YMMV / Mortal Kombat

See also:

For the video game franchise as a whole:

  • Americans Hate Tingle: The franchise is infamously unpopular in Japan, to the point that none of the games have seen a release there since Mortal Kombat 3 and other Western fighting games were tarred with its brush until Skullgirls came out.note  Reasons vary, from the lack of real work on creating authentic mythology to the series' infamous downward spiral after 3, to generally not being quite as deep or well-designed in terms of gameplay as many Japanese fighters. The heavy focus on gory violence is also often criticized. It's not without a small following, but it doesn't even have a cult classic status out there.
  • Audience-Alienating Premise: Although the series is among the biggest fighting game franchises, the series' heavy emphasis on gory violence and finishers could well turn off many people. There is a reason why the series gained notoriety in the news when it first debuted.
  • Base-Breaking Character:
    • Possibly the most divisive character in the series is Liu Kang. For some he is a charming, gentlemanly figure whose idealism makes a genuinely heroic character in an otherwise Black and Gray Morality world, for some a bland, overly generic Bruce Lee Clone who isn't an adequate lead, and to some, especially in regard to the first game, an utterly annoying high-pitched crier who gets praise he does not deserve. Given his polarizing reception, this is the reason that Scorpion and Sub-Zero receive the most attention. Attempts to "flesh him out" following the Continuity Reboot of 9 have proven equally controversial, especially given his complete Face–Heel Turn in X, after which he becomes The Emperor of the Netherrealm with an eye towards conquest.
    • Others are Quan Chi, Rain, Frost (although these three are Ensemble Darkhorses), Bo' Rai Cho, Sheeva, Drahmin (has a cult following much to Ed Boon's discontent), Mavado, Hotaru, Kira, Kintaro, Kobra, and Jarek (the latter is this since Armageddon).
    • This finally happens to Sub-Zero and Scorpion for different reasons. Scorpion is this partially because he is Ed Boon's favorite and Sub-Zero (Kuai Liang) is this mainly for being an outright good guy (outright good guys tend to be liked much less than characters of other alignments among the MK fandom) unlike his leather pants wearing elder brother (Bi-Han), including the former's contested Cyber form. Also, Scorpion being used to kill the ever loving daylights out of Sub-Zero constantly in promotional trailers to the undying ire of the latter's fans and even some of the former's fans (Kuai Liang also beat him one-on-one in a non-Netherrealm arena making this even worse), his borderline gullibility in the story (including the flanderization of one of the most hated revenge tropes), and his mere inclusion in Injustice finally cemented his status as this. Sub-Zero constantly getting the shaft in promotional works (which is almost all of the time) has caused him to be seen as Scorpion's punching bag and a total loser, despite numerous evidence in-universe to the contrary.
    • Reptile became rather divisive after he went from being a green palette-swap to becoming an actual reptilian creature. Nostalgia Filter may be in play, but there is a camp who believe he would've been better suited to a more human-like appearance.
  • Broken Base: The signature jerky animation style of the series is controversial in the WB Games entries. Some are fine with it, not minding the unrealistic limb movements or even liking it out of Narm Charm, while others thinks it sticks out like a sore thumb in the realistic art style and needs to be done away with. This issue has spilled over to the Injustice series, which NetherRealm has also received complaints of this nature.
  • Creator's Pet:
    • Stryker was this in Mortal Kombat 3, considering the creators thought he would turn into the most popular newcomer but was rejected for being overpowered and out of place in the setting with his buffs in the Updated Re-release earning him more ire. It would not be until Mortal Kombat: Armageddon he would return and it would take Mortal Kombat 9 to rescue him
    • Scorpion. Signs of this began popping up in Injustice: Gods Among Us, when Scorpion was announced as a guest character and was met with almost universal scorn, especially when he was deemed overpowered before a patch fixed his attributes. Then, when Mortal Kombat X rolled around, fans began to notice a disturbing trend in the trailers (as well as those in games before this one) - any featuring both Scorpion and Sub-Zero will almost always end in Sub-Zero being completely beaten down and finished off in a gory fashion by Scorpion. Did we mention that he's currently the mascot for NetherRealm Studios and is Ed Boon's favorite character? That being said, his status as an Ensemble Darkhorse complicates things and makes this very much an issue, as some fans liked him being in Injustice. And even those who dislike him would admit that there are some characters that are worse such as Hsu Hao.
