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Characters / Mortal Kombat – Johnny Cage

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Mortal Kombat Main Character Index
Main series: MK (1992) | MK2 | MK3 | MK4 | Deadly Alliance | Deception | Armageddon | MK vs. DC Universe | MK9 | MKX | MK11 | MK1
Spinoffs: Mythologies: Sub-Zero | Special Forces
Non-video game: The Movie | Conquest | Defenders of the Realm | 2021 Movie
Individual Characters: Scorpion I (Hanzo Hasashi) | Sub-Zero I/Noob Saibot (Bi-Han) | Johnny Cage | Kano | Liu Kang | Raiden | Shang Tsung | Sub-Zero II/Scorpion II (Kuai Liang) | Kitana | Mileena | Shao Kahn/General Shao | Quan Chi | Kotal Kahn | Kronika

Spoilers for Mythologies will be unmarked

Johnny Cage (Jonathan "John" Carlton)
"You got CAGED!"

Debut game: Mortal Kombat (Daniel Pesina)
Other appearances: Mortal Kombat II (Daniel Pesina), Mortal Kombat Trilogy (Chris Alexander), Mortal Kombat 4 (Ed Boon), Mortal Kombat: Deadly Alliance (Robert Keating), Mortal Kombat: Deception (cameo), Mortal Kombat: Armageddon, Mortal Kombat 9 (Jeff Pilson), Mortal Kombat X (Andrew Bowen, English; Mario Castañeda, Latin American Spanish), Mortal Kombat 11 (Andrew Bowen, English; Colin Ryan, Face Model; Linden Ashby, English (Voice and Face Model, Klassic MK Movie Skin Pack DLC); Sergio Bonilla [base voice] and Mario Castañeda [some pre-patched dialogues], Latin American Spanish), Mortal Kombat 1 (Andrew Bowen (English), Jean-Claude Van Damme (Premier skin); Sergio Bonilla (Latin American Spanish), Raúl Anaya (Latin American Spanish - Premier skin))
Non-game appearances: Mortal Kombat: The Movie (Linden Ashby), Mortal Kombat: Annihilation (Chris Conrad), Mortal Kombat: Rebirth/Mortal Kombat: Legacy (Matt Mullins in the first season, Casper Van Dien in the second), Mortal Kombat Legends: Scorpion's Revenge (Joel McHale), Mortal Kombat Legends: Battle of the Realms (Joel McHale), Mortal Kombat Legends: Cage Match (Joel McHale), Mortal Kombat 2 (Karl Urban)

Johnny Cage, born Jonathan Carlton, is a Hollywood movie star. Originally entering the Mortal Kombat tournament to display his fighting skills and prove himself to skeptical movie critics and the movie-viewing public, Cage becomes one of the brave and loyal warriors for Earthrealm.

In Mortal Kombat, when Shang Tsung's island fortress began to crumble because of his defeat to Liu Kang, Raiden saved Johnny and dropped him off at a boat that belonged to the Special Forces Agency near the island. Not long after that, Cage traveled into Outworld to join the other Earthrealm warriors in MK2. Defeated, Kahn ordered his forces to hunt down the surviving warriors when he steals the souls of Earth's populace in Mortal Kombat 3. Though his comrades managed to make it out alive, Johnny was not so lucky and was killed by Motaro. During the events of Trilogy, he was brought back due to his soul being blocked from going to the afterlife, and fought alongside Earth's warriors until they won, upon which he ascended to Heaven. Raiden brought him back permanently during the events of MK4. However, Johnny was killed once again during the final assault on the Deadly Alliance's Tarkatan warriors.

Later, he is, as well as many other warriors, restored to life one more time by Onaga and made into his slave. Some time later, he was freed from this state by Ermac and the spirit of Liu Kang, in time to join the battle of Armageddon.

Mortal Kombat 9 sees Cage have a much more... outgoing personality, but it also makes him much more heroic, being a genuine part of the heroes' team. He also serves as a sort of Audience Surrogate, as he's one of the few normal humans amidst the Fantasy Kitchen Sink cast. In Mortal Kombat X it's revealed that he and Sonya have a daughter, Cassie Cage.

He would later meet up with his younger self in Mortal Kombat 11, working together to thwart Kronika's Evil Plan.

Johnny returns in the third timeline in Mortal Kombat 1, depicted as arrogant and attention-seeking, similar to the beginning of the previous timeline, but with a modern take on his profession; here, he's not only an action star that performs his own stunts, but a social media influencer as well. However, his popularity has begun to wane by the beginning of the game, and his "Hollywood" spending habits and attitude have taken a toll on his finances and marriage, leaving him on the verge of bankruptcy and divorce. When given a chance to join Liu Kang's group of warriors representing Earthrealm in the upcoming tournament, he doesn't miss the opportunity to regain his former life of stardom.

