Mortal Kombat is one of the longest-running franchises in the gaming world and one of those that sought to maintain continuity in its storyline, even after almost 30 years and more than a dozen titles. This can leave a lot of players lost, so here’s how the Mortal Kombat timeline works.
A summary of the chronology of Mortal Kombat
The idea is to summarize the main events in the Mortal Kombat timeline for anyone who has been away from the franchise for a long time or who has started following the series from the latest games.
The focus is only on the main games, so spin-offs like the fun Mortal Kombat: Shaolin Monks, as well as Mortal Kombat vs DC Universe, the crossover with DC Comics, which despite counting as the eighth game in the series, are left out.
Important: In Mortal Kombat there are two different timelines: one that runs from the first game in the series to Mortal Kombat: Armageddon and another that starts in Mortal Kombat 9 and ends in Mortal Kombat 11.
Mortal Kombat (1992)
The story of the first game is the one that inspired the first film, with Raiden choosing three warriors to compete in the Mortal Kombat and preventing Outworld from having the right to control the Kingdom of Earth after winning the tenth tournament.
Liu Kang, Sonya and Johnny Cage are Raiden’s chosen ones, with each having their own goal to be accomplished.
In addition to the main plot there is the story of revenge for Scorpion, a ninja from the Shirai Ryu clan, who returns from Netherealm with the aim of killing Sub-Zero, a ninja from the Lin Kuei clan who murdered Scorpion and his family.
In the Mortal Kombat universe, Netherealm can be considered as a kind of world of the dead.
In the end, Liu Kang defeats Goro and Shang Tsung, ensuring Earth’s survival and Scorpion gets his revenge on Sub-Zero.
Mortal Kombat II (1993)
After Shang Tsung’s failure in the first tournament, Shao Kahn, the Emperor of Outworld invites the fighters to a second tournament and proposes that if fighters win, Outworld would not try to invade Earth, but if they lost they should hand over the Kingdom to the emperor.
Kitana joins the team of heroes. Kuai Liang, the younger brother of the original Sub-Zero, takes on the mantle and is looking for Scorpion, while Jax Briggs enters the tournament to rescue his friend Sonya, who was trapped in Outworld.
The tournament ends with another victory for Liu Kang, after beating Kintaro and Shao Kahn.
Mortal Kombat 3 (1995)
After another failure, Shao Kahn decides to invade Earth. To this end, he resurrects Queen Sindel, mother of Kitana and former sovereign of Edenia, a kingdom that had been completely conquered by Outworld.
With the return of Sindel it is possible to break a magic barrier and invade the Earth without holding a tournament. During the invasion, the souls of thousands of inhabitants are stolen.
During the clashes, Johnny Cage is killed by Motaro, Sub-Zero is chased by his clan that plans to turn all ninjas into cyborgs.
Liu Kang defeats Shao Kahn once again and the souls captured by the emperor are returned.
Mortal Kombat 4 (1997)
In this game we have the input of Quan Chi, a wizard of Netherealm, who is one of the most important characters in the history of the franchise. Quan Chi is a follower of Shinnok a god who was exiled.
Shinnok plans to take revenge on Raiden and the elder gods, but the plan does not work. He and Quan Chi are banned again to Netherealm.
This game reinforces that it was Quan Chi who manipulated the ninjas and caused the first Sub-Zero to kill Scorpion, generating the cycle of hatred between them.
It is worth remembering that Quan Chi also resurrected Bi-Han, the original Sub-Zero, who assumed the identity of Noob Saibot.
Mortal Kombat: Deadly Alliance (2002)
After serving as auxiliaries to their masters, Shang Tsung and Quan Chi decide to unite in order to use the army of Onaga, the Dragon King, the first ruler of Outworld, who was discovered by Quan Chi on one of his escapes between kingdoms, using the Shinnok amulet.
The sorcerers’ plan was to kill their main opponents: Shao Kahn in Outworld and Liu Kang in Earthrealm and use the souls of warriors on the bodies of Onaga’s army.
Mortal Kombat V was criticized for its gameplay, but it was an important step in the way the studio decided to develop the series’ plot. In addition, killing the protagonist and the main villain can be considered brave.
