There’s a whole bunch of stuff going on in life, perhaps far too many to name in this article. Actually, there’s definitely too many things in the vast realm of existence to name here. Maybe we’ll attempt it in another article. Probably not, though, as it’s doubtful that we’d have the time. What we’ll focus on in this article is one particular thing among the many in existence: Mortal Kombat. Furthermore, we’ll zoom in on one particular character in the game’s vast, bloody universe: Sub-Zero, our favourite cool, cold Lin Kuei warrior.
There are plenty of reasons to love Sub-Zero. For one, he’s a ninja, and pretty much everyone in the world who wasn’t slain by a ninja absolutely loves ninjas. Although, Sub-Zero doesn’t really like being called a ninja, as you’ll discover below. Also, the man has complete control over the element of ice. Well, there are probably several more fans of ninjas than there are of ice, but when you combine the two, you have Sub-Zero, and everyone loves Sub-Zero.
Our love for Sub-Zero is unconditional in a way. We love him, although we don’t know much about him. We feel that we don’t have to dissect the man fully in order for us to give him our full support and admiration. However, there are some among us that feel the impulse to chip at the cold, cool layer of mystery that emanates from our favourite blue ninja. If you’re one of those people, you can thank us for saving you all the gruelling research that went into discovering 15 things most people don’t know about Sub-Zero.
15. He Is The Only Character Who Has Been Playable In Every Mortal Kombat Game
Although several other characters can make the claim to have made cameos in every single Mortal Kombat game, Sub-Zero is the only character who has appeared as a playable character in every iteration of the franchise. Really, it’s hard for us MK fans to even think about a version of the video game where we wouldn’t be able to choose that sleek blue warrior out of the fighting roster. Of course, it’s hard to picture a game without some of the series’ other main characters, however, the fact speaks for itself. Liu Kang made a brief appearance in Mortal Kombat: Deadly Alliance, but was killed at the beginning of the game and is not playable; Sonya Blade has strictly cameo roles in Mortal Kombat II and Mortal Kombat: Deception; Raiden is playable in every game except for Mortal Kombat 3 and the updated rerelease, Ultimate Mortal Kombat 3, where he only appears as a cameo; Scorpion was not playable in Mortal Kombat 3.
14. The Sub-Zero We’re Most Familiar With Is The Character’s Second Incarnation
In case you’re one of those weird folks who leave the house to go outside every once in a while, you might not be aware that there are actually two versions of the assassin we know as Sub-Zero. The original Sub-Zero is Bi-Han and he died in the original Mortal Kombat tournament at the hands of… someone that we’ll reveal in the next entry. Bi-Han’s soul, tarnished by years of brutal violence, descended straight to the Netherrealm. He was eventually resurrected by the sorcerer, Quan Chi, and was reborn as Noob Saibot. Yep, Noob Saibot is the original Sub-Zero, but more on that later. Thankfully, the Sub-Zero name lived on in Bi-Han’s younger brother, Kuai Liang, who encompassed the icy ninja’s persona throughout most of the Mortal Kombat series. As the reincarnation of Sub-Zero, Kuai Lang made his debut in Mortal Kombat II, and would continue to represent the character in every iteration of the game moving forward.
13. The Original Sub-Zero Was Killed By Scorpion
This by no means settles the debate of who would win in a fight between Scorpion and Sub-Zero, but supporters of the Scorpion side can always point back to the fact that Scorpion actually ended up killing Bi-Han, the original Sub-Zero, during the events of the first Mortal Kombat tournament. Scorpion dragged Bi-Han down to the Netherrealm in order to seek revenge. In the ensuing fight, Scorpion overpowered Bi-Han, but he initially decided to spare him due to a promise he made to Raiden. However, at the last moment, the sorcerer Quan Chi tricked Scorpion’s mind by showing him illusions of how Scorpion’s wife and son were murdered at the hands of Bi-Han. Going into a fit of rage, Scorpion pulled Bi-Han’s spine and skull right out of his body, and brought them up to Earthrealm, letting them fall to the ground in front of all of Earthrealm’s heroes.
12. The Original Sub-Zero Was Reborn As Noob Saibot
The evil, conniving sorcerer Quan Chi evidently had a personal agenda when he convinced Scorpion to kill the original Sub-Zero in the most brutal way possible. After those horrific (yet somehow brutally satisfying) events transpired in the Netherrealm, Quan Chi used his ancient dark magic to resurrect Bi-Han as a new, darker, sleeker ninja, Noob Saibot. From Mortal Kombat (2011): “Noob Saibot’s origins are unknown, but he is likely a revenant: a fallen warrior resurrected by the Netherrealm sorcerer Quan Chi to fulfill a dark objective. Noob has been assigned to aid Shao Kahn in his acquisition of Earthrealm. A faithful servant and a recent addition to the Brotherhood of Shadow, he will obey his master, Quan Chi, and complete his mission. But he is biding his time. Noob Saibot has a dark objective of his own.” Easily one of the most mysterious and interesting characters in the entire series, many fans don’t know that Noob Saibot is actually a twisted version of Sub-Zero. Either way, it’s important for fans to keep a close eye on the dark ninja, as he is a consistent contender for claiming the throne of the Netherrealm.
