Johnny Cage

Johnny Cage


Johnny Cage (real name: John Carlton) is a main character from the Mortal Kombat fighting game series.

About Johnny Cage

Johnny Cage is a movie star who is a master of martial arts. Although he is a primary character, he is more of a comic relief character in contrast to the stoicism of Liu Kang and the other Earth warriors. In interviews during the development of Mortal Kombat: Shaolin Monks, it was stated by Ed Boon and several other staff members that Cage is indeed considered the comic relief of the series, as Cage has often been the root of many jokes by the Midway staff, such as his Mortal Kombat 4 ending and his storyline in Mortal Kombat: Deadly Alliance).


Mortal Kombat

In the first game, Johnny is derided by film critics and the movie-going public for using special effects and wires for his fights. Unknown to them, his patented "Shadow Kick" and "Force Ball" were not effects; he actually performed those supernatural feats. To prove it to the world, he entered the Mortal Kombat tournament. During the final battle between Liu Kang and Shang Tsung, he teamed up with Sonya and Kano to fight Goro near the pit. When Shang Tsung's island fortress began to crumble because of his defeat to Liu Kang, Raiden saved Johnny and dropped him off at a boat that belonged to the Special Forces Agency near the island. He then met Jax and was interrogated by him on the whereabouts of Sonya. Johnny told Jax all about the events on the island, but the major didn't believe him. After Johnny was set free, he made the movie Mortal Kombat, based on his experiences, which revived his then-failing career.

Mortal Kombat II

Not long after that, Johnny was attacked while shooting a commercial by a revitalized Shang Tsung, Kintaro, Baraka, Kitana and Mileena. Luckily for him, Jax arrived and tried to help him. They were later joined by the other Earthrealm warriors to help fight the horde off. He then traveled into Outworld with his friends for Mortal Kombat, eventually Liu Kang challenged the emperor, proving again he was the true champion of Mortal Kombat, Kang beat Kahn within inches of his life. Defeated, Kahn ordered his forces to kill the Earth warriors. Johnny’s comrades were fortunate to make their way back to Earthrealm, Cage however was caught by one of Shao Kahn’s extermination squads and killed.

Mortal Kombat Trilogy

When Shao Kahn invaded Earthrealm by way of a loophole involving having his deceased Queen Sindel reincarnated on Earth in Mortal Kombat Trilogy, Cage, due to the merger of the realms blocking his ascent into the Heavens, was one of the chosen warriors whose soul was protected by Raiden. Like the other chosen warriors, he became a target for Kahn's Extermination Squads yet again.

Mortal Kombat 4

After Shao Kahn’s defeat at the hands of Liu Kang, Johnny’s soul was free to leave to a higher place. Johnny watched from the heavens as the events of Mortal Kombat 4 unfolded. The fallen Elder God Shinnok attacked Earthrealm. Johnny Cage sought out Raiden so that he could restore his deceased soul and fight alongside Liu Kang once more and help defeat Shinnok. After the defeat of Shinnok, it appeared as though Raiden’s revival of Cage was permanent as he did not ascend back to the heavens but instead remained on Earth.

Deadly Alliance

Years later, in the events of Mortal Kombat: Deadly Alliance, Johnny Cage went on to film Mortal Kombat: The Death of Johnny Cage, in which he was repeatedly killed and brought back to life. Upset at the way he was being portrayed, believing his own adventures were far more entertaining, he wanted out of the movie but he couldn't due to his contract.

But as luck would have it, he was approached by Raiden, who asked him to help fight the Deadly Alliance of Quan Chi and Shang Tsung. At first, Johnny thought it was the actor who played Raiden, but when he saw the actor eating lunch, he realized it was the real Raiden, who told him to go to Shang Tsung's island for further instructions. He found a loophole in his contract and left the movie. He would then use this new adventure to make his own movie. Arriving on the island by way of parachute, he learned of Liu Kang's tragic death and went to Outworld to help his friends. Between the end of the events of Deadly Alliance and the beginning of the events of Mortal Kombat: Deception, Cage was killed during the final assault on the Deadly Alliance (he, Sonya, Kung Lao, Kitana, and Jax were overwhelmed by the Deadly Alliance's Tarkartan warriors). Soon afterward, he was resurrected by Onaga and made into his slave. Ermac's Deception ending, which shows him and Liu Kang's spirit being successful in rescuing the enslaved Earthrealm warriors, is generally accepted as the possible explanation.


