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Mortal Kombat: Bi-Han & Kuai Liang Are Not The Only Sub-Zeroes

The lore and backstory of the Mortal Kombat franchise indicates that there has been more than two people known as Sub-Zero. As a member of the Lin Kuei, Sub-Zero's origins have remained mostly shrouded in mystery since his debut in the first game in the series. When Sub-Zero returned in Mortal Kombat 2, he was revealed to have taken the name used by his elder brother who had perished at the hands of Scorpion during the events of the first game. Later Mortal Kombat entries went even further in dealing with the brothers and their usage of the title.

Bi-Han is the original Sub-Zero of the Mortal Kombat franchise and is the one that fans remember from the first game. After the events of the original Mortal Kombat, he returns to the series as Noob Saibot, a Netherrealm wraith and member of the Brotherhood of Shadow who often works as an antagonist. Replacing him in the role of Sub-Zero is his brother Kuai Liang. Before taking his brother's title in his honor, Kuai Liang formerly operated under the code name Tundra within the Lin Kuei. Kuai Liang simply taking his brother's name for himself opened the door to the possibility of other Sub-Zeroes having existed prior to the brothers fans knew.

Related: Palette-Swapped Mortal Kombat Ninja Colors MK Never Used

As one of the few games in the Mortal Kombat series to fully explore the depth of its lore, Mortal Kombat Deception featured a Konquest Mode in which players took control of Shujinko through the vast world of the MK series. Players start at Shujinko's youth before progressing through the events of the franchise as he undertakes adventures in the background of the main plot. During this adventure, Shujinko encounters familiar faces from Mortal Kombat's history as well as predecessors and ancestors of other characters. One such encounter occurs early in the story when Shujinko encounters a familiar, blue-clad warrior of the Lin Kuei.

Sub-Zero As A Title In Mortal Kombat

Throughout the course of Konquest Mode, Shujinko uses the powers granted to him by Damashi - the avatar of Onaga - to replicate the techniques of other fighters. Among the first fighters Shujinko is able to mimic is Sub-Zero, as he visits the Lin Kuei's Fortress once he is able to leave the gates of his village. However, players may realize that the timeline of events prevent this Sub-Zero from being the same as either Sub-Zero they may know from playing the game itself.

In Shujinko's in-game Bio Kard in Mortal Kombat Deception, one of MK's original creators and artists John Vogel confirms that this Sub-Zero is an ancestor to the others. This is explored further in the latest installment in the series which may have revealed the identity of this particular Sub-Zero and his relation to the others.

Mortal Kombat 11 features unique character introductions across the entire roster before a fight, including when characters face themselves in mirror matches. Sub-Zero's introduction quotes when facing himself will sometimes refer to the other Sub-Zero as a clone of some kind. However, there are special introduction sequences where one Sub-Zero may be referred to as Bi-Han from another timeline or even his grandfather, demanding of Kuai Liang, "Defeat me to earn my mantle."

Related: Mortal Kombat Arcade Cabinets Secretly Tracked Fighter Choices

Noob Saibot - the former Bi-Han - also references this relation in an exchange with his younger brother as he tells him to "disown his name" in response to how Kuai Liang has "disowned him in every way." Kuai Liang responds, "The name was Grandfather's first," confirming that the title had been passed down through at least three generations.

Mortal Kombat's extensive history and multiple timelines has woven a web that connects characters through multiple generations. Perhaps with the timeline reset at the end of MK11 Aftermath, fans may get the chance to see the ancestors of their favorite characters in action. With the references made in both the franchise's original timeline and the current timeline, it seems likely that a new installment in the Mortal Kombat series may yet include the presence of the first person to hold the mantle of Sub-Zero, as the franchise continues to prove that time freezes for no man.

Next: Mortal Kombat: Why Sub-Zero Only Has A Scar Sometimes (& Who Gave It To Him)


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Lawrence Maldonado is a writer, editor, and lifelong video game nerd born and raised in Brooklyn, New York. He has edited an eBook for a voice actor in video games while also having done work as a Community Editor for a video game company. On the side, he would write articles and blogs about video games and the industry in general, leading him to cover games on Screen Rant as a freelance writer. Currently, he can be found wandering the realm of Eorzea while venturing to be the very best like no one ever was. His favorite video game of all time? The answer changes almost daily.

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Mortal Kombat: Why Sub-Zero Only Has A Scar Sometimes (& Who Gave It To Him)

The history of Mortal Kombat's blue ninja, Sub-Zero is complicated, including the scar that appears on his face in most but not all MK games.

When it comes to iconic fighters from Mortal Kombat, few are higher on the arcade ladder than Sub-Zero. The blue ninja appeared in the original Mortal Kombat game, and he's the only kombatant to appear in every subsequent entry in the series. Because of this, he also has a central role in the series' lore, both in the original timeline and in the reboot trilogy. Players also saw him age at a rate different from other characters, going from young to old and gaining a signature facial scar. That marking is important in both timelines, but the fact that it's not in every Mortal Kombat game can be confusing to those not in the know.

The original Sub-Zero has only been playable in blue ninja garb in one game. The warrior Bi-Han froze opponents in the original Mortal Kombat before his death at the hands of Scorpion. This caused Bi-Han's younger brother, Kuai Liang, to take up the mantle in the second game. Kuai Liang has continued on as Sub-Zero in all subsequent games, with Bi-Han reemerging in later editions of Mortal Kombat 3 as an undead wraith named Noob Saibot. MK3 also gave Sub-Zero his facial scar as a way to differentiate between the two brothers.

Related: Mortal Kombat's 2 Kung Lao Characters Explained

However, Sub-Zero lost his scar by the time of Mortal Kombat: Deception. This healing is commonly attributed to the power of the Dragon Medallion, a powerful object Kuai Liang collected in Deadly Alliance to boost his power against the new threat to Mortal Kombat's realms. His alternate skins in later games and default skin in Armageddon did have the scar, and Shaolin Monks even offered an explanation for it via Kung Lao's razor-sharp hat, but none of these sources are considered canon.

What Are The Origins Of Sub-Zero's Scar In Mortal Kombat?

The origins of Sub-Zero's scar in the original arcade timeline remain unclear, but Kuai Liang gained a similar scar in the reboot trilogy's Mortal Kombat X, and NetherRealm Studios made sure to give players an answer for the scar's origins this time around. In the official comic prequel for MKX, Black Dragon mercenary Kano carved the mark into Sub-Zero's face. The scar then appeared in the latest two games in the series, but it did not carry over into his playable cameo in Injustice 2, likely due to DC Comics artist Jim Lee's redesign of the character.

The role of Sub-Zero in Mortal Kombat's story, and even the man behind the mask, may have changed over the years, but players can reliably count on the ability to freeze opponents whenever they boot up a Mortal Kombat game. Like so many other things in the series, Kuai Liang's scar was originally put into place for convenience, rather than story reasons, but it circled back and became part of the franchise's complex lore. With the future of Mortal Kombat's story in flux after MK11: Aftermath, perhaps the upcoming Mortal Kombat movie reboot will portray Kuai Liang's battle with Kano, putting the important moment in MK history on the big screen.

Next: Mortal Kombat 11: 10 Most Intelligent Characters, Ranked


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The Real Sub-Zero[]





The Lin Kuei temple is the place of the biggest ninja clan of Japan. But it has other temples in many countries, including China. Once a member of the clan with Hydro codename was a high ranking assassin and a master cryomancer. The Lin Kuei Grandmaster sent him toU.S.A as a secret operative. He married an American girl and had two sons, they gave them the Chinese names: Bi-Han and Kuai Liang. Hydro wanted his sons to be a great warrior and cryomancer. Against the will of their mother, the brothers were taken to Japanese Lin Kuei by their father. There both them began to be trained hard to be the best of the clan in the future. Hydro always asked the Grandmaster to send Bi-Han to several tasks. But Kuai Liang in fact did not want to be an assassin, he wanted to be a honourable warrior. As Lin Kuei was giving codenames to its good ninjas, Kuai Liang's was Tundra, Bi-Han's was Sub-Zero.


Once the sorcerer of Outworld - Shang Tsung took many warriors from Earthrealm and Outworld to his island to the 10th tournament of Mortal Kombat. The Lin Kuei clan had relationships with the emperor of outworld and has always given warriors to compete in the tournament on the side of the emperor. In this tournament Bi-Han competed and was killed by Scorpion. When Kuai Liang learned his brother's death, he started a quest for the revenge of Bi-Han. In this quest his childhood friend with the codename Smoke helped him to find the killer.

During the single tournament in Outworld Kuai Liang learned the truth that Hanzo had killed Bi-Han. He took Bi-Han's armor and name for his honour and went to Shao Kahn. He demanded Scorpion. When Scorpion felt him from the Netherrealm he came to Outworld and faced Sub-Zero once again. But this time he lost, Sub-Zero wanted to finish him. But he couldn't. Because he had been killed by Bi-Han once and now he was an undead warrior. Then Scorpion swore to protect him from any threat of the darkness.


When Shao Kahn's plans came to end by the hands of Earthrealm warriors, and the emperor died by Liu Kang for murdering Kung Lao, Sub-Zero thought everything is over and returned to his clan with Smoke. But there Kuai's father was waiting him. He told him the new project of their Grandmaster: to turn the Lin Kuei ninjas to the soulless cyborgs, so nobody could kill them. But Kuai Liang and Smoke didn't like this idea. They did not want to lose their souls, past and honour. So they decided to escape. While escaping Hydro, now a cyborg, tried to stop his son. But Smoke fought him, allowing Sub-Zero to escape, leaving a scar on his face. Thus Smoke was taken and turned to a cyborg, determined to destroy Sub-Zero. And Sub-Zero joined the Earthrealm warriors again and fought now ultimate Shao Kahn. When the Earthrealm warriors could oppressed Shao Kahn in his palace, Liu Kang faced him in final battle and destroyed the emperor becoming his ultimate dragon form.


