The Mortal Kombat series is kind of nuts. Unlike its close competitor Street Fighter, which focuses on a series of fighting tournaments, Mortal Kombat's story is a huge mythological epic. Gods, monsters, and other dimensions are all involved. There are cyborg ninjas running around. It's a weird mix of fantasy, sci-fi, and martial arts tropes drenched in over-the-top combat. Even back in the first game, 1991's Mortal Kombat, things were pretty darn crazy. Anybody remember Goro? So it's no wonder that the time between Mortal Kombat 1 and 2 was filled with head-turning events. This was right before the series introduced Shao Kahn and the other realms, greatly expanding the series lore.
Just to catch our readers up, here's the basic story of Mortal Kombat 1. Shang Tsung, a powerful sorcerer from Outworld, has been sent by his Emperor Shao Kahn to Earth to win 10 Mortal Kombat tournaments. Should Outworld's fighters win 10 tournaments, Outworld can conquer Earth. By the time of the game, Shang Tsung's fighters have won 9 tournaments. Raiden, a god of thunder and protector of Earth, gathers a new team of fighters to win the last tournament. Among them is Liu Kang, a student of the Shaolin Temple. Liu Kang defeats Shang Tsung during the tournament, protecting Earth from conquest by Outworld.
But, of course, the game was too popular for things to end there. Two years later, the story was advanced by Mortal Kombat 2, and then re-told (sort of) in 2011's Mortal Kombat reboot. But we'll get to that headache.
In the meantime, these are the 25 Craziest Things That Happened Between Mortal Kombat 1 And 2.
25 Sub-Zero Becomes Noob Saibot
Scorpion and Sub-Zero, the color-coded ninjas, are probably the most popular characters in the whole Mortal Kombat series. And they both hated each other. The beef between the two ninjas was well-established in the first game. Scorpion, an undead wraith, was upset at Sub-Zero for his ninja clan wiping out Scorpion's clan.
Scorpion got his sweet revenge during Shang Tsung's tournament.
But, ironically, Sub-Zero would suffer the same fate as his rival. After Scorpion ended his life, Sub-Zero was resurrected in Netherrealm by its ruler Quan Chi. He became Noob Saibot, an incarnation of darkness, everything he'd fought against as Sub-Zero.
24 The Lin Kuei Turn Their Ninjas Into Cyborgs
Sub-Zero's ninja clan, the Lin Kuei, were not exactly idle between the two games. Along with taking regular ninja jobs and trying to terminate Shang Tsung before Outworld could absorb Earth, the higher-ups began converting several of their better warriors into cyborgs.
We couldn't actually find the reason why.
It kind of seems like being part-robot would make you a less effective ninja. Maybe to better compete with Outworld's warriors? This cyborg conversion caused several Lin Kuei members like Cyrax to attempt defection, only to be re-captured and converted against their will. In doing so, their personalities were programmed away.
23 Kitana Attacks Liu Kang
This technically happened during Mortal Kombat 1, but it's important to the overall story. Kitana, Shao Kahn's adopted daughter, observed Shang Tsung's island tournament at the sorcerer's side. Seeing things going well for Earth's fighters, she attacked Liu Kang by surprise to keep him from advancing further in the tournament. Liu fought Kitana off easily and, taking a liking to her, promised to tell no one of her failures. Shown mercy for the first time, Kitana feels an attraction toward the young Shaolin monk. As the games went on, the two fell in love. After she stopped being sinister, of course.
22 Shao Kahn Declares A Second Tournament
Shao Kahn was, unsurprisingly, not too happy with Shang Tsung for blowing Outworld's chance at conquering Earth. The sorcerer begged his Emperor for another chance and revealed that their plan could succeed yet. He told Shao Kahn that they could challenge Earth's fighters to a second tournament, in Outworld this time, and if they won it would count as the necessary 10th win. If Earth won, Outworld would never challenge them again. Shao Kahn liked this plan, even restoring Shang Tsung's youth as a reward, and knew they would have the home field advantage this time. He declared the tournament.
