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The cost will be high. The sacrifices, unthinkable. Many will fall. Our tale must be retold."
—Intro movie, told by Raiden.
Mortal Kombat is the eighth canonical installment of the Mortal Kombat Fighting Game series; it was released in 2011 for the PlayStation 3 and Xbox 360, and a port for the Play Station Vita was released in 2012. An Updated Rerelease known as Mortal Kombat: Komplete Edition was released in 2012 (PS3 and XBox) and then in 2013 (PC)
The game's story begins at the end of Mortal Kombat Armageddon: Shao Kahn -- who now rules over all realms -- prepares to kill Raiden, the last remaining survivor of the apocalyptic battle. Before Kahn's finishing strike occurs, Raiden manages to send a cryptic message -- "He must win" -- to his past self, who now finds himself responsibile for preventing Shao Kahn's ultimate victory.
The game's playable characters include:
- From Mortal Kombat: Johnny Cage, Kano, Liu Kang, Raiden, Reptile, Scorpion, Shang Tsung, Sonya Blade, Sub-Zero
- From Mortal Kombat 2: Baraka, Jade, Jax, Kitana, Kung Lao, Mileena, Noob Saibot (Bi-Han, the elder Sub-Zero), Smoke, Sub-Zero (Kuai Liang, the younger brother)
- From Mortal Kombat 3: Cyrax, Ermac, Kabal, Nightwolf, Rain (DLC), Sektor, Sheeva, Sindel, Stryker
- From Mortal Kombat Mythologies Sub Zero: Quan Chi
- From Mortal Kombat Deadly Alliance: Kenshi (DLC)
- Introduced in this game: Cyber Sub-Zero, Skarlet (DLC)
- Guest fighters: Kratos (PS3/PSV exclusive), Freddy Krueger (DLC)
These characters are unplayable bosses:
- From Mortal Kombat: Goro (Mid Boss)
- From Mortal Kombat 2: Kintaro (Mid Boss), Shao Kahn (Final Boss)
Mortal Kombat retells the events of the first three games of the franchise, but thanks to Raiden's timeline alterations, events occur much differently than before. The game also serves as a return to the series' roots (as it's a 2.5D fighter) while including numerous modern-day touches; new gameplay mechanics include the chance to use enhanced versions of special moves, Combo Breakers, and a highly-damaging X-Ray move (which briefly shows the target's skeleton and other innards during impact). On top of that, the ludicrously bloody Fatalities (and Stage Fatalities) make their return -- and they're all gorier than ever before.
Mortal Kombat also includes a tag-team mode, a Challenge Tower (where players must complete certain tasks in order to advance), and an online King of the Hill Mode akin to Super Street Fighter IV's Endless Battle mode.
The game received a positive critical reception; many reviews heralded the game as a return to form for the franchise and praised both the overwhelming amount of single player content -- specifically, the extensive Story Mode -- and the improved gameplay mechanics. The reception to the story itself amongst the MK fanbase, however, remains mixed.
It's followed by Mortal Kombat X, released in 2015.
Mortal Kombat offers examples of the following tropes:
- Affably Evil: Quan Chi and arguably Shang Tsung.
- Barbie Doll Anatomy: In spite of all the detail put into the characters' models, X-Ray moves take this approach to the pelvic region.
- Beat Still My Heart: The fatalities of several characters involve punching into the opponent and ripping out their heart.
- Bittersweet Ending: Raiden finally kills Shao Kahn, but in the end has lost Liu Kang, and nearly ever other ally.
- Bloodier and Gorier: The goriest and bloodiest game in the series so far. And that's saying something.
- Bonus Boss: Yep, they're back after a looong hiatus. They even have similar requirements for facing them.
- Klassic Reptile: Practically the same as MK 1. Be on The Pit, get a Double Flawless and perform a Fatality. Oh, and a shadow has to fly by the moon.
