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Video Game / Mortal Kombat 9

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"Our story has ended. Centuries of battle, meaningless. Shao Kahn has consumed Earthrealm. His victory must be undone. Armageddon, aborted. We will strike where he's vulnerable: the past.

The cost will be high. The sacrifices, unthinkable. Many will fall. Our tale must be retold."
Intro movie, as told by Raiden.

Mortal Kombat is the eighth canonical installment, and ninth overall, of the Mortal Kombat fighting game series.note  It was released in 2011 for the PlayStation 3 and Xbox 360; a port for the PlayStation Vita was released in 2012, and a PC port of the Komplete Edition (the game and its associated DLC) was released on Steam in 2013. It is the first Mortal Kombat game developed by Nether Realm Studios, a WB Games subsidiary that picked up the franchise after the closure of Midway Games.

The game's story begins at the end of Mortal Kombat: Armageddon: Shao Kahn, who now rules over all realms, prepares to kill Raiden, the only other survivor of the apocalyptic battle. Before Kahn lands the final blow, Raiden manages to send a cryptic message—"He must win"—to his past self, who is now responsible for preventing Shao Kahn's ultimate victory. However, when so few words are used to convey something so critical, there is much room for alternate interpretations...


Mortal Kombat retells the events of the first three games of the franchise, but Raiden's decisions in the story leads to events occuring much differently than before. The game is also a return to the series' roots (as a 2.5D fighter) that includes numerous modern-day touches; new gameplay mechanics include the chance to use enhanced versions of special moves, Combo Breakers, and a highly-damaging X-Ray Move (which briefly shows the target's skeleton and other innards during impact). On top of that, the ludicrously bloody Fatalities (and Stage Fatalities) make their return—and they're all gorier than ever before.

In addition to its story mode, Mortal Kombat includes a tag team mode, a Challenge Tower (players must complete certain tasks in order to advance), and an online King of the Hill Mode akin to Super Street Fighter IV's Endless Battle mode.


As J. J. Abrams did with the 2009 film Star Trek, this game opens an Alternate Timeline in the Mortal Kombat franchise. The franchise's next installment, Mortal Kombat X, is a direct sequel to this game's storyline.

    Playable characters 

Initial cast

DLC characters

Unplayable bosses

See also:

The game has examples of the following tropes:

