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The series as a whole:

  • Americans Hate Tingle: The franchise is infamously unpopular in Japan, to the point that none of the games have seen a release there since Mortal Kombat 3 (with the sole exception of the live-action films) and other Western fighting games were tarred with its brush until Skullgirls came out.note  Reasons vary, from the lack of real work on creating authentic mythology to the series' infamous downward spiral after 3, to generally not being quite as deep or well-designed in terms of gameplay as many Japanese fighters. The heavy focus on gory violence is also often criticized. It's not without a small following, but it doesn't even have a cult classic status out there. It also doesn't help to note that the series had to compete with Street Fighter in the Japanese market, which didn't help Mortal Kombat's standing in Japan. The unpopularity in Japan (combined with Japan's strong censorship in excessive and realistic blood and gore in many video games) is probably the reason why many of the later Mortal Kombat games were never released in Japan. With Mortal Kombat 11 having been outright banned in Japan for its no-signs-of-slowing-down over-the-top gore and violence, chances of any Mortal Kombat game being localized out there at this point is nonexistent. Despite this, there are Japanese players who do play the games, and Japanese private bar tournaments and streamers are likely to have a copy.
  • Base-Breaking Character:
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    • Possibly the most divisive character in the series is Liu Kang. For some he is a charming, gentlemanly figure whose idealism makes a genuinely heroic character in an otherwise Black and Gray Morality world, for some a bland, overly generic Bruce Lee Clone who isn't an adequate lead, and to some, especially in regard to the first game, an utterly annoying high-pitched crier who gets praise he does not deserve. Given his polarizing reception, this is the reason that Scorpion and Sub-Zero receive the most attention. Attempts to "flesh him out" following the Continuity Reboot of 9 have proven equally controversial, especially given his complete Face–Heel Turn in X, after which he becomes The Emperor of the Netherrealm with an eye towards conquest. Perhaps because of this, 11 features both the default good Liu Kang and Netherrealm Emperor Liu Kang in the same time. Fans enthusiastically welcomed back the old Liu Kang (helped by reconstructing his original characterization) and approved his new role as a god in the end of the story, finally rescuing him once and for all.
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    • This finally happens to Sub-Zero and Scorpion for different reasons. Scorpion is this partially because he is Ed Boon's favorite and Sub-Zero (Kuai Liang) is this mainly for being an outright good guy (outright good guys tend to be liked much less than characters of other alignments among the fandom) unlike his leather pants wearing elder brother (Bi-Han), including the former's contested Cyber form. Also, Scorpion being used to kill the ever loving daylights out of Sub-Zero constantly in promotional trailers to the undying ire of the latter's fans and even some of the former's fans (Kuai Liang also beat him one-on-one in a non-Netherrealm arena making this even worse), his borderline gullibility in the story (including the flanderization of one of the most hated revenge tropes), and his mere inclusion in Injustice finally cemented his status as this. Sub-Zero constantly getting the shaft in promotional works (which is almost all of the time) has caused him to be seen as Scorpion's punching bag and a total loser, despite numerous evidence in-universe to the contrary.
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    • Reptile became rather divisive after he went from being a green palette-swap to becoming an actual reptilian creature. Nostalgia Filter may be in play, but there is a camp who believe he would've been better suited to a more human-like appearance.
  • Broken Base:
    • The signature jerky animation style of the series is controversial in the WB Games entries. Some are fine with it, not minding the unrealistic limb movements or even liking it out of Narm Charm, while others thinks it sticks out like a sore thumb in the realistic art style and needs to be done away with. This issue has spilled over to the Injustice series, which NetherRealm has also received complaints of this nature.
    • Starting with Mortal Kombat 9, the presence of Guest Fighters has the fanbase divided between those who find guests a waste of space that could have gone to a canon MK character, and those who love seeing these characters get the MK treatment (including many players who buy the game just to play as these guests). MK9 had two of them (Kratos and Freddy Krueger), which was controversial enough, but half of MKX's DLC consisted of guests, which only further intensified the debate.
