That’s a lot of characters to keep in your head at once, and it can be easy to forget who some of these people are — especially since some of them haven’t been major players in a Mortal Kombat game since Mortal Kombat: Armageddon in 2006.
In this guide, we’re going to walk you through the entire Mortal Kombat 1 roster of 23 characters, and introduce you to the six planned additional characters coming in Mortal Kombat 1’s upcoming Kombat Pack DLC.
Starting Mortal Kombat 1 character roster
Mortal Kombat 1 starts with a pretty massive roster, and only hides the two characters behind unlocks. All of the other characters in the game are fully playable from the moment you boot up Mortal Kombat 1. You don’t need to beat the Kampaign or do anything special to unlock them for versus mode.
Let’s go over all 21 characters in Mortal Kombat 1’s starting roster.
Ashrah is a fallen demon in Mortal Kombat 1, which basically just means she’s an angel. She originally appeared in Mortal Kombat: Deception. Like many characters on this roster, it’s the first time she’s been playable in a mainline game since Armageddon.
Baraka is a survivor of the Tarkat plague, which turns him into a big-mouthed monster with spikes coming out of his arms. He leads the other plagued people into battle in service of Outland.
General Shao is the beloved and hated Shao Khan that Mortal Kombat fans have known and battled for years. But in this reality, he is not the emperor of Outland, and is instead a faithful, powerful general who serves the realm.
Geras was an ally of Kronika, the Titan villain of Mortal Kombat 11. But in this new reality, he’s been rebuilt by Fire God Liu Kang in an attempt to preserve the memories of the past timelines.
Johnny Cage is a movie star who finds himself battling otherworldly entities in the Mortal Kombat tournament in order to stay relevant with the youth. He’s a series staple, and uses green magic to help keep up with the literal demons he’s battling against.
Kenshi is an old-school Mortal Kombat character, and plays heavily into the “blind swordsman” archetype. He’s back in this new reality, and is trying to escape his family’s yakuza past (by using his psychic sword powers to defend Earthrealm, it seems).
Kitana is Mileena’s sister and another daughter of Sindel, which makes her a princess of Outworld. She uses her fan blades to act as her sister’s protector.
Kung Lao — the man with the buzzsaw hat and one of Liu Kang’s best friends — is back in this new reality for Mortal Kombat 1. A champion of Earthrealm, he and his hat are here to help defend his universe via Mortal Kombat.
Li Mei is the chief of police in Mortal Kombat 1’s version of Outworld, and uses magic to subdue her foes. She appeared in Mortal Kombat X as an NPC, but hasn’t been fully playable since Mortal Kombat: Armageddon.
Once a student of Raiden, and the only real remnant of the previous Mortal Kombat reality, Liu Kang is god in Mortal Kombat 1, and has reshaped the world in his image. The reason all of the characters are slightly different in this Mortal Kombat 1 is Liu Kang’s doing.
Mileena is the heir to Outworld, and is extremely deadly with a blade. Under her mask, however, she’s hiding that she is infected with the same plague as Baraka: Tarkat.
Nitara is a vampire woman from the realm of Vaeternus, and is playable in a mainline Mortal Kombat game for the first time since Armageddon. She’s Mortal Kombat 1’s celebrity character, and is voiced by Megan Fox.
Once the god of lightning itself and Liu Kang’s mentor, Raiden is now a young, human man in the reality of Mortal Kombat 1. He joins the champions of Earthrealm to defend his home in Mortal Kombat.
Rain is another returning character to the Mortal Kombat franchise, and this is the first time he hasn’t been relegated to DLC or an NPC part in years. In this new reality of Mortal Kombat 1, Rain is an Outworld sorcerer who uses water powers to take down his enemies.
Reiko is General Shao’s right-hand man, and is coming back to Mortal Kombat 1 as a fully playable character for the first time since Mortal Kombat: Armageddon.
Is Reptile a man or a lizard in Mortal Kombat 1? Yes. Reptile is a shapeshifter in this reality, able to change between his human and lizard form at will. He also spits acid.