    open/close all folders 

     Mortal Kombat in general 
  • Adaptational Badass: Freddy Krueger. He was a powerful Reality Warper in the movies, but only in dreams, and pretty much powerless in the real world; Here, however, he no longer has that limitation, and can use all of his power outside dreams... and has two bladed gloves instead of one, as one glove wouldn't be enough for him to stand a chance against Shao Kahn.
  • Ambidextrous Sprite: Due to how the button mapping works in this game (each of the character's limbs gets a button, similar to Tekken, except they aren't fixed to left/right but rather front and back), the characters can stand with either arm out in front and have all their attacks function exactly the same (with the player being able to force a stance switch by pressing both kicks). Because of this function, Freddy Kreuger to has to wear two claws instead of just one.
  • And Your Reward Is Clothes: Finishing arcade mode with the standard cast unlocks each character's alternate outfit (but you may also find them in the Krypt). Your reward for finishing the challenge tower is Mileena's Stripperiffic Flesh Pits outfit.
  • Angels Pose: Kitana's ending. Silhouettes and all.
  • Barbie Doll Anatomy:
    • In spite of all the detail put into the characters' models, X-Ray Moves take this approach to the pelvic region, showing nothing but muscle. (Amusingly, the same treatment was used for women's breasts.)
    • Due to the very scant nature of some of the female costumes (notably Mileena's primary) and the battle damage that can ensue, this is arguably in effect for all female characters.
  • Beat Still, My Heart: The fatalities of several characters involve punching into the opponent and ripping out their heart.
  • Bloodier and Gorier: The goriest and bloodiest game in the series so far. And that's saying something.
  • Bonus Boss: Yep, they're back after a long hiatus. They even have similar requirements for facing them.
    • Klassic Reptile: Practically the same as MK1. Be on The Pit stage, get a Double Flawless and perform a Fatality. Oh, and a shadow has to fly by the moon.
    • Klassic Smoke: If you see him poking his head out from behind a tree in the Living Forest, hit Down and Select/Back Button.
    • Klassic Noob Saibot: Win a match without blocking in the Temple stage if you see Noob in the background.
    • Klassic Jade: Get to Shang Tsung without losing a single round and beat him with a double flawless and kill him with a Fatality. You also have to have earned at least 5 flawless victories leading up to Shang Tsung.
  • Body Horror: Most to all of the fatalities.
  • The Cameo: Many characters from the series' entire (former) timeline can be spotted in the background of stages.
    • Rain can be seen looking over Meat in The Cathedral.
    • Rain and Reiko's statues can be spotted in Shang Tsung's Gardens.
    • Sareena, Reiko, Kenshi, Frost, or Daegon can be seen fighting in the background of The Pit.
    • Tanya, Li Mei, Kira or Skarlet (and sometimes Kitana too, if she's not fighting) can be seen chained in Shao Kahn's arena, like Sonya and Kano were in Mortal Kombat II.
    • Bo' Rai Cho from Deadly Alliance and Deception, and Havik from Deception, apppear in endings.
    • Rain and Kenshi double as Early Bird Cameos, as they were later added to the roster as DLC.
  • Camera Abuse: Several characters' victory poses have them attack the camera. Some fatalities too.
  • Canon Name: The bios and vignettes reveal at least three of the Lin Kuei's real names: Bi-Han (Sub-Zero the elder/Noob Saibot), Kuai Liang (Tundra/Sub-Zero the younger), and Tomas Vrbada (Smoke).
  • Combat Stilettos: All of the ladies, barring Sheeva, who goes for Does Not Like Shoes instead.
  • Combo Breaker: You have to burn two bars from your super bar to use it, though.
  • Company Cameo: The Subway stage features Nether Realm Studios and WB Games billboards, the former being the developer of this game and a subsidiary of the latter.
  • The Computer Is a Cheating Bastard: A given for the franchise that codified perfect play AIs.
    • Double fights in story mode. Not only do you have to deal with enemies that each have a health bar equal to your own, they can do considerable damage upon switching in. Plus, since they will take more damage, their Super Bar will fill up faster.
    • SNK Boss: The three bosses (Goro, Kintaro, and Shao Kahn) have Super Armor while attacking, and a damage reduction (Goro and Kintaro only take two-thirds of the damage they should have, Shao Kahn takes 1/2). That said, they're aggressive to the point of stupidity, and if you only attack after successfully blocking something, you can typically put them on ice pretty quickly.
    • Unlike previous games, however, the AI will curb its aggression and cheating tactics upon successive continues, eventually easing up to the point of being passive.
  • Continuity Nod:
    • Several missions in the Challenge Tower are essentially a repeat of the plot of Shaolin Monks.
    • The Bonus Boss versions of Jade, Reptile, Noob Saibot and Smoke from Mortal Kombat and Mortal Kombat II all have similar bonus boss encounters in MK9's arcade mode.
    • The downloadable klassic skins for Scorpion, Reptile and Sub-Zero all give the characters klassic fatalities.
  • Convection Schmonvection: The hell stage has lava which has no effect on the fighters until someone performs its stage fatality.
  • Coup de Grâce Cutscene: Defeating Shao Kahn in Arcade Mode earns you a victory cutscene of your character landing a series of relatively satisfying blows on the emperor before he explodes into chunks.
  • Creator Cameo:
    • The Subway is called Boon-Beran station. Ed Boon and Steve Beran are two of NetherRealm Studios' members, also former Midway Games' developers.note 
    • Dan "Toasty" Forden is back. Complete with a shirt with a slice of buttered toast on it.
    • NetherRealm Studios's logo is spotted in the Subway and Rooftop stages.
  • Downloadable Content: In the form of extra characters, fatalities, and costumes.
  • Early Installment Weirdness: In regards to the NRS games, there are a few things different from later titles in the series:
    • Cutscenes are presented in a 16:9 format instead of a letterbox format.
    • There are no pre-fight interactions.
  • EX Special Attack: You can spend 25% of your meter to perform enhanced special attacks by holding down the guard button.
  • Face Death with Dignity: Of a sorts. Kratos' reactions to certain fatalities are different from others in that he doesn't panic or he tries to futilely fight back; he also avoids being subjected to more humorous moments, like Johnny Cage's award implant or Cyber Sub-Zero's shuriken-induced seizure. According to an interview with Ed Boon, this was requested by Sony Computer Entertainment America in order to retain Kratos' tough, Spartan personality (he certainly takes fatal injuries in in his own home series with little reaction at least).
  • Fan Disservice: The game certainly is Hotter and Sexier, but usually by the end of a match, your character will be covered in their opponent's blood, along with any horrific injuries they may have picked up during the fight.
  • Freeze-Frame Bonus: A couple. One at the start of Stryker's Chapter in Story Mode reveals that Kabal has an engagement ring on his finger. The other? Take a good look at the figures in the tubes when Kitana confronts Mileena. The scary demon that occasionally pops up in the Krypt? Turns out it's one of the rejected clones.
  • Funny Background Event: The billboard for Johnny Cage's Ninja Mime in the city stages ("He's silent, but deadly").
    • The cameos fighting on The Pit and Shang Tsung's Garden.
    • The newspapers that fly when a train passes by in the Subway are a Funny Foreground Event: if you pause the game at the right time, you can see the headline is about Shao Kahn's invasion, and it reads "WE ARE SCREWED."
  • Gameplay and Story Integration: In-universe, Shao Kahn's greatest weakness is his pride. His AI is programmed to taunt periodically, which stops him from laying an excessively long beat-down and can be exploited by the player to get in some good hits.
  • Gameplay and Story Segregation:
    • All of the DLC characters have their own Arcade Ladder endings, but aren't actually involved in the story. A few of them cameo at best.
    • Some character arcade endings have them interacting with other characters in the game, despite the possibility that you fought and killed them during the ladder. A specially obvious case of this is Baraka's ending where it's revealed that the Shao Kahn he killed was actually Shang Tsung transformed, despite Shang Tsung being the eight battle at all times.
    • Kenshi lost his invulnerability to Sonya's Kiss of Death move which he had in Deadly Alliance onwards. Likewise, he's affected by Stryker's X-Ray, which can only be handwaved by assuming the flashlight is physically burning him by being a very high wattage bulb.
  • Gorn: It is Mortal Kombat after all.
    • There's even an achievement that says "It's Not Mortal Kombat Without Blood!" (which is actually the Recursive Translation of the Brazilian Portuguese name of the "There Will Be Blood!" achievement).
  • Grievous Harm with a Body: Several fatalities feature this.
  • Groin Attack: Not just Johnny Cage this time. Striking the groin is also a part of some characters' X-Ray moves (like Sindel's and Jade's). Sonya also kicks the opponent between the legs as part of her throw. Also, due to balancing and other reasons, ladies are now affected by Johnny's split punch when previous games saw them immune.
    • Sindel also kicks Smoke in the goods to set up his head for a 180 in the Story Mode.
  • Half the Man He Used to Be: Various fatalities, again.
  • Hammered into the Ground: One of Jax's fatalities involve this being employed before he punts his opponent's head off.
  • High-Pressure Blood: In glorious Mortal Kombat tradition. To drive the point home, there is actually an achievement/trophy for spilling 10,000 pints of blood. You will earn it quickly.
