MK1 Tier List: All Mortal Kombat 1 Fighters Ranked From Worst to Best

Here's our picks for the best (and worst) combatants in Mortal Kombat 1!

by Drew Kopp
Image NetherRealm Studios

Mortal Kombat 1 radically reinvents many of the series’ most popular characters to the point where many are almost unrecognizable. This means the only way to know which characters are better than others is to play them all and see which ones have the most effective movesets, the easiest-to-learn playstyles, and the goriest Fatalities. Here’s how we rank all the fighters in Mortal Kombat 1 from best to worst.

Mortal Kombat 1 Fighter Tier List

There are twenty-three playable fighters in Mortal Kombat 1, all of which have strengths and quirks that clever players can use to craft a viable playstyle. With that said, some of the game’s combatants have a distinct advantage over their competition in the form of easier-to-perform combo attacks, higher-than-average attack range, or a simple edge in speed and strength. We’ve compiled a tier list of all the playable fighters in Mortal Kombat 1, which you can check out below.

SKenshi, Johnny Cage, Baraka, Raiden, Scorpion
AKitana, Liu Kang, Shang Tsung, Li Mei, Ashrah, Kung Lao, Geras, Smoke, Reptile
BSub-Zero, General Shao, Sindel, Havik, Tonya
CMileena, Nitara, Rain, Reiko

All Mortal Kombat 1 S-Rank Characters

The upper echelon of Mortal Kombat 1’s roster boasts a healthy mix of easy-to-learn combos, hard-hitting special attacks, and solid offense, durability, and speed. On top of that, many of these characters shave unique abilities that give them an edge over the A-tier. Here are all of the S-Tier Fighters in Mortal Kombat 1.

Johnny Cage

Image: Attack of the Fanboy

Johnny Cage’s mouth might be too big for his brain ninety-nine percent of the time, but his non-stop boasts about his fighting skills are grounded in cold, hard truth. Johnny’s fighting style is fast and aggressive; almost all of the combo attacks in his arsenal are simple to learn and chain. Combine this with Johnny’s signature, special move-canceling “Hype Meter” ability, and you get a character that fresh and experienced players can enjoy.


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The magical katana-wielding ex-Yakuza Kenshi is one of the slower characters in Mortal Kombat 1, but his basic combos hit hard and have a surprisingly long range. Kenshi’s signature ability, which allows him to summon a “Sento Spirit” that can be controlled independently, can be tricky to master. Once you’ve got it down, however, Kenshi and his spirit can lock opponents into a devastating thread of attacks that can drain even the beefiest fighters’ healbars in seconds.


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Baraka’s playstyle is as aggressive as his temperament, focusing on long-ranged attacks and quick, close-quarters engagements. Baraka’s bread-and-butter combos are difficult to string together, but they deal massive damage and complement his impressive movement speed. This combination of speed and ferocity encourages a “hit-and-run” style of combat that can lead to intense and exhilarating engagements. Oh, and his Fatalities are some of the most brutal in the game.

Related: Mortal Kombat 1 Easy XP Farming Guide | Rank Up Fast With Invasions


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Raiden is about as basic as Mortal Kombat 1’s roster gets, but simplicity isn’t always bad. Raiden’s combos can be strung together into brutal combos with stunning ease, and many of his aerials allow Raiden to maneuver around his opponents. On top of that, many of his attacks can stun enemies, which can be used in tangent with his acrobatic skill to give him a positioning advantage over slower, clumsier foes.


Image: Attack of the Fanboy

Scorpion is usually one of the best characters in every Mortal Kombat game he appears in, so why would things be any different for Mortal Kombat 1? Like Raiden’s, Scorpion’s string his simplicity. His combos hit hard and can be chained together without much thought, but there’s room for complexity if you’re open to experimentation. On top of that, many of his attacks and grabs incorporate his iconic chain blade, giving him good range and the ability to close the gap between him and his opponents.

All Mortal Kombat 1 A-Rank Characters

A-rank fighters in Mortal Kombat 1 are solid combatants who can deal good damage and have one or two tricks up their sleeves to keep opponents son their toes. With that said, they don’t have the extra “something” that pushed the preceding character into the S-tier, but that does not mean these fighters are bad by any means. Here are all fo the A-rank fighters in Mortal Kombat 1.

