The Mortal Kombat series is chock-full of different kinds of fighters with twisted backstories, and even twistier personalities. What else would you expect from the fighting game franchise known for having the best story in the entire genre? While the majority of those characters are male, that doesn’t mean that the female characters present aren’t equally as cool. In fact, we’d argue that, pound for pound, the best characters in Mortal Kombat are female.
While Sub-Zero and Scorpion are clearly the most popular characters in any given Mortal Kombat game, characters like Sonya Blade and Mileena have made a sizable mark on the series as well. In fact, when Mileena didn’t make the roster in Mortal Kombat 11, the cries of protest were deafening. But how do all these femme fatales stack up? Well, that’s the question that we’re here to answer!
Updated June 27th, 2023 by James Kennedy: With the exciting upcoming release of a new Mortal Kombat game, we’ve been itching to talk about this game’s great cast of characters. So, we thought we would resurrect this list, and add a few of the missing fighters into the mix. We only hope a few of the cooler neglected characters get a chance in the next entry in the series. Hey, if we’re really lucky, we may even have the opportunity to add a few new rad ladies to this after Mortal Kombat 1 drops. Fingers crossed!
17 Li Mei
Outworlder Li Mei is a solid, inoffensive character. You could argue that her being at the bottom of this list shows how great the roster of female fighters is! However, she is a touch bland, isn’t she? Li Mei excels at hand-to-hand combat and has magical abilities at her fingertips. Her Nova Blast, for instance, allows her to shoot off a ball of purple fire at her opponents. That’s something, we suppose.
Li Mei was introduced to players in Mortal Kombat: Deadly Alliance. Her story basically amounts to her entering the tournament to win her freedom. There really isn’t much more to her than that. But who knows, as basic as her story may be, she could very well be revitalized in a future title and be given a new lease on life.
Nitara first appeared in Mortal Kombat: Deadly Alliance, and she quite simply doesn’t get the credit she deserves. Hell, she is the first Mortal Kombatant to have wielded blood magic! However, despite having a pretty cool—if unambiguously horny—design, we really don’t get to know Nitara. We know she is a vampire from Outworld. That’s pretty much it. So much of what makes these characters interesting is their relationships with other characters, and Nitara didn’t really seem to have any strong connections to the rest of the cast.
Of all the characters seemingly trapped in the PS2 era of Mortal Kombat, we feel like this vibrant vampire deserves to be brought into the new era. If we are going to give Bo Rai Cho love then we can sure as hell give Nitara some as well. But until then, she is going to have to sit lower on this ranking simply because we know so little about her.
Sareena made her debut in the often maligned Mortal Kombat: Mythologies where she began her life as a non-playable boss character; which, in Mortal Kombat, is typically a surefire way to become a fan favorite. Unfortunately, Sareena has only made the playable roster on two occasions, and one of those times it was for a GBA port of Deception.
We wish we could move Sareena further up on this list, we think she has a ton of potential (she’s a secret demon, for god’s sake), but she has spent a touch too much time on the sidelines for us to do so. One thing worth noting is that Sareena has been given a number of notable cameo appearances over the years (ranging from being a side character in the story mode, to being featured multiple times in the background of stages). Clearly, the NRS team has not forgotten her. We are hopeful that this will eventually translate into her getting a prominent spot on a future titles’ roster.
Tanya made her debut in Mortal Kombat 4 and in that game, she had a decidedly underwhelming design. However, she has since gotten a pretty notable glow-up in the more recent era of Mortal Kombat. We still aren’t in love with her aesthetic in MKX, but we think it has a lot more going on than her MK4 look. What we do greatly appreciate, however, is how much they have developed her character.
In Mortal Kombat 11, Tanya is a pretty notable part of Mileena’s story going from being one of her followers to becoming her primary love interest. Mileena’s Mortal Kombat 11 ending even features the two happily living together. Which is pretty cool. We really hope we get to see her make the roster again in the future.