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     Tropes related to Johnny Cage in general 
Tropes that appear across all of Johnny Cage's appearances.
  • Actor Allusion: By MK1, Johnny shares Daniel Pesina's knowledge of martial arts lore in-universe. He is completely aware of Sento's history and Kenshi's clan.
  • Adaptational Wimp: Played with in the animated movies. He seems to get spooked rather easily in Scorpion's Revenge, and is subject to TWO low blows from the woman he admires most. Johnny Cage is the man known for dishing out the groin trauma, not receiving it.
  • The Ahnold: While Cage has been fleshed out more over time, at his core, he's an homage to Jean-Claude Van Damme. Hence the split punch and action flick motifs. One of the pre-order bonuses for Mortal Kombat 1 is even a skin based on Jean-Claude Van Damme.
  • And You Thought It Was a Game: In the 1995 movie, he had no idea what the stakes were in the tournament. He just thought it was a competition to show off his skills and prove that it wasn't wire tricks and stuntmen. By the time he realizes that it's a lot more than just an ordinary tournament, it's far too late for him to back out.
  • Arbitrary Skepticism:
    • He thinks the Outworld warriors are just people in really nice costumes and not interdimensional monsters, yet his reason for participating in Mortal Kombat is because people accuse him of being a fraud who can only look good through movie magic when he wants to show them all his superhuman abilities are entirely his own.
    • Johnny initially is in disbelief about the whole Mortal Kombat and other realms thing, and yet he doesn't mention or see his powers as being equally unbelievable. Also, the whole reason he's there is because of people calling him out and saying he's all flash with no substance. He insists that his energy powers are legit and will prove it at the Mortal Kombat tournament... yet thinks nothing of them in spite of that. However this becomes a Justified Trope when it’s revealed during Chapter 1 of Mortal Kombat X that he was unaware of his energy powers prior to Shinnok’s invasion of Earthrealm.
  • Arrogant Kung-Fu Guy: His main defining character trait is his overwhelmingly large ego, tempered by an equally sharp tongue and razor wit. And while in the rebooted timeline it's mostly justified, given he's the new Earthrealm Champion by X, it hasn't won him many friends. Even though he has dialed it back by the time of X, his daughter Cassie, Jacqui Briggs, and Takeda are among the few who seem to like him.
  • Back for the Dead: His eventual fate in Annihilation, courtesy of a Neck Snap from Shao Kahn.
  • Battle Aura: Johnny can generate a green energy aura that enhances his strength and speed, allowing him to fire green Energy Balls.
  • Berserk Button: In the first movie. Goro should not have crushed those $500 pair of shades. That, and killing off Johnny's friend.
  • Born Lucky: While other combatants can justify their special powers with reasons going from Training from Hell or being Physical Gods, sorcerers or Ninjas/McNinjas; Johnny Cage has no background for how he got his energy blasts, he's simply naturally gifted. It wasn't until 9 that an explanation for said powers was given (with X actually making said explanation a plot point): he is descended from a Mediterranean warrior cult who bred fighters for the gods.
  • The Casanova: While his luck with other kombatants is low, Cage is more than capable of getting women, if one dialogue with Kano is any indication.
  • Chronically Killed Actor: In the most literal way possible.
  • Combat Pragmatist: In the movie, he realizes that going toe to toe with Goro would be suicide, so he uses strategy to outmaneuver him. Then there's his Groin Attack.
  • Cool Shades:
    • While they were always part of his character, with official art always depicting him wearing shades, he only started wearing them during fights from Trilogy onwards.
    • In the first movie, he values them more than any worldly possession. Then Goro broke them, and the rest is history:
    • In his 9 victory pose, his shades break in half. No problem: he just takes out a brand new pair and puts them on!
    • In 11, his shades are customizable via gear and evidently come with a self destruct mechanism as seen in one of his brutalities.
  • Crouching Moron, Hidden Badass: Looks every bit of a muggle, and acts like a jerkass, but he can hold his own against all kinds of enemies, including Tarkatans, cyborgs, physical gods, sorcerers, etc. This is fully realized in X where he takes on and defeats Shinnok.
  • Enhanced Punch: His "Green Shadow Uppercut".
  • Fake Ultimate Hero: Dips into this from time to time.
    • Armageddon tries to take the "fake" part out, by having him being the first of the heroes to see Shinnok back into the scene, and then rallying the band of heroes for the final battle. His (non-canonical) ending states that he gained superior strength and dexterity, but more important, a new insight into his existence. With the help of Shaolin masters, he renounced his superficial former life and became enlightened.
    • Subverted in the alternate timeline. The first time is in MKX's Story mode, where he defeated Shinnok by sending his amulet to Raiden so he can have the fallen Elder God sealed in and the second time in the MKX prequel comics, where he succesfully defuses a tense standoff with Kotal Kahn, with the latter even respectfully calling him 'champion'.
  • The Fighting Narcissist: A rare heroic example. He's totally full of himself, cocky and arrogant, to the point of having his name tattooed on his chest and using brass knuckles with his name on them. But he really is a good fighter, and he's one of the most moral, selfless heroes in the series once his heart of gold shines through.
  • The Friend Nobody Likes: Not all the time, but it's definitely a thing with him.
    • In the older games he is generally disliked for his sleazy personality and nature as a polarizing actor.
    • In Mortal Kombat Legends: Scorpion's Revenge, his hitting on Sonya leads her to viciously crunch his boys twice, with no objection from those around him.
    • In the Netherrealm timeline, this is ZigZagged. His part in saving the world on more than one occasion means he enjoys a fair deal of respect, especially from the younger generation of heroes and particularly Cassie who adores him. It also helps that he's Older and Wiser and when he's on the clock in Story Mode he's far more professional, not going out of his way to annoy people. However, when he's off the clock in basic fighting mode, his arrogant and irreverent personality and penchant for lame jokes and puns at the expense of others come back in full force, which generally means that even those who are on his side find him very annoying to be around.
  • The Gadfly: His big mouth is both one of his best weapons and one of his biggest liabilities, as Johnny chronically mocks and perturbs just about everyone he comes across. He does it mostly for laughs or to get a rise out of someone, but sometimes he does it tactically to make people underestimate him, or get too angry to act reasonably. Some people tolerate him, others just hit him in the face. This includes his own allies on occasion. This is apparently just in his nature and he recognizes that this isn't always the best course of action.
    Johnny: Kung Pao, my man!
    Kung Lao: [Annoyed] I am DONE correcting you, Cage.
    Johnny: Sorry, it—it's like a reflex.
  • Groin Attack:
    • His "Split Punch" signature attack, a special move where he does the splits and plants his fist directly into his opponent's crotch.
    • And then there's his memorable use of the move on Goro in the movie.
  • Guile Hero: For all his goofiness, Cage is smarter than he looks: his defeat of Goro in The Movie was reliant almost entirely on cunning tactical maneuvering, as he lures the Shokan to a cliff and ambushes him, knocking him to his doom.
  • Guest Fighter: Showed up to battle the WWE roster in the Netherrealm-made WWE Immortals.
  • Handwraps of Awesome: These have been a part of his outfit since Deadly Alliance.
  • Hunk: Sure, he may be egotistical, but you can't deny his good looks. He certainly won't.
  • I Should Write a Book About This: Most of his endings and biographies in the original timeline depict him making movies based on his experiences fighting in the Mortal Kombat tournament. MK1 makes this a plot point, as he uses the footage he filmed during his adventures to create a cinematic universe designed to ease Earthrealmers into the idea that other realms exists at the urging of Fire God Liu Kang.
  • I'll Take That as a Compliment: This exchange between Johnny and Sonya in the first film:
    Sonya: [after Johnny tells her that he is facing Goro] Oh, I can't believe this! You are the most egotistical, self-deluded person I have ever met!
    Johnny: Yeah, well you forgot good-looking.
  • It's Personal:
    • Johnny's vendetta with Shang Tsung (for the murder of Johnny's master, Boyd) was first seen in the original live-action film adaptation. It was canonized years later in MK11, where one of their pre-fight intros has Johnny openly accuse Tsun and declare his intention to settle the score. Notable in that it's one of the few times that Johnny is dead serious.
    • The animosity is mutual between him and Prince Goro. Johnny hasn't forgotten about those $500 shades Goro ruined, nor has Goro forgotten what Johnny did to him because of it.
    Johnny: Don't you still owe me some sunglasses?
    Goro: Here is what you are "owed".
  • Large Ham: Expected from an actor, of action movies no less.
  • Manchild: He's 29 during the events of the first tournament but acts like an arrogant, self-centered teenager. He grows out of it in his later years, especially after having Cassie in the original Netherrealm timeline.
  • McNinja: He's not an example (barring some bonus costumes) but in-universe he plays these in his movies, with titles like "Ninja Mime" and "Ninja Priest" being name-dropped.
  • Meaningful Name: It's probably more than a coincidence that Kage in Japanese means shadow and Johnny Cage is the master of many "shadow" techniques himself.
  • Narcissist: A heroic example as Johnny normally starts off as a big showoff who likes to flaunt and compliment himself about his career and his performances. In fact, he's more than eager to prove how awesome he is during the Mortal Kombat Tournament... at first. This attitude predictably earns him very little respect and friends. He does eventually mellow and grow out of this mindset as he realizes the real stakes of the tournament and puts the needs of others before his own.
  • No Celebrities Were Harmed: Has been based on Jean-Claude Van Damme since the early days, and his stage name comes from Nicolas Cage.
  • Plucky Comic Relief: Unquestionably fills this role for the series.
  • Pungeon Master: In the Movie, he is particularly prone to incredibly lame puns, to the point that he's basically the comic relief of the film.
  • The Rival: Of Goro. Becomes canon after the movie.
  • Ship Tease: Towards Sonya, especially in the first movie. In 9, he tries to conquer her. As X shows, he succeeded in wooing Sonya, as their daughter is a playable character.
  • Shotoclone: He's actually the closest MK has gotten to adhering to one: a projectile (Plasmic Bolt), an anti-air uppercut (Green Shadow Uppercut) and a straight attack (His Shadow Kicks).
  • Speaks in Shout-Outs: Johnny is almost constantly quoting movies at people, especially in pre-battle banter, and they usually either respond in kind or just get confused.
  • Speed Echoes: Several of his Shadow moves have this effect.
  • Sunglasses at Night: He's almost always seen wearing his Cool Shades, even during fights and cutscenes at night, out in the open.
  • Tall, Dark, and Handsome: Canonically six feet tall, and one of the series' poster boys for male fanservice.
  • Walking Shirtless Scene: His default outfit in most games and available as an alternate if not his standard outfit.

     Tropes related to Johnny Cage in the Midway timeline 
Tropes that appear across all of Johnny Cage's appearances from Mortal Kombat (1992) to Mortal Kombat: Armageddon.
  • Ascended Glitch: In the first game, a glitch allowed Johnny to perform his decapitation fatality uppercut multiple times, knocking off at least 2 heads of his opponent. It was kept (and the ante upped by guaranteeing three heads were sent flying) for 2 and Trilogy.
  • Back from the Dead: Constantly. Lampshaded when, prior to joining the battle against the Deadly Alliance, he was (unwillingly) starting to film Mortal Kombat: The Death of Johnny Cage, in which he was repeatedly killed and brought back to life.
  • Badass in a Nice Suit: Prior to the events in Deadly Alliance, he arrives on Shang Tsung's Island dressed in a tux via parachute. He also has one as an alternate in 4, Deadly Alliance and Armageddon.
  • Brainwashed: To serve Onaga in Deception.
  • Butt-Monkey: Somewhat rendered as such after ''II'', likely as punishment for his actor (Daniel Pesina) advertising a rival game, BloodStorm, while in full costume.
  • Groin Attack:
    • His "Split Punch" signature attack. It wouldn't work on the females in the earler games, probably because of the common misconception that women somehow wouldn't be harmed by it. It also couldn't be used on bosses either.
    • One of his Fatalities in Mortal Kombat: Shaolin Monks is a series of punches to the testicles, eventually using their swollen sack as a speedbag and finally ending with one last punch that hits so hard, the victim's legs pop off of their torso.
  • Half the Man He Used to Be:
    • His Torso Rip Fatality in II and Trilogy.
    • In Shaolin Monks, he has a fatality where he will punch the opponent in the groin several times, mugs for the camera, punches the groin for a bit like a speedbag, and then does one final monster punch that pulverises the entire pelvic region, effectively cutting the unlucky victim in half.
  • I Should Write a Book About This: Most of his endings in the original games had him make films based on his adventures, with them becoming massive blockbuster successes.
  • Kangaroos Represent Australia: He turns into one to kick his opponent off screen as an Animality in Trilogy. Subverted, however, because Johnny is American, not Australian. The actual Aussie, Kano, gets a Giant Spider as an Animality.
  • Kill Steal: Interrupts Kung Lao before he can finish off Goro in Shaolin Monks, then he throws his fist in the air in celebration.
  • Off with His Head!:
    • His classic Fatality from 1, II, Trilogy and Deadly Alliance, in which Cage delivers a savage uppercut that tears his opponent's head off.
    • A glitch in II lets him rip three heads.
  • Person as Verb: Tried this with himself in Shaolin Monks.
    "You just got Caged!"
  • Sharp-Dressed Man: His alts. in 4, Deadly Alliance and Armageddon.
  • Situational Damage Attack: All the way through the series, Johnny Cage can use his notorious Nut Punch. This attack had no effect on female fighters, possibly due to the erroneous assumption that groin attacks aren't painful to women. It wouldn't also work on bosses.
  • Stance System:
    • In Deadly Alliance, he has Jeet Kune Do and Karate as unarmed styles, and Nunchaku as weapon style.
    • In Deception, he replaces Karate with Shinto Ryu.
    • In Armageddon, he has Shorin Ryu as unarmed style, and Nunchaku as weapon style.
  • They Killed Kenny Again: Johnny dies in Mortal Kombat 3, temporarily resurrected in Trilogy (meaning that he's dead again at the end), resurrected in Mortal Kombat 4, Mortal Kombat: Deception reveals that he doesn't survive the events of Mortal Kombat: Deadly Alliance and the aftermath of Mortal Kombat: Armageddon, dies in the second Mortal Kombat movie, and even rejects a role in the movie "The Death of Johnny Cage" in Deadly Alliance (even lampshading that he was tired of starring in roles where he died and came back to life again).
  • Whole Costume Reference: His costume in the first game is based on that of Frank Dux, Jean-Claude Van Damme's character in Bloodsport.

