Since its inception in 1992, the Mortal Kombat series has gone on to become one of the top-selling fighting game franchises of all time, thanks in large part to the game’s use of over-the-top violence. While the visuals seen in the gameplay was shocking at the time of the game’s introduction, no aspect of the arcade classic drew more attention than their fantastic finishing moves.
The Fatalities of Mortal Kombat were unlike anything seen before in a video game, and a major contributing factor to the introduction of the ESRB system now used to rate video games for appropriate audiences. While these moves were heavily criticized for being excessively violent, the Fatalities of Mortal Kombat have only gotten more excessively violent and ridiculous with each entry into the franchise.
Say what you will about Mortal Kombat’s Fatalities, there’s no denying that they provide a level of awe unlike any other video game franchise today. Without further ado, check out our list of the 15 Most Awesome Mortal Kombat Fatalities Ever.
16 Shang Tsung: Soul Steal (Mortal Kombat 2)
The evil sorcerer, Shang Tsung started out as the big bad of the first game, the final obstacle before conquering the game. In the game’s sequel, a year later, a younger Shang Tsung became a playable character for the first time where he debuted his trademark Fatality, his Soul Steal.
This iconic fatality may not be the bloodiest way to finish off an opponent, but it is one of the most well-known in the series. Shang Tsung is one of the series’ most resilient villains and his ability to capture the souls of those he defeats is a big reason why. After defeating his foes, Shang Tsung would lift his victim into the air before using his magical abilities to drain them of their soul and leaving them a lifeless skeleton.
What this Fatality does better than practically any other is in its level of showmanship. Shang Tsung hoists his opponent into the air for all to see, proudly displaying his work for all to see and marvel at in terror.
15 Quan Chi: Leg Beating (Mortal Kombat 4)
Mortal Kombat’s fourth entry into the main series may not have been its finest hour, but the franchise’s first venture into three dimensions wasn’t without its memorable moments. One of these memorable moments, is no doubt the Fatality of the rogue sorcerer, Quan Chi.
While he originally debuted in the Mortal Kombat’s first venture outside of the fighting game genre, Mortal Kombat Mythologies: Sub-Zero, most fans of the fighting franchise set their eyes upon the pale-skinned sorcerer in Mortal Kombat 4. In this fan-favorite fatality, Quan Chi beats his victim to death with a large, blunt object. Sounds pretty unimaginative until you hear that the blunt object Quan Chi is bludgeoning people to death with is their own leg.
That’s right, as if being beaten to death isn’t bad enough, Quan Chi adds insult to injury by preceding his kill by ripping off a leg. Not only are you beaten to death, but the fact that it’s happening with your own leg suggests Quan Chi is just a big bully, repeatedly asking “Why you kicking yourself?”
14 Cyrax: Claw Smasher (Mortal Kombat: Deadly Alliance)
Mortal Kombat 4 may have been the franchise’s first venture into three dimensions, but they didn’t really get the concept right until their fifth game, Mortal Kombat: Deadly Alliance. With more experience delving into three-dimensional fighting, the development team was able to flex their creative muscles a bit with some of the most memorable Fatalities gamers had seen yet.
One of these memorable finishers came to us courtesy of the cyborg assassin, Cyrax. This yellow-clad cyborg originally debuted a few years prior in Mortal Kombat 3, but it’s this Fatality from Deadly Alliance that gets the nod due to the ease at which Cyrax appears to perform it with.
Cyrax simply stands a few feet away from his opponent before grabbing them over the head with a claw that protrudes from within his own chest. Once within the Lin Kuei assassin’s grasp, his victim is repeatedly slammed to the ground before being pulled into Cyrax’s own chest, seemingly grinded up into small pieces, and then expelled from within his body in small, bloody chunks.
Cyrax’s claw smasher shows off the game developers at their best, never settling for the ordinary and more concerned with going above and beyond gamer’s expectations of what they are about to witness.
13 Kitana: Kiss of Death (Mortal Kombat 2)
Mortal Kombat 2 was released less than a year after the first game hit arcades in the Fall of 1992. Along with more stages and a more refined gameplay came a roster of fighters that nearly doubled that of the previous game. A mix of returning favorites and newcomers adorned a game that is fondly remembered by fans as arguably the series’ best.
