At the end of the day, Mortal Kombat is about a bunch of characters beating the crap out of each other for supremacy. Sure, they toss in stories about tournaments to protect Earth and wars against invading realms, but it all boils down to martial artists brutally punching the hell out of each other until one explodes into a pile of viscera and five ribcages.
Being a fighting game, you expect all the fighters to be on the same level. Even forgettable losers like Hsu Hao and Kai should stand a chance against gods and otherworldly overlords. A nigh-invincible megalomaniac villain can lose to one of their bumbling underlings just as easily as they can lose to the game’s main hero. At least, that’s ideally how fighting games should be balanced.
Storywise, it’s different. Certain characters are straight-up in their own leagues compared to others. Does Jarek really stand a chance against Shinnok? Would Li Mei last five seconds against Blaze? Does Kobra have what it takes to take down Raiden? Not on paper, no.
So here’s a list of the top 15 most powerful characters in the Mortal Kombat series. With this list, there are two main rules:
1) I’m going with the characters at their most powerful, not how powerful they are most of the time.
2) I’m going with the canon storyline. Otherwise, the list would just be made up of Mortal Kombat: Armageddon endings. No DC Universe crossover stuff and no guest characters in general. Sorry, Spawn.
Now let’s see who has the most juice in all the realms.
This guy is so frightening that his power is more of a curse than a blessing. Geras has near endless experience, having lived through countless timelines over and over again, and is skilled enough to fight off Liu Kang and Kung Lao at the same time. He is also be completely unkillable, as his mastery over time reversal will undo whatever wounds befall him. Granted, Shao Kahn beat him into a blob of red pulp and Geras hasn’t been heard from since, but I’m sure he’ll be back to his old self soon enough.
The rough truth regarding Geras is that being unkillable doesn’t mean he’s unstoppable. In the initial Mortal Kombat 11 timeline, Raiden knocked Geras into an endless ocean of blood in which where Geras was doomed to sink for eternity. Yeah, I’ll be fine over here with my mortality.
In the early days, Sindel didn’t seem so tough. She was just a plot device in desperate need of pants. Then Mortal Kombat 9 happened and we got that scene where Shao Kahn empowered her with Shang Tsung’s soul and set her loose. Suddenly, Sindel turned into an Edenian John Cena and cut through most of the heroes like a hot knife through butter. Sub-Zero, Jax, Smoke, Kabal, Stryker, Jade, and Kitana all died by her hand in mere moments while Nightwolf had to sacrifice himself to take her off the board.
This is why Shang Tsung aimed to resurrect her in Mortal Kombat 11: Aftermath. Who else was going to help him get past Cetrion? And while Sindel did win one-on-one against Cetrion, the scene itself looked more like she stunned Cetrion enough for Fujin and Shang Tsung to capitalize and put her on the shelf. Had they not been there, I feel like Sindel would have eventually been overwhelmed. At least, that’s my interpretation.
Cetrion is Mother Nature. That alone tells you what you need to know. Shinnok’s virtuous (yet still kind of evil) sister would be considered his equal if only she had a final form like him. Regardless, Cetrion is such a threat that Jax and Jacqui Briggs can only stand up to her for a limited time by wearing Kronika’s crown at a detriment to their own health. She also wiped out the rest of the Elder Gods, although that happened completely off-screen.
Here we have Mortal Kombat’s version of Satan. Shao Kahn would later talk shit about Shinnok’s fighting skills, but he’s an Elder God and rules this reality’s version of Hell. He’s an absolute heavy hitter.
He also looks like a total dork when he’s in his base form, but thankfully his Corrupted Shinnok form makes up for that. Corrupted Shinnok is no joke, especially in Mortal Kombat Mythologies: Sub-Zero, where you’re better off cheesing it back to Earthrealm than fighting him head-on.
