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Who Are The Returning Old Characters in Mortal Kombat 1?

Sebastian Quintanilla
15 min

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Who Are The Returning Old Characters in Mortal Kombat 1?
Mortal Kombat 1 may feature a brand new timeline, but the team at NRS has decided to bring back many of the beloved characters of the early 3D!

If you are a brand new player to the Mortal Kombat franchise, you might have heard whispers throughout the years about characters like Havik, Smoke, or, on very rare occasions, Ashrah. These are all returning characters old in the series, that have not been playable for nearly a decade now. Some are well-known, such as Smoke, but do you truly know what their stories have left behind for this new Liu Kang timeline? We also have a list of all Mortal Kombat 1 characters currently on the roster. 

If you want to dig deeper at the stories of the ninjas in particular, we have a whole series on YouTube, detailing the timeline of events for each one:

The FULL Stories of Mortal Kombat Ninjas | Part 2: Edenians & Cyborgs | DashFight

Yet, there are many more characters whose stories have not been effectively erased by Liu Kang, so who are these new-old characters roaming the various realms in Mortal Kombat 1? Lets find out trailer by trailer.


During the first Mortal Kombat 1 gameplay trailer, we learned that Kenshi, a much-awaited character for the series, would finally return as a playable character.

During the original timeline, Kenshi sought to free his ancestors from the grasp of Shang Tsung, who had captured their souls. After learning that the sorcerer had escaped to Outworld, he joined forces with Earthrealm’s special forces to go after him.

Although he would confront Shang Tsung, he nearly died in the encounter if not for Sub-Zero’s aid. In the years that followed, he would build a closer relationship with him and the Lin Kuei, yet remained on his lonesome, only accompanied by the guiding voices of his ancestors.

Before Liu Kang’s timeline, Kenshi was a masterful swordsman manipulated by Shang Tsung into retrieving Sento from the Well of Souls, a task that would leave him blind. He would spend the rest of his life stopping evil from taking over the realms. In time, he would fall in love and even have a son, Takeda.

Although a family man, Kenshi’s adventurous life kept calling for him to seek ever-stronger opponents. Later, he would learn his significant other had been murdered by the Red Dragon, who also kidnapped his son Takeda. After freeing him, Kenshi asked Scorpion, who had helped in the rescue, to take care of Takeda, as Kenshi feared the Red Dragon would retaliate but promised to return for him one day.

Due to Liu Kang’s newly constructed timeline, Kenshi is now part of a once-great Japanese family, the Takahashis. The blade Sento is no longer in the Well of Souls, but a relic passed down from generation to generation, or at least it was supposed to be. 

Due to the family’s poor fortunes, Sento and many heirlooms have been slowly stripped away over the centuries. Most of the surviving family now centers around organized crime.

A young Kenshi is determined to reclaim Sento and, more importantly, his family’s legacy by proving his worth as a fighter and leader.


Once again, NRS decided to bless long-time fans of the series by announcing that Smoke, often considered one of the original ninjas alongside Scorpion and Sub-zero but generally pushed aside in the story, would now be once again a playable character on the roster.

Prior to Liu Kang’s new timeline, Smoke was a Lin Kuei warrior excelling at the art of stealth. Although he has no recollections of his upbringing, he believes Sub-zero and the rest of the Lin Kuei to be his family. 

As the Lin Kuei undergoes the Cyber initiative, Smoke is one of the few ninjas to refuse and escape. During the invasion of Earthrealm by the Outworld forces, Smoke, alongside the other warriors, confronts a now cyborg Sub-Zero; they are able to knock him out of the fight and later reprogram him back to his real self.

Unfortunately, Smoke would later fall to a Sindel and cyborg ambush, which allowed Quan Chi to resurrect him as a revenant. Lacking his free will, he helped Quan Chi and Sindel release Shinnok and invade Earthrealm, now on the side of the Netherrealm. 

In the new universe, Smoke is adopted as a child by the Lin Kuei Grandmaster after his family is wrongly massacred for entering the clan’s territory. Tomas was then raised alongside Sub-zero and Scorpion, seeing both as his brothers.

