Mortal Kombat's impressively long list of titles has not taken a break since its inception in 1992. In the arcades, players would throw down their quarters to duel each other or make their way through the arcade ladder. After transitioning to home consoles, more emphasis would be placed on the story, but the great game play that made the franchise so popular in the first place was still kept intact.
What makes Mortal Kombat really stand out from the pack is its massive cast of unique characters, coming in somewhere over ninety playable combatants over the ten mainline titles. With Mortal Kombat 11 finally hitting shelves, we felt it was the appropriate time to rank the twenty-eight strongest fighters to ever grace the franchise. Several elements were considered when choosing who would be honored, including their strength in the canon, their usefulness in game play, and their prevalence within the fan community. There will also be a several guest characters on the list who did not originate in Mortal Kombat, but can still stand toe to toe with the best warriors. Don't pick a fight with anybody on this list, lest one wishes to meet their maker earlier than expected.
So get ready to test your might, because here are the 28 Most Powerful Characters In Mortal Kombat.
Kurtis Stryker is one of the biggest dorks to ever step into the ring. His original plain-clothed appearance felt out of place among the larger than life designs of his competitors. His secret, however, is that he is one of the strongest characters in Mortal Kombat 3. Thankfully, he got a redesign in 2011's Mortal Kombat (or Mortal Kombat 9) that finally gave him an aesthetic and personality worthy of the MK universe. He's still a normal human being, but now he fights in a style worthy of the games' aesthetic.
27 Johnny Cage
Cage is an actor who joined the tournament in order to prove his skills as a martial artist. Upon discovering Shang Tsung's nefarious plans, he joins Earthrealm's warriors in defending his home. He is a mere mortal, but manages to hold his own against frightening otherworldly threats. He also has a supernatural ability of his own, the special "Shadow Kick" and "Shadow Punch". It's never really explained how he can do this, but it still looks pretty cool. It's also interesting to see him go from a cocky Hollywood actor to a disciplined warrior throughout the series.
26 Sonya Blade
Sonya has been there since the very beginning, always contributing to Earthrealm's defense in the tournaments and invasions. She became involved in the story after chasing her nemesis, Kano, into the first tournament during the first game. Since then, she has appeared in almost every Mortal Kombat game, combating every fantastic beast and sorcerer sent her way. Like many of the fighters, she was slain during the events of Deadly Alliance, but jumps right into the fray once more after being revived. Anybody who continues fighting after resurrection is powerful in our book.
Many of the human fighters already live in the canon and may have acclimated to the extreme situations in which they often find themselves. Batman, however, had no such luxury, and one day ended up facing off against magic wielding villains from the different realms without warning. Like the champ he is, though, Bruce Wayne took it in stride and utilized his plethora of gadgets to even the odds. Other characters from the DC universe have super powers at their side; Batman only has his wits and technology, but makes it work.
Mileena started life as a clone of Kitana, but was made more unique in Mortal Kombat 9. She is not exactly the blue themed fighter's sister, but a clone with a bit of Tarkatan DNA in the mix, hence the intimidating set of teeth. A worthy foe based on talent alone, she is made all the more menacing by compromised mental state and indulgence in cannibalistic desires. She becomes ruler of Outworld for a short lived time, before being dethroned Kotal Kahn and given a dose of flesh eating parasites by D'Vorah.
23 Jax Briggs
Hardships only serve to make people stronger, and Jax Briggs is living proof of this. He starts off powerful, but tragedy strikes shortly into his tenure in the series. During the events of Mortal Kombat 9, players get to see Jax gruesomely lose his arms from Ermac's telekinesis abilities. After a short healing process, he is back in the thick of it with a new pair of metallic limbs stronger than the real thing. Most would call it quits after such an injury, but Jax only saw it as round one.
There are some characters with several arms in the series, but rarely does one see a monster with four legs come into a bout. Motaro is a Centaurian, and debuts as a sub boss in Mortal Kombat 3. His skin reflects projectiles, meaning the only to beat him is getting up close and personal, something most people are less than enthusiastic to do against a giant centaur. He's balanced out in Mortal Kombat: Armageddon to make him playable, but even on two legs he is a scary sight to behold.
The series had a hard time introducing new characters that stuck once it transitioned into three dimensions. Kenshi, however, wooed fans from the start with his look and interesting backstory. His telekinesis was taught to him by Ermac, and he joined forces with Sonya and Jax to infiltrate Outworld. He was even featured in the web series, Mortal Kombat: Legacy. His time in the games may be short compared to many other fighters on this list, but he has quickly become a series mainstay, as if he was there from the beginning.
