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Main series: MK1 (Part 1 | Part 2) | MK2 | MK3 | MK4 | Deadly Alliance | Deception | Armageddon | MK vs. DC Universe | MK9 | MKX | MK11
Spinoffs: Mythologies: Sub-Zero | Special Forces
Non-videogame: The Movie | Conquest | Defenders of the Realm
Individual Characters: Scorpion | Liu Kang | Raiden | Sub-Zero II | Shao Kahn

Spoilers for Mythologies will be unmarked

For tropes pertaining to Scorpion, Sub-Zero, Kano, Johnny Cage, and Sonya Blade, see Part 1.


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Reptile (Syzoth)
"Your fighting styles are useless."

Debut game: Mortal Kombat (Daniel Pesina)
Other appearances: Mortal Kombat II (Daniel Pesina), Mortal Kombat 3 (John Turk), Mortal Kombat 4 (Dan Forden), Mortal Kombat: Deadly Alliance, Mortal Kombat: Deception (cameo), Mortal Kombat: Shaolin Monks, Mortal Kombat: Armageddon, Mortal Kombat 9,Mortal Kombat X (Steve Blum, English; Eduardo Garza, Latin American Spanish)
Non-game appearances: Mortal Kombat: The Movie (Keith Cooke), Mortal Kombat: Annihilation (Mark Caso/Sultan Uddin), Mortal Kombat: Conquest (Jon Valera), Mortal Kombat: Rebirth (Richard Dorton)

A green-garbed, human-like reptilian creature. Reptile is said to be physically hideous and repulsive, but he is renowned for his great stealth, impressive fighting skills and unquestioning loyalty. Reptile has an obsession about finding the last remaining member of his race, the Saurians, and freeing his homeworld Zaterra from Outworld's grasp; While well-meaning and sincere, this obsession is so important to him that it causes him temporary fits of insanity.

After acting as a stealthy bodyguard to Shang Tsung during the first Mortal Kombat, he returned to his master, Shao Kahn, in order to aid him in the Outworld tournament, under the promise that Kahn would release the remaining members of Reptile's race from slavery if he would unquestioningly do his bidding. Such an opportunity arose During the Earthrealm invasion: he and Jade were to recapture an escaped Kitana, killing her if necessary. He did not succeed, as Jade betrayed him to help Kitana. After the war he was bought to Edenia as prisoner, and subsequently exiled to the Netherealm. Reptile grasped the opportunity to join Shinnok's army, hoping for the rogue Elder God to revive his race. Alas, when he found himself on the losing side once more, he decided to resume his service to Shao Kahn.

Because of his state of separation from the other members of his race, especially his matriarch, Reptile had begun to show signs of devolution, becoming progressively more insane and saurian-like. When Reptile wasn't able to protect his master from the recently formed Deadly Alliance, he went into an even greater madness. Desperately looking for a new master, he eventually came across the vampire Nitara, who shared with him artifacts and knowledges of his lost people, the Zaterran. This was enough to gain Reptile's trust; she send him to fight Cyrax in order to advance her own agenda. Afterward, when Reptile realized that she was going to leave him behind, he tracked her down to an ancient incubating chamber, but she was already gone. All that remained was the almost fully incubated egg of Onaga the Dragon King. The egg hatched, a beam of light struck Reptile as the Saurian's body became the vessel for the reincarnated Onaga.

After the fall of the Dragon King at the hand of the Forces of Light, Reptile found himself free from the villain's possession. At the time of the Armageddon, he seems to be part of the Red Dragon clan's human-reptilian hybrids experimentations. It's not clear if he's willing, but this might have been another way, in his eyes, to get his Saurian race to be restored.

Reptile is pretty much the same he's ever been in Mortal Kombat 9: an assassin for Shang Tsung and foot soldier for Outworld. As a minor modification to his role, he no longer hides in the shadows of the Mortal Kombat tournament but is instead an official participant, fighting on behalf of Outworld. He is quickly eliminated but continues to offer his services to Shang Tsung in other areas as the tournament progresses. In Mortal Kombat X, Reptile's real name of Syzoth is revealed and when Outworld plunges into a civil war, he's among the first to join up with the newly-appointed emperor, Kotal Kahn.

  • Acid Attack: His fatality in Ultimate Mortal Kombat 3 has him vomit a gallon of Hollywood Acid on his opponent, melting their flesh clear off their skeleton. He also has acid fatalities in Mortal Kombat 4 and Mortal Kombat: Deadly Alliance.
  • Alien Blood: It's green.
  • And Your Reward Is Clothes: Before being part of the Klassic Pack, buying the game from Amazon or Amazon UK gave you certain outfits.
  • Anti-Villain:
    • Even though he sides with the likes of Shao Kahn and Shinnok, all he wants is to revive his extinct reptilian race. Later games suggest that over the centuries since his race's destruction, he's been ever so slowly going mad, and attaches himself to whatever authority figure he can. After Shao Kahn's apparent death, he almost immediately enters Nitara's servitude. Since one of his endings shows him going mad from his abuse into Omnicidal Maniac territory, and that none of his employers treat him with a hint of respect, he fits squarely into Woobie, Destroyer of Worlds.
    • MKX has a new leader of Outworld; Kotal Kahn. Reptile is under his command as well, though Kotal has earned Reptile's respect instead of pressing him into service.
  • The Artifact: He was originally conceived as a composite version of Sub-Zero and Scorpion and wore a green ninja garb to reflect this. From Mortal Kombat II and onward, he gained his own moveset and backstory, and was no longer tied to Scorpion and Sub-Zero (he wasn't even a member of the Shirai Ryu nor the Lin Kuei). Despite this, he was still depicted as a palette swap of Scorpion and Sub-Zero until the switch to 3D with Mortal Kombat 4, where he was given a more reptilian appearance better suited for his namesake.
  • Badass Boast: He gets some nasty ones in MKX.
    Reptile: Spawn of Briggs.
    Jacqui: "Spawn"? I'm not a fish.
    Reptile: I will gut you as one.

