Mortal Kombat Main Character Index
Main series: MK1 (Part 1 | Part 2) | MK2 (Part 1 | Part 2) | MK3 | MK4 | Deadly Alliance | Deception | Armageddon | MK vs. DC Universe | MK9 | MKX | MK11
Spinoffs: Mythologies: Sub-Zero | Special Forces
Non-video game: The Movie | Conquest | Defenders of the Realm | 2021 Movie
Individual Characters: Scorpion | Johnny Cage | Liu Kang | Raiden | Shang Tsung | Sub-Zero II | Kitana | Mileena | Shao Kahn | Shinnok
Main series: MK1 (Part 1 | Part 2) | MK2 (Part 1 | Part 2) | MK3 | MK4 | Deadly Alliance | Deception | Armageddon | MK vs. DC Universe | MK9 | MKX | MK11
Spinoffs: Mythologies: Sub-Zero | Special Forces
Non-video game: The Movie | Conquest | Defenders of the Realm | 2021 Movie
Individual Characters: Scorpion | Johnny Cage | Liu Kang | Raiden | Shang Tsung | Sub-Zero II | Kitana | Mileena | Shao Kahn | Shinnok
Spoilers for Mythologies will be unmarked
Known as "The Immortal Champion of Mortal Kombat," Liu Kang is one of the best warriors of Earthrealm, and has beaten many powerful foes to prove his valor. Throughout the years, Liu Kang has been portrayed as the main hero of the series, becoming champion after the events of the first game.
Coming home from Shang's Island after defeating both Goro and the sorcerer, he found many of his fellow Shaolin monks killed in a vicious attack by a Tarkatan horde. Enraged, Liu Kang decided to travel to Outworld alongside Raiden and the other Earthrealm warriors. At the Outworld tournament he met Kitana, and began to fall in love with her. Kang eventually fought Shao Kahn, overpowering the emperor. Shortly after, during the events of Mortal Kombat 3, he found himself the primary target of Kahn's extermination squads. Kung Lao, who went against Shao Kahn, was nearly killed by an powerful spell. An enraged Liu Kang challenged the emperor, and after the final battle, he defeated Shao Kahn again, forcing him and his forces to retreat back to Outworld.
Years later, upon learning that Kitana's home realm of Edenia had been captured by the fallen Elder God Shinnok, he set out on his own to save her, but he was unsuccessful. Liu Kang returned to Earth, where he began gathering Earth's warriors to save the realm and assist his mentor, Raiden. Eventually, Liu Kang confronted Shinnok and emerged victorious, effectively ending his occupation of Edenia. Liu Kang returned to the Shaolin Temples, believing he has lost Kitana forever. However, the Edenian Princess appeared through a portal from Edenia and thanked Liu Kang for all he had done. She offered him a chance to join her at the throne of Edenia. However, due to the responsibilities as a Mortal Kombat Champion, Liu Kang was forced to decline her offer.
Liu Kang went on to enjoy relative peace for many years afterward. However, the Deadly Alliance would make itself known on Earth by its successful assassination of Liu Kang. His mutilated body was discovered by Kung Lao, and he was laid to rest at the Wu Shi Academy, where a shrine was built to honor the former champion. His rest was short however, as a corrupted Raiden restored the monk as a living corpse, which went on a rampage and proceeded to slaughter many of Liu Kang's fellow Shaolin monks. Liu Kang's spirit was not technically responsible, but he could not help but feel responsible for the actions perpetrated by his corpse. Eventually, he defeated his body, stopping it from doing further harm.
In the Continuity Reboot of Mortal Kombat 9, Liu Kang once again is Raiden's chosen champion to participate in the Mortal Kombat tournament. However Raiden's visions of the previous timeline slowly begin to send Liu Kang down a much different path as the game progresses, culminating in his accidental death at Raiden's hands.
During Mortal Kombat X, he serves Quan Chi as a revenant alongside the other characters slain during 9; but unlike some of his other cohorts, the undead Liu Kang is revealed to have wholly embraced evil as a means of avenging himself against Raiden. By the end of the story, Kang rises to become emperor of the Netherrealm in the absence of Quan Chi and Shinnok, ruling alongside Kitana.
In Mortal Kombat 11, when Kronika distorts time and merges past and present, past versions of Liu Kang and other heroes active during the time of Mortal Kombat 2 are drawn forward to join the heroes of the present. Meanwhile, Liu Kang's revenant self is recruited by Kronika, who promises him that in the New Era, Raiden will not exist.
- The Ace: He's the Mortal Kombat Champion of Earthrealm, but the events of MK9 and MKX have made him a Broken Ace. His still-living self from midway through MK9 remains an ace when pulled into the future timeline in MK11, however.
- A Day in the Limelight:
- The Ageless: As the Eternal Champion of Mortal Kombat. Since the tournament is apparently defunct in Mortal Kombat X, he is now seemingly mortal and aging non-canonically; his revenant form shows no signs of age.
- Amazon Chaser: Kang certainly seems to think so of Kitana, given his impressed reaction to her fighting skills in 9.
- Ambiguously Related: Whether or not Liu Kang is a descendant of the Great Kung Lao is a source of much confusion and debate. The first depiction of him being a descendant of the Great Kung Lao was in the first movie where Kang was a Composite Character of himself and his friend and fellow shaolin monk from the games, Kung Lao, the namesake and descendant of the Great Kung Lao in the games. Goro's bio in Mortal Kombat 4 states that Liu Kang is indeed a descendantnote of the Great Kung Lao. However, this relationship is never mentioned in the games' stories nor do any of Kang's endings and bios mention him and Kung Lao being cousins with Kung Lao's connection to the Great Kung Lao being the only one that is ever even acknowledged.
- And This Is for...: In 9 right before he "kills" Shao Kahn.Liu Kang: For Kung Lao, the Shaolin...and Earthrealm!
- Animal Motifs: Dragons, befitting his Bruce Lee resemblance as well as his transformations.
- Anvil on Head: In one of his fatalities in MK3 and the DC crossover, a Mortal Kombat arcade cabinet drops and crushes his opponent. It comes back in 11 as a Brutality.
- Arrogant Kung-Fu Guy: Certainly gives off shades of this in MKX, if his interaction dialogue is anything to go by. The fact that he is a revenant in MKX may account for why he is arrogant and self-centered; it allows him to show off the anger he harbors towards Raiden after the events of MK 9. Human Liu Kang in 11 is considerably more grounded and modest.
- The Artifact: To an extent. He was originally designed as the hero of the series and the Champion of Mortal Kombat. With the tournament having less relevance in the series, his role has been diminished in favor of other characters. In 11, he regains his role as primary protagonist alongside Raiden.
- As Long as It Sounds Foreign: "Liu" is a common Chinese surname and is typically not used as a given name. The order of Liu Kang's name would seem to follow Eastern naming convention, in which the family name comes before the given name, but all characters address Liu Kang as "Liu," treating "Liu" as his first name; even his own brother Chan does so in the movie. If it actually did follow Eastern naming convention, Liu Kang's brother would have been named Liu Chow (comics) or Liu Chan (movie), instead of Chow Kang or Chan Kang.
- Ascend to a Higher Plane of Existence: In his MK11 Arcade ending, he uses the Sands of Time to turn his friends and himself into Elder Gods so they can protect the realms. Unfortunately, Liu Kang finds no joy in godhood, as his new heavenly duties prevent him from having the simple and happy life he hoped to share with Kitana. He can only express hope that in the next timeline, he and Kitana can find happiness together.
- The Atoner: As he sees his Bad Future, his past self is willingly to atone his future of succumbing into Quan Chi and Shinnok's revenants, fixing the estranged cycle with Raiden and prevent an Armageddon.
- Badass Boast:Liu Kang: Kotal Kahn
Kotal Kahn: You will fail against Outworld's best!
Liu Kang: Goro, Shang Tsung or Shao Kahn?
