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Web Video / Mortal Kombat: Legacy

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"Get over here!"
"It has begun!"
A Web Original series directed by Kevin Tancharoen loosely based on his pitch video, Mortal Kombat: Rebirth. While the pitch video was more realistic, this series is closer to the source material.

Shao Kahn and Shang Tsung are obsessed with ruling over the various realms, and by winning the Mortal Kombat tournament, they can do just that. Earthrealm, the realm that contains Earth, has found itself as an unwitting participant, with only a few humans who understand just what losing the tournament means.

It debuted on April 12, 2011 (coinciding with the release of Mortal Kombat 9), and the series can be watched here.

Season 2, which focuses on the actual tournament, was released in 2013. It features Baraka, Ermac, Jax, Johnny Cage, Kano, Kenshi, Kitana, Kung Lao, Liu Kang, Mileena, Quan Chi, Raiden, Scorpion, Shang Tsung, Sonya, Stryker, and Sub-Zero. The trailer can be seen here and all the episodes can be found here.

This work contains examples of:

  • Abnormal Ammo: One of Kano's Black Dragon thugs pulls out an H&K XM8 in the second episode of season 1...which fires energy balls.
  • Adaptational Angst Upgrade: In the original game, Johnny Cage was an action movie star who entered the tournament to prove to he was not a fake. In this show, Johnny is a washed-up former teen actor who struggles to find any work and whose reputation has suffered due to frequent run-ins with the law. Also, whereas Johnny in the games and other media is depicted as snarky and easygoing, this Johnny is moody and bitter about his poor state of affairs.
  • Adaptational Attractiveness: Mileena in the games is somewhat infamously a Butter Face with More Teeth than the Osmond Family. Here she usually just looks like a pretty girl with a Glasgow Smile. She does look significantly more monstrous when she flashes her Game Face, however.
    • Likewise, Kano, who in the different games and adaptations ranges from "fairly attractive yet scruffy" to "short-haired, goatee'd neanderthal", is a bona-fide prettyboy. Yes, even with his iconic red eye, which doesn't hurt his looks in the slightest. If anything, it only serves to butch him up a bit.
  • Adaptational Heroism: Bi-Han, aka Sub-Zero. In the games, Bi-Han was a Jerkass Anti-Villain at best, who killed anyone his grandmaster told him to, helped Quan Chi kill the four gods who protected Earthrealm, and ended up a willing servant of Shang Tsung, fighting on Outworld's side in the tenth tournament. Even if he wasn't guilty of slaughtering the Shirai Ryu, he was still absolutely a villain. In this series he's an outright hero who did everything he could to stop the fighting between the Lin Kuei and the Shirai Ryu, and was so dedicated to protecting the peace that he didn't seek revenge even after Scorpion murdered his brother. He even fights on the side of Earthrealm in the tournament.
  • Adaptational Job Change: In the games, Sonya and Jax are military special forces. In this show, they are detectives in the Deacon City Police Department. Stryker's occupation is also changed from being a riot cop to being a detective.
  • Adaptational Nice Guy: Kung Lao is not the arrogant Glory Seeker he is in the modern games but a kind-hearted man whose sole concern is the safety of Earth. This is actually in line with how Kung Lao was originally depicted.
  • Adaptational Ugliness: Ermac, who in the games just usually looks like a regular guy with glowing green eyes. Here, he's a greyish, greasy-looking... thing clad in dirty rags with black ooze leaking from his eyes and mouth.
  • Adaptational Villainy: Season 2's iteration of Liu Kang is a Heartbroken Badass long since kicked over his Despair Event Horizon which causes him to pull a Face–Heel Turn and end up a Blood Knight lackey of the Big Bad.
  • A Day in the Limelight: The different episodes have different character focuses which comes along with the Genre Shift:
    • Season 1
      • Episodes 1 and 2 focus on Jax, Sonya and Kano.
      • Episode 3 focuses on Johnny Cage.
      • Episodes 4 and 5 focus on Kitana and Mileena.
      • Episode 6 focuses on Raiden.
      • Episodes 7 and 8 focus on Scorpion and Sub-Zero.
      • Episode 9 focuses on Cyrax and Sektor.
    • Season 2
      • Episodes 3-4: Kenshi and Ermac
      • Episodes 5-6: Kitana, Milenna and Johnny Cage
      • Episodes 7-8: Sub-Zero and Scorpion
      • Episodes 9-10: Kung Lao and Liu Kang
