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Ranking the "Mortal Kombat" Ninjas

Gaming has been my number one hobby for a long time. I’ve owned a variety of consoles and handhelds and have played hundreds of games.


Mortal Kombat's stable of ninjas are one of the most identifiable elements of the series. What started with just Scorpion and Sub-Zero exploded into a palette swapping frenzy, giving us a Skittles' bags worth of brightly colored warriors. But which one is the mightiest?


1. Scorpion

Yes, he's my favorite MK character, but objectively, Scorpion is a beast. Here's why. Already a feared badass before he died, his village was invaded, and his wife and child slaughtered. Scorpion was then killed and sent to hell, landing in a pit of molten awesome, and emerging as a yellow avatar of destruction. Now a vengeful spirit, he won't rest until his family and clan are avenged. I dare you to find a cooler backstory than that. Plus, his spear move is the greatest attack in fighting game history. You impale a dude in the chest, yank him closer while shouting at him to "GET OVER HERE!," before uppercutting them into northern Tekken. I love that.

As if that wasn't enough, his face is actually a mask that hides his true visage: a flaming skull. So now he's ninja Ghost Rider. DAMN. Remember Stone Cold Steve Austin's Smoking Skull championship? Pretty sure that it's Scorpion on the front of that thing. And people wonder why Austin was so successful. Seriously, would you mess with a dude that willingly peels his face off and breathes fire upon you? Wow, Scorpion is a dragon too! Take that, Skyrim. I think we're all in agreement that Scorpion is the best ninja not only in MK, but in the history of ninjutsu.


2. Sub-Zero

I'm trying really hard to avoid using ice puns here. Aw screw it. If you read my article about my first experience with Mortal Kombat, you know that Subby was the first character I ever picked. I froze as soon as I saw him; he looked so awesome. His attacks will leave you on ice and once you master him, you'll be the coolest player around. This Sub-Zero is actually the second to bear the name. His older brother, Noob Saibot, was the first, but he died and became all evil and wraithy. When he return, he greeted the new Sub-Zero with the proverbial cold shoulder. Lil' Sub-Zero told his brother to chill, but Noob would have none of it, so now they hate each other. I'm sorry about that. In short, Sub-Zero is amazing, and if he didn't go out to a bucket of water in the movie, he might have nabbed the top spot.


3. Smoke

I've always thought Smoke was a pretty awesome character. Grey and black is a cool combination, and I always thought the puffs of smoke emitting from his body was a cool touch (though perhaps a bad message for the kids. You know, the same ones allowed to play MK). Even his name is cool: Smoke. How awesome of a ninja name is that? While he ripped moves from Scorpion and others in the old games, he really came into his own in the MK reboot, sporting actual smoke-based attacks. Also, turns out he was Raiden from Metal Gear all along.


4. Rain

Yes, he's purple and named after a Prince song, but don't screw with Rain. An Ededian prince gone bad, Rain has an assortment of weather-based attacks, making him the ninja equivalent of Storm from X-Men. Sure, his water-based attacks are pretty goofy looking, but he can also summon powerful bolts of lighting. Where was he in Back to the Future? Plus he can roundhouse kick opponents with such ferocity that they fly off-screen and land behind him. So, by my understanding, that single kick is powerful enough to send someone on a non-stop flight around the Earth's diameter and back again? Purple or not, that's pretty damn impressive.


5. Reptile

The original secret character, Reptile is a favorite among the MK faithful for his versatility and the insane combos he can pull off. He spews acid and rips people's heads off with his tongue, making him pretty sick. I didn't like when he became The Lizard from Spider-Man in MK: Deadly Alliance, but other than that, Reptile is alright in my books. There's just one thing that's always bugged me.

The name Reptile. Some of the later characters have pretty dumb names, but when you think about it, how generic-sounding is Reptile? It makes even less sense because he's part of a race of lizard people. Do his people refer to him as Reptile too? It'd be fine if it was a code name, but I've never heard him called anything else. That'd be like me being named Human and everyone referring to me as such. A random tangent, I know, but I've always been bugged by that.