- Bad Liar: Like Kitana, he repeatedly denies that there's anything going on between them when any of their friends ask them about it. Except he's terrible at lying, unlike Kitana who can deny it with a perfectly straight face.Cassie Cage: "Getting awfully cuddly with Kitana."Liu Kang: (blushing) "I, uh, don't know what you mean."
- Bare-Fisted Monk: For the most part. He does use a sword in 4 and nunchuks in 11.
- Bash Brothers: With Kung Lao. Especially in Shaolin Monks.
- Battle Couple: With Kitana. First as the new rulers of the Netherrealm in the second timeline, and later as Watchers at the Golden Ending of 11.
- Big Brother Instinct: Towards all Shaolin. The easiest way to earn his enmity is to hurt his Shaolin brethren. Shao Kahn earns a flaming fist to the chest for killing Kung Lao and Kronika earns his hatred by having a Geras and the Revenants slaughter the Wu Shi.
- Broken Ace:
- Becomes more prominent as the series goes on. He may be the Mortal Kombat Champion and protector of Earthrealm, but this also means putting the greater good before his own desires (notably, rejecting Kitana's offer to rule Edenia). Getting murdered by Shang Tsung causes his vengeful zombie to kill many of his own allies, an act he still feels responsible for. By MK9, he he loses most of his friends and allies over the course of the game including Kitana, loses faith in his mentor, and in his mind essentially leaves Earthrealm defenseless. In Legacy, he also becomes so disillusioned that he ends up working for Shang Tsung. And by the end of X, he's now in charge of the Netherrealm, though it's unclear if he and Kitana have lost their sense of morality now that they're free of Quan Chi's influence.
- Liu Kang's new character arc seems to focus on the humanity aspect of his life instead of portraying him as the do-gooder Shaolin monk of the original timeline. Prior to the reboots, it seemed that we knew nothing much of Liu Kang outside of him being a master martial artist. The reboots desire to examine how much of a toll it's taken on him to constantly sacrifice his personal desires to do the right thing in a world bigger and crueler than the shaolin temples. Shades of him embracing more human desires/vices such as a relationship in Mortal Kombat Legacy; crueler ambitions such as personal conquest (MK9) and domination (MKX) are now coming out more and more now that he's no longer interested in doing the purely just ideals. While the relationship and possible crimes in Legacy are embracing human desires, his cruel ambitions and mean streak are also indicative of a man who has completely lost his faith. Who knows now if he's going to get it back or if he's not going to embrace a new faith. Losing a lot of said faith in Raiden hasn't helped matters much.
- Brought Down to Normal: In his non-canon human form, Liu Kang is no longer The Ageless in MKX, due to both the title of Eternal Champion of Mortal Kombat and the tournament itself being defunct.
- Bruce Lee Clone: He even had his own in-games vocals when the other men all had the same. It's most prominent in the first game, with Lee's trademark barechestedness and black pants. He even ends up wielding nunchaku like Lee in MK11.
- Came Back Wrong: In the original timeline, his corpse was turning into a killing machine by a fallen Raiden. In the new timeline, he's one of Quan Chi's undead revenants instead, and he doesn't get better by the game's end. Either of them.
- Catchphrase: "Face me in Mortal Kombat!" Lampshaded by Kung Jin and Shinnok in their interaction dialogues.
- Celibate Hero: He passed up on Kitana's offer of ruling Edenia with her after Mortal Kombat 4, because of his status as the Champion of Earthrealm. Being a Shaolin monk might have also had something to do with it. Not so in the rebooted timeline, especially in the Golden Ending for 11.
- The Champion: For Raiden. Probably doesn't consider it so much of an honor anymore after the events of 9. He is eventually replaced by Johnny Cage of all people.
- The Chosen One: Earlier games played this completely straight, with the devs even referring to Liu Kang as their "Luke Skywalker", The Hero who was chosen by destiny to defend the Earth against those who threatened it. Later games, however, began exploring the concept in more detail, eventually indicating that he is Raiden's Chosen One alone, and that no other god or realm is beholden to accepting that title. For example, Nightwolf is the Chosen One for his own god, the Great Spirit. Some even mock it or consider Raiden to be too much of a fool to be a reliable judge. For his part, Liu Kang doesn't really care if he's "chosen"—he will fight for honor and justice regardless, and he has the skill to back up his bravado. Ironically, this helps reinforce to others that perhaps he is worthy of the title. In 11 Kronika then confirms Liu Kang's cosmic importance by stating that his partnership with Raiden is the only threat she's faced to her power in the countless aeons she's done her work.
- Covered with Scars: His human body was completely covered by severe burns after he was mortally wounded by Raiden (albeit by accident) at the end of 9.
- Deadpan Snarker: Of the Brutal Honesty variety. He's not above pointing out a character's flaws or engaging in some witty banter in some of his intro interactions in X and 11 (mostly 11, as himself in X is more of a Jerkass What If?, as seen in the Revenant section).
- Decoy Protagonist: Due to how closely 9 follows the first three MK games, both his chapter and his fight with Shao Kahn following Kung Lao's death establish him as the big champion among the heroes. However, his FaithHeel Turn and eventual death reveal the story's protagonist to be not him, but Raiden.
- Despair Event Horizon: All of his friends save for Cage and Sonya die, he finds his faith in Raiden completely shattered, and dies a horrible death when he attacks the latter out of rage. Eventually, he mellows out after Shinnok's second defeat in the end of Mortal Kombat X when Dark Raiden tosses the evil god's head to him and Kitana.
- Dragons Up the Yin Yang: One of his fatalities in MKII, in which he turns into a Chinese Dragon and consumes the upper body of his opponent. This fatality was turned into an Animality in MK3, back into a normal fatality in MK4 and MK9, and became part of his Fatal Blow in MK11.
- Drunk with Power: In Shang Tsung's Arcade Ending in 9, he becomes this after successfully usurping Raiden's place as Protector of Earthrealm, and turning into a power-mad tyrant.
- Earn Your Happy Ending: If Liu Kang defeats Kronika before she can go back to the Dawn of Time, then Liu Kang will be close enough to the timeline of the current events to go forward and retrieve Kitana, allowing him to go back to the Dawn of Time with the love of his life and both being able to reshape the future together.
- Empowered Badass Normal: Liu Kang isn't a sorcerer or god, his power comes from being a really, really good fighter. His Shaolin Training gave him the ability to manipulate his own chi in the form of fireballs.
- Eternal Recurrence: No matter what timeline, whether it be at the gates of Armageddon or fending off a threat to all the realms, Liu Kang and Raiden are destined to fight each other over ideological differences, and Liu Kang will always perish and fall to evil. This was due to Kronika's constant interference to ensure that she could not be threatened by them with their powers combined, and it was only Raiden realizing this in 11 and willingly sacrificing his power to unite himself, Liu Kang's past self, and his current revenant body to make the Fire God Liu Kang that the cycle was finally broken.
- Evil Me Scares Me: In 11, his past self is utterly disgusted by what he's become and refuses to listen to his revenant self when he keeps denouncing Raiden, vowing to never become him.
- FaceHeel Turn: After the events of Mortal Kombat 9, he becomes a revenant in MKX and is actually appreciating his new status as one.
- Fallen Hero: Kang must have taken notes from Jin Kazama, as he is this in Legacy and in X.
- FaithHeel Turn:
- He does this in 9, when he starts to believe that Raiden's visions are turning him insane. This culminates with Liu Kang completely turning against him and the Elder Gods, when Raiden tells Liu Kang that the Big Bad must be allowed to win. Even after he Came Back Wrong as a revenant, he still harbored a big grudge against his former mentor.
- In Arcade Mode, he does this again in a much more substantial fashion, upending Raiden as the protector of Earthrealm, and becoming a Drunk with Power tyrant.
- Famous Ancestor: Like his friend Kung Lao, Liu Kang is also descended from The Great Kung Lao. This technically makes them distant cousins.
