Mortal Kombat is home to some of the most iconic fighting game characters throughout all of video games, but few are as recognizable as the yellow-clad ninja, Scorpion.
He’s also one of the series most interesting characters from a lore perspective, so if you were ever curious as to what drives Mortal Kombat’s specter of vengeance to burn the flesh of his opponents with his skull head, get over here as we dive deep into the history of Scorpion.
Firstly, let’s set the stage a bit. Scorpion is an interesting character – in so far as, despite being one of the poster boys of Mortal Kombat, his story actually isn’t intrinsically tied to the main conflict of Earthrealm and Outworld. It’s actually much more personal.
The Lin Kuei and the Shirai Ryu
In the world of Mortal Kombat there are two rival clans, the Shirai Ryu and the Lin Kuei. The Lin Kuei originated somewhere in northern Asia and are essentially super-human warriors for hire. At some point, a Japanese Lin Kuei warrior named Takeda (Not the one from MKX,) travels to Japan, spreads his knowledge of Ninjutsu to various general and lords during the feudal era, and forms the first ever ninja clan, the Shirai-Ryu.
Takeda’s betrayal of the Lin Kuei to start his own clan immediately puts the two clans at odds, and over time they would develop an intense rivalry that would come to a head on one fateful day thanks to the schemings of a certain Netherrealm sorcerer, Quan Chi.
Quan Chi desires to steal a powerful amulet belonging to the elder god Shinnok, but in order to do that, he needs a human to bypass its defenses. So, he hires a Lin Kuei warrior named Bi-Han, codename Sub-Zero, along with a Shirai-Ryu named Hanzo Hasashi, codename: Scorpion, just in case Bi-Han can’t get the job done.
Bi-Han and Hanzo, unaware that they were both hired by the same man to perform the same job, encounter each other on their quest, fight it out, Sub-Zero wins, and Hanzo is killed. Bi-Han delivers the map detailing the location of Shinnok’s amulet, and as payment to the Lin Kuei, Quan Chi massacres the entire Shirai Ryu clan, including Hanzo’s wife and son.
The Specter of Vengeance
It’s from this point on that the man, Hanzo Hasashi, is dead and gone, and only the specter Scorpion remains. Quan Chi manipulates Scorpion in the Netherrealm by telling him that it was, in fact, Sub-Zero who killed his family and clan, and in the next Mortal Kombat tournament, Scorpion manages to finally kill Sub-Zero and get his revenge. Or so he thought.
In Mortal Kombat 2, Sub-Zero returns, and thus so too does Scorpion, determined to stamp out his long hated rival. But upon watching one of Sub-Zero’s fights in the tournament, he witnesses something very uncharacteristic of the Sub-Zero he knew. Mercy.
Scorpion eventually learns that this Sub-Zero was not Bi-Han, but actually his brother, Kuai Liang. Whether it was guilt over taking away his brother, a way to atone for murdering out of vengeance, or something else, Scorpion vows to protect this new Sub-Zero, and it’s that vow that sets him against Shao Kahn in Mortal Kombat 3, aligning him with the Earthrealm warriors.
It’s at this point where the target of Scorpion’s vengeance pretty much changes from game to game. In 4, it’s back on Sub-Zero after being tricked into thinking that Sub-Zero actually did kill his wife and child. In Deadly Alliance, he’s real mad at Quan Chi after finally learning the truth surrounding the deaths of his clan and family. In Deception, he becomes a champion of the Elder Gods and sets his wrath on whoever they point him to. And in Armageddon he gets super pissed at the Elder Gods for bringing back the Shirai Ryu as hellspawn warriors like himself.
Then the timeline gets reset with Mortal Kombat 9, and things play out mostly the same. Scorpion enters the Mortal Kombat tournament as a manipulated servant of Quan Chi, kills Bi-Han, and remains under his control until Raiden resurrects Scorpion’s human form, Hanzo Hasashi.
Where Scorpion is At Now
In Mortal Kombat X, Kuai Liang invites Hanzo to the Lin Kuei palace to finally bury the hatchet between the two. Sub-Zero reveals that it was Quan Chi who massacred the Shirai Ryu, and that he has no ill will over Hanzo killing his brother. The two bow and become friends, bonded together by the own mutual hatred of Quan Chi.
Speaking of Quan Chi! He finally gets captured by Earth’s Special Forces, and Hanzo arrives on the scene prepared to finally get some long sought after revenge on an actual deserving target. And he does, in what’s probably the single best scene in Mortal Kombat.
Unfortunately, he was too late to stop the resurrection of Shinnok and proceeds to get beaten by the Elder God, but hey, at least Quan Chi’s super dead.
And that’s where Scorpion’s at leading up to Mortal Kombat 11. It’ll be interesting to see what’s in store for Hanzo Hasashi in the present timeline now that his vengeance is finally quelled, but as we know, Mortal Kombat 11 deals with a lot of time travel, so chances are we won’t have to wait long before we see the yellow-clad spectre of vengeance we know and love.
Mitchell Saltzman is Gameplay/Livestream Guy at IGN. Follow him on Twitter.