Lacking in his adoptive brothers' supernatural powers, Smoke chose to learn practical magic, eventually becoming a great ninja by his own will and embracing smoke as one of his primary utilities.

Li Mei & Tanya

Two often forgotten early 3D-era fighters. Tanya's last appearance was as a short cameo in Mortal Kombat 11, but her return to the series as a playable character is most welcomed. On the other hand, Li Mei had one of the most extended stretches without playable appearances, barely making it as a side character in both Mortal Kombat 9 and 10.

Li Mei

Originally, Li Mei and her people, Outworlders called Sun Do, were enslaved by Shang Tsung and Quan Chi. Her fighting spirit became more well-known as she sought to free her people. Eventually, Quan Chi took notice. Curious about her strength, he offered her an opportunity to free her people by participating in his tournaments. Unsurprisingly, he did not follow through and attempted to use her to revive Onogag’s army.

Before the most recent timeline reset, Li Mei was a Sun Do Outworlder; these people were forced out of their homelands by a Shinnok-empowered Mileena. Li Mei would eventually meet with Earthhrealm forces and provide some assistance to their attempt at stopping the rampaging Mileena.

Now, Liu Kang world has made Li Mei a warrior priestess of the Umgadi, protectors of the Outworld royal family. However, she would willingly step away from this role after being blamed for a terrible tragedy.

Li Mei now seeks to right that wrong, prove she is worthy of respect, and redeem herself in the eyes of the Outworld.


Originally the daughter of an Edinian Ambassador, Tanya eventually came to serve Quan Chi and Shang Tsung. As the internal political struggles of Outworld came and went, so did Tanya’s alliances, making sure she did everything she had to to survive, including assisting the Dragon King after his takeover of the realm.

Before Liu Kang changed the timeline, she was a loyal Edenian fighting against Shao Kahn and his conquest of the region, allying with Mileena as she sought to overthrow Kotal Kahn. For Tanya, the possibility of freeing her people was worth the label of a traitor.

After the reset, she is now part of the warrior priestess bodyguard of the outworld royal family called Umgadi. Over time, she became one of the most respected warriors, and after Li Mei was ousted as the leader, it was Tanya was given the honor of fronting the role. However, she is at risk, as her close relationship with Mileena goes against the Umgadi’s guidance.

Reptile, Ashrah, Havik

It's a trailer full of beloved characters, and Ashrah. We jest, truthfully, of all returning old characters, it is a pleasant surprise for many to see one as complex as the demon-turned-demon hunter Ashrah and her blade Kriss. It has been since Armageddon, nearly fifteen years ago, that we last saw her. Havik, for his part, has become well known among Mortal Kombat comic fans as one of the central antagonists of the run-up to Mortal Kombat 10's release. Finally, Reptile, another ninja often considered part of the original group, is now back in the game, with a reworked backstory that could provide many high and low points.


Originally working as one of Shang Tsung’s bodyguards and later under Shao Kahn's command, and finally as a general to Shinnok, Reptile became a respectable figure among the Outworld forces. He had also uncovered a plot by Shang Stung and Quan Chi to kill Shao Kahn, but it was too late to inform the emperor of Outworld about his servant’s betrayal, as the plan was already in motion. The reptile would wander the Outworld before eventually coming to serve Nitara in her conquest of Earthrealm.

Prior to Liu Kang’s reset, he remained a servant to Outworld leaders, including Kotal Kahn, who seemed to appreciate Reptile’s qualities as a master of stealth and camouflage and thus assigned him to be one of his most loyal spies and bodyguards. During Mileena’s uprising, Reptile had the opportunity to turn against Kotal but chose to stay by his side.

In the new timeline, his home of Zeterran still stands, though he is now an outcast because of his ability to shape-shift into a human form on top of his camouflage ability. Rejected by his peers, Reptile, also known by his name Syzoth now seeks to build a new outside of Zeterran.


Originally a Chaosrealmer, Havik looked to bring that chaos to other realms, deeming the order and peace of other weeks and seeing the havoc he brought as a blessing to others. Before Liu Kang’s reset, Havik had made a deal with Quan Chi to destabilize the other realms.