Cage's Armageddon bio tells of his worries about the future. Since Liu Kang had died, and Raiden was now following his own personal agenda, the warriors who have long battled against the forces of darkness didn't seem to have a leader anymore. Some time later, Cage began to receive visions of Shinnok, who was coming up with a plan and giving commands to his minions. Cage decided to find out what was going on, by visiting the locations that he saw in his visions. He found evidence that Shinnok had been to these places, and eventually found Shinnok himself at Shang Tsung's island fortress. Communicating via a portal, Shinnok was speaking to Quan Chi, commanding him to gather their forces and take control of Shao Kahn's Outworld fortress. Once the portal disappeared, Cage approached Shinnok, and the former Elder God attempted to use his powers against him. Cage evaded Shinnok's attacks, and even managed to overpower him. Shinnok retreated by vanishing in a cloud of smoke. Now that Cage knew something about Shinnok's schemes, and with no-one else to lead an assault, he took it upon himself to gather his allies and plan a course of action.

In his Armageddon ending, after defeating Blaze and gaining godlike powers, Johnny Cage gives up his superficial life for a life of enlightenment.

Combat characteristics

Signature moves

  • Green Flame / Plasmic Fireball: Cage throws a green fireball into the air, which leaps through the air before curving down towards the ground until it hits the opponent. In the games preceding Deadly Alliance, this move had a variation, in which Cage throws the fireball on a higher arc. While Cage threw a green fireball in the first game, it was merely a straight shot, like Liu Kang's fireball in the same game. (MKII, MKT, MK4, MKG, MK:DA, MK:SM, MK:A)
  • Shadow Kick: Cage would slide across the floor, connecting with a kick to the torso of his opponent. As its name implied, he left a green trailing image of himself. However in Deadly Alliance and on, he just leaves a trail of green behind him. (MK, MKII, MKT, MK4, MKG, MK:SM, MK:DA, MK:A)
  • Split Punch / Sliding Uppercut/ Ball Breaker: One of Cage's most memorable moves where he does the splits and punches his opponent in the groin. This only worked on male fighters, except in Mortal Kombat: Shaolin Monks, where he is able to do the move on Kitana. In Deadly Alliance and on, Cage can do a modified version of this when instead of punching the groin, he rises up with a surprise uppercut with his punching arm a glowing green. (MK, MKII, MK4, MKG, MK:DA, MK:SM, MK:A)
  • Shadow Uppercut: Cage would leap into the air and deliver an uppercut, leaving a green trailing image of himself in the process. (MKII, MKT, MK4, MKG, MK:SM)

Recurring fatalities

  • Decapitation: Johnny Cage takes his opponent's head off with a vicious uppercut. A glitch allowed the fatality to be performed multiple times in MK, while in MKII and the Nintendo 64 version of MKT, the multiple decapitation was a legitimate finishing move (achieved by holding a certain button combination, after performing the regular decapitation fatality). (MK, MKII, MKT, MK4, MKG, MK:SM)
  • Torso Rip: Johnny Cage grabs his enemy around the waist, rips their upper body from their lower, and throws it to the ground. (MKII, MK4, MKG, MK:SM)
  • Torso Kick : Johnny Cage performs a modified version of his Shadow Kick which delivers a fatal blow to his opponent's torso. In Shaolin Monks, Cage will step in and defeat Goro with this move when you defeat Goro. (MK SNES, MKT N64)

Appearances in other media


In the first Mortal Kombat movie, Johnny Cage was portrayed by Linden Ashby, whose portrayal was faithful to the games in keeping with Cage's personality and his comic-relief role. His first fight was with Scorpion, who countered Cage's Shadow Kick by teleporting them both to his hidden lair. After Johnny finished Scorpion, he left behind an autographed picture (his Friendship from MKII). Johnny later challenged Goro to single combat. Goro destroyed Johnny's sunglasses during a prematch face-off, and Cage retaliated with a Split Punch; he eventually defeated Goro by kicking him off a cliff.

Cage reappeared in Mortal Kombat: Annihilation, and was played by Chris Conrad. He was killed by Shao Kahn in the first five minutes when Kahn blocked a Shadow Kick sent his way in Cage's attempt to save Sonya, and snapped his neck shortly thereafter. Cage is seen removing his sunglasses as he first appears onscreen, despite the fact that they were crushed by Goro in the previous movie.

Comic books

Johnny Cage is one of the main good characters in the Malibu Comics series. His portrayal in the comics is faithful to the games, keeping both his desire to prove his moves are real and his personality traits. He appears during the whole Blood & Thunder series, most of the time alongside Sonya (from which the comics hint at a relationship). His most serious moment is during issue 4 when he, under Raiden's advice, decides to not seek the power of the Tao Te Zhan, since he felt it would be like faking his moves in his films.

