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Mortal Kombat's Best And Worst Fatalities

by Dan Ryckert on May 03, 2010 at 08:50 AM

The Mortal Kombat series has had its ups and downs in terms of gameplay quality throughout the years, but it has always maintained its reputation for ludicrous, over-the-top violence. Even non-gamers know the phrases "Finish Him," "Get over here," and "Fatality," along with the franchise's history of violence and controversy.

Standard bouts contained their fair share of blood, but it was in the match-ending Fatalities that the severed limbs, disembowelment, and exploding heads came into play. As time went on, they evolved from the now-simple "punch his head off" finishers to some truly cartoonish sequences later on in the series. Here's our look at the best, worst, and downright confusing Fatalities in MK history.

The Best

Liu Kang - Dragon (MK II)

Liu transforms into a dragon at least twice his size and eats the torso of his enemy. It begs the question "if he can turn into a dragon, why doesn't he just do that the whole time?", but there's no denying how cool it is.

Sub-Zero - Spine Rip (MK)

Perhaps the most gruesome finisher from the first game in the series. Sub Zero grabs his victim's head and rips it off his body, with the spinal cord still attached.

Reptile - Head Snack (MK II)

Scorpion removed his mask to reveal a skull in the first game, but Reptile revealed - surprise - a reptilian head in MK II. He then proceeds to extend his tongue and use it to remove and devour his opponent's head. Not content with simply eating your head, he actually turns to the camera and rubs his stomach afterward.

Jade - Head Gymnastics (MK: Deception)

Jade plunges her spear directly through her opponent's head, presumably being enough to kill any human. Not satisfied with this, she then does a gymnast flip over their body while still holding the spear. With one throw motion, the head becomes severed from the body.

Sektor - Compactor (MK 3)

As evidenced by his homing missiles and flamethrower, Sektor has quite the bag of tricks within his robot body. His most formidable weapon, however, has to he the giant trash compactor he uses to crush his opponents.

Jax - Arm Pull (MK II)

In probably one of the only Fatalities that wouldn't immediately kill you, Jax simply yanks his opponent's arms clean off their body. As they scream with blood gushing out of their arm-holes, Jax just stands there like a jerk and flexes his still fully intact (but not yet metallic) biceps.

Dairou - Ribs To The Eyes (MK: Deception)

He may not be a classic character like Sub-Zero or Liu Kang, but Dairou seems perfectly adept at creative Fatalities. In this one, he plunges both hands into his opponent's chest, rips out two ribs, and promptly lodges them directly in their eyes.

Sindel - Scream (MK 3)

This campy-looking character finishes her opponents with nothing but the sound of her shrill voice. She shrieks in her opponent's direction, causing all of their skin to fly off their body, leaving nothing but a dripping, meaty skeleton.

So there's a taste of some of the more creative, violent, and hilarious finishers in the series. Continue on for a look at some of the worst.


The Worst

Liu Kang - Cartwheel (MK)

So let's the first Mortal Kombat, you can tear a guy's heart out, punch his head off, burn them to a crisp, rip their spinal cord out, or do a cartwheel. Which of these doesn't belong? The only saving grace of this unbelievably wimpy finisher is the fact that it can be used to knock your foe into the Pit. But considering the man can turn into a *** dragon, why the hell is he settling for this cheerleader crap?

Kano - Knee Stomp (MK vs DCU)

We all knew Mortal Kombat vs. DC Universe would be tamer than usual thanks to its Teen rating, but this "finisher" would be tame even as a standard Street Fighter attack. All Kano does is roll his opponent onto the ground, then jump on their chest knees-first without even a drop of blood shed.

Kitana - Kiss Of Death (MK II)

Several female MK characters have started their Fatality with a kiss, but most ended with their opponent turning into a smoldering pile of ashes or a pile of bloody vomit. For some reason, Kitana's kisses apparently make you inflate like a balloon before exploding. And like every MK II Fatality that ended in an explosion, there always seemed to be about seven more femurs than there are in a human body.

Kabal - Inflating Head (MK 3)

Kitana's "inflation kiss" was ridiculous enough, but Kabal's Fatality in MK 3 looks 100% like a cartoon. He attaches some sort of hose to his opponent and fills their head with air. Naturally, this makes their body float offscreen and explode into a gory rain of body parts and blood.

