Fighting games are known for having oddball characters. Since the days of the arcades, game developers have created some of the most colorful casts in video gaming history. This includes the iconic roster in Street Fighter and the cast of characters found in the Mortal Kombat series. A lot of the characters and settings of the Mortal Kombat games are based on 80s pop culture and classic martial arts movies. For example, the character Johnny Cage is based on 80s action icon Jean-Claude Van Damme, and Raiden is based on the villains in Big Trouble in Little China.
Because of the series’ influence, a lot of the story comes across as being a B-movie. That’s not to say it is inherently bad, it is just that there is some campiness within the narrative of the plot. It is through the campiness that the characters are able to shine through, with most cast members having their own unique charm.
Of course, being a likable character doesn’t really matter in the world of a fighting game. What matters most is how powerful that character is, and Mortal Kombat has a lot of powerful characters. While in the right gamers’ hands, any playable character can be good. However, within the context of the story, there are clearly some characters that are more powerful than another. For instance, Raiden, who’s the god of thunder, is very evidently more powerful than a character like Sonya Blade. That is why I’ll be counting down the Mortal Kombat Characters From Weakest To Most Powerful. Since the franchise has a roster of over 70 characters, I’ll just be focusing on the Mortal Kombat X roster.
30 Jacqui Briggs
Jacqui Briggs, daughter of veteran Jax, is probably the least interest and most bland new character introduced in Mortal Kombat X. She is a fun character to play as and her voice acting is pretty good, but her design is simple and she doesn’t have a memorable personality. In terms of her powers, her main gimmick is that she has special gauntlets that allow her to do a variety of techniques. Since she is a human without any supernatural abilities or any cybernetic prosthetic enhancement, she is debatably the weakest member of the cast.
One of the original seven characters introduced in the first Mortal Kombat game, Kano hasn’t really changed that much since his first introduction. The leader of the Black Dragon clan, Kano has had cybernetic enhancements. He has one red eye that allows him to shoot lasers. Despite him being more powerful than an average human, Kano’s move set is pretty simple. All he has going for himself is that he can rip hearts out of people. He is constantly bested by his rival, Sonya Blade, who is just a normal human.
28 Kung Jin
Characters with projectiles are always lame in fighting games. They can literally shoot you from across the screen, and you wouldn’t be able to do anything about it. Kung Jin is the prime example of an annoying character with projectiles. Jin as a character deserves a lot of respect for being the first openly gay character in the franchise, yet his bow and arrow fighting style makes him a really cheap character. There is nothing special about him besides his bow, and he comes off as one of the plainest characters in Mortal Kombat X.
27 Sonya Blade
Sonya always stuck out as being one of the most normal among the cast. Even when compared to the other normal guys like Liu Kang and Johnny Cage, she wasn’t anything special besides being the token woman. Admittedly she works really well as a character, as she remains the straight-woman through all the chaos. Even when she battles with and against gods, demons, and everything in between, she continues to be one of the most grounded characters in the franchise. It doesn’t make her the most powerful; however, it does make her important.
Tanya is a fighter from the realm of Edenia, the home realm of Kitana. She is treacherous and arrogant, she is known for betraying her comrades for her own self-interest. The Edenians may look like humans, nonetheless, they are exceptionally stronger than the average person. They also live a lot longer than humans, possibly centuries longer. Tanya has never been showcased as one of the most powerful fighters in the cast. Despite that, she is certainly more naturally stronger than some of the human fighters within the Mortal Kombat series.
Reptile was first introduced as a secret fighter in the first Mortal Kombat. He was the first hidden character in all of gaming, so Reptile deserves some recognition for holding that distinguish. Reptile was initially the green ninja; he is quickly overshadowed by Scorpion and Sub-Zero. He remains a minor character within the games’ stories. He is often or not a henchman for the main antagonists, and he rarely shows more competence than being a filler bad guy. There was a time his body was transformed into Onaga, a super powerful being. Unfortunately, that has been ignored in the recent games.
If this was list based on characters that are physically the strongest, then Ferra and Torr would be on the top of the list. Ferra and Torr are based on Master Blaster from Mad Max: Beyond Thunderdome, and were first introduced in Mortal Kombat X. They are two beings who make up one fighter, with Ferra riding on top of Torr, who does all the heavy lifting. They do cause a lot of damage when they hit opponents, however, they are so slow. Any other fighter can easily outmaneuver them.
23 Bo' Rai Cho
He may come across as an overweight fool, but Bo’ Rai Cho is actually a martial arts master. He originated from Outward, and was the teacher of Liu Kang, the Mortal Kombat champion. He specializes in the D Fist, meaning he acts like he is inebriated while fighting his opponent. Actually, he may not be acting like this. A lot of his moves require him to drink things, so he’s probably out of it at the end of every match. He may be a martial arts master, but a lot of the fighters in the roster come across way more threatening.
Baraka is one of the most iconic fighters in the entire franchise, which is why it is so strange that he is exterminated by D'Vorah in Mortal Kombat X. Baraka never moved beyond being a henchman within the series, and he was never a credible threat for the heroes. Despite that, his blades that come from his arms are one of the coolest images for any character. He was definitely one of the more intimidating looking villains in the games. Too bad he often loses his fights within the story of the games, including his defeat with D’Vorah.