     Tropes related to Johnny Cage in the original Netherrealm timeline 
Tropes that appear across all of Johnny Cage's appearances from Mortal Kombat 9 to Mortal Kombat 11.
  • Abusive Parents:
    • He tells his younger self during his chapter in 11 that their father was "an asshole", but doesn't clarify if he means in general or to him specifically.
    • Also, in an intro with Cassie in 11, she reveals that Johnny's own mother also nicknamed him "Johnny Pee-Pants" as a child despite only wetting the bed once, and would later share this information with her granddaughter at his expense.
  • Action Dad: He's the father of Cassie Cage, one of the new characters in X.
  • Agent Peacock: Downplayed, but in 9, he proclaims that he's "so pretty!" after a win early in the story mode, and in 11, his younger self carries a compact mirror and gets his Berserk Button pressed when he gets grazed in the cheek by a bullet.
  • Amazon Chaser: Johnny seems to have an attraction to strong women, as evidenced by hitting on many of the female Kombatants. He eventually married Sonya Blade, who's a Special Forces operative and drill sergeant. In MK11, he admits to having a thing for Edenians and openly expresses an interest in Jade, in particular.
  • Ambidextrous Sprite: Played with in X. In his normal win pose, he pulls out a marker and autographs an 8x10 of himself, tossing it to his foe. Which hand he writes with is based on which way he's facing. He has separate scenes for writing (the "Cage" portion of "To My Biggest Fan! CAGE") with his right and left; either way, his handwriting is perfectly fine.
  • Amicable Exes: With Sonya. It appears that it's only on his part and only whenever Cassie is concerned. Becomes this for real at the end of X, with Sonya actually warming up to him.
  • And You Thought It Was a Game: He starts 9 thinking the whole tournament is just elaborate role-play.
  • The Apocalypse Brings Out the Best in People:
    • Fighting to protect Earthrealm caused him to grow way past being a smug Hollywood star in over his head. This is particularly true in the rebooted timeline where the significant losses on the heroes side forced him to step up as its champion against Shinnok.
    • The Character Development for Past Johnny Cage in 11 starts in Aftermath, after witnessing Sonya and Cassie getting defeated by Shao Kahn and Sindel. It didn't work, but he did take things seriously for once in that moment.
  • Ascended to a Higher Plane of Existence: Sonya's 11 tower ending had him be recruited for her "God Squad". But only because Cassie insisted. And because she missed him... but only a little. Don't tell him about that last part though.
  • Ascended Extra: Years before X, if you told MK fans that Johnny Cage would be the new champion of Earthrealm, you would be called a liar. Yet, here we are. Even if Johnny was a part of the original MK, he was always portrayed as the Butt-Monkey to one of Earthrealm's finest warriors and never really got past the Plucky Comic Relief role. While the new timeline has been very generous to him, unfortunately most of his friends got killed as a result.
  • Ascended Glitch: In the first game, a glitch allowed Johnny to perform his decapitation fatality uppercut multiple times, knocking off at least 2 heads of his opponent. It came back in a Breaking the Fourth Wall way in 11; at first it seems he's just going to do his regular deadly uppercut (which does shatter his victim's jaw, to his credit) before a director offscreen yells cut. Cue him getting more and more frustrated as he performs the move twice more (for a total of three like the MKII and Trilogy versions) before tossing the opponent's now decapitated head at the camera and breaking it.
  • Attention Whore: During his earliest days in combat, he wouldn't shut up about boasting how awesome he is and how successful his career is. When Shang Tsung told him to enter the ring in 9, Johnny was pretty eager about it, very openly demanding who his opponent was, clearly aiming to prove his fighting chops to the audience and winning Sonya's affection. This proves a major reason why an older and wiser Johnny couldn't stand his younger self during 11.
  • Badass Boast: From the story mode of 9:
    Johnny Cage: Fans think my moves are all wire work and special effects. Truth is... I am the special effects.
  • Badass in a Nice Suit: In 9, he comes to the first tournament wearing a tuxedo with a loosened bow tie that also serves as his alternate.
  • Badass in Distress: Towards the end of X, he's captured by Shinnok and D'Vorah, and spends the rest of the game in a cocoon with maggots slowly eating his face. It takes Cassie beating them both down to save him.
  • Berserk Button:
    • MKX implies he's sensitive to remarks about his movie career.
    Mileena: The failed actor.
    Johnny Cage: I'm gonna take my awards and shove 'em through your skull!
    Mileena: Touchy, aren't we?
    • In 11, his younger self snaps when he gets grazed by a bullet and it leaves a gash on his cheek.
    • Also in 11:
    Johnny Cage: No-one takes shots at the tattoo!
    Erron Black: I just did, Cage.
    Johnny Cage: Imma beat you back to Tex-ASS-istan!
  • Beware the Silly Ones: Sure, Cage may seem like a wisecracking goofball, but disregard him at your own peril. And mellowed out he may be in X, but threaten his loved ones and he'll gain a new Super Mode and No-Sell an Elder God's attacks and then wipe the floor with him!
    Johnny Cage: Mr. Briggs, I presume.
    Jax: You always gotta be a fool?
    Johnny Cage: Alright. Let's get serious.
  • Big Damn Heroes: The first chapter of X has him not only beat up Sub-Zero and Scorpion, but he also manages to not only No-Sell Shinnok's amulet and save Sonya, but also beat up said fallen Elder God and help Raiden seal him away in his own amulet! And people wonder how he's the new Champion of Earthrealm...
  • Bond One-Liner: Johnny pieces one together after beating Kano at the end of his chapter in 9, although he's a little unsure about it because he can't really do Australian.
    Johnny Cage: Throw that on your... barbie... shrimp... (Shrug)
  • Brainwashed and Crazy: Corrupted under the Blood Code in the X comics thanks to Jacqui.
  • Breaking the Fourth Wall: Johnny can summon a stunt double in Mortal Kombat 11 (and not just a shadow clone like he did in the "Stunt Double" variation in X but an actual lookalike) to attack or hold his opponent down, can accidentally bump into a boom mic between rounds, and his first Fatality has him try to knock his opponent's head off with his classic uppercut Fatality but it goes wrong, resulting in the director calling for a retake. He tries two more times before his opponent's head gets stuck on his hand (by virtue of it having already lost the jaw two punches ago) and he throws the decapitated head towards the camera out of frustration.
    Johnny Cage: Who hired this guy? What the f***?
  • Broken Win/Loss Streak: With Kitana, apparently.
    Kitana: I have bested you before.
    Johnny Cage: I was being nice, those... ten times.
  • Butt-Monkey: His younger self is this in 11. His future self is ashamed of him because he's exactly who he was before. The younger Sonya is slightly ashamed of how she’ll marry and have a kid with him in the future and the other good guys unabashedly prefer his older self over him. This even extends to physical abuse, as he gets his ass kicked by future self, Erron Black, the older Kano, and Shao Kahn.
  • Calling the Old Man Out:
    • Blames Sonya's job for their divorce. They manage to patch things up between X and 11 when he becomes more directly involved with Special Forces.
    • In his chapter in 11's Story Mode, he calls out his own father for partly influencing his past self to become a rude jackass.
  • Calling the Young Man Out: His solo chapter in 11 also features him pulling this on his younger self as well, as Johnny has grown wiser and humbler with age and experience, and is as annoyed as everyone else by "Hollywood" Johnny's crude, narcissistic behavior and lack of respect for Special Forces command. Since he knows the only kind of pep talk his past self will listen to is an ass-kicking, he goads young Johnny into a physical fight and soundly beats him.
  • Casting a Shadow: Johnny's Stunt Double variation in X has him able to use some of his moves in a safe distance, and keeping him away from trouble. However, the shadow "stunt doubles" or "mimics" as the game refers to them are yellow instead of his usual green.
  • Casanova Wannabe:
    • Towards Sonya in the first chapter of 9:
    Johnny: I'm taking you down, I'm taking you down, I'm taking you out, I'm taking you out, and [approaches Sonya] I'm taking you out... for dinner.
    • Johnny also flirts with Jade during their pre-fight banter in MK11:
    Johnny: (smirking) My green magic, your green outfit...?
    Jade: (smirks back and chuckles) By the gods, no.
    Johnny: Your loss, sweetheart.
    • Kitana, too, is much less impressed.
    Johnny: Johnny Cage. Is. The Edenian Candidate.
    Kitana: By the gods, no.
    • Add Frost to his list of would-be "Konquests", though she isn't as kind about it as Jade:
    Frost: If you even think it, Cage.
    Johnny: (smirking) You know it's crossed your mind.
    Frost: I am NOT interested.
    • Not even Elder Gods are immune:
    Johnny: You thinking what I'm thinking?
    Cetrion: That you are a vapid, arrogant child?
    Johnny: Don't let that stop you.
  • The Champion: In the comics, Kotal Kahn refers to him as Raiden's, effectively replacing the late Liu Kang.
  • Character Development:
    • He's introduced in 9 as an insufferable, showboating and self-aggrandizing movie star, and over the course of the game, turns out to be a surprisingly loyal friend, and the conscience of the team. The sequel takes it up a notch and reveals him to be a doting and loving father, a supportive mentor to an entire generation of heroes, and a visibly more mature guy overall, a very far cry from the shallow Hollywood caricature of the old games.
    • Based on his ending in 11, after defeating Shinnok, he had returned to Hollywood, obviously having Cassie with Sonya during that time, but soon spiraled out of control and hit rock bottom. In order to be a be a better father to Cassie, he cleaned up his act and became the man she looked up to by X. Past!Johnny lampshades this as he could remove this part of his history in his ending, but he would never be the man that Present!Johnny is without the hardships.
  • The Charmer: Mediates successfully with Kotal Kahn to defuse a tense standoff in the comics.
  • Children Raise You: Johnny's 11 ending that implies that his fame following Shinnok's defeat eventually goes over his head and he let Cassie down. Seeing how he disappointed his daughter, Johnny vows to clean up his act and become a man worthy of her respect.
  • Cool Old Guy: He's 54 in X (as he was 29 for the first tournament), so this qualifies. He's pretty easygoing and always ready with the witty repartee, and a supportive mentor to the next generation.
  • Cool Teacher: Helps in training Cassie, Jacqui, Takeda and Kung Jin in X.
  • A Day in the Limelight:
    • In the rebooted timeline, he's the focus of the first chapter of 9 and X.
    • Taken further in Mortal Kombat X, as the Cage family are the closest thing to the main characters of the story. Johnny and Cassie are instrumental in taking down Shinnok, the past segments show signifigant time to Johnny and Sonya, and the present storyline sees Johnny mentoring a small group lead by Cassie.
    • By Mortal Kombat 11, he's the focus of Chapter 6.
  • Dead Guy Puppet: One of his Fatalities in 11 involves him shoving his arm into his opponent's body and tearing off their torso. And then he starts using it as a dummy in a ventriloquist act, complete with a Dramatic Spotlight!
    Opponent: What did you do, Johnny?
    Johnny: Just what you asked!
    Opponent: Not what I meant by "the splits"!
    (Crowd boos Johnny and throws tomatoes at him, with one of them hitting the corpse)
  • Deadpan Snarker: Seems to be this at first, in tone with his movie self, as seen in MK9. And 25 years later, he still got it.
  • Did You Just Punch Out Cthulhu?: In his finest hour, Johnny Cage defeated Shinnok.
  • Difficult, but Awesome: Utilizing his Throwing Shades' Krushing Blow in 11. Normally, his Throwing Shades act as a pretty unremarkable projectile - very little zoning capability, poor damage - but where it shines is with its Krushing Blow, which actives if the move is landed as the first attack of a match or the more difficult option: in the middle of a combo that involves a Fatal Blow dash cancel, since Johnny is one of two characters in 11 that can cancel his Fatal Blow to retain its usage and lead into strings that are normally not possible. Learning how to properly dash cancel out of it and land the shades' Krushing Blow leads to ridiculous combo routes that can easily turn back the tide of a losing match without outright relying on his Fatal Blow's massive damage output.
  • Does Not Know His Own Strength: The first chapter in X hints at this as he takes an intented killshot from Shinnok to protect Sonya and comes out unscathed, all while glowing his usual green. His immediate reaction quickly tells that he was clearly not expecting to come away standing.
  • Downer Ending: In Aftermath, Past!Johnny gets beat up by Shao Khan and then he, Past!Sonya, and Cassie are taken prisoner with the intent to for them to be used as breeding slaves.
  • Dude, Where's My Respect?:
    Kitana: So you were to defeat Shinnok?
    Johnny: What is with people!? Is it so hard to believe!?
    Kitana: Yes.

