Mortal Kombat 1: The Original Dark History of the Lin Kuei

The Lin Kuei is set to return in the alternate Mortal Kombat Universe. Here’s the backstory of the original Lin Kuei.

Image via NetherRealm Games

The Lin Kuei has been a staple in the Mortal Kombat franchise since Sub-Zero’s debut in the original release of Mortal Kombat three decades ago. When Mortal Kombat Anthologies: Sub-Zero was released, we got a closer look at the clan’s history and its greatest champion. It’s ridiculous to think that the Mortal Kombat series is capable of such exciting lore, but make no mistake: Ed Boon and the team have made many strides in the story department.

As we look deeper into the Lin-Kuei, many questions still need to be answered, but the main history of the original timeline seems to be set in stone. There’s no telling if the past will carry over to the newest timeline in Mortal Kombat 1. As a precaution, let’s catch up on some Mortal Kombat lore involving one of the most extraordinary characters and clans in the game. We may come across something neat we haven’t discovered yet.

Related: Mortal Kombat 1: Release Date, Pre-Order Editions, Trailers

Who is Elder Sub-Zero in Mortal Kombat?

Image via Amino

In case you didn’t know, there are two Sub Zero’s. The original Elder Sub-Zero first appeared in the original Mortal Kombat game and Mortal Kombat Anthologies: Sub-Zero. Back when the clan was first introduced, Sub-Zero was the best fighter in the clan due to his unique ability to control and manipulate ice. Quan Chi hires the clan to find a map, and Sub-Zero is sent to fulfill the job. After completing the mission, Quan Chi performs his payment by eradicating the Shirai-Ryu clan, the same clan that Scorpion belongs to.

Soon after, Sub Zero is hired again for another job to find an amulet supposedly belonging to Quan Chi himself. Once again, he returns the amulet to Quan Chi, but this time, Raiden chastises him, as the amulet is the key to releasing Shinnok, an evil elder god. Raiden sends him to the Netherrealm to correct his misdoing, and with the help of Sareena, a demoness, he successfully retrieves the amulet from Quan Chi. Elder Sub-Zero would later be killed in the Mortal Kombat tournament by Scorpion as a point of revenge for what happened to his clan.

Young Sub Zero and Smoke Lore in Mortal Kombat

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Elder Sub-Zero would meet his end in the events of Mortal Kombat 2, and his younger brother would take up the mantle of the new Sub-Zero. In his quest as an assassin targeting Shang Tsung, he would team up with another Lin Kuei member, Smoke, and together, they would get very close to completing the mission but fail due to Shang Tsung’s escape. In Mortal Kombat 3, he would return to combat the forces of outworld. This time, the consequences would be dire, and he would lose a good friend in the process.

The event in question was the cyborg program that the Lin Kuei created to produce stronger and more loyal soldiers. At first, both Sub Zero and Smoke were all in on the program, but wiser heads prevailed, and they both realized the cost of becoming full-fledged cyborgs. They both tried to escape, but unfortunately, Smoke was captured and converted into a cyborg, while Sub-Zero escaped. At the same time, two more Lin Kuei, Cyrax, and Sektor, would be converted into cyborgs as well.

The Return of Elder Sub-Zero and Death of Lin Kuei

Image via NetherRealm Games

At this point, the Lin Kuei is dead, and Sub-Zero is on the run from Sektor. He begins Mortal Kombat 4 as a “good guy” and teams up with Raiden and his crew to combat the returning Shinnok. During this time, he reunites with his previously deceased brother, Elder Sub-Zero, who now goes by Noob Saibot. The reunion isn’t happy, though, as Noob is bound to Quan Chi and forced to do his bidding.

By this time, the Lin Kuei is entirely destroyed by the Outworld warlord, Shao Khan, who’s looking to rule over both realms. Sektor, one of the cyborg Lin Kuei, was dismantled by the desert and was revived to resume the hunt for Sub-Zero. Instead, Cyrax went to Special Forces agents Sonya Blade and Jaxson Briggs for help restoring his former memories and body. Sub-Zero would meet Scorpion for the last time in this timeline, and after defeating the final survivor of the Shirai-Ryu clan, he would ultimately free the souls of his fallen clan members.

Related: Mortal Kombat 1: What is Invasion Mode? Explained

As we mentioned in the beginning, the story of the Lin-Kuei is dark, but luckily, this is just one timeline among many others. Some were much happier than others, but this is Mortal Kombat, so it wouldn’t be the same without some death and dismemberment. Hopefully, Liu Kang’s timeline will be happier, and everyone will have a happier ending. Who’re we kidding? It won’t end well for any members of the playable kast.