    Ermac: We are many.
    Reptile: You will die one by one.

    Reptile: I have found you.
    Kung Lao: I was not hiding.
    Reptile: You will wish you had.
  • Because You Were Nice to Me: The basis of his loyalty to Kotal, the first real Benevolent Boss he has served under.
  • Bilingual Bonus: Kirehashi translates to "scraps", "cut end", or "cut-off piece", all of which adequately describe the sword's shape.
  • Bodyguarding a Badass: At the beginning of the series, Reptile's job was to be Shang Tsung's personal bodyguard, which seems odd given Tsung isn't exactly a push-over himself. Reptile turned this to his advantage in MKX, where he revealed that spending years shadowing Shang Tsung meant he was the only one left who knew Mileena's true origins.
  • Bonus Boss: The very first.
  • Butt-Monkey: With the exceptions of MKII (as it's his first time), Armageddon, 9 and MKX, pretty much every other ending of his can be boiled down to "His employers screwed him over":
    • In Ultimate 3, he gets a promise from Shao Kahn to revive his race if he kills Kitana. He does it, but Shao Kahn breaks his part of the deal. Reptile kills him, but this denies him the chance to know what his true race is.
    • In 4, he gets a denial, again, but this time from Shinnok. He succeeded during his fight against Earthrealm's warriors, so he talks to Quan Chi so that he may convince Shinnok to send Reptile back in time to his homeworld before it was destroyed. After a useless plea, Shinnok appears, does a Neck Lift on him, and Reptile's head explodes.
    • And, in (surprisingly) the only canonical ending of Deadly Alliance, he finds Cyrax and Nitara's essence, but not any of them. Later, he's caught by an energy cascade around what was a dragon embryo, his body providing a host for Onaga, the Dragon King.
    • In Mortal Kombat 9's story mode, despite that he survived the events of the game, he seems to exist solely to get his ass repeatedly kicked by the heroes. Although in the non-canon Arcade Mode, he DOES gets what he wants when he forced Shang Tsung to recreate his race, and then (presumably) kills him before he gets screwed again. And the rest of the existing races in Outworld before they can screw him.
    • MKX, however, is better for Reptile. His boss and personal friend, Kotal Kahn, actually respects him, and in his ending he finds a hidden enclave of Raptors hidden beneath Earthrealm, along with a new queen to serve. While he still shows up in story mode mostly to have his ass handed to him by the heroes once again, he has finally been given the respect he deserves, and seems a lot more stable as a result of this.
  • The Cameo: In MK11's Krypt. In fact, he's one of the few aversions of Death by Cameo in there.
  • Composite Character: In the 1992 original, where he was essentially Scorpion and Sub-Zero combined into one fighter, which is reflected by his color scheme (blue and yellow makes green).
  • Developers' Foresight:
    • The only time you're allowed to touch the block button is when inputting Sonya's fatality, the only one in the game that requires block.
    • As part of MKX's homage MK1 Tower, Reptile is once again a hidden fighter for that one. What you have to do is Achieve a flawless victory in the winning round of fight 6, and perform a Fatality or Brutality.
  • Divergent Character Evolution: From Mortal Kombat II, he gained his own moveset and a unique backstory.
  • Doesn't Like Guns: In an intro with Jax, Reptile tells him that "only cowards use firearms". Of course, Jax points out that spitting acid on people isn't exactly noble, either.
  • The Dog Bites Back:
    • In MKX, as he defects to Kotal Kahn's side, Reptile lets it slip that Mileena is not really Shao Kahn's daughter, but was a clone made by Shang Tsung, further weakening her image in the eyes of Outworld.
    • His 9 ending is this. After years of having Bad Bosses or otherwise getting screwed over in many of his endings, he finally lets that pent-up rage loose by slaughtering everything in sight with his race recreated. And it is horrifying.
  • Downloadable Content: In 9, his classic skin from MK1/2/3 and his classic "Tasty Meal" fatality.
  • Everything's Better with Monkeys: His Chimp Animality from UMK3.
  • Everyone Calls Him "Barkeep": Besides, who, other than Raiden, even knows that Reptile's real name is Syzoth?
  • Flash Step: His Running Serpent. Also pronounced in his Nimble variation in X.
  • Green and Mean: He is a reptilian warrior clad in green clothing who fights for Outworld.
  • Guide Dang It!: MK1 required sheer perfection and luck on one specific fight in order to obtain him. Every so often, the game would have him pop out and drop a hint on this. And if you want to know, you are required to be on The Pit stage ("Tip eht fo mottob") when something passes by the moon, which happens every sixth game ("Look to la luna"), win with a double Flawless Victory ("Perfection is the key") and finish the opponent with your character's fatality ("Fatality is the key") and NOT Block ("Blocking will get you nowhere"). The worst part of that was, Sonya couldn't fight him at all, because she had to Block in order to use her Fatality.
  • Hollywood Acid: His vomit is strong enough to melt someone down into a skeleton in under a minute.
    • His fatality in UMK3 and 4 has him vomit a gallon of "acid" on his opponent, melting their flesh clear off their skeleton.
    • His fatality in Deadly Alliance has him reducing the enemy's head to a mere skull via acid. Immediately after, he eats it.
    • His fatalities in X employ his acid spit: one to melt the flesh off of his opponent's skull before splitting it like a watermelon, and another to reduce his opponent's body to a single hand (and making a snack of his victim's head before it can be melted away).
  • Imagine Spot: Due to his waning lucidity, Deadly Alliance's Konquest Mode notes that Reptile's imagination tends to get out of hand frequently, causing him to daydream about hypothetical battles (such as he thwarting the Deadly Alliance's assassination attempt on Shao Kahn).
  • I'm a Humanitarian: He can swallow an entire human head in one bite, and some of his fatalities has him ripping and eating the opponent's head, chameleon-style.