- Klassic Smoke: If you see him poking his head out from behind a tree in the Living Forest, hit Down and Select/Back Button.
- Klassic Noob Saibot: Win a match without blocking in the Temple stage if you see Noob in the background.
- Klassic Jade: Get to Shang Tsung without losing a single round and beat him with a double flawless and kill him with a Fatality.
- Call Back: Several throughout the game; several missions in the Challenge Tower are essentially a repeat of the plot of Shaolin Monks. Additionally, MK/MK2 versions of Jade, Reptile, Noob Saibot, and Smoke can all be encountered as secret battles during arcade mode. Reptile was a secret encounter in the original, while the other three were secret encounters in the second game. The downloadable klassic skins also count especially Scorpion's, Reptile's and Sub-Zero's coming complete with klassic fatalities.
- The Cameo: Many characters from the series' entire (former) timeline can be spotted in the background of several stages.
- Rain can be seen looking over Meat in The Cathedral. He's not present in the background when he's one of the fighters.
- Rain and Reiko's statues can be spotted in Shang Tsung's Gardens.
- Sareena, Reiko, Kenshi, Frost, or Daegon can be seen fighting in the background of The Pit.
- Tanya, Li Mei, Kira or Skarlet (and sometimes Kitana too, if she's not fighting) can be seen chained in Shao Kahn's arena, like Sonya and Kano were in Mortal Kombat 2.
- Camera Abuse: Several characters' victory poses have them attack the camera. Some fatalities too.
- Canon Shadow: All of the DLC characters have their own Arcade Ladder endings, but aren't actually involved in the story. A few of them cameo at best (see below).
- Combat Stilettos: All of the ladies, barring Sheeva, who goes for Foot Focus instead.
- Combo Breaker: You have to burn two bars from your Super bar to use it, though.
- The Computer Is a Cheating Bastard: Being Mortal Kombat, the series behind the Perfect Play AIs, it's expected, although at least it's not to the extent of some of the older games.
- SNK Boss: The three bosses (Goro, Kintaro, and Shao Kahn). If you see them flash when you hit them, they suffer no stun or interruption in their actions. There's no way to predict if your hit will count, short of an X-Ray attack that isn't blocked.
- Convection, Schmonvection: The hell stage has lava which has no effect on the fighters until someone performs its stage fatality.
- Creator Cameo:
- The Subway is called Boon-Beran station. Ed Boon and Steve Beran are two of Netherrealm Studios' members, also former Midway Games' developers.
- Dan "Toasty" Forden is back! Complete with a shirt with a slice of buttered toast on it.
- Netherrealm Studios's logo is spotted in the Subway and Rooftop stages.
- The Dev Team Thinks of Everything: Just look at this forum thread for a list.
- Downloadable Content: In the form of extra characters, fatalities, and costumes.
- Fan Disservice: The game certainly is Hotter and Sexier, but usually by the end of a match your character will be covered in their opponent's blood, along with any horrific injuries they may have picked up during the fight.
- Funny Background Event: The billboard for Johnny Cage's Ninja Mime in the city stages ("He's silent, but deadly.").
- The cameos fighting on The Pit and Shang Tsung's Garden.
- The newspapers that fly when a train passes by in the Subway are a Funny Foreground Event: if you pause the game at the right time, you can see the headline is about Shao Kahn's invasion, and it reads "WE ARE SCREWED".
- Gorn: It is Mortal Kombat after all.
- There's even an achievement that says "It's Not Mortal Kombat Without Blood!" (which is actually the Recursive Translation of the Brazilian Portuguese name to the "There Will Be Blood!" achievement)
- Getting Crap Past the Radar: Averted with on Kitana's battle-damaged models. The concept art showed, among the usual lacerations and bruises, a bloody handprint on her rear. Apparently, that was too much, as said handprint doesn't appear in-game.
- Grievous Harm with a Body: Several fatalities feature this.