Liu Kang

Image: Attack of the Fanboy

Lie Kang is the closest thing the Mortal Kombat series has to a main character, and his fighting style in Mortal Kombat 1 is one of the most accessible in the game. His combos are fast and easy to learn, and his excellent knock-up moves make it easy to start combos and keep them going. Combien this with a superb fireball projectile, and you have a character who can comfortably hold his own against even skilled opponents.

Li Mei

Image: Attack of the Fanboy

Li Mei is a no-nonsense officer of the law whose fighting style reflects her natural aura of authority. Li Mei’s fighting style is about control, keeping her opponent trapped through a well-woven combination of highly-chainable combos and anti-air attacks. Her unique ability, which summons a Sky Lantern that damages opponents who try to jump, compliments her ability to lockdown her opponents. On top of that, her Chain Reaction move is excellent for finishing off foes.


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Kitana is a fast and agile combatant who specializes in long-ranged combat. Kitana’s fans loop back around to her or linger on screen, giving her excellent screen coverage and zoning potential. Unfortunately, Kitana’s close-range melee combos don’t hit very hard, and her lackluster durability means that it’s better to keep your distance and use her vast arsenal of ranged attacks to lock foes into hard-hitting combos.

Related: MK1 Scorpion Combo Guide: Fatalities, Bread & Butters, and More


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The noble-hearted scion of the fallen Titanness Kronika is a muscle-bound bruiser who moves like a continent but hits like a bullet train. Geras’ unparalleled offensive might is second only to his durability, and even the hardest-hitting opponents will have difficulty knocking him down. With that said, his slow movement puts him at a severe disadvantage when he’s pitted against foes that can keep him at a distance.

Kung Lao

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Kung Lao is an odd character because he’s a combination of fighters. His combos are fast and hard-hitting like Johnny’s, and his razor-brimmed straw hat gives him a ranged option like Kitana. Unfortunately, Kung Lao doesn’t have the specialty that makes the character she emulates, so he comes off as a jack-of-all-trades who can do a lot but can’t do it exceptionally well.

Shang Tsung

Image: Attack of the Fanboy

like Kenshi, Shang Tsung is essentially two fighters in one: his older self and his younger self. Each character has a unique moveset, and players can switch between them whenever they want. Old Shang Tsung has a lot of excellent combo-initiating moves, while his younger counterpart specializes in shorter, damage-dealing combos. Players willing to invest in switching can combine these movesets into difficult-to-predict combinations that keep enemies on their toes, but that complexity makes them difficult to master.


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Smoke embodies the agile spirit of the ninja, and his fighting style reflects that. Smoke’s combos incorporate his unique ability to become incorporeal, and many of them allow him to reposition himself behind his enemies and keep them from retaliating. Unfortunately, many characters are fast enough to spin around and counter-attack Smoke before he can set up a combo, turning every up-close engagement into a dangerous gamble.


Image: Attack of the Fanboy

Ashrah is another sword-wielding combatant who trades a thin katana for a thick broadsword. As you might expect, her fighting style prioritizes dealing damage with heavy sweeps and slashes, trading versatility for raw offensive power. While this leaves her vulnerable to technical fighters who know how to keep their distance to squeeze through her defenses, Ashrah can still deliver painful combination attacks that devastating combos that will easily cut down frailer foes.


Image: Attack of the Fanboy

Reptile is one of the most acrobatic fighters in Mortal Kombat 1, and his playstyle heavily encourages keeping yourself (and your opponents) in the as long as possible. Most of Reptile’s best combos are aerial-focused, and he’s armed with some decent combo starters that send foes skyward. Sadly, most fighters have ways of either getting back onto the ground or countering aerial attacks, and some are so heavy that they are almost impossible to launch in the first place.

Related: MK1 Sub Zero Combo Guide: Fatalities, Bread & Butters, and More

All Mortal Kombat 1 B-Rank Characters

Being B-Rank in Mortal Kombat 1 means you’re good but not great. All B-tier fighters can perform well under certain circumstances but have one or more crippling weaknesses that skilled opponents can easily exploit. Here are all of the B-rank fighters in Mortal Kombat 1.

General Shao

Image: Attack of the Fanboy

General Shao is one of the most intimidating-looking fighters in Mortal Kombat 1, and that visual ferocity is translated fluently into his fighting style. Shao’s combos hit hard, and he can cut down most opponents in seconds if he gets a chain of them going. Unfortunately, Shao’s durability is less-than-stellar. Shao is one of the frailest fighters in the game, and his attacks are so slow that they can easily be dodged or blocked, giving your enemies plenty of opportunities to deal a lot of damage before you can get another combo going.