After all these events, Kuai Liang set to the shadows untill learning the bigger threat against all the realms. The fallen Elder God Shinnok and his enforcer Quan Chi had started a war against the Elder Gods. Sub-Zero was one of the volunteer warriors joining Raiden's army. Sub-Zero and the other warriors didn't let the forces of the Netherrealm to conquer the Nexus. Instead they entered Shinnok's palace in Edenia. When Scorpion took Quan Chi to the Netherrealm's deepest hells, the amulet's power also went, leaving Shinnok with the falso amulet created by Quan Chi. So Liu Kang defeated Shinnok and the Elder Gods sent him to Netherrealm's darkest dungeons.

Once everything was over, Sub-Zero found some deserter Lin Kuei human ninjas in China. Their leader Woo Lee took Sub-Zero to their new temple in Arctic zones and they began to build the new Lin Kuei and Sub-Zero had become their new Grandmaster.

Mortal Kombat 9 - Kuai Liang (Tundra) Becomes Sub-Zero

Sub-Zero (Mortal Kombat)

Mortal Kombat character

Kuai Liang

Sub-Zero in Mortal Kombat 11 (2019)

First appearanceMortal Kombat (1992)
Created byEd Boon
John Tobias
Designed byJohn Tobias (early games)
Allan Ditzig (MK:DA)
Luis Mangubat (MK:D)
Portrayed byFrançois Petit (1995 film)
Keith Cooke (Annihilation)
J.J. Perry (Conquest)
Eric Steinberg, Harry Shum (Legacy)
Joe Taslim (2021 film)
Voiced byJim Cummings (MK:TJB)
Luke Perry (MK:DotR)
John Tobias (MK4)
Ed Boon (MK:D)
Rom Barkhordar (2005–2006)
Jim Miller (2008–2011)
Steve Blum (2015–present)
Dimitri Vegas (MK11, DLC Skin)
Bayardo De Murguia (MKL:BotR)[1]
Motion captureDaniel Pesina (MK, MKII)
Joshua Y. Tsui (MKII)
John Turk (MK3, UMK3, MKT, MKM:SZMK4, MKG, MKA)
Tony Chung (MK11)[2]
SpeciesHuman with Cryomancer heritage
OccupationGrand Master
AffiliationLin Kuei
WeaponIce Scepter (MK4, MKG)
Kori Blade (MK:DA, MK:D, MK:U, MK:A, MKvs.DCU, MK9, MKX, Injustice 2)
Cybernetic Weapons (MK9)
Ice Daggers (MKX, Injustice 2)
Ice Hammer (MKX, Injustice 2)
Ice Pollaxe (MK11)
FamilyNoob Saibot (brother)
OriginChina (Earthrealm) [3]
Fighting stylesShotokan (MK:DA, MK:D, MK:U, MK:A)
Dragon (MK:DA, MK:D, MK:U)

See list

    • Ice Blast (MK, MKII, MK3, UMK3, MKT, MKM:SZ, MK4, MKG, MK:DA, MK:D, MK:U, MK:SM, MK:A, MKvs.DCU, MK9, MKX, Injustice 2, MK11)
    • Slide (MK, MKII, MK3, UMK3, MKT, MKM:SZ, MK4, MKG, MK:SM, MKvs.DCU, MK9, MKX, Injustice 2, MK11)
    • Ground Ice (MKII, MKM:SZ, MK:SM, MK9, Injustice 2, MK11)
    • Ice Clone (MK3, UMK3, MKT, MKM:SZ, MK4, MKG, MK:D, MK:U, MK:A, MK9, MKX, Injustice 2)
    • Ice Shower (MK3, UMK3, MKT, MK:A)
    • Ice Shaker (MK:DA)
    • Tombstone Teleport (MKvs.DCU, MK9, Injustice 2)
    • Icy Counter (MKvs.DCU, MK9)
    • Ice Nugget (MKvs.DCU)
    • Ice Bomb (MK9)
    • Divekick (MK9)
    • Ice Burst (MKX, Injustice 2)
    • Frost Hammer (MKX)
    • Air Frost Hammer (MKX, Injustice 2)
    • Polar Puncture (MKX, Injustice 2)
    • Barrier of Frost (MKX, Injustice 2)
    • Frozen Aura (MKX, Injustice 2)
    • Cold Shoulder (MK:DA, MK:D, MK:U, MK:A, MK11)
    • Air Klone Kick (Injustice 2)
    • Klone Charge (Injustice 2)
    • Creeping Ice (MK11)
    • Rising Ice (MK11)
    • Frigid Storm (MK11)
    • Death-Cicle Barrage (MK11)
    • (Air) Polar Axe (MK11)
    • Arctic Trap (MK11)
Hair ColorBlack
Eye ColorBrown

Sub-Zero is a fictionalcharacter in the Mortal Kombatfighting game franchise by Midway Games and NetherRealm Studios. A warrior from the fictional Lin Kuei clan, the character is principally defined by his ability to control ice in many forms. He is the only fighter to appear in every main installment of the series, along with being featured as the protagonist of the action-adventure spin-off Mortal Kombat Mythologies: Sub-Zero (1997).

The franchise's main Sub-Zero is Kuai Liang (Chinese: 快凉; pinyin: Kuài Liáng). Debuting in Mortal Kombat II (1993), he has used the mantle in every chronological game since his introduction. The mantle was previously used in the original 1992 game and Mythologies by his older brother Bi-Han (Chinese: 避寒; pinyin: Bì Hán), who appears in subsequent installments as Noob Saibot. In contrast with Bi-Han's anti-heroic and later villainous role in the franchise, the main Sub-Zero is depicted as one of the heroic fighters defending Earthrealm against various threats. Sub-Zero also appears as both a rival and ally of the undead specterScorpion.

One of the Mortal Kombat franchise's signature characters, Sub-Zero has appeared in various related media outside of the games. He has received acclaim for his appearance, abilities, and Fatality finishing moves.


Mortal Kombat games[edit]

The elder Sub-Zero appears as a playable character in the original 1992 Mortal Kombat game and the protagonist of the 1997 spin-off/prequel Mortal Kombat Mythologies: Sub-Zero.

In Mortal Kombat II (1993), the younger Sub-Zero is introduced. Upon his brother's death in the first tournament and Shang Tsung's survival, Sub-Zero is sent by the Lin Kuei to complete his brother's unfinished task,[4] but is thwarted by Scorpion, who mistakes him for his brother until he witnesses him spare an opponent's life; something the original Sub-Zero was not known to do. Scorpion eventually discovers the new Sub-Zero's true identity and, in return for taking his brother's life, vows to protect him forever.

In Mortal Kombat 3 (1995), Sub-Zero and his fellow Lin Kuei clansman Smoke attempt to escape from their clan after they start converting their warriors into cyborgs, but the latter ends up captured and turned into one anyway alongside Sektor and Cyrax; the former of whom was known to usurp Sub-Zero for his own benefit.[5] The three Cyber Lin Kuei ninjas are programmed to hunt and exterminate Sub-Zero, who by this time had received a vision from Raiden and agreed to join a rebellion against a new threat.[6] In addition to the current Sub-Zero, Ultimate Mortal Kombat 3 (1995) and Mortal Kombat Trilogy (1996) include a non-canonical playable character known as "Classic Sub-Zero".[7] His biography states that although he was believed to have died after the first Mortal Kombat tournament, he returned to assassinate Shang Tsung.[8] However, his ending states that he is not Sub-Zero; rather he is an unidentified warrior who was missing from the previous tournament.[9]

In Mortal Kombat 4 (1997), Raiden once again summons Sub-Zero to assist in defending Earthrealm, this time against Shinnok.[10] In the meantime, Sub-Zero fights Scorpion, who Quan Chi has tricked into believing the Lin Kuei warrior killed his family.[11]

In Mortal Kombat: Deadly Alliance (2002), Sub-Zero defeats Sektor in a fight for leadership of the Lin Kuei.[12] He also meets his apprentice Frost and takes her to fight alongside Earthrealm's warriors against the titular alliance of Shang Tsung and Quan Chi.[13]

In Mortal Kombat: Deception (2004), Sub-Zero joins the warrior Shujinko's group to defeat a new threat in the dragon king Onaga as well as confront Noob Saibot.[14][15] In both Deadly Alliance and Mortal Kombat: Unchained (2006), Sub-Zero battles Frost for the Lin Kuei's leadership and emerges victorious.[16][17]

In Mortal Kombat: Shaolin Monks (2005), which serves as a retelling of Mortal Kombat II, Sub-Zero first appears as a boss character, but then allies with the protagonists Liu Kang and Kung Lao for a short time during the search for his older brother. He is last seen pursuing Saibot in the Netherrealm.[18] Sub-Zero can also be unlocked as a playable character upon completing the game.

In Mortal Kombat: Armageddon's Konquest mode (2007), Sub-Zero faces the warrior Taven, though both eventually decide to ally to stop the invading Saibot and Smoke. After defeating them, Sub-Zero stays with the unconscious Saibot to find a way to save him.[19]

Sub-Zero appears as a playable character in the non-canonical crossover title Mortal Kombat vs. DC Universe (2009), which concerns a war between the eponymous fictional universes. In Sub-Zero's ending, he realizes he is no longer the assassin he once was and leaves the Lin Kuei. Inspired by Batman, he becomes a superhero. Unbeknownst to him, the Lin Kuei are hunting him for deserting them.[20]

Both incarnations of Sub-Zero appear in the 2011 Mortal Kombat reboot game, with the younger assuming the mantle during standard gameplay. The reboot establishes the elder as Bi-Han and the latter as Kuai Liang, while also revealing that Liang used the codename "Tundra" before becoming Sub-Zero.[21] While Bi-Han is still killed by Scorpion and becomes Saibot,[22] Liang's fate changes in the second tournament due to Raiden's interference in an attempt to avert Armageddon. After he defeats Scorpion, Sub-Zero is captured and turned into a cyborg instead of Smoke and forced to serve the otherworldly dimension Outworld and its tyrannical ruler, Shao Kahn.[23] However, he is able to regain his mind and joins Raiden's warriors to stop Shao Kahn.[24] His reunion with Bi-Han as Saibot comes much earlier than it did in the original timeline when he attempts to prevent Quan Chi's Soulnado from forming. After defeating his brother, Sub-Zero is relieved by Native American warrior Nightwolf. However, Shao Kahn's wife, Sindel, electrocutes Sub-Zero before Quan Chi "resurrects" and enslaves him in the Netherrealm as an undead revenant.[25] Sub-Zero's background is further clarified during this installment as well, as it is revealed that the two brothers were in fact abducted by the Lin Kuei as infants after the clan murdered their parents.