- Groin Attack: Not just Johnny Cage this time. Striking the groin is also a part of some characters' X-Ray moves (like Sindel's and Jade's). Sonya also kicks the opponent between the legs as part of her throw.
- Half the Man He Used To Be: Various fatalities, again.
- High-Pressure Blood: In glorious Mortal Kombat tradition. To drive the point home, there is actually an achievement/trophy for spilling 10,000 pints of blood. You will earn it quickly.
- Hotter and Sexier: On one hand, more boobage and less clothing was the order of the day for all the female characters. On the other, many male characters also lose part of their clothing and are notoriously hunkier.
- How Much More Can He Take?: Since the character models have been designed with painstaking detail to show the damage inflicted on their bodies, both external and internal, expect to see a lot of fighters look like they've packed up for a trip to the morgue before the end of the first round. Particularly nasty are the characters who lose an eyelid when busted up. Yes, their eye is just barely hanging there completely exposed.
- Idle Animation: In contrast to the older games, the fighters will now do something when standing still long enough, usually stretching a body part to keep from stiffening up, such as Scorpion punching the air with both arms, Ermac who will move his arms back and forth and rotate his wrists, or interestingly, Skarlet who will do a sexy hip swing if she stands still too long.
- Interface Screw: The Play Station Vita port will include a mode where blood will obscure the player's view unless they wipe it off via touchscreen.
- Jump Scare: There are screamers in the Krypt menu.
- Leg Cling: When Shao Kahn wins a match, one of his slave girls crawls up and clings to his leg.
- Luck-Based Mission: The aptly-titled "Test Your Luck" minigame: slot machine reels determine what rules are added to the match, from silly stuff like rainbow blood and zombie mode to major changes like armless combat, magnetic floors, disabled super meters, and so on.
- Made of Iron/Made of Plasticine: In gameplay, the combatants can fight unhindered even with shattered skulls, broken ribs, or (in extreme cases) after having major organs frozen and shattered while they're still inside of them. Once you hear the good old "Finish Him!" command, though, all it takes is one good punch to knock their head clean off. Of course, they're already beaten to the point of shattering to bits by then.
- Only a Flesh Wound: The X-Ray attacks make surviving a battle in this game more unfathomable than in any other game in the Mortal Kombat franchise. Characters getting broken spines, eyes stabbed out or destroyed internal organs are a slap on the wrist.
- The most notable one probably being Baraka's X-Ray, in which he impales his opponent through the neck and spine with his arm-blade, and then again through the eye and straight through the skull and brain, before simply kicking them off his blade. Assuming they have health left, they'll get up as if nothing particularly injurious happened. Freddy Krueger's is also certainly fatal, but slightly less obvious, as his first attack during it jams his blades in-between his opponent's ribs and impales their internal organs; his second attack, which would typically be unnecessary at that point, is literally nothing more than a slap to the face with his right glove, but does identical damage.
- Nostalgia Level: Many of the game's arenas. Two of them, The Pit and Shang Tsung's Garden, even shows various post-MK3 fighters duking it out in the background, much more dynamically than Blaze and "Hornbuckle" did in MK2.
- Overdrawn At the Blood Bank
- Rubber Band AI: Opponents in both Ladder and Story will ease up on repeated tries, even bosses. If you can't beat Shao Kahn on Medium, he'll eventually reduce himself to doing a lot of taunts around the 4th attempt.
- Secret AI Moves: Shang Tsung can morph into everyone in the game, but not in the player's hands. The closest thing would be when Tsung morphs into his opponent upon hitting them with Soul Steal.
- Also, when you fight him in the Arcade Ladder, he can morph into two other characters at random, in addition to your own. This is because the game's engine does not support more than four different fighters for each battle.
- Shout-Out: Check the page.