    • Bo' Rai Cho. Ed Boon has stated that he created the Drunken Master believing that fans would find his gross-out humor funny, but, while Bo' Rai Cho is not universally despised, that sentiment has not been shared by many parts of the fanbase. While making him a racer and having a track based on a brewery he owns in Armageddon's Motor Kombat wasn't too displeasing (even though no other post-MK3 got the benefit of such treatment), but the fact that he got to be included the in the Kombat Pack 2 over the objections of fans of other characters (e.g. the story mode only characters (Rain, Baraka, and Sindel), other longtime mainstays last time in MK9's roster, and other cutscene NPCs originally introduced in MKM:SZ, MK4, and MKDA (e.g. Fujin, Sareena, Frost, Li Mei) who were far more requested than Bo' Rai Cho has left some fans bitter.
  • Crossover Ship: Humorously enough, there have been a pieces of fan are that have paired Sub-Zero with Elsa from Frozen, as seen here.
  • Dancing Bear: A lot of people more or less thought of Mortal Kombat as a rather common fighting game that was pretty much popular due to the sheer amounts of over-the-top violence. Fortunately, future games started moving past this.
  • Draco in Leather Pants:
    • Sub-Zero (Bi-Han, the older brother who became Noob Saibot from 2 onward).
    • Shang Tsung after his rejuvenation.
    • Invoked for Kano with the song Kano (Use Your Might) by The Immortals.
      You are wanted, and you're haunted.
      You're the Bad Guy, but I feel for you.
      You're the danger, a fallen angel.
      But I like you, you're the strongest of the all.
    • Shao Kahn, who even wears a kilt instead of pants.
  • Evil Is Cool: The more villainous or morally questionable characters tend to get many fans with Shao Kahn, Kano, Bi-Han (especially as Noob Saibot) and Goro being the most notable. Likewise, those who find Liu Kang actually a bland or boring protagonist is usually more pleased and liking him better when he went full on evil in X.
  • Evil Is Sexy: Every villainess (whether temporary or not). Mileena should be an exception, but she instead has garnered an astonishing number of admirers. Shao Kahn is also considered to be this by both sides of the fandom. (As long as her veil and his helmet respectively stay on, of course). Even in Mortal Kombat X, which toned down its Fanservice considerably, the villainesses still wear skimpier outfits than the heroines. This is particularly invoked with Kitana, whose outfit as a revanant is notably skimpier than her default outfit.
  • Fandom Rivalry: There are two groups of Mortal Kombat fans in their regards to Street Fighter — those who hate it because it's not Mortal Kombat, and those who want the series to cross over some day.
  • Friendly Fandoms: With Killer Instinct (both franchises share a lot of similarities and were both groundbreaking at their time), Injustice: Gods Among Us (also created by NetherRealm Studios, and for the previous crossover with DC) and to a lesser extent the DC Universe for the prior-mentioned work.
  • Fountain of Memes: Shao Kahn in MKII and MK3/UMK3. The fact that he was voiced by Steve Ritchie helps.
  • Game-Breaker: Various characters at various points, which is why the series has never been particularly popular for Tournament Play. In some of the games, the bosses are available for use, but, keeping with a general rule for Fighting Games, playing as them is nothing more than an easy way to get people to stop playing with you.
  • Growing the Beard: Fans generally are well aware that the series was made famous just because of the blood and gore, but the present fanbase will usually cite a few different games where it started to have more depth.
  • Internet Backdraft: Jade's ethnicity. Fellow Edenians Kitana, Sindel, Jerrod, Rain and (especially) Tanya should also be subject to this, but because Jade has noticeably darker skin, she tends to get the most attention of all during the arguments. Any time Jade is brought up in a discussion online, the speculation for her race/ethnicity ranges from Black, to Latina, to Indian, to Middle Eastern, to Southeast Asian. Most tend to lean on "Black."
  • Memetic Mutation:
    • "FATALITY"
    • "GET OVER HERE!"