- Fighting with Chucks: MK11 adds a set of nunchucks to his fighting style, in yet another reference to Bruce Lee.
- To his good buddy Kung Lao. Kang is an orphan who, depending on the story, is either of unknown background or comes from a lower branch of the same family as Kung Lao, both being descended from "the Great" Kung Lao. Also, Kang was a dedicated pupil while Lao was a bit of a slacker.
- To Cassie Cage. Both are labeled as The Chosen One, Liu Kang as Mortal Kombat's champion and Cassie for beating Shinnok and surprisingly, both would rather have a simple life but are more than willing to step up when Earthrealm needs them. Liu Kang is an orphan who was raised by the Shaolin, gained all his abilities through training, and is very respectful; while Cassie grew up with a family, uses military training with powers inherited from her father, and makes wisecracks on everyone.
- Friendly Rivalry: It is more visible in X, but he seems to have one with Kung Lao. It helps that the latter is portrayed sometimes as being jealous of Kang's skills.
- Future Me Scares Me: The past version of Kang has this opinion of himself.Liu Kang: "How did I get so deluded?"
- Funny Bruce Lee Noises: More subdued in recent games, but it is a quite infamous trait of his. In MKX, he does not use these noises whenever the player uses the Revenant or Dark Emperor costumes in multiplayer or ladder matches; instead, these noises are replaced by normal octave shouts, grunts and yells.
- Go and Sin No More: After defeating Kitana in Chapter 5 of 9, he spares her life and convinces her subtly to change her ways.
- Godhood Seeker: In his arcade ending in 9 has him overthrow Raiden and becomes a god and the protector of Earthrealm, however in Shang Tsungs ending he loses his sanity and becomes a tyrant. In 11, he canonically becomes a god via Raiden transferring his powers to his revenant self and merging both him and his revenant self into one, but unlink his arcade ending in 9, he doesnt lose his sanity and becomes the Big Good.
- Gratuitous Disco Sequence: In his Friendships from MKII and MK11, a disco ball comes down from the top of the screen as he starts to dance.
- The Hero: He is the main hero of the series. However, with the exception of Mortal Kombat: Shaolin Monks and the movies, he's not the main focus. Canonically, he is the one who defeats the main villains of the first four games, cementing his status as Champion. Until Deadly Alliance, where he is tragically killed and causes his soul and body to wander separately as other characters try to fill the void his death has caused. Even more so in the reboot timeline, where he becomes a Fallen Hero. He finally regains his heroic status in MK11
- Heterosexual Life-Partners: With Kung Lao.
- High-Voltage Death: Liu Kang attacked Raiden out of rage near the end of 9. Raiden accidentally fries him to death and tries to apologize, but even in his dying breath, Liu Kang blames him for his failures.
- Impossible Shadow Puppets: His MK3's Friendship has Liu Kang using his fingers to make a shadow puppet of the MK dragon.
- Invincible Hero: He is the least complicated character in the franchise story-wise, and he was the in-story winner of the first four games. And then averted in both Deadly Alliance and 9.
- In Spite of a Nail: In three timelines, he dies and becomes revived as something inhuman. A zombie in the original and a revenant in the current one. And again in 11, after getting his soul sucked out by his future revenant, Raiden manages to revive him into a god by giving him his powers.
- Refused Kitana's offer to rule Edenia by her side in the original timeline. In MKX, both he and Kitana rule the Netherrealm.
- In his ending in 9, being fed up with Raiden, he appeals to the Elder Gods to remove Raiden so he can take his place. In 11, he takes his place after Raiden willingly give his powers to him, turning Kang into a thunder god and the protector of time and realms after defeating Kronika.
- In the story mode for 9, he meets his end when attempting to attack Raiden with his fire, and Raiden's electric counter attack not only electrocuted him but caused his fire to backlash, frying him as well. In the story mode for 11, he ends up with the combined power of his fire and Raiden's thunder, wielding both with no consequences and an incredble boost in power to be the sole vanguard.
- Jack-of-All-Stats: He has a decent mix of fast projectiles and kicks. Naturally, he's designed as the most accessible character.
- Late-Arrival Spoiler: If you plan to play Deception or Armageddon (or even 9, considering what the intro shows), bear in mind that he got killed at the beginning of Deadly Alliance and Came Back Wrong as a zombie.
- Lightning Bruiser: In 9, he's the second-fastest character in the game behind Kabal.
- Locked into Strangeness: A beign version: Liu Kang becomes a Thunder God in Raiden's place, and thus, his hair becomes permanently white.
- Long-Haired Pretty Boy: MK3 and on.
- Martial Arts Headband: Liu Kang wears a red one starting from MKII on.
- Martial Pacifist: Before MKII. He is brutal (his punches still produce blood like any other character), but his Fatality in the first game did not explicitly kill his opponent.
- Meaningful Name: The characters that make up his name (刘康) can mean "to kill (刘)" and "peaceful (康)". Liu Kang is a Nice Guy and the Chosen One, meant to destroy any threats to Earthrealm.
- Mirror Match:
- At the end of his Arcade ending in Deception, Liu Kang has to fight his undead body, but canonically fails to retrieve it.
- Happens again in Chapter 3 of 11 as the younger and still-living Liu Kang is shown fighting against his revenant self.
- Mr. Fanservice: Most of his outfits are shirtless. And also he wears a very tight tank top in 4.
- My Kung Fu Is Stronger Than Yours: One of his pre-match dialogues against Kung Lao in MKX.Liu Kang: "Shaolin Wushu has no equal!"
Kung Lao: "Kung Lun Chuang is far superior!"
Liu Kang: "Your arrogance is matched only by your ignorance!"
- Nice Guy: Liu Kang is very mellow and calm towards his friends and allies. Justified that he is a dedicated and courageous fighting monk and shows faith in the Shaolin way. Played Straight in 11, as stated from many of his pre-match dialogues and his past self in Story Mode.
- Not Himself: In 11, the increased jerkass-ness Kang had exhibited since Deception is implied to be the manipulations of Kronika. The past Liu Kang from a different timeline professes that he would never go down the same path.
- Not So Above It All: While he makes his opinion of Johnny Cage known, there is an interaction in 11 where he at least humors him:Johnny Cage: Shadow kick beats flying kick.
Liu Kang: Bicycle kick beats shadow kick.
Johnny Cage: But a nut punch wins the day!
- Older Than They Look: In MKX, 25 years after Shinnok's defeat, aside his graying hair, he still looks quite young. That said, his human depiction in the game is non-canon, for Liu Kang remains a revenant at this point.
- Our Hero Is Dead:
- The very instant Shang Tsung and Quan Chi got the jump on Liu Kang was when fans realized Deadly Alliance was going to be a Wham Episode of major proportions. And it went From Bad to Worse from there.
- Similar thing happens in X, where it's revealed that Quan Chi resurrected Liu Kang as his chief enforcer - and the former Mortal Kombat champion actually feels better as a revenant.
- Politically Incorrect Hero: An intro with Kung Jin implies that he isn't too fond of him for being homosexual (Granted it's possible that it may stem from Kung Jin's past as a thief instead).Kung Jin: You never could accept me.
Liu Kang: I am aware of your proclivities.
Kung Jin: Wow, Thanks for the reassurance!
- Playing with Fire: His dragon-shaped fiery projectiles attacks.
- The Protagonist: In the first four games, as he is the character most invested in actually winning the tournament and dealing with Shang Tsung among other enemies (in the first game, this was to return honor to the Shaolin tournament after the death of his ancestor, though other games retcon the purpose of the tournament). He's also back into this for 11... sort of... (see Supporting Protagonist below).
- Rage Against the Mentor: In 9, Raiden's constant screw-ups, which led to the deaths of his friends, finally sap his patience. He loses all faith in his mentor and is determined to do things on his own. Even in his dying breaths, he pins the blame on Raiden for all that's happened to them.