Among the new fighters was the princess of Outworld, Kitana and her deadly, razor sharp fans. Kitana served to replace Lt. Sonya Blade, who did not return to the game’s sequel as a playable character as the game’s main female protagonist. She even borrowed Sonya’s iconic Fatality and put her own unique spin on it.
While Sonya’s kiss of death involved the special forces agent blowing a kiss that would leave her victim a burnt skeleton of their former selves, Kitana’s was everything a sequel should be, bigger and wilder. Instead of torching her victims, Kitana would pull down her mask, plant a kiss on their cheek which would then cause them to inflate like a balloon until they exploded.
Why did their bodies expand until they popped? What powers does Kitana have exactly that allows her kisses to do this type of damage? Why didn’t this happen to Liu Kang after he and the Princess celebrated their tournament victory? Stop asking questions and just enjoy the game.
12 Mileena: Man Eater (Mortal Kombat 2)
Mortal Kombat’s first sequel also introduced the game’s first female antagonist in the form of Mileena. Originally believed to be some sort of deformed evil twin of Kitana, it was later revealed that Mileena was a actually a botched clone of the Princess. The two were raised as sisters, with Mileena growing jealous of Kitana’s beauty and Shao Kahn’s general favor towards her.
To keep with the evil twin theme to Mileena, her fatality from her debut outing was similar to her sister’s but with her own unique and vicious twist. Mileena would pull her mask down to reveal her disfigured face before leaning into her opponent for an apparent kiss. What first appears to be a sweet send off takes a sudden turn for the terrifying as she proceeds to inhale her prey whole before spitting out the bones.
Mileena’s "man-eater" fatality is strongly associated with the character to this day and is a prime example of a fatality matching the personality of its character to a tee; it perfectly combining her sex appeal and ferocity.
11 Scorpion: Toasty (Mortal Kombat 1992)
If we’re talking iconic characters in Mortal Kombat history, few are as recognizable as the yellow-clad ninja specter, Scorpion. With appearances in all of the main games in the series, save for the original version of Mortal Kombat 3, Scorpion is no doubt one of the game’s unofficial mascots.
With such a rich history, Scorpion has had his fair share of memorable kills. Still, no other of this warrior’s Fatalities is as associated with the spear throwing ninja’s original one. While standing a few feet away from the chump unlucky enough to feel his wrath, Scorpion takes off his mask to reveal the skull hidden underneath. As if the realization that you were just beat by the undead wasn’t bad enough, the ninja then summons the flames of hell, breathing fire and torching his opponent to a crisp.
While future fatalities would see Scorpion utilize a variety of weapons such as his spear or sword to decapitate and dismember his foes, none of these finishing moves has stuck with gamers quite like his toasty trademark.
10 Liu Kang: Dragon (Mortal Kombat 2)
Liu Kang has served the world of Mortal Kombat as its main protagonist since the very first game in the series. Going back to the original game and seeing Liu Kang’s first “Fatality” may surprise some of the series’ newer fans however, as it is one of Mortal Kombat’s tamest finishers. Being a Shaolin monk, Liu Kang doesn’t believe in killing and simply cartwheels (kartwheels?) forward and uppercuts his opponent.
Things would change from Mortal Kombat 2 onward, as Liu Kang is then considered a renegade monk who apparently has no more qualms about killing, and he does so in spectacular fashion. In what has become Liu Kang’s signature fatality, this champion of Mortal Kombat turns himself into a giant, green dragon and bites off the top half of his opponent’s body.
This metamorphic fatality from Mortal Kombat 2 would go on to become the basis for the Animalities seen in later sequels such as Mortal Kombat 3. A fan favorite for its ridiculousness and sheer spectacle, Liu Kang’s dragon fatality is truly one of the series’ best.
9 Ermac: Mind Over Splatter (Mortal Kombat 2011)
Ermac is a character with a unique origin. While he was rumored to be in the first game as a hidden character, he would only go on to make his official debut in Ultimate Mortal Kombat 3 as a red palette swap ninja similar to Scorpion and Sub-Zero. Since his first appearance, Ermac has grown to distinguish himself from his fellow ninjas and has developed quite the following for himself.
One of the most popular fighters in the game today,Ermac is renowned and feared by gamers everywhere for his psychic abilities which display Ermac asserting his dominance through the power of his mind. Nowhere is this on better display than in his fantastic fatality from the Mortal Kombat reboot in 2011.
