The massive roster of Mortal Kombat has covered various inspirations from all walks of life, but one of their most interesting characters came in the first entry. Liu Kang began life as the fighting game equivalent to Bruce Lee, complete with the trademark yells and white sneakers. However, his story soon expanded into something far more intriguing and set him up as the series' main protagonist, and how his fatality was handled in the first game was the first major hint.

Liu Kang was a Shaolin monk who focused on peace over violence, but he wasn't afraid to put his abilities to use to end villainy, whether in Earthrealm or Outworld. Much like the other fighters of Earthrealm, Liu Kang was chosen to compete in the Mortal Kombat tournament. But once players input the combination for Liu Kang's fatality, they were met with a unique surprise: he didn't really have one.

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Aside from the pit fatality, Liu Kang never murdered his opponent outright in the original game. While characters like Sub-Zero were known to rip the heads off their opponents, Liu's Shaolin heritage kept him from participating in such barbaric acts. The early choice to keep him as non-violent as possible was a strong testament to how he was framed as the hero of the franchise and wouldn't stoop to the level of his opponents.

This direction would only last for one game, though. While Mortal Kombat II included a fairly non-lethal Spinning Uppercut finisher, his most notable fatality saw Liu Kang turn into a dragon and bite his opponent in half. However, this change to the character never affected his story. Liu would continue to appear in Mortal Kombat until his death in Deadly Alliance, always serving as the hero of Earthrealm and the Champion of Mortal Kombat.

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Liu Kang would spend most of his time as an undead zombie following his death at the hands of Shang Tsung and Quan-Chi. He remained as such until Mortal Kombat 9, where the reset timeline reimplemented him as the hero. However, by Mortal Kombat X, he had once again been killed, this time by Raiden, and was brought back as an undead revenant who fought a younger, time-displaced Liu Kang in Mortal Kombat 11. This chain of events would lead him to a path of godhood as the younger Liu took the role of the elemental Fire God from Raiden and became the savior of not just one world but all worlds.

Liu Kang may have started as a Bruce Lee clone, but he has grown into an ideal that all protagonists should strive towards. He was one of the purest characters in the Mortal Kombat franchise thanks to Ed Boon and John Tobias' decision to omit murder in his fatalities. Doing so set a precedent that Liu Kang would always ensure that taking a life was the last resort no matter what.

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