- Rapid-Fire Fisticuffs: In his "Fire Fists" variation in Mortal Kombat X, his staple Bicycle Kick is swapped out for a series of rapid-fire body blows called Windmill Punches. It's also one of his Brutalities, in which he delivers them all to the opponent's face. Ouch.
- Reconstruction: MK 11 shows the original characterization he had for the first four games in the series and adds a bit more depth to it. Unlike the rather incorruptibly pure, chaste, and rather humorless hero he has traditionally been portrayed as, 11 shows Liu Kang face his doubts and inner demons, embrace his feelings for Kitana, and engage in playful jokes and banter with characters like Kung Lao and Johnny Cage, and even Trash Talk his opponents a little. Basically, it gives a fresh perspective to show why he was (and still is) Earthrealm's champion.
- Red Baron: As stated above, he is known as "The Immortal Champion of Mortal Kombat." Later subverted at the end of 9.
- Red Is Heroic:
- He is the main hero of the series, and always has a red color motif in his outfits.
- Subverted in X, as he is revived as a revenant willfully following Shinnok, and is not displeased with this new arrangement. May count as Red and Black and Evil All Over
- Ret-Canon: The affection between him and Kitana was inserted into the games after the success of the first film.
- Roaring Rampage of Revenge:
- Goes on one of these in II after his Shaolin temple is massacred by Baraka and his warriors.
- Likewise, this is the result of Kung Lao's "death" at the hands of Shao Kahn in MK3. When it happens for real in MK9, Liu punches a hole straight through Kahn's stomach, seemingly killing him.
- Screaming Warrior: Hardly attacks without screaming his kiais.
- Series Mascot: While not as iconic as Scorpion or Sub-Zero, he's still The Hero of the series, with a dragon motif to evoke the iconic logo.
- She Is Not My Girlfriend: Constantly has to bicker with Kung Lao about this regarding Kitana in Shaolin Monks. Gets a brief nod in 9. In X, a pre-match intro against Mileena has her refer to Liu as "Sister's boyfriend!" He brushes off her claims with a half-annoyed, half-amused "Insane as always..." Of course, this is the game where Liu and Kitana are actually shown to be a Ruling Couple, so...
- Spam Attack: His Flying Bicycle Kick has him jump at an opponent and rapidly kick them in the chest.
- Spirit Advisor: Serves as this to Ermac in Deception. After Ermac helps free his friends, he tags along with Kitana for a bit (as their strong connection keeps him tethered to life) before Nightwolf volunteers to be his spiritual anchor in Armageddon. In an example of role reversal, he also serves as this to his former master Bo' Rai Cho in his Deception ending, complete with a Rousing Speech.
- Spirited Competitor: Has a bit of this in MK9. He shows some admiration of Kitana's fighting abilities when they first meet, and his battle cry ("Show me what you can do!") seems to showcase some his more competitive traits.
- Stance System: In X, his variations are Dragon's Fire, Flame Fist and Dualist. Furthermore, his "Dualist" variation allows him to swap between a light and dark chi, changing the properties of his projectiles.
- Supporting Protagonist: Downplayed in 11. While he officially returns to being the protagonist in that game, several heroes also have their moments of ass-kicking and Character Development throughout the story, making him fall into this category. However, he still plays the most major part in the story, by facing his inner demons as well as having a key role in stopping Kronika.
- Sword and Fist: Human Liu Kang is a Bare-Fisted Monk for most of his game appearances but has made use of weapons twice. The first instances was in 4 where his weapon of choice was the Dragon Sword. The second was in 11 where nunchuks were integrated into his gameplay.
- Tall, Dark, and Handsome: Only the "tall" part might be an exception, as there are many others taller than him.
- Thou Shalt Not Kill: Sort of. Despite still being labeled a Fatality, his butterfly kick/uppercut finishing move in MK1 didn't show the screen darkening like the other characters' finishing moves did, inferring that it was nonlethal in comparison as an example of his Shaolin beliefs. This was changed in MKII's variation of this particular Fatality, and he's been just as graphic as other competitors since.
- Token Good Teammate: Mainly in the first game. While most of the characters had either evil or selfish motivations, Liu Kang's goal was specifically to end Shang Tsung's rule of the tournament. The subsequent retcons placed him within a larger group of heroes with Raiden as the mentor, though he's still the main hero.
- Took a Level in Badass: Raiden gives him his powers to empower Liu Kang into a Fire God.
- Two First Names: Subverted. "Liu" and "Kang" are both Chinese surnames as opposed to first names.
- Undying Loyalty: This part of Liu Kang persists even if Kronika attempts for them to fight to the death. 11 shows the past Liu Kang nearly undergoing a FaithHeel Turn, but Raiden realizes they've been fighing for various timelines, from Mortal Kombat: Armageddon, to Mortal Kombat 9. He quickly apologies to Liu Kang when Shinnok's was corrupting him. With Raiden undergoing a Fusion Dance with both Liu Kangs, he becomes a Fire God and his faith in Raiden hasn't wavered.
- Unstoppable Rage: A trait of his channeled in some of his endings. Notably, his rage at the destruction of his temple "unleashes a fury that doesn't stop until the defeat of Shao Kahn." A similar rage comes up when Kung Lao "dies" in MK3 and dies for real in MK9.
- The Usurper: In MK9, he overthrows Raiden and becomes the new Protector of Earthrealm, but this comes as a cost as he loses his sanity and becomes a power-mad tyrant.
- Vitriolic Best Buds: He and Kung Lao bicker like two college students in their free time... which is probably what they are given their ages and how they study under an academy, albeit a martial arts one. Still, they have a brotherly bond and always have each other's backs no matter what.
- Walking Shirtless Scene: He has been shirtless for almost all of the series, the only exceptions being MK4, parts of MK9, and MKX.
- Warrior Monk: A Shaolin monk. He mostly peaceful and kind, but a very skilled warrior.
- Will They or Won't They?:
- In his ending in 4, Kitana offers him the chance to rule by her side in Edenia and presumably other rewards. He politely declines, choosing to respect his duties as Earthrealm's champion. Then Liu Kang gets killed at the beginning of Deadly Alliance.
- In MK9, he spares Kitana's life after he defeats her in their first battle. This plays a part of Kitana's High-HeelFace Turn, and there's an affection growing on both of them to the other. Unfortunately, after the group's battle with Sindel, Kitana is mortally wounded and passes away in Liu Kang's arms.
- In X, the two of them become the king and queen of the Netherealm after Shinnok's defeat as reverents.
- In 11, everyone acknowledges that the two are officially an item, with Johnny Cage claiming that the two are "banging". This is confirmed in the ending where Kitana becomes Liu Kang's partner as he leads the New Era.
- With Great Power Comes Great Insanity: Shang Tsung's Ladder ending in 9 shows the sorcerer training with Bo' Rai Cho to help defeat a power-mad and newly-deified Liu Kang, who had usurped Raiden's role as protector of Earthrealm.
- The Worf Effect:
- Deadly Alliance is used to show just how dangerous the titular duo are by murdering Liu Kang. He put up a good showing, but then Quan Chi blindsided him.
- Liu Kang may be the best Earthrealm combatant but as a god Raiden still outstrips him in terms of power. In [MK9], he even accidentally kills him in an attempt to subdue him.
- World's Best Warrior:
- As the Mortal Kombat Champion, Liu Kang is considered to be the best combatant Earthrealm has to offer.
- It's implied that the reason things got so bad after his death in Deadly Alliance is all because Liu Kang wasn't there to defeat the villains like he always does.
- Played With against Cassie Cage; the two are mutually impressed with each others' achievements (defeating Shang Tsung and Shao Khan for Kang, and defeating Shinnok for Cassie) and acknowledge their roles as Chosen Ones to various gods.
- As the Mortal Kombat Champion, Liu Kang is considered to be the best combatant Earthrealm has to offer.