In Mortal Kombat X, which takes place two years after the previous game, Sub-Zero continues to serve Quan Chi. It is explained in the tie-in comics that Quan Chi used his magic to recreate his original body to free him of his cyborg body. While serving in Quan Chi's attack on Earthrealm, Sub-Zero and Scorpion are resurrected by Raiden. Over the course of the following twenty-five years, Liang becomes the new grandmaster of the Lin Kuei after defeating Sektor with a computer virus provided by Kung Jin and Bo' Rai Cho; freeing Cyrax and the other cyberized Lin Kuei warriors. He also discovered Quan Chi's role in Bi-Han's downfall and made amends with Scorpion, now Hanzo Hasashi, after revealing Quan Chi and Sektor's involvement in the Shirai Ryu warrior's clan and family's deaths to him. Sub-Zero would later come to the aid of Cassie Cage's team after they are ambushed by Outworld forces while trying to stop Shinnok. While Sub-Zero appears as a playable character in his human form, his cybernetic form is reused as a hidden variation for the DLC character Triborg.

In Mortal Kombat 11, which takes place a further two years after MKX, the keeper of time Kronika brings a past version of Sektor to the present, who kidnaps Sub-Zero's Lin Kuei clansmen to forcibly convert them back into Cyber Lin Kuei and bolster Kronika's forces. In response, Sub-Zero works with Hasashi to infiltrate Sektor's factory and avenge his fallen clansmen, recruiting a time-displaced Cyrax to help them further. Along the way, they encounter Saibot and Frost, the latter whom had abandoned the Lin Kuei over being denied leadership and turned herself into a cyborg after becoming Sektor's second-in-command. Together, Sub-Zero and Hasashi defeat their enemies and force them to retreat before Cyrax shuts down the factory.[26] Due to his Lin Kuei base, among other locations, being compromised by Kronika's allies, Sub-Zero joins his fellow Earthrealm allies at the Shirai Ryu Fire Gardens to assist in formulating a plan to defeat Kronika.[27] At Hasashi's suggestion, he and Sub-Zero head to the Netherrealm to recruit the ferryman Kharon, whom they met while they were revenants.[28] However, Hasashi sends Sub-Zero back to tell Raiden that Kharon will help them while he saves the ferryman from Kronika's minion D'Vorah. When a time-displaced Scorpion arrives bearing news of Hasashi's death by D'Vorah's hand, Sub-Zero initially assumes he is lying and gets into a brief fight with him before realizing the truth with help from Liu Kang.[29][30] Sub-Zero later takes part in the final battle at Kronika's keep alongside the combined Earthrealm/Outworld armies.[31] In Aftermath expansion storyline, takes place after Scorpion keeps his late-present-self’s promise to join Raiden’s force, Sub-Zero forgives Scorpion when the latter confirms to have not expected Shang Tsung’s presence as well, nor being his ally, and both thought the sorcerer corrupted Fujin, until everything settled down once the Wind God and the sorcerer reveals the truth about the future where they came from, along with their successful preservation of Kronika’s crown from falling into Cetrion’s hand.[32] In Sub-Zero's non-canonical ending, after defeating Kronika, he considers Bi-Han and his time as Saibot, as well as learning his brother’s corruption was caused by Sektor earlier, and forges a new timeline where he is able to reform his brother and fight alongside him once again.

Other games[edit]

Sub-Zero has also featured as a guest/cameo character in three non-fighting Midway Games titles: NBA Jam Tournament Edition (1995), The Grid (2000),[33] and MLB Slugfest: Loaded (2004).

Sub-Zero makes a cameo appearance in Injustice: Gods Among Us (2013) during Scorpion's intro, in which the latter is about to perform a fatality on the former before being mysteriously pulled into the Injustice universe.

In the indie-game Punch Club, a ninja named Sub-273 serves as the game's final boss, with his character design based on the first Mortal Kombat film;[34] the "-273" being a reference to the Celsius representation of 0 kelvin, which is considered absolute zero.

Sub-Zero appears as a playable character alongside Raiden via downloadable content in the game's sequel, Injustice 2 (2017). Despite making references to Mortal Kombat vs. DC Universe, Sub-Zero's ending suggests he was also mysteriously pulled to the Injustice universe during the near-end events of Mortal Kombat X. In his arcade ending, following his victory over the alien Brainiac, Sub-Zero worked with Batman to find a way back to his universe. In the meantime, the former became a teacher to the latter's younger allies, while waiting for the gate to his home Mortal Kombat universe prepared. After the tyrannical Superman is accidentally freed from the Phantom Zone when the gate to Mortal Kombat dimension gone awry however, a duty-bound Sub-Zero chooses to stay for as long as he needs to so he can assist the Justice League in re-imprisoning him.[35]

Character design and gameplay[edit]

John Tobias' original concept art and idea notes for the "Lin Kuei / Ninja" character that would become Sub-Zero

Sub-Zero has Ice powers and was first conceived by Mortal Kombat co-creator John Tobias as a mysterious character named simply "Ninja".[36] According to Richard Divizio, the Lin Kuei idea was his input back at the very beginning of the development, in the project that had been cancelled by Midway Games before being restarted later, and in which "originally John [Tobias] had Japanese ninjas".[37] Tobias wrote this inspiration came from the controversial book The Chinese Ninja Connection by Li Hsing, which "posits historical evidence for the existence of the Lin Kuei and their influence on the Japanese ninja.[38] I was aware of there being some controversy about the author’s claims. So when we split the character in two for palette swaps,[39] I thought it would be fitting that one was of Chinese origin and the other Japanese to kind of embody the argument."[40] According to Tobias, the original "Hunter&Hunted concept was going [to be] about a ninja escaping from his clan and hunted by another member. We used that later for SZ in MK3."[41]Daniel Pesina recalled Tobias' idea involved two ninja brothers, one of whom "wants to lead the clan, so he kills the father who is their teacher".[37] Sub-Zero's early name had been Tundra,[42] but it was changed after a member of the design team saw the 1987 film The Running Man in which the first assassin fought by Arnold Schwarzenegger's character used the name (albeit not hyphenated).

The character has primarily been portrayed or voiced by non-Asian actors.[43]Midway Games later explained Sub-Zero's rather occidental appearance for a Chinese assassin by giving him a white mother. According to this new backstory, his father had a wife, two sons, and a daughter while he lived in America to hide his personal role as an assassin for the Lin Kuei.[44] Sub-Zero was originally portrayed by Daniel Pesina, who also first came up with the Lin Kuei idea. At first, Pesina was using a cheap store-bought ninja costume, purchased by him because of budget reasons, that was a size too small and thus caused problems during the filming session.[45] Midway Games programmer Josh Tsui portrayed the unmasked younger Sub-Zero in the character's Mortal Kombat II ending.[46]

Sub-Zero's early costumes have been very simple due to technical limitations.[47]Mortal Kombat co-creator Ed Boon noted that Kuai Liang's counterpart from DC Comics is Batman as both are "dark, mysterious, brooding characters".[48] Tobias said that Sub-Zero was unmasked in Mortal Kombat 3 in order to stir up fan speculation about the character's backstory.[42] The new Sub-Zero made his official debut on the cover of GamePro April 1995 issue, with Turk's red outfit tinted blue (as it was for the game), but the photo used was a reversed negative, as his scar was over his left eye.[49] Since Mortal Kombat 3, Sub-Zero has had a scar running down from his forehead and across his right eye as a mark of death. The scar was originally red, and later changed to blue in Mortal Kombat: Deadly Alliance as a result of Sub-Zero's enhanced powers. In Mortal Kombat: Deception, his scar has faded to the point where it can no longer be seen. He now wore an armored uniform heavily inspired by Dynastic era Chinese battle armor, though it was often criticized by fans as being too reminiscent of Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles villain, the Shredder. However, Sub-Zero's alternate uniform was very reminiscent of Chinese culture, even featuring Sub-Zero without a cowl and a Qing Dynasty-era hairstyle. In Mortal Kombat: Armageddon, Sub-Zero reverts to his masked costume from Deadly Alliance, retaining the scar, which is not part of his alternate costume (which is the primary one from Deception). Since Deadly Alliance, Sub-Zero is the only character who has shown considerable signs of aging. Concept art from Deadly Alliance depicted him with a graying, receding hairline, and a more pale and gaunt face, while his scar was now blue and his forearms frozen over. Although Sub-Zero originally had blue eyes, they turned white after he obtained the Dragon Medallion in the game. Sub-Zero's appearance in Mortal Kombat: Shaolin Monks was one of the most revised ones from the title. Character lead Mark Lappin did almost ten passes on his design; producer Shaun Himmerick noted that "we went through literally 5-6 heads and styles of head costume on him" and commented that Sub-Zero's design in Mortal Kombat was difficult to make although most people called it "simple". In the end, the staff was satisfied with his final look in the game as it reminisces them to his classic outfit.[50] His appearance in Injustice 2 was redesigned by Jim Lee.[51]

When he first appeared in the first Mortal Kombat, Sub-Zero featured only two special moves: his ice blast and sliding kick. These moves have become Sub-Zero's trademark since then, being featured in every game that Sub-Zero has appeared in (Mortal Kombat II and subsequent games feature the younger Sub-Zero). Mortal Kombat II added his ground freeze move, and two new Fatalities including the now-famous one where he would freeze and shatter the victim. According to Boon, Sub-Zero's Freeze was originally omitted from the game in place of the Ice Shower, but was brought back in the next revision following fan feedback at a local arcade.[42] Sub-Zero's Predator-inspired[52] Fatality, the "Spine Rip," is considered by Boon to be his favorite Fatality from the first game as well as the most controversial.[53] Some home versions of the first game replaced the "Spine Rip" with another finishing move due to its violent content.[54] Unlike other returning characters whose moves remained intact, this Fatality was not carried over to Mortal Kombat II and Mortal Kombat 3,[55] but was brought back in Ultimate Mortal Kombat 3 as one of Classic Sub-Zero's finishers. However, the move was intentionally censored by Midway; right after he grabbed onto his opponent, the screen went black and only the resulting sound effects were heard. This was due to the development team choosing not to animate the spine rip fatality for each of the updated character sprites in the game. The Nintendo 64 port of Mortal Kombat Trilogy gives all of the younger Sub-Zero's special techniques and finishing moves to the classic masked version, due to the fact the N64's cartridge format had memory restrictions that did not allow the use of both masked and unmasked characters. The developers had to remove the "Spine Rip" from Mortal Kombat vs. DC Universe as that game was aimed at a younger audience.[56] Sub-Zero also gained a teleporting move in the game in which he freezes himself and falls back to the ground, appearing behind the foe.[48]

Sub-Zero is the only character to be playable in every iteration of the primary fighting game series. Mortal Kombat: Tournament Edition, one of the two Game Boy Advance ports of Deadly Alliance, is the franchise's only fighting game not to feature him as a player character, although the elder Sub-Zero is present in his Noob Saibot identity. The action-adventure spin-off Mortal Kombat: Special Forces is the only game entirely without Sub-Zero.