    Johnny: Once upon a time, I beat Shinnok!
    Shang Tsung: My, what a colorful imagination...
    Johnny: Look it up! I laid him out!
  • Embarrassing Nickname: His intro dialogue with his daughter in Mortal Kombat 11 reveals he had one.
    Johnny Cage: Grandma Carlton told you my secret?
    Cassie Cage: [Chuckle] Johnny Pee-Pants?
    Johnny Cage: I had one accident. ONE!
  • Everyone Has Standards:
    Johnny Cage: What's that on your fa— OHHHHH!
    Johnny Cage: ...That's just really fucked up, man.
    • And despite his penchant for hitting on women, even he draws the line at Mileena in X and D'Vorah and Skarlet in 11. In Mileena's case, it's because she's part Tarkatan and a cannibal, whereas D'Vorah and Skarlet both creep him out.
    D'Vorah: Why not come closer?
    Johnny: You are not sucking my face like Mileena's!
    D'Vorah: Johnny Cage, afraid of a kiss?
    • Similarly, when Kano offers him a prostitute Johnny refuses, saying that he "doesn't pay for it". Kano is too amused to be upset.
    Kano: A scruple? Note the date and time!
    • Though he has some of the most brutal (and comical) fatalities, he only kills when it's absolutely necessary. When Shang Tsung orders him to execute Reptile after defeating him, he's aghast at Tsung's ruthlessness and tells him that he's not going to kill him.
    • In one of Johnny's intros with Rain in 11, he shoots down the latter's desire to be in one of his movies. Apparently, Rain's too much of an asshole that not even Johnny can stand him.
  • Establishing Character Moment: In 9, he spends his first few fights goofing off, preening and grandstanding, hitting on Sonya, and generally making an ass of himself... but is horrified when Shang Tsung demands he "finish" a fallen opponent.
  • Family Man: Surprisingly, he's a committed husband and father. He's damn good at raising Cassie and was a faithful husband to Sonya until her inability to commit to him and Cassie led to their divorce.
  • A Father to His Men: Literally to Cassie, but he has a similar dynamic with the rest of his trainees in X and 11. It definitely helps that Character Development has curbed the worst of his Jerkass tendencies by the time he's teaching them. He's even willing to stand up for Jacqui to her father.
    Johnny: Why are you pissed at me?
    Jax: I don't want Jacqui on your team.
    Johnny: Guess what? It's not up to you!
  • Fighting Clown: His Ninja Mime skins in X and 11 make him a literal example, but he always has a couple of silly attacks in his fighting style, including using trophies, stunt doubles and cameras. And that's not even getting into his constant snark.
  • Flipping the Bird: His first Fatality in 11 ends with him discreetly flipping off the camera as he chucks his opponent's decapitated head towards it. He also flips off the player when they customize his belt buckle.
  • Freudian Excuse: If 11 is to be believed, Johnny's worst behaviour was partially caused by having an "asshole" father who taught him that humility is a sign of weakness and to never show it. The other part was the toxic influence of his Hollywood fame.
    Past Johnny: Dad always said, "Hungry people eat lunch, humble people serve it."
    Present Johnny: (Dope Slaps Past Johnny) Dad was an asshole! And Hollywood made us an even bigger one!
  • The Friend Nobody Likes: Zig-Zagged. His part in saving the world on more than one occasion means he enjoys a fair deal of respect, especially from the younger generation of heroes and particularly Cassie who adores him. It also helps that he's Older and Wiser and when he's on the clock in Story Mode he's far more professional, not going out of his way to annoy people. However, when he's off the clock in basic fighting mode, his arrogant and irreverent personality and penchant for lame jokes and puns at the expense of others come back in full force, which generally means that even those who are on his side find him very annoying to be around.
    Sub-Zero: You approach me as a foe...
    Johnny: Nah, I'm just outta ice cubes.
    Sub-Zero: At times, I regret our alliance.

    Raiden: You followed me.
    Johnny: You need me here!
    Raiden: Has anyone agreed with that statement?!/It wouldn't be Hell without Johnny Cage.