Mortal Kombat: Deception (2004)
Many years before the events of Mortal Kombat, Onaga pretended to be an emissary of the ancient gods and convinced the young Shujinko to gather six mystical artifacts, called Kamidogus.
For many years Shujinko went on his mission, believing he was helping the gods, but after gathering all the objects, he ended up provoking the resurrection of Onaga.
At the end of MK Deadly Alliance, the Earth warriors fail and Raiden challenges Shang Tsung and Quan Chi.
The God of Thunder is defeated and after the confrontation, the sorcerers decide to fight each other, for the Shinnok amulet, when Onaga appears and becomes the greatest threat to everyone. The three fight together and Raiden sacrifices himself in an explosion to stop Onaga, but to no avail.
Raiden revives as a more merciless version, brings Liu Kang back to life as a zombie (yes, it happened). In the end, Shujinko ends up fighting Onaga, in search of redemption and wins.
After the victory, Raiden ends up killing Shujinko, for having helped Onaga, even though he was deceived to do so.
Mortal Kombat: Armaggeddon (2006)
After Onaga’s defeat, a prophecy related to the end of the world was initiated, in which Blaze, an elemental warrior awakens and the one who defeated him, would receive the power to rule all kingdoms.
Several warriors who were dead, return to life, looking for a way to reach the top of the pyramid in which Blaze finds himself.
Shao Kahn wins the contest and when he hits the last blow on Raiden, he spends his last strength to send a message to someone. The message was “He must win”.
Mortal Kombat 9 (2011)
Mortal Kombat 9 is another important game, as it takes the opportunity to reboot the series by changing events such as character deaths and details some plots developed in the first three games in the series.
Whoever receives the message sent by Raiden is his youngest version, still in the tournament of the first Mortal Kombat. During the plot, Sindel is brought back to life. Shao Kahn invades Earth and many warriors are killed in the conflict, including Kitana, Jax, Sub-Zero and Scorpion.
Raiden understands that the message is for Shao Kahn to win the tournament and thus armageddon would be avoided. Raiden tries to convince Liu Kang of this. The two fight and Raiden accidentally kills Liu Kang.
Many of the dead warriors, end up having their souls captured and become tools of Quan chi.
After Kahn defeated Raiden during the invasion, the elder gods interfere and grant Raiden even greater power to defeat Shao Kahn.
Mortal Kombat X (2015)
Mortal Kombat X rewrites events from Mortal Kombat 4, with Quan Chi resurrecting Shinnok again. This time, Raiden counts on the help of Fujin and the other warriors to prevent the worst from happening. After that, the Earth goes through a period of relative peace for 25 years.
At this time Johnny Cage and Sonya get married, Sub-Zero and Scorpion resolve their differences and lead their clans.
There was the creation of a force composed of young people to face threats from Outworld. Among the members are: Cassie Cage, daughter of Johnny and Sonya, Kung Jin, a younger cousin of Kung Lao, Takeda, disciple of Scorpion and Jacqui Briggs, daughter of Jax.
After many twists and turns, Quan Chi manages to bring Shinnok back. The villain’s plan was to invade the Temple of Heaven dedicated to the ancient gods and use his amulet to corrupt all vital energy on Earth.
Raiden manages to prevent Shinnok from executing his plan and purifies the energy using the villain’s own amulet. However, the God of Thunder corrupts and becomes an evil version in the process.
Mortal Kombat 11 (2019)
The changes in the timeline end up calling the attention of Kronika, the Guardian of Time.
To fix the changes, Kronika’s plan is to restart the timeline, with which old versions of the fighters end up finding their current versions. On many occasions there is teamwork, while on others, conflicts occur.
During the story, Raiden joins his soul to the body of Liu Kang and the hero becomes the God of Fire and even with this union, it is not possible to stop Kronika’s plan.
The last confrontation between Liu Kang and Kronika happens in the past. The game generates three endings. Two in which Liu Kang wins and another in which the villain Kronika wins.
The last title of the series served to confuse, but also to correct the confusion that became the timeline of Mortal Kombat. I chose not to give too many spoilers about MK 11, as it is the most recent game and a lot of people must still play.
Anyway, the game ends with a hook and it will be interesting to see what directions the NetherRealm folks are going to follow with the franchise.
With information: Screenrant, Den of Geek and CBR