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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.
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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 Play Station 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...

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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.

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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 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.
  • A.I. Breaker:
    • By using characters that can teleport, the player can easily figure out the AI's patterns and fool them into attacking thin air. This is very useful in the final battle of Story Mode (Raiden vs. Shao Kahn): when you teleport as Kahn is about to attack (or in the process of attacking, depending on how good your timing is), you'll reappear behind him, while he's open for a free hit. After he's hit, he'll immediately try to attack you head-on most of the time; just teleport behind him again and strike him before he can turn. It's a slow and steady win.
    • Stryker has a nifty trick against Shao Kahn. All you do is back up against the wall and start shooting. If you continuously spam Stryker's gun, you'll keep Kahn on the other side of the screen, unable to get near you. As a bonus, spamming special attacks fills your Special gauge rather quickly; you can work this into the strategy by using the enhanced version of the gun move, in which Stryker fires four shots with two guns very fast, amplifying the damage.
    • Ermac's teleport punch works pretty well too. It can be done in mid-air (thus helping you avoid the Shokans' ground-pounding), is a nifty combo opener, and also helps avoid that nasty flying hammer.
    • A sure-fire method to take out the Shokans easily with any character: keep jumping backwards to give yourself some breathing room (it also helps you to see the fireballs coming). More often than not, they will try to hit you with a Teleport Stomp. That's your cue to perform any normal aerial attack, but your timing must be good enough that you can hit them on their way down. At the very worst, if you're not cornered, they will miss you, but you can flying kick them out of the Stomp even at the corner of the stage. Picking up someone who has a projectile is even better - you can hit them while they stop to cheer for themselves, scoring you free hits in the process.
  • 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 Krueger 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.
  • Ass Kicks You: Kitana's old Square Wave attack where she jumped up and air-dashed forward with a punch has been replaced with a somewhat more realistic variation where she jumps up and then uses her fans to propel herself ass-first into an opponent.
  • 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 in effect for all female characters.
  • Bearded Baby: The Babalities for Kratos and Kano have them sporting a little beard even as a baby.
  • Beat Still, My Heart: The fatalities of several characters involve punching into the opponent and ripping out their heart.
  • Bicep Kiss: Jax performs this as a taunt in between rounds.
  • Bloodier and Gorier: The goriest and bloodiest game in the series so far. And that's saying something.
  • Boom, Headshot!: Shang Tsung's first Fatality is based on that of Joker from the previous game. He turns into a clown and fakes a gunshot to his defeated opponent, only to blow their head with a real gunshot immediately after. Unlike Joker's version, this one is uncensored.
  • Bottomless Magazines: Stryker's gun never needs reloading during a match, though he is seen reloading it in one scene between fights during the Story Mode.
  • 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).
  • Cash Gate: Any challenge that you can't pass in the Challenge Tower has a price in Koins to skip.
  • Cast from Hit Points: Skarlet can throw an unblockable Blood Ball at the opponent, but each one thrown eats up some of her health. Justified because she is literally made of blood.
  • 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.
  • Comeback Mechanic: The Super Meter seems to work more on the side of damage intake rather than output. Beating up your opponent won't earn near as much super energy as simply getting smacked around yourself. Charge it all the way up and retaliate with a big combo full of EX moves or one powerful X-Ray shot.
  • 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 Superboss 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.
  • Conveyor Belt o' Doom: Kung Lao's "Razor's Edge" Fatality creates a facsimile of the rotary blade version of this Trope even without an actual conveyor belt. After kicking his opponent to the ground, he throws his hat on the ground, turning it into a buzzsaw which he drags his opponent through, groin first, cutting them in half.
  • 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.
  • Dance Battler: Mileena is a more literal example. She dances onto the arena as she makes her entrance, and says "Let us dance!" as her Battle Cry.
  • Discontinuity Nod: Shang Tsung's first fatality has him transform into a Monster Clown and blast the top of his opponent's head off with a gun. The fatality trainer mentions that Tsung "picked up a few tricks from previous opponents". Aside from the changed model (and the lack of censorship), this fatality is the exact same as one of The Joker's in Mortal Kombat vs. DC Universe, which takes place outside of series continuity.
  • Ditto Fighter: There's an interesting take on this. Being a remake with classic mechanics you'd expect Shang Tsung to be able to have multiple commands again, right? Not exactly; if he did, the sheer number of commands necessary would be impossible to memorize, let alone the amount of memory it would consume. The playable version of Shang Tsung now has a universal move that not only morphs him, but also damages and stuns the opponent momentarily. Boss Shang Tsung, however, has not only this move to morph but can also do it at will, during any animation frame, even during fireballs.
  • 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.
    • There's no way to replay a specific chapter or fight from Story Mode, meaning that you have to restart the entire mode from scratch if you wish to go through a desired chapter.