- Shows Damage
- Stripperiffic: All of the female characters in this game wear outfits that are so sheer that you can't help but wonder how their boobs don't fall out. At one point in the campaign Mileena (when she's introduced in the story) fights wearing nothing but bandages that barely cover her crotch and her nipples. She also fights wearing them in the final Tower Challenge and, if you beat this challenge, you can use this outfit with her.
- Teleport Spam: Many of the faster-teleporting characters can do this, but Smoke is the most popular example. This is also the recommended method to beating the bosses.
- Victory Pose: All characters have three different types, depending on the context. Between rounds, after a victory, they'll either do something short and sweet (like Jax kissing his biceps, Cyrax adjusting a bomb in his chest, and so on) or, if they're too close to the fallen opponent, they'll perform a show-off action that puts them back at a fair distance from the recovering opponent (the cyborgs like to hover on jets from their hands back to a safe distance, Baraka does a Sword Drag, Smoke smokes away, and so on). In non-Story Mode battles, finishing off an opponent without using a Fatality has them do some other unique pose or action.
- Video Game Remake: The game was approached in this fashion with regards to Mortal Kombat Trilogy, since it reunites everybody from the first three games, except Motaro, who is relegated to a cameo appearance.
- Vomit Indiscretion Shot: Noob Saibot's X-Ray move finishes with a side kick to the victim's stomach, rewarding him with a gush of olive-drab spew. Even if the victim is wearing a mask. Or is a robot. Or Reptile.
- When Trees Attack: The Living Forest returns, and yes, there is a Fatality where you feed your defeated opponent to the trees.
- World of Buxom: See "Hotter and Sexier" above.
- Adaptation Distillation: The story mode is basically the plot of the first three games condensed into one, while cutting the fat away. While there are changes (some quite major) because of the Timey-Wimey Ball, most of the stuff that happened in the old games still happens in this one.
- Adaptation Expansion: Some characters get the most character development they've ever had in this game. The Lin Kuei who are not Sub-Zero in particular (Smoke, Cyrax, and Sektor) get a lot of development that fleshes out their characters much more than the barely-there story they had before.
- All Myths Are True: Or, at least, some of them. Nightwolf, one of the few spiritually aware denizens of Earthrealm, identifies Raiden as Haokah, the spirit of thunder and lightning in Lakota mythology. He explicitly calls him such a few times during the course of the story, and Raiden responds to him without hesitation.
- Anyone Can Die: If a sequel is made, it'll be an achievement to fill up the character select screen.
- Arc Words: "He must win."
- Back-to-Back Badasses: Liu Kang and Kung Lao when taking down Sheeva and Noob in Story Mode.
- Badass Creed: The Lin Kuei gets one. Becomes ironic when you consider their status as technicolor McNinjas.
Sub-Zero: Be stealthful as the night...
- This possibly also serves as a dialogue-related version of a Dark Reprise; Smoke and Sub-Zero, who are shown reciting the creed, are human. Later, Sektor gives the modified version after becoming a cyborg.
- Big Screwed-Up Family: As badass as they may be, we see some serious family issues between Younger Sub-Zero and Noob Saibot and Kitana and Sindel. Both involve extensive amounts of puppy-kicking from Person B, and the latter example actually culminates with the death of Person A.
- Bittersweet Ending: Yay! Armageddon was prevented! The Big Bad is dead! Yet, most of the main cast in the good guys' side were killed in the process, several of them meaninglessly and senselessly. Liu Kang, practically The Messiah, dies cursing Raiden's name, completely disillusioned. And not long after the Big Bad's defeat, Shinnok's forces are poised to strike both Earthrealm and Outworld, armed with the enslaved souls of the dead good guys and probably other demons and people, while Earthrealm's forces are only composed of three able but battered warriors (Raiden, Johnny and Sonya, who in X are joined by Kenshi).
