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Here it goes every Shout-Out, Continuity Nod, Mythology Gag, Expy, Captain Ersatz and "No Celebrities Were Harmed" reference in the Mortal Kombat saga.

Characters and stuff introduced in Mortal Kombat

  • Let's start with the obvious: Liu Kang.
    • In 2, 4, and 9, he can turn into a dragon which resembles the logo of the series.
    • In 3, he could drop a Mortal Kombat arcade cabinet on the head of his enemy as his fatality. This same Fatality is recreated in Mortal Kombat vs. DC Universe.
    • In his Mortal Kombat vs. DC Universe ending, Liu Kang gains the ability to summon the powers of the Elder Gods by shouting "MORTAL KOMBAT!", much like Captain Marvel's powers.
    • In Shaolin Monks, he has a Fatality named Shaolin Head Soccer.
    • His X-Ray Move in 9 starts a butterfly kick followed by a uppercut to the chin and then a high kick to the chin. The first two moves are a homage to his Fatality in the first game, the only non-fatal Fatality in the series.
    • When he wins a round in 9, he makes a gesture of respect and disappears in fire. That's the same thing he does in his 3 fatality, right before the arcade console falls on his opponent's head.
  • Scorpion's blazing skull is an homage to Ghost Rider. This comes in full circle in the Ghost Rider movie, when Ghost Rider, while atop a skyscraper, uses a chain to grab a helicopter and pull it toward him while yelling "COME HERE!".
    • In the official Mortal Kombat comic book, Scorpion grabs Sub-Zero and tells him to look into his eyes. This is an even clearer reference to Ghost Rider and his Penance Stare power.
    • After defeating Scorpion in Shaolin Monks, Scorpion gets dragged into the lava by skeletons. As his arm goes in, he gives the player a thumbs up. This is reference to Terminator 2 ending, in which the T-800 (Arnold Schwarzenegger) gives John a thumbs up before he gets engulfed by molten metal.
  • Kano's eye-plate is just like the Terminator.
    • Deadly Alliance has a fake cereal advertisement showing Kano eating a bowl of Kan-Os.
  • Raiden's most iconic traits, namely his electric powers and his conical straw hat, were both designed after Lightning, one of the three servants of Lo Pan from the movie Big Trouble in Little China.
  • Johnny Cage was inspired directly off of Jean Claude Van Damme's character in the movie Bloodsport.
    • In 2, he had a "triple" decapitation fatality that worked like the regular one, only instead of one head, Cage knocks off three. This finisher move referenced a glitch discovered in the original Mortal Kombat, where Johnny Cage could knock off multiple heads in his fatality.
    • In Deadly Alliance, apparently, he was a contestant in Smash TV. From the same game, one of Johnny's films was entitled Exiting the Dragon of Death. He starred opposite Hong Kong action star Channie Jack.
    • In the first movie, after defeating Scorpion, there's a headshot photo signed "To my greatest fan" landing in the debris, a nod to his Friendship in 2.
      • The autographed headshot is also referenced in Cage's Babality animation in 9, where it's replaced by a doodle version.
    • Several limited edition versions of Mortal Kombat Armageddon shipped with different metallic covers, with one of them being Goro vs. Cage.
    • In Shaolin Monks, in the fight between Liu Kang, Kung Lao, and Goro, Johnny intervenes and finishes off Goro. This is both a mirror of his rivalry with him, and a nod to the final scene of the Cage vs. Goro battle in the first movie.
    • In 9 Cage starred in various movies titled Time Smashers, Citizen Cage, and Tommy Scissorfists. In one of the Challenge Tower missions, Reptile tries to stop him from reaching the premiere of Breaknose Mountain.
  • Sonya is inspired by the karate champion and movie actress Cynthia Rothrock.
  • In the first game, Shang Tsung's role is similar to that of Mr. Han from Enter the Dragon. His Evil Sorcerer-ness, however, is pure Lo Pan.
  • The code ABACABB, in the Sega Genesis version, unlocked the blood mode.
  • In Sub-Zero's ending in Mortal Kombat vs. DC Universe, he becomes Batman.
    • His second Fatality in 9 (as Cyber Sub-Zero) has him latching onto his opponent in a fashion akin to a Saibaman and then self-destructing.
    • Since the early artwork for MK3 lacked names by which to differentiate characters, most people thought that Cyborg Smoke was actually Sub-Zero. In 9, Cyber Sub-Zero becomes a fully-realized character.
    • In 9, during Sub's chapter, he has a conversation that is very similar to his lines in the second movie.
  • The Courtyard music has been arranged into a hip-hop rendition for the Street stage in 3.