  • Anachronic Order: As an anthology, the order of the episodes is not necessarily the order of events. Episodes 4, 5 and 6 predate the others, Episode 9 takes place at least before the first two, etc.
  • Art Shift: Done during episodes 4 and 5; most of the narration and exposition about Kitana's and Mileena's backstories are done in a minimalistic animated fashion, acting as segues between live-action dialogue and fight scenes.
  • Badass in Distress: Sonya in the first two episodes. At least until she gets herself free.
  • Badass Normal: In keeping with its grittier, less cartoony tone, a lot of the characters who appear do so without their trademark powers from the game. Jax doesn't have his cyber-arms (yet), Sonya lacks her kiss of death, Johnny Cage is without his shadow powers, and Kitana is missing her steel fans. Of particular note is Hanzo Hasashi, the then-future Scorpion, using nothing but a simple rope and kunai to fend off a very true-to-form Elder Sub-Zero who is actually Quan Chi in disguise. Hasashi is then killed by Quan Chi to pave the way for his resurrection as Scorpion.
  • Beard of Sorrow: Liu Kang sports one in Episode 10 of Season 2 when he shows up at the Shaolin temple after brutally killing his girlfriend's murderers.
  • Bedlam House: Raiden finds himself mistakenly committed to one, after showing up one day.
    • In a typical fashion for this trope, the people in charge of the asylum don't find it strange that a man of whom they have no record suddenly appears in their courtyard and proceed to hold him, despite the fact that he was never officially committed. He also gets a lobotomy for his trouble.
  • Berserk Button: Kano presses Jax's when he gloats about how much he enjoyed torturing Sonya. Johnny Cage's get pressed when he inadvertently overhears one of the TV executives who rejected his idea attempting to pitch the exact same idea to another actor. Both cases are immediately followed by the person whose button was pressed delivering a well deserved No-Holds-Barred Beatdown on the person who pressed the button.
    • Never bring up Liu Kang's dead girlfriend.
      • Or play/sing "Relax" by Frankie Goes to Hollywood around him.
  • Camera Abuse: When Kano's eye gets punched out, it hits the camera, leaving a blood spatter.
  • Combat Tentacles: Ermac manifests a pair during his battle with Kenshi.
  • Curb-Stomp Battle: Episode 2's fight between Kano and Briggs. After Kano taunts Briggs that he's going to enjoy this as much as he enjoyed torturing Sonya, he promptly fails to land one blow as Briggs beats the tar out of him. Johnny's No-Holds-Barred Beatdown of a scumbag network executive and three burly security guards in episode 3 also counts, after Johnny overhears the executive in question stealing his rejected idea for a show and pitching it to a female action star.
  • Darker and Edgier: To the games, at least in terms of character motivation and narrative though obviously not in terms of violence. The black and white morality of the games gets a bit blurry, with heroes who aren't quite as pure as they were in the games. Tragedies that were mentioned but never shown in the games, like the slaughter of the Shirai Ryu, are shown here in gory detail. Interestingly, though, it's actually the other way around compared to the original pitch video for Rebirth which was somehow even darker than this.
  • Deal with the Devil: Shang Tsung tries to strike one of these with Johnny Cage, promising to get him away from the failure his career has become, though Cage turns him down. He succeeds at striking a deal with Liu Kang, though.
  • Death by Adaptation: In Scorpion's backstory, he killed Kuai before Bi Han. By several dozen years.
  • Doing In the Wizard: Many of the characters who possess supernatural powers in the games are, in their first appearances at least, powerless, and fight with pure skill instead. Johnny Cage lacks his shadow powers, Sub-Zero uses only his mundane weapons, and so on. Characters not from Earth still possess powers, however.
    • Kenshi keeps his telekinetic abilities from the games and at one time he was a simple ronin. However, those powers come from a sword that once belonged to Ermac, who is not of this world, so there's that.
  • Doomed by Canon: Hanzo Hasashi's family and Hasashi himself have to die in order for Hasashi to be reborn as Scorpion and swear revenge against their killer Quan Chi and Shang Tsung, who made it look like it was Sub-Zero.
  • Empowered Badass Normal: In Season 2, it is revealed by Raiden that all of the Badass Normal fighters representing Earthrealm receive a power upgrade when they are transported to the island where the tournament is being held. E.g., Johnny Cage gains enhanced speed, Kenshi becomes telekinetic, Kung Lao can apparently teleport, etc....