- Bloodless Carnage: During most of the Story Mode, despite still suffering the horrifying effects of the various X-Ray attacks, none of the fighters show any physical damage during the fights. Fatalities are also a no-no, though the reasons for this should be obvious; Shang Tsung does call out the trademark "FINISH HIM!!" in a few cinematics (when Johnny Cage defeats Baraka and when Cyrax beats Johnny), however no one complies.
- Book Ends: Subverted. The intro cutscene and the cutscene right before the final boss show Shao Kahn tossing Raiden around in the same fashion and with the same dialogue. Said cutscene even flashes back to the intro cutscene at certain points. The subversion comes when Shao Kahn is ready to strike the final blow. The Elder Gods stop their lazy attitude and empower Raiden in order to allow him to finish Shao Kahn. Once he's done with that, the cracks in his amulet heals, thus saving the world from the Armageddon.
- The MK3 arc itself also applies somewhat; it ends on a rooftop in a devastated city--the same rooftop where, in the beginning of the arc, Stryker and his partner Kabal were helping fight off the Outworld invasion earlier in the day.
- Call Back: The one-on-two tag battles in Story mode can be seen as a throwback to the endurance matches from the original game.
- Call Forward: Mixed in with a Mythology Gag. When Kung Lao faces Shang Tsung and Quan-Chi in a two-on-one match in his story mode chapter, Quan Chi remarks that Kung Lao won't be able to stop "this Deadly Alliance".
- The Cameo:
- Bo' Rai Cho is mentioned a few times in the story and in several endings.
- Bo' Rai Cho, Kenshi, Li Mei, and Hotaru can be spotted in the opening sequence.
- Onaga and Taven appear in the intro cutscene during Raiden's first flashbacks.
- Skarlet and what appears to be Khameleon (in her original Mortal Kombat Trilogy attire) can be spotted among the lineup of fighters in both tournaments during Story Mode.
- If you look closely while Sub-Zero is conversing with Sonya in his chapter, you can see that the person he froze in a block of ice is none other than Kratos himself (at least in the PS3 version; the block is empty for 360 players).
- Kenshi and Reiko are called to fight at the end of Sub-Zero's chapter.
- Motaro is not playable, but appears in a handful of cutscenes throughout the story, such as the beginning of Stryker's chapter where he is killed.
- Shinnok appears briefly at the end of the story.
- Creator Cameo: Ed Boon, Steve Beran, and John Vogel are mentioned in Cyber Sub-Zero's chapter, when he's trying to get information from Sektor, and we see a map with the Subway station, (Boon-Beran) and an university called Vogel.
- Cue the Sun: After Shao Kahn is destroyed for not adhering to the rules of Mortal Kombat. It really drives home the Bittersweet Ending.
- Cutscene Power to the Max: Happens with Sindel's mass slaughter of the heroes at the end of Chapter 15.
- Also, Kabal is permanently scarred and needs a respirator mask after getting hit with Kintaro's fire breath, which usually just takes off a chunk of your life meter.
- Deadpan Snarker: Most of the heroes get their turn to snark at the situation, their enemies and even each other with Johnny Cage being the main instigator/target for it.
- Deal with the Devil: Raiden tries to make one with Quan Chi to help turn the tide against Shao Kahn after Sindel's massacre; the souls of all those killed in the battle for Netherrealm's aid. Unfortunately, Kahn had already sold all the souls to Quan Chi.
- Despair Event Horizon: Crossing this is what leads Liu Kang to rebel towards Raiden at the very end. And to his own death.
- Deus Exit Machina: The battle against Sindel might have gone a bit more smoothly had not Raiden and Liu Kang conveniently been away at that moment.
- Demoted to Extra: Motaro is the only character from Mortal Kombat 3 who is not a fighter in this game. He is killed by Raiden in a cut-scene and later appears as a dead body.
- Diabolus Ex Machina: Near the end of the Mortal Kombat 3 retelling, things are looking bad for Earthrealm, but on the whole the new timeline isn't much worse than the original one, save for the death of Kung Lao. And immediately after the heroes defeated the Cyber Lin Kuei and after Nightwolf saved the souls of Earthrealm by destroying the Soulnado Quan Chi created, Sindel, empowered by the soul of Shang Tsung, decides to pay the heroes a visit.
