Kombat Gold. After Shinnok's defeat, she was again bested by Kitana and secretly locked away in an Edenian prison, perhaps in the hope that she would one day reform.
When the Dragon King, Onaga, returned during Mortal Kombat: Deception and began his own invasion of Edenia, Mileena was freed from her prison by former ally (and possible lover) Baraka. She joined Onaga, and was ordered to pose as Kitana in order to mislead the princess' armies. However, as Mileena began her deception, she also began to consider taking control of the armies for herself. After the fall of Onaga, she used those armies to take over Shao Kahn's fortress during the period before Armageddon, only to surrender it back to Kahn when the former Emperor returned and faced her.
And Your Reward Is Clothes: For completing the Challenge tower, you earn a third alt. costume for her, wearing nothing but bandages covering the naughty parts and nothing else.note It's the same "costume" she wears in her first appearance in the Story mode, in Kitana's chapter It is perhaps worth telling that Ed Boon apparently considers this the "substantialreward" for beating all the difficult challenges.
Back from the Dead: During II, she fought Kitana and lost, badly. Shinnok resurrected her in Ultimate 3.
Death of a Thousand Cuts: In one of her Fatalities, Mileena pulls her sais out and stabs repeatedly her opponent to death. In another, she swallows a bunch of nails, which she then spits at her opponent.
Dragon Ascendant: Strangely, this is a major role she carries in Outworld's hierarchy, according to MK9. She will be the next to succeed Shao Kahn's throne should the emperor fall. Given how immature her mind is, this would place Outworld in a very odd situation to say the least...
Easily Forgiven: As hard as it is to believe, this happens in Kitana's non-canon Arcade Ladder ending from MK9; she and Jade actually forgive Mileena and Kitana accepts her as family, the three eventually ruling Edenia as a benign aristocracy.
In MK9, the big reward for completing the 300 challenges is a "naked with bandages in strategic places" costume for her, which is the same costume she's wearing when she fights Kitana in Kitana's chapter. Oh, and said "strategic places" don't include her face.
Fanservice Pack: Starting in Deception. If skin is to be barred, Mileena will most likely be the front-runner in the pushing the envelope race. She even has a "window" in her panties baring her pubic area entirely in Mortal Kombat 9.
The Fourth Wall Will Not Protect You: If she does not successfully perform a Fatality in 9 after winning, she rips her mask off, leaps towards the camera (even if that's impossible given the arena she's in, like The Pit) and then makes a hideous laugh in the player's face, causing blood to appear on the screen. (This isn't the only example in the game, but it's arguably the most frightening.)
Flanderization: The developers took the aspect of her character having half-Tarkatan teeth and sex appeal and really played it up in MK9...
Stripperiffic: In a series of mostly Stripperiffic characters, her costumes stand out the most—to the point that she actually appeared in a special edition ofPlayboy featuring video game characters, donning her alt. Deceptionoutfit.◊ Luckily, her veil was still on. In Mortal Kombat 9, she even has a "window" on her panties, baring her pubic area. When you think of it though, she has quite a Freudian Excuse to do so: she's likely to wear more revealing and provocative clothing than her "sister" Kitana as a form of compensation for her very, very horrifying face—the lower face at least.
Major Jackson "Jax" Briggs was the first African-American character in the Mortal Kombat series and an archetypical American hero. Leader of the Outer World Investigation Agency (OIA), he is an extremely capable fighter when it comes to protecting Earthrealm. His most prominent traits are his cybernetically-enhanced arms.
Prior the start of the series, Jax was a member of the Special Forces and was dedicated to the dismantling of the Black Dragon Clan. He almost succeeded: after disposing of the rest of their members, Jax faced the clan's leader Kano and beat him in combat. Kano was captured, but the criminal escaped at a later date. Following the events of Mortal Kombat, Briggs went in search of both the escaped Kano and Lt. Sonya Blade. He confronted Johnny Cage about the tournament, but at first didn't believe Cage's claims. However, after receiving a video signal from Sonya herself, he visited Johnny at a commercial shoot with the intent to apologize to Cage for not believing him. Jax found the actor fighting a horde of Tarkatans led by Kintaro; he helped fight off the intruders until the other Earthrealm warriors showed up to help. Afterwards Jax traveled into Outworld to compete in the next tournament along with the Earthrealm warriors in hopes of finding Sonya and Kano. Here, Jax soon came to learn of the Emperor Shao Kahn's plans for Earthrealm. He was successful in freeing Sonya, but not only did Kano escape once more, the Earth government did not believe the Major's warnings. Jax began to prepare for the imminent conflict, and donned himself bionic implants. When Kahn come to Earth, Jackson Briggs was ready for it.
