Mortal Kombat has given the world of gaming some truly iconic characters. Even if you’ve never played one of the games, there’s no way you don’t know who Scorpion, Sub-Zero, and Johnny Cage are. But obviously not every character can be a huge hit or the most powerful. We’re not expecting a new mascot every game or anything, but there have definitely been cases over the years that have left us wondering if the team behind the games was even trying with some of the characters.
When we think of Mortal Kombat characters we want badass warriors, brutal monsters, or cool costumes that every kid in the neighborhood wants to wear on Halloween. Suffice it to say, no one we’re talking about today will be checking those boxes. These are the characters that rarely get any play when you’re fighting it out with your buddies, or the ones you’ll be laughed at for picking. Someone needs to deliver a fatality to these warriors, because this is Mortal Kombat: 16 Lamest Characters In The Series.
To Mortal Kombat’s credit, it managed to have two games with entire rosters of playable characters who were all interesting or enjoyable in some way. But one little snag that prevents the characters being solid all the way through came in the form of the unplayable sub-boss of Mortal Kombat II: Kintaro. The game designers’ thinking was obviously that since Goro was a hit, they needed another character like him in the sequel. Rather than resurrect the franchise’s most popular sub-boss, like many other characters who would go on to be revived, we instead got Kintaro.
Kintaro isn’t bad when taken on his own, but he’s just derivative of Goro in every way. What can he do that Goro didn’t do first? Nothing. So rather than surprising the player with anything new, we just got a total repeat. Worse yet is that Kintaro doesn’t look intimidating, what with him having tiger print skin. Goro looks scary, while Kintaro just looks like he’s wearing a fur skin rug as a cape.
A new warrior brought in during Mortal Kombat: Deception was the former guardsman Dairou. His big backstory was that while serving as a guard he inadvertently killed someone and went to prison for it. After getting out, he was bitter against anything representing order and shunned his former life of standing up for the law. But Deception’s big gimmick was pitting people who stood for order against forces that stood for chaos. Dairou rejected both sides though, deciding to go the lone wolf route and be a mercenary.
The problem with all that backstory is Mortal Kombat already had a pretty popular character who held allegiance to no one. A vaguely popular guy by the name of Scorpion. So Dairou’s backstory was nothing new, and his appearance was just bland. This is a franchise with ninjas, demons, and robots that fight each other. A middle-aged guardsman with paint on his forehead doesn’t really make a splash.
Another lame character who debuted in Deception was actually its protagonist, Shujinko. Deception was the first fighting game in the series to try and introduce a story mode to the game, chronicling the years of life of this newcomer and his quest to collect all the Kamidogu. A seemingly friendly spirit named Damashi was guiding Shujunko, supposedly at the behest of the Elder Gods. But apparently over all the years that Shujinko’s journey took, he never once thought that maybe he was being lied to.
Damashi turned out to be the game’s antagonist Onaga, who wanted the Kamidogu for himself. So Shujinko turned out to be nothing more than a chump his entire life, and his whole reason for being in the game was to try and atone for his massive mistake by defeating Onaga. The problem was Shujinko didn’t even have any unique abilities, instead borrowing a little of everything from the various classic characters he trained under. He had powers from Liu Kang, Kung Lao, Raiden, and others, but it all just reminded you how much better those characters were. Introducing a protagonist who is so gullible and has no unique fighting style didn’t leave players impressed.
After Mortal Kombat 3, the series really struggled to introduce new characters that people liked. Mortal Kombat 4 had Quan Chi and Shinnok, but the rest of the new roster was pretty forgettable. Then Deadly Alliance had Kenshi, but he was the only one fans were really calling a great addition. Fortunately Mortal Kombat X finally hit upon a new generation that players enjoyed, but Deception was yet another game that struggled in that regard.
As the last two entries have demonstrated, there are multiple Deception characters who could be eligible for this list, but newcomer Kobra was one of the worst. All fans could think of when they saw him was Street Fighter, because his appearance was so blatantly based on Ken. The series already had cool martial artists like Liu Kang, so trying to bring in Street Fighter’s style felt extremely out of place and unnecessary. He hasn’t returned since Armaggedon, probably because he’s too busy fighting Ryu and M. Bison.
Apparently the lesson was not learned from Deception’s misstep with Shujinko. In Armageddon we once again got an original character to be our eyes and ears in the game’s story mode. And while it was again admirable and kind of fun for a story to be built around the events of a fighting game, it’s just not easy to get people to care about a completely new character. There were so many interesting characters already in the franchise that we really just didn’t need Taven.
Taven himself was done no favors by being such a bland character. People play Mortal Kombat games to enjoy the fun of violent and evil characters. Taven was too much of a boy scout to really be intriguing. Sure, he was powerful since he was part god, but we already had Raiden who could have played a similar role. But at least by the time Mortal Kombat 9 came around the developers had finally learned their lesson and took the chance to expand the stories of known characters. Taven was just another element of Armageddon that fans weren’t sad to see wiped from existence.