Raiden was the guy so jacked up that they had to make up a reason for why he couldn’t take part in the first couple games’ tournaments. He was just there to give advice and moral support. What else would you expect from a god among men? He also thwarted Shinnok back in the day to save Earthrealm, meaning he was already a major piece of work by the start of the first game.
Raiden’s apex form is triggered whenever he wields Shinnok’s amulet. It doesn’t make him unbeatable, but it does put an extra pep in his step. The drawback is that it turns his eyes red and he becomes a total dick. Still a step up from him constantly tripping over his own feet on his way to consult the Elder Gods.
10. CASSIE CAGE
Cassie’s is one of the most powerful Mortal Kombat characters but there’s an asterisk. Seemingly more competent and driven than her father, Cassie is so skilled at using her green glow to the point that she was able to defeat Corrupted Shinnok. That’s because the Cage bloodline was bred and trained for the sole purpose of creating mortals who could slay gods. Her DNA is like kryptonite to the likes of Shinnok.
She does have some other impressive wins, like taking down revenant versions of Sindel and Liu Kang. Her Mortal Kombat X ending (which isn’t explicitly canon, but I have no reason to think it isn’t) has her kill Shujinko. Many fans consider that to be a bit on the bullshit side, but this Shujinko would have been 20 years older than the one from the previous continuity and wouldn’t have been powered up by the events of Mortal Kombat: Deception, so it’s not a big stretch (or a big enough deal) that Cassie could take out a martial artist Mr. Burns.
9. QUAN CHI
This sorcerer doesn’t have the raw power of the other main villains, and he gets completely clowned in Mortal Kombat X, but he is smart and sneaky enough to get what he wants most of the time. While overshadowed by Onaga, you also can’t forget that in the conclusion of Mortal Kombat: Deadly Alliance, Quan Chi and Shang Tsung took down a handful of Earthrealm’s strongest warriors, defeated Raiden, then turned on each other with Quan claiming ultimate victory.
Various endings show that while he is working under Shinnok, he has the means to overthrow him if need be. This is especially apparent in Mortal Kombat 9, where Quan Chi has the rights to use necromancy on all of those slain during Shao Kahn’s invasion. He has a whole army of revenants at his disposal, and there are some serious heavy hitters mixed in there.
The Dragon King’s introduction came with so much hype that you could almost hear the other characters soil themselves in unison when he stomped onto the scene. On his own, Onaga was a wrecking machine, but in Mortal Kombat: Deception, he had the Kamidogu pieces, which made him completely unstoppable. Unstoppable enough that he shrugged off attacks from the united forces of Raiden, Shang Tsung, and Quan Chi. Add to that his ability to resurrect the dead and mind-control them and you had the ultimate threat.
EXCEPT…those Kamidogu pieces weren’t exactly unbreakable. I don’t know how hard those things are supposed to be, but in-game they would shatter just by walking into them. Either way, Shujinko was able to shatter them all himself and that depleted Onaga’s power enough to to end him. Being a reptilian juggernaut means only so much when you have such an overt off switch.
The most gullible hero of the Mortal Kombat franchise spent his entire life questing and fighting for what ended up being Onaga’s resurrection. In return, Onaga blessed him with Taskmaster powers. Shujinko can copy fighting styles from other warriors and has been doing so for decades.
That ended up being Onaga’s undoing, as Shujinko absorbed the abilities and fighting skills of just about every playable character in Mortal Kombat: Deception. After shattering the Kamidogu artifacts and removing Onaga’s invulnerability, Shujinko had no problem thrashing him. While experience was his ultimate weapon, the only thing really weighing him down was his aging and human mortality.
Blaze, by design, is a top tier beast. He’s the final boss in Mortal Kombat: Armageddon, a game that brings back every Mortal Kombat character in one massive roster. When guys like Onaga and Goro are playable and they’re working their way up to take on Blaze, it really says something about what this guy’s about. Not to mention he’s the catalyst for ultimate power, turning whoever can slay him into an enhanced, godly version of his or herself.