    • "TOASTY!"
    • It's pretty common for fights among friends to begin with one of them shouting "MORTAL KOOOOOMBAT!!!" like the intro to the famous theme song.
    • "Friendship. Friendship again?"explanation 
    • The trend of ending words with "-ality", essentially turning anything in Real Life into a gory, MK-style finisher.
    • A common fan-coined phrase in regards to characters coming Back from the Dead at the drop of a hat: "Nobody stays dead in Mortal Kombat."
    • Almost anything coming out from Shao Kahn in the second and the third game qualifies.
    • Combining Baraka and Barack Obama into "Baraka Obama", either verbally or artistically.
    • WOOLAY explanation 
    • While the companion album for the first game has become infamous among fans, Sub-Zero's theme, "Chinese Ninja Warrior" in particular has gained a notable amount of notoriety. This was increased by Kuai Liang's appearance as a DLC character in Injustice 2, with streamers such as Maximillian Dood and even NetherRealm Studios acknowledging it.
    • Liu KangryExplanation 
  • Memetic Troll: Quan Chi has this status since Mortal Kombat 4, thanks to his Magnificent Bastard qualities.
  • Mondegreen:
    • The first few games, despite being full of sampled speech, predate an era where sampled speech didn't sound like arse. Thus, a lot of things don't sound like they're meant to. Such as mishearing "Toasty!" as "Whoopie!"
    • Raiden got a lot of this thanks to his Torpedo move, wherein he screams with one of two difficult to understand lines. It was eventually clarified by John Tobias (around the time of MK2) that Raiden's speech is gibberishnote , but before that there was a lot of fan speculation, with some jokingly suggesting that it was mangled English, as follows:
    "Get back in the kar!!"
    "Your momma's from L.AAAAAA!"
    • Mortal Kombat 4 is considered as the game with multiple gibberishes cranked Up to Eleven. Also from the same game we got the ever campy "I'M SO GAAAAAAAY!" quote from Jarek in the endings he appears.
  • Most Annoying Sound: Liu Kang's voice, especially in the original game.
  • Most Wonderful Sound: The satisfying *TWHACK* of a well-placed uppercut, "FINISH HIM/HER!!", Scorpion's "GET OVER HERE!", and of kourse, "FATALITY."
  • Nostalgia Filter: This is especially evident in the most of the fandom's sheer hatred of 90% of everything that came out in between Ultimate Mortal Kombat 3/Mortal Kombat Trilogy and Mortal Kombat 9.
  • Porting Disaster:
    • Mortal Kombat Trilogy for Game.com is a lousy port crippled by grainy graphics that tend to blend into the backgrounds, combined with a single digit framerate, the inexplicable absence of Scorpion and Sub Zero (in fact, it only has 13 characters, counting the bossesnote  and two secret charactersnote ), a heavily simplified moveset that reduces the gameplay to button mashing with bizarre physics, and no music whatsoever, with only sporadic, lousy sound effects accompanying the action.
    • Mortal Kombat Advance is a notoriously bad port of Ultimate Mortal Kombat 3 for Game Boy Advance. Tinny music, primitive-looking sprites, AI that's either too easy or too diabolical depending on the opponent (which sometimes resulted in getting the hardest character as your first opponent), collision detection that can't tell if you're next to the opponent or on the other side of the arena, and sluggish, unresponsive controls. Infamously, it was the first game that EGM gave the dishonor of earning a 0 out of 10.
  • Rated M for Money: Either the Trope Maker or the Trope Codifier, depending on whom you ask. It probably helps that the controversy played a part in the ESRB's creation.
  • Squick: Besides the ubiquitous gore, Reptile's nature as an acid-spitting lizard man that eats people tends to lean toward this sort of thing. Taken Up to Eleven in the Rebirth pilot.
  • They Wasted a Perfectly Good Character: Bi-Han. Though he had his story fleshed out in Mortal Kombat Mythologies: Sub-Zero, not really much is done with him after he becomes Noob Saibot, other than his plans for power and the fact that he's the younger Sub-Zero's brother. One would think that the biggest aspect of his character, namely his rivalry with Scorpion, would be addressed since they are both wraiths working for Quan Chi that hate each other's guts. Sadly, in both timelines, this is never even brought up, with the reboot even kicking Noob into a Soulnado so that he won't come up in the storyline again.