After Shao Kahn's attempt at claiming Earthrealm failed, Jax became the commanding officer of the Outer World Investigation Agency; OIA was not only assigned to explore and map other realms, but were also committed to the destruction of portals that could lead to Earth. After briefly assisting Raiden in the defeat of Shinnok in Edenia, Jax and Sonya found the Lin Kuei cyborg Cyrax, malfunctioning and trapped in a desert. Returning with him to their home base, they restored his humanity and gained a new ally. Years later, trouble would occur again, as not only were agents Kenshi and Cyrax lost in Outworld, but the OIA underground facility was nuked into oblivion by the traitor Hsu Hao. Jax tracked him in Outworld and killed the Red Dragon member. Afterward, he was among the group of warriors who made a final stand against the Deadly Alliance of Shang Tsung and Quan Chi, but was unfortunately killed in the ensuing fight along with the rest of his allies. He, like his friends, was eventually found by Onaga and revived as a mindless drone.
Jax is pretty much the same hardass as always in Mortal Kombat 9, but with a few changes to his story.
All American Face: He even pulls out the American flag and wraps it around him in his MK9 win pose!
Angry Black Man: Before his arm transplant his only power was being a big black man. That and firing energy blasts.
But Not Too Black: Yet another Black character who eventually went through this. Was very dark-skinned starting in Deadly Alliance, with clearly African traits in previous installments. Now, his complexion is that of Dwayne Johnson and his traits are clearly mixed.
Catch Phrase: "Gotcha!" Later installments also add "Oh yeah!" or "Aww yeah!"
Cool Guns: Gets a pretty sweet assault rifle/machine gun from the time of Deadly Alliance to vs. DCU, which is strapped to his back. Appropriately, his main costume in DA and Armageddon comes complete with a Badass Bandolier.
Depending on the Writer: Jax is supposed to be Sonya's level-headed CO and a typical American hero, but this characterization doesn't always stick from game to game. Special Forces and Deadly Alliance made Jax akin to that of a Blaxploitation character. Shaolin Monks and especially vs. DCU show him as very cool-headed and sagely, putting him more in line with his intended personality. On top of that vs. DCU gives him shades of being a Spirited Competitor as well. 9 strays closer to the original trilogy, but also depicts Jax as brash, gung-ho, and gives him a bit of a nasty temper.
Dual Tonfas: Wielded them as a weapon style starting in Deadly Alliance.
Genius Bruiser: A tech wiz. His expertise with computers is almost singlehandedly responsible for the respective Heel-Face Turns of Cyrax in 4/Gold and Cyber Sub-Zero in 9.
In Spite of a Nail: In the original timeline, he voluntarily changed his arms to cybernetic ones in order to be able to better combat the Outworld forces. In the MK9 timeline, Ermac destroyed his human arms, and they had to be replaced with cybernetic ones.
Neck Lift: One of his special moves, that follows with him punching the enemy multiple times.
Nice Hat: Both his regular and alternate outfits from Deadly Alliance and Armageddon sport one.
Nice Job Breaking It, Hero: In his MK9 ending, he uses a new cyber scanner to track down the Big Bad's remaining forces. While in the virtual reality interface, he ends up connecting to the cybernetics in Kano's eye. Jax beats up Kano in cyberspace and traps his consciousness inside the Special Forces mainframe, supposedly trapping him forever. In Kano's ending, it's revealed that after this, he manages to break free as he gains control over all of the Special Forces weapons systems, basically becoming SkyNet.
Pure Energy: He can throw purple energy waves as projectiles in some games.
"I am Baraka, leader of the Tarkata! I fear no one, least of all a human!"
A mean, unforgiving, and unpredictable warrior, Baraka belongs to a race of nomadic mutants called Tarkata, a crossbreed between Netherealm demons and denizens of Outworld. Baraka, like most other members of his race, possesses long blades extending from his forearms that he uses to nasty effects in battle.
In the events leading up to Mortal Kombat II, Baraka led the attack on the Shaolin Temple in Earthrealm, which spurred Liu Kang to seek vengeance in Outworld as predicted by his master, Shao Kahn. During the ensuing tournament, Baraka partnered with Mileena, herself part-Tarkata, to overthrow the Emperor and rule together, but Mileena was murdered and Baraka fleed to the lowlands of Outworld. In the time prior to the events of Mortal Kombat Gold, Baraka encountered the necromancer Quan Chi while wandering through Edenia. Quan Chi offered Baraka a chance to rule the realm at his side if he agreed to join the army of Shinnok. Eager for battle, he readily accepted. Once again Baraka planned to betray his new masters, but after Shinnok was defeated by Liu Kang, his opportunity was lost once again.
