15 Best Mortal Kombat Rivalries
In a series as deadly as Mortal Kombat, you wouldn’t think participants would survive long enough to maintain ongoing rivalries, but it does happen. With ten games in the franchise, we’ve seen a lot of characters come along, and some of them have more problems with each other than others. It’s honestly pretty rare for us to see characters who actually get along, but sometimes the fights that ensue don’t end when someone is knocked out. Some combatants hate each other so much that they’ll take any chance to rip into each other.
There are plenty of classic rivalries stemming from the franchise’s Sega Genesis and Super Nintendo days, but even characters freshly introduced in Mortal Kombat X have quickly become embroiled in grudges. Not every grudge can be a hit, though, with some feuds having as little bad blood as toddlers fighting over who gets to play with a toy.
From the years-long battles to the fresh vendettas, we’re looking for the hatred with some passion behind it as we get into the 15 Best Mortal Kombat Rivalries.
15. SHUJINKO VS ONAGA
If we’re being honest, Shujinko wasn’t a very good character. His gullibility in trusting Damashi for his entire life didn’t make him look very smart, and his moves were just a mish-mash of those used by more popular characters. But as disappointing as he was as a finished character, the commitment to building up his animosity against Onaga throughout Mortal Kombat: Deception’s story mode was admirable. It was the first in-depth story mode the series gave us, and it was actually pretty good.
In terms of story, Shujinko was given a great reason to dislike Onaga since the Dragon King had used Shujinko his entire life. And it was ultimately Shujinko who freed Onaga by collecting the seven Kamidogu. By unleashing such a monster, Shujinko was indirectly responsible for the deaths of not only Shang Tsung and Quan Chi, but also Raiden. So for Deception, Shujinko was built up as someone with a great reason to fight Onaga. It’s just a shame Shujinko isn’t a very interesting character outside of that.
14. JOHNNY CAGE VS GORO
Not many people are going to call the Mortal Kombat movies classic stories, but they did have one very important contribution to the franchise: the start of the rivalry between Johnny Cage and Goro. There was no deep reason behind the movie pitting them against each other, except for Goro needing a new opponent. But when Johnny Cage stepped up, it gave us one of the most famous moments from the film. Johnny’s iconic sunglasses got broken, but Goro paid a steep price for it after he was the recipient of a low blow and a long fall off a cliff.
While not one of cinema’s finer moments, it still became such a well-known scene in the franchise that it carried over into the games, where they were paired off as rivals on the title screen graphic. They haven’t had much interaction within the lore of the games, however, which is why we can’t put this pair too high up. Nonetheless, if the two did officially interact, you know fans would be happy for the callback and eager to see who would win an official fight between the two in-game.
13. KITANA VS SINDEL
Poor Kitana has a tough family life. We’ll get to the issues she has with her sister later, but she can’t even find comfort with her parents. Shao Kahn lied to her about being her father, so there’s no help there. And then Kitana’s real mother actually is Sindel, but Sindel has been brainwashed by Kahn into wanting to kill her own daughter. Kitana just can’t catch a break.
Kitana has plenty of reason to hate Shao Kahn since he was the one who orchestrated her problems, but being hated by her own mother is a pretty tough problem to beat. Kitana knows if she can just free Sindel then her mother will return to being a good person, but Kitana could very well be killed in the process. There aren’t not many rivalries with one of the people involved wanting to help the other, but Kitana isn’t willing to let Shao Kahn take anything else away from her life. It’s hard to get much more personal than a rivalry with a parent.
12. D’VORAH VS TARKATANS
Mortal Kombat X did a great job of finally introducing some new memorable characters in the franchise, with D’Vorah ranking up there as perhaps the best of the bunch. Even with all the creepy, violent combatants we had seen over the years, she still managed to up the ante. Her insect motif was unsettling not only to the normal humans of the franchise, but even to the Tarkatans, who had basically been at the top of the food chain in terms of creepiness since Mortal Kombat II.
It’s not explicitly stated in the game, but D’Vorah seems to have a particular distaste for the Tarkatan race. Throughout the game’s story mode, she doesn’t just defeat Baraka; she rips the brain right out of his skull to kill him. Then later, when Kotal Kahn defeats Mileena’s rebellion, he allows D’Vorah to be the one to kill her. And it’s not like D’Vorah makes it a swift death, instead kissing Mileena to flood insects down the Tarkatan’s throat that devour her from the inside. D’Vorah certainly seemed to make it a point to show that she could be more brutal than the Tarkatans ever were.
11. SHOKAN VS CENTAURS
The Shokan (who you might know better as the four-armed dragon people who like to jump on you) have definitely been a big part of why the Mortal Kombat series caught on. Goro, in particular, got people talking in the first game and left a lasting impression. But Motaro was the biggest boss the series had up to that point, and has left people wanting to see him return properly in a future Mortal Kombat game (as in not in his stupid minotaur form from Armageddon).
Beyond the fan debate of whether four arms or four legs is better, the two races also don’t like each other within the games. Kitana actually had to broker a peace between the Shokan and the Centaurs to get them to stop fighting all the time. Of course that truce was short-lived, because who doesn’t want to see huge monster people slug it out? We’ve yet to see a canon battle between members of the races play out in the games, but we’re definitely hoping the lore behind this animosity has a chance to be enacted by the players at some point.