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Mortal Kombat is an ancient fighting tournament established eons ago by the Elder Gods as a means of maintaining balance and order among the many realms of the universe. For millennia, the tournament has served as a safeguard for realms threatened by Shao Kahn the Konqueror, the emperor of Outworld. The power-hungry Kahn has continuously attempted to invade and conquer other worlds, merging them with Outworld and gaining strength from each merger. However, the sacred rules of Mortal Kombat forbid Kahn from invading outright, establishing a system that allows the realms a fighting chance against otherworldly forces. This applies not only to Outworld but any hostile realm that seeks to attack another.

The Sacred Rules

The rules of the Mortal Kombat tournament are simple:-

  1. Every generation (50 years), competing realms would send their best fighters in to a single-elimination martial arts tournament; the victor of the tournament is crowned Mortal Kombat Grand Champion. If a realm can garner ten straight victories via their Grand Champion or another representative of theirs, they earn the right to invade the opposing realm. The Grand Champion him/herself is granted stunted aging and immortality until the next tournament. This is the ONLY way for a realm to invade and conquer another.
  2. Once declared, Mortal Kombat cannot be declined by either party.
  3. All tournament competitors are granted special abilities. In the case of human fighters from Earthrealm, chosen participants gain powers that would be otherwise impossible for normal humans.
  4. Any violation of the above rules is considered an act of treason against the realms and the Elder Gods themselves, and will be dealt with accordingly and swiftly.

Notable Tournaments

  • 1000+ BMK-500 BMK: The first known Mortal Kombat tournament, created when sorcerer Shang Tsung, under orders by Outworld emperor Shao Kahn, took control of an Earthrealm Shaolin tournament in a bid to upset the balance between the realms and invade Earth. In this time span, Shang Tsung (as a Grand Champion too) held a 9-tournament winning streak, but was cut short in the tenth tournament by the Great Kung Lao.
  • 500 BMK-0 MK: The Great Kung Lao held his position as Grand Champion for only one generation, after which his title - and his life - was taken by Shang Tsung's newest warrior, Goro, who held the title for another nine victories.
  • 0 MK (Mortal Kombat): Liu Kang, a young monk of the Shaolin Order, defeats Goro, thus breaking his winning streak and preventing Outworld's invasion of Earth. Shang Tsung challenges Liu Kang, trying to salvage something from his champion's loss, but is defeated as well. Shang Tsung is thus forced to relinquish his hold on the tournament, and flee to Outworld.
  • 0 MK-1 AMK (Mortal Kombat II): A false tournament proposed by Shang Tsung to Shao Kahn, to lure Earth's warriors to Outworld, where Kahn's forces would have a distinct advantage. It also posed as a distraction away from Kahn's revival of his wife, Queen Sindel on Earth, which would force a merger of the realms regardless of the false tournament's outcome. No definite winner is declared, as Kahn's adopted daughter Kitana warns Earth's warriors of the tournament's nature before it could conclude.
    • In the alternate timeline established in Mortal Kombat 2011, the second tournament is actually a legitimate one, proposed by Shang Tsung as a means of replacing the old system of ten tournaments. Liu Kang defeats Shao Kahn and wins the tournament - supposedly forcing Outworld to abandon its claim to Earthrealm forever. However, Shao Kahn, with the aid of Quan Chi, simply launches an invasion of Earthrealm instead.


Below is a list of the kombatants who took part in the last official Mortal Kombat tournament.

*Contenders marked with (AT) only took part in the alternate timeline.

  • Liu Kang - A warrior monk of the White Lotus Society who was selected by his order to represent them in the tournament. He succeeded in defeating Shang Tsung and was named Grand Champion.
  • Johnny Cage - A failing Hollywood actor who originally entered the tournament for the sake of publicity. He proved his strength and skill by aiding the other Earthrealm competitors in winning the contest.
  • Sonya Blade - A lieutenant in the U.S. Special Forces. She entered the tournament while in pursuit of the criminal Kano.
  • Kano - Leader of the Black Dragon crime syndicate. He originally came to Shang Tsung's Island while escaping from Special Forces agents and decided to fight for Outworld after being promised vast wealth by Shang Tsung.
  • Bi-Han - Codenamed Sub-Zero. He was a Lin Kuei assassin who was contracted by Shang Tsung to fight on behalf of Outworld. He was killed by the vengeful revenant Scorpion.
  • Sektor (AT) - Son of the Lin Kuei Grandmaster who accompanied Sub-Zero to the tournament.
  • Cyrax (AT) - A member of the Lin Kuei who joined Sektor and Sub-Zero. Though he fought on Outworld's behalf, he was opposed to the idea of betraying his own realm and spoke out against the Lin Kuei's plan to cyberize its warriors with advanced technology.
  • Jax Briggs (AT) - A major in the U.S. Special Forces. Though he was not an official competitor in the tournament, he was present on Shang Tsung's Island, having been imprisoned after he and Sonya had landed there in pursuit of Kano.
  • Shang Tsung - A former human who was cursed by the gods, becoming a demonic sorcerer. He has extended his life by devouring the souls of those he has defeated. He was the original Grand Champion of the first Mortal Kombat tournament on Earth and retained the title of Tournament Master for the next 1000 years until being defeated by Liu Kang.
  • Goro - The prince of Kuatan and the reigning champion of Mortal Kombat for 500 years, a title he achieved after killing the Great Kung Lao, ancestor of Liu Kang. He himself was defeated by Liu Kang.
  • Raiden - God of Thunder and the guardian of Earthrealm. As a god, he is forbidden from directly participating in the tournament, but he attended in order to offer guidance to Earthrealm's chosen warriors.
  • Kung Lao (AT) - Shaolin monk and blood descendant of the Great Kung Lao.
  • Nightwolf (AT) - A native American shaman.
  • Scorpion - An undead ninja. He only entered the tournament into order to take revenge on Sub-Zero, the Lin Kuei assassin responsible for wiping out his clan.
  • Reptile -  Shang Tsung's bodyguard and spy during the last official tournament.
  • Baraka (AT) - A savage Tarkatan warrior.
  • Ermac (AT) - A magical construct created by Shao Kahn, formed from fusing hundreds of warrior souls together into a single form.
  • Quan Chi (AT) - A demon sorcerer and necromancer from the Netherrealm. Originally only present to observe the tournament, he fought alongside Scorpion against Liu Kang during the final tier bouts.
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