Other media[edit]

The Mortal Kombat 3 version of the younger Sub-Zero made a cameo appearance in the epilogue of Malibu Comics' 1995 Mortal Kombat: Battlewave miniseries, in which he froze a group of Lin Kuei while proclaiming that the clan was corrupted and no longer worthy of his services. This subplot was never developed as the Mortal Kombat comic book series folded shortly thereafter.

The elder Sub-Zero appears in the Mortal Kombat: Blood & Thunder comic series.

Elder Sub-Zero, appears in the animated film Mortal Kombat: The Journey Begins.

François Petit portrays the elder Sub-Zero in first Mortal Kombat film.

Ryan Watson portrayed the younger Sub-Zero in the theatrical show Mortal Kombat: Live Tour that emphasized getting young audiences into the martial arts, while the actors would travel to schools to give motivational speeches to students.

The younger Sub-Zero is one of the leading characters in the animated series Mortal Kombat: Defenders of the Realm, where he is voiced by Luke Perry.[57] There, Sub-Zero is a member of a good group of warriors assembled by Raiden to defend Earthrealm from invaders who entered through portals from various other dimensions, alongside Jax, Kitana, Liu Kang, Nightwolf, Sonya and Stryker.

The younger Sub-Zero made an appearance in Mortal Kombat: Annihilation, where he was portrayed by Keith Cooke, who had played Reptile in the first movie. After saving both Liu Kang and Kitana from an ambush by Smoke, Sub-Zero has an inconclusive fight with Scorpion, who kidnaps Kitana and escapes. He urges Liu Kang to seek out Nightwolf, as instructed by Raiden, before going after Kitana, then leaves Liu Kang to continue on his quest.[58]

An ancestor of the younger Sub-Zero is featured in two episodes of the live-action series Mortal Kombat: Conquest, and was played by J.J. Perry. He was a Lin Kuei assassin hired by Shang Tsung to defeat Great Kung Lao and retrieve a magic crystal from his home, which had the ability to transport its keeper to other dimensions.[59] Sub-Zero's rivalry with Scorpion was also featured, in which Scorpion murdered Sub-Zero's sister and Sub-Zero killed Scorpion's lover in retaliation. The two fought to a draw and Scorpion escaped when Kung Lao and his friends came to Sub-Zero's aid. Sub-Zero was subsequently berated by the Lin Kuei for his weakness, resulting in him killing the Grandmaster.[60]

Perry again portrayed the younger Sub-Zero in Mortal Kombat: Federation of Martial Arts.

A brief image of the younger Sub-Zero can be seen in the short film Mortal Kombat: Rebirth where dialogue implies a deadly rivalry between him and Hanzo Hasashi. He appears with Mileena in an Animation Domination High-Def sketch video.[61]

The elder Sub-Zero, appears in the seventh episode of the live-action series Mortal Kombat: Legacy portrayed by Kevan Ohtsji, assassinating a shogun whom Hanzo Hasashi was supposed to protect and fought against him at the end of part one. In the next episode it is revealed that Quan Chi impersonated him in order to deceive Scorpion into believing that Sub-Zero murdered his family and clan to enact a false sense of vengeance in him against Bi-Han and gain his allegiance for the upcoming Mortal Kombat tournament. In season two of Legacy, Eric Steinberg portrayed Bi-Han while his brother Kuai Liang was played by Harry Shum.[62] The relationship between Bi-Han and Hanzo is further explored, as they were childhood friends driven apart by the existing rivalry between their two clans, as well as the jealousy of Kuai Liang. When they become adults, Kuai Liang threatens Hanzo and his family while out for a walk and Hanzo is forced to kill Kuai Liang. Bi-Han, believing Hanzo was protecting his family, decides to end the feud between their two clans out of respect for his friend. He becomes saddened and enraged by the fact that his clan had supposedly killed Hanzo, his family, and his clan. He then discovers that Quan Chi had impersonated him. Having been chosen to fight for Earthrealm in Mortal Kombat, he encounters Hanzo on the battlefield. Bi-Han's efforts to explain himself to Hanzo are fruitless, as Hanzo is now an undead specter only responding to the name Scorpion, who then kills Bi-Han by ripping out his spine.

He plays a supporting role in several issues of DC Comics' 2015 Mortal Kombat X: Blood Ties comic miniseries that is set before the events of the game.[63]

In Mortal Kombat Legends: Scorpion's Revenge (2020), the elder Sub-Zero is initially depicted as the ruthless killer of Scorpion's wife and son. He is killed by Scorpion during the Mortal Kombat tournament on Shang Tsung's island. At the end of the movie it is revealed that Quan Chi impersonated the original Sub-Zero through sorcery, convinced the Lin Kuei clan to assault the Shirai Ryu, and killed Scorpion's wife and son in order to manipulate Scorpion into becoming his champion.

Joe Taslim portrays the Bi-Han incarnation of Sub-Zero in the 2021 Mortal Kombat reboot film. Unlike in the games, Bi-Han and the Lin-Kuei serves Outworld willingly despite being from Earthrealm, and he also personally attacks and kills Hanzo Hasashi's family instead of being framed by Quan Chi.

The Kuai Liang incarnation of Sub-Zero appears in the 2021 sequel Mortal Kombat Legends: Battle of the Realms voiced by Bayardo De Murguia.[64]

Merchandise and promotion[edit]

Merchandise items of the character include action figures,[65][66] statues,[67][68][69][70] and a joystick released along with Mortal Kombat: Deception for the PlayStation 2.[71]


Deemed as one of the most popular and recognizable characters in the Mortal Kombat franchise, as well as in the fighting-genre as a whole, Sub-Zero is regarded as the franchise's most iconic character along with Scorpion. He was given the award of the best fighter of 1997 by SuperGamePower (readers vote).[72] His redesign in Mortal Kombat 3 was disliked by GamePro, which they deemed "suspenders" and compared his scar to a red smear.[73] However, his appearance in Deadly Alliance received praise by Gaming Age's Tim Lewinson noting that "Sub-Zero never looked so good."[74]GameDaily listed his appearance in Mortal Kombat Mythologies: Sub-Zero as one of his worst moments.[75] On the other hand, IGN staff liked how Sub-Zero was given his own video game, noting him to be one of the series' most popular characters, and that "it offers gamers a new look at Sub Zero."[76] A GamesRadar article from 2011 discussed his and Scorpion's evolution across the Mortal Kombat series, citing them as its two most popular characters.[54] The rivalry between Sub-Zero and Batman in Mortal Kombat vs. DC Universe was emphasized by IGN who noted that although both characters were extremely powerful, Sub-Zero's freezing skills were more entertaining than Batman's abilities.[77]Den of Geek listed the first Sub-Zero as the eighth best Mortal Kombat character, praising his role in Mythologies Sub-Zero whereas the second Sub-Zero was listed as the top Mortal Kombat based on many of his actions such as his rivalry with Batman, as well as his role in the series such as his relationship with the Lin Kuei.[78] Conversely, Hyper's John Dewhurst opined that what contributed to the failure of Mythologies Sub-Zero is that Sub-Zero's character alone "isn't that interesting without Johnny Cage and Kitana to bounce off."[79]

In 2010, UGO ranked Sub-Zero ninth on their top list of Mortal Kombat characters, noting his ninja costume as the most iconic from the series.[80] That same year, GamePlayBook ranked him as the best Mortal Kombat character, praising his freeze attacks and "Head Rip" Fatality,[81] but the unmasked version of Sub-Zero was ranked as the third worst Mortal Kombat character.[82] In 2011, ScrewAttack ranked Sub-Zero second in their Top 10 list of Mortal Kombat "kharacters"[83] while Anthony Severino of Game Revolution tied him with Scorpion at the top of their list of the best "old school" Mortal Kombat fighters, noting both of them as the most popular characters from the franchise.[84] In 2012, Sub-Zero placed third in UGO's list of top Mortal Kombat characters.[85] That same year, IGN's Brian Altano and Ryan Clements chose him as the most iconic character of Mortal Kombat to represent the series against Jin Kazama of Tekken and Ryu of Street Fighter.[86]

IGN included Sub-Zero's first incarnation at 85th place in their list of 100 video game villains.[87] He made it to the semifinals of GamesRadar's 2008 "Ultimate Character Battle!" poll, losing to Hulk.[88] In 2009, GameSpy named him one of the 25 "extremely rough brawlers" in gaming, praising his fighting style.[89]Complex ranked Sub-Zero as the fifth "most dominant" fighting game character in 2012,[90] as well as the 24th "most badass" video game character of all time in 2013.[91] The readers of Dorkly voted him the series' fourth (the elder Sub-Zero) and second (the younger) greatest character in a 2013 poll.[92] Together, Scorpion and Sub-Zero were voted the fifth most iconic characters in the two decades of the PlayStation by readers of PlayStation Official Magazine – UK in 2015.[93] Sub-Zero alone, ahead of Scorpion, placed third in a 2016 readers poll by Hobby Consolas for the most popular character in all fighting games.[94]