The brother of Sub-Zero in this reality, Scorpion has dedicated his life in service to the Lin Kuei, and is a powerful asset in the efforts to protect Earthrealm. Despite his background, Scorpion’s identity hasn’t changed, and he’s still the franchise’s signature character. And yes, he still has that infamous “get over here” catchphrase.
Sindel is the empress of Outworld in Mortal Kombat 1, and mother of both Mileena and Kitana. She uses her hair and scream powers to decimate her enemies, just as she always has.
Smoke rolls with Sub-Zero, Scorpion, and company in Mortal Kombat 1 in order to assist in the defense of Earthrealm. He uses his smoke-based powers to disappear and teleport around the arena.
The grandmaster of the Lin Kuei, Sub-Zero uses his ice powers to help lead his band of warriors in the defense of Earthrealm alongside his brother, Scorpion. This relationship change is one of the biggest in Mortal Kombat 1, taking fire and ice from mortal enemies to kin.
Tanya returns as a playable character in Mortal Kombat 1 after being relegated to a cameo in the previous game. She wields a big, blunt bat and acts as a paladin-esque character after being raised from the dead.
How to unlock Havik and Shang Tsung in Mortal Kombat 1
There are two unlockable characters in Mortal Kombat 1 at launch: Havik and Shang Tsung. Here’s what you’ll need to do to unlock each of them, and a little bit about who they are in the Mortal Kombat universe.
How to unlock Havik
Havik is Mortal Kombat 1’s only unlockable character that you get by actually playing the game. You can unlock Havik by completing Mortal Kombat 1’s story mode.
Havik is an anarchist who has appeared in a few Mortal Kombat games in the past.
How to unlock Shang Tsung
Shang Tsung is technically an unlockable character for Mortal Kombat 1, and you unlock Shang Tsung by pre-ordering the game. Like most pre-order characters in Mortal Kombat, you’ll be able to buy him as DLC at a later date if you fail to pre-order in time. (In Mortal Kombat 11, DLC characters, including Shang Tsung, cost $5.99.)
One of the more famous Mortal Kombat villains, Shang Tsung was the original host for the game’s titular tournaments, and is a powerful shape shifting sorcerer.
Mortal Kombat 1 DLC characters
Mortal Kombat 1 will be getting an infusion of new characters in the coming months — most of them likely won’t appear until sometime in 2024 — with its Kombat Pack DLC. Half of the Kombat Pack’s roster are beloved Mortal Kombat characters that didn’t make the cut for Mortal Kombat 1, and the other half are problematic super “hero” faves from our favorite TV shows.
Here’s the entire roster of the first Kombat Pack, which comes packaged in Mortal Kombat 1’s Premium Edition.
In the old universe of Mortal Kombat, Ermac was a collection of souls inside what essentially just looks like a mummy. He served Shao Kahn, the emperor of Outworld. He does play a part in the Mortal Kombat 1 main story, but you won’t be able to actually play as him until the DLC characters arrive.
Homelander comes from the Amazon Prime series The Boys — and the comic of the same name. He’s the big Superman-like superhero of that world, and is also a raging fascist with a god complex. He’ll fit in just fine with some of the villains of Mortal Kombat.
Omni-Man is, like Homelander, one of the biggest superheroes from his universe. He comes from Invincible, another Amazon Prime show that comes from a comic.
Peacemaker was once an obscure DC villain, brought into the limelight by John Cena in James Gunn’s The Suicide Squad movie. Then he starred in his own show, Peacemaker. And now he’s coming to Mortal Kombat 1.
Takeda is one of the “Kombat Kids” from Mortal Kombat X, and is the son of Kenshi Takahashi — a fighter who returns to Mortal Kombat 1. In the old universe, Takeda trained under Scorpion and used bladed whips as his primary weapon.
Quan Chi was an evil, necromantic sorcerer from the Netherrealm who served the Elder God Shinnok. In Mortal Kombat 1, he does factor into the game’s main story. But, like Ermac, you won’t be able to actually control him until he comes out as DLC.