  • Creator's Pest:
    John Vogel: "We were fully prepared to say, 'Yes, [Jax killing him] really happened. He's dead. He's gone.' But Mortal Kombat: Armageddon is about bringing every character back to life, so Hsu Hao is back... much to my dismay."
    • Even years later, it seems that the team's dislike of Hsu Hao hasn't faded in the slightest. When Kano's design was revealed for MKX, a fan asked Ed Boon on Twitter if Hsu Hao would be "jealous of that chest piece." Ed's response?
      Ed Boon: "Yes, and we don't care."
      • Furthermore, Hsu Hao actually appears in the MKX comic! Has he finally been redeemed in their eyes? Well, one page after he appears, Scorpion just impales him with his spear and kills him off. With this variation of his usual Catchphrase:
      Scorpion: "GET OUT OF HERE!!"
      • Crossing timelines in 11 means more opportunity to disrespect Hsu Hao. Erron Black, in particular, tosses a burlap sack with Hsu Hao's severed head inside it as a match intro, much like Quan Chi and Moloch.
    • Chameleon is loathed by the developers, and wasn't supposed to be on the roster of Mortal Kombat: Armageddon until fan outcry persuaded them otherwise.note  It doesn't help that Chameleon's entire reason for competing is to become the greatest fighter ever, purely for its own sake, or that he doesn't really have any moves of his own. The developers confirmed he was one of two characters who would not be returning in Armageddon (the other being Hsu Hao).
    • Drahmin. Ed Boon notes that he's one of his two least favorite characters, and he's unpopular with fans due to how newcomer-unfriendly his playstyle is. The flies swarming him and constantly buzzing was a rather distracting nuisance.
    • And then we have his buddy Moloch. The developers even lampshaded this in Mortal Kombat X by having Quan Chi carry around his head.
    • Mokap is a character most players either completely ignore or absolutely refuse to acknowledge, due to his design being the most unimaginative concept ever seen in a fighting game. He ended up making the ScrewAttack "Top Ten Worst Fighting Game Characters" list for that reason. At least in the eyes of the fandom, Mokap competes with Hsu Hao for the throne of 'Worst MK character ever' (not so much on the developers, who believe that Hsu Hao is the undisputed holder of the throne).
  • Creator's Pet:
    • Stryker was this in Mortal Kombat 3, considering the creators thought he would turn into the most popular newcomer but was rejected for being overpowered and out of place in the setting with his buffs in the Updated Re-release earning him more ire. It would not be until Mortal Kombat: Armageddon he would return and it would take Mortal Kombat 9 to rescue him.
    • Bo' Rai Cho. Ed Boon has stated that he created the Drunken Master believing that fans would find his gross-out humor funny, but, while Bo' Rai Cho is not universally despised, that sentiment has not been shared by many parts of the fanbase. While making him a racer and having a track based on a brewery he owns in Armageddon's Motor Kombat wasn't too displeasing (even though no other post-MK3 got the benefit of such treatment), but the fact that he got to be included the in the MKX Kombat Pack 2 over the objections of fans of other characters (e.g. the story mode only characters (Rain, Baraka, and Sindel), other longtime mainstays last time in MK9's roster, and other cutscene NPCs originally introduced in MKM:SZ, MK4, and MKDA (e.g. Fujin, Sareena, Frost, Li Mei) who were far more requested than Bo' Rai Cho has left some fans bitter.
  • Crosses the Line Twice: Basically everything in the series. Cassie Cage smashing someone's jaw off? Horrific. Cassie Cage smashing off someone's jaw and then posting it to social media, where other characters make goofy comments on it? Hilarious.
  • Crossover Ship: Humorously enough, there have been a pieces of fan are that have paired Sub-Zero with Elsa from Frozen, as seen here. Given a nod in the MKX comics when Cassie Cage called Frost (before being Subby's pupil) "Elsa".
  • Dancing Bear: A lot of people more or less thought of Mortal Kombat as a rather common fighting game that was pretty much popular due to the sheer amounts of over-the-top violence. Fortunately, future games started moving past this.
  • Draco in Leather Pants:
    • Sub-Zero (Bi-Han, the older brother who became Noob Saibot from 2 onward).
    • Shang Tsung after his rejuvenation.