  • Ineffectual Sympathetic Villain:
  • Invisibility: He can turn invisible in nearly every game where he's playable. The MKX comics show him capable of applying it to an area of effect.
  • I Owe You My Life: After his failure in the Mortal Kombat tournament against Johnny Cage in the beginning of MK9, Reptile fell out of favor with Shao Kahn, and was ordered executed by Kotal's hand. The Osh-Tekk saw purpose in Reptile however, and recruited him to his personal unit, figuring Reptile's skills would be of far more use there than as a foot soldier. For this, and the personal friendship between the two, Kotal has earned Reptile's undying loyalty.
  • It Was a Gift: The Kirehashi blade that he uses in Deadly Alliance and Armageddon is an ancient Raptor weapon offered to him as a sign of peace by Nitara. While this was mostly done to get Reptile's guard down and gain his trust so that Nitara could lure him over to her side, this also suggests that there is some sort of shared history between the people of Zaterra and Vaeternus (the Vampire race is said to be a record keeper of the history of other races, but it's unknown how deep their connection with other species were).
  • Jobber: Has a tendency to repeatedly show up during 9's story mode to get beaten up.
  • Ki Attack: His Force Ball, a projectile sphere attack that is mainly used to set up the enemy for a juggle.
  • Last of His Kind: Well, he and Khameleon. Other Saurians do appear in the MKX mobile game, but it's canonicity is debatable.
  • Luck-Based Mission: Even after all that, a shadow has to fly past the moon for it to work ("Look to la luna"), which only occurs ONCE IN EVERY 6 CONSECUTIVE GAMES! (unless you're cheating on a console version, in whose case you don't get the bonus points).
  • Neck Snap: He has a non-lethal version of this.
  • No Respect Guy: Nobody ever gives him respect, until X, and even then the good guys still enjoy taking potshots at him.
  • Now Buy the Merchandise: His Friendship in 2, in which he invites the player to "Buy a Reptile doll!"
  • Overly Long Tongue: His Tasty Meal Fatality, and a few moves in MKX, like his grabs and Heart Attack Brutality.
  • Pet the Dog: After decades of abuse, Reptile finally gets a good petting in MKX; His new master Kotal Kahn is not only the first master to not turn on him, but the first to treat Reptile as a valued member of his honor guard rather than a lackey.
  • Rolling Attack: In some games, Reptile could curl himself up into a ball and roll forward, knocking the enemy down.
  • Sanity Slippage:
    • Starting with Deadly Alliance, its been shown that Reptile is mentally unstable due to his separation from his race, and his mental state has continued to deteriorate. In Konquest he's having full-blown battles with hallucinatory opponents, even once mistaking his then-master, Nitara, as one of the sorcerors. At the end, he "fights" the enemy he thinks has been the source of all his failures to the death. It was himself.
    • 9 also brings up his insanity. In his arcade ending, he finally snaps and becomes an Omnicidal Maniac.
  • Secret Character: The first secret character in the series. Later became a regular character.
  • Shapeshifter Default Form: Inverted. Reptile prefers to take on a more human form, with his resemblance to a human or humanoid lizard varying from game to game. Yet, members of his race can lose their humanoid appearance when separated for long periods of time from their monarchal leader, with hints that Reptile's temporary insanity is what caused his more bestial appearance in Deadly Alliance.
  • Skeletons in the Coat Closet: His Alternate in MKDA is a caveman-inspired look, with an animal skull as a chestpiece. In X, he is wearing what looks to be splint mail made from bone and teeth.
  • The Speechless: In 9, he has no spoken dialogue during the story mode, though he "converses" with Shang Tsung using growls at one point. He does have a few text-based lines in the Challenge Tower.
  • Sssssnaketalk: He had it in the comics, and it was carried over to 4 and X. For some reason however, he does not have it in Armageddon.
  • Stance System:
    • In Deadly Alliance, he has Hung Gar and Crab as unarmed styles, and Kirehashi as weapon style.
    • In Armageddon, he has Pao Chui as unarmed style, while keeping his weapon style from DA.
    • In X, his variations are Noxious, Deceptive and Nimble.
  • Suddenly Voiced: In X he starts exchanging "pleasantries" with other kombatants.
  • Throw the Dog a Bone: MKX seems to be one for Reptile. Unlike Shao Kahn, Shang Tsung, Quan Chi and Shinnok, Kotal Kahn seems to genuiely care for Reptile, sharing the bond of being the Last of Their Kinds, and sparing and recruiting him during the events of MK9. In turn, Reptile serves him with undying loyalty and much stabler than normal.
  • Troll: He can actually due this to himself in MKX by proclaiming "It is I, Shang Tsung!"
  • Undying Loyalty: This is Reptile's Fatal Flaw. Mostly due to his status as an Extreme Doormat and his misguided hopes that he'll eventually be rewarded with the revival of his race, but once Reptile enters the service of most his masters, he is violently determined to protect and serve them. Even more pitiable is the fact that what Reptile perceives as failure starts weighing heavily on his conscience. When he's unable to defeat Cyrax at Nitara's command and flees, Reptile (in an odd villainous variation of Heroic Self-Deprecation) starts beating himself up for being unable to carry out the wishes of another master.
    • Reptile is extremely loyal to Kotal Kahn as well, probably more than he was to any of his previous masters, but as mentioned under Throw the Dog a Bone, this is much healthier and more justified case since Kotal treats him far better and values him more than any of them ever did,
  • Useless Useful Spell: Invisibility sounds cool, but it's a fairly difficult move, and the the AI is unaffected, since all it does is turn off the model display. Not so much when you want to ambush some Red Dragon mooks alongside D'Vorah, Ferra and Torr.
  • Walking Shirtless Scene: In 4, Deadly Alliance, and Armageddon.


