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YMMV / Mortal Kombat

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See also the franchise-wide pages for:

The series as a whole:

  • Americans Hate Tingle:
    • The franchise is infamously unpopular among mainstream audiences 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 for a long time, to simply having an aesthetic with extremely limited appeal to the Japanese mainstream. 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, and this has likely played a role in Capcom refusing to make a Street Fighter crossover despite Ed Boon's efforts. With Mortal Kombat 11 falsely rumored to have 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 (save for the Guests from the Mortal Kombat Multiverse's appearances in the Injustice games in addition to the infamous Mortal Kombat vs. DC Universe). Despite this, there are some Japanese players who do play the games, and Japanese private bar tournaments and streamers are likely to have a copy.
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    • To make it more ironic, High Score Girl got one of the arcade cabinets (the series take place in the early 1990s with the age of arcade gaming when Mortal Kombat was competing with Street Fighter in the Japanese market);note  and Tomonobu Itagaki cited the franchise as one of the influences for Dead or Alive. In addition, the Japanese are okay with Happy Tree Friends of all things note .
  • Awesome Ego: Johnny Cage is a snarky, cocky narcissist who will tell you about how amazing he is in both movies and kombat. But the over-the-top ego is a part of his charm and what makes him such an entertaining character.
  • Badass Decay: The villains are hit hard with this in the rebooted timeline that made the franchise more story-focused. Because the player rarely plays as the villains, almost all of the fights involving them have them lose.
    • This is particularly prominent in MK9. Among other fights, Kung Lao defeats the Shang Tsung/Quan Chi tag team and Kintaro; Kitana beats Shang Tsung; Stryker beats Reptile, Mileena and Ermac; and Cyber Sub-Zero beats Sektor, Ermac, Noob Saibot and more jarringly a tag team composed of Goro and Kintaro. Most of these villains are either Big Bad material or among the most powerful kombatants on the roster, and the last time the series featured the Deadly Alliance of Shang Tsung and Quan Chi, they killed Shao Kahn and numerous heroes, including Kung Lao himself.
    • Shao Kahn has it particularly bad. The revised continuity of MK9 makes most of his plans in the original trilogy the ideas of Shang Tsung and/or Quan Chi, he's killed by Raiden when he tries to invade Earthrealm, and the epilogue reveals he was an Unwitting Pawn to Quan Chi and Shinnok. When he returns in MK11 he is subservient to Kronika and is blinded by Kitana, who usurps his throne. He gets back some of his badass credentials in Aftermath when he defeats numerous heroes with Sindel, cripples Liu Kang, and beheads Kotal Kahn, but he's also betrayed and killed by Shang Tsung, and Sindel's Arcade ending retcons that she was the one who killed Jerrod and conspired with Kahn to have him take over Edenia. While Shao Kahn was The Emperor and The Dreaded in the original timeline, some fans feel that in the reboot he's been degraded into a General Failure Big Bad Wannabe who is outwitted and manipulated by other villains. His characterization is also degraded into depicting him as Dumb Muscle instead of the Genius Bruiser he was before, where he was a clever schemer in his own right and outwitted both Shang Tsung and Quan Chi.
  • Base-Breaking Character:
    • 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.
    • 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, and that Sub-Zero himself would be one of the guest stars for Injustice 2 and taking along not Scorpion, but Raiden instead.
    • 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.
  • Contested Sequel: Several if not half of the games in the series is generally deemed inferior than the other, the most common targets of criticism being the 2000s era games. The Continuity Reboot series has received similar complaints, in a gradually growing but still smaller amount compared to the aforementioned trilogy. While most agree that the overall gameplay hasn't degraded, some fans are less satisfied with the storylinesnote  and newly introduced characters note , with some just sticking with the original trilogy (possibly including, well, Trilogy). Mortal Kombat vs. DC Universe has this distinction as well, often considered the worst of the main series due to its Lighter and Softer tone and lack of content. However, the majority of the fanbase seem to agree that other games such as Mythologies and most especially Special Forces are so poorly done that they are to be ignored entirely.
  • 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 few pieces of fan art that have paired Sub-Zero with Elsa from Frozen (2013), as seen here. Given a nod in the MKX comics when Cassie Cage called Frost (before being Subby's pupil) "Elsa".
  • Dancing Bear: Back in the 90s, Mortal Kombat was infamous due to its over-the-top violence, which led to re-evaluation of laws concerning violent content of video games and the creation of the ESRB in North America. This status wore off as games with even more graphic violence became more common and the critical reception of the franchise began to dip. With the Netherrealm Studios era beginning with the Soft Reboot in 2011, though, the gratuitous blood and gore have not only not gone away, but become a part of the series' identity that help differentiate it from other fighting games.
  • Development Heaven: Not only because of little touches like the continuity references sprinkled throughout the game for the fans to enjoy, but because of the dedicated team members who are as integral to each game's development as much as many of the characters are. Ed Boon, John Vogel and Steve Beran are just a few of the developers at Midway—now NetherRealm Studios—who give so much for their game series. It has to be said that, in spite of whatever mixed reactions people may have had to the MK games over the years, it takes a lot to do things like add six-hundred and seventy-six unlockable extras in Deadly Alliance, including a lot that are only there to make the player smile.
  • 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.
