With the release of Mortal Kombat X’s newest DLC, we see some new faces and some returning favorites. And as X’s story showed, there’s a huge dispute (after the power vacuum left by the death of Shao Kahn) over who the strongest remaining fighter is. So we decided to take it one step further and look not just at the strongest characters in X, but the most powerful kombatants in the entire franchise.
The bad news for newcomers like Xenomorph and Leatherface is that this list won’t be counting guest characters. The same goes for crossover characters, meaning Batman, Superman, and the rest of the comic characters from Mortal Kombat vs. DC Universe, while all incredibly powerful, won’t be taking over the list. This is strictly for Mortal Kombat originals to test their might.
Here's out our list of The 16 Most Powerful Mortal Kombat Characters.
For a character that originated as a glitch, Ermac has gone on to become one of the most interesting fighters in the franchise. Comprised of the souls of the dead, Ermac is not one being, but many, sharing a single body. Their spiritual nature grants them the powers of telekinesis, allowing them to levitate, or grab ahold of opponents. They show off this power quite effectively in Mortal Kombat 9 when they use their powers to destroy the arms of Jax from afar, nearly killing him.
Ermac only became more intriguing with time, as more souls are added to their body. During the events of Mortal Kombat X, we learn that even the deceased Shao Kahn has become a part of Ermac. This has many thinking if and when Shao Kahn returns, Ermac will be playing a major role in the emperor’s revival. As seen in Ermac’s ending in MKX, their collection of souls might have already been responsible for the return of Shang Tsung.
Kitana’s family history plays out a bit like an episode of Maury, but it’s certainly made her strong. She grew up as an assassin working for Shao Kahn, who she believed was her father. Eventually she found out that Kahn wasn’t related to her, and neither was her “twin sister” Mileena, who turned out to be a monstrous clone. On the plus side, Kitana actually is royalty. The down side: her real dad is still dead and her mother (Queen Sindel) is only alive because she was resurrected and under the power of Shao Kahn. So yeah, Kitana’s had a rough childhood.
Kitana’s heritage undoubtedly makes her a powerful political figure in the franchise, but she’s no slouch as a fighter either. In her first appearance in Mortal Kombat 2, she was capable of some of the best combos in the game, and her signature fan blades have decapitated quite a few heads over the years.
14 Noob Saibot
Noob Saibot isn’t just an excuse for Mortal Kombat’s creators to name a character after themselves. Before he became the shadow ninja we know and love, Noob was the original Sub-Zero, whom Scorpion has long viewed as a nemesis. That rivalry came to a close pretty fast, as Scorpion killed the elder Sub-Zero during Mortal Kombat 1. Like Scorpion, however, Sub-Zero refuses to stay dead, and returns as the newly dubbed Noob Saibot.
This is the warrior who introduced us to the ice powers of the Lin Kuei ninja clan, reinvented himself with the dark powers of the mysterious Brothers of Shadow, and, along with Scorpion, is one half of one of the most iconic rivalries in video gaming. He’s clearly a powerful force, as anyone who plays against him in the games can attest to. Noob is typically known as one of the cheapest characters to use in the franchise. But what more would you expect from someone named Noob?
Of all the characters introduced in MKX, D’Vorah would have to be the most brutal. Watching her pierce opponents in a fight with her insect appendages is enough to make you wince, and she’s not one for mercy either. D’Vorah seems to have a particular hatred for the Tarkatan race, killing both Baraka and Mileena in especially gruesome fashion.
Unlike other violent characters in the franchise, D’Vorah doesn’t act like some rabid dog. She’s dangerous, yes, but she’s also calculating and clever. Throughout most of MKX she acts as a double agent between Kotal Kahn and Shinnok, only revealing her true allegiance when she’s ready to strike. With her cunning, there’s no doubt going forward that she’ll be attached to whoever is at the top of the food chain.
12 Shang Tsung
Looks can be deceiving, and deception is one of Shang Tsung’s most useful weapons. He can transform himself into whoever he chooses, even gaining their powers while in their form. He uses this ability to strong effect throughout the series, even using it to get close enough to Liu Kang to finally kill him.
Shang Tsung doesn’t have many victories, but he should have plenty of opportunities in the future to continue trying. His ability to steal souls allows him to remain eternally young and restore himself, even after death. He’s almost always been subservient to another ruler, but that’s simply allowed him to learn from their mistakes and bide his time, waiting for his own chance to take control.