- Downer Beginning: Remember the intro cinematic to Armageddon, with the battle royale between the Forces of Light and the Forces of Darkness? We're treated to an eerily silent battlefield here, with corpses of all the kombatants of either side littering the Edenian southlands around Argus' pyramid. The only two fighters let alive at the time are Raiden and Shao Kahn, the latter of whom has the upper hand by a substantial margin.
- For Want of a Nail: Two major examples:
- In the original timeline, when the Lin Kuei set about turning their assassins into cyborgs, Sub-Zero escaped while Smoke was forced to become a cyborg. In this new timeline, Raiden saves Smoke from being captured, only for Sub-Zero to be roboticized in his place. It also has the unfortunate side effect of the Lin Kuei pledging loyalty to Kahn in exchange for allowing them to take Sub-Zero.
- In the original timeline, Motaro served as one of Shao Kahn's best soldiers and leader of the extermination squads that overran Earth during his invasion. In the new timeline, Raiden kills Motaro, preventing Johnny Cage's original death. This has the side effect of Shao Kahn deciding to sacrifice Shang Tsung to empower Sindel, who then slaughters her way through the majority of the heroes.
- Freeze-Frame Bonus: Cameos aside, meticulous examination of scenes reveals a few noteworthy tidbits about some of the characters.
- This trope also reveals the individual fates of some characters the aftermath of the Battle of Armageddon. Most of the deaths seen in Armageddon's intro did indeed happen. Additionally, a long chain of deaths involves Noob Saibot being killed by Scorpion who was killed by Sub-Zero who was killed by Baraka who was killed by Kung Lao who was killed by Shinnok's clone.
- Gameplay and Story Segregation: As mentioned elsewhere, the broken bones and destroyed organs detailed in various X-Ray moves don't seem to impair anyone at all. This is particularly interesting in that there's not even a Fade to Black or Wipe between rounds; the defeated kombatant just gets right back up, the life bars refill, and we're back at it.
- To a lesser extent, Kenshi lost his invulnerability to Sonya's Kiss of Death move which he had in Deadly Alliance onwards. Likewise, he's affected by Stryker's X-Ray, which can only be handwaved by assuming the flashlight is physically burning him by being a very high wattage bulb.
- Godzilla Threshold: Essentially the crux of Raiden's plan at the end of the game; letting the Big Bad win finally caused the Elder Gods to get off their asses and help.
- Raiden's killing of Motaro served as this for Shao Kahn. Up until that point, things had been progressing mostly the same, barring Sub-Zero becoming a cyborg instead of Smoke, and Kung Lao's death. Once Motaro's body is brought in front of him, Kahn decides to sacrifice Shang Tsung to empower Sindel, giving her enough power to murder most of the heroes.
- Good Costume Switch: Kitana and Jade wear their default outfits when they fight for Outworld, but after they defect to the heroes' side, they start wearing their alternate outfits.
- It Got Worse: The storyline in a nutshell.
- La Résistance: Raiden, Johnny Cage, Sonya, Liu Kang, Sub-Zero, Jax, Stryker, Nightwolf, Kabal, Kitana and Jade. All but the first three are slain.
- Lazy Artist: While all of the character models here are new, the intro depicts the (very bloody) aftermath of Mortal Kombat Armageddon (as well as a hyper-accelerated flashback of several key events leading up to MKA). Most of the characters shown are in their new outfits, instead of wearing their actual attire from those games.
- Let's You and Him Fight: The entire story, thanks to Shinnok and Quan Chi's machinations. With most of Earthrealm and Outworld's warriors dead, the Netherrealm is now in perfect position to conquer both.
- Mauve Shirt: Nearly every hero is turned into this by endgame.
