Without doubt, gore helped to give Mortal Kombat its place in gaming history. Yes, the gameplay in that first entry was fun and exciting, but let’s face it – the bloody violence is what drew most of us to it.
The media frenzy that accompanied the game’s arrival into kids’ bedrooms only helped to make it more attractive, of course, and it’s fun to speculate whether we would have craved that cartridge so much if those who were so appalled by the game’s bloody shenanigans just kept quiet (probably not).
With that in mind, what would Mortal Kombat, and its gore, be without the fatalities?
Fatalities added an extra dimension to the gameplay, gave us even more moves to conquer, and made beating opponents all the more satisfying – tearing their heart out or pulling their head off is so much more final than simply watching them collapse in slow-motion (we’re looking at you, Street Fighter!).
Over time, fatalities have become harder to pull off, more inventive, and so insanely violent it’s impressive (or worrying) that developers’ twisted imaginations keep cooking them up. So, to celebrate the bloody glory of Mortal Kombat’s most iconic feature, let’s take a look back at some of the franchise’s greatest fatalities, starting with …
Sub-Zero is one of Mortal Kombat’s most iconic characters: with his bright blue costume, ice-slinging abilities, and long-standing rivalry with Scorpion, Sub-Zero became an instant favourite for many players.
Without doubt, Sub-Zero also had one of the coolest fatalities in that first game: ripping his enemy’s head from their neck with one quick, clean tug. It’s simple, it’s satisfyingly bone-snappy, and is thankfully pretty easy to perform.
Mention Mortal Kombat to anyone who’s ever played a game in the series, and the first character most people think of is likely to be Scorpion.
Thanks to his demonic fire-based powers, yellow outfit, and iconic spear-projectile, Scorpion is a formidable fighter. He’s also a pro at executions – which makes his fatalities some of the most fun to watch.
His fire-breath fatality is a firm classic: he simply whips his cowl off (revealing a chilling skinless skull) and breathes a stream of searing flame at his enemy. Within seconds, the fire has consumed Scorpion’s opponent, leaving a charred skeleton.
What’s not to love?!
A Spike in Difficulty
A regular feature in Mortal Kombat games is the pit of spikes. In the first game, the pit is totally no-frills: you uppercut your enemy at the right spot of the stone platform your fight has just unfolded across, and they’ll drop a short distance to said pit.
The graphics are pretty crude now, so while there might not be much of a visual feast on offer, there’s still something massively satisfying about impaling your opponent instead of simply killing them with your hands. The pit has appeared again and again, with more bloody, stomach-churning gore – but it’s always a welcome way to close a fight!
Don’t Lose Your Head
Kung Lao’s wide-brimmed hat serves two purposes:
1) it gives him a stylish, distinctive look
2) it’s perfect for slicing defeated enemies’ heads off.
With just a casual flick of the wrist, Kung Lao tosses his hat at his opponent’s throat – decapitating them with a minimum of effort. After his first appearance in Mortal Kombat II, Kung Lao went on to become a popular character in the franchise – and his metal-brimmed hat has worked its way into other fatalities throughout the years.
Dragon you to Hell
Liu Kang might be bland, but he’s got one hell of a cool fatality in Mortal Kombat II (and in subsequent games, too): transforming into a dragon and eating his opponent!
Yup, with just a touch of magic, Liu morphs into a screen-filling green beast before devouring his enemy’s top half with one bite. As visually-appealing as it is surprising (for his dazed opponent, at least!), this finisher is a classic.
Nothing Like a Hot Bath
Like the spike pit, the acid pool is an environmental fatality that never loses its appeal.
In Mortal Kombat II, hitting your opponent with an uppercut in the right position in the acid-pool stage causes them to fly into the corrosive green stuff. When they resurface a second later, their flesh is gone – leaving nothing but a floating skeleton.
Simple. Nasty. Irresistible.
Okay, that’s it for the classics – not it’s time for …
The New Bloods
A Real Heart-breaker
The latest game in the series, Mortal Kombat X, is chock-full of gruesome fatalities – and one of the best is Kotal Kahn’s bloodthirsty heart-ripper.
Kahn slices his enemy’s chest open with a blade, before tearing their heart out. He goes one step further than Kano ever did, though, and drinks blood from the organ – by the time the fatality’s done, his face is coated with claret.
Make Like a Banana and Split
Mortal Kombat X also gave us Quan Chi’s body-splitting fatality … and it makes those old 16-bit finishing moves look as tame as Super Mario Bros.
Quan Chi kills his enemy by making them stagger towards him, right into his outstretched dagger – until it fills their mouth. Finally, he uses his telekinetic powers to lift his opponent off the ground … so the blade cuts them in two, right down the centre.
Quit Bugging Me!
D’Vorah is one nasty lady – and she’s responsible for unleashing one of Mortal Kombat X’s most hideous fatalities.
She begins by hurling a swarm of flying bugs at her enemy, which punches a hole through their chest … before surrounding their head and eating its flesh.
(She’s not done yet.)
The skinless skull then falls from the collapsing body (the jaw unhinges itself for extra ickiness), and rolls along the ground, towards D’Vorah.
(She’s still not done.)
D’Vorah then stomps on the skull, crushing it into shards beneath her foot.
(Then, finally, she’s done.)
Feeling Torn in Two
In 2011’s Mortal Kombat, Kung Lao puts his hat to good use again.
One fatality sees him throw his hat into the ground so it spins so fast its metallic brim grinds against concrete, causing sparks to fly … right between his opponent’s legs. He then pulls them towards it, sawing them in two, before holding their separated parts up victoriously.
Mortal Kombat X gives Scorpion one of his most brutal, most grotesque, and most ridiculously over-the-top fatalities ever.
Titled the ‘Stop Ahead’, this starts out as Scorpion-esque as expected – he creates a fireball in one hand, and tosses it through his enemy’s chest. We’re then treated to a full-on close-up of their heart through the smouldering hole.
However, it soon turns really, really weird.
As the loser drops to their knees, Scorpion pulls a sword and slices through their head. Slowly, sickeningly, their face drops … revealing their pulsating brain. This then drops from their skull when they hit the ground.
Well, that brings our celebration of Mortal Kombat’s greatest fatalities (so far) to a close – we can’t wait to see what future instalments bring!
Thanks for reading, and we’ll catch you next time!