21 Baraka Destroys The Shaolin Temple
If a second tournament was to be held, Shao Kahn was going to have to get the attention of Earth's fighters. And he wasn't going to be subtle about it. The Emperor of Outworld's first action was to send Baraka, one of his warriors, to Earth. His target? The Shaolin Temple.
The mutant left only one survivor.
This choice was deliberate on Shao Kahn's part. The Temple was Liu Kang's home and by destroying it, Liu would want revenge. It was also a really petty way of getting back at Liu for defeating Shang Tsung and denying Outworld its 10th victory.
20 Shang Tsung's Island Collapses
You've got to remember something about the first Mortal Kombat game. Aside from Raiden, nobody on Earth's team knew the stakes. They all thought it was a regular fighting tournament. Liu Kang was there to restore honor to it. Johnny Cage went to prove he wasn't all special effects. Sonya was tracking down an escaped criminal. It wasn't until Raiden told them what was going on that it clicked. So when Shang Tsung's Island collapsed into the sea and a gosh dang portal to Outworld opened up, a lot of people were asking, "What the heck just happened?"
19 Special Forces Interrogates Johnny Cage
After the collapse of Shang Tsung's Island, Earth's main trio of fighters were separated from one another. Raiden saved Johnny Cage's life by dropping him off on a boat belonging to Special Forces. This was the same group Sonya Blade worked for. Special Forces, in particular, Major Jackson "Jax" Briggs, were patrolling around the island looking for Sonya. With the island gone and Johnny apparently the only survivor, they demanded to know what happened. Johnny told Jax everything about the tournament, about Shang Tsung and Outworld. Jax didn't believe a word of it, thinking it was nonsense, and let Johnny go.
18 Johnny Makes A "Mortal Kombat" Movie
Johnny Cage had achieved his goal in fighting in the Mortal Kombat tournament. He wanted to prove he was a good fighter on his own, it wasn't just Hollywood special effects that made him who he was. By helping to defeat Goro and Shang Tsung, he had proved that. So what now? Well after he was released from Special Forces custody, Johnny returned to Hollywood and made a movie based on his experiences. He called it "Mortal Kombat." We don't know much about this movie in canon but imagine if it was the same Mortal Kombat movie we got in real life.
17 Sonya Is Trapped In Outworld
Not all of Earth's fighters got a happy ending after the first game. Sonya Blade might have had the worst luck of all of them. During the collapse of Shang Tsung's Island, she and her arch-enemy Kano were sucked into Outworld. There they were both captured by Baraka and taken to Shao Kahn. This is the in-game explanation for why Sonya isn't a playable character in Mortal Kombat 2.
Sonya was far from helpless though.
Even in captivity, she worked tirelessly to contact Jax and confirm Johnny's story about the Island. Her efforts thwarted Shao Kahn's plans and finally arrested Kano.
16 Sub-Zero's Brother Takes Up The Mantle
Sub-Zero is gone, long live Sub-Zero! Though Scorpion ended Sub-Zero's life during the first tournament, there was another. That Sub-Zero, Bi-Han, had a younger brother named Kuai Liang. When Kuai learned of his brother's fate, he swore revenge against Scorpion, mastered his ice powers, and took up his brother's old code name.
There was a new Sub-Zero.
Alongside his fellow Lin Kuei ninja Smoke, Sub-Zero began investigating the events of the first tournament. But this new Sub-Zero would be a much different man than the first, more merciful and principled. That change in attitude would be important in the future.
15 Scorpion Becomes Sub-Zero's Protector
Scorpion thought he had finally achieved his revenge. After ending Sub-Zero's life and avenging his ninja clan, he'd returned to Netherrealm. When he heard of the return of Sub-Zero though, his rage returned him to the mortal plane.
He would just end his rival's life again.
But upon watching Sub-Zero fight and spare his opponent's life, Scorpion realized this was not the same man he disliked. The ninja learned this was his enemy's younger brother and in penance for slaying his kin, vowed to become Sub-Zero's protector. He would never tell the younger man this, or the reason why.