Sub-Zero was featured on numerous lists of the best video game ninja characters, including in these by CrunchGear (at number ten) in 2008,[95] by Unreality (at number four) in 2009,[96] and ScrewAttack (at number five) in 2010.[97] Scorpion and Sub-zero shared the fifth place on the top video game ninja list by PC World in 2009[98]Virgin Media too featured him on their list of "top ten ninjas",[99] while GamesRadar featured him in their 2008 article discussing the top video game assassins, stating that "his bloody ways and ability to freeze opponents solid enabled him to punch his way into the hearts of arcade gamers everywhere."[100] In 2012, BBC News mentioned Sub-Zero as a prominent example of "Western ninja-inspired nonsense" in popular culture.[101]

His ice-projectile technique has been noted by to be one of the best mechanics that changed video games due to how practical it is as it gives players the opportunity of making any move while the opponent is frozen.[102]Prima Games listed the same move as the 23rd in fighting games due to how it paralyses enemies, allowing the player to attack the enemy.[103] Additionally, the same site ranked his "Spinal Rip Fatality" 12th due to how Sub-Zero holds the enemy's head after decapitating him.[104] According to GameSpot's Jeff Gerstmann, the unlocking of the hidden character Classic Sub-Zero in Ultimate Mortal Kombat 3 was "annoying" to the point that players would not do it.[7] In 2010, ScrewAttack ranked Sub-Zero's original Fatality as the best in the series and credited its infamy with the creation of the ESRB video game ratings system.[105]

See also[edit]


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External links[edit]

Media related to Sub-Zero at Wikimedia Commons


Kuai liang zero sub

Characters / Mortal Kombat - Kuai Liang

Mortal KombatMain Character Index
Main series: MK1 | MK2 | MK3 | MK4 | Deadly Alliance | Deception | Armageddon | MK vs. DC Universe | MK9 | MKX | MK11
Spinoffs: Mythologies: Sub-Zero | Special Forces
Non-video game: The Movie | Conquest | Defenders of the Realm | 2021 Movie
Individual Characters: Scorpion | Johnny Cage | Liu Kang | Raiden | Shang Tsung | Sub-Zero II | Kitana | Mileena | Shao Kahn | Shinnok and Quan Chi | Kronika

Spoilers for Mythologies will be unmarked

"This fight will be your last!"

Debut game: Mortal Kombat II (Daniel Pesina)

Other appearances: Mortal Kombat 3 (John Turk), Mortal Kombat 4 (John Turk), Mortal Kombat: Deadly Alliance (John Turk), Mortal Kombat: Deception (John Turk), Mortal Kombat: Armageddon (Tom Taylorson), Mortal Kombat: Shaolin Monks (Rom Barkhordar), Mortal Kombat vs. DC Universe (Jim Miller), Mortal Kombat 9 (Jim Miller), Mortal Kombat X (Steve Blum, English; Sebastián Llapur, Latin American Spanish), Injustice 2 (Steve Blum, English; Sebastian Llapur, Latin American Spanish; Jörg Hengstler, German; Jérémie Covillault, French; Charles Dalla, Brazilian Portuguese), Mortal Kombat 11 (Steve Blum and Dimitri Vegas, English; Tony Chung, Face Model; Sebastian Llapur, Latin American Spanish)

Non-game appearances: Mortal Kombat: Annihilation (Keith Cooke), Mortal Kombat: Defenders of the Realm (Luke Perry), Mortal Kombat: Legacy (Harry Shum Jr.), Mortal Kombat Legends: Battle of the Realms (Bayardo de Murguia)

The sixth member of his family to bear the mantle of Sub-Zero, the warrior has become an active defender of Earthrealm from the forces of Outworld. A powerful Cryomancer able to create and manipulate ice at will, Sub-Zero became the Grandmaster of the Lin Kuei, aiming to rebuild it as a force for good in the world. His real name is Kuai Liang. Taking the name Sub-Zero after the death of his elder brother Bi-Han, the Lin Kuei sent him and fellow warrior Smoke into to Outworld during the second tournament. Their mission was the same as his fallen elder brother's, to assassinate Shang Tsung. He soon learned of Scorpion's grudge against the recently "revived" Sub-Zero. But when he showed mercy to a defeated foe, Scorpion eventually realized he was in fact his younger brother and spared him his elder's fate. Unable to kill their target but aiding the Earthrealm warriors against Shao Kahn, the duo returned home empty handed.

Unfortunately, the Lin Kuei had acquired technology to enhance their warriors and desired Sub-Zero and Smoke to become cyborg assassins. The two refused and fled for their lives. Sub-Zero managed to escape, but Smoke was captured. He was marked for death whilst his friend was turned into a machine against his will. Smoke, Cyrax and Sektor were sent to eliminate him. When Shao Kahn suddenly invaded Earthrealm and claimed the souls of countless millions, as a chosen warrior he found himself one of the lucky few spared and joined Earthrealm's defense against Kahn. Convincing Smoke he had retained his soul and restoring his humanity the two defeated Cyrax and Sektor. Sub-Zero reprogrammed Cyrax to assassinate Kahn (a task he failed in) but Smoke was captured shortly before Outworld's defeat. Convincing an enraged Scorpion during Shinnok's war that he had no role in the murder of his clan or family, and with Quan Chi revealed as the true culprit, the Lin Kuei was finally freed from the specter's vengeance. In the events prior to Deadly Alliance Sub-Zero returned to the Lin Kuei and defeated Sektor for the leadership of the clan, claiming the power-enhancing Dragon Medallion in the process, vowing to reform the group into a force for good. When the Deadly Alliance struck he saw it as an opportunity to show the clan in a new light. Taking his new apprentice Frost with him, he aimed to aid Raiden's forces against the new threat. However, Frost's ambitions caused her to betray Sub-Zero, attempting to steal the Dragon Medallion from her master. Unable to handle its raw power, Frost was consumed by ice, with Sub-Zero blaming her failings on himself.

In Deception within a tomb in Outworld, he discovered his origins were that of a forgotten race known as Cryomancers. Laying Frost's body to rest and forgiving her treachery he donned an ancient suit of armor within the ruin and headed for an Earthrealm portal. He offered asylum to Sareena for aiding his brother in the past. Sub-Zero then found himself in direct conflict with his fallen sibling Noob Saibot and a reprogrammed Smoke during the events of Armageddon.

In Mortal Kombat 9, the younger Sub-Zero is actively seeking Scorpion for his brother's death, and so heads to Outworld with Smoke to seek him. He is also on the run with Smoke from the Lin Kuei, as they were trying to avoid being turned into cyborg ninja like Cyrax and Sektor before them. He eventually defeats Scorpion in the Outworld tournament, but as he is about to deliver the finishing blow, he is captured by the Lin Kuei to be cyberized. As a cyborg, he serves Shao Kahn’s forces for a while before being reprogrammed by Jax, thus having his free will back. He joins the Earthrealm defenders afterwards, and along with most of them, is killed by a powered-up Sindel. Sub-Zero is then resurrected by Quan Chi as a mindless revenant, regaining his human form in the process. He fights for the Netherrealm during the subsequent Earthrealm invasion as depicted in the beginning of Mortal Kombat X. In the aftermath of the war, he is restored to life by Raiden. As with the original timeline, he takes control of the Lin Kuei from Sektor, turning the clan into a benevolent force that aids Earthrealm in both MKX and 11. He also reveals the true murderer of the Shirai Ryu clan to Scorpion, ending their feud and forming a partnership.

Bi-Han can be found here; for tropes related to Cyber Sub-Zero, check the Mortal Kombat 9 character sheet

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  • The Ace: Generally presented as ludicrously competent in whatever he does. His X chapter is basically "hey, look how awesome Sub-Zero is!".
  • A Father to His Men: As Grandmaster of the Lin Kuei, Sub-Zero greatly values the lives of those part of his clan. In 11, he's visibly distraught over seeing the remains of Lin Kuei warriors in the Cyber Lin Kuei factory.
  • Always Second Best: To his brother, as a killer. Shang Tsung tells Kuai Liang he does not produce results like Bi-Han, to which he doesn't deny, but boasts how he maintains his integrity.
  • Animal-Themed Fighting Style: Kuai Liang uses Dragon Kung Fu in Deadly Alliance and Deception.
  • Asskicking Equals Authority: How he becomes leader of the Lin Kuei in the original continuity, as of MKX eventually becomes the leader in the current continuity too, when freed.
  • Amazing Technicolor Population: In Deception and Armageddon, his skin exhibits a gray shade while wearing his Cryomancer armor.
  • Amplifier Artifact: The Dragon Medallion increases Sub-Zero's freezing powers. It's also the symbol of his status as the new Lin Kuei Grandmaster, and may have been responsible for his apparent age jump in Deadly Alliance. His ancestral Cryomancer armor further boosts his powers.
  • An Axe to Grind: He utilizes ice axes in 11 that can be customized via gear.
  • And This Is for...:
    • The aftermath of his battle with Scorpion in 9's Story Mode.

    "For my brother!"

    • One intro between him and D'Vorah in 11 has him declaring the fight is for Hanzo.
  • Back-to-Back Badasses: In his MK9 Arcade ending, Raiden tells him the truth about what happened to his and Scorpion's families due to the Lin Kuei. He manages to convince Scorpion of this and they go forth to take on entire armies for vengeance.
  • Badass Baritone: Courtesy of Steve Blum since MKX, his voice even having an echo in his masked costumes in that game. His MK9 voice is higher, but it makes sense - nearly 30 years have passed in the intervening time.
  • Badass Beard: Sports a rocking one in MKX, in his MK3-inspired unmasked form. His is actually the fullest in the game, too.
  • Badass Boast: Picked up some downright sinister ones for MKX.

    "I will freeze your very soul."

    "I destroy whom I please!"

    "You will know the sting of winter.

    • And of course, who could forget the Lin Kuei's badass creed?

    Smoke: Be as stealthful as the night...

    Sub-Zero: And as deadly as the dawn.