  • Ultimate Showdown of Ultimate Destiny: Courtesy of Proxicide.
  • Unpopular Popular Character: While liked by fans, Johnny Cage is disliked in-universe by fellow heroes Stryker and Cyrax. Even Raiden expresses annoyance with him in 9.
  • Vanilla Protagonist:
    • In both moveset and storyline, Liu Kang was designed to be the simplest character. Up until Deadly Alliance, his main plotline was winning the Mortal Kombat tournament canonically and not much else.
    • Taven in Armageddon. His main storyline is basically stopping the titular battle royale.

For the first movie:

  • Adaptation Displacement:
    • The theme song is one thing a lot of people know about the series, but it's never played in any games. It only appears in the movie.
    • The Sega CD version of the first game, released two years before the movie, had a version of the theme song on its opening. Both versions were available in a CD single sometime before the release of the movie. That's another layer of displacement.
    • Even the famous title scream gets this. It actually first popped up in the Mortal Monday commercials for the console ports of MK1.
  • Awesome Music:
  • Big-Lipped Alligator Moment: The fight against Reptile, added to the movie in the last minute. Without explanation, the CG critter Reptile fuses with a statue he was kicked inside to take an appearance similar as in the games, and have a long fight sequence with Liu Kang. It's never mentioned again. Supposedly, it's because test audiences wanted more fights, so they went back to do some re-shooting. It's also why Johnny disappears during the course of the fight: Linden Ashby wasn't actually there for the additional filming. While the scene itself might seem out of place, the fight itself is praised by some fans as being the best in the film. There was also at least some foreshadowing for Reptile having a fight scene later on because early in the film, Shang Tsung is there to give Reptile orders to watch Kitana and keep her away from the main characters.
  • Complete Monster: Shang Tsung is an Evil Sorcerer who drains the souls of his victims and seeks to destroy Earthrealm for Shao Kahn, Emperor of Outworld. Starting the film by killing hero Liu Kang's younger brother and draining his soul, Shang Tsung manipulates the heroes into joining Mortal Kombat so he can see a victory for his side and finally see humanity destroyed. During his tenure as tournament grandmaster, Shang Tsung frequently drains the souls of defeated fighters, even still-living men from his own side, that he absorbs into himself, the souls suffering perpetual torment. When he realizes he may lose the tournament, Shang Tsung proves himself a dishonorable coward by doing everything he can to avoid fighting Liu Kang and trying to challenge weaker fighters in his place before relying on using Liu Kang's brother's form to try to break him mentally.
  • Critical Dissonance: Although it got mixed reviews from critics, the movie received praise from fans and casual moviegoers alike, and it is seen today as the best aversion of Video-Game Movies Suck. The film was also a commercial hit, enjoying a three week run as the number one grossing movie at the box office and the soundtrack charted in the Top 10 of the Billboard album charts, going platinum in 10 days. This led to a sequel — Mortal Kombat: Annihilation — which did not achieve the same acclaim or success. Because of this film's success, elements of its story eventually became woven into the canon of the games.
  • Ear Worm: Doo-doo-doo-doo-doo-doo! Doo-doo-doo-do-do-doo! Doo-doo-do-do-doo-doo! MOR-TAL KOMBAAAAT!
  • Ensemble Darkhorse:
    • Linden Ashby as Johnny Cage.
    • Trevor Goddard as Kano. His performance was generally well received by fans and even the creators of the games loved his portayal so much Kano was actually changed from a Japanese-American with little character and no hair to an Australian-born thug with a full head of it (and a wicked widow's peak, to boot).
    • Christopher Lambert as Raiden was really entertaining, too.
    • Reptile too. His fight with Liu Kang might have been weird and out of nowhere, but many of the movie's fans have said it was actually the best fight in the whole movie; even better than the final fight!
