Tuesday Top Ten: Mortal Kombat Series Characters by their Fatalities


It’s that time again, folks—time for another Tuesday Top Ten!  Each week we go through the top ten somethings-or-another even tangentially related to video games.  This week, we’re counting down the top ten Fatalities from the Mortal Kombat series, by character.

The Mortal Kombat series has a well-deserved reputation for over-the-top violence and gore.  So over-the-top, it ceases becoming mere “violence” and almost edges closer to parody.  This is exemplified in the Fatalities.

The Fatalities took the violence, already extreme, and cranked it up so much as to be humorous.  They were also notoriously difficult to pull off—by design, of course.  Other fighting games had finishing moves, but most Mortal Kombat titles required you to be a specific distance away.  Though that wasn’t the only bit of additional difficulty, it is by far the most notable.  Every character has had at least one, though as the series progressed, many were given two, three, or more.

While most characters had “themes” as the series goes on—Sub-Zero and ice or an affinity for the human skeleton, for example—many were still different, and almost all were interesting.  As such, we aren’t going to go down a list of the top ten individual fatalities, but the top ten characters with interesting Fatalities.

I’ve included YouTube links, but they aren’t all the most current (though are pretty darn close).  As should be expected, there is going to be a lot of violence and gore ahead.

10. Kitana
Kitana is the closest to living up to certain negative stereotypes concerning female video game characters, but you wouldn’t want to make a wolf-whistle or the like anywhere near her. A true mistress of bladed fans, she showed why fans weren’t just for coquettish maidens.

Her Fatalities were a plethora of ways to dismember, gouge, slash, bisect, dissect, and show just how deadly her fans could be.

09. Mileena
Usually a palette swap of Kitana, even in more recent games, Mileena was an affront to stereotypes of female video game characters, though in a different way than Sonya.  Mileena was presented as pretty much the ultimate stereotype—then her veil was removed, and her face was almost a finger pointing at the audience, as if mocking the player.

This is most prominent in her Fatalities mostly revolved around that fact.  They would start with her standing there, looking, well, like a living stereotype—then the veil wold come off, and she’d tear into her opponent’s throat so brutally even horror movie monsters would think was going too far, or sometimes she would swallow her opponent, whole, and spit out bones.  A wonderfully gruesome way to shatter a stereotype if ever there was one.

08. Raiden
Aside from being visually influenced by a certain character in Big Trouble in Little China, Raiden was an interesting character.  A god walking among mortals was about the only constant thing about him.  His relationship to the other gods, to the realms, and to the mortals all varied, sometimes wildly.  Still—he controlled electricity.

Most of his Fatalities revolved around that fact, where he uses lightning to roast his enemy, or even make them explode.  A personal favorite is when he calls down lightning from the skies and channels it through himself, to blast at his opponent.

07. Johnny Cage
The ultimate Hollywood bad boy, that’s Johnny Cage.  A showman through and through, he was the joke character—but he wasn’t to be underestimated.  Just because he goofed around and looked good doing it, he made sure people didn’t think that made him “soft”.

His Fatalities are interesting in that they aren’t the most complex, or even always the most brutal—but there’s so much flair and contempt displayed afterward.  Whether it’s a wrestling-like exaggerated shake of the fist before it’s planted into an enemy’s head, or an uppercut that knocks the opponent’s head off followed by quickly putting on the sunglasses and “striking a pose”, he showed his contempt for his enemies.

06. Sub-Zero
One of the two main faces of the series, even though the protagonist is technically supposed to be Liu Kang.  Sub-Zero stole the show—but the one we have now isn’t the one the series started out with.  There’s an odd sub-plot about brothers, one taking over the mantle for another—it’s a whole thing.

As mentioned in the beginning of this article, Sub-Zero seems to have developed an interesting affinity for the human skeleton.  If there’s a way to rip a bone—or an entire skeleton—out, he’ll find it.  If there’s a way to add ice to that, he’ll definitely do it.  His Fatalities grew in bloody intensity, and of course—gamers couldn’t get enough.  There’s a reason he is one of, if not, the most popular character in the series.

05. Scorpion
The flip-side to Sub-Zero, Scorpion was everything he wasn’t.  He was also originally just a palette swap of Sub-Zero, though he was a rare one—he actually had an interesting back-story to explain why, though it was only really found in the manual for the first game.

He was also responsible for one of the most well-known catchphrases, popular even outside of fighting game-centered gamers, but almost as well-known was his addiction to fire.  The developers found more and more creative ways to have him immolate his enemies.  just when you thought you couldn’t see a new way to set someone on fire, the next title would come out, and his Fatalities would prove you wrong.

04. Kano
Different than most other combatants—or “kombatants”, if you like—Kano uses his weapons rather than relying on martial arts moves.  He’s in that “outer circle” of characters in the general awareness—and even that is primarily due to his performance in the first film.  The performance was so well-received, the character’s nationality was retconned in the games.

As the series progressed, his Fatalities showed a remarkable predilection for finding ways to make an opponent’s internal organs their external organs.  They also showed more of a “street fighter” mentality, differentiating him even further from the heavily-trained martial arts fighters.

03. Reptile
Reptile has an interesting history in the series.  Originally a secret opponent if you fulfilled the looniest of prerequisites, it was eventually attempted to give the character more depth.  How well that worked is up for individual interpretation, though all things considered, he can be given a lot of leeway, considering the back stories of the other characters.

Fitting his animalistic nature, most of his Fatalities were exceedingly brutal and, well—animalistic.  They showed a bestial fury that most other characters couldn’t match.

02. Sonya
Most of the women in the series were dressed, well—interestingly—but Sonya came the closest to dressing how one would expect for someone who was going to go into a life-or-death fighting tournament.  She had more of a “I dare you to say anything… attitude, as if daring the player to make any jokes about her—anatomy.

Her Fatalities were an exaggeration of femininity—what people tend to think that female video game characters do normally.  With Sonya, she turned it into a mockery, of both the idea itself as well as the opponents.  Her kisses shatter, her caresses dismember—she turned the idea of a “simpering princess” on its head—then smashed its head into the ground.

01. Liu Kang
Ostensibly the protagonist of the series-wide storyline, Liu Kang has always been a popular character, though not quite as well-known as Sub-Zero or Scorpion.  Depending on the game, he’s also a fairly straight Bruce Lee clone.

Out of every character, his Fatalities vary the most.  It’s rarely the same thing twice—once he transforms into a dragon, another time he inhabits his opponents body—the list just goes on and on and on.  That variation makes his the most interesting to watch.

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