"I will grant you a warrior's death!"

Debut game: Mortal Kombat
Other appearances: Mortal Kombat Trilogy, Mortal Kombat Gold, Mortal Kombat: Deception (Gamecube version only), Mortal Kombat: Shaolin Monks, Mortal Kombat: Armageddon, Mortal Kombat 9 (Ken Lally), Mortal Kombat X (Vic Chao, English; Carlos Hernández, Latin American Spanish)
Non-game appearances: Mortal Kombat: The Movie (Kevin Michael Richardson and Frank Welker)

Proud member of the half-dragon race, the Shokans, son of the Shokan King Gorbak and the Shokan Queen Mai, Prince Goro was the undefeated Champion of Mortal Kombat, being able to win nine consecutive tournaments over a span of 500 years. He helped Shang Tsung grow ever closer to achieving Shao Kahn's goal of domination over Earthrealm.

In his tenth title defense, however, he faced and lost to Liu Kang. In the tournament's aftermath he went missing after a battle where he fought Kano, Johnny Cage and Sonya Blade, and was believed to be dead. He would later resurface after Shao Kahn's defeat to lead his fellow Shokans in a war against the Centaurians. Kitana intervened and negotiated both races an uneasy truce and peace accord. When Shinnok and his legion were defeated and Edenia was once again free, Goro and the Shokan race decided to ally with the Edenians.

Years later, during the time of the Deadly Alliance, the united Edenians and Shokans marched on Shao Kahn's weakened army. Goro was exhausted from battle and was struck from behind by Noob Saibot. He was mortally wounded, apparently dying from the injury. So, Princess Kitana held a royal funeral for her former ally. However, Goro was able to survive, being saved from death by Shao Kahn himself, with the promise to return the Shokans to their former glory and the banishment of the Centaurians in exchange for his allegiance. Agreeing to these terms, Goro resumed his place at Shao Kahn's side and helped him to become once again the Emperor of the Outworld during the time of the Armageddon.

Goro has a similar role in Mortal Kombat 9, although he is much less important in the story and sticks around after his initial defeat to get beaten again and again, culminating in him losing his four arms by Kotal Kahn's hand in the Outworld civil war, where the Shokan fought for Mileena in exchange for returning his race to its past glory. After losing his father and his claim to the throne due to his wounds, he went into exile, seeking Daegon after hearing of Onaga's supposed healing factor.