Characters and stuff introduced in Mortal Kombat 2

  • Kitana's Animality in Ultimate Mortal Kombat 3 turns her into a white rabbit. She then proceeds to attack the enemy in some savage manner.
  • Jax's fatality in Mortal Kombat 3 in which his arms turn into blades is likely a reference to the T-1000.
    • In MK vs. DC, his ending is very similar to Cyborg's origin story.
  • Kung Lao's weaponized hat gimmick was inspired by Bond's famous villian Oddjob.
  • Noob Saibot's 9 reveal trailer uses Ermac as his tag-team partner. This, plus his fighting style, seems to reference Annihilation, wherein Ermac spawned Noob to double-team Sonya.
    • In his Arcade Ladder ending, he makes a deal with Havik from Deception so that he can take over the Netherrealm. This could be a reference to how Havik started out as an alternate design for Noob named "Skab".
    • Noob's fighting stance in 9 is the same as Sub-Zero's in the first two games and Mythologies, referencing his status as the original Sub-Zero.
  • Smoke's 9 chapter has him spying on Shang Tsung and Kano behind a tree in the Living Forest, much like he did on the player back in MK2.
    • In his Mortal Kombat 3 ending (as Human Smoke), it says he vanished into the Living Forest to study the techniques of his rivals.
  • Jade's alternate costume in 9 looks strikingly similar to that of Slave Leia's, right down to her hairstyle.
    • Like Smoke above, in 9 she's revealed to be spying on Kitana in the Living Forest during Kitana's chapter, much like in MK2.
  • Blaze was the Fan Nickname people gave to the ablaze Palette Swap of Liu Kang that appeared in the background of The Pit II stage. He first appeared in Deadly Alliance as a Secret Character and later become a very important character in Mortal Kombat Armageddon.

Characters and stuff introduced in Mortal Kombat 3

  • Cyrax and Sektor seems to be ripped right out of Predator. If you ever had doubts about this one, Cyber Sub-Zero from 9 makes it even more obvious.
    • Cyrax's self-destruct fatality has him typing some kind of sequence in a panel in his pulse, like the Predator himself. Later games show that Sektor and Cyber Sub-Zero have similar panels.
    • Cyrax uses a "Sabre of Light" in 4. In the PS2 games, Sektor also uses that and was renamed as "Pulse Blades": A blue one (green in Armageddon) for Cyrax, and two red ones for Sektor.
    • Cyrax and Sektor were called "Mustard and Ketchup" during development. In Deadly Alliance, Cyrax has a combo named Mustard and another named Ketchup in reference to this.
    • In the cartoon adaptation, Mortal Kombat Defenders of the Realm, Cyrax and Sektor were respectively shown to be Asian and Black before automation. Later games (such as Cyrax's ending in Gold and the showing of Cyrax and Sektor's human forms in 9) reveal that the reverse actually applies within canon.
  • The gas mask Kabal wears? A tribute to Tusken Raiders.
    • Speaking of Star Wars, Kabal was burnt alive, horrifically scarred, and forced to wear a respirator & hide behind a mask the rest of his life? Remind anyone else of Darth Vader?
    • One of the game over messages in Shaolin Monks is "Kabal says thank you very much." Aside from referencing the mission in which you can rescue him, Kabal's voice acting appears to be modeled after Elvis Presley.
  • Rain's costume is purple, there's also his name, and Armageddon reveals that he's a Prince. [1]
  • Sheeva's arcade ending in 9 involves the Shokan taking control of Australia with the permission of world leaders. This is a possibly reference to Lex Luthor in Superman II.
  • Stryker's bio in 9 has him single-handedly defeating the terrorists in the Greenbury Tower Incident and saving a explosive-rigged bus full of civilians while maintaining a high speed. Even further, it refers to him as a "die-hard cop".
    • In Armaggedon, Stryker wears a very futuristic suit, giving him a passing ressemblance to the main character from Street Fighter 2010: The Final Fight, which was originally an unrelated game remodeled to serve as a spinoff for the series. It's worth noticing that in the original game, the character was actually named Stryker instead being passed off as Ken Masters.
    • Stryker's design in 9 serves as a visual update to his old look from 3, but also has some elements from his incarnation in Defenders of the Realm.
    • Overall, Stryker's design has him resemble Woody Harrelson to a good degree.
  • Ermac's Arcade Ladder ending in 9 reveals that one of the souls within his body is that of the late King Jerrod of Edenia (i.e. Sindel's husband and Kitana's father), who takes control of Ermac's body and returns to rule and protect Edenia alongside his family. This is a clever and very, very subtle nod to him being often paired up with Sindel in Ultimate Mortal Kombat 3 and Mortal Kombat Trilogy during Endurance matches.
    • Also in 9, Ermac is the only male "ninja" not in the first two games (excluding Cyrax, Sektor, and Cyber Sub-Zero) to receive a Klassic costume. This is a meta nod to the famous rumor that spanned the character in the first place.
  • Ultimate Mortal Kombat 3 for the SNES has the Konami Code as a Classic Cheat Code.
  • Brutalities consist of hitting your opponent over and over at high speeds until they explode.