- Mutual Kill: The aftermath of Nightwolf vs. Sindel.
- Never Say "Die": Story Mode removes Fatalities and visible character injuries. Also, no characters die unless the plot requires it.
- Nice Job Breaking It, Hero: The new game's story mode covers the events of the first three Mortal Kombat games, but changed slightly due to Raiden receiving incomplete visions of the future. Almost everything he does as a reaction to those visions only seems to make things worse.
- Also, Nightwolf in Freddy's Arcade Ladder ending. All Nightwolf accomplished was returning Freddy to the place where he was always the biggest threat, the Dream Realm.
- No Campaign for the Wicked: Averted, Scorpion does have a chapter in Story Mode, though he is more a neutral. Cyrax also receives his own chapter, and begins to gravitate towards Raiden's side, only to be captured offscreen and roboticized.
- Poor Communication Kills: Does it ever. Future!Raiden clarifying "he (who) must win" might have made a world of difference.
- Red Herring Shirt: Johnny Cage and Reptile live. If you know anything about these two in the original timeline, this is a huge development.
- Reset Button: This game is a Broad Strokes approach to the original trilogy; since Raiden has knowledge of the future, some things are going to change.
- Retcon: The whole idea of retelling the events of the first three games while MK1!Raiden tries to revert or fix every mistake made until now. It also serves to finally establish several retcons and ret canons as canon stuff.
- Continuity Reboot: Very ingeniously subverted. At the end of Armageddon, during his final moments at the hands of Shao Kahn, Raiden manages to perform one last act of godhood: he sends messages to his past self during the events of the first three games, in an attempt to avoid the horrifying future he's currently in. This results in Past!Raiden changing events to avoid Armageddon, hence how the game happens in the timeline of the classic games but is still a proper sequel and does not discard the story of the previous ones.
- Alternate Continuity: The original universe still exists, and most of the basic backstories are still intact, but it's now the Bad Future of this game, akin to The Age of Apocalypse or how they rebooted Star Trek.
- Ripple Effect Indicator: Raiden's medallion.
- Sacrificial Lion: Several of the heroes play a large part of the overall story, only to be Killed Off for Real near the end to show how truly catastrophic the changes to the timeline has become.
- Sequel Hook: Shinnok is next.
- Even though the Arcade Ladder endings clash with Story Mode's ending, Jade's ending looks like another very possible hook.
- Same goes for Raiden's ending. The events detailed in that ending closely follows what happened in Story Mode, and two of the four figures shown being empowered by Raiden's soul heavily resemble Johnny and Sonya, the only two remaining Earthrealm heroes besides Raiden himself.
- Set Right What Once Went Wrong: Raiden at the time of Armageddon sent a message to himself as of the original Mortal Kombat, attempting to avert Shao Kahn's victory.
- Shoot the Shaggy Dog: Every other game in the franchise (barring Mortal Kombat Mythologies Sub Zero and, possibly, Mortal Kombat Special Forces, for being prequels to the first game) compose the Shaggy Dog Story shot in the head by this game.
- Shout-Out: Check the page.
- Taking You with Me: Nightwolf makes a last stand against Sindel. This kills them both.
- The Bad Guy Wins: Played with. Toward the end of the game, Raiden realizes that the message his future self sent is referring to Shao Kahn. He lets Kahn merge Earthrealm with Outworld, only for the Elder Gods to punish Kahn, since he broke the rules of Mortal Kombat. And THEN the actual "Bad Guy", Shinnok reappears, and it turns out he sort-of won. (At least until X changes things)
- Title Drop: Liu Kang delivers one during his pre-fight speech to Shang Tsung prior to their battle from the first tournament. The trope's Justified Trope, since the story retells events from the first three games, which featured a Mortal Kombat tournament and an attempt to merge Outworld and Earthrealm together whilst ignoring the rules of Mortal Kombat.