After the Deadly Alliance was defeated by the risen Onaga, Baraka and his Tarkata horde joined the Dragon King. After freeing Mileena from her prison, Baraka recruited her to Onaga's ranks. Posing as her sister Kitana, she misdirect the Edenian forces into combat against Baraka's Tarkatan raiding parties, thus giving time to Onaga for him to complete his schemes. However, Mileena gave command of Kitana's army to Bo' Rai Cho, and under his command a lot of Tarkatans warriors where killed, angering Baraka. In the end, Onaga was defeated, Baraka finding himself once more allied with the losing faction.
Ax-Crazy: Perhaps less so than his fellow Tarkata (who are pretty over the edge as a race). He's skilled enough to be their field general and is pretty good about following orders. Shao Kahn in particular considers him a valuable ally to a degree. However in combat he's always in a bloodthirsty frenzy.
Back-to-Back Badasses: Some levels in the challenge tower in 9 are a "hold-the-line" type, where you have to spam a certain move as a character to prevent zombies/Tarkatans from reaching your end of the screen. Baraka stars in one, but back-to-back with Mileena, whom you have to control at the same time.
Bald of Evil: Another trait that seem to be part of his species.
Butter Face: A male example. Has a muscular, saliently sculpted body... but the face is anything but attractive...
Cannibal Clan: According to Jade's ending in Deception, Tarkatans will viciously attack and devour any Tarkatan from foreign tribes. Tanya, being smeared with Tarkatan essence by Jade while standing with Baraka and his horde, learns this the hard way. It's also heavily hinted through the series that Tarkatans aren't afraid of eating regular people as well.
Even Evil Has Standards: His MK Gold ending sees he and the now god Quan Chi conquer Edenia. Baraka is fine and happy, until Quan Chi then murders everybody. Baraka finds this completely insane and calls Quan Chi a madman. Unsurprisingly, Baraka doesn't live long after that.
Eye Scream: His X-Ray move in MK9 has him impale his foe on one blade and use the other to stab their throat, and finally their eye.
Impaled with Extreme Prejudice: In MKII, Baraka could finish his opponents by lifting them with and letting them slide down his blades, while the victim screams and flails about helplessly before expiring.
Jobber: Has a tendency to repeatedly show up during 9's story mode to get beaten up.
The Nose Knows: According to his endings in Deception and 9, all Tarkatans have a really keen sense of smell.
Obfuscating Stupidity: He's a vicious, animalistic monster... and still Shao Kahn's most trusted general. In particular, this is shown well in his MK9 ladder ending. It's revealed that the Shao Kahn he killed was Shang Tsung, who had transformed into the emperor. It seemingly fooled everybody except him. The Tarkatans became Shao Kahn's favored race thanks to his loyalty!
Off with His Head!: A classic Fatality for him is to use one of his blades to cut his opponent's head off in one clean slice. Even his own head, as an Hara-kiri in Deception.
A member of the same Shaolin order as Liu Kang, Kung Lao is the descendant of the Great Kung Lao who defeated Shang Tsung many generations before. His trademark feature is his razor-brimmed hat, which he can throw as a weapon.
Kung Lao is a quiet man who does not advocate violence or conflict. As such, he decided to omit himself from the Mortal Kombat tournament that Liu Kang attended and subsequently won (though this is retconned in 9). Later on, the Shaolin temple was attacked by Outworld monsters and Kung Lao decided that now was the time to act and stepped through the portal to Outworld to fight off the evil alongside Liu Kang. Upon returning from their success in Outworld, Kung Lao attempted to reunite the White Lotus Society, but was derailed when Shao Kahn invaded Earthrealm. Chosen as one of Raiden's protected warriors, he once again left his life of peace to defend Earthrealm from Outworld.
After driving back Shao Kahn's invasion, Kung Lao decided to retire to a solitary existence and led his companions to believe he perished from injury. When word of Shinnok's ambition reaches him along with rumors that Goro, the man who had killed his namesake ancestor, is still living he returns to battle. He encounters Goro but rather than come to blows, the two warriors come to peace and end generations of bitterness. Kung Lao was the first to discover Liu Kang's body following Shang Tsung and Quan Chi's ambush and swears vengeance. He trains himself under the same master as Liu Kang with the hopes that his newfound skill would bring justice. Unfortunately, this was not the case and he would find himself unable to stand against Tsung and was vanquished. He was revived to serve Onaga's goals during Deception but frees his spirit in time to climb the pyramid in Armageddon.
Dressing as the Enemy: According to both Shaolin Monks and 9, Kung Lao disguised himself as one of Shang Tsung's bodyguard to infiltrate the first game's tournament. In the latter, one of Raiden's "hot flashes" tips him off to this, causing the thunder god to berate the monk and force him into battle against Scorpion so that he'd lose and be disqualified.
Everyone Has Standards: While 9 as a whole is Bloodier and Gorier than the rest of the franchise, Ed Boon himself has admitted that his "Jewel Cut" Fatality is brutal even for this game, saying that it was "probably the most painful-looking Fatality ever made." This sentiment is shared by many critics, including Cheat Code Central's Shelby Reiches, who included it among the four worst cinematic scenes in games, commenting: "Every time he does this to a male fighter, I can hardly watch. I try not to fight against Kung Lao anymore."