11. He’s A Descendant Of The Cryomancers
An ancient race, Cryomancers were once humans who inhabited Outworld. Naturally, they had the power of controlling, shaping, and manipulating ice. Most of the Cryomancer population was believed to have been exterminated by Shao Kahn during the earlier period of his reign as emperor. Cryomancers are known to look like humans (take Sub-Zero, for instance), but their actual lifespan is widely unknown. Some believe that the race of Cryomancers mostly had extremely pale white-blue skin. We observed this trait in Sub-Zero, after he had made contact with the Dragon Medallion (an artifact that affected Sub-Zero by enhancing his Cryomancer abilities. The only known descendants of Cryomancers in the entire Mortal Kombat franchise are Bi-Han, Kuai Liang, and Kuai’s young apprentice Frost, although no one really cares about Frost. In Sareena’s ending sequence in Mortal Kombat: Armageddon, she was said to have gained the Cryomancer ice ability, although we’re not sure whether or not this meant that she had become a Cryomancer herself.
10. He Has Served Under The Lin Kuei
Based to some extent on the ancient Chinese clan that bears the same name, the Lin-Kuei are one of the most featured and spoken about organizations in the entire Mortal Kombat franchise, and they have contributed significantly to the background (and, to an extent, the foreground) story arcs in the series. However, the clan has always dwelt in the shadows, and fans have always wondered where their true intentions lie. Some say that their agenda promotes peace, while others say it promotes destruction. What we do know about the Lin Kuei comes from a quote once spoken by the cyborg, Sektor: “We are the Lin Kuei, more stealthful than the night, more deadly than the dawn!” Our fingers turned to the stringiest mozzarella cheese sticks while typing that out, but we hope the message was properly conveyed. Bi-Han was devoted entirely to the Lin Kuei, carrying out their every whim without question, while Kuai Liang progressively doubted the clan, eventually choosing to leave it behind completely.
9. He Has Also Appeared As A Cyborg
In Mortal Kombat, characters tend to die pretty often. So it goes. This definitely includes Sub-Zero, even during his second incarnation. After Kuai Lang was killed, he gets automated (in the place of Cyber Smoke, to the dismay of several fans) and reborn as Cyber Sub-Zero. Although losing cyber Smoke is a heavy blow to take, we got this incredible ice-cold machine out of the trade — and boy, could Cyber Sub-Zero ever kick some serious a**. Sub-Zero’s natural strength is enhanced significantly through cybernetics, while still retaining all of the ice powers he wielded while he was human. Cyber Sub-Zero is so strong, in fact, that he was able to single-handedly defeat both Kintaro and Goro at the very same time. Most of the Mortal Kombat roster would be smashed to bits if they had to face one of those monsters in a one-on-one fight, and Cyber Sub-Zero ended up having no problem taking both of them on at once.
8. He Was Almost Named Tundra
Yikes, we sure did dodge a bullet there, didn’t we? Sub-Zero has such a nice, sleek, sexy ring to it; Tundra, on the other hand, sounds bloated and cold in the most unsexy way possible. The fact is that Kuai Liang went by the code name of Tundra for a long time. However, after his brother Bi-Han was killed by Scorpion (by “killed”, we of course mean dragged down to the Netherrealm and had his spine and skull ripped out of his body) during the first Mortal Kombat tournament, Kuai Lang swore revenge on his brother’s murderer, and took on his brother’s code name, Sub-Zero, in order to honour him. We graciously thank the lords that he did that. Tundra definitely conveys the cold part of the character, but this ninja would certainly not be as cool as he is if he was named anything but Sub-Zero.
7. What The Characters On His Costume Mean
True fandom cannot truly be called fandom unless the fan in question is familiar with the meaning of the foreign symbols on their favourite characters’ costumes. If you already knew what the symbols on Sub-Zero’s clothing means, then we salute you. If you didn’t, don’t worry — we won’t be performing any fatalities on you anytime soon. But you should definitely be ashamed. Anyway, the characters on his Mortal Kombat: Deadly Alliance primary costume “冰龍的”, refer to “Ice Dragon’s” (which means something like “this belongs to Ice Dragon”). 冰= “Ice” // 龍= “Dragon” // 的 = “‘s.” His alternative costume in the same game contains the same Chinese Characters, with the addition of another “Ice” (冰龍的冰). So, the meaning now changes to “Ice Dragon’s Ice.” The alternative Chinese characters for Sub-Zero’s name are “快涼”, which literally mean “Fast and cool.”