While it seemed at first that new hero character Taven would be the one to end Blaze, Taven was instead slayed and the real winner was Shao Kahn. Unfortunately, this is where things get a little hairy because we don’t know if Kahn would have truly been able to defeat Blaze one-on-one or if, say, Taven wounded Blaze and Kahn took advantage. Either way, it looks like Blaze straight-up took the L and wasn’t the be-all/end-all after all.
5. SHAO KAHN
Shao Kahn has always been the go-to villain of Mortal Kombat, and as the recurring villain, he’s taken his lumps. He’s suffered defeats at the hands of Liu Kang, Raiden, and Kitana. When he took over Outworld, he killed Onaga by poisoning him because battle was too risky. So yes, Base Shao Kahn may be tougher than most, but he’s not invincible.
But then you have Mortal Kombat: Armageddon, which was Kahn’s real showcase. After dominating the free-for-all, Kahn was grabbed and taken away by Onaga. As foreboding as that would seem for Kahn, he not only bounded back from that, but he also ended up being the last man standing after slaying Blaze. That enhanced Shao Kahn’s strength even more and turned him into a multiversal threat, thwarted only because of Raiden’s desperate use of time travel.
After years of telling us that Elder Gods were the ultimate beings, NetherRealm decided to reveal another tier of beings called Titans who rank even higher. So far we only know Kronika, the Keeper of Time, who is so overpowered that nearly everyone on the roster should have absolutely zero shot against her. She controls time like it’s nothing. Overcoming that isn’t like dodging a fireball.
Thankfully, Kronika has one major weakness: while she can rewrite history, she can’t omit the gods. She can’t create a world without Raiden. Raiden still can’t beat her one-on-one, but it’s through that loophole that Kronika ultimately meets her downfall.
2. LIU KANG (TIE)
The series’ initial protagonist was always fighting above his weight class. He spent the first four games taking down Goro, Shang Tsung, Shao Kahn, and Shinnok. His canon deaths came in the form of an ambush perpetrated by Shang Tsung and Quan Chi, and later an accidental frying from Raiden’s hand. In fact, he spent multiple continuities clashing with Raiden.
That was nothing compared to what he became at the end of Mortal Kombat 11. Two Liu Kangs from different parts of history merged together into one being, with Raiden handing over his godly power, giving us an incarnation of Liu Kang that was not only a god but had control over both electricity and fire. This was the upgrade needed to destroy Kronika and put Liu Kang in control of time itself.
2. SHANG TSUNG (TIE)
As it turned out, Fire God Liu Kang wasn’t equipped to wield Kronika’s magical hourglass for long without her crown, or else time would eventually collapse. Shang Tsung popped in to explain all this, making it clear that he was reality’s only choice. Liu Kang and Fujin realized that they had to give into Shang’s obvious trickery to save everyone.
By the end of his adventure, Shang Tsung had re-killed Kronika and wore her crown while empowered by the souls of Kronika, Raiden, Fujin, Shao Kahn, and Sindel.
Then Fire God Liu Kang popped in to take over. The two rivals faced off and the player was given the choice of which character they wanted to play as. As it is right now, we don’t know who won the epic battle in official canon, so consider Liu Kang and Shang Tsung to be tied until further notice.
1. THE ONE BEING
The most powerful being in Mortal Kombat is not playable in any of the games, nor has it appeared as a boss. In fact, the One Being is presumably too powerful to be portrayed in humanoid form at all. It’s the Galactus of the Mortal Kombat universe, though honestly even more threatening.
The One Being existed at the beginning of time, along with the Elder Gods, and initially fed off of them. The Elder Gods struck back and were able to break the One Being apart into the various realms. If the realms were to be merged back together, it would awaken the One Being once more and destroy all of existence. Despite their desire to be top dog, guys like Shao Kahn, Onaga, Shinnok, and Shang Tsung are unknowingly being influenced by this ominous force.