Faking the Dead: He was apparently killed by Shao Kahn during Trilogy. He survived, but for a time allowed his allies to believe him dead.
Refusal of the Call: Original canon only; in both Shaolin Monks and 9, he decides to disguise himself as a bodyguard and head to the MK tournament anyway (however, the latter gives him a justifiable reason, by having Kung Lao wanting to defeat Goro to avenge his ancestor).
Reincarnation: His MK9 arcade ending reveals that he is The Great Kung Lao reborn in the modern day, which also means he got the chance to redeem his loss against Goro from 500 years ago.
Roaring Rampage of Revenge: He's the first to discover Liu Kang's corpse when Shang Tsung and Quan Chi kill Liu Kang in Deadly Alliance. He doesn't take it well, and trains with Bo' Rai Cho to learn some new tricks to defeat the two. It... doesn't quite work out the way Kung Lao intended.
Ambiguously Brown: Any time Jade is brought up in a discussion online, the speculation for her race/ethnicity ranges from Black, to Latina, to Asian, to Middle Eastern, to Southeast Asian... you get the idea. Most people tend to lean on "Black." Keep in mind that Edenians might not even have those kind of ethnic distinctions in the first place and that Edenia itself has a very Middle Eastern feel (meaning that calling Jade most of the above races are all palpable).
Arch-Enemy: Jade does not take betrayal well. Tanya needs to sleep with one eye open, because Jade is having none of that crap.
But Not Too Black: Her skin tone has always been brown, but in the official art and renders for Mortal Kombat 9 for some reason, she's barely tan. Her MK3 retro skin also qualifies, but this is due to Lazy Artist since that skin is also applied to Mileena, except the clothes are purple.
Cats Are Mean: Her Animality turns her into a cat that attacks the opponent in a vicious clawing flurry.
Groin Attack: The first part of her X-Ray in 9, delivered with her staff from behind.
Fanservice Pack: In Deception. Like the others, it continues on to Armageddon and 9. On top of this, her victory pose in 9 (should the player choose to not perform a Fatality) has Jade doing a pole dance with her staff for everyone's viewing pleasure.
Missed the Call: Jade wanted to aid Kitana and the others during Deadly Alliance, but was a bit late in joining up with them. This actually saved Jade's life in a Slept Through the Apocalypse-esque manner, as she was not slain by the Tarkatan horde and subsequently revived to do Onaga's bidding.
No Sell: In MKII, Jade had complete immunity to projectiles: they simply go right through her. From Ultimate 3 onward, she has a special that allows projectiles to phase through her. Klassic Jade in 9 retains the full invulnerability she possessed back in II.
Non-Indicative Name: Why is the Jade's Desert arena named after her? No explanation has ever been given.
Patriotic Fervor: Heavily implied, at the very least. She's the general of both the Edenian Resistance and the Edenian Freedom Fighters and the bracelets she wears are a symbol of her unshakable loyalty to Edenia. While normally warm and friendly to her allies and loved ones, she most definitely doesn't take kindly to traitors to her homeland, as seen with Rain and (mostprominently) Tanya.
Prim and Proper Bun: Her hairstyle (shared with every other female ninja who existed as of MK3) in MK3.
Race Lift: All over the place. Jade started out as a clearly Black palette swap of Kitana, then was Asian in the movie, before finally settling on the Ambiguously Brown scheme we see above.
Spinning out of Here: In Deception, she gains a move called Vanishing Winds where she spins around a cloud of green smoke and reappears behind her opponent. Kitana and Khameleon would borrow this move in Armageddon.
Third-Person Seductress: This speaks volumes. Apparently, Jade was kind enough to let us know that her BWH measurements are 36-24-36 and that her astrological sign is Scorpio. (This is something of an example of Informed Attractiveness; Video Game Vixens probably shouldn't be counted as canon and while Jade is indeed a curvy beauty, she's neither wasp-waisted nor more buxom than the other females as they all pretty much have the same perfect figure. And as for being a Scorpio, being ten-thousand years old, she was born long before the Western Zodiac system — or the calendar it is based on, for that matter — was established.)
Formerly a deadly Lin Kuei assassin from Prague named Tomas Vrbada, Smoke was forced against his will to become a cyborg assassin. However unlike other warriors converted into killing machines he retained his soul which constantly battles against his programming to assert Smoke's free will.