Image: Attack of the Fanboy

This one is painful to admit since Zub-Zeor is one of my favorites, but even I have to admit that the cold-blooded leader of the Lin Qui could be a lot better. Sub-Zero’s combos do good damage, and his ability to freeze opponents can help him close distances or escape bad situations. Unfortunately, his combos are easy to read and don’t have a lot of variety, so more well-versed players can easily predict your attack pattern and counter you. Combine this with slow-moving ranged projectiles, and you get a fun-to-use but painfully average fighter.


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The queen of Outworld is a highly tactical fighter specializing in keeping her opponents pinned down with powerful overhead kicks and psionic screams that can inflict stun. Sindel can be fun to use once you’ve got a good flow going, but the slowness of her attacks and her focus on ranged. Hair-based attacks give her a distinct disadvantage against enemies that can get in close and hit her before she can set up a combo.


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The ravaged anarchist Havik is the only non-Kameo unlockable character in Mortal Kombat 1, and he’s one of the hardest to master. Havik’s main gimmick is his blood magic, which he uses to empower his regular combos and deploy powerful special attacks. This combination can be very effective if you know how to use it, but the timing of Havik’s attacks can only be described as awkward. This means that it’s more complicated than it should be to input the right button combos to pull off his best moves.

Related: Mortal Kombat 1 DLC Roadmap: Omni-Man, Homelander, and Peacemaker Release Dates


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Tonya is a fighter who embodies the old saying, “The best offense is a good defense.” Tonya’s best moves incorporate blocking and countering, seizing the opponent’s momentum and using it to take control of the fight. Unfortunately, Tonya’s low speed makes it hard to implement this strategy against bread-and-butter combos that are tricky to block, meaning that Tonya is stuck in the frustrating position of being unable to break a combo without leaving herself vulnerable to immediate retaliation.

All Mortal Kombat 1 C-Rank Characters

C-tier is the bottom fo the barrel regarding Mortal Kombat 1. I can’t say any of the characters listed below are terrible, but their strengths are vastly outnumbered by their weaknesses. Here are all of the C-rank fighters in Mortal Kombat 1.


Image: Attack of the Fanboy

Mileena is a fast and vicious combatant who relies on getting up close and personal with her foes. Her combos are easy to learn and do good damage, and she can be good if she gets a chain attack going. Unfortunately, her durability is among the lowest in the game, and it’s disturbingly easy to knock her into hard-hitting combos that will eat through her healbar like it’s not even there.


Image: Attack of the Fanboy

Nitara’s main gimmick is aerial attacks, and she can deal a lot of damage if she gets her opponent in the air and on the receiving end of a combo. The problem is that she doesn’t have a lot of knock-up potential, and her frailty means that heavier foes like Geras and Shao can make quick work of her if they get the first couple of hits in and keep her from setting up.


Image: Attack of the Fanboy

Rain is a technical fighter who channels the power of water into special moves that can coat the area and zone opponents into vulnerable positions before closing in for the kill. However, the timing of his attacks is hard to read, and his combos are some of the hardest to memorize in the game. While I can’t say that Rain is a terrible character, the difficulty curve for learning his moveset is sharp and tall, so I can’t recommend him to players who aren’t willing to dive in and learn the intricacies of his moveset.


Image: Attack of the Fanboy

Unlike Liu Kang or Johhny Cage, Reiko exemplifies how being simple can be harmful. Reiko’s combos are fast and offensive, and that’s about all he has going for him. He has next to nothing regarding zoning options or mobility, and his best combos are ground-based,d so you won’t be able to keep opponents from retaliating if they see an opening to do so. All in all, Reiko is a simple character who doesn’t have enough going to justify choosing him over Mortal Kombat 1’s many other close-quarters melee fighters.

- This article was updated on September 26th, 2023

About The Author

Drew Kopp has been a writer at Attack of the Fanboy for three months and has covered Baldur's Gate 3, The Texas Chainsaw Massacre, and Ahsoka. He has a Bachelor's in Creative Writing and loves writing about indie games and celebrity gossip. When he isn't writing, he can be found reading fantasy books or rocking out as Bard in Dungeons & Dragons.