Ermac starts off this fatality by lifting his opponent into the air via his psychic abilities. He then proceeds to rip off all four of their limbs before turning them upside down and slamming them head first into the ground. A perfect display of Ermac’s abilities and ruthlessness, this fatality served as the ideal representation of the franchise’s new chapter.
8 Kung Lao: Razor’s Edge (Mortal Kombat 2011)
Sticking with Mortal Kombat’s 2011 reboot game, we have this phenomenal finish from the hat wielding Shaolin monk, Kung Lao. A descendant of former Mortal Kombat champion, The Great Kung Lao and best friend to series protagonist, Liu Kang, Kung Lao has been a mainstay of the fighting game franchise
Much like legendary James Bond villain Oddjob, Kung Lao is most well-known for his propensity to deal with foes via his hat. Nowhere is this on better display than his Fatalities that often use said hat to slice, dice, and dispose of enemies. Perhaps the best use of this piece of deadly headwear was in his Razor’s Edge fatality from Mortal Kombat (2011).
Kung Lao starts by kicking his opponent to the ground before throwing his hat down, causing it to spin in place like a circular saw. Kung Lao then casually walks towards his victim and pulls them through his hat/buzzsaw, slicing them in half lengthwise before triumphantly holding up each half in victory.
7 Smoke: Armageddon (Mortal Kombat 3)
The characters of Mortal Kombat are known to dispose of their opponents in brutal and violent ways. In this memorable Fatality from Mortal Kombat 3, however, Smoke doesn’t stop at killing off just his opponent.
Smoke first appeared as a hidden character in Mortal Kombat 2 as another palette swap ninja akin to Sub-Zero, Scorpion, and Reptile. In his first playable appearance in Mortal Kombat 3, Smoke appears as a gray palette swap version of the cyborg ninjas Sektor and Cyrax. It’s here, in Mortal Kombat 3, however, that gamers got the most ridiculous and over-the-top Fatality they had seen to date. Not one to hold back, Smoke decides to one up his peers by killing off his opponent, himself, and everyone else on Earth.
After besting his opponent in Kombat, Smoke opens up a chest compartment and begins to unload a slew of round grenades that quickly fill up the screen. Just when you think you’re about to see a bloody explosion, the camera pans out to a shot of planet Earth in space. Then, the entire planet blows up like Alderaan in the first Star Wars film.
For it’s sheer ridiculousness and shock value, Smoke’s Armageddon Fatality is most definitely one of the most awesome Fatalities we’ve ever seen from the Mortal Kombat series.
6 Johnny Cage: Here’s Johnny (Mortal Kombat X)
Johnny Cage is beloved by fans for his cocky demeanor and has been mainstay of the series since the beginning. While fans quickly fell in love with the Jean-Claude Van Damme rip off, Cage’s Fatalities from the original games were slightly underwhelming.
It wasn’t that Cage’s Fatalities weren’t brutal or ferocious looking, they were simply uninspired when compared to his peers. While the Mortal Kombat 2 version of his original decapitating uppercut fatality is remembered for Johnny being able to punch off three of his opponents heads (just go with it), it was his Fatality from Mortal Kombat X that has truly left the mark.
This Fatality saw the tournament fighting actor stand behind his opponent before thrusting his hands through his opponent’s torso before ripping it open to reveal a slight opening. Johnny then stares directly into the camera and delivers his best Jack Nicholson impersonation and says, “Here’s Johnny.”
It’s gruesome, funny, and everything that makes Johnny Cage great and definitely one of the most awesome Fatalities of all time.
5 Cassie Cage: Selfie (Mortal Kombat X)
Cassie Cage, introduced in Mortal Kombat X, is the daughter of two of Earthrealm’s most celebrated fighters, Sonya Blade and Johnny Cage. With this type of lineage, a lot was expected of the newcomer and she surely didn’t leave fans disappointed in the Fatality department.
Cassie makes it clear that she is indeed her parent’s daughter with this swagger-filled Fatality. She starts things off by pulling out a military nightstick and smacking her opponent across the face, knocking their jaw off in the process. With their lower jaw barely hanging on, Cassie walks up and poses next to her victim for a quick selfie. As if that wasn’t humiliating enough, the fatal picture is then posted to Cassie’s social media page.