  • Badass in Charge: Of the Lin Kuei. Doubly so as the lore states that only the best of the best are allowed to join that organisation.
  • Badass Teacher: In MKX he essentially serves in this role to the Kombat Kids. His position as Grandmaster of the Lin Kuei could also make him this for the order as a whole. Hilariously, much of his combat banter involves him offering pearls of wisdom and constructive criticism to his opponent. Yes, even when he's killing someone he still takes the time to teach them. Taken to absolutely ridiculous levels when these people can include Shinnok.
  • Back from the Dead: As of Mortal Kombat X, he's alive and organic once again.
  • Bald of Awesome: His alt. in Deception. Though he does have a Cossack-style topknot.
  • Bears Are Bad News: His Animality.
  • Berserk Button:
    • He gets really pissed when his brother mentions how his friend Smoke is still burning in the Neatherrealm.
    • Deities giving him cryptic answers also makes him lose his cool a bit.
  • Big Brother Instinct: Inverted, since he's the younger brother of Bi-Han. Even though his relationship with his brother is now hostile, Kuai Liang says his reasons for fighting Bi-Han were that so he could free his soul. Furthermore, in his arcade ending in 11, the first thing he does as the Keeper of Time is change history so that Bi-Han doesn't become evil. This results in the two of them becoming Bash Brothers and joint Grandmasters of the Lin Kuei, who work to defend Earthrealm.
  • Big Brother Worship: Implied to have had this towards Bi-Han before he became a Broken Pedestal. An example of this is taking up the mantle of Sub-Zero to honor him.
  • BFS: The Kori Blade, his weapon style in Deadly Alliance, Deception, and Armageddon, is a large sword made of ice. In the reboot, he occasionally pulls out an ice sword for combos, but it's much smaller and less intricate.
  • Big Damn Heroes: He and his Lin Kuei arrive just in time to save Cassie's group and repel Kotal Kahn's forces back to Outworld while they make it to the Sky Temple.
  • Blue Means Cold: He has inherited ice powers and usually dresses in blue.
  • Brainwashed and Crazy: While he's one of the few heroes to have completely avoided this fate in the original timeline, in the current timeline he's gone through this a record number of three times: first in 9 as a Lin Kuei cyborg, then in 9 and the flashbacks of X as one of Quan Chi's revenants, and then finally in the X comics under the influence of the Kamidogu.
  • Breaking the Fourth Wall: If he wins a match in 9 without performing a Fatality, he shoots ice towards the players, freezing the screen.
  • Breakout Character: To a perhaps even greater degree than his rival Scorpion, considering how he (well actually his brother) got a spin-off game.
  • But Not Too Foreign: Like his brother, American on his mother's side, Chinese-Cryomancer on his father's. Mortal Kombat 9 has retconned this, since Sub-Zero's trailer shows both Kuai Liang and Bi-Han being abducted as children in what is clearly East Asia, contradicting the the backstory of the brothers being born to an American and later taken by their father to China.
  • Butt-Monkey: Because of Ed Boon's favoritism to Scorpion, fans have kind of joked that Sub-Zero's role in trailers is always "to get his ass kicked by Scorpion."
    • 9's title screen always had Scorpion uppercut Sub-Zero.
    • In Scorpion's intro in Injustice: Gods Among Us he's about to pull a Fatality on Sub-Zero.
    • In both 9 and X's trailers, Scorpion pulled a Fatality on him.
    • Astoundingly, this was actually inverted during the 3D era games, where if Scorpion and Sub-Zero were ever in a fight, the former would inevitably be humiliated by some incarnation of the latter. For instance, in the Shaolin Monks intro the Elder Sub-Zero thrashes Scorpion about before finally knocking him out-cold with a torn-out spine. In the Armageddon intro, Kuai Liang and Scorpion got into a sword-fight where he more or less smacked Scorpion off-screen.
    • When all is said and done, Sub-Zero will always have the last laugh over Scorpion due to having finally killed him mano-y-mano in the original timeline. The fact that Sub-Zero was later killed by Baraka of all people only makes his triumph all the more complete.
    • A final point, while Sub-Zero often defeated Scorpion in trailers for games set in the original time-line, he was almost always canonically defeated by Scorpion in those games' storylines. In the new timeline he actually defeats Scorpion fairly conclusively in the storymode for MK9, and got the upper-hand over him in the comic books. Maybe getting beaten up in trailers by him is just Scorpion's consolation for that fact.
    • In 11, Sub-Zero is defeated by the past Scorpion when the latter is trying to convince him that he's turned against Kronika. He survives this time.
  • Cain and Abel: Upon discovering Noob Saibot's identity as his elder brother reincarnated, Noob has been trying to kill him.
  • Carpet of Virility: In MKX he exhibits quite a bit of chest hair in his alternate costume. Seeing where he lives, it's pretty much justified.
  • Celibate Hero: One of his banters with Cetrion reflects this.

    Cetrion: Is there room for love in your heart?
    Sub-Zero: Love gets in the way.
    Cetrion: Love leads the way, Kuai Liang.

  • Character Development: He started out as a silent assassin in II/9, but when the Lin Kuei becomes interested in cybernetics in 3/9, he splits because he disagrees with the methodology. From 4/X his character evolves greatly and becomes one of the most morally aware characters of the series, even taking over his former clan to lead them in a more righteous direction.
  • Comic-Book Fantasy Casting / Ink-Suit Actor: One skin for Sub-Zero in 11 uses the likeness of DJ Dimitri Vegas, who helped compose the remix of the Mortal Kombat theme from the movie used in the game's launch trailer.
  • The Comically Serious: X and 11's pre-fight banter lines reveal that he has very little in the way of a sense of humor, which is why it's doubly funny when he has to put up with snarkier people like Johnny Cage or Cassie Cage. Part of the fun is watching his continued deadpan exasperation with the flippancy of others.
  • Contrasting Replacement Character: While Bi-Han was a Punch-Clock Villain, Kuai Liang is an unambiguous hero albeit not a very sociable one.
  • Cool Mask: In II, 4, Deadly Alliance (as an alt.), and 9. In Deception, he upgrades to a Cool Helmet as part of the armor of a long-lost Cryomancer. Very literal in X, where his Unbreakable variation gives him a battle mask reminiscent of his previous armored masks in the series, albeit conspicuously made of ice. His mask can be customized with gear in 11.
  • Cool Old Guy: As of MKX and 11, Kuai Lang is roughly in his 50's, but he's still a cool dude.
  • Cool Sword: His Kori Blade from Deadly Alliance onward is literally this; it's a sword made out of ice. Kori is even the Japanese word for ice. Even though he's Chinese-American. The Netherrealm entries have him frequently forge disposable swords out of ice in his moveset.
  • Cultured Warrior: Can kick ass and perform a traditional Japanese tea ceremony with no trouble whatsoever.
  • A Day in the Limelight:
  • Deadpan Snarker: Very rarely, especially considering he's one of the most respectful people in a universe that grazes World of Snark, but he does have his moments (especially when he's talking to JohnnyCage). Of note, however, is this dialogue from 11...

    Sub-Zero: The Lin-Kuei are restored, Shang Tsung.

    Shang Tsung: I sense this is no amicable visit.

    Sub-Zero: How perceptive, sorcerer.

  • Death Seeker: Possibly; when hit with certain brutalities in 11, Sub-Zero's response before the killing blow is simply...

    Sub-Zero: Finally...!

  • Defector from Decadence: When the cyber-initiative goes down, he gets the Netherealm out of there.
  • Disappointed in You: An intro dialogue with Noob Saibot in 11 has him phrasing this word for word toward Kuai. Kuai holds the same feelings.
  • Downloadable Content: In 9, his Klassic skin from MK1/2, his maskless costume from 3, and his classic "Spine Rip" Fatality.
  • Dragon Rider: In his MKX ending, he essentially becomes the Father of (Frost) Dragons.
  • Drop the Hammer: In MKX. His swords got a little smaller in the new timeline, but he made up for it by crushing his enemies with massive hammers that would make Shao Kahn shed a manly tear of pride.
  • Even Evil Can Be Loved: His MK 11 ending shows that despite his mutual hatred for Noob Saibot, he would restore Bi-Han back to normal and by his side if he could, implying that he still cares about him to some extent.
  • Every Scar Has a Story: Averted in the original timeline. While it's presumably gained during his escape from the Lin Kuei prior to 3, it's never been officially explained and apparently fades after donning the Cryomancer armor. However, Shaolin Monks instead shows Sub-Zero being mistaken for his brother and attacked by Kung Lao (miraculously keeping his eye in the process), but this is most likely non-canon. The MKX comics had it caused by Kano scarring him with a Kamidogu, which are now daggers in the alternate continuity.
  • Famed in Story: Sub-Zero seems to have become something of a legend in X, with many of the next generation of fighters remarking on his reputation as a fearsome warrior. In Injustice 2, his reputation precedes him across multiverses.

    Kung Jin: They say Sub-Zero's tough.

    Sub-Zero: They say correctly.

  • Fire-Forged Friends: Forms a genuine bond with his Arch-Enemy Scorpion in the events of X and 11.
  • Friend to All Children: He's the only one in X that shows reluctance in fighting Ferra/Tor due to the fact that the former is a child.

    Sub-Zero: Release the girl, beast.
    Ferra: We both fight Snow Man.
    Sub-Zero: I will show you mercy.
    (Other intro)
    Sub-Zero: What is your age, child?
    Ferra: We no remember.
    Sub-Zero: Old enough to know your place.

  • Good Is Not Soft: He's more heroic than his elder brother, but is pragmatic and not afraid to get his hands a little dirty if it means protecting Earthrealm or the Lin Kuei.
  • Grievous Harm with a Body: His Grandmaster variation in X lets him throw his ice clones around as projectiles and use them as shields.
  • Grim Up North: The Lin Kuei are said to be based in the "northernmost parts of Asia". Of course, it's never really specified where exactly. Some sources put that as being in China, but China isn't the northernmost country in Asia by a long shot (those would be Kazakhstan, Mongolia and, depending on how you define "Asia", Siberia). Wherever they are based, it does certainly match up to the description of this trope, though. Upon assuming command as Grandmaster, he relocated them to the Arctic circle.
  • Guest Fighter: He joins the roster of DC heroes and villains in Injustice 2, after featuring as a cameo in Scorpion's intro in the prequel.
  • Heterosexual Life-Partners:
    • With Smoke. It should be noted that it was Sub-Zero's actions that helped his buddy regain his humanity after undergoing cyborgification.
    • According to his plot progression in DA and Deception, his short-term alliance with Kenshi quickly escalated into this.
  • Hunk: John Turk really solidified this in MK3. His Kuai Liang skin in MKX is borderline Mr. Fanservice.
  • Hypocritical Heartwarming: Sub-Zero does not like being called "Grandmaster Blueberry Ice", Johnny Cage's nickname for him, and even more when someone like the Joker calls him that. Given that Cage is one of the good guys, however, it seems that Sub-Zero lets it slide.