14 Sub-Zero Carries On His Brother's Mission
Bi-Han, the first Sub-Zero, didn't compete in the first tournament for sport. He was there on a mission from the Lin Kuei ninjas, to take Shang Tsung's life. Whether this was because the Lin Kuei knew about the impending 10th victory or because someone else had hired them is unclear. Nevertheless, Sub-Zero failed in his mission when Scorpion ended his life. So when Kuai Liang took up his brother's old codename, he took up his mission as well. He joined Earth's warriors in the Outworld tournament to finally terminate Shang Tsung. Like his brother though, he failed. And there were consequences.
13 Smoke Is Turned Into A Cyborg
Sub-Zero was not alone in his mission to avenge his brother and complete his mission. He was aided by his friend and fellow Lin Kuei ninja Smoke. The two ultimately failed to carry out their mission, though they did help Earth's fighters defeat Outworld. The Lin Kuei Elders didn't care though. By this time, the ninja clan was transforming their best warriors into cyborgs. Smoke and Sub-Zero were on that list. The two went on the lam to escape, but Smoke was eventually recaptured. He was converted and renamed LK-7T2, reprogrammed with a mission to exterminate his former friend.
12 Kung Lao Joins Liu Kang's Crusade
Shao Kahn would never forgive Liu Kang for denying him his conquest of Earth. That's why he decided to announce his Outworld tournament by hitting the young monk close to home. The Emperor sent Baraka to destroy the Shaolin Temple. There was only one survivor. Kung Lao, Liu Kang's childhood friend. Both of them were distraught over the Temple's destruction and vowed to avenge their fallen comrades. Shao Kahn's new tournament was the perfect opportunity, which is exactly what the conqueror wanted. The two warriors would overcome the odds though, and work to rebuild their temple.
11 Kitana Learns The Truth
Kitana had always believed herself to be Shao Kahn's daughter, Princess of Outworld. But sometime between the two tournaments, she would come to learn the truth of her identity. Kitana was actually the Princess of Edenia, a realm Outworld had conquered long ago. Her mother, Queen Sindel, had taken her own life instead of falling into Shao Kahn's hands. The Emperor had brainwashed her as a child to make her loyal to him. Upon learning this, Kitana continued to fake loyalty to Shao Kahn while working to undermine him. She finally double-crossed him and joined Earth's warriors during the Outworld tournament.
10 The Shokan Swear Revenge
Remember Goro? The big four-armed dude? He was actually the prince of half-dragon/half-humans native to Outworld. It was the reason he was chosen as Shang Tsung's champion in the first nine Earth tournaments. Good choice too, as Goro went undefeated for 500 years.
Until Liu Kang defeated him and he was presumed deceased.
The Shokan, ever loyal to Shao Kahn, swore revenge on Earth and its warriors for their prince's defeat. Their greatest general, Kintaro, joined the Outworld tournament to do so. He too was defeated though, and Shao Kahn lost his respect for them. Goro eventually reappeared as well.
9 Kano Joins Shao Kahn
Kano has always been a survivor. Look no further than the cyborg enhancements he has. He probably even could have avoided being arrested by Sonya forever if he was lucky. But he wasn't lucky. She defeated and arrested him during Shang Tsung's island tournament. As the island collapsed, Kano and Sonya were transported to Outworld and captured by Baraka. But Kano was still a survivor. He offered his services to both Shao Kahn and Shang Tsung in preparing for their new tournament. They threw him in chains instead. When Jax rescued Sonya, they arrested Kano again. His luck had run out.
8 Kano's Black Dragon Organization Falls Apart
The Black Dragon Organization was on its last legs even before the first game. The band of madmen and mercenaries were the target of systematic arrests by Sonya Blade and Jax of Special Forces. Only a few high-ranking members were able to escape capture. This dissolution was partly why Kano entered Shang Tsung's island tournament. He heard the island was full of riches. With the money, he could rebuild the Black Dragon. But when Kano was trapped in Outworld, what was left totally fell apart. Kabal, their last high-ranking member, turned good. Even Shao Kahn's support couldn't bring them back.
