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  • Alternative Character Interpretation:
    • Shujinko's status as an Unwitting Pawn makes it possible for him to be seen as The Woobie, with shades of an Iron Woobie. While easily manipulated, he was merely a guy who wanted to face Shang Tsung in Mortal Kombat, actually got the chance to join that world, never meant for any of this to happen, and works his butt off to rectify his mistake.
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    • In regard to Hotaru: Is he primarily a genuinely well meaning Lawful Neutral Anti-Villain who allies with Onaga because he believes it will prevent harm to Seido? A Lawful Evil tyrannical oppressor who simply uses the Seidan Guard's principles as an excuse for his actions? Or a Lawful Stupid Principles Zealot who suffers from Black-and-White Insanity? Those who dislike him tend to take the latter two to Ron the Death Eater extremes.
    • Darrius is also subject to this as well. While we are told that Seido's laws are oppressive, and thus would make Darrius seem reasonable at first, but he also does plenty of reprehensible things, including the murder of Dairou's family and framing it on another person in order to get him to abandon the Seidan Guard. Exactly what Darrius has in mind for replacing Seido's current regime is never elaborated on either, thus questioning how genuine he is.
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    • Also for that matter, the society of Seido as whole can be subject to a sort of Alternative Societal Interpretation if only because the makers decided to abandon making any reference to it due to its associated characters (Hotaru, Darrius, and Dairou) falling into disfavor with the fans. Is it an ideal society that has some strict but fair laws? Is it an oppressive tyranny that is hiding behind a deceptive façade? And also are those who are members of the Seidan Senate and other public officeholders have its citizens best interests even if they are making some morally gray choices to insure its protection or manipulative oligarchs who abuse that as an excuse to control people's lives for their own benefit.
  • Base-Breaking Character:
    • Bo' Rai Cho. Either you like him for being a Fun Personified Cool Old Guy or hate him for taking his already established Toilet Humor from Deadly Alliance and turning it Up to Eleven.
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    • Kira and Kobra also count. Kira is either a cool and Fanservicey Evil Redhead or a Replacement Scrappy with the moveset of both Kano and Sonya, and Kobra is either a subversion of the Shotoclone archetype or a blatant rip-off of Ken Masters and one of the worst characters of the franchise (along with Hsu Hao, Drahmin, Mokap, and Meat).
    • Hotaru is either liked for being a notable Love to Hate Foil to the ever-popular Havik or hated for either being a fascist or just having a boring design and personality.
    • Ashrah has some fans who believe she has some potential based on her character arc of seeking redemption and wanting to longer be a demon, but is disliked by detractors who view her as a pale imitation, if not a poorly made rip off, of Sareena.
  • Big-Lipped Alligator Moment:
    • Motaro appears out of the blue in a random Earthrealm village in the Konquest Mode to give you some koins, then vanishes. It's a rare occurrence and the player has to be quick to make it happen, so it's more of an Easter Egg.
    • Meat randomly appears with a British accent in the Netherrealm in the Konquest Mode to give you some koins, then disappears.
    • Near the end of Konquest mode, Shujinko encounters a fighter called Monster who challenges him to a fight, claiming that he’s the true champion of the elder gods. Who he is, where he came from, and why he believes this are all a mystery. His appearance is not foreshadowed, he appears nowhere else in the game (or the franchise), and after he is defeated he is never seen or mentioned again.
  • Designated Hero: Shujinko, mostly because he can't see through Onaga being a bigger dick, but you're still encouraged to rob everyone blind for the hell of it if you want to unlock everything, and a lot of problems are "solved" by just sucker-punching random people.
  • Fan-Preferred Couple:
    • Fans seem to be fond of pairing up Ashrah and Raiden despite no tangible connections existing between the two aside of being members of the Forces of Light. As noted on the Characters page, this is rooted in how similar the two appear to each other, with many mistaking originally Ashrah not only as Raiden's Distaff Counterpart, but his wife.
