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Which ‘Mortal Kombat 2’ Character Has the Best Fatality? A Group Session.

This is a debate that might never end

Eric Foster

This week on The Ringer, we’re hosting the Best Video Game Character Bracket—an expansive competition between the greatest heroes, sidekicks, and villains of the gaming world. And along with delving into some of those iconic figures, we’ll also explore and celebrate the gaming industry as a whole. Welcome to Video Game Week.


Eleven of the 12 playable characters from Mortal Kombat 2—Baraka, Jax, Kitana, Kung Lao, Liu Kang, Mileena, Raiden, Reptile, Scorpion, Shang Tsung, and Sub-Zero—mill about a Knights of Columbus hall. The only one missing is Johnny Cage. They pick at a spread of finger foods located on a table near the entrance. The group is clearly restless. The meeting was supposed to start 22 minutes ago.

Scorpion: Has anyone heard from Cage?

Everyone, all at once: [Some version of “No.”]

Scorpion: Can someone text him?

Raiden: I already did.

Scorpion: Did he say where he was?

Baraka: Probably somewhere masturbating to a picture of himself.

[The group laughs.]

Raiden, to Scorpion: He read it but he didn’t reply.

Mileena: He has read receipts on?

Raiden: Yeah. He said he likes for people to know that he saw their messages and that he’s not responding on purpose.

Sub-Zero: What an ass.

Shang Tsung: Let’s just get started without him. [Shang Tsung slowly extends his arms out, then begins bringing them very slowly toward the ceiling.] I call to order in the Earthrealm this meet—

Jax, interrupting: Why are you being so dramatic? And why are you calling it the “Earthrealm”? Just call it Cincinnati. We’re in Cincinnati. We’re in a Knights of Columbus hall in Cincinnati.

Mileena: And why do you assume that you’re in charge?

Shang Tsung: Someone needs to be. And I’m pretty much a boss character in MK2. So, I mean, there you go.

Kitana: Nah. You’re one of us now. You’re just a regular, playable character. If anyone’s gonna be in charge, it should be Liu Kang, what with him having waxed you in the first tournament. If not him, then at least Raiden.

Sub-Zero, sarcastically: Or Kano.

Raiden: Aw, man. That’s dirty.

Scorpion: No, wait, wait, wait. That’s… cold.

[Sub-Zero laughs uproariously.]

Kitana: Why do you still laugh at that? He’s made that same joke like 40 times. He says that pretty much every time you say something.

Liu Kang, interrupting: Shang Tsung’s right. Let’s get started. I love him, but we’ll be here all night if we sit around waiting for Johnny. Everyone cool with that?

Everyone, all at once: [Some version of “Yeah.”]

Liu Kang: Great. So let’s get started then. We’re here for our weekly meeting to discuss the same thing we’ve been discussing for more than two and a half decades now, which is: Which one of us has the coolest fatality?

Mileena, sarcastically: We’re gonna do it tonight. Tonight’s the night we all agree.

Liu Kang: Before we get started, does anyone have any questions to bring to the group?

Baraka: I do, but it’s super not related to anything.

Liu Kang: That’s fine. Do it now so that it doesn’t interrupt the flow later.

Baraka, turning to Sub-Zero: A thing I’ve always wondered is: Is your whole body cold all of the time, or how does that work?

Reptile, to Sub-Zero: He wants to know whether your dick is cold.

Baraka: That’s not at all what I’m asking! I’m just curious about, like, the practical implications of being someone who can control ice.

Sub-Zero: Cryokinesis.

Baraka: What?

Sub-Zero: The ability to manipulate ice. It’s called “cryokinesis.”

Reptile: Actually I think it’s called FDS.

[Everyone looks at Reptile, waiting for him to explain his comment.]

Reptile: Frozen Dick Syndrome.

Baraka, ignoring Reptile: So how does it affect the rest of your life? Like, let’s say you’re eating a piece of pizza. Does the part of the pizza that you’re holding get cold? If that happens, then I would assume you eat with gloves on. Do you eat with gloves on? And what happens when it gets warm outside? If it gets a little bit warm outside, does it feel like it’s a thousand degrees to you? Or does it not feel like anything at all because you have your own cooling system? I have a lot of questions.

Reptile, to Sub-Zero: He wants to know if your balls are cold.

Scorpion, jumping in before he’s even collected a full thought: Snowballs!

Baraka: Huh?

Scorpion: Snowballs! I couldn’t think of the joke in time but I know there’s a “snowballs” joke in there somewhere. I wanted to make sure no one beat me to it. Snowballs. Because of Sub-Zero. And the cold.

[Sub-Zero laughs uproariously.]

Liu Kang: You know what? I think we’re gonna just jump into the official meeting. Let’s do that.

Kung Lao: Good. Because, as I’ve stated before, I’m the clear winner of the “Who Has the Coolest Fatality?” competition. Nobody’s fucking with the thing I do where I take my hat off and slice my opponent in half from top to bottom. That’s as good as it gets.

Kitana: Absolutely not. It’s completely expected. You have a hat with a fucking blade on it. Obviously your fatality is going to make use of that. Your fatality can’t be the coolest if it’s predictable.

Kung Lao, sarcastically: But yours isn’t predictable, right?

Kitana: The one where I kiss my opponent on the cheek and they explode? No, it’s not predictable. It’s smart and sophisticated and clever. It’s a fun house reversal of the way that women are sexualized.