    Sub-Zero: Only Johnny Cage may use that name and live.

    • He may be more fond of the nickname than he lets on; the ice-cream cart in his Friendship actually has it written on the side.
  • An Ice Person: He's even seen in a few costumes with malleable sheets of ice on his forearms (and sometimes his legs) and has the chilled breath to go with it. In 4 and Deadly Alliance, his body additionally emanates an icy mist.
  • Ice Breaker: This is a MASSIVE component of his fighting style.
  • An Ice Suit: Same deal as his brother.
  • Iconic Sequel Character: Given his popularity and position as the main Sub-Zero for most of the games, it can be easy to forget that Kuai Liang didn't appear until the second game.
  • Icy Blue Eyes: A literal sense as his are often a glowing shade of blue, which are likely an aspect of his Cryomancer background given Frost also has them. Played straight in MKvs.DCU, Mortal Kombat 9 and Mortal Kombat X, where his eyes are seemingly a natural shade of blue. Averted in 11 where his eyes are a more natural dark brown.
  • Identical Grandson: According to John Vogel, the Sub-Zero who teaches Shujinko in Deception's Konquest Mode is neither Bi-Han nor Kuai Liang, but their ancestor (most likely their father or grandfather given the chronology).
    • Invoked in 11. In a mirror match the other Sub-Zero will be Kuai's grandfather and challenges him to earn the mantle of Sub-Zero.
  • Impaled with Extreme Prejudice: Kills Scorpion in this manner during Armageddon, as seen in the intro of 9 via Freeze-Frame Bonus. He gets the same fate at the hands of Baraka.
  • In-Series Nickname: Johnny Cage calls Sub-Zero "Grandmaster Blueberry Ice" in 11.
  • Informed Flaw: According to Spawn's ending in 11, he and Scorpion constantly argue with each other, but this flaw is never shown in the story mode whenever they work together.
  • Interspecies Romance: Has some Ship Tease with Sareena. He's mostly human, she's a demon in human guise.
  • Irony: One of the promos for Deception shows Sub-Zero killing Baraka. In the aftermath of ArmageddonBaraka is the one who kills him.
    • In another way, he was essentially to Scorpion in MK9 as Scorpion was to Bi-Han - a vengeance driven warrior brimming with Unstoppable Rage. His first words to Scorpion when Shao Kahn brought him forth to face him were basically a retooled version of Scorpion's usual "I must avenge the deaths of my family and clan!"

    Scorpion: You are not Sub-Zero...

    Sub-Zero: I am his family and clan! I fight for his honour!

  • Kill It with Ice: His preferred method of killing, natch.
  • Legacy Character: The heroic Sub-Zero that has been around for the majority of the series is actually him, the younger brother of the Sub-Zero from MK1, and Sub-Zero has been the family codename in the Lin Kuei since their great-great grandfather.
  • Literally Shattered Lives: Some of his Fatalities, such as his Ice Shatter, Snowball Grenade and Frosty!.
  • Literal-Minded: At some point in the rebooted timeline before 11, Johnny Cage told Sub-Zero that Sonya is an Ice Queen. Cue Sub-Zero later approaching Sonya in order to train her Cryomancer skills.
  • Locked into Strangeness: After gaining the Dragon Medallion, Subby's eyes turn occult blue, as well as his scar. Once he dons the ancient Cryomancer armor, his scar fades, but his skin becomes incredibly pale and his eyes instead turn milky white. If his alt. in Deception is any indication, his hair also goes completely white, as opposed to just graying in DA and is reduced to a ponytail at the back of his head.


  • Master Swordsman: He can perform some rather impressive flourishes with his kori-blades, and can pull off some improbably complicated techniques flawlessly. Best exhibited in his sword-fight with Scorpion in the Armageddon opening cinematic, where he manages to parry Scorpion's sword-blow from behind, across his back, and then drive Scorpion back, gaining the upper hand. He definitely gives Mr. Blind Swordsman Kenshi a run for his money.

    Kenshi: Care to test me?

    Sub-Zero: I, too, wield a sword.

    Kenshi: Yes... made of ice.

  • Meaningful Name: His real name, Kuai Liang, can translate into "fast ice," or more prosaically, "quick freeze." Considering his abilities and the fact that he's a Chinese Cryomancer, this is likely intentional even in-universe.
  • Mighty Glacier: Borderline example. He's not exactly ponderously slow, but he's not quite as quick as say, Scorpion or Reptile, but makes up for it by generally dealing a lot more damage with his dial-up and enhanced combos.
  • Morality Pet: For Sareena, if her Armageddon bio is anything to go by. Not only did she tail Sub-Zero to protect him from harm while he was following Noob and Smoke, but her feelings for him were so strong that even when driven mad and forced to revert back to her demon form, Sareena fleed rather than fought him.
  • Mukokuseki: A Western example. In his ending in the second game, he indeed looks Chinese. In 3, however, he looks vey much like a Caucasian person. This was likely due to limitations in finding an actor, since in his downloadable unmasked costume in 9, he can be seen to properly have a mix of Caucasian and Asian facial features. And in MKX, between the pale colour of his skin and facial features in his unmasked alt he practically looks like he's from Northern Europe.
  • My Greatest Failure: Frost fills this role in both timelines. He blames himself for her arrogance and betrayal.
    • In the new timeline, while Sub-Zero saw Frost as a talented student with great potential, he does acknowledge her anger issues this time. However, Frost still harbored her resentment against her mentor in 11, something which went south to the point she betrays him for Kronika. When Sub-Zero and Scorpion confront her for turning her former Lin Kuei comrades into robot ninjas, they are visibly angered by what Frost had turned into.
    • Though more apparent in the original timeline, his inability to save his elder brother Bi-Han (Sub-Zero I / Noob Saibot), nor his best friend Tomas Vrbada (Smoke) also counts as this. Though he does manage to save the later at the very end of the original timeline. In the reboot, his relationship with Bi-Han is much more bitter, though he does still wish to save him.
  • Nay-Theist: While he trusts Raiden as a leader for the most part, he still has some doubts and expresses such in several intro dialogues between the two. He does not share this sentiment with Cetrion, which is justified given how much the Elder Gods had screwed them over for the rebooted timeline.

    Sub-Zero: Why should I pray to you?
    Cetrion: Why does a bird flap its wings?
    Sub-Zero: I asked asimple question.

  • No Sense of Humor: Notable for having next to no levity in his Pre-Battle Banter. Kuai Liang's seriousness makes him the perfect Straight Man to the goofier members of the cast, which clearly frustrates him on a regular basis.

    Sub-Zero: Must everything be a joke?
    Johnny Cage: Yeah. It does.

  • Oblivious Younger Sibling: Kuai Liang is a noticeably more morally-grounded character than his brother and frequently has to reiterate this to those who knew Bi-Han, but he seems to idolize his elder sibling a bit too much (which is more evident in 9) in spite of a tie-in comic for 4 revealing that Bi-Han, at some point in the past, told him about his adventures during Mythologies, a retelling that likely included his unwarranted killing of Hanzo when the ninja was defenseless and had surrendered, begging for his life. Family Honor and the simple fact that he lost his only known relative play a part, but Kuai, who has an adversity to lethal force unless absolutely necessary, was one untimely intervention by the Cyber Lin Kuei away from ending Scorpion's (un)life in 9, knowing full well that'd only perpetuate the Vicious Cycle built up to that point. Bi-Han, now Noob Saibot, disowning and attempting to kill him caused Kuai to ultimately shake off this rosy image.
  • Oh, Crap!: He gets this reaction (one of his least stoic expressions) when he sees the corrupted Jinsei spreading throughout Earthrealm.
  • Older and Wiser: Most notable in Deadly Alliance (and to a lesser extent, in 4).Mortal Kombat X also goes this route without having to make him look too old.
  • Older Than They Look: In a reverse of what happened in the original timeline,Mortal Kombat X has Sub-Zero in his fifties and yet he looks like he could be two decades younger.
  • One-Man Army: His Deception ending in the original timeline basically had him taking on a horde of Tarkatans and winning.
  • The One Thing I Don't Hate About You: Kuai Liang does not like Johnny Cage's childlike banter, but he accepts the maturity and good will he otherwise demonstrates. Thus he is frustrated at most with Johnny's comical routine; when the Joker, someone more villainous yet no more mature, uses Johnny's "Grandmaster Blueberry Ice" nickname, however, Kuai Liang is prepared to kill him for it.

    Joker: Grandmaster Blueberry Ice, hmm?
    Sub-Zero: Only Johnny Cage may use that nickname and live.

  • Our Ancestors Are Superheroes: Kuai Liang is descended from a race of Outworlders (later retconned into being Edenians) who mastered control over cold.
  • Potty Failure: His Babality in Mortal Kombat 9.
  • Power Echoes: His voice in X has a noticeable echo in it unless he's wearing his unmasked costume.
  • Pretty in Mink: His Cryomancer armor comes complete with fur ruffles around the collar.
  • Prophet Eyes: Sports a very light blue variation of these in MKX, and for a time when he was under Quan Chi's control in the same sense as Scorpion he had a fiery-colored variant.
  • Proud Warrior Race Guy: Unlike his brother and Sektor, however, Kuai Liang knew where to draw the line. However, since having restored the clan's honour in both continuities, his devotion to the Lin Kuei seems stronger than ever.

    Sub-Zero: For the Lin Kuei!

    Scorpion: For the Shirai-Ryu!

    Sub-Zero:To the death!