6. He Hated Being Called A Ninja
While Kuai Lang, the current version of Sub-Zero, is plenty mysterious in his own right, he was nothing like the shrouded figure that his brother, Bi-Han, was. Kuai Lang is only an anti-hero in the sense that he is mysterious and unpredictable; he definitely fights for the forces of good the vast majority of the time. Bi-Han, however, was definitely less restrictive about whose blood he shed, and how often he shed it. As the first Sub-Zero, Bi-Han was an absolutely ruthless warrior, who did not hesitate to carry out brutal murders, so long as the Lin Kuei commanded him to do so. You see, Bi Han was a supremely devoted follower of the Lin Kuei, and he would sacrifice his life (or the lives of anyone else around him) in order to honour their command. In fact, Sub-Zero (Bi-Han) was so devoted to his clan, that he took offense every time someone referred to him as a ninja — Sub-Zero considered himself a Lin Kuei warrior, nothing less, nothing more.
5. He Once Became Batman
Yes, you read right indeed — Sub-Zero could only go around being Sub-Zero for so long before he surrounded to his inner urges to become Batman. Okay, so he didn’t literally become Batman (only Batman could ever be Batman), but the ending to his storyline in the video game Mortal Kombat vs. DC Universe shows him standing on the roof of a tall skyscraper, dressed in blue assassin garb as he normally is. Except, billowing in the wind next to him is a black cape, very similar to Batman’s. Meanwhile, the narrator’s voice tells the story of how Sub-Zero was done fighting with the defenders of Earthrealm, and will defend the realm on his own terms, alone, under the veil of the night… That definitely sounds familiar to us. If we were Batman, we’d definitely be worried that someone would be pining for our spot as Gotham’s saviour.
4. He Inspired Ray Lloyd/Glacier In WCW Wrestling
Raymond M. Lloyd is a martial artist, professional wrestler, and actor best known for appearing in World Championship Wrestling under the ring name Glacier from 1996 to 1999. Starting from 1996, Lloyd took on the persona of Glacier, who bore a striking resemblance to our beloved Lin Kuei warrior, Sub-Zero. One look at Glacier’s costume, and pretty much anyone who has ever played a single Mortal Kombat game can see that the wrestler clearly took his fair share of inspiration from the character. He certainly doesn’t deny it, either. According to Glacier’s bio: In mid-1996 WCW began airing mysterious promos claiming that “our world is about to change” before finishing with the tag-line ‘Blood Runs Cold’. Apparently produced by the Lin Kuei, these promos prophesized the entrance of a warrior codenamed ‘Glacier’ into Earthrealm. Rather than defeat Shang Tsung, Glacier’s immediate mission within WCW was not clear. What was clear, however, was Glacier’s striking similarity to another Netherrealm warrior: Sub-Zero.
3. He Had His Own Game
Being one of the most recognizable characters in the entire Mortal Kombat franchise, it’s easy to see why the creators of the series endeavoured to send Sub-Zero off on his own solo quest in Mortal Kombat Mythologies: Sub-Zero. Released in 1997 and available on PlayStation and Nintendo 64, Mortal Kombat Mythologies: Sub-Zero features a storyline that is a prequel set before the events of the original Mortal Kombat tournament. The main objective of the game is to find an amulet and deliver it to the sorcerer Quan Chi. Here, developers have taken a big leap away from the normal format of a traditional Mortal Kombat game, since it is a side-scroller (albeit a much more mature side-scroller than the ones that were released at the time) in which the player controls Sub-Zero in several stages as he faces a wide assortment of enemies that try to kill him in the most painful of ways.
2. He Helped Create The Modern Day Ratings System
Known among gamers as the official video game police, the Entertainment Software Rating Board (ESRB) is the organization that assigns age and content ratings on video games, enforcing advertising guidelines and ensuring “responsible” online privacy principles for all games in the United States, Canada, and Mexico. The ESRB was established in 1994, and it’s largely believed that the organization came together as a response to the incredible backlash that the first Mortal Kombat game received for its gratuitous display of violence. Of course, Sub-Zero’s spine-ripping fatality was the icing on the cake that cemented the ESRB’s belief that they truly had a purpose. We’re not sure if the ESRB does more good than bad, but we do know that Mortal Kombat is a fun game to play, and we will never get tired of seeing Sub-Zero pull a spine out of his victim’s body.
1. He Might Be Able To Beat Scorpion In A Fight (Or He Might Not)
Now how’s that for a decisive entry title? True, Scorpion did completely destroy Bi-Han when he was the original Sub-Zero, but there’s never been a deciding moment in the Mortal Kombat series where fans could truly see if Sub-Zero in his current form could actually take Scorpion down. Who knows, really? Fanboys and girls will have their opinions, of course, and some of those opinions might actually be based on measurements of each character’s strengths based on their physical feats and combat records as opposed to who they think is cooler. Regardless, we won’t have a definitive answer until Ed Boon or John Tobias pin the two together in a fight and leave one of them standing. So, who do you think that would be? We love Sub-Zero, but of course, Scorpion is an absolute beast as well. Get out of here, and discuss it among yourselves.