Another recurring problem throughout the franchise has been a slew of characters that were created to try and take on the mantle of older characters. It’s been a big reason that the franchise struggled with finding new characters that fans connected with. It really demonstrated how the solution should have been to find fresh ideas for characters instead of trying to pass on an existing role to a new face.
In this case, the role was that of a Shaolin monk. You know, that role that was already filled by longtime favorites Liu Kang and Kung Lao? So Kung Lao was cool because he has a hat that doubles as a razor disc he can hurl at opponents, while Liu Kang is cool because he can turn into a dragon and he’s great with fire. What was Kai’s thing? Throwing fireballs. Oh, how original. But he did have one unique trait: he liked to meditate. Yup, because that’ll get people excited.
So much of what was said about Taven can also be said about his brother Daegon. He was another original character whose role could already have been filled by preexisting (and better) characters. He basically had the same exact story motivating him as Taven, except he was evil. Both brothers were groomed to face and compete against Blaze, but of course only one could do so. And because of manipulation from characters like Shinnok, Daegon’s ambitions for facing Blaze dark-sided, and he even attempted to kill his own parents.
Daegon was essentially the main antagonist of Armageddon’s story mode, but he couldn’t measure up to his predecessors. Shao Kahn, Shang Tsung, Onaga, and even Shinnok were all more interesting and powerful. Daegon just came across as stupid for being easily manipulated, and he was another bland character who left fans feeling relieved when he got erased from the franchise’s history.
Any fan of Mortal Kombat knows the series went overboard with the ninjas by the time Ultimate Mortal Kombat 3 came around. Apparently Midway decided to rectify not having Scorpion in the original MK3 by putting as many ninjas as possible in the updated version. And then Mortal Kombat Trilogy threw in a few more ninjas just for good measure. It was just ridiculous, and wound up giving us such unnecessary characters as Khameleon.
There was already a character named Chameleon (with a “C”)– a male ninja whose fighting style consisted of copying the abilities of the many other male ninjas in the game. But then there was a female variant named Khameleon (with a “K”) who copied all the female ninjas in the game. You know… all three of them? Jade, Mileena, and Kitana are all good characters in their own right, but with only the three of them in Trilogy, it made Khameleon feel totally unnecessary. Chameleon wasn’t much better with his reliance on the same stupid gimmick, and he could arguably deserve a place in this list too, but at least he had variety to choose from for his moves.
The only end boss that makes this list was from Armageddon, which isn’t surprising since that was probably the worst Mortal Kombat game– period. Even Mythologies at least introduced memorable characters like Quan Chi. But Blaze? He debuted as a background character in Mortal Kombat II; nothing more than a little fun visual for one of the stages. But due to fan interest, he was made into a playable character in Deadly Alliance. In that first playable experience he honestly was fine, but forgettable. Then Armageddon tried to make him the most powerful character in the franchise.
Armageddon was never going to be salvageable regardless of the last boss, but Blaze was just boring. For one thing, he was easily the least difficult final boss in any of the games. Shang Tsung, Shao Khan, and even Onaga would all kick your ass the first time you fought them. Blaze didn’t live up to his reputation at all. And the whole reason characters even cared about Blaze was because when they beat him it granted them supreme power. So even in the story Blaze mattered more as a plot device than a fearsome villain.
Although it may not have been the original intention, Rekio is another victim of being a new generation character in Mortal Kombat 4. And unfortunately for Reiko, the character he seemingly is trying to replace also happens to be the most popular villain in the franchise– Shao Kahn. Those are some huge shoes to fill, and a task that someone like Reiko definitely is not up to.
Reiko’s Mortal Kombat 4 ending sees him entering Shao Kahn’s throne room and putting on the emperor’s signature skull helmet. Fans rejected Reiko as a successor for Kahn, so he was retconned into being more of an ambitious character who was in over his head, like Starscream is to Megatron in Transformers. Subsequent games adamantly shut down the idea that there were any plans of Reiko taking control, with Shao Kahn even chastising Reiko for trying on his helmet when he’s not around, as if Reiko was a disobedient child. And that’s where Reiko stands now, more of a wannabe than a power player to look out for.
Something the franchise has still attempted with its most recent entry, Mortal Kombat X, is creating a new generation of characters to replace familiar faces. MKX has some misses, but it also has some hits, like Johnny Cage and Sonya Blade’s daughter Cassie Cage. Cassie is a fun mix of the two personalities who also shows her own style with perhaps the best fatality of the entire game, where she takes a selfie with the bloodied corpse of her opponent and uploads it to social media. Unfortunately not every new generation character can be quite as fun, which resulted in Mortal Kombat 4’s Jarek.
