A Web Original series directed by Kevin Tancharoen loosely based on his pitch video, Mortal Kombat Rebirth. While the pitch video was more realistic, this series is closer to the source material.Shao Kahn and Shang Tsung are obsessed with ruling over the various realms, and by winning the Mortal Kombat tournament, they can do just that. Earthrealm, the realm that contains Earth, has found itself as an unwitting participant, with only a few humans who understand just what losing the tournament means.It debuted on April 12, 2011, and the series can be watched here.Season 2, which focuses on the actual tournament, was released in 2013. It features Baraka, Ermac, Jax, Johnny Cage, Kano, Kenshi, Kitana, Kung Lao, Liu Kang, Mileena, Quan Chi, Raiden, Scorpion, Shang Tsung, Sonya, Stryker, and Sub-Zero. The trailer can be seen here and all the episodes can be found here.
Likewise, Kano, who in the different games and adaptations ranges from "fairly attractive yet scruffy" to "short-haired, goatee'd neanderthal", is a bona-fide prettyboy. Yes, even with his iconic red eye, which doesn't hurt his looks in the slightest. If anything, it only serves to butch him up a bit.
Inverted with Ermac, who in the games just usually looks like a regular guy with glowing green eyes. Here, he's a greyish, greasy-looking... thing clad in dirty rags with black ooze leaking from his eyes and mouth.
Adaptational Heroism: Bi-Han, aka Sub-Zero. In the games, Bi-Han was a JerkassAnti-Villain at best, who killed anyone his grandmaster told him to, helped Quan Chi kill the four gods who protected Earthrealm, and ended up a willing servant of Shang Tsung, fighting on Outworld's side in the tenth tournament. Even if he wasn't guilty of slaughtering the Shirai Ryu, he was still absolutely a villain. In this series he's an outright hero who did everything he could to stop the fighting between the Lin Kuei and the Shirai Ryu, and was so dedicated to protecting the peace that he didn't seek revenge even after Scorpion murdered his brother. He even fights on the side of Earthrealm in the tournament.
Anachronic Order: As an anthology, the order of the episodes is not neccasrily the order of events. Episodes 4, 5 and 6 predate the others, Episode 9 takes place at least before the first two, etc.
Art Shift: Done during episodes 4 and 5; most of the narration and exposition about Kitana's and Mileena's backstories are done in a minimalistic animated fashion, acting as segues between live-action dialogue and fight scenes.
Badass Beard: Raiden sports a pretty awesome bit of two-tone chin bristle.
Badass in Distress: Sonya in the first two episodes. At least until she gets herself free.
Badass Normal: In keeping with its grittier, less cartoony tone, a lot of the characters who appear do so without their trademark powers from the game. Jax doesn't have his cyber-arms (yet), Sonya lacks her kiss of death, Johnny Cage is without his shadow powers, and Kitana is missing her steel fans. Of particular note is Hanzo Hasashi, the then-future Scorpion, using nothing but a simple rope and kunai to fend off a very true-to-form ElderSub-Zero who is actually Quan Chi in disguise. Hasashi is then killed by Quan Chi to pave the way for his resurrection as Scorpion.
Beard of Sorrow: Liu Kang sports one in Episode 10 of Season 2 when he shows up at the Shaolin temple after brutally killing his girlfriend's murderers.
Bedlam House: Raiden finds himself mistakenly committed to one, after showing up one day.
In a typical fashion for this trope, the people in charge of the asylum don't find it strange that a man of whom they have no record suddenly appears in their courtyard and proceed to hold him, despite the fact that he was never officially committed. He also gets a lobotomy for his trouble.
Berserk Button: Kano presses Jax's when he gloats about how much he enjoyed torturing Sonya. Johnny Cage's get pressed when he inadvertently overhears one of the TV executives who rejected his idea attempting to pitch the exact same idea to another actor. Both cases are immediately followed by the person whose button was pressed delivering a well deserved No-Holds-Barred Beatdown on the person who pressed the button.
Never bring up Liu Kang's dead girlfriend.
Or play/sing "Relax" by Frankie Goes to Hollywood around him.
Cyborgs: Sektor and Cyrax are featured in the final episode of season one.
Darker and Edgier: To the games, at least in terms of character motivation and narrative though obviously not in terms of violence. The black and white morality of the games gets a bit blurry, with heroes who aren't quite as pure as they were in the games. Tragedies that were mentioned but never shown in the games, like the slaughter of the Shirai Ryu, are shown here in gory detail. Interestingly, though, it's actually the other way around compared to the original pitch video for Rebirth which was somehow even darker than this.
Deal with the Devil: Shang Tsung tries to strike one of these with Johnny Cage, promising to get him away from the failure his career has become, though Cage turns him down. He succeeds at striking a deal with Liu Kang, though.