    • Invoked for Kano with the song Kano (Use Your Might) by The Immortals.
      You are wanted, and you're haunted.
      You're the Bad Guy, but I feel for you.
      You're the danger, a fallen angel.
      But I like you, you're the strongest of the all.
    • Shao Kahn, who even wears a kilt instead of pants.
    • Kabal is an interesting case. Because of his Heel–Face Revolving Door personality, a significant number of players introduced to the series with 9 forget that he spent most of his time in the original timeline as a ruthless leader of the Black Dragon.
  • Evil Is Cool: The more villainous or morally questionable characters tend to get many fans with Shao Kahn, Kano, Bi-Han (especially as Noob Saibot) and Goro being the most notable. Likewise, those who find Liu Kang actually a bland or boring protagonist is usually more pleased and liking him better when he went full on evil in X.
  • Evil Is Sexy: Every villainess (whether temporary or not). Mileena should be an exception, but she instead has garnered an astonishing number of admirers. Shao Kahn is also considered to be this by both sides of the fandom. (As long as her veil and his helmet respectively stay on, of course). Even in Mortal Kombat X, which toned down its Fanservice considerably, the villainesses still wear skimpier outfits than the heroines. This is particularly invoked with Kitana, whose outfit as a revanant is notably skimpier than her default outfit.
  • Fandom Rivalry: There are two groups of Mortal Kombat fans in their regards to Street Fighter — those who hate it because it's not Mortal Kombat, and those who want the series to cross over some day.
  • Friendly Fandoms: With Killer Instinct (both franchises share a lot of similarities and were both groundbreaking at their time), Injustice: Gods Among Us (also created by NetherRealm Studios, and for the previous crossover with DC) and to a lesser extent the DC Universe for the prior-mentioned work.
  • Fountain of Memes: Shao Kahn in MKII and MK3/UMK3. The fact that he was voiced by Steve Ritchie helps.
  • Game-Breaker: Various characters at various points, which is why the series has never been particularly popular for Tournament Play. In some of the games, the bosses are available for use, but, keeping with a general rule for Fighting Games, playing as them is nothing more than an easy way to get people to stop playing with you.
  • Gateway Series: While the games' guest characters are base-breakers, fans of Mortal Kombat are potentially introduced to the source material and vice versa.
  • Growing the Beard: Fans generally are well aware that the series was made famous just because of the blood and gore, but the present fanbase will usually cite a few different games where it started to have more depth. Mortal Kombat (2011) can be seen as the best example of the trope for the series, as the first Mortal Kombat game to be deemed tournament-worthy for the EVO Championship Series; every EVO since 2011 has included the most recent Netherrealm Studios entry, whether Mortal Kombat or Injustice.
  • Memetic Mutation:
    • "FINISH HIM/HER!"
    • "FATALITY"
    • "GET OVER HERE!"
    • "FLAWLESS VICTORY"
    • "TOASTY!"
    • It's pretty common for fights among friends to begin with one of them shouting "MORTAL KOOOOOMBAT!!!" like the intro to the famous theme song.
    • "Friendship. Friendship again?" Explanation 
    • The trend of ending words with "-ality", essentially turning anything in Real Life into a gory, MK-style finisher.
    • A common fan-coined phrase in regards to characters coming Back from the Dead at the drop of a hat: "Nobody stays dead in Mortal Kombat."
    • Almost anything coming out from Shao Kahn in the second and the third game qualifies.
    • Combining Baraka and Barack Obama into "Baraka Obama", either verbally or artistically.
    • Also with Baraka, there is "You really gonna do me like that, X?" if anything negative happens to him, courtesy of DashieXP.
    • WOOLAY Explanation 
    • While the companion album for the first game has become infamous among fans, Sub-Zero's theme, "Chinese Ninja Warrior" in particular has gained a notable amount of notoriety. This was increased by Kuai Liang's appearance as a DLC character in Injustice 2, with streamers such as Maximillian Dood and even NetherRealm Studios acknowledging it.
    • Liu Kangry Explanation 
    • There's a popular meme in Argentina of Scorpion preparing a "mate" (the mate is a popular infusion drink in South America). Of course, as with all memes, it has loads and loads of variations.
