Presenting, the definitive ranking of Mortal Kombat characters! I’m counting everyone, with only a few exceptions. Here are the criteria...
- It has to be an actual Mortal Kombat character and not a guest fighter. That means no Freddy Krueger, Kratos, Jason, Predator, or anyone from the DC Universe.
- Dark Kahn doesn’t count for the same reason.
- It has to be someone who was playable in the one-on-one games. I’m not going to get into boss characters from, say, Mortal Kombat Mythologies: Sub-Zero or Mortal Kombat: Special Forces if that's all they've appeared in.
- I’m lumping alternate versions of characters together. No reason to split Human Smoke and Robot Smoke.
- Similarly, I'm not counting Tri-Borg as being a single character. He's more of a Voltron of existing characters.
Also, I’m ranking these based on style, storyline, and personal preference. Not over who has the better infinite combos and all that jazz. Just be warned: there will be spoilers!
Let’s get it started with the worst of the worst.
It’s one thing to be lame. It’s another to be built up as something exciting, only to be anything but. Reiko was introduced in Mortal Kombat 4 as Shinnok’s general. In actuality, he was just a reworked Noob Saibot given a different design in order to have more original characters in the game. In the arcade and Nintendo 64 versions of the game, his ending would simply show him running into a portal. That was it. How mysterious.
Then in the PlayStation and Dreamcast versions of the game, we got to see the full ending. He went into the portal where he then put on Shao Kahn’s helmet. OH SNAP! Reiko is Shao Kahn?! I mean, it doesn’t make a lick of sense, but that’s still a big deal! Then Midway swept it under the rug and said he wasn’t Kahn. He was just wearing the mask. Um...good for him.
Reiko is like opening the biggest gift at Christmas only to see you got a pair of used socks.
Reiko appears as a major villain in the Mortal Kombat X prequel comic, where they build him up as a threat, only to have him die a humiliating death and show Havik as the true main villain. In the game's story mode, Earthrealm and Outworld start out in decent relations due to the "Reiko Accords." It's probably a treaty based on them coming together in agreement that Reiko is the worst.
The bulky Hsu Hao was created for two reasons: 1) They came up with the Red Dragon organization as a rival to the Black Dragon, and Midway needed Red Dragon to catch up. Just having Mavado wasn’t enough, so they came up with another, lesser member of the group. 2) Since Kano’s laser eye was so cool, they figured it was worth expanding on with other body parts. Hsu Hao was given a laser heart.
In Mortal Kombat X, Kano has the same laser heart. Hao is completely redundant and is ultimately forgettable. Makes sense that they killed him off immediately in the Mortal Kombat X comic.
In a time when Midway was abusing the hell out of their color scheme ninja party, they introduced Chameleon, a male ninja who constantly changed colors and move sets.
Unlike his female ninja counterpart from the Nintendo 64 version, Khameleon, Chameleon didn’t have anything resembling a storyline. This wasn’t until appearing in Armageddon (which he originally wasn’t going to until fans got on Midway’s case), where he got the most generic ending/explanation ever.
Meat was one of the lamer concepts for a hidden character. He was just a bloody skeleton model used as an unlockable player skin. No moves or gestures of his own. Just a costume.
With Armageddon, they gave him some backstory. Meat is an escaped experiment created by Shang Tsung with no sense of identity. So yeah, he’s just a gross, bloody dude.
Rather than use Kano in Mortal Kombat 4, they just grafted his entire move set onto a really ordinary-looking stand-in named Jarek. Jarek was the last remnant of the Black Dragon organization, who, unlike Kano, sided with Earthrealm against invading forces. Other than Kano’s moves, Jarek lacked anything interesting that Kano brought to the table.
He was a major part in the most hilariously bad Mortal Kombat ending, though, but more on that later.
Yet another Mortal Kombat 4 character who was just an example of, “Eh, we need more new characters. Let’s just alter an existing one.” Tanya was different enough from Kitana that that wasn’t a problem, but since then, she’s been a one-dimensional villain whose only quality is betrayal. They never came up with anything interesting for her to do.