  • Estrogen Brigade: The series has a quite sizeable female fanbase. A peculiar case is Mileena, who is a definite favorite among female fans, even more than Kitana herself.
  • 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 love both series so much, they want to get a cross over some day.
    • Kombatans also have love-hate relationship with Tekken series. They may like series, because Ed Boon, the Mortal Kombat creator, consider Tekken to be his favourite fighting game series, besides his brainchild. On the other hand, Kombatans do not like Tekken for being too weird and not violent for their tastes.
  • Fan Nickname: Noob Zero/Sub-Noob/Sub Saibot for Noob Saibot, due to his Armageddon ending where his original Sub-Zero persona comes to claim control over their soul, and the two, being unable to best the other, fuse into "a being that was neither Noob Saibot or Sub-Zero, but something new..." These nicknames can also be used to differentiate Noob from his brother.
  • Fanon: Frost being related by blood to the Sub-Zero brothers. She will either be an illegitimate child of Bi-Han's, a distant relative or the little sister that was mentioned in Bi-Han and Kuai Liang's bio from the 90s.
  • 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.
    • Not to mention, Kombatans are on a good terms with Doom fans, hence both series are filled with ultra-violence and oceans of blood and both were very popular in early to mid 90s and were rebooted in 2010s. Many Mortal Kombat fans want Doom Slayer become a guest fighter in series.
  • 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.
  • Germans Love David Hasselhoff: the series is very popular in Russia and CIS countries to the point of being synonymous with fighting game genre there. This is because in 90s and early 2000s many Russians enjoyed collecting Mortal Kombat merchandise, like stickers, caps, action figures etc.. The Sega Genesis version of Ultimate Mortal Kombat 3 is considered the must-have game for the system.
    • Oddly enough, Mortal Kombat is very popular in Germany, despite the country's strict laws regarding violence in video games. In 2015 Mortal Kombat X became hit in German-speaking countries, although it was released half a year later after the official release in other countries.
  • 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.
  • Love to Hate: Shang Tsung, Shao Kahn, Quan Chi, and Shinnok have committed atrocious crimes across the games they've appeared in, but their Evil Is Cool abilities and hammy moments are what make them so memorably despicable to fans.
  • Magnificent Bastard: Nitara, Quan Chi and Shang Tsung. See their respective pages for details.
  • Memetic Badass:
    • The famous song from the movie is awesome enough to transform people, animals, or even inanimate objects, into characters from the series.
    • Fire God Liu Kang, a being so badass that just after ten seconds he first appeared in Mortal Kombat 11, he's been declared the most powerful kombatant Mortal Kombat has ever had. Aftermath shows that he can even outsmart Shang Tsung in the manipulation category.
  • Memetic Mutation:
    • "FATALITY"
    • "GET OVER HERE!"
    • "TOASTY!"
    • 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 , either to portray a pissed off Liu Kang (who's either being a Nice Guy or a Vanilla Protagonist), or the Liu Kang wannabes after he bit the dust in Mortal Kombat: Deadly Alliance (Shujinko or Taven), both of them being more 'edgy' than Liu Kang. And ironically, Liu Kang in Mortal Kombat X has gone to the dark side due to his anger at Raiden, making him literally 'Liu Kangry'.
    • 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 
    • Epic Jax Guy Explanation 
  • Memetic Troll:
    • Quan Chi has this status since Mortal Kombat 4, thanks to his Evil Is Cool qualities.
    • Johnny Cage, especially after the reboot.
  • 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 old guard 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 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.
  • Rescued from the Scrappy Heap: Shinnok was fairly unpopular in his introduction games and never really caught on as a series villain, owing to a combination of factors like his design, his lack of unique move-set, and the weakness of the games he appeared in. Mortal Kombat X keeps a lot of his design elements intact but goes out of its way to make Shinnok formidable, boosting his standing in the eyes of the community.
  • 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.
  • They Wasted a Perfectly Good Plot: The origin of Johnny Cage's magic abilities get expanded upon post-reboot, but the writers never go anywhere with it. In his bio in 9, it's revealed that he's descended from a cult of Mediterranean Kung Fu Wizards, and in his arcade ending, he seeks to fine-tune control over his powers. In his arcade ending in 10, the 50-something Johnny is dreading his impending golden years, so he travels to Shang Tsung's abandoned island and studies the sorcerer's arcane tomes to extend his life. While the arcade ladder endings are never fully cannon, the idea of Johnny Cage becoming a sorcerer could have breathed new life into his fighting style and character arc in 11 if the plotline had been picked up.
    • The rebooted timeline is for whatever reason insistent on the player controlling the heroes for the bulk of its fights and almost never lets the player control a villain, only finally fixing this for Aftermath.
  • 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.
  • Values Dissonance: The earliest games in the series don't allow Johnny Cage to do his Groin Attack to female characters like Sonya and Kitana. It's unclear if this is because it was considered unacceptable (despite almost every other form of violence being available), or the early 90's devs genuinely believed that women can't get hurt by being punched there. Since the late 90's, Johnny can punch everyone, and everyone gets the same damage from it.
  • 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. However, this is subverted in the new timeline, where he gets a bit more depth to his characterization and ends up fullfilling his Chosen One role in 11 by ascending to godhood and defeating Kronika.
  • What Do You Mean, It's Not for Kids?: It has also had been popular with children, even if one of the big draws has always been the extremely graphic violence. There's also sexualized designs, really evil characters, and unfair difficulty.

Alternative Title(s): Mortal Kombat Rebirth