  • Adaptational Wimp: Played with. In the movie he is beaten rather easily by Johnny Cage. But Cage was more strategic than the opponents Goro fought before him. Goro's introduction into the tournament is to Curb Stomp half a dozen people in a row. Johnny, along with everyone else on Earthrelm's side, is not very confident. He gives him a Groin shot almost immediately as the bell rings and lures him outside to a cliff and ambushes him. His defeat was a bit anti climatic but it was because of Strategy, not lack of power.
  • The Ageless: Before the games, since being the Mortal Kombat champion meant that his already-slow Shokan aging came to an outright halt.
  • An Arm and a Leg:
    • One of his fatalities has him using his four arms to rip off his opponent's limbs.
    • In the comics, he was on the recieving end of it, as he lost ALL FOUR ARMS when fighting Kotal Kahn. And to rub salt on the wound? Kintaro told him that the loss of his arms now disqualify any claim he has to the Shokan throne after his father, Gorbak, fell against Kotal Kahn.
  • Anti-Villain: Ultimately just trying to protect his people.
  • Authority Equals Asskicking: Prince of the Shokan race and also their strongest warrior.
  • Handicapped Badass: Even when armless, he still beats Red Dragon mooks into submission and managed to somehow beat up Kenshi.
  • Badass Arm-Fold: Due to having four arms, he can even pull off this pose and Dynamic Akimbo at the same time.
  • Big Eater: as seen in the comic, he tends to indulge.
  • Blade Below the Shoulder: The Dragon Fangs, which he's used in Deception, Armageddon, and X as a variation.
  • Breath Weapon: Able to shoot fireballs from his mouth or breathe a stream of fire from his mouth like a dragon.
  • The Champion: Of Outworld.
  • Co-Dragons: Goro and Shang Tsung served as Co Dragons under Shao Kahn.
  • Dead Guyon Display: Curiously, a long-deceased Goro can be seen resting on the chair he always sat in his lair in Mortal Kombat 11.
  • Defeating the Undefeatable: Was Champion of Mortal Kombat for 500 years prior to the first game.
  • The Dragon: To Shao Kahn and to his father King Gorbak. He's literally a dragon-human hybrid, somehow...
  • Dynamic Akimbo: He does a four-armed version of this, with the upper two arms usually making a bicep flex.
  • Enemy Civil War: The prequel comics have revealed he's involved in Outworld's civil war and is allied with Mileena; in return for seeing the Shokan race restored to glory, he has vowed to kill Kotal Kahn, a desire that became Freudian when Kotal kills his father, King Gorbak, which sends Goro into exile.
  • Evil Is Bigger: When allied with Shao Kahn and the like.
  • Flung Clothing: Goro arrives to battle in X wearing a cape, which he discards before the fight begins during his intro sequence.
  • Goomba Stomp: His Leaping Stomp, an attack which is shared with the other four-armed characters of the series.
  • Half-Human Hybrid: The other half being dragon.
  • Half the Man He Used to Be: His intro in MKX has him rip a random person in half. While conversing with someone.
  • Hates Small Talk: His intro dialog in MKX is very curt and to the point, without any of the clever quips or flowery threats the other Kombatants trade with each other. It's pretty clear he would prefer not to trade words. Even his Badass Boast lines are as brief as possible.
    Goro: Prepare yourself.
    Erron Black: That's it? No stirring speech?
    Goro: I fight. That is all.
  • Heel–Face Revolving Door: The only constant in his motive is his desire to do right by the Shokan race, and he will ally himself with whoever can provide them the best status. To wit: started out as Evil in the first Mortal Kombat, then was more Neutral in MK4, then turned Good at the end of MK4 and Deadly Alliance (to the point of even making peace with Kung Lao over Goro's rivalry with Lao's ancestor; he's then killed by Noob Saibot) then back to Evil in Deception by teaming up with Shao Kahn.
  • Hulk Speak: Averted, though when he refers to the humans he says "puny humans."
  • Mighty Glacier: In the later games.
  • Monster Modesty: Subverted with his alt. in Deception and Armageddon, which decks Goro out in armor and a shirt that covers most of his chest.
  • Neutral No Longer: Goro's ending in the Arcade mode of X (apparently ignoring the comic storyline) explains his absence from the game as just him avoiding being involved with the Outworld Civil War entirely. But after the conflict with Shinnok he decides to conquer Outworld himself and crushes both sides of the war with a Shokan army.
  • Odd Friendship: With Kitana. If Deadly Alliance is indication, the two are old friends, to the point that she attended his funeral at Kuatan Palace after he was slain by Noob Saibot sometime between 4 and DA.
  • Our Giants Are Bigger: There are others who embody this as well (such as his fellow Shokan, Moloch, and Onaga), but Goro is probably the most well-known example within MK.
  • Noble Top Enforcer: Goro only serves under Shao Kahn for the good of the Shokan race. Unlike most of the bloodthirsty or sinister warriors in Kahn's army, Goro is an honorable warrior despite his monstrous appearance. When Kung Lao wanted to avenge his ancestor the Great Kung Lao's death at the hands of Goro, He made peace with Kung Lao noting that his ancestor was a great man and a noble warrior. He also joined the side of good after MK4 and waged war on Shao Kahn alongside Kitana.
  • Pre-Order Bonus: Pre-Ordering Mortal Kombat X unlocks him from the start.
  • Playing with Fire: He can throw fireballs either from his hands, up to four in a row in some games, or from his mouth. MKX gives him the "Tigrar Fury" Variation which especially focuses on this.
  • Proud Warrior Race Guy: A member of the Shokan race.
  • Punch-Clock Villain: Really doesn't have that much interest in Outworld politics beyond how it pertains to the Shokan race. He's only as involved with the conquest of Earth as he is because Shao Kahn needed a ringer to win the tournament. Changes his tune regarding politics when Kotal Khan rises to power; when Goro's attempt to dethrone him leads to the loss of his arms and then his father. His ending in this game sees him defeat Kotal and take over Outworld as Emperor.
  • Really Gets Around: In his profile on the official comic and instruction manual for the first game, he is stated to be a polygamist, having seven wives. Fans often assume that Sheeva was one of them, but this has not been proven.
  • Really 700 Years Old: At the time of the first Mortal Kombat, he has already lived something like 2000 years.
  • Red Herring: The line that Goro could "eat you alive" from the Sega Genesis instruction manual had many believing the Goro could perform a fatality in the first game. However, he gets fatalities of his own in the GameCube version of Deception and Mortal Kombat 9.
  • The Rival: To Kung Lao and Liu Kang, since he was the one who killed their ancestor. He manages to make peace with Kung Lao in the end though.
    • To Johnny Cage, mainly in the movie
  • Royals Who Actually Do Something: He is the son of the Shokan King Gorbak and was commander of Outworld's armies and also won 9 Mortal Kombat Tournaments for Outworld.
  • Sore Loser: Moderate example. His pre-fight dialogue with Liu Kang in X shows he really doesn't like being reminded of their first fight.
    Goro: I nearly bested you.
    Liu Kang: With the aid of Shang Tsung's magic.
    Goro: THAT IS A LIE!
  • SNK Boss: In the early games, Goro was far from balanced. All of his moves did way more damage than all of the other characters and certain special moves like Johnny Cage's Shadow Kick or Kano's Cannonball would only stumble him a little rather than knock him down, and because of that he was notoriously difficult to defeat in the first game.
  • Spin Attack: Goro's Spinning Slaps.
  • Stance System:
    • In Deception, he has Shokan and Kuatan as unarmed styles, and Dragon Fangs as weapon style.
    • In Armageddon, he has drops Kuatan.
    • In X, his variations are Dragon Fangs, Kuatan Warrior and Tigrar Fury.
  • The Starscream: Well, maybe. In the comic book adaptation of X, he originally served Kotal Kahn, betrayed him for Mileena, and Reiko speculates that he intends to backstab her to bring Outworld under Shokan rule. He may be the biggest Wild Card right now.
  • Stop Motion: In his very first incarnation he was animated this way. This set the precedent for Kintaro, Sheeva, and Motaro.
  • Third-Person Person: In the Malibu Comics, Goro refers to himself by name.
    Goro: [as he prepares to "discipline" the staff] You do not deserve to be guards for Shang Tsung. All you deserve is death. Death at the hands of Goro.
  • Warrior Prince: His official title is Prince Goro. You know what he's the prince of? Kicking your ass. In the Malibu Comics, Goro is known as the 'Prince of Pain.' How appropriate.
  • The Worf Effect: Goro was originally a big deal in the early games and presented as a huge threat. In more recent games he's typically beaten more often and with less effort.
  • Worthy Opponent: According to pre-fight dialogue, he views Ferra/Torr as this.