    Skarlet: I will have your ancient power.
    Johnny: Not what I call it, but, uh... okay.
    Skarlet: No one will miss you, Cage.
    • Played Straight again in 11 with Johnny's past self. Everybody hates him, even and especially the present Johnny, due to him being Johnny Cage on his worst Jerkass behaviour. It's to the point that present Johnny tries (and initially fails) to teach him humility and respect for others.
      Johnny: Come on, do you really like Future Johnny better?
      Jacqui: Name someone who doesn't.
  • Full-Name Basis: He screams "JOHNNY CAGE!" after winning a round or winning a Test Your Might/Strike/Sight minigame.
  • Gallows Humor: After being stabbed by the revenant Jax as he lies bleeding out when Sonya tells him he'll be ok.
    Johnny: I don't know. I think blood is supposed to be on the inside.
  • Good Parents: Cassie adores him, and surprisingly, he turns out to be possibly the best dad in the MK-verse by a long shot. Only Jax even comes close.
  • Great Accomplishment, Weak Credibility: An intro dialogue in 11 has Shang Tsung dismissing Johnny Cage's claim of defeating Shinnok. While anyone who played X knows Johnny is telling the truth, his facetious attitude makes it very easy for Shang Tsung, who wasn't present during the events of that game, to disbelieve him.
  • Groin Attack:
    • His "Split Punch" signature attack, a special move where he does the splits and plants his fist directly into his opponent's crotch. Unlike the Midway timeline, here it works on both females and bosses.
    • The first part of his X-Ray move in Mortal Kombat 9 is a three-punch combo to the groin.
    • It also has a Brutality version in X, wherein it either pops the victim's head off, or causes their eyes to pop out.
  • Half the Man He Used to Be:
    • His Torso Rip fatality in 9.
    • His Stunt Double variation in X has a Brutality that does the same with the Shadow Kick.
    • 11 brings back the torso rip, now with a decidedly comedic twist, as mentioned under Dead Guy Puppet above.
  • Hand Cannon: He has a Desert Eagle holstered around his waist in 11, although he doesn't ever use it.
  • Handsome Lech: He's a handsome, well-built man, but many of his intros with women have them rejecting his advances because he's an arrogant narcissist.
  • Has a Type: In 11, Johnny admits there's two types of women he likes: blondes (like Sonya) and Edenians. In one of his pre-fight banters with Jade, Johnny makes it clear that he's interested. A separate one has him tell Jade that he once dated a beauty queen who looked exactly like her. And, if you use Johnny to fight Kotal Khan, he'll ask Kotal if he knows whether Jade has any sisters.
  • The Heart: Believe it or not. Cage may be a pompous ass, but he's genuinely a nice guy underneath, and of all the heroes he's the one that fights for the good guys just because it's the right thing to do. He also may love to kick ass, but he's horrified when Shang Tsung asks him to kill his defeated opponent. During the course of the Story Mode in 9, he pretty much becomes the team's moral center. Becomes even more notable in X when paired with the stricter Sonya, keeping her from giving into her desire to kill Kano so that they can get info out of him and getting her to talk to Cassie less as a commander and more like a mother despite them having already split up on bad terms.
  • The Hero: Takes up the position in the flashbacks of X to the point where he's singlehandedly responsible for Shinnok's defeat.
  • Heroic Willpower: Even more than Sonya. This guy spent last quarter of X wrapped up in a cocoon with maggots trying to eat him alive... and his sanity was still intact after all of it.
  • Hidden Depths:
    • Johnny was always insufferably arrogant but consistently proved himself a decent person when push came to shove. A large part of his Character Development involves him blunting his arrogance while emphasizing his more heroic qualities.
    • There are hints that all his years in the film industry have made him business savvy in 11.
    • He can also be surprisingly deep at times, as evident in one of his banter lines with Shang Tsung:
  • Humble Pie: Johnny's Tower Ending in 11 vaguely hints to a key moment post-Shinnok that truly changed Johnny from the Hollywood glory hound to the true Champion of Earthrealm and supportive father/father figure he was in X and onward.
  • I Hate Past Me: Has shades of this when he runs into his younger self in 11. Johnny is fully aware of what an egotistical asshole he used to be, and the older and far more mature Cage Senior is incredibly frustrated with his younger self's Arrogant Kung-Fu Guy attitude, even referring to him as his evil twin. In Johnny's story chapter, young Johnny even ends up being his first opponent after his movie-star entitlement and disrespect leads him to go too far and make an embarrassing crude remark about Sonya.
  • Improbable Weapon User: 11 adds an arsenal of silly weapons for him to use in combat, including trophies, cameras with the flash on, stunt doubles, and in one Brutality, a boom mic.
  • Ink-Suit Actor: Cage's 11 "Movie" skin uses the voice and likeness of Linden Ashby, his actor in Mortal Kombat: The Movie, reprising the role.
  • Insane Troll Logic: He is flabbergasted how Shao Kahn is not a Shokan (to Shao's annoyed bewilderment), even claiming to lose sleep over it.
  • Jerk Justifications: It's revealed in 11 that his father told him "Hungry people eat lunch; humble people serve it." Past Johnny uses this to justify his arrogant attitude, but Present Johnny has none of it.
    Present Johnny Cage: Dad was an asshole! Hollywood made us an even bigger one!
  • Jerk with a Heart of Gold: Possibly his defining character trait. During Jax's chapter in 9, Johnny, Raiden, and Jax find themselves stuck at the Kombat Armory, when he probes Jax's relationship with Sonya.note  Johnny, being himself, makes his intentions with Sonya a little less than subtle. This prompts Jax to challenge Johnny to a fight right there and then. However, afterwards, he brushes it off later and even good-naturedly jokes about it after they find Sonya. By the time of X, he's almost to the point of being a straight up Nice Guy.
  • Jerkass Realization:
    • It's revealed in his Ladder ending in 11 that at a time when Johnny became drunk and washed up, a young Cassie looked at him with a very disappointed look that made him feel terrible for letting her down; this was the impetus for his Character Development as seen in X. Past Johnny, who is narrating this ending, chooses to leave it unchanged as he recognises its importance in making him a better person.
    • Past!Johnny goes through one himself, albeit in more understated fashion after his Sonya saves his life, both thanking her as well as sincerely apologizing for being the way he was.
  • Let's Get Dangerous!:
    • Whilst fighting a brainwashed Jacqui in the comics:
    Johnny: All righty. Glasses on... [Shadow Kicks Jacqui] ...gloves off.
    • In Aftermath, past!Johnny takes off the kid gloves when Cassie and past!Sonya are endangered by Shao Kahn and Sindel.
    Johnny: Okay bozos! No jokes, no gimmicks, just kombat! You wanna get nuts?! Let's get nuts!
  • Little "No": In 11, after the mission to destroy Liu Kang and Kitana's castle in Chapter 1, Johnny invokes this when he sees the look on Cassie's tear-streaked face and realizes that Sonya perished during the mission.
  • Made of Iron: Johnny has proven to be a glutton for punishment on multiple occasions. Most notable in 11, where Past Johnny is forced to fight Past Sonya, but takes it in stride, orders Sonya to beat the shit out of him and refuses to take a dive, all because he knows Kano better than to be even the slightest bit fair with them.
  • The Merch: In-Universe, as of 11, Johnny Cage now sports an action figure of himself on his person he whips out for brutalities and a win pose.note 
  • Misery Builds Character: His Arcade ending in 11 explains that he underwent massive Character Development after hitting rock-bottom in Hollywood and disappointing then-child Cassie. Past Johnny initially considers removing the hitting rock-bottom part from history, but ultimately doesn't as he considers it important for his own growth.
  • Mr. Fanservice: He's an action movie star who's always been bare-chested. Slightly averted in X, where he spends the game dressed either in a military uniform or pants and a hoodie and has his face chewed up by D'Vorah's maggots. However, his bare-chested primary costume from 9 is an unlockable, and he answers the door for Sonya in the X comics in nothing but a towel.
  • Nice Guy: By the time of X, he has completely become one. In 11 older Johnny has completely mellowed out to the point that he and Sonya have got back together. He has zero moments during story mode where his ego gets in the way and remains a supportive and loving husband and father. In fact, he takes it upon himself to teach his own younger self some manners and humility.
  • The Nicknamer:
    • Constantly in the pre-battle dialogues in X, usually via an insulting movie reference. He clearly knows everyone's names, and will sometimes even address them properly, he just enjoys being a comical ass at the expense of his opponent—in other words, it's completely in character.
    • He gives one against Shang Tsung in one of their intros as he finds out he killed Johnny's master.
  • Not in the Face!: He does not take it well when he's about to get hit in the face. Best shown when Sonya Blade threatens to do just that.
    Sonya: You are begging to be punched in the face.
    Johnny Cage: No, NO! Not the face.
    Sonya: Reverse psychology at its best.
  • Official Couple Ordeal Syndrome: Despite being put through the wringer during the events of 9, Johnny does eventually hook up with Sonya, as evidenced by their daughter Cassie Cage appearing in X. They were married for a while, but divorced some time before that game began due to Sonya being Married to the Job. 11 has them back together, only for Sonya to die in the first chapter in a Heroic Sacrifice. Past!Sonya's chapter implies they can still end up together after she saves Past!Johnny's life.
  • Off with His Head!:
    • Two Fatalities in 9 and 11 are takes on his Head Uppercut classic Fatality.
    • The intro of MK9 inverts this: he's shown decapitated.
  • Oh, Crap!: When against Jason in X, and in response to Leatherface's appearance in XL.
    "Ohh... freak."
  • Older and Wiser: In X, he's a lot more serious and mature due to Sonya rubbing off on him and raising Cassie.
  • Older Sidekick: To his daughter in 11, and he is completely cool with it.
  • Once Done, Never Forgotten: His Ninja Mime movie is so infamously bad that multiple other kombatants taunt him about how much it sucks. Somehow it eventually got sequels, to the point that over twenty-five years later in 11, he's apparently still shooting them. It's such a running joke that whenever a character specifically names a movie Johnny has been in, odds are they'll mention Ninja Mime, and he's got Mime costumes in X and 11.
  • One True Love: Sonya. While Johnny constantly hits on girls in his intros, and was implied to have had past relationships in his days as an arrogant, entitled actor, the only woman he married and had a child with is her. While they divorced, Johnny (nor Sonya for that matter) never remarried and they eventually got back together. When Sonya dies, Johnny is incredibly heartbroken and when the past versions of him and Sonya arrive in the present, Johnny pushes his younger self to be nicer so that he can end up with Sonya.
  • O.O.C. Is Serious Business: While he can joke with him occasionally, Johnny takes on an uncharacteristically threatening tone when faced with Kano, warning him with grave seriousness to stay away from his family in X and 11. An attitude that not even Shao Kahn receives.
  • Our Ancestors Are Superheroes: Johnny's bio in 9 reveals that he is descended from a race of superhuman warriors who were bred as champions for the gods.
  • The One Thing I Don't Hate About You: Every interaction with Johnny and Kano have them trading insults with each other, but Johnny respects the fact that Kano has a showman's instinct for his "fans" by situating a fight club in Russia.
  • Papa Wolf: Joins Sonya in Outworld to rescue Cassie in the X comics and has to be restrained by Sonya from throttling Kano after he makes a snide jab about her fate.
  • Person as Verb: Tried this with himself in 9.
    "You got Caged!"