  • Foe Yay:
    • This can pretty much be seen as how Kano views his little rivalry with Sonya. His dialogue throughout the movie about her pretty much casts any doubt of this:
    "She's here, right on time! I LOVE punctuality in a woman!" (smiles)
    "Maybe Sonya and I should share a cabin, have our own little honeymoon cruise."
    "Ello baby, did chu miss me?"
    • Shang Tsung to Sonya, big time. He's constantly flirting with her, complimenting her looks and saying he has "great plans" for her, and her Go-Go Enslavement look after being "challenged" by him speaks volumes.
  • Fridge Horror: After telling Johnny Cage about the tournament, "Master Boyd" is revealed to be Shang Tsung in disguise. Shang Tsung can only take the form of people whose soul he has absorbed. Assuming his power works the same way in the movie that it does in the games, he only needs a small portion of their soul to take their form. That said, there's no reason to assume he didn't kill the guy and steal his soul.
  • Genius Bonus: The traditional Kung Fu salute, palm over fist (well, it's palm against fist, but the palm overshadows) represents Peace over Power. Shang Tsung's odd bow before the final battle, fist on top of palm, is meant to represent Power over Peace, reflecting the opposing philosophies of the two characters.
  • Ham and Cheese: Lambert and Ashby seemed to know exactly what kind of film they signed on for and spent the entire time tossing the comedy ball back and forth.
  • Hilarious in Hindsight:
    • The "Real ninjas wear Nikes" meme takes on a whole new meaning due to an entry under Special Effect Failure, below.
    • The Belligerent Sexual Tension between Johnny and Sonya rides the line between this and Harsher in Hindsight come Mortal Kombat X - they're just as belligerent as ex-spouses. The custody battle over Cassie must have been ugly.
    • Likewise, a section in the theme song where it sounds like Liu Kang and Johnny Cage are arguing and about to fight? Yeah, come Mortal Kombat 9 where Liu Kang's dead and corrupted and Cage has become the reluctant champion of Raiden and Earthrealm?
    • In Evil Con Carne, Hector let Boskov get Cod Commando. Hector told Boskov to finish him. Goro and Boskov's vocal effects were both done by Frank Welker.
  • Memetic Mutation:
    "Those were $500 sunglasses, asshole!"
  • Narm: If some fights are awesome, then the Liu Kang vs. Reptile fight scene is hilarious (especially when Liu Kang does the Bicycle Kick to finish Reptile, rotating him for 360 degrees in slow-motion).
    • Another example is (or can be) Art Lean's death. Sonya lets out a huge NO as if one of her best friends is getting killed (like Johnny Cage, who is justified in his screams for this reason). But she had one scene with Art where she didn't even talk to him. To see her screaming for Art's death when her reaction to other deaths (including one she caused) has been "meh" can be funny.
  • Signature Scene:
    • Johnny's fight with Goro, particularly the Groin Attack and the "$500 Sunglasses" one-liner. Also counts due to Frank Welker's amazing vocal effects.
    • Liu's fight with Reptile.
  • Special Effect Failure:
    • Instead of regular ninja-esque tabi, Scorpion can be seen wearing what look like hiking boots during his fight with Johnny Cage. And in a bit of Freeze Frame Failure, If you pause the movie while Reptile's doubled over from Liu Kang kicking him over a banister, you can make out a Nike swoosh on the soles of his feet.
    • Reptile's lizard form is a very obvious CG creature. Especially painful when compared with Goro (see below). This was mostly due to Reptile being added at the last minute because test audiences felt like there weren't enough fight scenes. Ultimately, that paid off since Liu Kang's fight with Reptile was considered one of the best parts of the movie.
  • Tear Jerker: When Liu says goodbye to Chan after defeating Shang Tsung.
  • Video-Game Movies Suck: Generally seen as an aversion. It helps that it was based on a game that was based on one of the greatest martial arts movies ever, so they had a good framework to work with. The follow-up Mortal Kombat: Annihilation, unfortunately, hits this hard enough to leave a smoking crater.
  • Visual Effects of Awesome: While not as great as other effects spectacles, it does have some decent effects, especially compared to its sequel. Goro, especially, stands out as a very detailed and well-done animatronic; you can see the behind the scenes creation of the 120 lb. suit here.