  • 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: 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.
  • Flag Drop: Jax’s victory pose from Mortal Kombat 9 sees him drape an American flag behind him, befitting his history as a veteran.
  • 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).
  • Giant Foot of Stomping: One of Ermac's secret Fatalities involves him doing this after shrinking his opponent.
  • Going Commando: Sonya Blade doesn't wear any panties. It's more noticeable when she's getting brutally slaughtered in certain Fatalities, but when her pants/shorts get torn, it's all butt cheek and no underwear. When you're risking being pulled into a spinning saw blade lady-parts-first, putting panties on isn't the biggest concern.
  • 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.
  • Guest Fighter: Kratos in the PlayStation 3 version, and Freddy Krueger globally; both as Downloadable Content characters. Given that Mortal Kombat is set in a multiverse and has a penchant for gore-tastic fighting, they fit right in.
  • Hammered into the Ground: One of Jax's fatalities involve this being employed before he punts his opponent's head off.
  • Hazy-Feel Turn: The Arcade Ladder endings for Liu Kang and Shang Tsung: Liu Kang replaces Raiden as the Thunder God and Protector of Earthrealm, and becomes Drunk with Power. Bo'Rai Cho takes on Shang Tsung as a student and teaches him techniques that will allow him to defeat the power-mad Liu Kang.
  • 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. Also, "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 Navel-Deep Neckline, Bare Your Midriff, and She's Got Legs. And the majority of 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.
  • Iaijutsu Practitioner: All sword-wielding characters will draw and replace them as part of combos, this is most apparent with Kenshi and Scorpion. It is subverted with Sub-Zero, who materialises and often shatters his ice weapons on the field.
  • 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.
  • I'm Melting!: One of Smoke's Fatalities has him fill his opponent's body with corrosive smoke, causing their flesh to melt off of their bones.
  • Intercontinuity Crossover: The game's DLC pits the MK cast against Freddy Krueger. The PS3 version also has Kratos from God of War as a Guest Fighter.
  • 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.
  • Living Shadow: Noob Saibot in this game gains a shadow clone that appears to be made of an ink-like substance that Noob can send out to attack enemies from afar or to bolster his close-range combos. If you look closely, Noob's real shadow doesn't return until his clone disappears. This might overlap with Literal Split Personality, as developer notes and drawings designate this entity as "Saibot", with "Noob" as the playable character. Previous games gave his full name in this form as Noob Saibot — usually just Noob for the sake of brevity; there was no implication of a second person beforehand.
  • 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" cases, 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: 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.
  • Mana Meter: This game and Mortal Kombat X have a 3-part gauge for each character filled by attacking and by being attacked. A single bar can be used to power-up a special move, two bars for breaking out of combos, and the whole 3 bars to trigger a brutal X-Ray attack.
  • Mini-Boss: In the classic Arcade Mode, Goro and Kintaro share this role like they did in 1 and 2 respectively; you fight either of them (but not both, unlike in Story Mode) right before the fight against Shao Kahn.
  • Missing Secret: There's one in the character select screen (in the Xbox 360 version only). The game only has a few unlockable characters, all of which become selectable in the bottom row of the character select screen when unlocked. The PS3 version got the console-specific Kratos in the bottom right corner; the Xbox 360 version gets nothing. The space on the character select screen is always unselectable, and shows a duplicate picture of Cyber Sub-Zero, who is selectable in the bottom left corner. In an odd twist, during multiplayer matches the player on the right can only select the bottom right corner, and the player on the left can only select the bottom left corner (especially odd since these corner spots then expand to show the downloadable characters, which as a result show up mirrored in each corner).
  • Multi-Armed Multitasking: Sheeva, the Action Girl Shokan, can pose with her upper arms, while her lower arms clap(by using her opponent's severed arms and hands, instead of her own.
  • 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.
  • Peek-a-Bogeyman: Spend too long in the Krypt, and the Krypt Monster will appear; he's an ugly looking guy, but all he does is scare the player and run away. He sometimes even leaves a few Koins.
  • Play as a Boss: Challenge Mode allows you to briefly play as Shao Kahn, Motaro and Goro in a few of the missions.
  • "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.
  • Pre-Final Boss: In Arcade Mode, Goro or Kintaro will challenge you before Shao Kahn.
  • Promoted to Playable:
    • The developers deliberately flipped this on its head for this game, by relegating Goro, Kintaro, and Shao Kahn back to non-playable territory.note  They said they were trying to bring back the feeling of impossible, unplayable bosses from the arcade days.note 
    • In a rather surprising semi-promotion, the Vita port included an extra Challenge Tower where the player can play as Tremor, one of the bosses in Mortal Kombat: Special Forces.
  • Purely Aesthetic Gender: Unlike in previous games, Johnny Cage's Low Blow affects male and female opponents alike.
  • 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.
  • Sarcastic Clapping: In one of Sheeva's fatalities, she rips off her opponent's arms, slaps him or her around with them before kicking the body down, and then flexes while using the arms to sarcastically applaud.
  • 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: 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.
  • 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. It even has a Navel-Deep Neckline due to it being zipped down, and 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.
  • Superboss: 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. 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.
  • Suplex Finisher:
    • Smoke's X-Ray move is a suplex that shatters his opponent's skull and spinal cord. He then proceeds to kick them square in the face, shattering their skull even more.
    Smoke: Stay down.
    • Cyrax's X-ray move has him blast his opponent in the air, then flying up and shattering the back of their ribs with a solid kick. Then he drive them into the ground with an inverted piledriver, breaking their neck and skull.
  • 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.
  • Adaptational Early Appearance: Being an in-continuity reboot of the series, the game retells the events of the first three games. The story mode features characters such as Baraka, Jax, Kung-Lao, Kitana, Jade, Nightwolf, Ermaa and even human versions of Cyrax and Sektor participating in the first Mortal Kombat tournament. Then, Sheeva and the Cyber Lin-Kuei alongside some of the aforementioned characters take part in the Mortal Kombat II portion of the story. Most notably, Quan-Chi, a character who wouldn't be formally introduced in the mainline games until Mortal Kombat 4, plays a major role throughout the entire game.
  • 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.
  • All-Powerful Bystander: It is stated Raiden had to take a mortal form to compete or else the Elder Gods would stop him. He is implied to be potentially far more powerful than shown in the games and is often portrayed that way in other media. In this game, they explain that Raiden's status as a deity means he can only enter the Mortal Kombat tournament if directly challenged, hence why for much of the game the heroes are counting on Liu Kang as The Champion. The day's eventually saved when Raiden (forcefully) keeps Liu Kang from stopping Shao Kahn's attack on Earthrealm. Once Kahn sets foot on Earth, he's violating the rules of Mortal Kombat, giving Raiden the right to attack him with his full Godly might.
  • 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.
  • Anti-Frustration Features: The A.I. gets progressively easier as the player dies, even with final boss Shao Kahn (to the point where he'll mostly just taunt over and over).
  • 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 kombatants.
  • Arc Hero: Raiden serves as the main protagonist as he tries to prevent the visions sent to him by his future self from coming true.
  • Arc Words: "He must win."
  • Back-to-Back Badasses:
    • Liu Kang and Kung Lao when taking down Sheeva and Noob.
    • Scorpion and Sub-Zero become Back To Back Badasses fighting both the Lin Kuei and the Brotherhood of Shadow in an epic Roaring Rampage of Revenge after they find out that both organizations, hand-in-hand, were responsible for their families' deaths.
  • 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!
  • 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, 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.
  • Book Ends:
    • 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 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.
  • Butterfly of Doom: By doing some minor things to avert a Bad Future, Raiden ends up making his and Earthrealm's future doomed. For instance, preventing Motaro from killing Johnny Cage causes Shao Kahn to kill Shang Tsung and empower Sindel; Sindel subsequently slaughters nearly all of Earthrealm's warriors. Similarly, when Raiden prevents the Lin Kuei from turning Smoke into a cyborg, they grab Sub-Zero instead.
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • A Day in the Limelight: The Story Mode features one fixed character per chapter, that follows their story, usually fighting four battles before control switches to another. Namely, and in order of appearance: Johnny Cage, Sonya Blade, Scorpion, Cyrax, Liu Kang, Jax Briggs, Smoke, Sub-Zero, Kitana, Jade, Kung Lao, Kurtis Stryker, Kabal Sub-Zero as a cyborg, Nightwolf, and finally Raiden. Later games in the series follow suit with their own characters.
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • Devour the Dragon: Shao Kahn absorbs Shang Tsung and gives some of his power to Sindel.
  • 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.
  • Distinction Without a Difference: Raiden quotes the trope name word-for-word when the Elder Gods refuse to aid Earthrealm against Outworld's invasion; according to the Elder Gods, since Shao Kahn is merely invading Earthrealm and has yet to actually merge it with Outworld, he hasn't actually violated the laws of Mortal Kombat.
    Raiden: A distinction without a difference! Innocents are dying at the hands of Outworld!
  • 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.
  • Even the Subtitler Is Stumped: When Nightwolf is inciting a spell against Sindel, the subtitles doesn't appear to spell it.
  • Fighting Your Friend: The penultimate fight of Story Mode is Raiden vs. Liu Kang. It doesn't end well. It also happens a bit earlier in Kitana's chapter, where she duels her servant Jade (the latter having been sent by Shao Kahn to keep an eye on Kitana). This fight isn't nearly as emotionally heartwrenching and doesn't come at the cost of presumably destroying a long-lasting friendship unlike the former.
  • 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 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.
  • Full-Frontal Assault: In Mileena's first appearance in the story mode, she is wearing only strategically placed bandages. She's also utterly insane and has a mouth like a tyrannosaurus rex.
  • 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.
    • The DLC characters. While they all have Arcade Ladder endings, none of them contribute to the canonical story (Skarlet cameos in crowds a few times, Kenshi is called to fight at the end of one of the chapters but never directly seen, Rain is given a background cameo in The Cathedral stage, Guest Fighters Kratos and Freddy Krueger add nothing at all to the plot).
  • 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.
  • Heads I Win, Tails You Lose: During the arc that covers the events from part 3. Sindel is revived and empowered with Shang Tsung's soul by Shao Kahn and sent to kill the heroes. She massacres them until Nightwolf is the only one left to take her own. Losing means having to redo the fight; win it, even if you've kicked her ass to kingdom come and back again... and Sindel still proves too powerful forcing Nightwolf to preform a Heroic Sacrifice just to kill her.
  • Hellhole Prison: The Dead Pool and the Evil Tower are both used like this: The first one is used to hold Sonya after she's taken prisoner and the second is used to hold Kitana, with Sheeva acting as a jailer in both cases; Sonya sarcastically asks her, "What is it with you Shokan and underground cesspools?". Goro's Lair is also used for this purpose, although, as its name implies, it is also Goro's lair (he's not always home, but it's always where a Boss Battle involving him is fought. It's implied given his intro that being put there is akin to being sentenced to death by being eaten alive).
  • Hero Killer:
  • A House Divided: The Earthrealm warriors get into arguments and outright fights between each other a lot, either through misunderstandings or because they are genuinely angry at each other. This is done so the player can have a diverse range of opponents.
  • 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.
  • Immediate Sequel: With this game being an Alternate Continuity to all previous mainline installments in the series, the Story Mode shows the aftermath of the Battle of Armageddon.
  • I'm Not a Doctor, but I Play One on TV: This is Johnny Cage's reaction when Raiden and Liu Kang try to warn him that Shang Tsung's tournament is Not Just a Tournament, but part of Shao Kahn's plan to conquer Earth;
    Johnny: Look guys, I'm an actor. I save the world for the cameras. If this emperor is really a threat, call the military.
  • It Sucks to Be the Chosen One: Liu Kang is given a case of this in the new timeline starting with this game, where he dies in a dispute with Raiden and is revived as a Revenant Zombie.
  • 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 orchestrated by Kronika in Mortal Kombat 11.
  • Low Culture, High Tech: Shown in passing, with Kano supplying modern weaponry to the Tarkata who clearly have no idea how to use them. One nearly blew their own head off by curiously looking down its barrel.
  • 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's 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.
    • 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.
  • Revenge Before Reason: This is shown most prominently when Scorpion, offered a chance by Raiden to have the Shirai-Ryu clan restored in exchange for sparing Sub-Zero, flies off the handle when Quan Chi shows him a vision of Sub-Zero being personally responsible for his wife and child's death. Then in Mortal Kombat X, once he is returned to life and learns the truth behind Quan Chi's complicity in the Shirai-Ryu's extermination, he makes a bee-line for Quan Chi to take his head, deaf to pleas to spare him so that he could bring the allies the sorcerer had under his control back to life.
  • 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.
  • Screw Destiny: The goal of Raiden in the story. After Mortal Kombat: Armageddon Shao Khan is victorious and Raiden is the only fighter still alive. In his last moments he sends visions to his past self in a last desperate bid to avert that future.
  • 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.
  • Set Right What Once Went Wrong: The entire plot centers around an attempt to do this. Shao Kahn ends up winning the events of Armageddon, leading Raiden to send a message back to his past self to try fixing this. He ends up nearly bungling the whole thing. In the end, every single one of the Forces of Light save for Johnny Cage, Sonya, and himself are dead, their souls taken by Quan Chi. Shao Kahn is defeated, averting THAT particular Armageddon event, but Quan Chi has an army of powerful souls at his command now, and Shinnok and the Netherrealm are preparing to attack next...
  • 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.
    • A large amount of the endings 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, 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.
  • 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.
    • 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 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.
  • X Must Not Win: This gets inverted as Raiden finds out the prophecy of "He must win" means that Shao Kahn must take over Earth in order for the realms to be saved from Armageddon. Though played straight in the sense that Shao Kahn is the Armageddon the realms need to be saved from; it's just that if the Outlanders stop resisting his Elder-God-unsanctioned conquest of Earth, then the Elder Gods will destroy him for ignoring the rules of Mortal Kombat before he can attain godlike power in the Bad Future.
  • 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 Kahn 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.


 
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Mortal Kombat 9

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

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