- Worthy Opponent: Liu Kang has the utmost respect for Raiden, Kitana, Jade, Sub-Zero (Kuai Liang), Scorpion, Kotal Kahn, Jacqui Briggs and Nightwolf.
- Amazing Technicolor Population: He displays an unhealty skin color combination of green and gray.
- Back from the Dead: Subverted. Liu Kang never regains his physical form in the original timeline.
- Best Served Cold: Shows up in the Armageddon intro to confront Shang Tsung, his neck still snapped from when Shang killed him. After snapping his neck back, it's on. If 9 is any indication, Zombie Liu Kang managed to kill Shang Tsung and prevent him from reaching the top of Argus' Pyramid.
- Came Back Wrong: His corpse, revived by Raiden. Subverted with his soul, which retains his true essence.
- The Cameo: Zombie Liu Kang makes a brief reappearance in 11, both during Raiden's vision of all the timelines that they have fought each other in (including Armageddon), and briefly when Revenant Liu Kang steals his past self's soul and turns the body into a gray-skinned husk. Fortunately, Liu gets better this time.
- Chained by Fashion: By learning the secrets of an ancient cult known as the Houan sect, Raiden was able to use necromancy and his lightning powers to reanimate Liu Kang's body with the help of bloody ceremonial chains. Unfortunately, these chains are not used as weapons in gameplay (they're only seen being wielded by Liu Kang in the intro to Armageddon).
- Chinese Vampire: Being a Chinese zombie monk who knows kung-fu makes him this.
- Demonic Possession: Used as a fatality in Deception. He transforms his body into a spiritual state and enters the victim's body, possessing it. A second later, the victim rips their own head off to reveal his head replacing it before bowing down.
- Everything's Deader with Zombies: Instead of leaving him dead, they got to bring him back as a zombie. Though zombies don't actually look too out of place in the MK verse.
- One-Man Army: He slaughters the Shaolin to near extinction, which is quite impressive (and terrifying) when one remembers how it took a horde of Tarkatans to wipe a massive chunk of them beforehand.
- Monster from Beyond the Veil: It's Liu Kang coming back from the dead...as a zombie.
- Our Zombies Are Different: Despite actually having the appearance of a typical zombie, he is still as fast in combat as he was when he was alive.
- Stance System:
- In Deception, he has Jun Fan and Pao Chui as unarmed styles, and Nunchaku as weapon style.
- In Armageddon, he drops Pao Chui.
- The Undead: His body just keeps on fighting with no life. His soul lies in Outworld.
- Adaptational Villainy: While Liu Kang was on the heroes' side in the original timeline and an Anti-Villain because he was revived as an undead zombie by a corrupted Raiden, the new timeline adds more Character Development to his story, and he is no longer the heroic protagonist we once knew. Though he starts out as Raiden's protege in the new timeline, a series of disputes between mentor and protege slowly strain that relationship, culminating with Raiden accidentally killing him at the end of 9, but not before he blames Raiden for all the screw-ups the thunder god made. In MKX, his soul was used by Quan Chi to create an "evil" revenant out of him, and he's not displeased with this arrangement given the hatred he now has for his ex-mentor, something which increased over the 25-year gap. As such, he asserts his current status as an undead minion of Quan Chi, as being one allows him to be the perpetrator, and he and Kitana willfully become the Co-Dragons to Quan Chi and Shinnok. After Shinnok's downfall at the end of MKX, he and Kitana willfully assert themselves as the Netherrealm's co-rulers, becoming its revenant emperor. And his MKX ending shows that he plans to conquer other realms after asserting himself as Netherrealm's ruler in the aftermath of Shinnok's downfall, even going as far as hiring Jason Voorhees as a minion (though Jason is displeased with this arrangement and kills him).
- Amazing Technicolor Population: As a revenant, he has a skin color of grayish-white, complete with Volcanic Veins, Evil Costume Switch and Glowing Eyes of Doom.
- Arch-Enemy: Following the events of Mortal Kombat 9, he and Kitana consider Raiden to be this, blaming him for their deaths and the deaths of other fallen heroes. Both still harbor an intense hatred of the thunder god in Mortal Kombat X, and resent the fact that Jax, Sub-Zero and Scorpion have been restored to the side of good.
- Arrogant Kung-Fu Guy: After he Came Back Wrong as a revenant, he becomes a self-centered and taunting Jerkass, blaming Raiden for all his problems. When Jax drops by in the Netherrealm to grab Quan Chi, he immediately throws a tirade about the faults in his ex-mentor.
- A Pupil of Mine Until He Turned to Evil: Used to be Raiden's protege and Earthrealm's champion, but a series of disputes between mentor and protege at the end of 9 culminated with Liu Kang's accidental death at the hands of Raiden. He now Came Back Wrong as a revenant willfully serving Shinnok, a fallen Elder God, with an intense hatred of the thunder god.
- Authority Equals Asskicking: He and Kitana become the Netherrealm's new rulers.
- Back from the Dead:
- Subverted. By the end of X, Liu Kang remains dead.
- Played straight in 11. Considering how Liu Kang's Fire God form includes his Revenant's memories (which includes his death at Raiden's hands) but not his brainwashing, then it's safe to say that Liu Kang is truly back for good.
- Battle Couple: With Kitana. As the new rulers of the Netherrealm.
- Became Their Own Antithesis: An even worse case than Dark Raiden. While in X he was simply The Dragon to Quan Chi and Shinnok, by the time of 11 he has fully embraced being the same kind of Evil Overlord that he once defended Earthrealm against multiple times. He even goes as far as stealing the soul of his past self for more power which really drives home how far he has fallen.
- Being Good Sucks: He actually feels much better as a revenant, as it allows him to commit evil deeds.
- Berserk Button: Anything related to his former mentor after the events of Mortal Kombat 9. This is clearly evident in chapters 8 and 10, where he is shown ranting about his ex-mentor's faults.
- Brainwashed: This is what happens to him in MKX, as he is Reforged into a Minion to serve Quan Chi and Shinnok. Liu Kang seems to appreciate his status as a revenant, and he and Kitana are seen as the Co-Dragons to Quan Chi in the game.
- Broken Ace: Started off as Raiden's golden boy, but begins to question his mentor's actions in 9, culminating with Liu Kang attacking Raiden out of rage. Raiden accidentally fries him to death and tries to apologize, but even in his dying breath, Liu Kang blames him for his failures. Things do not get better for Liu Kang in MKX, as he's resurrected as a revenant by Quan Chi and appreciates this new form, thanks to his new-found hatred of Raiden. This eventually manifests in his willing ascension to rule the Netherrealm after Shinnok's defeat at the end of X. It's unknown if he lost his morality, but his arcade endings in both 9 and X seem to indicate it.
- Broken Pedestal: Becomes this in MKX.
- Came Back Wrong: Resurrected as a revenant by Quan Chi and brainwashed to serve him and Shinnok. Liu Kang actually appreciates this new form.
- Calling the Old Man Out: Gives this to Raiden in Chapter 10 of MKX. Liu Kang blames Raiden for the situation he and the remaining revenants are in after Quan Chi's demise.[After Raiden defeats Kung Lao, he is suddenly rabbit-punched in the back by Liu Kang. Raiden and Liu Kang then trade blows, but Raiden is knocked out to the ground after a few punches and struggles to get up]
Raiden: This is not your destiny, Liu Kang.Liu Kang: More visions, Raiden? Do you still see the future?Raiden: The visions are gone, but I know what should be.Liu Kang: I was put here by your hand![Liu Kang hesitates for a moment, but launches a charging punch at the thunder god, who teleports behind him and does an overhand punch against Liu Kang. They trade blows again, and Raiden spin-kicks Liu Kang, who is struggling to his feet]Liu Kang: I should thank you. You freed me. The Elder Gods you blindly serve? I will help Shinnok end their rule!