Part of the plan was to use Reiko and the Kamidogu daggers to harness the power needed to release Shinnok and bring forth destruction on an unprecedented scale. Eventually, Earthrealm forces would discover the scheme and fight Reiko, Quan Chi, and Havik to stop it.

Havik would meet his end on this timeline after Scorpion, who had been imprisoned inside Netherrealm, escaped and ripped Havik’s head and sent it back to the Netherrealm. There, Havik would meet his final end at the hand, or more accurately boot, of Quan Chi, finally killing him.

In the New timeline, Havik is now a resident of the Orderrealm, a highly oppressive world where even the slight show of disobedience is punished harshly. Sick of his oppressors Havik now presents as a freedom fighter of the Seidan people, looking to overthrow the tyrannical regime by any means necessary.


Across all timelines, Ashrah devotes her life to destroying what she was once a part of. As a Nethererealm Demon herself, she was supposed to embody violence toward the other realms. 

However, upon discovering Kriss and its cleansing properties when it struck down demons, she turned on her fellow Nethrealm demons, choosing instead to fight the evil and violence they brought to the world, protecting the other realms.

Her almost religious devotion to slaying other demons materialized from Kriss, through which every demon soul she destroys, in turn, rids her of a piece of evil in herself.

In Liu Kang’s timeline, she once more walks this path of opposing her nature as a demon, choosing instead to help Liu Kang keep the forces of chaos at bay in this new universe.

Mortal Kombat 1 - Official Megan Fox Becomes Nitara Trailer


As voiced by actress Megan Fox, the vampire-like Nitara is returning to Mortal Kombat. What's more, although there are some aspects of her backstory that have been changed, she more or less remains the same bloodthirsty flying vampire we all remember.

Throughout the Orgininal timeline, Nitara was one of the many Moroi, a race of vampiric people that mostly kept to themselves, taking pride in their independence amid the ever-belligerent Outworld. However, her Realm, Vaeternus, could be untangled from it through the power of the Portal Sphere. However, Her efforts would ultimately falter, and Vaeternus would remain part of the Outworld for centuries to come.

Although strong enough to maintain their freedom, something still threatened the Moroi: a Kriss blade they called Datusha, which had now found a new owner in Ashrah. Nitara now needed to uncover a way to stop her, and cease the relentless killing of her people.

In Liu Kang’s new timeline, Nitara still leads her people within Vaeternus, inside the realm of Vaeternus. But centuries of peace have led to the vampiric people overfeeding, destroying its natural order, and threatening to collapse its society. Nitara must now save her people by any means she deems necessary.

Mortal Kombat 1 - Official Launch Trailer


Perhaps fittingly, poor Reiko, the right hand of General Shao does not get his own trailer. Instead, he is on the launch trailer for the game. Reiko was a major character in the Mortal Kombat comics, though in this Liu Kang-designed timeline he seems content to play second fiddle to the great General of Outworld.

Throughout the previous timelines, Reiko’s origin revolves around his military prowess as an Outworld general, leading his armies to conquest for Shao Kahn. A ruthless and commanding figure, Reiko imposed extreme violence upon his subordinates. Prior to Liu Kang’s new universe, Reiko was manipulated by Havik, who had given him access to Blood Magik.

Reiko would become enthralled by it as empowered by an old prophecy that he would one day reign Outworld. Determined to achieve what he thought was already written, he followed Havik’s plan. Reiko’s scheming would eventually lead to Kotal’s and Mileena’s civil war over the Outworld throne.

Reiko was able to gather the Kamidogu daggers, a prerequisite to the ultimate power that blood magik held, but in an expected turn of events, Havik was less than truthful with him about the nature of the power. Reiko would be defeated and revived in the flesh pits, but the hunger-powerful blood magik demanded of him made him go insane with pain, ripping himself apart.

In Liu Kang's timeline, Reiko and his family were caught up in the middle of a war when he was just a child. Having to fight to survive in that environment, and having lost his family in the process, Reiko became a brutal fighter. At first, the Outworld troops were more than ready to kill him once imprisoned. But General Shao saw something in him, a will to fight unlike no other, and decided to spare his life. Now Reiko dutifully serves under Shao, as one of his most loyal commanders.

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