  • Playboy Has a Daughter: He's an arrogant, showboating womanizer in his youth before being mellowed out considerably by the events of the Mortal Kombat Tournament, and subsequent invasion of Earthrealm in the reboot. He then goes on to have a daughter, Cassie, who he grows to be a loving and supportive father to. Thanks to a Time Crash, this goes as far Johnny kicking his own past self's ass for not giving their daughter the respect she deserves and generally being an unlikeable prick he's long since outgrown.
  • Pop-Cultured Badass: Comes out full force with X. It's only natural for an actor with superpowers. Of note is his first Fataility, where he reenacts Jack Torrance's break in with his enemy's chest and his bare hands. "Heeeeeeere's Johnny!"
  • Power Fist: Johnny uses brass knuckles in X and 11.
  • Powerful, but Incompetent: Johnny is noted by many to be surprisingly powerful in terms of both martial arts ability and spiritual power. It's even revealed that he's one of the last descendants of an ancient tribe of monks with power that could defeat Elder Gods. Unfortunately, he is an arrogant prima donna and has Skewed Priorities that make him more concerned with his image and career as an actor than taking his fights seriously. This leads to him getting defeated and/or killed on numerous occasions in the franchise. After most of the more competent fighters wind up killed and Johnny settles down with a family, he finally learns to take his responsibilities (somewhat) seriously, becoming a much more competent fighter (although still not as skilled as some others, like Liu Kang or his daughter Cassie).
  • Power Incontinence: His ending in 9. His body begins to emit large, destructive bursts of energy in uncontrollable spasms, and neither Raiden nor Nightwolf are able to soothe them. Eventually, Raiden takes Johnny Cage to Seido to control his powers, which will result in him becoming more powerful than humanly imaginable.
  • The Power of Love: In X it's theorized that his Super Mode is powered by the desire to protect a loved one, hence why he can't use it on command.
  • Precision F-Strike: Originally, he didn't swear much. In XL, however, he has a few rare intro quotes against Leatherface and Triborg where he lets a few f-bombs fly. By 11, he more liberally incorporates swearing into his dialogue.
    Johnny: [Against Triborg] Is it mechanically possible for you to fuck yourself?
    Johnny: [Against Sonya] Agh, such a bitch!
  • Pungeon Master: Some of his intros in X and 11 feature puns.
  • Ragtag Bunch of Misfits: His squad in X consists of two Special Forces operatives (one of them being his daughter with Sonya), a Shirai Ryu ninja and a Shaolin archer. He has his work cut out for him. And as Jacqui points out, Team S-F was his idea.
  • Reasonable Authority Figure: He's quite laidback and approachable with the kids, contrasting Sonya's more hardline approach.
  • Red Herring Shirt: While he had an unhealthy predisposition towards dying in the Midway timeline, here he's more lucky:
    • He survives the events of 9.
    • In X, he comes close to dying in the finale, but ultimately pulls through.
    • 11 does this to both Johnny Cages. Present!Johnny is shot in the legs at the end of Chapter 6 and is taken out of commission for the remainder of the story. Past!Johnny is often held at gunpoint obviously risking Cassie's life as well. He is also out of commission for the remainder of the story after being rescued.
    • In Aftermath, the younger Johnny gets beaten by Shao Kahn (or Sindel), then captured and escorted to Outworld.
  • Red Oni, Blue Oni:
    • The Red to Sonya's Blue. By X, it's reversed as Johnny Took a Level in Kindness while Sonya Took a Level in Jerkass.
    • In 11, Johnny is on both ends in the forms of his younger and older selves. His younger self is the impulsive, arrogant Red to his older self's more restrained and disciplined Blue.
  • Ripple Effect Indicator: In 11, younger Johnny gets grazed in the face by a bullet, causing pain and a scar on older Johnny's cheek in the same spot.
  • Running Gag: Johnny is the victim of three gags in his intros in 11.
    • The main one is that hardly anyone can believe he (of all people) defeated Shinnok. In most cases, Johnny brushes it off with good humor, or a sarcastic retort. But when even Kitana says it, Johnny becomes exasperated and asks: "Is it really THAT HARD to believe??" to which, Kitana replies, "Yes."
    • He's attracted to Edenian women, so 11 has him hit on both Kitana and Jade. Both shoot him down with the exact same line: "By the gods, no."
    • He also tries to get the others to act in his films, but each of them turns him down either because they say his films suck, or simply because they'd have to put up with him.
    Scorpion: The answer remains, "No."
    Johnny: [Enthused] But you'd be co-starring with yours truly!
    Scorpion: [Annoyed] Exactly.
  • Sarcasm Failure: He can joke about practically anything... except Leatherface's human flesh masks, which make him cry out in disgust or mutter at how fucked up they are.
  • Sharp-Dressed Man: His alt in 9.
  • Shut Up, Hannibal!: Played for Laughs. In an intro against Shinnok in X, Johnny cuts him off and tells him to shut up when Shinnok is asserting a threat at him.
  • Silver Fox: Jacqui seems to think so, much to Cassie's chagrin. To be fair, he is pretty good-looking for a man in his fifties.
  • Snark-to-Snark Combat: Johnny trades verbal jabs with nearly the entire cast, usually because he's the one who starts it. Most try to ignore his comments, but his ex-wife and daughter won't hesitate to return "fire".
    Johnny: Talk to me.
    Sonya: That would mean you'd have to be quiet.
    Johnny: You're right. Never mind.
  • Sore Loser: His younger self at least. When he gets trounced by his much older (and wiser) self in a fight, he tells him that he got lucky and bitterly walks away.
  • Spam Attack: In his "Fisticuffs" variation in X, he can infinitely perform his variation's unique string ("The One-Two") by continuing the string input (b+1, 2, 1, 2...).
  • Spanner in the Works: Shinnok's plans in X didn't take him into consideration. When Shinnok escapes his prison, he's much more savvy and takes Johnny with him to suffer some Cold-Blooded Torture.
  • Stacy's Mom: A rare male example, as mentioned during one of Jacqui and Cassie's intro dialogues in X.
    Cassie: Don't speak to me ever.
    Jacqui: I just said your dad's kinda hot.
    Cassie: Stop it!
  • Stronger with Age: In 11, his older self is significantly tougher than his younger one.
  • Taking the Bullet: In X, he saves Sonya from being attacked by Shinnok by jumping in front of her. He then proceeds to kick Shinnok's ass.
  • Tall, Dark, and Snarky: Thanks to the pre-fight banter system of X, we find out that he's also not above sassing everyone he comes across, either with smartmouthed comebacks or just plain getting on their nerves. Watching a rundown of his exchanges could be summed up as "Johnny Cage is a dick to the Mortal Kombat universe." Turned up to 11 in... well, 11 as we don't just have the older Johnny Cage, but we now have dialogue featuring the younger Johnny Cage.
  • Team Dad: While the older generation of Kombatants tend to find Johnny obnoxious, the new Special Forces members in X get along with him rather well, better than with the stricter Sonya Blade.
  • That Came Out Wrong: One of his pre-fight intros in 11 presumably has his younger self try and compliment Cassie, albeit in a way that makes it sound like he's hitting on her. Cass is understandably disturbed by a younger version of her father saying that to her face, causing young Johnny to realize what he just said and try to take it back post-haste.
  • Thou Shalt Not Kill: In 9, he's shown to be against killing his enemies, refusing to kill Baraka after defeating him in the tournament. He even lampshades one of the most well-known concepts of this game - Fatalities - in that scene; when Shang Tsung tells him to "Finish him" after winning during the story, he says, "Finish him? Heh. Yeah right."
  • The Time Traveler's Dilemma: His Tower Ending in 11 puts younger Johnny up against this, realizing the events that made him a better person in the future won't happen without him suffering the bad with the good. He thus opts to follow the same path... mostly.
  • Took a Level in Badass: After learning that his bloodline originates from a Mediterranean tribe of warriors who were infused with the power of the gods, he takes fighting a lot more seriously after he learns to control it.
  • Took a Level in Kindness: Apart from the occasional quip, he seems to have mellowed out significantly by the time of X, and while he still has a bit of an ego, it's not as big as it was in previous games. By the time of 11, his mellowing out is complete since Sonya had reconciled with him and Cassie.
  • Toxic Friend Influence: In 11, Present Johnny exposits to his younger self that his time in Hollywood is directly responsible for his ego and attitude problems pre-Character Development. In an intro with Cassie where she mentions his agent sees potential in her, he warns her to "stay away from those Hollywood sleazebags!"
  • Traumatic Superpower Awakening: Gains a Super Mode when he saves Sonya from Shinnok. That results in him glowing with shadow energy, allowing him to No-Sell Shinnok's attacks!
  • Turns Red: Literally in X. Going into critical health turns all his shadow moves red and gives them a damage boost. Doubles as a Desperation Attack.
  • Underestimating Badassery:
    • Some dialogue exchanges in X and 11 have villains dismissing Johnny as a harmless buffoon despite him being one of Earthrealm's most powerful heroes.
    • Shang Tsung in 11 goes as far as showing disbelief that Johnny actually defeated Shinnok.
  • Unfazed Everyman: During his chapter in 9's story mode. Also doubles as the Audience Surrogate for those new to the series, as he's just as out-of-the-loop as newcomers probably will be.
  • Vitriolic Best Buds:
    • He has the dynamic with Jax. Despite what appears to be disgust (and the occasional beatdown) from Jax to Johnny, the latter never takes it personally. The 'best buds' part doesn't truly hit home until Jax's ending, though, where he is shown as the one person Johnny trusts to protect the life of his daughter after he pays him a visit in the hospital.
      Jax: I've learned to tolerate your father.
      Cassie: Oooo, America's Next Top Bromance!
      Jax: ...Now that's a bridge too far!
    • He also has a downplayed version of this dynamic with Kenshi in X. They mostly get along during their time in the Special Forces, with the vitriolic part being reserved to light snarky jabs to each other in their pre-fight intros.
  • Walking Shirtless Scene: Though he starts 9 with a tuxedo, he quickly goes shirtless, and remains like this through the rest of the game.
  • Whole Costume Reference:
    • His Commando costume in X is based on that of Dutch from Predator. As an Easter Egg, if he and Jax in his Carl Weathers skin are chosen to fight each other, Johnny will say, "You son of a bitch!" before they do the famous arm-wrestle handshake from that movie.
    • One DLC costume in 11 is one towards Teen Wolf.
  • Will They or Won't They?: In regards to Sonya, he does. It didn't last for a bit but then they got back together.
  • Working with the Ex: He divorced from Sonya at some point. Doesn't stop him from stepping up with her in Earthrealm's defense.
  • World's Strongest Man: Surprisingly, he of all people manages to become the strongest male kombatant by the time of X. At the start of the game, two years after the end of the previous game, Johnny kicks Scorpion and Sub-Zero's asses simultaneously, before defeating the aforementioned Jax as an evil undead revenant. But that's nothing compared to when Johnny manages to hand the Fallen Elder God Shinnok's ass to him a sliver platter, due to Johnny using The Power of Love to protect Sonya from Shinnok and unlocking his inner power in the process. NetherRealm Studios foreshadowed this development in Johnny's 9 bio and Arcade Ladder ending, where it's established he's descended from an ancient Mediterranean cult that bred warriors with might surpassing that of ordinary mortals — a status he surely lives up to in X.
  • You Called Me "X"; It Must Be Serious: He's pleased as punch any time that Sonya calls him by his first name as it means that she still clearly cares a lot about him. His reaction each time only makes him that much more endearing.
  • You Fight Like a Cow: At least in X and 11, he constantly taunts his opponents. Bad puns, movie references...whatever insult is handy.