    Shang Tsung 

Shang Tsung

Debut game: Mortal Kombat (Ho Sung Pak, Eric Kincaid)note 
Other appearances: Mortal Kombat II (Phillip Ahn, M.D.), Mortal Kombat 3 (John Turk), Mortal Kombat Mythologies: Sub-Zero (Richard Divizio), Mortal Kombat: Deadly Alliance, Mortal Kombat: Deception (cameo), Mortal Kombat: Shaolin Monks, Mortal Kombat: Armageddon, Mortal Kombat vs. DC Universe (James Kyson-Lee), Mortal Kombat 9 (Andrew Kishino, Richard Epcar note ), Mortal Kombat 11 (DLC) (Cary-Hiroyuki Tagawa, English; Galo Balcázar, Latin American Spanish)
Non-game appearances: Mortal Kombat: The Movie (Cary-Hiroyuki Tagawa), Mortal Kombat: Conquest (Bruce Locke), Mortal Kombat: Defenders of the Realm (Neil Ross), Mortal Kombat: Rebirth (James Lew), Mortal Kombat: Legacy (Johnson Phan in the first season, Cary-Hiroyuki Tagawa in the second)

A powerful and deadly sorcerer and a primary villain in the Mortal Kombat series, Shang Tsung is a demonic shapeshifter who needs to consume souls in order to sustain his health and life. Throughout his unnatural lifespan, he has achieved an intellectual and mental sophistication far greater than that of any other baddie of the series.

Several centuries before the start of the series, a young and promising Tsung was taken to Outworld and trained by the Emperor in the Black Arts. For a time, Shang Tsung would be the Grand Champion of Mortal Kombat himself, but when he lost his title to the legendary Shaolin warrior, the Great Kung Lao, he had to wait several years for his greatest student, the Shokan prince Goro, to restore once more Outworld's domination of the Mortal Kombat Tournament. This time Tsung, now aged and weakened, secured his domain on the Tournament, by becoming its sole Grandmaster and holding future competitions on his private island, a zone in between Earth and the Outworld.

During the tenth Mortal Kombat tournament, the final victory that would enable Shao Kahn to conquer Earth, Liu Kang, a Shaolin Monk, defeated Goro, breaking the streak. Liu Kang then challenged Shang Tsung in Kombat to restore the honour of the once-sacred tournament; Liu Kang prevailed, and Shang Tsung fled to Outworld. He confronted an enraged Shao Kahn and convinced him that, if they challenged Earthrealm to Mortal Kombat in Outworld, they would have to accept or forfeit. Kahn agreed to this plan, and restored Tsung's youth. Despite this, in the Tournament the sorcerer lost again to Liu Kang, who also defeated Kahn. Shortly after, with the aid of his cult of Shadow Priests, Shang Tsung managed to revive Shao Kahn's former queen, Sindel, on Earth, giving Kahn and his forces a way to invade the Realm. Tsung was granted more power than ever before, but during the invasion that followed he lost to Liu Kang once more.

Some time after the merge of the two Realms failed, the fellow sorcerer Quan Chi come to Shang Tsung with an offer: if Tsung helped him revive the lost army of the Dragon King by means of his ability to transplant souls, he would open a "Soulnado" to the Heavens, giving him an endless supply of souls. Tsung accepted, and they formed the Deadly Alliance. Together, the sorcerers not only managed to assassinate both Liu Kang and Shao Kahn, but eventually the duo defeated Earthrealm's champions and triumphed over Raiden himself in a final battle. Their victory, however, would not be savored. Shang Tsung's lust for power and Quan Chi's suspicion finally came to light. The two fought, with Quan Chi emerging the victor, and immediately after that, Shang Tsung had to confront a revived Dragon King alongside the two enemies; in the battle that ensued, Tsung was killed by Raiden's self-sacrificial blast.

His soul, still bound to Kahn, reached the not-so-dead Emperor. Kahn provided Tsung with a host body and then allied with him and Goro in taking his kingdom back. Some time later, during the Armageddon, the sorcerer formed an alliance with Onaga, Shao Kahn, and Quan Chi so that the group may prevent the Forces of Light from obtaining the power that Blaze possessed.

The events of Mortal Kombat 9 happen pretty much the same for Shang Tsung as in the previous games, with an exception: nearing the end of the events of Mortal Kombat 3, Outworld's general, Motaro, has been slain and Shao Kahn is running out of options. In a last-ditch effort to weaken Earthrealm's forces, he siphons Shang Tsung's life energy into Sindel and sends Sindel and a squad of Lin Kuei cyber-warriors to the Earthrealm base.

Despite all of this, however, Shang Tsung is confirmed to return in Mortal Kombat 11 as a DLC character. On the meta note, his role will be reprised by none other than Cary-Hiroyuki Tagawa - his original actor from the first Mortal Kombat live-action movie and the second season of Mortal Kombat Legacy web series.