    • On top of that, "mastering" each character requires spilling a certain quantity of blood with each of them. This is important if you want to get the Achievements or Trophies for mastering one character and then all of them.
  • Hotter and Sexier: You could say NetherRealm Studios took (ahem) advantage of the more powerful graphics engines on 7th generation consoles, as more boobage and less clothing was the order of the day for all the female characters. Basically, every female fighter combines Absolute Cleavage, Bare Your Midriff, and She's Got Legs. Not to mention a majority of the male characters saw major musculature increase and are Walking Shirtless Scenes. Tellingly, it was the first game in the series for which the ESRB justified the traditional M rating by also adding a nudity descriptor.
  • How Much More Can He Take?: Since the character models have been designed with painstaking detail to show the damage inflicted on their bodies, both external and internal, expect to see a lot of fighters look like they've packed up for a trip to the morgue before the end of the first round. Particularly nasty are the characters who lose an eyelid when busted up. Yes, their eye is just barely hanging there completely exposed.
  • Idle Animation: In contrast to the older games, the fighters will now do something when standing still long enough, usually stretching a body part to keep from stiffening up, such as Scorpion punching the air with both arms, Ermac who will move his arms back and forth and rotate his wrists, or interestingly, Skarlet who will do a sexy hip swing if she stands still too long.
  • Interface Screw: The PlayStation Vita port includes a mode where blood will obscure the player's view unless they wipe it off via touchscreen.
    • Some of the Test Your Luck effects do this, from the most simple (like removing the health or Super bars so you can't tell how much you have on each) to things like Dark Kombat (the screen goes pitch-black for a second from time to time) and Psychosis (where everything is upside-down, including your directional inputs).
  • Jiggle Physics: Used subtly, almost in spite of itself. A few of the ladies, like Mileena, have a move set which makes them more prone to it.
  • Jump Scare: There are screamers in the Krypt menu.
  • Karmic Injury: Ermac destroys Jax's arms in the game's story mode, requiring the Special Forces major to get cybernetic replacements. While Jax doesn't get to maim Ermac in story mode, a player can inflict a Karmic Injury on Ermac during a match using either Jax or Sheeva whose fatalities involve ripping off the opponents' arms.
  • Leg Cling: When Shao Kahn wins a match, one of his slave girls crawls up and clings to his leg.
  • Limit Break: This game has a "super meter" which fills by doing damage, taking damage, and using specials. Once it's 1/3 of the way filled, you can enhance a special to make it do more damage, give it a bigger hitbox, etc., or, in a 2v2 battle, you can bring your ally in to do a Tag Special (switching them in is optional). Once it's 2/3 filled, you can do a Combo Breaker. Completely filling it up lets you use a devastating X-Ray attack that does around 30-40% damage and shows the internal damage you do to your opponent.
  • Luck-Based Mission: The aptly-titled "Test Your Luck" minigame: slot machine reels determine what rules are added to the match, from silly stuff like rainbow blood and zombie mode to major changes like armless combat, magnetic floors, disabled super meters, and so on.
  • Made of Bologna: Inverted. With the exceptions of the "Barbie Doll Anatomy" mentioned above, meticulous care was taken in rendering the innards of each kombatant, resulting in gruesome and even-vaguely-realistic results when a character is sliced in half — which quite a lot of Fatalities involve.
  • Made of Iron/Made of Plasticine: In gameplay, the combatants can fight unhindered even with shattered skulls, broken ribs, or (in extreme cases) after having major organs frozen and shattered while they're still inside of them. Once you hear the good old "Finish Him!" command, though, all it takes is one good punch to knock their head clean off. Of course, they're already beaten to the point of shattering to bits by then.
  • Nostalgia Level: Many of the game's arenas. Two of them, The Pit and Shang Tsung's Garden, even show various post-MK3 fighters duking it out in the background, much more dynamically than Blaze and "Hornbuckle" did in MK2. The countdown is the following:
  • Only a Flesh Wound: The X-Ray attacks make surviving a battle in this game more unfathomable than in any other game in the 'Mortal Kombat'' franchise. Characters getting broken spines, eyes stabbed out or destroyed internal organs are a slap on the wrist.
    • The most notable one probably being Baraka's X-Ray, in which he impales his opponent through the neck and spine with his arm-blade, and then again through the eye and straight through the skull and brain, before simply kicking them off his blade. Assuming they have health left, they'll get up as if nothing particularly injurious happened. Freddy Krueger's is also certainly fatal, but slightly less obvious, as his first attack during it jams his blades in-between his opponent's ribs and impales their internal organs; his second attack, which would typically be unnecessary at that point, is literally nothing more than a slap to the face with his right glove, but does identical damage.
  • Orange/Blue Contrast: The box art (pictured above) shows Scorpion wielding orange flames on the left and Sub-Zero wielding blue ice on the right.
  • Overdrawn at the Blood Bank
  • "Pop!" Goes the Human: Rain's fatality, in which he conjures a large ball of water over his victim's head and forces it down their throat, bloating up their body until they burst. (Oddly, there is very little gore in the actual explosion.)
  • Rule of Fun: Some portions of the Challenge Mode can be this. For example, Mileena trying to give a Teddy Bear to Scorpion. Your goal - "Defend your right to hate Teddy Bears!" Interspersed with text of Mileena trying to talk Scorpion into accepting it.
  • Rubber-Band A.I.: Opponents in both Ladder and Story will ease up on repeated tries, even bosses. If you can't beat Shao Kahn on Medium, he'll eventually reduce himself to doing a lot of taunts around the 4th attempt.
  • Secret A.I. Moves: Shang Tsung can morph into everyone in the game, but not in the player's hands. The closest thing would be when Tsung morphs into his opponent upon hitting them with Soul Steal.
    • Also, when you fight him in the Arcade Ladder, he can morph into two other characters at random, in addition to your own. This is because the game's engine does not support more than four different fighters for each battle.
  • Shows Damage: definitely. The one exception are the X-Ray moves, where bones heal between blows. (This is easily verified by using Kitana's, which involves shattering her opponent's skull twice. Programmer oversight?)
  • Stripperiffic: All of the female characters in this game wear outfits that are so scant that you can't help but wonder how their boobs don't fall out. At one point in the campaign, Mileena (when she's introduced in the story) fights wearing nothing but bandages that barely cover her crotch and her nipples. She also fights wearing them in the final Tower Challenge and, if you beat this challenge, you will unlock this outfit for her.
    • Special mention goes to Sonya Blade, who wears what looks like a fairly practical military-style vest. . . and that's it. Upon closer examination, the vest not only has no zipper, but doesn't have enough material for it to close all the way even if it did. It's held closed only by two small strips of cloth at her belly, and with Sonya's, err, physique, there should be no way she could walk, let alone perform flying jump kicks, without shaking completely out of her top. On several characters (notably Kitana, Jade, and Mileena) Clothing Damage from battle damage should result in the entire outfit falling completely off.
  • Teleport Spam: Many of the faster-teleporting characters can do this, but Smoke is the most popular example. This is also the recommended method to beating the bosses. The AI is so prone to abusing teleport moves on any character that has it (which is most of them) that it will probably teleport more times than it jumps in any given fight.
  • Tournament Play: This is the first game in the series to be deemed tournament-worthy by EVO standards.
  • Updated Re-release: The PS Vita port, in addition to touchscreen functionality, assigns missions to the previously-DLC fighters, includes a few more alternate costumes (including MK2 and 3 iterations for Skarlet), and allows them to be shown in the Coliseum with biographies and casual ending access.
  • Vagina Dentata: So how about those windows in the Tower, eh?
  • Victory Pose: All characters have three different types, depending on the context. Between rounds, after a victory, they'll either do something short and sweet (like Jax kissing his biceps, Cyrax adjusting a bomb in his chest, and so on) or, if they're too close to the fallen opponent, they'll perform a show-off action that puts them back at a fair distance from the recovering opponent (the cyborgs like to hover on jets from their hands back to a safe distance, Baraka does a Sword Drag, Smoke smokes away, and so on). In non-Story Mode battles, finishing off an opponent without using a Fatality has them do some other unique pose or action.
  • Video Game Remake: The game was approached in this fashion with regards to Mortal Kombat Trilogy, since it reunites everybody from the first three games, except Motaro, who is relegated to a cameo appearance.
  • Vomit Indiscretion Shot: Noob Saibot's X-Ray Move finishes with a side kick to the victim's stomach, rewarding him with a gush of olive-drab spew. Even if the victim is wearing a mask. Or is a robot. Or Reptile.
  • When Trees Attack: The Living Forest returns, and yes, there is a Fatality where you feed your defeated opponent to the trees.
  • World of Buxom: See Hotter and Sexier above.

     Tropes related with the Story mode 
  • Adaptational Badass: Downplayed due to the characters always being badass in the first place, but most of them (particularly those of the third game) not being able to show it due to the lack of details in the original timeline. Story Mode allows the characters to show their fighting styles to their fullest with some of the most obscure characters making quite an impact.
    • Stryker proved to be the greatest Badass Normal not because he took down Reptile and Mileena, but because his track record includes Kintaro AND Ermac. Quite an accomplishment for his first day on the job.
    • Kabal's Super Speed was shown to be a result of Outworld magic, which he used to beat Mileena and Noob Saibot in a handicap match, Sheeva, and he even captured Cyber Sub-Zero, which is quite a feat considering that Sub-Zero is one of the strongest fighters in both continuities.
  • Adaptation Distillation: The story mode is basically the plot of the first three games condensed into one, while cutting the fat away. While there are changes (some quite major) because of the Timey-Wimey Ball, most of the stuff that happened in the old games still happens in this one.
  • Adaptation Expansion: Some characters get the most character development they've ever had in this game. The Lin Kuei who are not Sub-Zero in particular (Smoke, Cyrax, and Sektor) get a lot of development that fleshes out their characters much more than the barely-there story they had before.
  • Adaptational Wimp: Apparently, Raiden's Cosmic Retcon not only affected the timeline, but also the strength of some of the characters who get defeated in Story Mode. While Mortal Kombat's original timeline was never specific with its story to determine the fighting strength of its characters, there were some of them whose strength were very noticeable to the point that it seems impossible that they were beaten by the characters the player is using in Story Mode.
    • Bi-Han has this as Sub-Zero. While his defeat and death at the hands of Scorpion was no surprise to everybody who started the franchise from the second game and beyond, especially since Scorpion forced him to fight at the Netherrealm where he had the Home Field Advantage by getting stronger the longer he stayed there, his earlier defeat by Sonya is somewhat unexpected considering that she was beaten by future Butt-Monkey Johnny Cage in a fight and it was acknowledged by Raiden that the events of his spinoff game were canon, making his defeat more surprising since he was capable of defeating several gods, including Shinook himself yet failed to defeat a mortal opponent.
      • As Noob Saibot, he got defeated by Kung Lao and Nightwolf, opponents that Scorpion defeated without resorting to the Netherrealm and was defeated by Kuai Liang in spite of having defeated him in the original timeline.
    • Shang Tsung was a former champion of Mortal Kombat with his only confirmed losses in the original timeline being against Liu Kang, Quan Chi, and Onaga. While many saw him getting his ass kicked by Liu Kang coming from a mile away, nobody expected Smoke to beat him and Reptile in a handicap match (although Shang Tsung was using Bi-Han's form at the time), nor did they expected Kung Lao to defeat him and Quan Chi in spite of the Deadly Alliance being capable of taking down Liu Kang, Shao Kahn, and Raiden in the original timeline, much more so when Shang Tsung personally killed Kung Lao by himself in the aftermath of the fifth game.
  • All Myths Are True: Or, at least, some of them. Nightwolf, one of the few spiritually aware denizens of Earthrealm, identifies Raiden as Haokah, the spirit of thunder and lightning in Lakota mythology. He explicitly calls him such a few times during the course of the story, and Raiden responds to him without hesitation.
  • Anyone Can Die: By the end of the game, the only surviving heroes are Raiden, Sonya, and Johnny Cage. While it may seem that, if a sequel is made, it'll be an achievement to fill up the character select screen, Mortal Kombat X features several surviving villains and new kharacters, as well as the revenant versions of the heroes, to balance out the dead kombatents.
  • Arc Words: "He must win."
  • Back-to-Back Badasses: Liu Kang and Kung Lao when taking down Sheeva and Noob in Story Mode.
  • Badass Creed: The Lin Kuei gets one. Becomes ironic when you consider their status as technicolor McNinjas.
    Sub-Zeronote : Be stealthful as the night...
    Smoke: ... and deadly as the dawn.

    Sektor: We are the Lin Kuei, more stealthy than the night, more deadly than the dawn!
    • This possibly also serves as a dialogue-related version of a Dark Reprise; Smoke and Sub-Zero, who are shown reciting the creed, are human. Later, Sektor gives the modified version after becoming a cyborg.
  • The Bad Guy Wins: Zig-zagged. Toward the end of the game, Raiden realizes that the message his future self sent is referring to Shao Kahn. He lets Kahn merge Earthrealm with Outworld, only for the Elder Gods to punish Kahn, since he broke the rules of Mortal Kombat. Played straight since all of this was planned by Shinnok and Quan Chi (and, thanks to retcons, Kronika) from the start to make Earth Realm and Outworld vulnerable to invasion from the Nether Realm.
  • Big Good: Raiden.
  • Big, Screwed-Up Family: As badass as they may be, we see some serious family issues between Younger Sub-Zero and Noob Saibot and Kitana and Sindel. Both involve extensive amounts of puppy-kicking from Person B, and the latter example actually culminates with the death of Person A.
  • Bittersweet Ending: Yay! Armageddon was prevented! The Big Bad is dead! Yet, most of the main cast in the good guys' side were killed in the process, several of them meaninglessly and senselessly. Liu Kang, practically a Messianic Archetype, dies cursing Raiden's name, completely disillusioned. And not long after the Big Bad's defeat, Shinnok's forces are poised to strike both Earthrealm and Outworld, armed with the enslaved souls of the dead good guys and probably other demons and people, while Earthrealm's forces are only composed of three able but battered warriors.
  • Bloodless Carnage: During most of the Story Mode, despite still suffering the horrifying effects of the various X-Ray attacks, none of the fighters show any physical damage during the fights. Fatalities are also a no-no, though the reasons for this should be obvious; Shang Tsung does call out the signature "Finish Him!!!" in a few cutscenes (when Johnny Cage defeats Baraka and when Cyrax beats Johnny), however no one complies.
  • Bookends: Subverted. The intro cutscene and the cutscene right before the final boss show Shao Kahn tossing Raiden around in the same fashion and with the same dialogue. Said cutscene even flashes back to the intro cutscene at certain points. The subversion comes when Shao Kahn is ready to strike the final blow. The Elder Gods stop their lazy attitude and empower Raiden in order to allow him to finish Shao Kahn. Once he's done with that, the cracks in his amulet heal, indicating Armageddon has been prevented.
    • The MK3 arc itself also applies somewhat; it ends on a rooftop in a devastated city—the same rooftop where, in the beginning of the arc, Stryker and his partner Kabal were helping fight off the Outworld invasion earlier in the day.
  • Call-Back:
    • The one-on-two tag battles in Story mode can be seen as a throwback to the endurance matches from the original game.
    • When Smoke introduces himself to Raiden, he simply says, "I am called Smoke." This is actually a rather specific line to use as an introduction - it may be a reference to Smoke's arcade debut in MKII, in which the developers revived the gag of secret characters randomly appearing at rare times to give players hints on how to find them and to stoke the rumor mill; "I am called Smoke" is verbatim one of his lines in that game. It helps that Smoke, in the game released 18 years later, gives this line during the MKII storyline.
  • Call-Forward: Mixed in with a Mythology Gag. When Kung Lao faces Shang Tsung and Quan-Chi in a two-on-one match in his story mode chapter, Quan Chi remarks that Kung Lao won't be able to stop "this Deadly Alliance."
  • The Cameo:
  • Characterization Marches On: As shown with Raiden. Back in the classic timeline, in the first game's timeline, he's the essential Jerkass God that only fought to show that Gods are more powerful and would cause Armageddon faster. In here, Raiden is already taking the wise, revered mentor role ever since the beginning.
  • Chromatic Arrangement: The Cyber Ninjas; Sektor (red), Cyrax (yellow), and Cyber Sub-Zero (blue).
  • Continuity Nod:
    • After Scorpion kills Bi-Han, Raiden mentions to Cyrax how Sub-Zero once saved the world from Shinnok and Quan Chi.
    • Late in the story, as the Earthrealm warriors discuss the veracity of Raiden's visions, Jax wonders if he was ever supposed to lose his limbs. Indeed, in the previous timeline, Jax never lost his arms: he simply had cybernetic enhancements added to them.
  • Cosmic Retcon: Raiden telling his past self the story's Arc Words is the cause of any changes in this particular timeline.
  • Creator Cameo: Ed Boon, Steve Beran, and John Vogel are mentioned in Cyber Sub-Zero's chapter, when he's trying to get information from Sektor, and we see a map with the Subway station, (Boon-Beran) and an university called Vogel.
  • Cue the Sun: After Shao Kahn is destroyed for not adhering to the rules of Mortal Kombat. It really drives home the Bittersweet Ending.
  • Cutscene Power to the Max:
    • Kung Lao ultimately meets his end in Chapter 11 via a Neck Snap, despite him previously being able to get his neck snapped by Quan Chi's X-Ray and continue fighting.
    • During Chapter 12, Kabal is permanently scarred and needs a respirator mask after getting hit with Kintaro's fire breath, which usually just takes off a chunk of your life meter.
    • Happens with Sindel's mass slaughter of the heroes at the end of Chapter 15.
  • Deadpan Snarker: Most of the heroes get their turn to snark at the situation, their enemies and even each other with Johnny Cage being the main instigator/target for it.
  • Deal with the Devil: Raiden tries to make one with Quan Chi to help turn the tide against Shao Kahn after Sindel's massacre; the souls of all those killed in the battle for Netherrealm's aid. Unfortunately, Kahn had already sold all the souls to Quan Chi.
  • Deus Exit Machina: The battle against Sindel might have gone a bit more smoothly had not Raiden and Liu Kang conveniently been away at that moment.
  • Demoted to Extra: Motaro is the only character from Mortal Kombat 3 who is not a fighter in this game. He is killed by Raiden in a cut-scene and later appears as a dead body.
  • Diabolus ex Machina: Near the end of the Mortal Kombat 3 retelling, things are looking bad for Earthrealm, but on the whole the new timeline isn't much worse than the original one, save for the death of Kung Lao. And immediately after the heroes defeated the Cyber Lin Kuei and after Nightwolf saved the souls of Earthrealm by destroying the Soulnado Quan Chi created, Sindel, empowered by the soul of Shang Tsung, decides to pay the heroes a visit.
  • Downer Beginning: Remember the intro cinematic to Armageddon, with the battle royale between the Forces of Light and the Forces of Darkness? We're treated to an eerily silent battlefield here, with corpses of all the combatants littering the Edenian southlands around Argus' pyramid. The only two fighters let alive at the time are Raiden and Shao Kahn, the latter of whom has the upper hand by a substantial margin.
  • Dropped a Bridge on Him:
    • Near the end of Chapter 11, Shao Kahn just walks behind Kung Lao and snaps his neck with no effort at all.
    • Chapter 15 has nearly every hero getting killed by Sindel in a very abrupt way. It's actually pathetic to see someone like Cyber Sub-Zero die because he got punched in the face three times. Overall, virtually every character who dies in Story mode dies unceremoniously.
  • Flexible Tourney Rules: More like Non-Existent Tourney Rules. There are not set brackets, Shang Tsung decides who will fight next and who'll they'll face pretty much on a whim, and several times when fighters just begin a verbal argument, he declares it a challenge and orders them to fight. He also has no problem arranging 2 on 1 fights when he decides he wants one to happen, and he has Cyrax fight Johnny Cage even though Scorpion previously defeated Cyrax, which ought to have eliminated him.note  This is particularly egregious when he says Liu Kang is the only Earthrealm warrior to progress to "this stage" of the tournament and his opponents include Ermac and Quan Chi — none of these three fought prior to Chapter 5, so it's unclear how they can be considered to be in the late stages of the tournament. This also ignores that Sonya is undefeated in the tournament, so Liu Kang shouldn't even be the final Earthrealm warrior competing.
  • For Want of a Nail:
    • In the original timeline, when the Lin Kuei set about turning their assassins into cyborgs, Sub-Zero escaped while Smoke was forced to become a cyborg. In this new timeline, Raiden saves Smoke from being captured, only for Sub-Zero to be roboticized in his place. It also has the unfortunate side effect of the Lin Kuei pledging loyalty to Kahn in exchange for allowing them to take Sub-Zero.
    • In the original timeline, Motaro served as one of Shao Kahn's best soldiers and leader of the extermination squads that overran Earth during his invasion. In the new timeline, Raiden kills Motaro, preventing Johnny Cage's original death. This has the side effect of Shao Kahn deciding to sacrifice Shang Tsung to empower Sindel, who then slaughters her way through the majority of the heroes.
    • In the original timeline, Liu Kang lived through the events of MK3 and defeated Shao Kahn, only to later die at the hands of Quan Chi and Shang Tsung, later being brought back as a zombie. In the new timeline, Shang Tsung dies when Shao Kahn sacrifices him to give Sindel more power, and Raiden kills Liu Kang himself.
  • Freeze-Frame Bonus: Cameos aside, meticulous examination of scenes reveals a few noteworthy tidbits about some of the characters.
    • This trope also reveals the individual fates of some characters the aftermath of the Battle of Armageddon. Most of the deaths seen in Armageddon's intro did indeed happen. Additionally, a long chain of deaths involves Noob Saibot being killed by Scorpion who was killed by Sub-Zero who was killed by Baraka who was killed by Kung Lao who was killed by Shinnok's clone.
  • From Bad to Worse: The storyline in a nutshell.
  • Gameplay and Story Segregation: As mentioned elsewhere, the broken bones and destroyed organs detailed in various X-Ray moves don't seem to impair anyone at all. This is particularly interesting in that there's not even a Fade to Black or Wipe between rounds; the defeated kombatant just gets right back up, the life bars refill, and we're back at it.
  • Gilligan Cut: Raiden says he'll be able to transport Johnny Cage and Jax to near Sonya's location. The next scene places them at the Armory, which isn't where he intended.
    Johnny: Maybe you could try for even nearer next time...?
  • Godzilla Threshold:
    • Essentially the crux of Raiden's plan at the end of the game; letting the Big Bad win finally caused the Elder Gods to get off their asses and help.
    • Raiden's killing of Motaro served as this for Shao Kahn. Up until that point, things had been progressing mostly the same, barring Sub-Zero becoming a cyborg instead of Smoke, and Kung Lao's death. Once Motaro's body is brought in front of him, Kahn decides to sacrifice Shang Tsung to empower Sindel, giving her enough power to murder most of the heroes.
  • Good Costume Switch: Kitana and Jade wear their default outfits when they fight for Outworld, but after they defect to the heroes' side, they start wearing their alternate outfits.
  • Groin Attack: In Nightwolf's chapter, Sindel kicks Smoke in the goods to set up his head for a 180.
  • I Just Shot Marvin in the Face: Subverted at the last second; Baraka almost gets a face full of buckshot from an overeager minion, but quickly snatches the gun out of the minion's hand.
  • Interface Spoiler: A subtle example. In the main menu both Sub-Zero and Scorpion are fighting each other... in Shao Kahn's Coliseum. There IS such a fight, at the end of Chapter 8, with a twist: the game's starting Sub-Zero is Bi-Han, who is offed at the end of the third (Scorpion's) chapter; the Sub-Zero of the menu and Chapter 8 is Kuai Liang, his younger brother.
  • Jerkass Gods: The Elder Gods. Raiden goes to them for help begging them to stop Shao Kahn's illegal invasion. They claim Shao Kahn has not broken any rules since only merge is forbidden not invasion... which is contrary to they very reason the tournament was created and the understanding of the rules in every medium since the beginning. It was created specifically to give weaker realms a fighting chance against the overpowering might of Outworld. Raiden calls them out on their callousness by pointing out invasion and merge is a Distinction Without a Difference.
  • Karma Houdini:
    • Sure, Shao Kahn bites it in the end, but some of the bad guys under his employ leave the story unscathed once they're no longer relevant to the plot. Namely: Kano, Reptile, Mileena, Baraka, Sheeva, Ermac, Goro, and Kintaro. All of these kharacters are revealed to have survived the events of the game in Mortal Kombat X and its tie-in comics.
    • Cyrax and Sektor are also nowhere to be seen after Sindel comes in to slaughter the heroes. The tie-in comics for Mortal Kombat X reveals that they survived, only to be sacrificed and decapitated respectively.
    • Thanks to Joker Immunity, Noob Saibot survived being thrown into the Soulnado and went into hiding until the events of Mortal Kombat 11
  • La Résistance: Raiden, Liu Kang, Johnny Cage, Sonya, Sub-Zero, Smoke, Jax, Stryker, Nightwolf, Kabal, Kitana, and Jade.
  • Lazy Artist: While all of the character models here are new, the intro depicts the (very bloody) aftermath of Mortal Kombat: Armageddon (as well as a hyper-accelerated flashback of several key events leading up to MKA). Most of the characters shown are in their new outfits, instead of wearing their actual attire from those games.
  • Let's You and Him Fight:
    • The entire story, thanks to Shinnok and Quan Chi's machinations. With most of Earthrealm and Outworld's warriors dead, the Netherrealm is now in perfect position to conquer both.
    • Thanks to retcons, the fight between Liu Kang and Raiden is revealed to have been orcistrated by Kronika in Mortal Kombat 11.
  • Mauve Shirt: Nearly every hero is turned into this by endgame. Even Sub-Zero, the secondary Series Mascot of the series, isn't immune to kicking the bucket by Sindel's hands.
  • Mutual Kill: The aftermath of Nightwolf vs. Sindel.
  • Nice Job Breaking It, Hero: The new game's story mode covers the events of the first three Mortal Kombat games, but changed slightly due to Raiden receiving incomplete visions of the future. Almost everything he does as a reaction to those visions only seems to make things worse.
    • Also, Nightwolf in Freddy's Arcade Ladder ending. All Nightwolf accomplished was returning Freddy to the place where he was always the biggest threat, the Dream Realm.
  • No Campaign for the Wicked: Averted; Scorpion does have a chapter in Story Mode, though he is more a neutral. Cyrax also receives his own chapter, and begins to gravitate towards Raiden's side, only to be captured offscreen and roboticized.
  • Ominous Message from the Future: Raiden sends a message to himself in the past: "He must win." It's not until towards the end that he realizes he has to invoke The Bad Guy Wins so that the The Gods Who Don't Do Anything will actually do something.
  • Plotline Death: See Dropped a Bridge on Him. All the characters will survive the brutal X-ray moves and only get a few scratches, but if someone tries to kill them in a cutscene, they're screwed.
  • Poor Communication Kills: Does it ever. Future!Raiden clarifying "he (who) must win" might have made a world of difference.
  • Prophecy Twist: "He must win" is referring to Shao Kahn, who has to succeed in his invasion of Earthrealm to get the Elder Gods to finally pay attention and get rid of him. The prophecy would not have to be a twist though, if it was less vague.
  • Red Herring Shirt: Johnny Cage lives. If you know anything about him in the original timeline, this can be a bit of a shocker.
  • Reset Button: This game is a Broad Strokes approach to the original trilogy; since Raiden has knowledge of the future, some things are going to change.
  • Retcon: The whole idea of retelling the events of the first three games while MK1!Raiden tries to revert or fix every mistake made until now. It also serves to finally establish several retcons and ret canons as canon stuff.
    • Continuity Reboot: Very ingeniously subverted. At the end of Armageddon, during his final moments at the hands of Shao Kahn, Raiden manages to perform one last act of godhood: he sends messages to his past self during the events of the first three games, in an attempt to avoid the horrifying future he's currently in. This results in Past!Raiden changing events to avoid Armageddon, hence how the game happens in the timeline of the classic games but is still a proper sequel and does not discard the story of the previous ones.
    • Alternate Continuity: The original universe still exists, and most of the basic backstories are still intact, but it's now the Bad Future of this game, akin to The Age of Apocalypse or how they rebooted Star Trek.
    • One particular plot point that was retconned involved the resurrection of Sindel during the Mortal Kombat 3 arc. Originally, according to MK3's prologue screens, Shao Kahn had devised the plan himself ten thousand years ago, to resurrect Sindel (with Shang Tsung's help) on Earthrealm soil so Kahn would have the power needed to breach the dimesional gates and conquer Earth, the plan itself being enacted in full once Kahn became frustrated with Earth's warriors repeatedly foiling his earlier takeover attempts. Trilogy slightly retconned this point so that he carries it out while the heroes are distracted with the events of MKII. In 9's Story Mode, however, the plan is now thought of on-the-spot by Quan Chi, with neither Shao Kahn or Shang Tsung having any part in the actual resurrection itself.
    • Scorpion's backstory: In the original game, he wanted revenge on the elder Sub-Zero for killing him. He also turned into the younger Sub-Zero's mentor in Mortal Kombat II as an apology for killing his brother. His family and clan being assassinated and blamed upon the younger Sub-Zero happened in Mortal Kombat 4 thanks to a lie courtesy of Quan Chi. This version blames it all upon the elder Sub-Zero and makes the younger one Scorpion's enemy from the start.
    • Kitana's backstory: Originally, she and Mileena grew up together as Shao Kahn's assassins, with Kitana believing Mileena was her twin sister. Way before the events of the second game, Kitana had found out all by herself her real father has been killed by Shao Kahn and her sister was a clone. She kept this in secret until the right opportunity came to her, the Outworld tournament held in Mortal Kombat II. This version has Kitana only finding out all of this when Raiden spoke to her during the events of said tournament.
  • Ripple Effect Indicator: Raiden's medallion.
  • Roaring Rampage of Revenge: Shao Kahn's casual killing of Kung Lao completely incenses Liu Kang and he tackles the Outworld dictator with absolutely no compunction. Shao Kahn attempts to intimidate his challenger by establishing domain in the realm but Liu Kang has none of it and is completely fearless in the face of Kahn, only seeing him as a remorseless monster who puts no value on life and nothing more.
  • Sacrificial Lion: Several of the heroes play a large part of the overall story, only to be Killed Off for Real near the end to show how truly catastrophic the changes to the timeline has become.
  • Sequel Hook: Shinnok is next.
    • Even though the Arcade Ladder endings clash with Story Mode's ending, Jade's ending looks like another very possible hook. Two games later, that's turned out to be the case. Her ending sets up the Big Bad of Mortal Kombat 11, Kronika.
    • Same goes for Raiden's ending. The events detailed in that ending closely follows what happened in Story Mode, and two of the four figures shown being empowered by Raiden's soul heavily resemble Johnny and Sonya, the only two remaining Earthrealm heroes besides Raiden himself.
    • Honestly, a large amount of the e1ndings of the characters who weren't confirmed to die at any point in MK9's story mode have at least one part of them that can be followed up on in future game. Johnny Cage's ending has him train in Seido after his powers get out of control. Sektor's ending has him kill his father, take the Dragon Medallion, and seize control of the Lin Kuei (something that happened in the original timeline as well, minus having the Dragon Medallion). And so on.
  • Set Right What Once Went Wrong: Raiden at the time of Armageddon sent a message to himself as of the original Mortal Kombat, attempting to avert Shao Kahn's victory.
  • Shoot the Shaggy Dog: Every other game in the franchise (barring Mortal Kombat Mythologies: Sub-Zero and, possibly, Mortal Kombat: Special Forces, for being prequels to the first game) compose the "Shaggy Dog" Story being shot in the head by this game.