7 Shang Tsung Attacks Johnny Cage
The destruction of the Shaolin Temple was just Shao Kahn's overture. The real announcement of the Outworld Tournament would be his attack on Johnny Cage. The only one of Earth's heroes with a known location; Jax, Liu Kang, and the new Sub-Zero made their way to Johnny to confront Shang Tsung and the Outworld warriors. A brawl erupted on the set of a commercial Johnny was filming. Only the arrival of Raiden put an end to the fighting. Upon the thunder god's appearance, Shang Tsung offered the tournament challenge and returned to Outworld. Then and there, Earth's fighters accepted.
6 Jax Loses His Arms
Though they weren't present in his first appearance, Jax is best known for his cybernetic arms. He gained them sometime during the Outworld tournament, but the reason why changes. In the original games, Jax upgraded of his own free will. He felt outmatched by the opponents around him, especially the ones from Outworld, and got the metal arms to compete better. In the 2011 reboot, Jax was forced to get metal arms after the soul warrior Ermac telekinetically ripped them off. In either case, he lost his arms and replaced them with stronger, cybernetic ones. The reason why doesn't matter.
5 Mileena Is Created By Shang Tsung
We're kind of fudging this one, but it technically counts. Mileena is the clone of Kitana, fused with the DNA of vicious Tarkatan mutants. Shao Kahn grew worried about Kitana eventually learning the truth about her past and wanted a loyal soldier in case his daughter turned on him. He had Shang Tsung create Mileena for this reason. We're fudging this because in the original timeline, Kitana and Mileena grew up together as twin sisters and the truth didn't come out until the Outworld tournament. But in the reboot timeline, Mileena wasn't created until Kitana's face-turn during the tournament.
4 Raiden Gets A Vision From His Future Self
Okay, here's where things get messy. Instead of a straight forward reboot, 2011's Mortal Kombat did something similar to what the 2009 Star Trek movie did. They used time travel to create an alternate timeline. In this new timeline, the Raiden of Mortal Kombat 1 receives flashes of memory from his future self (half a dozen games from then). He decides to use these memories to alter the timeline to prevent Armageddon.
Yeah, it's confusing to us too.
Raiden's plan was really bad because it caused a lot of things to go wrong and ruin everybody's lives. Time Travel, not even once.
3 Kung Lao Infiltrates The First Tournament
The character of Kung Lao, Liu Kang's childhood friend, was one of the things most affected by the reboot's timeline meddling. In the original games, Kung was the Shaolin Temple's first choice to compete in the tournament. Having descended from the first Mortal Kombat champion, he seemed a natural choice. But Kung declined, not wanting the burden of being champion, and Liu was sent instead. In the reboot timeline, Liu was the first choice and Kung actually infiltrated the tournament to compete. As the descendant, he felt he should be the one competing. Scorpion soon cured him of that notion.
2 Raiden Tries Convincing Scorpion To Spare Sub-Zero
One of the biggest changes to the reboot timeline was Raiden attempting to convince Scorpion to spare the first Sub-Zero's life. With his future self's knowledge, Raiden knew ending the blue ninja's life would bring forth the evil of Noob Saibot. The thunder god even said he'd try resurrecting Scorpion's ninja clan.
Surprisingly, Scorpion agreed. For a little while at least.
Quan Chi, the ruler of Netherrealm who turned Scorpion into an undead wraith, goaded the yellow-clad ninja with memories of his lost loved ones. It pushed him over into doing the deed. Raiden had failed to change things.
1 Sub-Zero Is Turned Into A Cyborg
No, we're not repeating ourselves. This is another timeline change brought about by the reboot. When the new Sub-Zero and Smoke learned of the Lin Kuai's plans to turn their ninjas into cyborgs, the two fled their clan. That much is true in both timelines. The change though, is that Raiden kept the Lin Kuei from re-capturing Smoke. He wasn't turned into a cyborg this time. No, they captured Sub-Zero and turned him into one instead. Good work Raiden! On the bright side, the heroes rescued Cyber Sub-Zero and removed his programming, returning his free will. Still a cyborg though.