6. Ermac

Hailing from the realm of computer errors, Ermac is pretty worthless in the 2D games. His arsenal is generic as can be and he seemingly only existed because Midway thought the series needed a red ninja just because. MK: Deception revived him into a unique and enjoyable fighter with a bevy of long-ranged telekinetic attacks. Still, off the battlefield, Ermac is pretty bland. He's made up of a collection of souls, but they must've all come from the body of Lance Storm or something. You're on your own for that reference.


7. Chameleon

Not to be confused with Khameleon from the N64 version of MK Trilogy, who is a different character all together. Chameleon is like the pu pu platter of MK ninja. The transparent fighter can morph into any of the other ninja as well as utilize their move set. You get a little taste of everything for the price of one. The downside is that, at least in Trilogy, the transition between ninjas takes a second or two leaving you defenseless as you have no clue who you're getting. I'd rank Chameleon higher, but since he can become Noob Saibot at a moment's notice, it's only fitting that he gets to chill out next to his buddy.


8. Noob Saibot

Screw you, Noob. Yeah, I have some negative bias here. Noob's backstory is fine: as I explained earlier, he was the original Sub-Zero, killed by Liu Kang in the first tournament, who later became an evil shadow wraith in the Netherrealm. Recently, that red chick from the second season of Game of Thrones gave birth to him, so there's that too. Noob's offense is also among the most unique of the entire roster, he's fun to use, and he just plain looks awesome. Seriously, look at him right now; he's beastly. He's like the ninja Undertaker, if that makes sense. Probably doesn't.

What I hate is just how cheap and annoying this jerk can be. Play any given person online that uses him and you'll know what I mean. He is the worst. I used to pick Noob as a joke to mess with my buddies. We're no longer friends, so Noob Saibot ruins friendships too. If you're looking to end a crappy relationship or marriage, Noob Saibot is your man. When it comes to being unfair, Noob could give some of the boss characters a run for their money.

Questions & Answers

Question: Why isn't Tremor a part of this ranking?

Answer: This was originally written years before Tremor joined the series proper in MK X. Though he first appeared in MK: Special Forces, I didn't count him as he was barely a character and there was little known about him.


Creator Klassic Ninja on May 20, 2019:

You forgot Tremor dude, he's also a Klassic!

Elemental on April 30, 2019:


[.awegjv0pwe,of,ae3 on June 11, 2018:

This list should have been:

8: Chameleon

7: Smoke

6: Rain

5: Reptile

4: Noob Saibot

3: Ermac

2: Sub Zero

1: Scorpion

Morgan Nelson on March 05, 2018:

What about Chrome? He is highly unknown and underrated.

silas chan on May 22, 2017:

noob is cool looking also he has really fast speed in mk 9 he was number 2 for most underrated mk characters 1 was smoke

HI on April 19, 2017:

Scorpion killed noob in the original

JooJ on April 10, 2017:

You forgot Tremor :) we was in Special Forces and in PS Vita's Challenge Tower.

Jordan on March 14, 2017:

You mean the list should have been

8. Chameleon

7. Smoke

6. Reptile

5. Rain

4. Ermac

3. Noob Saibot

2. Sub-Zero

1. Scorpion

ArkhamKid21YT on November 01, 2016:

Didn't Scorpion kill Bi-Han not Liu Kang.

J Antonio Marcelino from Illinois, USA on September 01, 2012:

I had no idea there were so many ninjas in the Mortal kombat series. Only knew about Sub-Zero, Scorpion, Reptile and Smoke.

Then again I stopped playing MK games after 3 and came back when they released the Reboot/MK9 game. Interesting hub.

Marcus Stewart (author) from Fort Lauderdale, Florida on September 01, 2012:

As far as pure fighting goes, I'd have to agree and thanks for your input. This list is half-serious, half-me being an snarky ass, so don't take it too seriously.

MundaneMondays on September 01, 2012:

I feel Noob Saibot and Sub-Zero should top the list, noob is very sick, between him and smoke that's a challenge for number 2 and between Sub and Scorpion it's a challenge for number one, i do agree Ermac is very freakin basic and does remind me of lance storm or spenelli from recess