  • Establishing Character Moment: Liu Kang's first appearence consists of him antagonizing a group of drunken gang members into attacking him, then proceeding to Curbstomp Battle them only to willingly recieve a No-Holds-Barred Beatdown from the last one. Foreshadowing much?
  • Evil Costume Switch: Liu Kang wearing the hoodie during his fighting for Shang Tsung qualifies.
  • Eye Scream:
    • The criminal Kano's beat-down by Jax ends with the former's eye being punched out, splattering against the camera. The subsequent surgery is depicted in fairly graphic detail as well.
    • Raiden is given a lobotomy at the asylum, which is implied to be performed the old-fashioned way of inserting an ice pick along the side of the eye socket.
  • False Flag Operation: Quan Chi impersonates the Elder Sub-Zero and slaughters Hanzo Hasashi and the rest of the Shirai Ryu, in order to give Hasashi sufficient motivation to join the Mortal Kombat tournament (that is, revenge on Sub-Zero) upon resurrection as Scorpion.
  • Far East: The Lin Kuei clan is relocated to Japan for this series, despite the fact even the name is entirely of Chinese origin.note 
  • Genre Shift: Each time the story shifts perspectives to different characters, the genre shifts as well.
    • Episodes 1 and 2 (Jax/Sonya/Kano) play out like a police action series, similar to 24.
    • Episode 3 is a biopic depicting the rise, fall and disappearance of martial artist and action star Johnny Cage.
    • Episodes 4 and 5 (Kitana/Mileena) tell a Fairy Tale in animated form.
    • Episode 6 sees Raiden put in One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest, as he is mistaken for insane and is put in an asylum where only the patients believe him.
    • Episodes 7 and 8 (Scorpion/Sub-Zero) are feudal Japan-themed period pieces.
    • Episode 9 (Cyrax/Sektor) has a Sci-Fi tone.
  • Go-Karting with Bowser: Late in Season 2, Shang Tsung shows up in a diner to discuss the upcoming tournament and tempt Liu Kang into joining him. He succeeds. He's even fondly remembering a time when he was decapitated.
  • Helmets Are Hardly Heroic: When the SWAT team raids Kano's warehouse in the first episode, Stryker and Jax are the only ones who don't wear helmets.
  • Hypocrite: The executive in episode 3 calls Johnny's idea for a show stupid and fake, and gets it rejected, but a little while later is pitching the exact same idea to a female action star. This also extends to the aftermath, where after Johnny beats the shit out of him and multiple security guards, the executive threatens to make sure that Johnny will never find any more acting work, despite him outright doing his best to ruin Johnny's career.
  • Improbable Aiming Skills: In Episode 2, Sonya shoots a mook behind her in the head without looking.
  • Jerkass: One of the executives Johnny Cage beat up after he heard they're using another actor for the exact same show they turned him down for. As Johnny Cage walks away, the executive showed his true colors and threatened to make sure Johnny will never get another job again.
  • Jumping Off the Slippery Slope: Liu Kang does not take the murder of his girlfriend well. In the decade of the Time Skip, he became an alcoholic, misanthropic murderer. This culminates with him defecting to Shang Tsung's side at the end of Season 2.
  • My Greatest Failure: It's strongly implied that Kung Lao feels guilty about turning his back on Liu Kang, which led to the latter's Face–Heel Turn.
  • Nice to the Waiter: Shang Tsung, of all people, is unfailingly polite and courteous when he's not fighting. He blends right in at a local diner, and has a civil conversation and subtle manipulation with Liu Kang.
  • No-Holds-Barred Beatdown: Liu Kang's bar fight is just brutal. One guy has a tooth ripped from his mouth when he's slammed face first into the edge of a pool table and there's numerous cringe-worthy joint breaks throughout the fight.
  • No-Sell: Liu Kang is temporarily caught off guard by Stryker's taser, but quickly shrugs it off.
  • Oh, Crap!:
    • Lance the producer, right before he gets Caged.
    • Sonya and Jax after they realize the guy Sonya just shot dropped a live bomb.
    • Jax and Kano are fighting over a gun and accidentally shoot an explosive charge into the ground and their feet.
    • The asylum orderly after Raiden not only shrugs off the taser, but it actually makes him stronger. Maybe pumping electricity into the god of thunder isn't such a great idea.