Characters and stuff introduced in Mortal Kombat Mythologies Sub Zero or Mortal Kombat 4:

  • Shinnok is an Expy of Yan Wang.
  • The original Quan Chi is somehow similar to Spawn's demon-in-the-guise-of-an-evil-clown, Violator.
    • In the Deception intro, Quan Chi opens a portal to escape when he realizes that Raiden's going to try and kamikaze Onaga. He opens the same portal when he tags out during a tag match during 9.
  • Reiko's original design in Mortal Kombat 4 bears more than a passing resemblance to Nightwing.
  • Jarek's Armageddon bio calls his treatment at the hands of Jax "brutality", directly referencing Jax's words to him from Jax's ending in 4.

Characters and stuff introduced in Mortal Kombat Deadly Alliance

  • Li Mei might have started as an Expy of Mileena, with her general appearance, use of Sai as weapons, and color scheme. From Deception onwards, Li Mei was revisited, and now has a notable smaller physique, uses a sword instead of Sais, and wears a suit of armor in battle.
  • Nitara's character design is a tribute to Vincent Valentine.
    • Many of her Konquest mode messages in Deadly Alliance are references to different rock bands and songs performed by them. What's more, her alternate costume surely brings to mind Kiss...
    • Her Blood Energy Drink promo is a parody of most energy drinks in general.
  • Bo 'Rai Cho's Krypt Comedy Commericial endorses a vomiting-inducing drink called Peptic Thunder, a clear knockoff of Pepto-Bismol.
    • In Mortal Kombat Conquest, there was a character called Master Bo. Bo 'Rai Cho is clearly a reference to this man (with the other two syllables in his name forming a pun on borracho, the word "drunk" in Spanish).
  • Mokap (according to his a piece of artwork unlocked in the Krypt) did motion capture for a Johnny Cage movie lampshading his repeated string of deaths throughout the series called Mortal Kombat: The Death of Johnny Cage. Additionally, the film's poster is an homage to other movies' posters, Army Of Darkness in the middle.
    • He is a tribute to Carlos Pesina, the guy who did some of the MOtion CAPture for Deadly Alliance.
  • One of Kenshi's combos is named "Blind Justice", a reference to comic book hero Daredevil, a likely inspiration for the character.
    • Kenshi also draws heavily from Zatoichi, the blind swordsman; one of the main differences between the two is that Kenshi wears a blindfold.
  • During 9's story mode, Kung Lao faces off against the tandem of Quan Chi & Shang Tsung, the titular Deadly Alliance. Quan Chi even remarks that Kung Lao doesn't stand a chance "against this Deadly Alliance".
    • The narration in Sub-Zero's Arcade Ladder ending uses the name to refer to Subby & Scorpion.