  • Pun: His first Fatality in 9 is called "Have an Ice Day."
  • Punched Across the Room: He's had a variant of this as a move since Deadly Alliance. His throw attacks in Armageddon and X puts his own particular spin on it by freezing the opponent first before he punches them. Many of his combos in 9 and X also tend to cap off with a massive punch and tend to be quite damaging as a result. Of course, they also have the added utility of putting some distance between him and his opponent, thus setting them up for an ice blast.
  • Raised by Orcs: The Lin Kuei kidnapped him and his brother during childhood and then raised them to be cold-hearted assassins. Sub-Zero still eventually shows his conscience, compassion and didn't let his upbringing dictate his life direction, eventually becoming a bonafide good guy.
  • Reasonable Authority Figure: As the Grandmaster of the Lin Kuei. Particularly, in Mortal Kombat X, he assists the new Special Forces in a training exercise. He also extends an olive branch to his long-time nemesis Scorpion after having learned of how Quan Chi manipulated the Lin Kuei into killing him and wiping out the Shirai Ryu, even after Scorpion loses his cool following a sneak attack from an upstart Lin Kuei named Frost.
  • Red Oni, Blue Oni: He's the blue to virtually everyone else he encounters (especially Scorpion), fitting given that he's a Cryomancer. This is easily apparent when he invites Hanzo (his brother's murderer) over to his temple to make peace with the former wraith and start off fresh with the Shirai Ryu. He retained his cool throughout the entire ordeal even when Frost nearly ruins things and when Hanzo almost killed him.
  • Redeeming Replacement: At his best, Bi-Han was a dark Anti-Hero, with interpretation of his various deeds arguably placing him as worse. Kuai Liang, on the other hand, is a compassionate (if not realistically pragmatic) hero who spends a great deal of his early appearances trying to prove that he is not his brother.
  • Reforged into a Minion: He was brainwashed to serve Quan Chi and Shinnok in 9, but he's brought Back from the Dead in X.
  • The Rival: Was this on-again, off-again for a while to Scorpion in the original timeline, depending on who was saying what about him to Scorpion. In 4, they make peace, and future duels are usually just Rule of Cool. It's implied they still don't like each other, though. This is no longer the case anymore when Kuai Liang reveals the truth behind the first Shirai Ryu's demise in X.
  • Set Right What Once Went Wrong: After obtaining the Hourglass in his MK11 Arcade ending, he travels back in time and prevents Bi-Han's turn to evil. The two brothers ultimately become joint Grandmasters of the Lin Kuei and defend Earthrealm together.
  • Shadow Archetype: His Revenant is a dark mirror of Kuai Liang. Though he was an effective assassin of the Lin Kuei, his compassion and assertiveness prevented him from becoming a fully unfeeling and ruthless assassin. His assertiveness was even enough to make him be a good leader to the Lin Kuei. However, as a Revenant, Sub-Zero is none of those. He's completely subservient to Shinnok and Quan Chi, and he follows every order they give and kills their enemies with no remorse whatsoever. In other words, Kuai Liang's Revenant is what he would be if he were truly cold-blooded, just like his brother Bi-Han was in life before becoming the wraith Noob Saibot.
  • Ship Tease: With Sareena, particularly in Armageddon, though the teasing was directed at his elder brother. She may not know that Bi-Han is dead.
  • Scars Are Forever: Oddly enough, it seems to have a bit faded and change colors in Deception and Armageddon. And it doesn't appear in 9until he retain it again in X, but caused by Kano, due to history being changed.
  • Sins of Our Fathers: Scorpion seems to have shifted the blame he originally placed on Bi-Han for his supposed murder of the Shirai-Ryu onto him, much to Kuai Liang's annoyance. It doesn't really help matters that Scorpion was essentially wrong to blame him or his brother in the first place.


    Sub-Zero: I tire of maintaining our innocence.

  • Snark-to-Snark Combat: He gets this gem of a conversation with Kung Jin in X.

    Kung Jin: (after getting knocked down by Sub-Zero) A feint. Bravo.

    Sub-Zero: You should rally your companions rather than mock your superiors.

    Kung Jin: I'll keep that in mind if I ever meet 'em.

  • Sixth Ranger: He is one of the last warriors to join Raiden's forces.
  • Slide Attack: Simply named "Slide", this is one attack he's always had.
  • Spontaneous Weapon Creation: His aforementioned Kori Blade is created by flash-freezing moisture in the air. He learns to make more improvised weaponry in the WB Games canon, such as smaller swords in 9 and hammers in X. Customization options in 11 include a water bottle at his hip presumably for this purpose.
  • Stance System:
    • Shotokan Karate and Dragon-style Kung Fu for both Deadly Alliance and Deception. Keeps the former for the final battle, while Jarek inherits the Dragon style.
    • In X his variations are Cryomancer, Unbreakable and Grandmaster.
      • Cryomancer gives Sub-Zero the (Air) Frost Hammer/Crushing Hammer - allowing him to bash his opponents over the head, and combo strings unavailable in his other variations – which extends his attacking range and gives him more damage. The visual indicator is the thin aura of ice that decorates his arms and face (more noticeable around the arms a la4, DA, A, and vs. DCU) and a crossed sword-and-hammer icon.
      • Unbreakable gives Sub-Zero the Barrier of Frost/Barrier of Ice – which stops all attacks cold in their tracks (including freezing opponents directly striking the barrier), and the Frozen Aura/Ice Aura - which outright eliminates chip damage. The visual indicator is the mask of ice over his face (reminiscent of the DA, A, vs. DCU, and 9 mask) and a shield icon.
      • Grandmaster gives Sub-Zero his iconic Ice Klone/Ice Statue - which he can place in any location he desires, and the Klone Toss - which lets him toss the sculpture across the screen dealing direct damage. The visual indicator is the glowing light blue medallion placed over his right breast (most likely the newest iteration of the Dragon Medallion) and a snowflake icon.
  • Status Quo Is God: Quan Chi restores his human body when he raises him as a revenant in the MKX prequel comics, which he retains when he is freed from Quan Chi's control and returned to life in MKX.
  • The Stoic: Easily the least vocal and most ruthless of the main heroes.
    • Not So Stoic: Understandably, but after finding the mutilated remains of his clan at the hands of the Tekunin in 11, he almost breaks down before Hanzo manages to calm him down.
  • Stone Wall: Doesn't fully conform to this template, but this is a viable applicable of his freezing powers (especially his Ice Clones). The only time Subby has strictly adhered to this was in 4, where most of his other tactics were nerfed, but his turtling game was not. His Unbreakable variation in X also counts.
  • Superior Successor: In the opinion of just about everyone in 11, he is a better Sub-Zero than Bi-Han was.
  • Super Strength: Possibly the single most physically strong character in the franchise, barring the outright monstrous ones like Shao Kahn, Goro, Onaga, Torr, etc. How else do you describe someone who can rip out spines? Something even machines have difficulty doing. His Spine Rip Fatality in MKX can involve him lifting even the largest characters up into the air, then tearing them apart with his bare hands.
  • Tall, Dark, and Handsome: As one can see from his unmasked appearances, and canonically 6'2" tall.
  • Technical Pacifist: Pinballs between this and Reluctant Warrior, but usually stays rooted in the former. He has an aversion to killing, as seen by his story in II (this is also how Scorpion was able to piece together that he was not the same Sub-Zero he killed in the previous tournament, thus beginning his vow to protect the younger Sub-Zero). He even made peace with Scorpion (his brother's killer), froze Frost out of mercy instead of outright killing her, and tries to purify his brother's soul. All bets are off if you're an irredeemable villain, though.
  • Teeth-Clenched Teamwork: By 11, Sub-Zero has grown tired of Johnny Cage's lax attitude, and treats him with open contempt. However, he also tolerates more from Johnny than he does anyone else - one of his fight intros has the Joker call him "Grandmaster Blueberry Ice", which Kuai responds only Cage can call him and live.
  • Uneven Hybrid: Descended from an ancient Outworld race known as Cryomancers, inheriting ice powers as a result.
  • Unstoppable Rage: Unleashed some on Scorpion during his chapter in MK9.
  • Undeathly Pallor: A grayish-white skin after being revived as a brainwashed minion.
  • Unwitting Instigator of Doom: Revealed to Hanzo that Quan Chi was the one who killed the Shirai Ryu as well as his wife and son. This leads Hanzo to lead the new Shirai Ryu in a raid at a Special Forces base to kill the captive Quan Chi in revenge before being able to revert the revenants back into human, dooming them in that state.
  • Use Your Head: His MK9 X-ray attack ends with a skull-shattering headbutt. Somehow, this works even against helmeted opponents like Shao Kahn and the cyborgs, where he would be more likely to crush his own skull using such a move.
  • Video Game Sliding: Along with his ice powers, Sub-Zero series has a sliding kick among his arsenal of moves. It debuted in the first Mortal Kombat and appears across many other entries in the series.
  • Volcanic Veins: He gains these upon being revived as a brainwashed minion of Quan Chi.
  • Walking Shirtless Scene: In his non-ninja outfit.
  • Weapon of Choice: An Ice Scepter in 4, and the aforementioned Kori Blade in Deadly Alliance through Armageddon. 11 features him using an Ice Axe.
  • Worf Had the Flu: He lost to Scorpion in the MKX comic, but Hanzo openly admitted the only reason he won was because Sub-Zero was weakened by the kamidogu. Also, he more or less initially dominated their fight until the demon possessing decided to expend his powers to stop Takeda from running away.
  • Worthy Opponent: In one intro dialogue with D'Vorah where he confronts her for killing Hanzo, Sub-Zero tells her that he considered Scorpion his equal.
  • What Happened to the Mouse?: We know that the Sub-Zero bros. were kidnapped by their father and taken to China, leaving behind their mother and a younger sister in America. However, no mention of their family was ever made afterward (aside from a cameo in Kuai Liang's vignette for 9, which detailed said abduction), and their current status (such as whether or not they survived Shao Kahn's invasion) remains unknown.
  • Younger Than They Look: The whitening of his hair and hardening of his features in Deadly Alliance made him look older, but he's in his early 40s at most (he was 32 in II). Ironically enough, the reverse happens in the rebooted timeline. He's pushing mid-to-late 50s as of the current era, but looks permanently frozen in his 30s. It's implied his time as a Cyber and later a Revenant may have halted his aging to some degree.

Mortal Kombat 11 - Sub Zero Aka Kuai Liang Klassic Towers Champion

Time it meant a lot. I like you better, I finally answered. It's so loud here, let's go and talk to us if you want. - Come on, it's so loud here. We went up with her and went to the room.

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Let's go to, Ballaton ", (there was such a wonderful Hungarian store in Moscow) to, Lithuania, we'll go to the cinema. Come on, get ready, there is not much time. -I wanted to fuck you. Yours will, we will try in different ways.

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