    • I must consult with the Elder Gods. Explanation 
  • Memetic Troll:
    • Quan Chi has this status since Mortal Kombat 4, thanks to his Magnificent Bastard qualities.
    • Johnny Cage, especially after the reboot.
  • Mondegreen:
    • The first few games, despite being full of sampled speech, predate an era where sampled speech didn't sound like arse. Thus, a lot of things don't sound like they're meant to. Such as mishearing "Toasty!" as "Whoopie!"
    • Raiden got a lot of this thanks to his Torpedo move, wherein he screams with one of two difficult to understand lines. It was eventually clarified by John Tobias (around the time of MK2) that Raiden's speech is gibberishnote , but before that there was a lot of fan speculation, with some jokingly suggesting that it was mangled English, as follows:
    "Get back in the kar!!"
    "Your momma's from L.AAAAAA!"
    • Mortal Kombat 4 is considered as the game with multiple gibberishes cranked Up to Eleven. Also from the same game we got the ever campy "I'M SO GAAAAAAAY!" quote from Jarek in the endings he appears.
  • Most Annoying Sound: Liu Kang's voice, especially in the original game.
  • Most Wonderful Sound: The satisfying *TWHACK* of a well-placed uppercut, "FINISH HIM/HER!!", Scorpion's "GET OVER HERE!", and of kourse, "FATALITY."
  • Nostalgia Filter: This is especially evident in the most of the fandom's sheer hatred of 90% of everything that came out in between Ultimate Mortal Kombat 3/Mortal Kombat Trilogy and Mortal Kombat 9.
  • Porting Disaster:
    • Mortal Kombat Trilogy for Game.com is a lousy port crippled by grainy graphics that tend to blend into the backgrounds, combined with a single digit framerate, the inexplicable absence of Scorpion and Sub Zero (in fact, it only has 13 characters, counting the bossesnote  and two secret charactersnote ), a heavily simplified moveset that reduces the gameplay to button mashing with bizarre physics, and no music whatsoever, with only sporadic, lousy sound effects accompanying the action.
    • Mortal Kombat Advance is a notoriously bad port of Ultimate Mortal Kombat 3 for Game Boy Advance. Tinny music, primitive-looking sprites, AI that's either too easy or too diabolical depending on the opponent (which sometimes resulted in getting the hardest character as your first opponent), collision detection that can't tell if you're next to the opponent or on the other side of the arena, and sluggish, unresponsive controls. Infamously, it was the first game that EGM gave the dishonor of earning a 0 out of 10.
  • Rated M for Money: Either the Trope Maker or the Trope Codifier, depending on whom you ask. It probably helps that the controversy played a part in the ESRB's creation.
  • Signature Scene: The spine rip fatality is the most infamous fatality and piece of imagery in the series, to the point it is widely believed it inspired the creation of the ESRB rating system.
  • Squick: Besides the ubiquitous gore, Reptile's nature as an acid-spitting lizard man that eats people tends to lean toward this sort of thing. Taken Up to Eleven in the Rebirth pilot.
  • They Wasted a Perfectly Good Character: Bi-Han. Though he had his story fleshed out in Mortal Kombat Mythologies: Sub-Zero, not really much is done with him after he becomes Noob Saibot, other than his plans for power and the fact that he's the younger Sub-Zero's brother. One would think that the biggest aspect of his character, namely his rivalry with Scorpion, would be addressed since they are both wraiths working for Quan Chi that hate each other's guts. Sadly, in both timelines, this is never even brought up, with the reboot even kicking Noob into a Soulnado so that he won't come up in the storyline until 11, by which point Scorpion has fully turned to the side of good.
  • Unpopular Popular Character: While liked by fans, Johnny Cage is disliked in-universe by fellow heroes Stryker and Cyrax. Even Raiden expresses annoyance with him in 9.
  • Vanilla Protagonist: In both moveset and storyline, Liu Kang was designed to be the simplest character. Up until Deadly Alliance, his main plotline was winning the Mortal Kombat tournament canonically and not much else.

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