    Tropes related to Johnny Cage in The New Era  
Tropes that appear across all of Johnny Cage's appearances from Mortal Kombat 1 onwards.
  • Abusive Parents: Johnny mentions that he has "daddy issues" implying that Cage Sr. was an asshole just like in the previous timeline.
  • Actor Allusion: His Jean-Claude Van Damme alternate skin has exclusive lines that make references to the actor's own movies, offering Geras a role in his film where Johnny's a kickboxer and Geras a street fighter.
  • Adaptational Nice Guy: In most continuities, Johnny started out highly egoistic and so full of himself that he only becomes humble after losing his friends and becoming a father. In the New Era, Cage isn't as self-centered and the other kombatants are not as annoyed with him as they were in previous games. In fact, he becomes a nicer person far earlier than he did in the previous timeline. It helps that he is well aware of the hardships from his failing career as an actor and he actually took his ex-wife's final words before leaving him to heart. Most of his worst moments in the game can also be excused by circumstances. He was going through a break-up when Kenshi broke into his home with the intention of taking Sento.
  • Adaptational Superpower Change: Johnny retains the Super-Speed needed to perform his Shadow Kick. However, he no longer has the green energy aura that allows him to enhance his blows and fire energy blasts. One of his alternate selves in Chapter 15 is capable of firing energy blasts, leaving it unclear whether it's something this Johnny explicitly lacks or simply has yet to manifest.
  • Ambiguously Bi: Johnny has a (ex) wife and has plenty of flirtatious dialogue with the female kombatants, but some intros and the character select screen lines if he's the announcer imply he's also attracted to men, particularly if his relationship with Kenshi is any indication.
    (when selecting Kenshi) "Sexy-face Two."
    (when selecting Liu Kang) "(chuckles) Hot."
    (when selecting General Shao) "Mr. Universe."
  • Arrogant Kung-Fu Guy: The Johnny in this universe is no different than his previous incarnations: an egotistical Hollywood martial arts star who isn't all that bad despite it.
  • Audience Surrogate: Of all of Liu Kang's champions, he's the one with the least amount of actual combat experience and the most out-of-his-depth when it comes to the weirdness of Outworld.
  • Badass Normal: Even more than in previous timelines, where he doesn't have the mystical lineage that lets him throw out energy balls. In the New Era, Johnny is simply trained with martial arts, and he does a damn good job with it, keeping up surprisingly well amidst a very supernatural cast.
  • Beneath the Mask: Admits to his estranged wife Cris that much of his Johnny Cage personality is an outward projection of confidence to get by in the business, and if he let that slip, he might have nothing else. Sadly this just drives her away from him permanently, as in her eyes he's allowed his movie star image to subsume the man she loved and married.
  • Benevolent Boss: In a pre-kombat dialogue, when Havik accuses Johnny of being as bad as Seido's oppressive rulers, Johnny retorts by saying that he is the best boss in Hollywood and that people love him (seeing how the New Era's Johnny is much, much less of a dick than the previous ones', there's no reason to not believe him).
  • Big Brother Bully: Not Johnny himself, but he mentions having an older brother who was an “asshole” in a pre-fight intro with Scorpion.
  • Big Fancy House: He lives in one, titled "Cage Mansion", at the start of the game, although it's later revealed he had to sell it to cover the expenses of his divorce; it didn't help that, according to his wife, they were already broke. It serves as a battle stage both in story mode and standard battle mode, and a level map in the 1st season of Invasion (which, if it can be considered an accurate floor plan, makes it obscenely large).
  • Breaking the Fourth Wall: He takes this to a very literal level in 1, where his part of the Fatal Blow has him smashing his opponent's face into the screen, then picking up the camera while it's still recording (complete with a streaming UI) and smashing it into his opponent's chest.
  • Camera Abuse: His Fatal Blow involves smashing his opponent's face into the screen, breaking it. He then picks up the camera itself and smashes it into his opponent's chest.
  • Casanova Wannabe: While Johnny is married at the start of the story, his spendthrift ways and refusal to part with fame spell the end of that, and his attempts at flirting with other characters go nowhere; the best response he gets is amusement from Kitana (even that didn't last, according to a pre-kombat dialogue with her mother, she slapped him across the face off-screen), and even then, she's clearly not attracted to him.
  • Conspicuous Consumption: He likes to splash out, with a drone, an expensive antique vase and Sento itself among his purchases, arguing that part of being a movie star involves showing his wealth off. However, it's deconstructed, with his wife Cris pointing out that he's spending way outside their means, putting down thousands if not millions of dollars on things that amount to glorified showpieces and fancy toys, and even Cage Mansion itself is so expensive that they need to sell it to stay solvent.
  • Car Fu: A creative and very brutal variation. For one of his fatalities in 1, Johnny kicks his opponent through the windshield of his fancy car, cuts their glass-riddled body in half by slamming the car door into them, before starting the car, causing it to speed off while dragging the opponent with them by their entrails before it explodes.
  • A Day in the Limelight: He's the focus of Chapter 2. And can also be one of Chapter 15, if the player chooses him.
  • Deadpan Snarker: As ever, Johnny Cage has a quip for every occasion, to the amusement and annoyance of friend and foe alike.
    Shang Tsung: Cowards die many times before their deaths.
    Johnny: You got experience with that, sorcerer?
  • Even the Guys Want Him: When taunting, both a feminine and masculine voice can be heard screaming "Finish me, Johnny!" from time to time.
  • Fire-Forged Friends: Johnny and Kenshi got off on the wrong foot (Kenshi broke into his house and demanded an artifact that cost Cage $3 million), but their time on Outworld sees the two men bond, especially after Kenshi saves Johnny from a crazed Mileena at the cost of his own eyesight, to the point that, after the story, Johnny considers Kenshi his best friend and happily talks up his skills to other kombatants.
  • Flipping the Bird: In MK1, Johnny now utilizes his middle finger in his pre-battle poses. His defensive pose has him replacing his broken sunglasses with a new set; but using his middle finger to properly set them. Meanwhile, his attacking pose has him looking for something, only for him to pull out an imaginary bird-flipping hand-crank, complete with sound effects and all.
  • The Friend Nobody Likes:
    • Subverted. Johnny's allies first see him as annoying but reliable. When Liu Kang sends them to Outworld, Kenshi would rather have Raiden with them than Johnny, but doesn't question Johnny coming when that isn't possible. The two later form a strong bond and by the end, they're all the best of pals.
    • Compared to previous Johnny’s, who often had allies who wanted to deck him for being an annoyance, his intros with Kenshi, Smoke, and Reptile are all quite friendly.
  • Half the Man He Used to Be: His second Fatality has him shadow-kicking his opponent through his car's windshield. His opponent then falls out of the driver's seat bloodied and covered in glass, and Johnny closes the door, halving them, before setting his car into auto drive and letting it crash and explode.
  • Heterosexual Life-Partners: He develops what can only be described as a bromance with Kenshi during their time on Outworld, especially after Kenshi saves his life from a crazed Mileena at the cost of his eyesight.
  • Hidden Depths:
    • Despite his love for the spotlight, he is willing to take a step back and take up a directorial role for a movie he is making, while letting his friends and allies take up either kameo or starring roles. He also genuinely loves what he does, not just the financial gain; an intro with Shao makes him angry when the latter declares that an entertainer’s life is meaningless.
    • Johnny is much more knowledgable about history in this timeline. When Kenshi refers to Sento as his family blade, Johnny immediately questions if that means he's Taira clan and, shortly after, exposits the history of the Taira. While he is a frivolous spender, he genuinely seems to be buying the expensive artifacts because he's invested in their value and history.
    • He is fully aware of how cutthroat and toxic the culture in Hollywood is. Frivolous spending aside, he admits to Shang Tsung that half of Hollywood wants to kill him, tells Li Mei that cops usually look the other way when it comes to major celebrities, and tells Ashrah that she doesn't need her kriss to find evil there.
    • He also claims that he has a PhD in quantum mechanics when Geras tells him that he wouldn't understand the hourglass.
  • Horrible Hollywood: Downplayed; while Johnny is well aware of the more toxic aspects of the movie business (he tells Sub-Zero that he'd fit right in), he's also a deep believer in the power of Hollywood magic and loves what he does for a living for the art as much, if not more than for the money.
  • Humble Pie: His wife giving him some choice words before leaving him causes him to reflect on how much of his over-inflated ego he has failed to live up to. When Liu Kang recruits him, he's far more willing to be respectful than his previous counterparts.
  • I Need a Freaking Drink: During his chapter in Story Mode, the titular character remarks on needing a refill during a confrontation with his eventual ex-wife and drinking even more after she walks out of the mansion.
  • I Owe You My Life: Johnny feels indebted to Kenshi for saving him from a rabid Mileena at the cost of his eyes, enough so that when he wakes up in a cell after that happens and cracks a joke about a hangover, he instantly focuses on Kenshi's condition when he realizes they're in the same cell, and tears off a piece of his own armor to use in aiding Kenshi. He then refuses to leave him behind and ultimately opts to give him Sento free of charge, despite the sword's three million monetary value.
    Johnny: Kenshi! Goddamnit! How bad's the pain?
    Kenshi: Excruciating.
    Johnny: (Comforting him) You saved me. I won't forget that.
  • I Shall Taunt You: Heavily in force for his 1 incarnation, which the developers revealed to be in tune with his new rushdown-focused arsenal.
    • Johnny has a Hype Meter which fills anytime he taunts, between the new universal taunt command and any of his dedicated taunt moves such as the optional ones he can perform after his specials. Filling it up allows him to enter a special state where every special move becomes its EX variant free of meter and allows him to chain up to 3 specials together.
    • His Fatal Blow takes it to a higher level in turn, giving him more options than most of the cast for theirs; like the one he had in 11, he can hold the command down to delay it, at which point Johnny begins dancing in place while a crowd chants his name. While he's dancing, any close-range attack will cause him to counter with his Fatal Blow, and if he holds his dance long enough, the resulting attack becomes unblockable. He can also conserve it via dash cancelling - again, like his 11 incarnation.
  • I Should Write a Book About This: In his tower ending, Johnny pitches to Liu Kang the idea of producing a cinematic universe based on their adventures, both to ease in Earthrealm's knowledge of the many realms beyond their own and just so happening to make more than a few bucks for himself.
  • Implied Death Threat:
    Shang Tsung: You plan a film about me?
    Johnny Cage: Yeah. The working title is "Death of a Salesman".
  • In Spite of a Nail: He's relatively in the same position as he was in the previous timelines; an arrogant, washed-up movie star who craves the spotlight and becomes an unlikely defender of Earthrealm.
  • Ink-Suit Actor: His Jean-Claude Van Damme alternate skin is based upon how he looked in his prime in films like Bloodsport, Kick Boxer and Universal Soldier.
  • Jerk with a Heart of Gold: He's an obnoxious and abrasive man with a very inflated ego. Yet when the chips are down, he is genuinely a great man fighting for what's right and respects his teammates, including the disease-ridden Baraka. Also, despite a tough divorce with his estranged wife Cris, a pre-fight intro with Nitara has him angrily threatening the vampiress to stay away from her.
  • Jerkass Has a Point:
    • While flaunting his possession of Sento to Kenshi is more than a little rude, Johnny's refusal to hand it over is hardly unjustified given the amount of money he spent on it and that Kenshi's first attempt to get the sword had him break into Johnny's house and demand it (an act that even Liu Kang said reflected poorly on Kenshi).
    • His insistence that Sub-Zero pay him back for a broken sculpture comes across as petty and entitled, but Bi-Han's excessive attempt to "put [Johnny] in his place" is what broke the statue, so Cage is hardly in the wrong to want compensation.
  • Mechanically Unusual Fighter: Johnny comes with a new star-shaped meter called the "Hype Meter", charging by doing specials or taunts. At full capacity, he can spend it to enter a Super Mode.
  • The Nicknamer: In the New Era, he's the one to give names to several iconic elements from previous timelines, either through comparison to his movies (such as The Flesh Pits), or dramatic Hollywood ham and Buffy Speak (such as the Soulnado). As an unlockable announcer like in 11, he has a lot of nicknames to spare for the roster when chosen.
  • Overshadowed by Awesome: Sure he's a seasoned action star with legitimate martial arts skills, but compared to two villagers who were raised on kung fu (Kung Lao and Raiden) and a Yakuza enforcer (Kenshi), his fighting prowess is lacking, to the point where the Outworld characters question his worth. Intro dialogues hints at him returning to the Wu Shi academy for further training.
  • Pop-Cultured Badass: Johnny is constantly referencing other movies or franchises, fitting for a movie star like himself.
  • Psycho Ex-Girlfriend: At some point in life, he had to lay low in West Covina for a month to escape a crazy ex-girlfriend.
  • Pungeon Master: If Johnny is selected as the announcer's voice and a specific character is highlighted in the selection screen, he may introduce the character with a punny nickname.
  • Recursive Canon: His ending implies that the entire Mortal Kombat franchise not only also exists in-universe but is the brainchild of Johnny Cage, as both a means to line his pockets and to slowly acclimatize Earthrealmers to the reality that their universe has monsters, sorcerers, interdimensional aliens and more in it.
  • Red Oni, Blue Oni: The comical and wise-cracking red to Kenshi's stoic blue.
  • Share the Male Pain: His off-screen audience of fans can sometimes be heard groaning in discomfort when he hits his Nut Punch.
  • Significant Name Shift: Zigzagged between him and Kenshi. When they were hostile, Kenshi referred to him by Last-Name Basis and Johnny called Kenshi "tattoo" in a harsh and condescending manner during their training at the Wu Shi Academy. Then they switch to First-Name Basis when Kenshi calls Johnny to assist him in securing Mileena and the moment Kenshi is blinded in which Johnny screams out Kenshi's first name in horror. After forming a strong friendship, Johnny calls Kenshi by his last name, while Kenshi switches between calling Johnny by his first and last name.
  • Stealth Mentor: In his Arcade ending, Johnny proposes to Liu Kang that he become this for the entire world. Earthrealm sorely needed to be made aware of the existence of realms, gods, and the supernatural in general, and Liu Kang tasked Johnny specifically to tell the world. But given that it's the modern world, nobody will buy just being told all this straight up. So Johnny instead proposed that Liu Kang let him use their adventures and experiences with Mortal Kombat to build a cinematic universe, so that when the time came that Earthrealm did learn of things in an irrefutable fashion that doesn't involve less than a dozen guys spouting crackpot stories, they could point to the Kombatverse and say "there's your information" for a hopefully much faster and smoother flipping of perceived reality upon its head. As a bonus, Johnny gets a fat paycheck, with the implication that at least some of the money is going to help fund the training of Earthrealm's champions and the Shirai Ryu.
  • Super Mode: Once the Hype Meter is full, he can input a command that allows him to cancel his specials quickly, leading to nasty things such as triple-Nut Krackers, triple Shadow Kicks and mix of said stuff in any quantity until the meter runs off. In addition, all specials performed in this state automatically become their EX versions.
  • The Team Normal: He has no fancy weapons or mystic powers, relying on nothing but his martial arts skills.
  • Token White: He is the sole white person among Liu Kang's latest chosen Kombatants to go to Outworld for the tournament. He is also the only Western representative for the Earthrealmers in the base roster.
  • "Ugly American" Stereotype: The other Earthrealm kombatants are visibly annoyed by Johnny's tendency to film his adventures in the Wu Shi Academy and Outworld as if they were a vacation.
  • Vitriolic Best Buds: With Kenshi. Things begin harsh due to Johnny legally owning Sento and refusing to relinquish it to Kenshi, but they slowly bond into genuine friends over the course of the game.
  • White-Dwarf Starlet: His chapter opens with him as the lead of the film Temple of Katara Vala. After filming is complete, he tries pitching a movie tetralogy and a streaming series to the director only to be turned down. Cris pulls him aside and tells Johnny that he only got the part because the director owed him a favor and that his career isn't what it used to be and that he's flat broke, not helped by Johnny constantly purchasing various frivolties.
  • You Need a Breath Mint: How Johnny taunts Bi-Han and Shao in the pre-kombat dialogues.