During the second tournament in Outworld, Smoke was assigned to aid the sixth Sub-Zero in his assassination of Shang Tsung. The mission was unsuccessful but the two did aid the Earthrealm warriors against Shao Khan. Returning home to find the Lin Kuei planned to convert their members into cyborgs, Smoke and Sub-Zero fled to avoid being turned into machines. Unfortunately Smoke was captured and then forcibly made into a cyborg assassin. Sent after his former friend Sub-Zero, he eventually realised he still had a soul and overcame his programming. Despite aiding his ally in Cyrax and Sektor's defeat, Smoke was captured by Shao Kahn's forces.
Taken as a trophy to Outworld, he rotted in Kahn's dungeon deactivated until revived by the evil Noob Saibot to be his ally against his will. Noob intends to use Smoke as a template for a cyber-demonic army. But there have been signs that his true nature remains.
Smoke's story is probably the one which most dramatically changed in Mortal Kombat 9 when compared to his previous incarnation.
Tropes related with Smoke (human) (MKII/UMK3/MKT/MK9)
Leeroy Jenkins: Shows some shades of this in 9. When his friend is captured by the Lin Kuei to be automated, he almost blows his cover, risking his own capture. Later, after Jade defeats Mileena and attempts to contact Raiden, Smoke believes that Jade just knocked out Kitana and challenges her to a battle, despite Jade and Raiden telling him otherwise (given his words, it's likely that he perceived Jade's relationship with Kitana to mirror that of his own with his friend).
Secret Character: In MKII, he required you be at the Portal. Whenever you uppercut, sometimes sound designer Dan Forden appears in the corner saying "Toasty!" If you're on the portal, hit Down and Start at the same time.
Yank the Dog's Chain: Too bad that... 4. He's brutally offed by Sindel. 5. He's resurrected by Quan Chi to serve him in the Netherrealm.
The Worf Effect: A less severe case. In his chapter of Story Mode, he faces off against Kitana and Sektor and triumphs without much difficulty. When they meet again (Kitana and Nightwolf's chapters, respectively), Kitana beats him alongside Cage, and Sektor treats Smoke like a rag doll, with Smoke being unable to successfully land a blow before Sektor gets him into a chokehold and Nightwolf has to intervene.
Bare-Fisted Monk: In Deception and Armageddon, he has no weapon. In Deception, this was because he was a tag team with Noob, but in Armageddon, he doesn't pick up a weapon after Sub-Zero frees him from Noob's control. Instead, he has two unarmed fighting styles, Mi Tzu and Judo.
Cool Mask: His alt. in Deception (later his default costume in Armageddon).
Cybernetics Eat Your Soul: He's the most obvious subversion in the series. His personality and identity are suppressed, but his soul is still intact. However, while Cyrax and Sektor could not be detected by Shao Kahn for their lack of souls, Smoke did, though his couldn't be stolen as he was one of Raiden's chosen warriors, but it went From Bad to Worse for him: even his later reprogramming by Noob Saibot is implied to not be sticking.
Fighting from the Inside: Deception hints that Smoke's good nature has not been entirely suppressed by Noob's programming. In Ashrah's ending, he starts to short-circuit in the Netherrealm, as only demons and truly evil people can remain there unharmed. In Konquest mode, Smoke passes along several messages and plans for Sub-Zero through Shujinko, suggesting that he's acting as a Reverse Mole.
Grey Goo: His nanomachines become this in his Armageddon ending. The realms are, simply put, screwed.
Heel-Face Revolving Door: Good by default, but unwillingly turned evil in 3 and Deception. By Armageddon (or specifically, Konquest mode of that game), he's back on the side of Good, seen with the Forces of Light during the Battle of Armageddon.
Upon dying, Sub-Zero V's soul was corrupted and he became a wraith named Noob Saibot. He lost his ice abilities but gained a new power: the ability to control darkness. Under his new identity, he served Shinnok as the head of the Brotherhood of Shadows for a time. He mainly played the role of observer until Shinnok's apparent demise in 4, which caused the Brotherhood to disband. He made a triumphant return when he nearly killed Goro under the servitude of Shao Kahn during Deadly Alliance, but after Shao Kahn (apparently) died, his role shifted to observer again until Deception, where he finds Smoke in one of Kahn's old prisons. He reactivates Smoke and reprograms him into servitude. He now aspires to enslave the Netherrealm under his iron rule by assembling a new Brotherhood of Shadows.
Noob's storyline in Mortal Kombat 9 is pretty much the same. He serves Quan Chi more readily than in the previous games, but he also hasn't lived the events post-Deadly Alliance, so it remains to be seen if he'll eventually strike out on his own. He is apparently still alive (err... existing) and serving the Netherrealm by the game's end.
Came Back Wrong: As Raiden foretold in Mythologies, the darkness in Sub-Zero's soul corrupted him upon entering the Netherrealm, stripping Sub-Zero of all compassion and moral restraint, turning him into this Humanoid Abomination. This is also what Raiden tries to avoid to happen to him in MK9. Unfortunately, Quan Chi had different ideas.