Frost was first introduced to Mortal Kombat players in Mortal Kombat: Deadly Alliance. She is Sub-Zero’s impetuous apprentice. She is oddly hot-headed for someone with her powers. Speaking of Frost’s freezing powers: they aren’t as potent as Sub-Zero’s—which is made abundantly clear in the story when she tries to take over leadership of the Lin Kuei from him—but she makes up for that with an increased emphasis on speed and mobility.
Of course, the most recent incarnation of this frigid foe sees her do that whole “become a robot” thing that is so in vogue in the Mortal Kombat world. This sees her mobility amped up significantly. But worry not, becoming a robot hasn’t changed her personality one iota. She is still as belligerent and treacherous as ever. Just the way we like her.
Don’t let Cetrion’s devotion to life and nature fool you. She will not hesitate to bring down her opponent in a matter of seconds. First introduced in Mortal Kombat 11, Cetrion is a veritable goddess of pummeling other fighters into submission.
Cetroin is extremely unique in that her fighting style relies heavily on keeping opponents away from her. All her attacks are focused on keeping her foes at range. She may very well be the series’ first true keepaway character. She can create barriers between herself and others, as well as use her godly powers to hurl a variety of projectiles are her foes. If you aren’t a fan of this goddess of earth we urge you to give her a shot; she may grow on you.
As of this writing, Kronika has yet to be a playable character, functioning instead as a non-playable boss in Mortal Kombat 11. However, outside of the PS2 era (which we do our best to not talk about), most bosses eventually transition into joining the roster. The idea of Kronika becoming playable has us salivating, as her intriguing mastery over time and space allows for some pretty unique attacks.
While her ability to teleport or freeze her opponents in place aren’t exactly new to Mortal Kombat, her ability to reverse time most certainly is. We’re keeping our fingers crossed that she makes a return, as we think there is some serious potential for Kronika to have the most interesting moveset seen in a Mortal Kombat game.
There are few characters who benefited more from a redesign than Skarlet. In Mortal Kombat 9 Skarlet’s design could be summed up in two words: bikini ninja. But eye-rolling designs were a staple of Mortal Kombat 9, so we guess that shouldn’t be surprising. Thankfully, Skarlet returned in Mortal Kombat 11, where she quite simply looks better than ever.
Like Nitara before her, Skarlet wields blood magic which she uses to form weapons and twist her enemies from the inside out. In the story, she is definitely a baddie. However, she is one of those opportunistic, self-interested types. As we see in her Mortal Kombat 11 ending, her allegiances are ultimately to herself. Though, she does seem to have some romantic interest in Shao Khan. We can only hope that Skarlet has an opportunity to paint the town red in the future, as she is easily one of the coolest Outworlders.
Sindel is a landmark character. While fathers have always existed in video games, mothers typically do not. Sindel was already in a small group based on that alone, but she is outright the first fighting game mother to appear in the same game as her child. All of that is neat, but this queen of scream is more than just her landmark achievements. She is an absolute badass that has a voice to kill. Or should we say a voice that will kill?
Being the ruler of one of the most beautiful realms in the universe must have prepared her for all the fights she would participate in. Her hair can be used as a weapon to grab opponents and toss them around. Then there’s her Banshee Scream, which can stun enemies and give players time to land a few hits.
8 Cassie Cage
Since Cassie Cage is the daughter of characters Johnny Cage and Sonya Blade, it makes perfect sense that her abilities would be a blend of her parents. Utilizing the Special Forces skills learned from her mother, Cassie comes packing two pistols and military-honed hand-to-hand combat expertise.
She also possesses mystical energy from her father, which showcases itself in the green aura that surrounds her body when she performs certain moves. Plus, the story is definitely spiced up by Cassie’s inclusion in Mortal Kombat X. She demonstrates what it’s like to have Johnny Cage and Sonya Blade as parents. Which is to say, she’s a lot of fun, but maybe a bit of a mess. We can relate, Cassie. We can relate.
If you are looking for a strong female fighter in Mortal Kombat, look no further than Sheeva. Sheeva is a Shokan, a race of beings described as half-human and half-dragon. If that does not impress you enough, her four-armed fighting style might.