Kung Lao: It’s also a total rip-off of Sonya Blade’s fatality from the first Mortal Kombat.

[The group murmurs.]

Kitana: It’s not a rip-off, you dolt. It’s an homage. I’m honoring her memory. I’m high-fiving her.

Shang Tsung: My issue is that whenever you do that, it always seems like there’s way too many bones. How many pelvic bones does a person have, you know? Because I see three or four each time you do the kiss fatality. And I don’t wanna accuse another Kombatant of trying to juice their stats, but …

Jax: A semi-related question to an earlier point: Kung Lao, where can I buy a hat like that? I checked at Lids and the guy there said they didn’t have any in stock.

Kung Lao: You can’t wear a hat like this. It’s my thing.

Reptile: My fatality is the coolest.

Mileena: Which one?

Reptile: The one where I take my mask off and eat my opponent’s head.

Mileena: Nope.

Reptile: The one where I rip my opponent in half?

Mileena: Nope again. Those are both weak. Too many of y’all do head stuff. Baraka slices a head off. Kitana slices a head off. Kung Lao slices a head off. Johnny has one fatality where he punches a head off and then he has a different fatality where he somehow punches three heads off in a row, which doesn’t make any sense at all. Jax smashes a head.

Baraka, interrupting: I actually like when Jax smashes the head. I like how brutal it is. Smashing a head feels more personal than cutting someone’s head off. You gotta really be mad at someone to smash their head into nothingness.

Jax, sincerely: Thanks, man. And just for the record: I like your fatality too—the one where you slice your opponent’s head off. I’m a fan of attacking the head. It’s the most important part of the body. Why wouldn’t I attack it?

Baraka: Exactly!

Mileena: But the point remains: Too many of y’all are doing it. It’s not cool anymore.

Liu Kang: If that’s the case, then I think I should win.

Mileena: Liu, listen, you know how much I respect you. And I’ve always been a fan of your haircut. And your bicycle kick is great. But your fatalities are sorry as fuck. They’re too goody two-shoes-y. On one of them, you don’t even kill your opponent. You just do a little cartwheel kick thing and then punch them real hard. That’s not a fatality. That’s just a punch.

Scorpion: A punchality!

Shang Tsung: Swing and a miss. Stick to the cold stuff, Scorpion. You’ve got an audience for that.

Liu Kang, to Mileena: But on the other one I turn into a dragon and eat half my opponent’s body! That’s pretty awesome, right?

Scorpion: But … come on. That’s some real undercover cop behavior, you know what I mean?

Liu Kang: I do not know what you mean, no.

Scorpion: Everyone else does.

Liu Kang: No they don’t.

[Scorpion gestures at everyone else.]

Everyone, all at once: [Some version of “Yeah.”]

Liu Kang: Y’all are the worst.

Jax: I’m personally a fan of the fatality where I yank my opponent’s arms off. I think it’s good. It’s unpredictable and powerful and fun. Have you guys ever ripped someone’s arms off? I recommend it.

Raiden: That’s a solid one. But why is nobody talking about how I use electricity to explode people?

Scorpion: Because you were doing the same shit in the first Mortal Kombat.

Raiden: So were you! You just take your mask off and shoot some fire from your mouth. Big whoop. Where’s the creativity? Where’s the drama? Where’s the showmanship?

Scorpion: I also do the torso slice thing!

Raiden: Boring.

Mileena, to Scorpion: Reptile and Johnny Cage both do the torso thing, too. It’s the same problem with all the head stuff from before. If you and someone else share a fatality, then yours can’t be the cooles—

[The door to the room flies open. It’s Johnny Cage.]

Johnny Cage: What’s up, ya bunch of doofuses?

Shang Tsung: Where have you been, man? You’re late.

Johnny Cage: I was masturbating to a picture of myself.

Baraka: I fucking knew it!

Johnny Cage, settling into a chair backward like A.C. Slater: Are you doing the coolest fatalities debate thing again?

Liu Kang: Yes.

Johnny Cage: Did I win yet?

Kitana: You’re in last place. It’s the one thing we’ve all been able to agree on.

Johnny Cage: How am I in last place?! Kung Lao pulls a friggin’ rabbit out of his hat.

Kung Lao: That’s not one of my fatalities. That’s my Friendship.

Shang Tsung: Is that rabbit always in there? Like a magician?

Jax: That’s a good question.

Sub-Zero: I feel like we’re not spending enough time talking about how I explode someone with a snowball, which is very cool.

Scorpion: Snowballs!

Baraka: Nope. Still not a thing.

[Sub-Zero laughs uproariously.]

Jax, to Sub-Zero: Explosions aren’t cool. The closest to cool they get is Shang Tsung’s fatality where he jumps inside his opponent through their nose and then explodes them. The only bad part about that is how gross it probably is being in a person like that.

Shang Tsung: I’d like to point out that The Matrix stole that idea from me. That should be extra points here, really.

Jax, to Kung Lao: Is there food in the hat for the bunny? Water too? I’m a big animal guy and I just wanna make sure that that bunny is being properly cared for.

Mileena: The thing that I do where I inhale my opponents through my extremely sharp teeth, eat their flesh, and then spit out their bones … that’s gotta be the winner here.

Scorpion: Nobody thinks that’s cool but you.

Johnny Cage: So I win, right?

Everyone, all at once: [Some version of “No.”]

Liu Kang: This feels like a good stopping point, everyone.

Jax: I still have a bunch of hat-related questions I’d like to ask.

Liu Kang: See you all next week.