Mortal Kombat has fantastic game play and an intriguing lore, but a big part of its appeal is the over the top violence and gallons of blood. Skarlet's main attribute is her ability to manipulate and use blood as a weapon. She originated as a rumored hidden character almost two decades before making her first official appearance as a DLC fighter for Mortal Kombat 9. When she finally did officially enter the canon, people couldn't get enough of her, becoming one of the first character's announced for Mortal Kombat 11.
The Alien, or Xenomorph, is one of the most frightening monsters in the history of cinema. Not only is it grotesque in appearance, but it painfully dispatches of humans and, even worse, uses them as hosts for their offspring. On top of that, while they may seem mindless, this species is surprisingly intelligent and cunning. All of this, mixed with its brute physical power, makes it a formidable guest character for Mortal Kombat. Even cutting it open will cause have its blood erode most surfaces, burning through most people's skin.
Kitana may not appear to be as imposing as some of the combatants on this list, but looks are often deceiving. Upon first showing up in Mortal Kombat 2, expert players quickly realized her potential. If one mastered the timing, her varied special move set could be used to string together long combos. Her combo abilities were nerfed in the sequel, but she still remains a solid all around contender. On top of that, she has remained a playable character in almost every game since, often having an important role in the story.
This alien species only lives for the hunt, making the Mortal Kombat games its perfect stomping ground. Hand to hand, these brutish beasts are a force to be reckoned with. Combine that with their advanced technology and it makes for one tough cookie. It lives for the thrill of ripping out people's skulls and claiming them as trophies, and has no other stake in battle. Unlike most of the other fighters, who do battle either to conquer or defend, Predator sees combat the end, and not a means.
One could make a case for Sub-Zero being the face of the entire Mortal Kombat franchise. Even people who barely even heard of the series are familiar with the character and his move set. With his ice ball, all he really needs to do to send someone to the great beyond is freeze them and tip them over a bit, shattering them into countless pieces. While this is efficient as is, Sub-Zero always finds new ways to creatively dispatch of foes with ice, to the delight of gore hounds everywhere.
Fans may endlessly debate which of the two ninja's is more powerful, but Scorpion has a couple of things going for him that put him just ahead of Sub-Zero. For one, he's pretty much immortal after being felled in combat. Secondly, his move set is incredible, from his teleportation to the iconic spear that pulls in foes for a free hit. Additionally, when unmasked his face appears as a burning skull; there isn't anything more intimidating than that. While it is true that Sub-Zero beat him once, Scorpion puts up a harder resistance now
Goro was a significant roadblock for countless Mortal Kombat fans back in the arcades. After clawing their way through the arcade mode, Goro comes along and hands their butts to them on a platter, eating up quarter after quarter. He stands as easily one of the hardest bosses in a fighting game, but that's not the only reason he's on the list. This four armed Shokan is always in the heroes' way, and usually takes a couple of them out before being defeated. The first Mortal Kombat film also shows that he'd look scary in real life, too.
Kintaro was first introduced in Mortal Kombat II. In going with the classic sequel philosophy that everything must be bigger, Kintaro serves as a step up from Goro. They are both Shokan, but this feline themed one is considerably larger and more powerful. He may not be as iconic as his predecessor, but if the two were to go toe to toe, Kintaro would have Goro's number for sure. He also served as one of the last bosses of Mortal Kombat: Shaolin Monks, where he is the victim of a vicious fatality.
Shang Tsung on his own does not appear menacing, but it's his ability to steal souls that makes him a real threat. Not only can he take the appearance of any of his poor victim's, but he also absorbs their knowledge and abilities. With this, he becomes almost unbeatable. He nearly won the Mortal Kombat tournament ten times in a row, but was bested at Earthrealm's last possible opportunity. He would be higher on the list if his realm conquering plans actually worked. He's smart enough to keep himself alive, but not enough to usurp kingdoms.
11 Liu Kang
Liu Kang is the original trilogy's hero. While many of the other protagonists have their own agenda's, this Monk is in the fight for purely virtuous reasons, and ends up saving the day all three times. His fighting ability alone is impressive, but his special abilities put him a step above the other human fighters. He has a physics breaking bicycle kick, can shoot flames with his hands, and can transform into a dragon, the ladder of which is involved in one of the most memorable fatalities of the first three titles.