- Co-Dragons: He and Kitana become this to Quan Chi and Shinnok, and become the Netherrealm's co-rulers after Quan Chi is Killed Off for Real by Scorpion and Shinnok is reduced to a mere head by a corrupted Raiden. In 11 Hes once again this but this time with Geras and Cetrion to Kronika.
- The Conqueror: In his MKX arcade ending, he plans to conquer the other realms after becoming the ruler of the Netherrealm.
- The Dark Side: Willfully becomes The Dragon to Quan Chi after he Came Back Wrong as a revenant.
- The Dark Side Will Make You Forget: Becomes a revenant willfully following the fallen Elder God Shinnok, thanks to his newfound hatred of Raiden.
- Darker and Edgier: Since his FaceHeel Turn at the end of 9, he has become more rude and arrogant, considering how he feels betrayed by Raiden following his death.
- Darth Vader Clone: Fits all the traits to a T - Fallen Hero, Reforged into a Minion, former protege of Raiden, The Dragon to Quan Chi and Shinnok, Evil Costume Switch, Power Echoes, got all of his skin charred during his duel with Raiden at the end of Mortal Kombat 9, and willfully went to The Dark Side after disagreeing with his former mentor (and was killed accidentally).
- Deadpan Snarker: As part of his new Jerkass characterization, he becomes this in X and 11; both in intro dialogues and in-game.Liu Kang: Kotal Kahn.
Kotal Kahn: You will fail against Outworld's best.
Liu Kang: Goro, Shang Tsung, or Shao Kahn?
Raiden: (after briefly getting his ass handed by Liu Kang) This is not your destiny, Liu Kang.
Liu Kang: More visions, Raiden? Do you still see the future?
- Deal with the Devil: Willfully becomes The Dragon to Shinnok and Quan Chi after becoming a revenant.
- Death of Personality: In the process of fusing revenant Liu Kang with past Liu Kang and giving them his power, Raiden overwrites the revenant personality with the younger, more humble personality. The resulting Fire Lord Liu Kang has all the knowledge from his revenant half, but none of the malice.
- Demoted to Dragon: After being the Dragon Ascendant after Shinnok's defeat, hes once again The Dragon, this time to Kronika.
- Despair Event Horizon: Crossed this at the end of MK9, as all of his friends and lover (save for Raiden, Sonya and Johnny Cage) are dead, finds the faith he had for his mentor shattered, and Came Back Wrong as a self-centered, taunting and vengeful revenant in MKX. Eventually, he gets somewhat better after Shinnok's second defeat in the end of Mortal Kombat X when Dark Raiden tosses Shinnok's still-living head to Liu Kang and Kitana after both of them become the Netherrealm's new rulers.
- The Dragon:
- To Quan Chi and Shinnok in MKX, as he's shown reporting directly to both of them among the revenants.
- To Kronika in 11. He was the first of her recruits, the one she interacted the most and the strongest of her mortal followers.
- Dragon Ascendant: Following Shinnok's defeat in MKX, he and Kitana become the new rulers of the Netherrealm.
- Driven to Villainy: In 9, Raiden's frequent screw ups took a big toll on his patience, sapping all the faith he had in his mentor. His accidental death by Raiden becomes the catalyst for Liu Kang's FaceHeel Turn after the former Mortal Kombat champion was revived as a revenant by Quan Chi, and he and Kitana willfully become the Netherrealm's new rulers after Shinnok's defeat.
- The Emperor: His apparently-semi-canon Arcade ending in MKX. He's no sorcerer or Elder God, but his masterful combat skills are more than enough to establish him as the new ruler of the Netherrealm following Shinnok's defeat, with an eye towards expanding his new domain. And the ending of Story Mode sees Liu and Kitana ruling the hell-plane side-by-side.
- Even Evil Has Loved Ones: Kitana. The two serve as Quan Chi and Shinnok's Co-Dragons, and later become the Netherrealm's co-rulers after Shinnok's demise at the end of X
- Evil Costume Switch: In the new timeline as a revenant under Quan Chi's service, and dons an eviler costume as the new emperor of Netherrealm following Shinnok's defeat at the end of X. He most likely chose the new look to reflect her new role as Netherrealm's emperor. And as with all revenants, his skin turns grayish-white and has Volcanic Veins, the eyes turn orange, and his voice now has Power Echoes.
- Evil Feels Good:
- Unlike some of the other revenants, Liu Kang is pretty content with his current existence because of how angry and betrayed he feels by Raiden. This eventually manifests itself as his willing ascension to Netherrealm emperor during the Evil Power Vacuum that ensues following Quan Chi and Shinnok's defeats.
- In Jason Voorhees' ending in X, Liu takes notice of Jason's killing spree and offers him to take even more lives. Too bad for Liu Kang as Jason does not take orders from anybody except from his mother. Jason ends up killing him.
- Evil Former Friend: To Raiden. And to any of the heroes that are alive (Johnny Cage, Sonya, Kenshi, Fujin, etc.), have switched to the side of good (Sareena) or have been restored to life (Sub-Zero, Scorpion, Jax).
- Evil Is Not a Toy: Sorry Liu Kang, but Jason Voorhees isn't some run-of-the-mill zombie whom you can toy around with. He only takes orders from his mother.
- Evil Makeover: He goes from a heroic protege of Raiden to a merciless revenant who's covered in metallic armor after he was Reforged into a Minion by Quan Chi. He wears even more armor after becoming the Netherrealm's emperor.
- Evil Makes You Monstrous: He got all his flesh burned off at the end of MK9.
- Evil Sounds Deep: As a Revenant his voice drops, gaining a slight demonic tinge.
- Evil Wears Black: His Dark Emperor costume gives vibes of this.
- Eye Color Change: After being revived as a revenant, Liu Kang's eyes are shown to have changed from blue to reddish yellow, signifying his complete fall to the dark side.
- FaceHeel Turn: As an undead renevant, he's one of the few heroes who willingly became evil, more or less thanks to his newfound hatred towards Raiden. By the end of X's story mode, he and Kitana are installed as the new rulers of the Netherrealm, meaning they are now a direct foe of Earthrealm. His Arcade Ending in X has him becoming evil at the end, pondering the thought of conquering other realms.
- FaithHeel Turn: Liu Kang, now resurrected as a revenant, still harbors a grudge against his former mentor in X. He even calls out and mocks the thunder god for the futility of his actions in 9.
- Fallen Hero: Becomes this during the events of MKX.
- Forced into Evil: Came Back Wrong as a revenant willfully serving Shinnok in X, and later on, becoming the Netherrealm's new ruler alongside Kitana following Shinnok's defeat at the hands of Cassie Cage and Raiden.
- Glowing Eyes of Doom: As part of his Evil Costume Switch during Mortal Kombat X, his eyes turn reddish-orange after his resurrection as a revenant.
- Guttural Growler: In Arcade Mode or multiplayer matches, if you choose his Revenant or Dark Emperor skins, the Funny Bruce Lee Noises are replaced with regular-octave serious grunts, yells and shouts.
- Hell Has New Management: At the end of Mortal Kombat X, it's shown that he and Kitana have taken over the Netherrealm after Shinnok's defeat.
- He Who Fights Monsters: Since being brought back as a revenant, he slowly started to slip into the same evil mindset that his enemies were. Of particular note is when he goes full circle and starts to absorb his younger self's soul, much like Shang-Tsung who he defeated long ago.
- Hoist by His Own Petard: In Jason Voorhees' MKX arcade ending, the revenant menace of Friday the 13th is offered a plentiful bounty of victims in exchange for his fealty to Liu Kang. But Jason begs to differ and responds in the most blunt but effective manner, as his loyalty lies only with one person: his own mother. Thought you could use Jason as your pawn, Liu Kang?
- A more canonical version occurs in 11: By stealing his past selfs soul to power up for fighting Raiden, he gave Raiden a way to deify both versions of Liu Kang at once, with the younger ones soul controlling the resulting amalgamation and effectively erasing the Revenants personality while retaining his memory to use against Kronika.