While this may get a good chuckle out of newer fans, longtime fans of the series will find a lot to love on Cassie’s “Friendships” page. From the White Lotus and Lin Kuei community pages seen on the left to the sponsored ads for films her father is known for making like “Ninja Mime.” With its combination of brutal over-the-top violence and a fun but of nostalgia, Cassie Cage’s Selfie Fatality is certainly deserving a spot on our list.
4 Kano: Heart Rip (Mortal Kombat 1992)
When the first Mortal Kombat game released in 1992, it was met with both commercial acclaim and critical backlash. The controversy over the excessive levels of violence was largely sparked by the game's bloody Fatalities, and Kano’s infamous heart rip was near the core of the debate.
When compared to some of the more outrageous Fatalities that litter the Mortal Kombat franchise today, Kano’s heart ripping kill may seem tame in comparison, but for gaming in 1992, this was something people had never seen before. The level of shock value that this single maneuver produced is hard to completely describe to someone who didn’t live through it, but the way he pulled out his opponent’s still beating heart and raised it high above his head in pride drove people crazy. Top it off with buckets of blood spewing out of his victim’s body and and the slow dripping that falls from his hand, and you have yourself a recipe for an unforgettable Fatality.
Whether you loved or hated this one, Kano’s original Heart Rip Fatality is certainly one of the most awesome Fatalities that Mortal Kombat has ever seen, and one of the most infamous moments in gaming history.
3 Noob Saibot: Make a Wish (Mortal Kombat 2011)
Noob Saibot’s first appearance in the Mortal Kombat franchise came as a non-playable hidden character that you could fight in Mortal Kombat 2. After his first playable appearance in Ultimate Mortal Kombat 3, his story would become fleshed out and it would be revealed he is the spirit of the original Sub-Zero.
His new abilities as an undead specter allowed Noob the ability to create a shadow clone of himself that could act as a secondary fighter. Nowhere was this ability on better display than in his now infamous Make a Wish Fatality from Mortal Kombat 2011.
Noob starts off this deadly game of wishbone by creating a shadow clone on the opposite side of his opponent. Then, he and his clone grab their victim by each of their limbs and pull until they have been ripped in half. This finisher is gory, violent, and controversial, all the ingredients of a memorable Mortal Kombat Fatality.
Noob Saibot’s Make a Wish Fatality sparked controversy about the levels of violence in video games, in the year 2011. Somehow, the Mortal Kombat series found a way to create something so violent and scandalous that it got people talking nearly 20 years after the original game.
2 Honorable Mention: Pit Fatality (Mortal Kombat 1992)
Before we get to the top spot, we’ve got an honorable mention for the original Pit Stage Fatality from the first Mortal Kombat game in 1992. The Pit was the first of what would go on to become a long-running tradition of fun, stage-based Fatalities.
While later games would feature spinning blades and acidic pools, the original pit stage took place on a narrow bridge above a bed of spikes. If the winner knew what they were doing, they would take this opportunity to skip their own character-specific finisher (unless they were playing as Liu Kang) in favor of walking up to their opponent and performing an uppercut. This would cause their defeated opponent to fly high into the air, before falling to their doom in a bed of spikes.
Again, the Pit Fatality was gore for the sake of gore, with severed heads and other body parts littering the rest of the spikes, but it was an awesome secret to find in the original Mortal Kombat.
1 Sub Zero: Spine Rip (Mortal Kombat 1992)
While the Mortal Kombat franchise as a whole is remembered for inspiring the ESRB rating system, no single Fatality became Congress’ scapegoat more than Sub Zero and his Spine Rip. Now considered a classic of Mortal Kombat lore, Sub-Zero’s original spine rip Fatality is somehow both gruesome and elegant all at the same time.
After defeating his opponent, the ice-cold ninja walks up to his victim, grabs them by the head, pulls up, and proceeds to remove their head and spine. The rest of their body falls limp, spewing blood from the space that formerly housed their head as Sub-Zero raises his trophy proudly in the sky for all to see.
One of the game’s primary developers, John Tobias, still cites Sub-Zero’s original spine rip as his personal favorite Fatality of the entire series, and it’s easy to see why. Quick and to-the-point, this Fatality is still used to this day as an example of what the Mortal Kombat games are all about.