During the second series, Battlewave, he is seen resuming his acting career when Sonya asks him to help with an investigation after Jax was brutally attacked. At first he refuses, but later reconsiders what's important and decides to follow with Jax into the Outworld. In the meantime, he sends his musclebound bodyguard, Bo, to protect Liu Kang.

Character development

The original name for Cage was going to be Michael Grimm, but it was changed during preproduction of MK. Cage's "real name" came from Midway game artist John Carlton, who worked on the popular NBA Jam arcade series.

Cage was initially modeled after actor Jean-Claude Van Damme, around whom MK creators Ed Boon and John Tobias initially wanted to center a new fighting game, but Van Damme had commitments to another company for a game that was never made. Cage's appearance in the first game was loosely based around Van Damme's portrayal of Dux Ryu Ninjutsu founder Frank Dux in the 1988 movie Bloodsport, from his outfit to his Split Punch. He would wear his trademark sunglasses only in his winning animations in the first two games, but never removed them in Mortal Kombat Trilogy and onward. Cage was exclusively recreated for MK Trilogy after Daniel Pesina was fired by Midway in 1994 for appearing dressed as Cage in an ad for the arcade game BloodStorm, and thus they couldn't use his MK2 sprite. He was replaced by Chris Alexander.

Since Deadly Alliance, Cage has been designed to look more like a Hollywood actor; he is made more muscular and his glasses become more stylish. His hair also changed to a shorter, dark brown hair in MK4, and later to a longer, tousled golden brown in Deadly Alliance and onward.

Cage was the lone character in the original MK who did not have a past history with any of the other characters. Though not determined, his lack of storyline may likely have played a part in his omission from several MK side projects. He was the only character from the first MK game who did not appear in Jeff Rovin's non-canon 1995 novel, and the only one of the seven playable fighters in MK not to appear in the 1996 animated series.

Game information

Cage was the last character in the original MK to be given a Fatality. Until a last-minute brainstorm by co-creator John Tobias that later evolved into the uppercut Fatality, he was simply going to throw his opponent across the screen as a finishing move.

He was also the only one character in MK2 who has two different images in his profile and versus screen.

Cage was left out from the Game Boy version of MK, MK2, MK4 and MK:DA due to memory constraints. However, he appears in Game Boy Advance-exclusive Mortal Kombat: Tournament Edition.

In early arcade test versions of MKII, the word "Otomix" appeared on Cage's pants (they were worn by actor Daniel Pesina during filming), but was omitted in subsequent chip upgrades. Otomix is an actual established supplier of martial arts and athletic wear.

The Red Shadow Kick special move occurred randomly in MKII. In MKT the Red Shadow Kick is a separate move from the Green Shadow Kick. In MK4 and MK Gold, selecting Player 2's outfit would cause the moves to have red shadow properties, rather than green. Also, in Shaolin Monks, Johnny Cage's shadow uppercut appeared red, oddly, while all of his other moves were green.

One of Cyrax's Konquest missions in Mortal Kombat: Deadly Alliance has him practicing moves against Johnny Cage, supposedly taking out his frustration over how much he hates Cage's films (especially Ninja Mime). According to his Konquest mode, he appeared on Celebrity SMASH TV (as a result, Smash TV and the Mortal Kombat series are both portrayed as occurring in the same fictional universe). He donated all of his winnings on the show to charity.

In Mortal Kombat: Deadly Alliance, Cage serves as a tribute to Bruce Lee as he uses Lee's Jeet Kune Do fighting style and the nunchaku, Lee's signature weapon, as his weapon style. In his ending, the movie poster shows Cage and Sonya together, with Cage standing proud and Sonya seated and clinging to his leg.

In MK: Armageddon, Johnny Cage and Goro are shown in one of the main menu screen, portraying them as rivals. But while all the other menu screens in the game have the evil/neutral character in the foreground and the good character in the background with full-body, Johnny Cage and Goro are shown the other way around. In addition, Johnny Cage's main menu model has black short hair, based on early games, but his in-game model is golden to light brown, with longer hair and different sunglasses. Cage also appears in the opening cinematic of MK:A where he first fights Darrius and later Kano before pushing Sonya off the pyramid during the latter's battle between Kenshi and Quan Chi and then gets tackled by Hsu Hao to the side of the pyramid's main stairway.

Reportedly, John Vogel did not like Cage's storyline in Mortal Kombat Trilogy and MK4, and Cage's Deadly Alliance bio can be viewed as retconning this, with Mortal Kombat: The Death of Johnny Cage explaining away - and mocking - his repeated death and revival during Trilogy and MK4.


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