Characters and stuff introduced in Mortal Kombat Deception

  • Shujinko' borrows his alternate outfit from the villain of the movie Master of the Flying Guillotine and his visuals from Kill Bills Pai Mei.
  • Darrius is basically an Expy of Jax. Take a good look at a couple of his finishing moves.
    • His alternate costume is basically Black Belt Jones with Cool Shades.
    • His backstory also has shades of Morpheus.
  • The design of Kira's Dragon Teeth knives comes from the knife Kano wielded in the first movie.
    • She also has a strong resemblance to the main character of Blood Rayne.
  • Kobra is a mixture of Johnny Lawrence and Ken Masters.

Characters and stuff introduced in Mortal Kombat vs. DC Universe

  • The whole plot of the game (the heroes and villains from the DCU teaming up to fight against the heroes and villains from the MKU) may be a reference to the JLA-Avengers crossover.
  • Deathstroke's ending has him forming a clan of ninjas whose designs mirror several of the ninjas in the MK universe
    • One of his fatalities resemble the way he killed his son Jericho back in The Nineties.
    • He also uses a lot of Stryker's attacks.
  • Kano points out how The Flash's dash attacks and Super Speed remind him of Kabal.
  • Green Lantern's ending has the Armageddon pyramid, and Sinestro tries to take it over.
    • He also fights like Ermac.
  • Lex Luthor forms the Deadly Alliance with Quan Chi.
    • His fighting style is a near perfect copy of Sektor's.
  • In the DC side of the Story mode, after learning that Dark Kahn is behind the whole mess, guess which classic scene The Joker parodies upon hearing his name:



Deathstroke: Shut up, or I'll gut you.

  • In Wonder Woman's ending, she carries a dagger very reminiscent of Ashrah's one, Quan Chi's pendant, and a shield which resembles the logo of Deadly Alliance.
  • Batman's ending sees him starting an "Outerworld Monitor and Auto-Containment" system.
  • Darkseid's ending is very similar to the beginning of Mortal Kombat 2, where an old Shang Tsung begs for mercy to a big and manly "lord of darkness".
  • Catwoman's ending has her earning the power to turn into a cheetah. While this is kind of farfetched, Catwoman could've learned how to perform an "animality".

Stuff introduced in Mortal Kombat 9

  • The "X-Ray" effect used in certain brutal moves from the game will be quite familiar to any fan of Sonny Chiba movies.
  • Kratos' pre-fight quote is taken from his speech to Zeus early on in God of War 3 (Kratos' words in 9 are in boldface):

 "The hands of Death could not defeat me. The Sisters of Fate could not hold me. And you will not see the end of this day! I will have my revenge!"

 Stryker: Draw on the count of 3, partner!

CPU-controlled Stryker: I'm not your partner, buddy!

Stryker: I'm not your buddy, pal!

    • Bonus Challenge N° 34: Isn't This Marvellous (A match where you tap the screen repeatedly to fight.)
  • Freddy Krueger has several Fatalities that are reminiscent of the most infamous kills of his home franchise:
    • In one, after stabbing his opponent with both sets of claws, he drags him down into a hole that has just appeared. This is then followed by a geyser of blood, similar to how he killed Glen, Nancy's boyfriend, in the very first movie.
    • Another has Freddy throwing his opponent into a boiler to be burned alive. This references both his own origin (Freddy was burned alive by vigilante parents who wanted to make him pay for murdering their children) and how he killed the former Final Girl from the third movie as his second kill in the fourth movie.
    • Many of his combos are named after lines from the movies, such as "Now You're Playing With Power" or "Never Sleep Again".
  • The stage Fatality for the city stage (having the opponent run over by a car) bears a striking similarity to the ending of the fourth Final Destination movie, complete with an X-ray view despite not being an X-ray attack, and leaves a twitching beheaded corpse similar to the first death in that movie.
  • In Kitana's Arcade ending, the three Edenia women characters are re-united to fight for justice all over the realms; as the narrator explains this, the three characters are posed in silhouette over an orange background and as the ending fades to black, the music closes with the iconic jingle from the show.


  1. Prince has a song called "Purple Rain".
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