Mileena is another iconic character from the franchise that was weirdly disposed of in Mortal Kombat X. A clone of the princess Kitana, Mileena’s appearance is almost one hundred percent exactly like her “sister,” except Mileena has a monstrous mouth. She is also more psychopathic than her “sister.” She is well known for her deceiving appearance, as she looks pretty, yet has a frightening face. She was always a popular character among players; however, she has rarely been shown to be a particularly powerful adversary within the context of the story.
Tremor is the mysterious bronze ninja that was first introduced Mortal Kombat: Special Forces, one of the worst games ever. Despite first appearing in a bad game, the mystique of the character had intrigued fans for years. He was added in as a playable character in Mortal Kombat X as a DLC. All his moves are based on the Earth Element. He is capable of moving and controlling the ground. He is pretty slow like Torr/Ferra, though he has better reach than them. The mystique of the character makes him appear more competent.
19 Erron Black
If this was list base on who are the coolest characters within the franchise, than Erron Black may have been on the top of that list. A mercenary from Earth, Erron Black works for Outward. Clad in attire as seen in old westerns, Black is the cowboy character we all wanted in the franchise. He uses guns to shoot his opponents, and he literally has a bullet with his opponent’s name on it. He is such a cool character. Too bad he doesn’t do much within the story of Mortal Kombat, other than be an enforcer for Kotal Kahn.
Jax original looked like a generic dude in Mortal Kombat II. Then he got robot arms in Mortal Kombat 3, and he became ten times cooler. Though Jax’s super awesome robot arms give him strength exceeding that of a normal human being, he is still ultimately a mostly normal human. Humans are not some of the strongest races in the franchise, and without his arms Jax would have been just an average dude. An average dude with crazy muscle, but average dude nonetheless. It is thanks to his robot arms he is high on this list.
17 Kung Lao
An argument can be made that Kung Lao and Liu Kang are equals, however, we all know that is probably not true. Liu Kang is the reigning Mortal Kombat champion, while poor Kung Lao got his comeuppance by Shao Kahn before he could truly show what he’s made of. Kung Lao may be a mainstay hero in the franchise and is even the descendant of the great warrior who defeated Shang Tsung. Nevertheless, Kung Lao is overshadowed by his fellow Shaolin warrior Liu Kang. At least he has that sweet hat that can cut through anything.
Similar to Erron Black, if this was a list about the coolest characters in the franchise, then Kenshi would be somewhere on the top. A blind swordsman with psychic abilities, Kenshi has always been one of the more popular characters that were introduced in the PS2-era of games. Showing that his blindness isn’t a handicap, Kenshi has become one of the few mainstays in the franchise since his first appearance in Deadly Alliance. He is still human, which we have established as one of the weaker races. His psychic abilities and skills with a sword rank him higher on this list though.
Takeda is a mixture between Kenshi and Scorpion, and he is as awesome as that sounds. Son of Kenshi and student of Scorpion, Takeda is a more modern ninja. He uses futuristic tech, including a high-tech chain. He also has his father’s psychic abilities and wears a pretty cool armor. Takeda is probably the most skilled new warrior introduced in Mortal Kombat X, with his psychic powers and skills as a ninja making him one of the stronger human newcomers. He isn’t shown fighting against the heavy hitters like Kotal Kahn or Shinnok, so it can be assumed he isn’t up at their level.
The thing that made Mortal Kombat famous was the ways that the game allows the player to finish their opponents with Fatalities. Despite the games' willingness to go all out with the intensity, characters would rarely dispose of other characters within the context of the story. That is, until D’Vorah showed up in X, and disposed of not one, but two iconic characters of the franchise. D’Vorah is a bug-lady, who has a hive mind and refers to herself as “this one.” Her elimination of Baraka and Mileena was unexpected and establishes her as a credible threat within the series.
The only character that has been playable in one form or another in every Mortal Kombat game, Sub-Zero is an unquestionable icon from the series. His ability to control ice and his rivalry with Scorpion are some of the most famous things within the series. He is generally an ally for the forces for good, but he is often relegated as a side character. Within the context of the story, Sub-Zero is shown keeping up with some of the more powerful fighters in the franchise. However, he is rarely seen fighting against the big bads like Shao Kahn or Shinnok.
Princess of Edenia, the main romantic interest of Liu Kang and lover of lethal fans, Kitana is another popular character from the franchise. A warrior princess, Kitana is often showcased as one of the more skilled warriors among the cast. While her strength doesn’t match that with gods or rulers of the realms, she is certainly one of the more capable warriors in the entire franchise. She was initially tricked into believing that Shao Kahn was her father. She then joins the Earth heroes. She was then disposed of by her mother, and was reincarnated as a malicious spawn.
11 Quan Chi
Quan Chi is a sorcerer who has been manipulating the events in the games from behind the scenes. He was the one that resurrects Scorpion as a revenant and tricks him into eliminating the original Sub-Zero. He then takes the souls of the Earthrealm heroes after they were defeated by Sindel, and revived them as his personal wraiths. He was a cunning warrior. He was never necessarily the strongest warrior in the franchise, yet he was able to worm his way out of any situation. That is until Scorpion finally took his much-deserved revenge.