Drunk on the Dark Side: Mostly because he now lacks any positive qualities he had in life, but Noob most certainly does not lament this change. He instead revels in it, going as far to state in 9 that his new form and allegiance to Quan Chi suits his purpose.
Charlie Brown from Outta Town: His first appearance in Mortal Kombat 9 has him wearing his alt. costume, which is exactly the same as Sub-Zero's alt. (i.e. the same one shown during the island tournament), only black. How Kung Lao, who was present at said tournament, is unable to recognize him is unknown (although he does remark that Noob seems familiar somehow).
Evil Counterpart: To Kuai Liang. Perhaps driven home in 9, where Cyber Sub-Zero notes that they are both corrupted versions of their former selves.
Can also considered to be one to Scorpion. A spectre of a ninja? Check. Killed by his arch-nemesis? Check. Gets resurrected in the Netherrealm? Check. His death and resurrection are result of Quan Chi's manipulations? Check.
Evil Sounds Deep: Subverted in that his voice was already that deep when he was human, perhaps serving as a clue to his character progression.
Fallen Hero: Well "hero" is a stretch. As an Earthrrealm dweller Bi-Han wasn't particularly "nice" or even "good", just a man "earning his living", by his words. We'll say making into Noob Saibot made him a lot nastier than he already was.
Flechette Storm: Used as a Fatality in both 4 and Deception (in the former, it was directly lifted from Reiko) and as a special in both Deception and Armageddon, both via shuriken (the Weapon of Choice for members of the Brotherhood of Shadows).
Foreshadowing: Aside from the hints given in Mythologies, in MK4 he's given his brother's Ice Shatter Fatality, perhaps hinting to The Reveal in Deception.
Half the Man He Used to Be: Both of his Fatalities in 9 involve severing the opponent in two — one horizontally, the other vertically. Additionally, his Deception ending has him and Smoke killing Sub-Zero in a manner not unlike that of his "Make a Wish" Fatality from 9.
In the Hood: In his MK9 incarnation. Also used as an alt. in 4.
Invisibility: Had this ability as a special in Deception and Armageddon.
Irony: He ends up serving the very same forces he fought adamantly against in his past life.
Jobber: Has a tendency to repeatedly show up during 9's story mode to get beaten up.
Kick the Dog: You could say that he does this to all of his former allies, but Smoke and his little brother (who once adored him and originally sought to avenge him) get the short end of the stick. He even tells Cyber Sub-Zero this in 9:
Literal Split Personality: Possibly. In 9, Noob gains an ink-like shadow clone of himself; according to developer notes, this entity is Saibot, while Bi-Han is Noob, the main body and controller of said shadow creature (see Living Shadow above).
Made of Evil: Having been stripped of his humanity, Noob Saibot might just be the most malicious character in the series. At least the other villains choose to be evil; Noob simply is.
Meaningful Name: His name is both "Boon" and "Tobias" spelt backwards, after developers Ed Boon and John Tobias. Note that Tobias leaving Midway has nothing to do with "Saibot" being removed in gameplay for Deception and Armageddon.
Unfortunate Names: The first name may be Boon backwards, but internet forum goers would say otherwise. In some MK games, he was broken enough to fit the name, others just shortened the name. And then, Midway decided to play to the joke by giving Noob a Troll Hammer in Armageddon.
Paint It Black: His body, skin and outfit alike, is pitch black (excluding Deception, where his default costume gives him normal-colored pigmentation; his regular and alt. outfits would be swapped around in Armageddon). Played straighter with his alt. in 9, which is the same as Sub-Zero's alt. in that game (supposed to represent Noob himself while he was still human), only black.
Stronger and more agile than his predecessor, he is enraged by his cousin Goro's defeat. Kintaro vows to take revenge on the earth warriors responsible.
In the second tournament, after learning of Goro's apparent death at the hands of a mere mortal, Kintaro vowed to avenge his cousin and destroy Liu Kang in Mortal Kombat. After a restored Shang Tsung was defeated again yet by Liu Kang, Kintaro then challenged Liu Kang to Mortal Kombat. He ultimately lost just as Goro did.
The Worf Effect: Gets his ass handed to him in every battle he's in in 9's story mode, even though his bio states he became Shao Kahn's bodyguard by slaughtering several Centaurs single-handedly out of sheer grandstanding.
Kick Them While They Are Down: Losing a match to this guy is going to be humiliating even if he doesn't kill you; his non-Fatality winning pose in 9 consists of knocking his opponent into the air, catching him or her by the leg, and then holding the victim aloft by the heel, upside-down.
During an interview Gamepro did with John Tobias, John stated "Even in Mortal Kombat II, we still didn't have all the time to do everything we wanted", citing Kintaro. He says, "I based him on Goro's species, adding different markings, but I was never fully satisfied with the Kintaro character."