Jarek was a subordinate of Kano who was left on the run from Special Forces members after Kano’s apparent defeat. But Kano’s gang of criminals were never that interesting in the first place, so trying to mine some more nuggets of story from that avenue was already a weak move. Jarek lacked anything distinctive about him like Kano’s famous glowing eye. But the icing on the cake was Jarek’s infamous ending scene in MK4, which features some atrocious voice acting and one of the most unintentionally funny deaths of the franchise. Not a good legacy for a character looking to be taken seriously.
For a while the Mortal Kombat games were pretty good at getting fans excited about rumored characters. The first game had fans scrambling to try and figure out how to fight Reptile. The second game introduced Jade, Smoke, and Noob Saibot to get fans talking. It’s only natural Midway would want to repeat that formula, but Mortal Kombat 4 might have ruined a fun idea instead. In what would become one of the most lackluster surprises in the franchise, MK4 gave players Meat.
People swapped stories talking about the skinless warrior before he ever even really existed. Much like they did with Ermac, Midway took a rumor and made it an actual character. The difference here was that Meat didn’t have much going for him beyond the visual gag. The character idea might have sounded cool back when the series was shocking people with its violence, but by MK4 a bloody skeleton was nothing. This was a case where there just wasn’t enough meat on the bones.
4. MOTARO (IN ARMAGEDDON)
We’re not talking about the original Motaro because he was actually pretty cool. He had an original intimidation factor, what with his huge body that took up so much of the arena, and his ability to teleport across the screen. He’s actually someone we’d like to see return to the franchise. It’ll likely never happen though, since Motaro’s huge body also makes him extremely difficult for other characters to interact with properly. So apparently one day Midway tried to solve that problem by giving us the Motaro of Armageddon.
Armageddon’s Motaro is just a joke. They made him look totally stupid by chopping off his hind legs so he could fight like the rest of the two-legged fighters. The explanation given in the story was that he had been cursed by being transformed into a minotaur. But it was obviously just an excuse to give him a character model that wouldn’t screw up the fighting system. This solution just didn’t work though. Taking away Motaro being a centaur would be like taking away Sub-Zero’s ice powers.
Mortal Kombat 3 was where the series hit its first snag with fans. It introduced mechanics, like actual combos and the ability to run, that really changed the pace of the game. It omitted longtime favorite characters like Scorpion. And it also introduced some of the first playable characters that just were not cool in any way. The worst of the bunch, and one of the worst of the franchise, was definitely the cop known as Stryker.
Nothing about Stryker looks intimidating, especially in his MK3 attire which includes a backwards ball cap. And in a series popular for featuring fighting ninjas and monks, a cop doesn’t exactly fit the theme. At least Sonya had a personality, and Jax had metal arms. Stryker just looked lost. Even his revamp in Mortal Kombat 9 couldn’t do much to salvage him. He actually looked like a cop in the sequel… and that’s about all the good that can be said for him. Stryker is the epitome of boring characters.
2. HSU HAO
Just from looking at this guy you can already tell he’s a dud. That’s not just an opinion we have either. Even his creators have said he sucks, with Ed Boon specifically naming Hsu Hao as one of his most disliked characters in the entire franchise. In fact, the Mortal Kombat team has named him as one of the characters that they have no intention of ever bringing back, and they were even irritated when they realized they had to bring him back in Armageddon since every character was in that game. Yeesh, talk about being unpopular.
So what makes Hsu Hao so bad? Well just look at his outfit. He looks like he should be in an ’80s cartoon where he antagonizes talking animals while twirling his little mustache. His personality doesn’t even defy his cliché appearance. He’s just as treacherous as he looks. And then he rips off Kano’s eye beam, except in an extremely stupid way. Like a Mortal Kombat version of Iron Man, that giant glowing core in his chest is essentially his heart. And it shoots lasers, as hearts often do. This is a character we’re definitely glad to see gone from the franchise.
We can’t give a definitive ranking on how bad the rest of these characters were, but if we tried, Mokap is the guy who would claim the top spot for sure. Developers putting a joke into their game is pretty commonplace, but at least the joke should be funny. Who laughed when they were unlocking characters in Deadly Alliance and wound up getting Mokap? The Toasty guy was an amusing Easter egg. Mokap is just a wasted character slot.
For those who don’t know, Mokap’s name is derived from the fact that Deadly Alliance had a motion capture performer for all the characters. It was becoming a pretty common practice at the time, but apparently the Mortal Kombat team found the technology particularly amusing. So the developers thought it would be funny to commemorate the performer by making him a fighter in the actual game. Because what player doesn’t want to play the awesome character of the motion capture guy?
Mortal Kombat is a great franchise, but it still has some awful characters. Who else do you think deserves a spot on this list? Share your thoughts in the comments!