  • Affably Evil: During his reveal in MK11's Krypt, Shang Tsung sports Cary-Hiroyuki Tagawa's trademark polite behaviour and charm... which still makes him legitimately creepy. The following words are not helping, either:
    Shang Tsung: Take what you want... within reason.
    • Also, this moment from the Krypt:
    Shang Tsung: Behold the resting place of Kenshi Takehashi. Valiant and brave, he was an excellent warrior. Which made feeding on his soul most enjoyable...
  • Ambiguously Human: We don't really know where Tsung came from initially, but his biography in Mortal Kombat 9 confirms he is from Earthrealm. His Mortal Kombat: Tournament Edition bio states his origin as "Earthrealm/Outworld."
  • Amplifier Artifact: Somewhat. He wears a runestone around his neck that houses all of the souls he's absorbed over the ages and is able to replenish his strength.
  • Arch-Enemy: He's this to Liu Kang and to a lesser degree to Kung Lao in Deadly Alliance; the one who corrupted the tournament in the first place, absorbed the soul of the Great Kung Lao, and is one of the most prominent enemies of Earthrealm. This intensifies when he ends up killing Liu Kang, causing his zombie to become vengeful.
  • Animal Motifs: Has a minor one for serpents, representing his intelligent, but untrustworthy nature. It also highlights his rivalry with Liu Kang (who has a dragon motif).
  • Badass Grandpa: As his old form, he definitely qualifies given he was the original final boss.
  • Badass Longcoat: In the movie.
  • Badass Mustache: As of 11, he sports impressive Fu Manchu plus goatee combo for his default look.
  • Beard of Evil: White in the first game, black in the other ones.
  • Big Bad: In the first game.
  • Cast from Hit Points: According to the official comic, Shang's signature Flaming Skulls are in fact the lifeforce of deceased souls.
  • Court Mage: Part of his job for Shao Kahn.
  • Cursed with Awesome: When Shang Tsung committed the atrocity of taking a soul, he was cursed by the Elder Gods not only to kill his enemies, but to take their souls as well. Only in this way would he hold off his grim fate: to age rapidly and die prematurely. However, as a side effect of his consuming the souls of others, Tsung was able to access their memories and knowledge, a happenstance which would greatly benefit him in the future.
  • A Day in the Limelight: In MK vs. DCU, he's the focus of the MK side's Chapter 6.
  • Demonic Possession: In MKII, he enters his opponent's body, which violently shakes until it explodes as Shang appears in the opponent's place. It inspires one of Liu Kang's Deception Fatalities, and in MK9 it comes full-circle with it being based on Liu Kang's version instead of his own from MKII.
  • Ditto Fighter: A trademark of the character which varies from continuity to continuity.
    • In the original trilogy, Shang Tsung could transform into any member of the roster with the corresponding command, with bosses mostly being an exception. This allowed him to perform their specials, combos and Fatalities - he'd revert back to normal in MK2 after doing one except in the case of characters with unique post-Fatality win poses like Kung Lao; this doesn't pop up in MK3.
    • In Deadly Alliance and Armageddon, engine restrictions and the latter's large roster meant that he could not keep his shapeshifting.
    • MK vs. DCU saw this return, but only as he transforms into his opponents for his win pose and one of his Fatalities. His Soul Steal move in MK9 allows him to temporarily fight as his opponent if it lands, gaining a damage boost in the process; unlike the classic games, he cannot perform other Fatalities as he transforms after performing the match-ending blow. As a boss, he could willing transform into two other fighters in addition to the player's.
  • The Dragon: To Shao Kahn. To that end in both II and 9 you always fight Shang Tsung before you go onto the final bosses as the last regular opponent.
  • Dressing as the Enemy: Inverted. He disguised himself as Kung Lao in order to get the drop on Liu Kang in Deadly Alliance.
  • Dropped a Bridge on Him: His death in 9 is rather sudden and no mention is made of him afterwards.
  • Energy Absorption: In later games, he can absorb part of his opponent's soul during a fight to restore his health.
  • Everything's Better with Rainbows: His Friendship in MKII.
  • Evil Mentor: To Goro, the Shokan prince. To the point that he misses him the most in 11.
  • Evil Sorcerer: One of the classic modern examples.
  • Fantasy Gun Control: Subverted. In 9, he was very interested in modern weaponry, and bought rocket launchers and shotguns from Kano.
    "Well done. You might tell your fellow Black Dragon that I'm very interested in your merchandise."
  • Final Boss: The elderly Shang Tsung is the last opponent a kombatant faces in the premiere game's ladder, and can shapeshift into any of the player characters plus Goro, though he also has a powerful flaming skull attack (complete with screams) when in his true form.
  • Flaming Skulls: He uses them as projectiles in some games.
  • Foil: As Liu Kang's nemesis, they naturally mirror each other in a few ways.
    • Tsung himself used to be Mortal Kombat Champion before the Great Kung Lao defeated him, and operates as Shao Kahn's champion compared to Liu Kang who is Raiden's.
    • Shang Tsung is doomed to prolong his life through souls, compared to Liu Kang's agelessness as Mortal Kombat Champion... although taking souls doesn't make Shang any weaker.
  • Glowing Eyes of Doom: In some of his incarnations.
  • Half the Man He Used to Be: One of his fatalities from 2, in which he morphs into Kintaro and punches the upper half of the opponent's body clear across the stage.
  • Hazy Feel Turn: The most likely interpretation of his Ladder ending in 9, in which Bo' Rai Cho trains him to help defeat a power-mad and newly-deified Liu Kang.
  • Impaled with Extreme Prejudice:
  • Immortality: Strongly implied. Several endings in Mortal Kombat X anticipate his return, and an interaction between him and Raiden has him asking the god if he's surprised to see him. Raiden is only surprised that it took long.
  • Ink-Suit Actor: His appearance in Mortal Kombat 11 is literally that of Cary-Hiroyuki Tagawa - his reprising actor from the first live-action movie and the second season of Legacy.
  • I Was Quite the Looker: Compare his elder form to when his youth is restored.
  • Kung-Fu Wizard: While a sorcerer, he does plenty of fighting with his bare hands as well.
  • Large Ham: Especially in the first movie.
    (to Goro, after he gets punched in the goolies by Johnny Cage) "You IMBECILE! Follow him! FINISH HIM!"
    • There's also his behavior in MK9's story mode, especially after he has his youth restored.
  • Manipulative Bastard: One of his specialties. He once tricked Kenshi into leading him right to the souls of his warrior ancestors by posing as a harmless old man, posed as friends of Earth warriors in order to attack them from behind, lied about the terms of at least one tournament in order to further his agenda, and is generally an all-round untrustworthy bastard.