  • Speak in Unison: The elder gods when they are telling Raiden and Liu Kang why they are unable to intervene for Earthrealm against Shao Kahn's invasion.
  • Taking You with Me: Nightwolf makes a last stand against Sindel. This kills them both.
  • Tempting Fate: Jax Briggs' last words were "Let's do this." Cue Curb-Stomp Battle.
  • Title Drop: Liu Kang delivers one during his pre-fight speech to Shang Tsung prior to their battle from the first tournament. The trope's Justified, since the story retells events from the first three games, which featured a Mortal Kombat tournament and an attempt to merge Outworld and Earthrealm together whilst ignoring the rules of Mortal Kombat.
    Liu Kang: "Face me in Mortal Kombat."
Other drops happen during the course of the story, which goes without saying.
  • Token Competent Minion:
    • Subverted with Quan Chi who stands out among Shao Kahn's minions for doing something other than getting defeated or killed in story mode. Not only does he secure Scorpion's allegiance to the villain side, but he also comes up with the idea to breach the borders between Outworld and Earth by resurrecting Sindel under mind control and claims the souls of the dead heroes after they are killed by Sindel. Where the subversion comes in is that Quan Chi is actually working for Shinnok and is only pretending to serve Shao Kahn.
    • Sindel would also qualify for her massacre of most of the heroes. It takes a Heroic Sacrifice by Nightwolf to put her down and by then she has dealt a heavy blow to the forces of good.
  • Took a Level in Badass: A number of lesser characters on both sides managed to take a level in this game — which also means some of the more imposing villains suffer from The Worf Effect on occasion.
    • Sindel took a level in mass murder.
    • Stryker, Kabal, Smoke, and Cyber Sub-Zero (once he regains his free will) serve as more traditional examples.
    • Nightwolf became one of the game's bigger badasses: he manages to land the role of Raiden's deputy, and when The God of Thunder's not around to directly lead the Earthrealm warriors, he leads the group into battle.
    • Ermac originally existed as an Ascended Glitch whose telekinesis served as his only claim to fame; in the original timeline, Kenshi helped him undergo a Heel–Face Turn around the time of Deadly Alliance/Deception, where he began to play cleanup and started to shine. In this game, Ermac serves as a formidable enforcer of Shao Kahn, and he proves he should not be taken lightly. Just ask Jax.
  • Wham Episode: Near the end, Sindel singlehandedly kills almost all of the heroes.
    • The game's a reboot of the original plot, so it's going to stick to that original plot, right? They won't do anything too major, right? They especially won't drastically change one of the most popular characters in the entire series... right? Yeah, uh... Cyber Sub-Zero says "Hi there."
  • What Happened to the Mouse?: Most of the villains apparently make it out unharmed:
    • Mileena gets shocked by Raiden, but it's not that big.
    • Reptile and Baraka are beaten but spared.
    • Goro, Kintaro, and Sheeva are just knocked out.
    • Kano is last seen frozen by Cyber Sub-Zero, but not shattered. He just disappears from the scenes, although apparently he did warn Noob Saibot of Cyber Sub-Zero.
    • Cyrax and Sektor may or may not be dead.
      • The fact that most of these characters don't seem to be dead could be very important considering they may be needed to fight Shinnok in the next game. Not really. Kintaro and Sheeva are unaccounted for, but Mileena, Reptile, Baraka and Goro all went back to Outworld, Kano is still Kano, and Cyrax and Sektor were ultimately dismantled by Kuai Liang.
    • Also, Raiden mentions that he sent Liu Kang and Kung Lao to rescue their Shaolin Masters near the beginning of the MK2 part of the story. It's never mentioned if they succeeded or not.
      • The sequel finally reveals the answer with a flashback in Raiden's chapter to the period directly preceding Shao Kahn's Outworld tournament. Raiden is present and aids in the battle as Liu and Lao capture a ship at the docks holding their imprisoned masters and then departs as the monks go off to find the location of a second vessel which has already departed, telling them to join him as soon as they able so as to not be late for the tournament. Presumably, they succeeded in this endeavor as well.
  • The Worf Effect:
    • In Smoke's chapter of Story Mode, he faces off Kitana and Sektor and triumphs without much difficulty. When they meet again (Kitana and Nightwolf's chapters, respectively), Kitana beats him alongside Cage, and Sektor treats Smoke like a ragdoll, with Smoke being unable to successfully land a blow before Sektor gets him into a chokehold and Nightwolf has to intervene.
    • If the Story Mode is any indication, Sub-Zero punked Kratos (PS3 version only) offscreen and put him on ice.
      • It's a running gag that Sub-Zero is by far the strongest character when he's offscreen, having previously done the same thing to Superman in vs. DCU.
    • Sindel, empowered by Shang Tsung's soul/essence, attacks the heroes after the automated Lin Kuei warriors fail to kill them. The battle quickly escalates into a No-Holds-Barred Beatdown like no other; Nightwolf, Kitana, Sonya, and Cage are the only immediate survivors — and of those survivors, one later dies of their wounds, and another pulls a Heroic Sacrifice to stop Sindel.
    • Particularly egregious is Cyber Sub-Zero, who is a cyborgized Sub-Zero the Younger and had not been long having defeated Kintaro and Goro in a handicap match. He got killed with three punches.
  • Wrong Genre Savvy: Johnny Cage begins his chapter thinking the entire tournament is a bunch of special effects and people with costume gimmicks. It isn't until he's ordered to kill Baraka and learning Sonya is actual military does he realize the monsters and powers are real.
  • You're Insane!: Liu Kang's attitude towards Raiden trying to Set Right What Once Went Wrong, only for things to go From Bad to Worse with many of his friends dying in front of him. It is when Raiden believes that Shao Khan must win Mortal Kombat, in order to fix everything, that he is finally fed up and fights him near the end of the story.
  • Your Soul is Mine!: Late in the game, Quan Chi begins creating a "Soulnado," a green vortex designed to suck out the souls of every living person in Earthrealm. It ends up being destroyed thanks to sucking up a Humanoid Abomination.
  • Wolverine Publicity: Scorpion and Sub-Zero are both in the game cover, title screen and most commercials with the former even being part of NetherRealm's logo even though they are supporting characters in the story mode.


Video Example(s):

Alternative Title(s): Mortal Kombat 2011


Mortal Kombat 9

Raiden realizes the message of "he must win" was actually for Shao Kahn all along.

How well does it match the trope?

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Example of:

Main / ProphecyTwist

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