Cute Kitten: What happens to him during his MK9 Babality transformation.
"I am Shao Kahn! Konqueror of worlds! You will taste no victory!"
The supreme ruler of Outworld and one of the biggest threats facing Earthrealm, Shao Kahn is one of the most powerful forces in all the realms. The emperor has long been obsessed with the conquest of earth.
Shao Kahn was once The Dragon King Onaga's advisor. Before the Dragon King could obtain immortality, Kahn poisoned him and took his former master's throne. Eventualy going on to conquer countless lesser realms through brute force and Mortal Kombat, he consumed untold souls in his neverending quest for power.
When he took Edenia, a milestone in his campaign, he murdered King Jerrod in battle and took his wife Sindel as his bride. He then raised Jerrod's daughter Kitana as his own and trained her to be his personal bodyguard. Sindel eventually killed herself rather than be his slave but even death would not free her of Shao Kahn; he trapped her soul in Outworld denying her the afterlife. His next target was Earthrealm. He sent Shang Tsung and then Goro to gain enough victories in Mortal Kombat to allow him to freely invade. Despite a 500 year winning streak, Goro was denied the vital tenth victory by Liu Kang, a descendant of the very man who had put an end to Shang Tsung's dominance of the tournament centuries ago. Enraged, Kahn brought Tsung before him to punish him personally. However the sorcerer begged him for another chance, one that the emperor believed might hold the key to undoing five centuries of wasted plans. The plan was to draw Liu Kang and his allies into an Outworld tournament where they would surely die. However, the champion of Mortal Kombat proved too great even for the emperor himself, defeating him personally. Unwilling to accept this, Kahn ordered his forces to kill the Earthrealm force but they managed to escape.
Shao Kahn had one last plan up his sleeve however. Ordering Shang Tsung to complete a plan 10,000 years in the making, his long dead wife Sindel was resurrected, not on Outworld but on Earthrealm. This allowed Kahn to step through the realms to claim her and undermine the safeguards of Mortal Kombat, where he then launched a full invasion of Earth. Consuming countless millions of souls upon entering the realm he sent extermination squads to destroy those possessing souls he could not steal. The chosen few eventually defeated Outworld's forces, with the emperor falling once again to the might of Liu Kang. Shao Kahn was greatly weakened by this defeat and Earthrealm was restored. Much of his so-called loyal soldiers had abandoned him, and Kitana had turned Sindel to her side, restoring Edenia as an independent realm. To make matters worse for Kahn, the Shokan had joined them. When Shang Tsung and Quan Chi came before him to pledge allegiance, it soon became an assassination attempt and seemingly his reign had finally come to a violent end. However Deception revealed the emperor had planted a clone in his stead and restored the mortally wounded Goro with his remaining power regaining the Shokans as allies.
In in the events of Armageddon he would go on to form an uneasy alliance with Quan Chi, Shang Tsung, and Onaga in the hopes of preventing the forces of good from defeating Blaze and then seizing his own opportunity to strike when it came. He eventually succeeds and take's Blaze's power, pretty much killing Raiden.
Avoiding Shao Kahn's causing of Armageddon is the basis of the entire storyline of Mortal Kombat 9.
Actually a Doombot: Remember him getting killed by Shang Tsung and Quan Chi in the beginning of Deadly Alliance? Yeah, neither does he.
Adaptational Attractiveness: Normally, he looks like a monster under his helmet (see Butter Face below). In Annihilation he looks like a regular human being. In Legacy, he's even got a good head of hair!
The Ageless: At least, though it's not clear how he differs from the millions of others in Outworld or Edenia (or, basically, anywhere but Earth). Raiden explicitly refers to him as an immortal in the first film, and the games are somewhat vague on the matter. Several characters do try to kill him but actually doing it seems to be a bitch. However, Raiden, with the help of the Elder Gods may have actually succeeded in killing him at the end of MK9.
He does seem to be the oldest of Outworld's denizens (who seem to be pushing tens of thousands of years), and when he offed Onaga he seemed to shelve the latter's plans of gaining eternal life, suggesting he already had it. His origins have never been explored but it's generally implied that he is not an ordinary citizen of Outworld. The most plausible explanation seems to be that he is a god, or at least some kind of demigod.
In Deception's Konquest mode, Damashi who is the spirtual avatar of Onaga states to Shujinko that Shao Kahn was to Outworld is what Raiden is to Earth. So, he seems to be a god, or was one at any rate.
A God Am I: Worshpipped as such in Outworld and other realms, or expects his subjects to anyway. He is Raiden's opposite number too, which implies he might be the genuine article. Definitely one in Annihilation (and vs. DC Universe), but the less said about that, the better.
In 9, at the end, when he's staring down an Elder God-empowered Raiden, Kahn casually laughs at the deities arrayed against him and announces that he will become the Elder God.