Doing In the Wizard: Many of the characters who possess supernatural powers in the games are, in their first appearances at least, powerless, and fight with pure skill instead. Johnny Cage lacks his shadow powers, Sub-Zero uses only his mundane weapons, and so on. Characters not from Earth still possess powers, however.
Kenshi keeps his telekinetic abilities from the games and at one time he was a simple ronin. However, those powers come from a sword that once belonged to Ermac, who is not of this world, so there's that.
Doomed by Canon: Hanzo Hasashi's family and Hasashi himself have to die in order for Hasashi to be reborn as Scorpion and swear revenge against their killer Quan Chi and Shang Tsung, who made it look like it was Sub-Zero.
False Flag Operation: Quan Chi impersonates the Elder Sub-Zero and slaughters Hanzo Hasashi and the rest of the Shirai Ryu, in order to give Hasashi sufficient motivation to join the Mortal Kombat tournament (that is, revenge on Sub-Zero) upon resurrection as Scorpion.
Far East: The Lin Kuei clan is relocated to Japan for this series, despite the fact even the name is entirely of Chinese origin.note Despite Mortal Kombat's tendency to mishmash Oriental cultures in most areas, putting the Lin Kuei in China is something the normal canon has stuck to.
Genre Shift: Each time the story shifts perspectives to different characters, the genre shifts as well.
Episodes 1 and 2 (Jax/Sonya/Kano) play out like a police action series, similar to 24.
Episode 3 is a biopic depicting the rise, fall and disappearance of martial artist and action star Johnny Cage.
Episodes 4 and 5 (Kitana/Mileena) tell a Fairy Tale in animated form.
Jerk Ass: One of the executives Johnny Cage beat up after he heard they're using another actor for the exact same show they turned him down for. As Johnny Cage walks away, the executive showed his true colors and threatened to make sure Johnny will never get another job again.
Jumping Off the Slippery Slope: Liu Kang does not take the murder of his girlfriend well. In the decade of the Time Skip, he became an alcoholic, misanthropic murderer. This culminates with him defecting to Shang Tsung's side at the end of Season 2.
Nice Hat: Raiden acquires his trademark rice hat at the end of episode 6.
Kung Lao sports his during his first appearance in Season 2.
Nice to the Waiter: Shang Tsung, of all people, is unfailingly polite and courteous when he's not fighting. He blends right in at a local diner, and has a civil conversation and subtle manipulation with Liu Kang.
No-Holds-Barred Beatdown: Liu Kang's bar fight is just brutal. One guy has a tooth ripped from his mouth when he's slammed face first into the edge of a pool table and there's numerous cringe-worthy joint breaks throughout the fight.
No Sell: Liu Kang is temporarily caught off guard by Stryker's taser, but quickly shrugs it off.
Sonya and Jax after they realize the guy Sonya just shot dropped a live bomb.
Jax and Kano are fighting over a gun and accidentally shoot an explosive charge into the ground and their feet.
The asylum orderly after Raiden not only shrugs off the taser, but it actually makes him stronger. Maybe pumping electricity into the god of thunder isn't such a great idea.
Stryker right after he tazes Liu Kang and finds out that he's not going down without a fight. Considering that Stryker is a cop, watching someone stand back up and shrug off a taser after being hit with it for close to a minute, this has to be horrifying.
Polite Villains, Rude Heroes: Shang Tsung and Liu Kang play this straight at the end of Season 2. It makes sense, as Shang Tsung is there to recruit, and the latter has become a misanthropic hitman.
Precision F-Strike: Jax to Stryker about protocol, right before heading off to rescue Sonya. Followed two seconds later by Stryker's own, when he takes Jax's side.
Psycho Psychologist: The guy who runs the asylum Raiden is committed to. While believing a man who thinks he is the God of Thunder might need medical help is not unreasonable, that is no excuse for acting like a total dick to him for the duration, or any of your other patients, mocking his apparent delusions and controlling everyone with violence and intimidation. Not to mention Raiden is locked up in his institution not so much for that, as for magically appearing on the asylum grounds, and they make no effort to inform the authorities of the fact, both of which qualify this as kidnapping.
Rare Guns: One of Kano's Black Dragon thugs pulls out an H&K XM8 in the second episode of season 1...which fires energy balls.
Real After All: Meta version. Based on the Rebirth trailer, many thought that this would entirely forgo the mysticism of the series in favor of scientific, gritty explanations for the series' characters. And the first couple episodes featuring Jax and Sonya back that up, as does most of Johnny Cage's episode, then Shang Tsung shows up at the end and casually stops time.
What the Hell, Hero?: Kung Lao gives Liu Kang a rather pointed one after the latter murders the men who kills his wife and comes seeking guidance and a friend. Kung Lao turns his back on him, which results in their friendship ending and Liu Kang's Face-Heel Turn.