Tanya is in Mortal Kombat X as DLC, which sticks out as a sore thumb among two popular guest characters and an obscure name that fans have been wanting to see more of. Seriously, who was excited at all about that part of the announcement?
Tanya does show up in story mode, but still brings nothing interesting to the table.
Chances are your response to this is less, “How dare you rank Dairou so low!” and more, “Wait, who the hell is Dairou again?” This bland-looking mercenary is part of the whole Chaosrealm vs. Orderrealm subplot in Mortal Kombat: Deception that didn’t go anywhere. Dairou came from the realm of Seido, where order rules all, and was a prison guard. He found out a prisoner killed his family and went against the rules by exacting revenge. Since then, he became an outlaw with no regard for what Seido represents.
Not the worst backstory, but nothing was really done with it. He was just a pawn for Darrius (who in actuality killed Dairou’s family and pinned the blame in order to twist him in the right direction), and he looks so unbelievably generic. Give him a mask or spikes or a fannypack or something!
Li Mei was nearly as forgettable as Dairou, only distinguished by her ridiculous outfit of a bandana and underwear. Li Mei was a villager enslaved by Shang Tsung and Quan-Chi who was used as a guinea pig by having her soul shoved into an undead soldier’s husk of a body. That was undone, but it ultimately corrupted her by the next game.
So at least her betrayal was more organic than Tanya’s every waking moment. Still, she’s hard to care about and her cameo in the new game is completely forgettable.
God, I hate Shujinko.
On the surface, the gimmick of an old man who could do the attacks of much of the cast due to years of wanderlust and training is pretty cool. Unfortunately, they explained this through Deception’s Konquest Mode, which proceeded to depict our main hero as one of the most gullible, susceptible dumbasses in video games. No matter what someone told him to do, including villains, he would blindly do it without a second thought.
Not only did he unleash the Dragon King onto the realms through decades of questing without questioning, but then he stepped on Scorpion’s toes. This game touted Scorpion as the new marquee hero character, only to say, “PSYCHE!” and put Shujinko in his spot. No thanks.
Well, that joke didn’t age well. Mokap was included as a hidden character in Deadly Alliance, based on Carlos Pesina, who did the game’s motion capture.
Mokap is the guy responsible for doing the motion capture for the CGI in Johnny Cage’s movies and is constantly wearing the mocap balls on his outfit because of it. He didn’t really work well as a comedy character because the game did little to differentiate any of the characters in terms of personality, so he didn't do anything silly outside of wear his motion capture uniform.
He’s no Dan Hibiki is what I’m saying.
Mokap did have his moments in Deception’s Konquest Mode. Not only does he walk around like a doofus, practically BEGGING you to punch him out, but at another point, if you do punch him, he’ll crouch down and yell, “OW! MY BALLS!”
The female catch-all ninja may not have the variety of her male counterpart Chameleon, but at least they put some semblance of effort into her character. She had a bit of a storyline about being part of Reptile’s endangered race and is the only honest chance at bringing his people back to prosperity.
She’s still forgettable and became little more than a footnote in the franchise.
Ashrah is a character with promise. A demon born in the NetherRealm, her conscience got her in trouble with Quan-Chi and while trying to escape assassins, she came across a heavenly sword that purified her soul based on how many demons she killed. Her whole thing became about ironically earning salvation through outright slaughter.
There was nothing special about her “female Raiden” design or play-style that grabbed anyone, so she faded into the background. With a new coat of paint, she might become worth revisiting in a new run of games, but otherwise...meh.
Fujin has a good foundation. Why should Raiden be the only heroic god fighting for humanity? Fujin is the God of Wind and has a unique enough look along with a crossbow that shoots energy blasts. That’s pretty cool. Too bad they couldn’t come up with anything for him other than Raiden’s sidekick. Mortal Kombat 4 set it up that he’d be taking Raiden’s place, but then Mortal Kombat: Deadly Alliance was all, “Nah.”
Even Rodimus Prime got a better deal than this guy.
As you can see, this is a massive article, so we've broken it up into a few pages...