One of my personal favorite video game characters of all time, Scorpion has been the face of the Mortal Kombat franchise almost since the first game. Reborn by Quan Chi, Scorpion’s main motivation has always been revenge. He wants revenge against the original Sub-Zero for annihilating him, and later revenge against Quan Chi for manipulating him. He is shown as one of the strongest warriors in the franchise. He was even at one point the champion of the Elder Gods. He is one of the most powerful non-deity characters in the entire series.
Do you know what’s cooler than a ninja? A robot ninja. Do you know what’s cooler than a robot ninja? Four robot ninjas in one body. Triborg is a machine that was created by the Lin Kuei ninja clan. Triborg is a fusion between four other cyborgs introduced in earlier games of the series. Sektor, Cyrax, Smoke, and Cyborg Sub-Zero are the four cyborgs that make up Triborg. Scorpion and Sub-Zero are unquestionably cool and very powerful warriors. Nonetheless, Triborg is three warriors in one, which gives him the edge.
If Triborg is so powerful because he is four warriors in one, then Ermac is on a whole other level. He is warrior compromised of the souls of hundreds of warriors. Ermac’s role in the series is more or less acting as an enforcer for characters like Shao Kahn and Kotal Kahn. He is a very powerful warrior, having literally blown up Jax’s arms in the 2011 Mortal Kombat game. Though he is constantly bested by the heroes of the franchise, he is still very much one of the most powerful beings in the games.
The first boss character introduced in the Mortal Kombat games, Goro is giant with four arms. He originates from Outworld and has been the reigning Mortal Kombat champion for nine consecutive tournaments. He was finally bested by Liu Kang in the tenth Mortal Kombat tournament. Similar to other big characters, Goro is slow yet really powerful. He can throw some fireballs to his enemies, and he is known to be one of the most feared characters in the franchise. Goro’s reputation may have gone downhill since his defeat by Liu Kang, but that just shows how strong Liu Kang is.
6 Kotal Kahn
The new emperor of Outworld, Kotal Kahn took the crown away from Mileena. Unlike the previous rulers of Outworld, Kotal Kahn is a completely reasonable and level-headed ruler. He has honor and is even willing to play nicely with Earthrealm. However, he is still willing to attack Earthrealm, and even betray them, if it serves Outworld’s interest. In the comics, there is a cool scene where Kotal Kahn goes for Goro, proving he is stronger than the former champion of Mortal Kombat.
Elder Gods are the highest branch of deities within the Mortal Kombat universe. Shinnok is a fallen Elder God, who was sentenced to the Netherrealm. Even though he looks like your grandma wearing a robe, he is supposedly one of the most powerful beings ever. He lacks the imposing nature that Shao Kahn had; he is still capable of causing realms to tremble with his mere presence. Even Raiden, the god of thunder is incapable of matching his might. The only reason he isn’t number 1 is that he constantly loses to Earthrealm warriors.
4 Johnny Cage
Scorpion and Sub-Zero are the franchise’s mascots. Raiden is the god of thunder, and Liu Kang is the Mortal Kombat champion. However, Johnny Cage may actually be the true hero of the series. Once an egotistic movie star, Johnny was mostly a comedic foil for everyone else. He eventually proves that he is a true hero by stopping Shinnok with his dormant powers and saves Sonya Blade. He is probably the Mortal Kombat character that has changed the most since their inception and has become one of the more likable characters in the cast.
3 Cassie Cage
Daughter of Johnny Cage and Sonya Blade, Cassie serves as the de-facto new lead in Mortal Kombat X. Having the skill sets of both her parents, along with her father’s swagger, Cassie is one of the most capable Earth warriors. She also inherited her father’s ancestral power and used her own dormant powers to defeat the fallen Elder God Shinnok. Unlike her father, who could only imprison Shinnok, Cassie was able to completely defeat and de-power him. Cassie has proven to be a new fan favorite, and a character worth investing into in future installments.
2 Liu Kang
Despite how weak humans are when compared to other races, it's usually up to a human to save the day. Not only have Johnny and Cassie Cage have saved the Earth from forces far greater than themselves, but Liu Kang has also saved the Earth multiple times through Mortal Kombat. The original hero of the Mortal Kombat series, Liu Kang is the one that saved the Earth from Shang Tsung, Shao Kahn, and Shinnok (before the reboot in the 2011 Mortal Kombat game). Now he is a malevolent revenant, and is the current co-leader of the Netherrealm with Kitana.
Raiden is the god of thunder and Earthrealm’s protector. He is the one that gathers the heroes of Earth to save the realm. He is their de-facto leader and is arguably the strongest among them. He even temporary became an Elder God, though quickly return to his duties as the protector of Earth. His powers usually do not match that of the Elder Gods, including fallen Elder Gods like Shinnok. But he has recently been corrupted and has dealt with Shinnok. Maybe when he isn’t holding back, Raiden may be the most powerful of them all.