11 Quan Chi
The necromancer Quan Chi never quite gets a chance to shine by becoming emperor, but he’s always close at hand to those in charge. He flourishes in his work behind the scenes, being the one who manipulates the animosity between Scorpion and Sub-Zero, and using his powers to resurrect Earthrealm’s fallen allies as revenants in MKX.
While he may be best known for his alliances with Shang Tsung and Shinnok, Quan Chi isn’t afraid to get his hands dirty either. He played a big role in the death of Liu Kang in Deadly Alliance, and, when Shang Tsung betrayed him, he proved he could best his fellow sorcerer as well. Quan Chi is a big power player whenever he’s entered into the equation.
10 Kotal Kahn
With Shao Kahn dead after MK9, a huge question mark was left as to who would be the ruler in X. Mileena stepped up, saying that as Shao Kahn’s daughter, she was the rightful heir. But as we’ve mentioned earlier, not only was Mileena a clone, but her and Kitana were never even Shao Kahn’s daughters. That meant there was room for a new ruler to step in. And who better than someone who was already worshipped as a Mayan god — the god of war (sorry Kratos), for those of you keeping track at home.
Kotal’s power lies not just in his strength, but his diplomacy. He’s one of the most honorable rulers of Outworld, and tries on numerous occasions to cooperate with Earthrealm and its defenders. In stark contrast to Shao Kahn, Kotal genuinely seems to want to restore peace. Of course, even honor has its boundaries, and Kotal is shown as extremely unforgiving to traitors. Mileena’s treachery leads to Kotal ordering her killed, in what has to be one of the most gruesome deaths in the history of the series.
Like her daughter Kitana, Sindel’s status as royalty makes her someone to rally to in the worlds of Mortal Kombat. Which is probably why Shao Kahn resurrected her after her death and made her join his empire. And with the ability to fly and emit supersonic screams powerful enough to rip the flesh from an opponent, Sindel’s voice is definitely one that makes a difference, depending on who she speaks in favor of.
But let’s be honest, we all know the scene that really put Sindel among the ranks of the most powerful characters: her slaughter of the defenders of Earthrealm in Mortal Kombat 9. She single-handedly fights off an attack from multiple characters, and kills the likes of Kabal, Jade, and Jax, leaving barely any defenders left to stop Shao Kahn. Worst of all, this increases the ranks of the evil characters as well, as everyone who dies in MK9 is brought back as revenants in X.
Blaze hasn’t had much time to shine (no pun intended), but when given the spotlight, he really makes an impression. In response to the destructive power of all the kombatants in the world, Blaze was created by the Elder Gods to destroy as many of them as possible and prevent Armageddon. The fact that the gods of the universe had that kind of confidence in Blaze speaks to how powerful he must be compared to most of the characters.
Ironically, one of the things that makes Blaze so dangerous is that any fighter who is able to defeat him will absorb his power, making them the strongest character on the planet. Raiden's altering of the timeline basically happens to avoid ever unleashing Blaze on the world. Blaze has a huge target on his back, and is practically destined to be defeated. He’s the one character too powerful to be allowed to exist, because his power will inevitably be consumed by another.
7 Cassie Cage
While she’s only had one appearance in the franchise so far, Cassie Cage has proven her strength as a warrior. The daughter of Sonya and Johnny Cage serves in Earth’s Special Forces, leading her into direct conflict with Outworld’s most dangerous figures. Cassie definitely inherited some confidence from her father, though, because not only does she take on all challengers, she even stops to upload selfies with their corpses afterwards.
As the story of MKX reaches its conclusion, the entirety of the old guard of heroes have been taken down. Liu Kang, Kitana, Raiden, and even Cassie’s parents can’t help her, and it’s up to the new kombatants to save the world. Undeterred, Cassie faces and defeats a super-powered Shinnok, proving she has what it takes to be the hero for the next generation.
Scorpion really came out of the gate as a character to take notice of. At first glance, he’s just an ordinary ninja. Then we learn he’s not only undead, but also has powers over hellfire that are enhanced depending on how enraged he is. And Scorpion has plenty of reason to be enraged. The death of his ninja clan and his family were the catalyst for his long rivalry with Sub-Zero, which ended with the Lin Keui ninja being killed. Of course, it was only afterwards that Scorpion learned Quan Chi was the one responsible, but Scorpion quickly remedied that mistake by ending the sorcerer’s life as well.