  • Monochromatic Eyes: White in the original (and 9), green in 3.
  • Monster Clown: One of his Mortal Kombat 9 Fatalities has him turn into one and execute his opponent with a gun, which doubles as a Take That! to MK vs. DCU's censorship of The Joker's fatality.
  • More Dakka: When he was the final boss in the first game, he could unleash up to 6 fireballs that each hit as hard as a roundhouse kick. In Mortal Kombat II when he was made a playable character, the damage was reduced and the number of fireballs got toned down to 4 and then 3 in later updates. In Mortal Kombat 3, he was given a multiple fireball move from the ground that could combo with his regular fireballs for plenty of hits. And all this took place when every other character could only shoot one projectile at a time.
  • Naked on Revival: In Ermac's ending in X, Shang Tsung is completely nude as he drains Ermac of all his souls. The cameras don't show anything below his waist, naturally.
  • Neck Snap: In Deadly Alliance, he delivers one to Liu Kang, killing him for good. This comes back in the Battle of Armageddon, where Undead!Liu Kang necksnaps him.
  • Non-Action Big Bad: A relative example. While he is capable of fighting, he's more reliant on his souls and manipulation when dealing with others. In the movie, he even consciously avoids fighting Liu Kang until the last possible moment. Compared to his battle with Reptile, Liu Kang quickly shows that he is Shang Tsung's superior in combat.
  • Off with His Head!: In 9, he possesses his opponent then uses their own hand to rip off their head as his Fatality.
  • Oh, Crap!: In the intro to Armageddon, he gets to face the revived zombie of Liu Kang, who promptly snaps his neck back into place after Tsung personally performed a Neck Snap on him. Tsung flinches at this, all too aware of the irony and danger he was in at that point.
  • Old Master: Way old.
  • Only Sane Man: In the vs. DC Universe crossover, he has apparently the strongest self-control of all characters from both worlds, as he never gives up to the Rage until Dark Khan reveals himself and makes Rage take everybody. But even after that, he managed to bring himself back to normal, while Raiden was still under Dark Kahn's influence. It's also worth noting that he agrees with a Rage-striken Raiden that while Shang Tsung himself might have taken the time to betray him right there and then, Evil Versus Oblivion means that he genuinely wants to defeat Dark Kahn.
  • Playing with Fire: Summons skulls on fire as projectiles]].
  • Power Floats: He's floating off the floor of Goro's Lair in the fight against him in the original game, making him impervious to sweeping attacks until he shapeshifts. He also uses this in Mortal Kombat 9, but not in battle.
  • The Punishment: This is what the Elder Gods call his soul-sucking ability. Admittedly, it's required to keep him sustained, but he can do much more with it than that - and he's definitely not objecting.
  • Really 700 Years Old: And he is capable of slowing down the aging process of anyone, as stated by Erron Black's Arcade ending in MKX.
  • Scaled Up: He could turn into a cobra to finish his opponents as an Animality in MK3.
  • Serious Business: Implied in MK11. Even though Shang Tsung personally welcomes the nameless traveller who came to the Krypt, he gives said traveller a subtle warning (see Affably Evil above). Considering the fact that the Krypt is located on Shang Tsung's private island...
  • Shapeshifter: His signature move is the ability to turn into other characters.
  • Shape Shifter Guilt Trip: In the movie.
  • Shapeshifter Mode Lock: Intro dialogue to most of the mirror matches in MKX imply that he came back like this.
  • Shapeshifter Swan Song: His demise in the first game.
  • Shipper on Deck: According to Kano's mirror match intro, Shang Tsung is this to Kano and Mileena, if making multiple Kanos can translate to anything.
  • A Sinister Clue: Given his weapon style in later games, Shang would appear to be a lefty.
  • Sorcerous Overlord: Is this in the first game and the first third of MK9, since he personally hijacked the Mortal Kombat tournament and disgraced it.
  • Stance System:
    • In Deadly Alliance, he has Snake and Crane as unarmed styles, and Straight Sword as weapon style.
    • In Deception, he swaps Crane with Mantis.
    • In Armageddon, he has Snake as unarmed style, while keeping the weapon stance.
  • The Starscream: The degree varies with the adaptation, but he's always just a little too ambitious to be a good Number Two. With the exception of 9, his ending in every game amounts to him overthrowing his current boss and taking over, and the only reason he gets off there is because he's replaced before he gets the chance.
  • Tall, Dark, and Handsome: In his younger form.
  • Took a Level in Kindness: A very minor example, but within the Krypt section of MK11, he's actually surprisingly polite to the player, as he basically tells them to help themselves to whatever treasure they find as long as they don't get greedy. He even mourns Goro in his own way.
  • Tournament Arc: He really likes these, to the point that, in MKvDCU, when he encounters Captain Marvel in the Netherrealm, he has his allies face off against Marvel one at a time, announcing results between rounds as if it were Arcade Mode ("Captain Marvel wins!").
  • Treacherous Advisor: He serves as this to Shao Kahn, acting as his Number Two while having his own designs. This culminates in him betraying Shao Kahn to form the Deadly Alliance with Quan Chi in the original timeline.
  • Unlimited Wardrobe: There's no better example in this franchise. Shang Tsung's "main" appearance has changed considerably from game to game, except in Armageddon, which reutilized his Deadly Alliance model.
  • Walking Shirtless Scene: After his rejuvenation.
  • What the Hell, Hero?: For the atrocity of stealing a soul, Shang Tsung was condemned to... do it over and over again, with the punishment of aging and dying prematurely if he relents. Just to twist the knife, Shang doesn't give a crap about the souls he takes - and it actually makes him more and more powerful! It's like condemning a murderer to a life as a Serial Killer, while the murderer enjoys killing and giving him no incentive (or ability) to repent of his crimes. The 11th game does provide an explanation, however: Kronika engineered the situation in the event she ever needed the power provided by absorbing souls for her works.
  • Yellow Peril: In the original game, though it's balanced by the fact that the main protagonist is also Chinese.
  • Younger Than They Look: According to Word of God, he was biologically nineteen years old in MKII. He doesn't exactly look like it.
  • Your Soul Is Mine:
    • The Trope Namer, his iconic Fatality.
    • In 9, this ironically happens to him. After Motaro's death, Shao Kahn chooses to use Shang Tsung to empower Sindel, fueling the massacre of the heroes.

Example of: