YMMV: Mortal Kombat

See also:


  • Americans Hate Tingle: The franchise is infamously unpopular in Japan, not only for the extreme violence and dark nature, but also for its very frequent wishy-washy East Asian nature, to the point none of the games have seen a release there since Mortal Kombat 3. It also caused many other Western fighting games to be considered as such, until Skull Girls came out (the Animesque and Kawaisa tropes may have had a major hand in Skull Girls's popularity with Japanese gamers). It's not without a small following, but it doesn't even have a cult classic status out there.
  • Base Breaker: 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 and 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 the reason that Scorpion and Sub-Zero receive the most attention of the franchise. Though by now it seems that the ninjas' ensemble darkhorse status is wearing off (especially Scorpion).
    • Apparently Netherrealm Studios must have taken notice of this and they 'flesh out' Liu Kang in the reboot... which broke even further base. Say what you will about him being bland, overly generic good guy attitude, Liu Kang has always been a heroic character and some fans appreciate that very much that they think it's one of the things that define him. In the reboot, at first it's not so bad, where Liu Kang gets disillusioned with Raiden's blunders, he still tried to protect his homeland. Come X, however, he's revived as a Revenant and not only he's taking his anger to Raiden up notch, he's also seen to be more in touch with his darker desires and looks like thinking Evil Feels Good and with or without Quan Chi and Shinnok's influence, he seems to be interested in becoming an Evil Overlord that conquers all realm, with nothing about his heroic side ever surfacing, like it's completely obliterated. Thus the base broke further: Do they like this new direction of Liu Kang, citing that he's a lot more colorful than bland and more in-line with the Black and Gray Morality world it's set in, or do they dislike this treatment, citing that it's a complete slap in the face for those who grew up liking the heroic and honorable Liu Kang, that he should at least show honor even in death, like a Noble Demon?
    • Other Base Breakers 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, 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.
      • Mortal Kombat X made Sub-Zero much less base-breaking by making him more of a Stealth Mentor to Cassie Cage's group, coming to the group's rescue later on, and going so far as to start off fresh with the Shirai Ryu, including Scorpion. With Scorpion himself it's hard to tell if it's less base-breaking or not, as he's gotten more fans this time around by being the surrogate father of Takeda, reforming the Shirai Ryu, and toning down his vengeful nature, but he's also gotten more haters because him finally getting his much deserved revenge became known as his unambiguously biggest dick move to date, not to mention that it ended up having Shinnok freed. What exactly was this dick move you say? Killing Quan Chi before the sorcerer could have been used to restore the other revenants back to life in spite of being told as such beforehand (said revenants being everyone who was killed by Sindel back in Mortal Kombat 9 including Sindel herself with the exception of the restored Kuai Liang, himself, and Jax). Now it's gotten to the point where many are accusing Ed Boon of kicking his favoritism of Scorpion into overdrive and it's become the wallbanger of MKX.
    • 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.
  • Creator's Pet: Stryker was this in Mortal Kombat 3.
    • It's safe to say that Scorpion might become this for the franchise on the whole. 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 Netherealm 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.
  • 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.
  • 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 by about 1000%, the villainesses still wear skimpier outfits than the heroines.
  • 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.
  • Freud Was Right: In the movie, Scorpion's Rope and Kunai is replaced with something similar but more "organic" in appearance.
  • 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.
  • Memetic Mutation:
    • "FINISH HIM!"
    • "FATALITY"
    • "GET OVER HERE!"
    • "FLAWLESS VICTORY"
    • "TOASTY!"
    • "Friendship. Friendship again?". The "Friendship" one originates from a finishing move that karried through from MK2 to MK3 and Ultimate MK3. For "Friendship", the winning player would usually "spare" the losing player's life in exchange for some wacky kut-scene playing in the background. Thus, the announcer (Shao Kahn), upset that the player did not "finish him" as expected, would say the above phrase. Also, some of us will still say "Superb," or "Excellent", or "Outstanding" the way Shao Kahn says it in the games.
    • Also, 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 
  • 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.
    • 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!"
    • These can sometimes cross the line into awesomeness.
    • 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.
  • Nausea Fuel: It's a series famous for its gore. What did you expect?
  • Nostalgia Filter/They Changed It, Now It Sucks: Some say that it's as bad as the Sonic fandom, and that's saying something. This is especially evident in the fandom's sheer hatred of 90% of everything that came out after Ultimate Mortal Kombat 3/Mortal Kombat Trilogy and excluding Mortal Kombat 9 and X.
  • 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, 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.
  • Most Wonderful Sound: The satisfying *TWHACK* of a well-placed uppercut, "FINISH HIM!!", Scorpion's "GET OVER HERE!", and of kourse, "FATALITY."
  • The Scrappy: The Elder Gods, especially so in Mortal Kombat 9. Looks like Charmed is not the only universe in which the Elders are dicks.
    • Sindel in Mortal Kombat 9 after casually killing off Kurtis Stryker, Jax, Cyborg Sub-Zero, Smoke, Jade, Kitana, and Kabal, forcing Nightwolf into a Taking You with Me gambit, and leaving a battered Johnny Cage, Raiden and Sonya the only survivors.
    • Other Scrappies within the series are Meat, Mokap, Hsu Hao (even the creators hate him), Moloch, Darrius, and Dairou. Stryker and Nightwolf were this before getting rescued in the same game they were killed off in, while Jarek, Mavado, Drahmin, Shujinko (as of Mortal Kombat X), Hotaru, Kira and Kobra are more of Base Breakers.
    • Rescued from Entering the Scrappy Heap: Post Mortal Kombat (2011), Scorpion of all people was veering dangerously close to entering the Scrappy Heap of MK thanks to an unlikable personality (bordering on boring with the flanderization of his Revenge Before Reason trait) his lackluster moveset and his Wolverine Publicity status, among other things. The comics first, and the games latter, fleshed out his personality in a good way, with his revenge quest being toned down after being brought back as a human and taking Takeda under his guidance in a Teacher-Student relationship, better moves in all of his three variations, and the scene where he killed Quan Chi was among the most satisfying scenes of the entire game. He's not safe for long however, thanks to his near-omnipresent presence in the online gaming community, and the scene in which he killed Quan Chi was so egregious aside of finally doing the sorcerer in that it became a wallbanger.
  • 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: Johnny Cage. While liked by fans (especially after Mortal Kombat 9), he's disliked in-universe by fellow heroes Stryker and Cyrax. Even Raiden expresses annoyance with him in 9.
    • This gets even more played up and zigzagged in MKX: in the time between 9 and X, Johnny becomes Earthrealm's champion due to Liu Kang's death, and defeated Shinnok. His daughter Cassie is also arguably the main hero character of the story, and yet despite all this many of the characters still express annoyance and disrespect towards him. This is mostly through the match intro dialogue, while in the story mode Johnny is usually given more respect, even if begrudgingly.
  • 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 also fullifuls this trope. His main storyline is basically stopping the titular battle royale.

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 MK 1.
  • Awesome Music: Besides the main theme, there's the remix of said theme by Utah Saints, the instrumental version of "Control" that plays while Liu Kang and Reptile are fighting, "Halycon and On and On"... and that's just the tip of the iceberg.
  • 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.
  • 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.
    • More so however for 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 to an Australlian-born thug.
    • 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.
  • Hilarious in Hindsight: The "Real ninjas wear Nikes" meme takes on a whole new meaning now. See Special Effect Failure below.
  • Memetic Mutation:
    "Those were $500 sunglasses, asshole!"
  • 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.
  • Tear Jerker: I can't be the only one that shed a tear when Liu said goodbye to Chan after defeating Shang Tsung.
  • Video Game Movies Suck: Generally seen as an aversion, or at least a Guilty Pleasure. 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 trope 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.