- I Hate Past Me: In 11 he hates the past version of himself who is still devoted to Raiden, but is also right to call him out on his Self-Serving Memory.
- Incorruptible Pure Pureness: Subverted in the new timeline. Whereas he was a Martial Pacifist and faithful follower of Raiden in the original timeline, the rebooted one adds more Character Development to his story, and he lost all the faith he had in his mentor by the end of MK9. Even after being Reforged into a Minion in MKX, things haven't changed much, as he starts to feel much better as a revenant.
- It Gets Easier: Starts to appreciate his new form as a revenant.
- It's Personal with the Dragon: In MK11, Big Bad Kronika is pretty much a force of nature and Generic Doomsday Villain. On the other hand, Revenants Liu Kang has much more personal enmity with the heroes and spite them every time they met.
- It Sucks to Be the Chosen One: Though he was The Champion to Raiden, a chain of events in MK9 have made him go against his now ex-mentor, culminating with his own death. Even after being revived as a revenant in MKX, he blames Raiden for what happened to all of the fallen heroes.
- It's All About Me: Because of everything he went through in MK9, he embraces his role as a revenant to get revenge on the Elder Gods for just letting it all happen, ignorant of what could happen if they're overthrown. Plus, he also becomes increasingly self-centered towards others.
- Jerkass: Becomes a self-centered and taunting Arrogant Kung-Fu Guy thanks to his current status as a revenant.
- Jerk Justifications: Has several reasons for becoming a self-centered and taunting Jerkass on this page, including him calling out Raiden for his failures in Mortal Kombat 9.
- Kick the Dog: He and the other remaining revenants gang up on Raiden in chapter 10 of Mortal Kombat X.
- Light Is Not Good: Becomes this following his FaceHeel Turn in MKX.
- Martial Arts Headband: In MKX, his headband gets tattered.
- Meet the New Boss: In the ending cutscene of Mortal Kombat X, it's shown that he and Kitana became the new rulers of the Netherrealm following Shinnok's defeat.
- More Than Mind Control: Not only does he become a revenant, he actually appreciates this new form, thanks to his newfound hatred of Raiden.
- Never My Fault: Blames Raiden for his own death in Mortal Kombat X, when it was clearly his own fault. Raiden only killed him by accident, even if he does seriously regret it. In 11, this start dipping into Self-Serving Memory when confronting his past self as he claims Raiden killed him to deny him the "glory" of stopping Shao Khan when in reality Raiden was trying to tell him to hold off for a moment until Shao Khan started merging the realms so the Elder Gods could take action. As his past self correctly points out, Liu Kang was the one who couldn't grasp the logic of that and attacked Raiden, forcing the God to defend himself.
- Not So Different: He starts channeling the likes of Shao Kahn, Shang Tsung, and Shinnok, which is something his normal self would definitely not even think of doing.
- OOC Is Serious Business: After they become the Netherrealm's new rulers, he and Kitana do not show any anger or blaming Raiden (who's now corrupted) for their fates in The Stinger, and are baffled when the thunder god tosses Shinnok's head at their feet. Now knowing he's not holding back anymore either.
- Opposed Mentors: Following his resurrection as a revenant, he chooses to side with Shinnok and Quan Chi over Raiden.
- The Paragon Always Rebels: Went from being the Mortal Kombat Champion and a protege of Raiden to a revenant willfully following Shinnok, a fallen Elder God.
- Protagonist Journey to Villain: Shows more of this in the new timeline, following his resurrection as a revenant under Quan Chi's service. He feels better as a revenant because of how angry and betrayed he feels towards Raiden. This eventually manifests into him and Kitana becoming the new rulers of the Netherrealm following Shinnok's defeat at the hands of Raiden.
- Rage Against the Mentor: In 9, Raiden's frequent screw ups took a big toll on his patience, sapping all the faith he had in his mentor. Even in his dying breaths, he blamed Raiden for all that's happened to them. He still harbors a big grudge against his ex-mentor as a revenant in MKX, and not even the prospect of Kitana staying with him will calm him down. In fact, both of them blame the thunder god for their current situation.
- Rage Against the Heavens: Is willing to help Shinnok overthrow the Elder Gods.
- "The Reason You Suck" Speech: See the Calling the Old Man Out trope above.
- Red and Black and Evil All Over: First as a Revenant, and later as emperor of the Netherrealm.
- Red Eyes, Take Warning: Complete with fiery demonic glow.
- Reforged into a Minion: Resurrected as a revenant and brainwashed to serve Quan Chi and Shinnok in MKX. Not only this, but he feels better as a revenant because of his intense hatred towards Raiden.
- Rogue Protagonist: Came Back Wrong as a revenant serving Shinnok thanks to his newfound hatred of Raiden.
- Ruling Couple: With Kitana. As the new rulers of the Netherrealm at the end of X after Shinnok's downfall.
- Shadow Archetype: Serves as this to his past self in 11. Liu Kang may be the Chosen One and the champion of two Mortal Kombat tournaments, but Revenant Liu Kang is what would happen if he lets the glory get to his head and lets it rule his decision-making. His entire hate for Raiden and desire for Kronika to rewind time is because he feels that Raiden "stole his glory" by stopping Shao Kahn and killing him accidentally, unaware of the bigger picture.
- Sour Outside, Sad Inside: A lot of his aggression comes from the pain and misery that his FaceHeel Turn brought him in the first place.
- Start of Darkness: A series of disputes between mentor and protege in 9 led to his disillusionment with Raiden (and is accidentally killed off by the latter), and things haven't become better for Liu in X as he willfully became The Dragon to Quan Chi following his resurrection as a revenant, and his willingness to become the Netherrealm's new ruler alongside Kitana after Shinnok's demise.
- Spikes of Villainy: His Dark Emperor outfit has spikes on the shoulder guards and incorporates skeleton designs.
- Stunned Silence: In the stinger for Mortal Kombat X, Liu Kang and Kitana have puzzled looks on their faces in response to Raiden's warning.
- Took a Level in Jerkass: Many of his intro dialogues with the other kombatants in MKX show that he's becoming more of an Arrogant Kung-Fu Guy. The fact that he's canonically a revenant in this game may account for his self-centered behavior; it allows him to vent the anger he harbors toward Raiden. He is not only angry at the thunder god's actions in Mortal Kombat 9, but also sneers at Kung Jin's gay lifestyle, becomes jealous of Johnny Cage's status as Raiden's champion, and thinks of himself as superior to Kung Lao and Kenshi. Jacqui Briggs even calls him a whiner for this very reason.
- Transhuman Treachery: He seems to appreciate his new status as a revenant.
- Uncertain Doom: After he gets both of his legs broken by proxy of Shao Kahn breaking his past self's legs in Aftermath, he's never seen again. It's not known whether he lived until the time reset or not.
- The Unfettered: His actions throughout MKX suggest that he indeed has lost his sense of morality once he was revived as a revenant, feeling better committing evil deeds in the name of Shinnok. And his MKX arcade ending shows him pondering on the thought of conquering other realms after taking over the Netherrealm. He even takes notice of Jason Voorhees's killing spree and offers him to take even more lives, but Jason had other ideas.
- Unholy Matrimony: He becomes the emperor of the Netherrealm, ruling jointly with Kitana at the end of Mortal Kombat X.
- Undeathly Pallor: A grayish-white skin after being revived as a brainwashed minion.
- Volcanic Veins: She gains these upon being revived as a brainwashed minion of Quan Chi.
- We Used to Be Friends: Used to be The Champion and a good friend to Raiden, but a series of disagreements between the two in Mortal Kombat 9 ends with Liu Kang's death. Both of them are now arch-enemies, and fallen heroes at the end of MKX. Several of the other Earthrealm protectors also lament on this.
- You Monster!: Raiden calls Liu Kang out on how he has "perverted your own nature" after he absorbs his past self's soul
- Your Soul is Mine!: In MK11's finale he uses Shinnok's magic to steal the soul of the past version of himself in order to gain a massive power boost against Raiden. However, this gives Raiden the chance to merge with Liu Kang.
Fire God Liu Kang
- 11th-Hour Ranger: In 11, where he serves as the protagonist of Story Mode's final chapter and singlehandedly turns the tide against Kronika.
- The Ace: It's Liu Kang before he became a Broken Ace, with Raiden's power added to his own, and without getting Drunk with Power. Kronika is rattled by his ascension, and he then goes on to immediately show her fear was very well founded.
- Batman Gambit: Upon discovering Shang Tsung and his warning that without Kronika's crown, the one he had just destroyed, there would be ramifications upon using the hourglass. Thus he sends Shang Tsung to retrieve another crown before Kronika's defeat while he is forced to stay. But this is Shang Tsung, Liu Kang doesn't just realize he's going to backstab all of his allies, he's counting on it, and allows Shang Tsung to successfully steal the crown for himself in the knowledge that it would be safe while Kronika was dealt with. Immediately after Kronika's defeat, he stops Shang Tsung, revealing that he never had to stay with the hourglass, and challenges him to one final Kombat. Whether or not it pays off is up to the player. Ironically, this "he must win" gambit is very similar to the plan Raiden was executing to defeat Shao Kahn in the new timeline, a plan the former Liu Kang found so ridiculous that it got him killed in a battle opposing Raiden.
- Beat Them at Their Own Game: He manages to deceive the extremely manipulative Shang Tsung into believing that he had to stay behind because of his duties to the Hourglass and essentially allows him to betray and/or kill most kombatants before appearing and revealing that everything Shang Tsung did went according to his plan. Tsung is even impressed by the Kang's ruthlessness.Fire God Liu Kang: (to Shang Tsung) A lie. Something you know well.
- Big Good: Becomes this for the heroes in 11's final chapter, inheriting the position from Raiden. In two of the three endings, the godly Liu Kang also goes on to become the new Keeper of Time, rebuilding the Mortal Kombat universe and safeguarding the flow of history.
- Canon Immigrant: The concept of Liu Kang becoming a god of fire was first presented in the non-canon Arcade epilogue meta-narrative from Mortal Kombat 9. Fortunately, 11's Fire God Liu Kang is unambiguously a good guy, whereas the original concept was a Fallen Hero gone mad with power.
- Deity of Human Origin: Unlike the other gods shown in the series, this one was born out of a fusion between a demigod (Raiden) and a mortal (Liu Kang).
- The Dreaded: Even the possibility of Raiden and Liu Kang joining power scares Time Master Top God Kronika enough that she set up the Eternal Recurrence of them falling out and killing each other. Her fear was justified by the end when Liu Kang shatters her and took her place as Keeper of the new timeline.
- "End of the World" Special: By defeating Kronika (and in Aftermath, Shang Tsung), he becomes the new ruler of time and thus can remake the timeline however he chooses. His goal is to ultimately Set Right What Once Went Wrong.
- Final Boss: Of Aftermath, if you choose Shang Tsung.
- Fusion Dance: Predominantly type B - Power Booster. Fire God Liu Kang has his physical appearance and fire power, Raiden's lightning and his Revenant's knowledge.
- Good Counterpart: He becomes one to Kronika at the end of the story: a godly being with access to the Hourglass, but one who will let people choose their own destiny rather than controlling all aspects of their lives like Kronika did.
- Guile Hero: In Aftermath, full stop. Liu Kang intentionally lied to Shang Tsung of staying behind, knowing too well how the events will unfold and anticipating Shang Tsung's betrayal and chaos from the start. Shang Tsung, surprised, taunts Liu Kang of sacrificing his own friends for this moment, only for Liu Kang to rebuff that they will be alive in the New Era. If Liu Kang wins, he exploits the weakness of Shang Tsung's link to the hourglass, easily disintegrating him.
- HeelFaith Turn: Whatever's left of his Revenant besides his knowledge has completely merged with him.
- Hoist by His Own Petard: As Fire God Liu Kang, he pulls a massive Batman Gambit in Aftermath by sending Shang Tsung to the past to retrieve Kronika's crown for his plans, knowing full well the sorcerer is the only one capable of doing it through his own treachery and machinations. Should the player sides against him in the climax, all of this comes back to bite him in the ass tremendously.
- Immune to Fate: By gaining Raiden's powers, he also gains his ability to exist outside time and as such, any alterations to the timeline doesn't affect him whatsoever.
- When Kronika once again restarts the timeline, and almost everyone else starts to rewind, Liu Kang is one of the few unaffected by the rewind.
- He was also completely unaffected by his past selves getting crippled and possibly killed. This helps surprise Shang Tsung, as not only does he fall for Liu Kang's lie that he can't leave the Hourglass, but also because he possibly did not know that deities exist outside of time.
- Invincible Hero: Emphasized during the assault on Kronika's Keep, where the allied forces are engaged in heavy battle with Kronika's army, and Fire God Liu Kang instantly obliterates the latter in one shot. Even after Kronika rewinds all of his allies away from the battle, Fire God Liu Kang defeats the Revenant Kitana, Jade and Kung Lao, then Cetrion and then Kronika in short order, only briefly faltering against the Revenants until he gets a pep-talk from Raiden. It does get subverted hard if Shang Tsung is victorious in Aftermath however.
- Kirk Summation: He tells Cetrion that even as an Elder God, she cannot defeat him because her heart isn't in agreement with Kronika's plans. He tries to sway her, but Cetrion declaring her absolute loyalty to Kronika puts the kibosh on that.
- Lightning/Fire Juxtaposition: Played With in one person; his native doubled fire powers are combined with Raiden's lightning. Two beings that were manipulated into opposition across uncountable timelines now acting in concert.
- Nice Hat: Has Raidens hat, but he pulled it down to rest across his back.
- Nice Job Breaking It, Hero!: Aftermath has Shang Tsung reveal that by destroying Kronika's crown with her, the Hourglass cannot be controlled properly and could end up destroying the realms if used without it.
- The Obi-Wan: His ending in Aftermath sees Fire God Liu Kang take on this role to the (eventual) Great Kung Lao, as Raiden had before him.
- Off with His Head!: Should Fire God Liu Kang lose two rounds to Kronika in the final fight, she creates a blade to cut his head off with in a Non Standard Game Over.
- Paradox Person: Aside from being a mix of his past human and present undead self and Raiden (which already creates a paradox in itself as his past self's death would have been completely undone and it would have prevented his Revenant's existence), he also exists outside of time as Raiden revealed to have been a property gods have. In Aftermath, when the three people that make up his being don't merge (with his human and Revenant possibly dying too), he still shows up in the end to confront Shang Tsung. Simply put, there are so many factors that prove that he shouldn't even exist but he still does due to being a god.
- Physical God: Powerful enough to match Elder God Cetrion and Titan Kronika in kombat.
- Power Floats: In cutscenes during the story mode, he can be seen hovering about he ground where other characters are running.
- Power Glows: Liu Kang now has a set of sweet, glowing tattoos of light on his shoulders and upper arms.
- Sequel Hook: The Good Ending of Aftermath involves him descending to the new Earth, meeting the original Kung Lao, still a humble novice, and making said Kung Lao his champion.
- Story-Breaker Power: Quite possibly the most powerful being in Mortal Kombat, he's able to defeat Kronika and is much stronger than Raiden. Shang Tsung has to wear Kronika's crown to even stand a chance at beating him.
- Walking Spoiler: His existence not only spoiled the endgame of MK11 but also his status by the end has enormous ramifications for the future of the MK universe going forward.
- The Watcher: His role by the end of MK11. The Golden Ending with Kitana has her specifically push him into this position: guiding and respecting mankind's free will and not micromanaging them as Kronika did.