Using all four of her arms, Sheeva can grab her opponents and pummel them into submission with a flurry of blows. She can also throw powerful fireballs that knock people to the ground instead of just nudging them backward. As if that wasn’t enough, she can also perform stomps on the ground that deals damage to anyone nearby. Goro may have done it first, but Sheeva clearly did it best.
D’Vorah is a very unique, if a little disturbing, character. Introduced in Mortal Kombat X; she is, at her core, a collective of insects puppeteering a (vaguely) humanoid body.
Harassing her opponents from a distance is her core game plan, as D’Vorah can command her horde of devil hornets to descend on her foes. These insects can be positively lethal, especially since some of her attacks can poison her foes. Her poison can negatively affect her enemies in a variety of unfortunate ways. Basically, she exists to bug her rivals.
Jade started her life as a hidden, unplayable character in Mortal Kombat II. She looked exactly like Kitana, except with an alternative color scheme (apparently green is the color of secret characters). When she became playable, Jade developed her own persona and style that made her one of the more interesting characters on the roster.
She uses a staff and two “razorangs” to deal oodles of damage to her opponents. She can also perform a move called Dodging Shadows, which allows projectiles to sail through her without causing harm. In the story, Jade is utterly loyal to Kitana and serves as her protector. Not that Kitana needs a lot of protecting, of course. She is also Kotal Kann’s love interest, which is another way of saying that she doesn’t value her own worth appropriately.
4 Jacqui Briggs
Alongside Cassie Cage, Jacqui Briggs made her debut in Mortal Kombat X. While she does not possess the godly powers of other fighters, underestimate her at your own peril. Just one back of her brutal, ribcage-shattering X-Ray attack alone it is pretty clear that this is yet another Briggs that you don’t want to mess with.
Not only is Jacqui a supremely satisfying fighter to play as, but her involvement in the story is also top-notch. Her practicality and tactical knowledge allow her to be a great foil for other, less-stable characters. She is the voice of reason among the Kombat Kids.
More than Princess Kitana’s clone, Mileena is a beast of her own making. Well, technically she was made by Shang Tsung in his grim flesh pits, but we’re talking about her fighting style here. As a combination of Kitana and a Tarkatan, Mileena blends incredible strength with dizzying speed.
Where Kitana uses her two fans, Mileena prefers a pair of sai. Her sharp Tarkatan teeth also make for a fearsome weapon in their own right. When she’s feeling a bit pecking, she can perform a Leaping Neckbite and satiate her hunger. Every fighter in the Mortal Kombat universe can beat their enemies to a pulp, but Mileena is one of the few who will then use that pulp to make a refreshing smoothie.
Kitana is one of the most iconic female fighters in the Mortal Kombat series. Heck, she is one of the most iconic female fighters in all fighting games. She first appeared in Mortal Kombat II, and her unique choice of weapon made her a bit of a curiosity. Kitana, you see, fights using metal fans. Most notably, she had the ability to toss her fans in midair, hitting opponents while they tried to approach from the sky. This attack controlled space brilliantly and also opened up impressive combo options. Needless to say, they had to tone this stuff down in later games.
In the story, Kitana usually has a strong sense of right and wrong. She stood up to Shao Khan when she realized the dark path he was leading her down, and she has proven to be one of the more reliable forces for good in the series. Has she had a villain arc? Sure, but in the world of Mortal Kombat, who hasn’t?
1 Sonya Blade
Sonya Blade was the first female character in the Mortal Kombat series. She made her appearance in the first game and has been a mainstay in nearly every Mortal Kombat game ever since (with the shocking exception of Mortal Kombat 2, that is). She may look more like a fitness instructor than a soldier, but given her incredible agility, maybe that is on brand.
Her moves revolve around close-quarters, hand-to-hand combat, with recent games incorporating more technology in her Special Moves, such as Drone Drops and Stun Grenades. She was a wide variety of signature moves at her disposal. Of all the females in the series, Sonya has maintained her status as an icon. Even with her daughter joining the cast, Sonya hasn’t stepped into the background. She is still today as relevant as ever. Just don’t ask her to give you a break, she’ll take it way too literally.
NEXT: Mortal Kombat: The Most Powerful Characters, Ranked