He’s not only powerful in-game, but also amongst fans. The one game he was initially not included in, Mortal Kombat 3, had many expressing disappointment about his absence. When he returned, he brought a host of new ninjas with him, all palette swaps of the beloved yellow assassin. The ninja specter has become the mascot of the series, stealing our hearts with his very first spear to the chest and a shout of “Get over here!”
While having two extra limbs would eventually become as unoriginal as alternately-colored ninjas, Goro was the first true monster of the series, and is still the best to date in the eyes of many. The empire of Outworld needed ten straight victories in Mortal Kombat tournaments for Shao Kahn to take over Earthrealm, and Goro managed to win nine of them.
His appearance in Mortal Kombat 1 was truly shocking, and he was arguably the most difficult fight in the game. As we learned more of his lineage, his strength only made sense. Goro is the prince of his Shokan race, the commander of the Outworld armies, and has even killed fighters like Kung Lao. While there have been other sub-bosses in the series, none have been as iconic and powerful as Goro.
4 Shao Kahn
Every group of heroes needs a great villain to go against, and the longtime emperor of Outworld no doubt lives up to that role. What other final boss is so arrogant that he’ll take the time to taunt you in-between smashing your head with his giant hammer?
Shao Kahn has had a hand in so many big moments in the series, from creating entities like Mileena and Ermac, to resurrecting Sindel. And the beginning of Armageddon shows us that if not for Raiden altering time, Kahn would have become the ruler at the end of the world. MK1 left players wondering who could possibly control hyper-powerful warriors like Goro and Shang Tsung. The answer turned out to be someone who would go on to become the definitive antagonist of the series.
While Onaga has only appeared as the main antagonist in one game, he might just be the most powerful villain in the entire series. The Dragon King was actually the ruler of Outworld before Shao Kahn, with Kahn serving as his underling. But just because Shao Kahn usurped Onaga, don’t think that makes Onaga the weaker of the two. Shao Kahn only took Onaga’s place after poisoning him, perhaps because Kahn doubted whether he could defeat his master in a direct confrontation.
Onaga’s introduction in Mortal Kombat: Deception certainly shows off plenty of reasons for his opponents to fear him. Even the combined efforts of Quan Chi, Shang Tsung, and Raiden couldn’t repel Onaga. Out of desperation, Raiden destroys himself and everything around him in a final attempt to kill Onaga, but when the dust clears, Onaga is still standing without a scratch. Now that's power.
2 Liu Kang
He might not have any extra limbs, or have some cool backstory as an undead ninja, but Liu Kang has proven time and again why he is the champion of Earthrealm. From Mortal Kombat 1 to Mortal Kombat 4, Liu Kang is the one who saves the day, defeating the likes of Goro, Shang Tsung, Shao Kahn, and Shinnok. He’s such a threat that in Deadly Alliance, Quan Chi and Shang Tsung join together to kill him before trying to take over, because they know just how dangerous he truly is.
Of course, no one in Mortal Kombat ever manages to stay dead, so for the past few games he’s been appearing as an undead warrior. One of the most intriguing things about MKX is that it leaves off with Liu Kang still corrupted, and seemingly intent on attacking Earthrealm. With how effective he was as a hero, he could be poised to become one of the franchise's strongest villains.
Shocked to see Raiden here? Don’t worry, that’s natural. He is a thunder god, after all. And being one of the deities of Mortal Kombat is exactly what makes him the strongest fighter in the franchise. Raiden only takes a backseat to the action because his job is to watch over Earthrealm, choosing to intervene as little as possible. He wants to guide Earth’s warriors in protecting themselves. But when all else fails, he’s proven to be capable of standing up against anyone in the franchise. Motaro, Quan Chi, Shang Tsung, and even Liu Kang have all fallen to Raiden at one time or another. Even when on the verge of defeat, Raiden reveals new depths to his power. At the start of MK9, he sends a message to his past self to try and avert the events of Armageddon.
With the ending of MKX, it looks like Raiden might be at his most powerful yet, as he discards all of his inhibitions by warning the undead Liu Kang and Kitana against attacking Earthrealm. But this warning isn’t delivered with words and guidance — it’s delivered with the severed head of Shinnok.
Did your favorite character miss the cut? Which character are you most excited to see as this illustrious fighting franchise moves on to its next chapter? Be sure to let us know in the comments below.