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"Much has changed since the last Mortal Kombat tournament. Dark forces of Outworld have begun invading the Earthrealm. These attacks are seriously weakening Earth's dimensional fabric, enabling not only outworlders to enter the Earthrealm, but warriors from other domains as well. Only the most extraordinary warriors can possibly meet this challenge: Liu Kang, Princess Kitana, Sub-Zero, Jax, Sonya Blade, Nightwolf, Kiva, Kurtis Stryker. Driven by purpose and bound by honor, these are the Defenders of the Realm."
Mortal Kombat: Defenders Of The Realm (also known as Mortal Kombat: The Animated Series) is an Animated Adaptation of the Mortal Kombat games. It aired on the USA Network's USA Cartoon Express animation block from September to December of 1996.
DotR follows from the events of the first live-action movie. Raiden gathers again a group of warriors to stand against the forces of the Outworld and various other invading dimensions. The series also introduced a handful of characters, one of whom (Quan Chi) was later a mainstay in the fighting games.
DotR makes continuity problematic, since Mortal Kombat: Annihilation starts immediately in the same place. However, the cartoon is held in higher regard than Annihilation, so it generally takes precedence.
This series has examples of:
- Ambiguously Gay: Jax of all people. Calls Raiden girlfriend on at least one occasion, his first response to defending Sub-Zero is "Hey I don't want to marry the guy!", and flips his lid when you call him "blubber butt".
- Animated Adaptation
- Animation Bump: The final episode has different animation than the rest of the series.
- The Atoner: Sub-Zero
- Backported Development: When Liu Kang has a flashback about his victory over Shang Tsung, Tsung has the beard and facepaint he uses on this series (from Mortal Kombat 3), even though he didn't have them in the live-action movie, which the flashback represents.
- Both played straight and averted with Kano. When he's shown in a flashback of Sonya's partner's death, he wears his series/MK3 outfit, yet in a flashback to their fight in the movie, both Sonya and Kano have their movie looks.
- Badbutt: Sub-Zero, most of the time (however, in two episodes, one of them being the last one, he uses his ice powers to kill enemies)
- Battle Couple: Kitana and Liu Kang.
- Battle Cry: Sonya: "Kombat time!" for the whole team, and "Kiss Off!" for herself.
- Big Bad: Shao Kahn.
- Back From the Dead: Shang Tsung.
- Broad Strokes: From time to time, in regards to the first movie:
- When Sub-Zero introduces himself, he reveals to be the young brother of the old one, killed by Liu Kang. In the games, the elder Sub-Zero, who would become Noob Saibot, was killed by Scorpion.
- In the Liu Kang vs. Sub-Zero scene of DotR, Kitana sported her outfit from the series, and Sub-Zero (the elder) was finished by Liu Kang throwing a water bucket to him, freezing him. In the first movie, Kitana wore a different outfit, and Liu Kang finished Sub-Zero by throwing said water bucket to him, but the water became a big spearhead, and nailed Sub-Zero to the wall.
- Brought Down to Normal: Jax when his bionic arms are damaged in Acid Tongue.
- Canon Foreigner: Asgaarth (a bird-man from Edenia), Oniro (Grand master of the Lin Kuei), Ruby (red female ninja and possible Expy of Jade), and Sarah (Kitana's mortal enemy).
- Canon Immigrant: Quan Chi.
- Cross Through: Resurrection is the third part of a four-part storyline aired on November 16, 1996 about a "Warrior King" chasing down a powerful MacGuffin through four (otherwise unrelated) USA Network Saturday morning cartoons. Two notes regarding this: unlike the other three parts, the DotR episode features only the MacGuffin, with the Warrior King himself only appearing as an unexplained-with-just-the-context-of-DotR-alone shadow for all of five seconds; and the american Street Fighter cartoon was one of the other four cartoons in the storyline, making this the closest the two Dueling Games have ever come to interacting.
- Deadpan Snarker: Raiden.
"Before you make a bigger Mortal BUTT out of yourself..."
- Disney Villain Death: Scorpion gets frozen by Sub-Zero, then thrown into some kind of pitch-black abyss inside a temple by Rayden.
- Everything's Better with Princesses: Princess Kitana.
- Exposed to the Elements: The characters never seem to dress appropriately in colder environments.
- Five-Man Band
- Five-Token Band
- Flat Character: Cyrax and Sektor.
- Fusion Dance: The few times Nightwolf entered kombat himself, he would magically merge with his pet wolf and open a can of whoop-ass on the enemies. This happened exactly twice in the whole series. Why the others kept him in front of a computer screen all the time is unknown, when he was much more powerful.
- Hate Plague: In The Secret of Quan Chi.
- Heel Face Turn: Even though Sub-Zero helps the good guys from the beginning, he mentions he was a Lin Kuei and fought for the forces of darkness. A later episode showed how he came to join the team.
- Jerkass: Raiden.
- Lighter and Softer: And freaking how.
- Mecha-Mooks: Most of the robotic Lin Kuei.
- Mission Control: Nightwolf.
- Not Quite Dead: Kano.
- Pungeon Master: Jax, from time to time:
- After Sub-Zero's first appearance:
Sonya: What's that sleaze doing here?
Jax: Seems like he's putting a chill on the invasion.
- The Obi-Wan: Rayden.
- Team Pet: Kiva, Nightwolf's wolf.
- Title Drop: By Nightwolf, in the first episode, called "Kombat Begins Again", after chatting with Liu Kang.
- Tomboy and Girly Girl: Lieutenant Sonya Blade and Princess Kitana. Ironically, during their inevitable Girls Night Out Episode, it's Sonya who asks Kitana if she ever misses being a woman, what with all the fighting.
- Totally Radical: While the series isn't as bad with it as some others, you know you've seen everything when you see, of all people, Raiden saying "Now kick your jets and jam!"
- Voluntary Shapeshifting: Oniro and Shang Tsung.
- Walking Shirtless Scene: Liu Kang, Jax, Sub-Zero.