    • Say what you want about them, but Kira and Kobra do have their supporters, with shippers as part of those ranks. This actually is even given a degree of canonical support in Armageddon, wherein both characters' endings show them expressing affection towards the other in some manner... only to end up being backstabbed for their troubles.
  • Foe Yay: The intense, reciprocally personal rivalry between Jade and Tanya took off starting here and continued into the next game, where they single out the other to square off during the Battle of Armageddon. Jade, who was established in the DA-D-A trilogy to be deeply patriotic, does have a justifiable reason for hating Tanya (who betrayed their homeland for a second time in Deception), but the fervently negative emotion from both sides still comes on a bit too strong for some.
  • Game-Breaker:
    • A ton. The majority can be corralled under two things: moves that lead to unduckable throws, and moves that can be repeated ad-nauseum until the timer runs out. It's the core reason why this game was frowned upon by the professional fighting game community.
    • Dairou's Tombstone Drop is this. It's an unblockable ground pound that falls extremely fast and has a very quick recovery time, and the only way to avoid it is to anticipate it coming and jump. Unfortunately, given this game's mechanics, that's a lot easier said than done.
  • Good Bad Bugs:
    • Perform a Fatality and a Hara-Kiri at the same time to get these.
    • Possibly this or Game-Breaker, but for some odd reason, Liu Kang's bicycle kick ignores Onaga's defensive stat and takes off his health like you shattered one of the ring's Kamidogu. It's easy to defeat Onaga that way... provided that you never get sick of watching Liu Kang's ending.
  • Harsher in Hindsight: Despite being dead and a ghost, Liu Kang wants to save Raiden before he grows too dangerous, as his ending provides. After the reset, Raiden becomes a Broken Pedestal to him after trying to change the past one-time too many.
    • In what could also be considered Heartwarming in Hindsight, Mortal Kombat 11's story mode has something similar to both cases. Liu Kang tries to warn Raiden about him being corrupted by Shinnok's amulet to almost no avail, until Raiden realizes from their confrontation that it and the events above were actually part of Kronika's machinations to keep him and Liu Kang into conflict throughout multiple timelines.
  • It Was His Sled: Noob Saibot is the original Sub-Zero.
  • Love to Hate: Arguably it was the aim of the creators for Hotaru to be seen this way, but whether they succeeded is up to the player. See his entry under the Base-Breaking Character section for details.
  • Most Wonderful Sound: The fanfare that plays in the Krypt when you purchase a non-artwork item.
  • Replacement Scrappy:
    • Shujinko was the target of a lot of hate for replacing Liu Kang. He's terminally naive and stole the special moves and even appearances of the other characters during Konquest Mode. It doesn't help that Boon hamfisted him down the fandom's throat by labeling him "the next generation Liu Kang" in an interview, or that his name literally means "protagonist."
    • Kira, who can basically be described as Kano and Sonya's lovechild.
  • Rescued from the Scrappy Heap: Nightwolf. Prior to Deception, he had just as much of a Hatedom as Stryker did when he was introduced.
  • Ron the Death Eater: Hotaru is frequently demonized to a degree greater than the way he is presented in canon with some detractors going to the extreme of claiming he is A Nazi by Any Other Name. While it is true that he is a Legalist and possibly can also be interpreted as an Authoritarianist (though one with Utilitarian motivations), but there is no concrete evidence that he holds views that resemble those of fascism (unless one is going by the looser definition of the term). Even if Hotaru holds such a philosophy, to claim that the makers of Mortal Kombat are condoning this detestable ideology is as absurd as claiming that Marvel Comics condones the likes of the Red Skull by his mere existence in their fictional universe.