One of the backwards dialogues in Deception's Konquest Mode says that Shao Kahn is part of the same race of beings as Lucifer and Raiden.
Ambition Is Evil: His whole motivation for merging all of the all the realms with Outworld and ruling over everything is based solely on ego and a lust for conquest and power.
The Announcer: In MKII and MK3, to the point that if he wins a round in the latter, he says, "I win."
Badass Cape: Often shown with one in other media, but it wasn't until recently when he started wearing one in the games themselves.
In MK9, his younger self doesn't wear it, but the one from the original timeline does.
The Bad Guy Wins: He ultimately wins after the events of Armageddon; surviving the ascent up the pyramid and follows that by attempting to kill Raiden. This prompts the thunder god to invoke the Timey-Wimey Ball and telepathically send a message to his younger self from the time of Mortal Kombat, warning him of the events to come, before Kahn can strike the killing blow.
Subverted in 9, where this trope actually proves to be the key to Shao Kahn's defeat and the prevention of Armageddon. Raiden's words to his past self ("He must win") actually refer to Shao Kahn; Earthrealm must let Shao Kahn win and merge Outworld with Earthrealm so that the Elder Gods will then punish the emperor for his treachery.
Drop the Hammer: It was his most feared special in MK3 and later became his weapon style in the GameCube version of Deception. Raiden had one too (a War Hammer) for MK4, before it was placed on the top of the Sky Temple. (His favoured weapon's a Staff, which he uses in Deadly Alliance onward even though he supposedly gave it to Kai, canonically.)
In fact, he seems to be big on this. The female characters who are seen chained in the Kahn's Coliseum arena are wearing barely-there bikinis, and given how female Edenian warriors (even ones who are loyal to him) tend to dress, this sort of thing may well be a law he is enforcing. (In fact, when Kitana is officially working on the heroes' side, her outfit is a lot more modest.)
Graceful Loser: It seems that way for 9, seeing as he's the Interactive Narrator, and continues to narrate the characters' endings, no matter whose ending it is (even if the outcome was bad for him).
Hammerspace: Literally in his case. Look closely at the sprites for his hammer attack in MK3 and the move in MK9 and it appears to materialize out of thin air.
I Shall Taunt You: Subverted. He just taunts you because you fight against him in Outworld and you were supposedly stupid enough to want a fight with the big cheese around here. So he assumes that some casual gloating here and there won't hurt since, in his mind, he could swat you away with his index finger. However, in reality, there's nothing calculated behind these taunts and in doing so, he's unable to move or react so he's completely vulnerable to a big combo (this is a major part of beating him in II and 9).
Joker Immunity: Despite II and 3 ending with his apparent death, he survived and even after supposedly being Killed Off for Real in Deadly Alliance he returned. This is somewhat lampshaded in 9 where Raiden states Khan always survives and it will take more than simply defeating him during his invasion he stop him for good.
Killed Off for Real: It's a bit early to say, but judging by the amount of divine intervention that was required at the end of 9's Story Mode in the new continuity, he may finally have met his ultimate defeat.
Large and in Charge: Is depicted as being around the size of Goro and Kintaro; only Onaga is bigger than him.
SNK Boss: Shao Kahn in MK3 and its updates (Trilogy included). While his moveset is exactly the same as in MKII (even his sprites were mostly unchanged, aside from the addition of some new moves, such as his infamous hammer), he is way more Hammer Crazy than in his previous appearance.
Back with a vengeance in MK9, thanks to the ability to negate hit-stun with most of his moves (some of which are unblockable AND stagger), boosted attack and defense power, and inhumanly fast counterattack reactions. True to form of the title of SNK Boss, he is very susceptible to a simplistic attack pattern (he's aggressive to a fault, attacking as much as possible and leaving himself open to being jumped over).
Unholy Matrimony: Took Sindel as his wife after killing King Jerrod and usurping the throne, although Sindel was soon Driven to Suicide afterward. This is more noticeable in 9, when he enthralls the revived, yet brainwashed Sindel to his side, effectively making her his new Dragon. Sindel seemed pretty eager to serve as his right-hand woman. An almost exactly similar situation between the two also played out in Annihilation.
In Mortal Kombat: Legacy, it's stated that he actually fell in love with Sindel himself. However, the series is non-canon.
Victory Is Boring: If he takes over all the Realms in Armageddon, this is his ending. Almost became canon, if it wasn't for Raiden rebooting the franchise before this could happen in MK9.
Given the fact that what happens in 9 is an alternate course of history, it is canon, we just don't see the fallout from what happens when he does.
Villainous Valor: In MK9. Even when the Elder Gods (through Raiden) are telling him quite clearly how he's going to pay for breaking their rules, Kahn just scoffs at them and declares he'll be THE Elder God.