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Mortal Kombat: Defenders of the Realm

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Mortal Kombat: Defenders of the Realm
This is why adapting a gory video game franchise into a kids' cartoon shouldn't always be a flawless victory.
Genre: Animated
Video Game Adaptation
Running Time: 20 minutes
Country: United States
Release Date: September 21 - December 14, 1996
Network(s): USA Network
Created by: Threshold Entertainment
Film Roman
Distributed by: Turner Program Services
Warner Bros. Television Distribution
Starring: Clancy Brown
Brian Tochi
Cree Summer
Luke Perry
Dorian Harewood
Olivia d'Abo
Ron Perlman
Seasons: 1
Episodes: 13

Mortal Kombat: Defenders of the Realm is an animated series based on the popular Mortal Kombat video game series. It aired on the USA Network's Action Extreme Team animation block for one season of thirteen episodes from September to December 1996.

Why It's Offensive to the Realm

  1. The cartoon completely lacks the violence and gore of the video games, which was one of the most important aspects of the franchise. As a result, the cartoon ends up being a generic kids action show with MK characters slapped on the cover and nothing that stands out.
    • The lack of blood and gore is very obvious due to the show being made for kids, but however that is a bad idea to begin with.
  2. Sloppy animation for most of the time.
  3. Many of the characters have been severely altered:
    • Nightwolf is turned into a tech nerd (which doesn't make sense since he hates technology in the actual games).
    • Jax is a racist stereotype.
    • Scorpion is a generic evil villain and minor antagonist, whereas in the games he is the main protagonist.
    • Raiden is a huge jerk.
    • Sonya is annoying.
    • Liu Kang has no interesting traits.
  4. Cringeworthy catchphrases, like Sonya's infamous "Kombat Time!".
  5. The show is very formulaic. There's a fight scene at the beginning, some talking in the middle and a fight scene with a character at the end, and so on with every episode.
  6. Scorpion sounds much less menacing then he does in the games.
  7. Little-to-no storyline or lore for the most part.
  8. It has overly censored animated flashbacks from the movie. For example, instead of getting impaled by an ice spike, Sub Zero falls into water that then freezes, and Shang Tsung falls onto flat ground instead of spikes.
  9. It contributed to Mortal Kombat's decline in quality in the late '90s.
  10. In addition to the characters being altered, many fan favorite characters such as: Kung Lao, Johnny Cage, Mileena, Jade, Sindel, Goro, Khameleon, Chameleon and Kintaro do not appear and are not referenced at all (although this show takes place during Mortal Kombat 3, in which Johnny Cage would've been dead, a character named Ruby is inspired off of Jade, and Zenkarro is a different version of Goro or Kintaro).

Redeeming Qualities

  1. The character designs stay very true to the ones from the games.
  2. Some unintentionally funny errors here and there, like Ermac tiptoeing.
  3. It debuted Quan Chi, despite him being portrayed as a mute coward rather than the menacing necromancer he would eventually become.
  4. Kitana and Sub-Zero's characters are still very faithful to their portrayal in the games.
  5. The voice cast is an assorted "who's who" of vocal talent at the time, such as Clancy Brown, Ron Perlman, Brian Tochi, Cree Summer, Luke Perry, etc.
  6. The final episode had superb animation.


  • Since Johnny Cage did not appear in this cartoon, some of his character traits were given to Kurtis Stryker.
  • Interestingly, this show was distributed by Warner Bros., which a decade later bought the rights to the entire Mortal Kombat franchise after Midway was shut down.



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