  • Scrappy Mechanic: Progressing through Konquest Mode forces you to complete many, many Forced Tutorials where you assume different characters and learn their moves— something you can do on your own at any time in Training Mode. While it's more substantial and interesting than Deadly Alliance's version (which was nothing but tutorials), the Konquest Mode here isn't exactly optional; it's your only means of unlocking a lot of the valuable extra content like new characters, costumes and whatnot, since they require keys exclusively found in Konquest Mode instead of regular Koins.
  • Take That, Scrappy!: Mokap can be found twice in Konquest Mode. One time in Chaosrealm for a side mission and another time walking around in a flamboyant manner in Seido where he can't be interacted in any way aside from punching him out to unlock a fighting style video.
  • That One Boss: The final battle in Conquest mode for one arbitrary reason. After spending an entire game mode juggling/rotating through every other fighter, you must take on the final battle with basic Shujinko with movesets and fighting styles you haven't used or learned since the first hour of Conquest mode. Half of the battle will likely be you constantly pausing the game to remember what those styles even did.
  • Tier-Induced Scrappy: Hotaru, in addition to the other criticisms of him noted above, is regarded as the least effective in regard to playstyle based on the limited usefulness of his attacks, most notably his Lava Burst attack which can be easily nullified by the opponent being too far or too close. Thankfully, he received some well-needed adjustments in Armageddon, but even then he is roughly mid-tier at best.
  • Vindicated by History:
    • Time seems to have been kind to Shujinko, or else a generation of MK fans who grew up with the PS2-era games turned out more fond of him than the old guard were; either way, when Cassie Cage's Arcade Tower ending depicted her unknowingly murdering Shujinko after mistaking him for Shang Tsung, many mourned his ignoble fate.
    • The new timeline's conclusion made people look back to this game with more fondness, since it provided endings where certain characters that were treated ignobly faring much better originally. Highlights include Ermac who ended up being nothing but a glorified Jobber with legion-like personality in the new timeline, but in here pulling an actual Heel–Face Turn after meeting Kenshi and rescued many revenants from Onaga's enslavement (though with a help of a zombified Liu Kang, but Ermac did a lot of heavy-lifting), and especially Sindel, who received a severe Adaptational Villainy into an Evil All Along bitch in the new timeline, while in here, she was a bonafide good mother and queen who would go on a rampage to save her brainwashed daughter.
  • What an Idiot!:
    • You just have to facepalm when the Elder Gods Champion (the one before Scorpion) steps in to stop Shujinko and the natural reaction of our hero is to say "No, it's me!" and initiate a fight, not even thinking for one second how this guy reached the Nexus or why he would make such claims.
    • Raiden blindly accepting Shujinko's story of being the Champion of the Elder Gods based on him "having the strength of ten fighters" without ever bothering to check with them to corroborate his story arguably also counts.
  • What Do You Mean, It's Not Political?: Some of Seido's actions (particularly its suppression of people's freedoms ("freedom leads to anarchy, anarchy leads to Chaos, Chaos leads to suffering") and its wars against Chaosrealm and Outworld) seem like a derisive reference to the United States' national security policies under the then-current Bush Administration and American involvement in the then-ongoing wars in Iraq and Afghanistan as part of the larger War on Terrorism. This game also came out in 2004 (when a presidential election occurred) and Chicago (where the Mortal Kombat games were made at the time) is a notoriously liberal city in a deep blue state. Make of those last two what you will.
  • WTH, Costuming Department?:
    • Some fans have this opinion in regard to Sub-Zero's "Shredder" outfit that he had in this game as being unfitting for him. Though on the other hand, some fans would consider this Narm Charm in that Kuai Liang is the type of person who is cool enough to make what would otherwise be ridiculous look stylishly awesome. Adding onto that, the costume is actually considered by quite a bit of fans as probably one of his best ones. To the point that there was quite a bit of rejoicing when it became a DLC skin for Sub Zero in MK11.
    • Special mention has to go to Sub-Zero's other costume, however, as it's not a look that even he can pull off. In a nutshell, he looks like a bald night elf with loose-fitting PJs.

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