Kabal - Scary Face (MK 3)

His head-inflating finisher is horrible, but this atrocity cements Kabal as the Master Of The Crappy Fatality. He takes his mask off, displaying a scarred and disfigured face. As he turns to his opponent and screams, they become so scared that their ghost separates from their body and runs away in fear. Sure, MK tournament entrants are used to seeing horrible murders and decapitations all the time...but heaven forbid they encounter a scary-looking face.

Rain - Upside-Down Uppercut (MK Trilogy)

Rain was one of the many palette-swap clones in Mortal Kombat Trilogy, and he easily had the worst Fatality. He gives them a standard MK uppercut, which for some reason separates their body into multiple slices. These slices then fly offscreen and land perfectly upside-down when they hit the ground.

Bo Rai Cho - Fart Of Doom (MK: Deception)

As the most flatulent character in Mortal Kombat history, it only makes sense that Bo Rai Cho would have a fart-based finisher. It's appropriately terrible, featuring the portly combatant (kombatant?) spraying his apparently poisonous anal fumes all over the poor sap he's up against.

MK has had its share of good and bad Fatalities, but there's another category we haven't touched on - the completely nonsensical. Take a look at the next page to see the finishers that didn't make a lick of sense.


The Confusing

Liu Kang - Arcade Machine (MK 3)

So by this point in the series we've accepted that Liu Kang can turn into a dragon. That unexplained metamorphosis pales in comparison to what he's able to do in Mortal Kombat 3. Liu disappears into thin air, and then an arcade cabinet of the first game drops from the sky onto his opponent. He then reappears and poses. So...did he turn into an arcade machine? Does he have to disappear to summon it? Why would the game break the fourth wall in such an odd and overt way?

Jax - Giant Stomp (MK 3)

Jax is a ***...we get it. His arms are made of metal, he can shoot missiles out of them, and he'll rip your arms right off your *** body if you look at him crooked. However, we were apparently spared the details on why he can grow to 300 feet tall. Making Liu's dragon morph seem like a fully plausible event, Jax becomes a giant and squashes his opponent like a bug.

Johnny Cage - Three Head Punch (MK 3)

This one may have originated as a glitch from the original game, but it sure as hell confused fans who didn't know that bit of trivia. Johnny Cage performs his decapitation fatality from the original...and then proceeds to knock two more heads off of the same body.

Cyrax - Self-Destruct (MK 3)

In most tournaments, the objective is to stay active in them until you reach the end. No one informed Cyrax of this, as he regularly finished fights by blowing himself up. Inexplicably, he'd always be back and ready to go as soon as the next fight started.

Kano - Skeleton Pull (MK 3)

I'm no doctor (and apparently neither is Ed Boon), but I'm pretty sure you can't pull someone's ENTIRE SKELETON out of their mouth.

Darrius - Re-arranger (MK: Deception)

In one of the more physically-impossible feats in the entire series, Darrius effortlessly removes just about every limb on his opponent's body and re-attaches them to the wrong wound. Legs come out of necks, arms come out of legs, without any explanation of how they're staying put. After his re-arranging trick, Darrius ponders what to do next before ultimately settling on a simple kick.

Smoke - Blow Up The World (MK 3)

With the exception of Cyrax's self-destruct, almost every Fatality in MK history at least left its performer alive and intact. However, Smoke just goes bonkers in this one and litters the ground with dozens of bombs. Right before they explode, the camera pulls way out to show the Earth shaking. Then...the ENTIRE WORLD blows up. Every combatant, every arena, every semblance of the Mortal Kombat tournament (unless you want to get picky and talk about Outworld) is gone with this one Fatality. And just like Cyrax's finisher, everything returns perfectly in-place in time for the next round.


Sure, some of these Fatalities were nonsensical, but that's all part of what Mortal Kombat great - it never took itself seriously. It happily spit in the face of logic, realism, and its detractors, and you could tell the team at Midway always had a blast making it. Mortal Kombat vs. DC Universe toned the violence down significantly, but here's hoping Boon & Co. are working on another ultra-violent addition to the series.