This enigmatic warrior may not seem like a force to be he belongs this high on the list, but a close look into his backstory reveals otherwise. For starters, his aptitude with telekinesis extends far beyond what other fighters with similar abilities can do - something Jax Briggs found out the hard way. Secondly, he helps Liu Kang free the imprisoned souls of many Earthrealm warriors in Mortal Kombat: Deception. Considering he was created with the sole purpose of serving Shao Kahn, this amalgam of souls has done a lot of good with his life.
This disgraced Elder God was behind the scenes for a while before making an official debut, and still hasn't had a lot of time in the spotlight, save for being the main antagonist of Mortal Kombat 4 and X. Shinnok's stories usually revolve around a special amulet, which he uses to easily dispose of powerful fighters, and even traps Raiden inside of it for over two decades. At this point in the canon, he has been violently dispatched by the thunder god, but no one stays in the afterlife forever in Mortal Kombat.
8 Quan Chi
Quan Chi has caused more misery to more characters than most people can keep track. He first appears on the scene allied with Shinnok, but quickly stabs the god in the back through his typical trickery. When his plain is foiled, he is sent into exile, escaping shortly after to form an allegiance with Shang Tsung in Deadly Alliance. He's notable for more than his evil wit, though. In terms of popularity, he was beloved enough to be included in 2011's Mortal Kombat, being the only character introduced after Mortal Kombat 3 to make the cut.
7 Kotal Kahn
Gods are abundant in the Mortal Kombat universe, but few have as striking a presence as Kotal Kahn. In canon, he was worshiped by humans on Earthrealm before violently contesting Mileena's claim to the throne in Outworld. Mortal Kombat X's story mode details the war between the two and his eventual takeover of the realm. He also has no concern over the fate of Earthrealm, meaning any time he shows up is never a good sign for the planet. His fate at the end of the last game is ambiguous, but he is confirmed to return for Mortal Kombat 11.
One would think he'd be even higher on this list, but Mortal Kombat Vs. DC Universe explains how the presence of magic puts the Man of Steel at a disadvantage against these warriors, sorcerers, and gods. Still, his willingness to put himself into the fray despite his weakness under these circumstances proves that Superman is still a force to be reckoned with even if his power is not at full potential. The legendary hero, along with Raiden, ended up saving the day against Shao Kahn and Darkseid the 2008 crossover title.
If one showed a picture of Kratos to someone completely ignorant to God of War's existence, they would think he is a purely original Mortal Kombat character. Everything about his design, from the blades of chaos to the ash infused skin, feels right at home in the violent fighting game universe. The legendary character's skills are more than enough to match those of the mightiest fighters as well. In Kratos' own universe he eats up gods for breakfast, so the supernatural beings here are nothing he has not seen before.
Blaze appears as a gargantuan humanoid figure of fire, but he is more than just a tank. His original purpose was to make sure the realm's powers were kept in check, but he was enslaved shortly after his creation. Upon being released from captivity, he organized a final battle between all the warriors, kick-starting the events of Mortal Kombat: Armageddon. Interestingly enough, he started out as nothing more than background decoration for the Pit stage in Mortal Kombat 2. He has yet to appear in the new timeline, but hopefully that is remedied soon.
The thunder god is tasked with defending the meek inhabitants of Earthrealm. He is good at his job, doing anything it takes to ensure the planet's safety, including committing horrible and seemingly evil acts. The rebooted timeline started in Mortal Kombat 9 resulted from a message he sent back in time to himself in order to prevent Shao Kahn's ultimate victory at the end of Armageddon. In the upcoming Mortal Kombat 11, he no longer speaks softly, instead dispatching swift and brutal justice to any force that threatens Earthrealm's safety.
2 Shao Kahn
Shao Kahn is pure evil, driven solely by his lust for power. Beyond that, he seems to get a kick out of making people suffer, regardless of whether or not they deserve it. While he may be scum, one cannot disrespect the fact that he is more than willing to put himself into the ring on his quest for multi realm domination. When his minions aren't sufficiently getting the job done, the emperor throws down, and has the skills to best most opponents. Mortal Kombat 9 reveals that he ultimately defeats Blaze in Armageddon, causing the timeline to reset.
Little is known about this enigmatic figure, but she is already shaping up to be the most devastatingly powerful entity the Mortal Kombat universe has ever seen. Her combat prowess is unknown, but she has the ability to control time, something no other character thus far has been able to do. Her goal is to reset the timeline after deeming Raiden too powerful to maintain balance between the realms. As a result of her abilities, Mortal Kombat 11 will see old and new versions of classic characters meeting and interacting.
Who are your favorite Mortal Kombat characters? Let us know in the comments!