Liu Kang: Face me in Mortal Kombat.
- Other drops happen during the course of the story, which goes without saying.
- Took a Level In Badass: A number of lesser characters on both sides managed to take a level in this game -- which also means some of the more imposing villains suffer from The Worf Effect on occasion.
- Sindel took a level in mass murder.
- Stryker, Kabal, Smoke, and Cyber Sub-Zero (once he regains his free will) serve as more traditional examples.
- Nightwolf became one of the game's bigger badasses: he manages to land the role of Raiden's deputy, and when The God of Thunder's not around to directly lead the Earthrealm warriors, he leads the group into battle.
- Ermac originally existed as an Ascended Glitch whose telekinesis served as his only claim to fame; in the original timeline, Kenshi helped him undergo a Heel Face Turn around the time of Deadly Alliance/Deception, where he began to play cleanup and started to shine. In this game, Ermac serves as a formidable enforcer of Shao Kahn, and he proves he should not be taken lightly. Just ask Jax.
- Tournament Play: This game is the first game of the series being deemed Tournament-worthy by EVO standards.
- Trying to Catch Me Fighting Dirty: In both the MK and Outworld tournaments, Shang Tsung (the tournament Grandmaster) often forces one of the Earthrealm combatants to fight two combatants from Outworld, either in succession or simultaneously. Oddly, nobody from Earthrealm questions the fairness of this move.
- Wham! Episode: Near the end, Sindel singlehandedly kills almost all of the heroes.
- The game's a reboot of the original plot, so it's going to stick to that original plot, right? They won't do anything too major, right? They especially won't drastically change one of the most popular characters in the entire series...right? Yeah, uh...Cyber Sub-Zero says "hi there".
- What Happened to the Mouse?: Most of the villains apparently make it out unharmed:
- Mileena gets shocked by Raiden, but it's not that big.
- Reptile and Baraka are beaten but spared.
- Goro, Kintaro, and Sheeva are just knocked out.
- Kano is last seen frozen by Cyber Sub-Zero, but not shattered. He just disappears from the scenes, although apparently he did warn Quan Chi of Cyber Sub-Zero.
- Cyrax and Sektor may or may not be dead.
- Also, Raiden mentions that he sent Liu Kang and Kung Lao to rescue their Shaolin Masters near the beginning of the MK2 part of the story. It's never mentioned if they succeeded or not.
- Well the fact that most of these characters don't seem to be dead could be very important considering they may be needed to fight Shinnok in the next game. Things turn out to be... different: Mileena survived until halfway the X story, Baraka died prior to X itself, Cyrax dies in the X pre-story comics, etc.
- The Worf Effect:
- In Smoke's chapter of Story Mode, he faces off Kitana and Sektor and triumphs without much difficulty. When they meet again (Kitana and Nightwolf's chapters, respectively), Kitana beats him alongside Cage, and Sektor treats Smoke like a ragdoll, with Smoke being unable to successfully land a blow before Sektor gets him into a chokehold and Nightwolf has to intervene.
- If the Story Mode is any indication, Sub-Zero punked Kratos (PlayStation 3 version only) off-screen and put him on ice.
- It's a Running Gag that Sub-Zero is by far the strongest character when he's offscreen, having previously done the same thing to Superman.
- Sindel, empowered by Shang Tsung's soul/essence, attacks the heroes after the automated Lin Kuei warriors fail to kill them. The battle quickly escalates into a No-Holds-Barred Beatdown like no other; Nightwolf, Kitana, Sonya, and Cage are the only immediate survivors -- and of those survivors, one later dies of their wounds, and another pulls a Heroic Sacrifice to stop Sindel.
- Your Soul Is Mine: Late in the game, Quan Chi begins creating a "soulnado", a green vortex designed to suck out the souls of every living person in Earthrealm. It ends up being destroyed thanks to sucking up a Humanoid Abomination.
- Kuai Liang