    • Stryker right after he tazes Liu Kang and finds out that he's not going down without a fight. Considering that Stryker is a cop, watching someone stand back up and shrug off a taser after being hit with it for close to a minute, this has to be horrifying.
  • Polite Villains, Rude Heroes: Shang Tsung and Liu Kang play this straight at the end of Season 2. It makes sense, as Shang Tsung is there to recruit, and the latter has become a misanthropic hitman.
  • Precision F-Strike: Jax to Stryker about protocol, right before heading off to rescue Sonya. Followed two seconds later by Stryker's own, when he takes Jax's side.
    • When Johnny encounters Kitana and Mileena, complete with a Screw This, I'm Outta Here.
    • Even Liu Kang - a former Shaolin monk - tells Shang Tsung to "fuck off".
  • Psycho Psychologist: The guy who runs the asylum Raiden is committed to. While believing a man who thinks he is the God of Thunder might need medical help is not unreasonable, that is no excuse for acting like a total dick to him for the duration, or any of your other patients, mocking his apparent delusions and controlling everyone with violence and intimidation. Not to mention Raiden is locked up in his institution not so much for that, as for magically appearing on the asylum grounds, and they make no effort to inform the authorities of the fact, both of which qualify this as kidnapping.
  • Real After All: Meta version. Based on the Rebirth trailer, many thought that this would entirely forgo the mysticism of the series in favor of scientific, gritty explanations for the series' characters. And the first couple episodes featuring Jax and Sonya back that up, as does most of Johnny Cage's episode, then Shang Tsung shows up at the end and casually stops time.
  • Recycled In Space: Invoked. Johnny Cage makes a last-ditch pitch for a series, complete with on-spec pilot, to TV executives. They said they can't help him, and the network already decided that before they showed up. After they leave, he heads out, only to accidentally hear them pitching the exact same thing he just showed them to a female action star, only she's in the title role. He beats up one of the executives, plus several security guards, then walks away.
  • Red Oni, Blue Oni: Liu Kang to Kung Lao, Mileena to Kitana, Scorpion to Sub-Zero and Jax to Stryker.
  • The Scapegoat: Elder Sub-Zero gets framed by Quan Chi for the slaughter of Hanzo Hasashi's clan.
  • Screw This, I'm Outta Here: Johnny Cage's reaction once he gets a look at Kitana and Mileena.
  • Slasher Smile: Mileena, when showing her Tarkatan side, which aside from being unsettling, also causes her cheeks to split open.
  • Tempting Fate: Kano says exactly the wrong thing to Jax, and then proceeds to get his ass handed to him.
    Kano: I'm going to enjoy this as much as I enjoyed torturing your sweet Sonya.
  • This Is Gonna Suck: Johnny's reaction when he notices time has stopped again.
  • Time Stands Still: Shang Tsung casually stops time at the end of episode 3 to offer Johnny Cage a job.
    • Happens again in Season 2, but with Raiden showing up instead.
  • Use Your Head: In Episode 2, Sonya headbutts a man while making her escape. Mileena does this as well, in Episode 6 of Season 2, with her victim being Johnny Cage.
  • Walking the Earth: Seems to be Kenshi's lot in life in this series (justified because he is explicitly called a "ronin" during the feudal Japan segment so he's probably used to it). Being able to live on from the 1100s into the 2010s certainly gave him plenty of time to travel the world and hone his skill.
  • We Used to Be Friends: Liu Kang and Kung Lao start off Season 2 as this. We gradually get to see what drove them apart, culminating with Liu Kang's Face–Heel Turn in the last episode.
  • Wham Episode: Episode 3 of Season 1. After the first two episodes had been relatively realistic, Shang Tsung appears after having stopped time, and also plants the first seeds of the Mortal Kombat tournament starting.
  • What Happened to the Mouse?: There is no closure given for the girl who helps Raiden at the asylum in episode 6.
  • What the Hell, Hero?: Kung Lao gives Liu Kang a rather pointed one after the latter murders the men who kills his wife and comes seeking guidance and a friend. Kung Lao turns his back on him, which results in their friendship ending and Liu Kang's Face–Heel Turn.
  • Wrongfully Committed: Chapter 6 focuses on Raiden, who has the bad luck of being summoned inside the perimeter of a mental institution. The staff confuses him with an inmate, locks him out, and perform all kinds of experiments and practices on him. Near the end, he manages to escape said institution.

Alternative Title(s): Mortal Kombat