Raiden is a fictional character in the Mortal Kombat fighting game series.
The thunder god
of the MK universe is also a protector of Earthrealm. Raiden commands many supernatural
abilities such as the ability to teleport
, control lightning, and fly. As an immortal, he thinks in terms of eternity rather than normal human lifespans and his memories date back to the beginning of time itself. It is unlikely that Raiden can ever be truly killed. Even if his mortal form is destroyed, Raiden will rematerialize some time afterward. He seeks to destroy anyone who tries to harm Earthrealm.
When Earthrealm was young, Raiden was its protector. He fought the rogue Elder God Shinnok
, who wished to overthrow his fellow gods, in a war that threatened to destroy Earthrealm itself. One of the casualties of the war was the Saurian civilization (of which Reptile
was a member), forcing the remaining survivors to emigrate to another world, which they named Zaterra. With the aid of the Elder Gods, Raiden managed to defeat Shinnok, then banished him to the Netherealm and secured the amulet in a secret location- a Temple of the Elements tucked away in the highest mountains of Nepal. Raiden charged four gods with guarding the amulet- the gods of Wind (Fujin
), Fire, Earth, and Water.
When Sub-Zero stole Shinnok's amulet from the temple for Quan Chi millions of years later, Raiden appeared before the Lin Kuei and instructed him to enter the Netherealm and steal it back, lest Shinnok use it to free himself. Raiden could not retrieve it himself as his powers would dissipate in the Netherealm. Sub-Zero's mission into the Netherealm was a success and Shinnok was, for the time, no longer a threat. Though it was later revealed that the sorcerer Quan Chi had given Shinnok a false amulet, Raiden never realized it, and Quan Chi would remain in possession of the true amulet for years.
Some time later, Shang Tsung
invited many of the warriors of Earthrealm to participate in a tournament called Mortal Kombat
on his private island. Aware of the danger that Shang Tsung and his tournament poised to the future of Earth, Raiden assumed mortal form and took part. He is also the only one to have witnessed Sub-Zero's death at the hands of the hellspawn ninja spectre Scorpion
Mortal Kombat II
One year later, after Liu Kang
's triumph in the tournament, Raiden found that he had no choice but to accept Shang Tsung's challenge of a return tournament in Outworld. However, again aided by Liu Kang and the warriors of Earthrealm, Raiden prevailed over Shang Tsung's treachery and Outworld emperor Shao Kahn
's brutality. Unbeknownst to him, however, was the fact that the tournament was only a distraction that allowed Kahn to invade Earthrealm while resurrecting his queen, Sindel
Mortal Kombat 3
Despite Shao Kahn taking every soul on Earth as his own, Raiden was able to protect the souls of Liu Kang and other chosen warriors. At first unable to participate due to the merger of both realms, Raiden decided to sacrifice his own immortality in order to help his charges against Kahn after the Elder Gods refused to assist him. In the end, Kahn's forces were defeated, repelling the invasion back into Outworld and restoring Earth to its rightful state.
Mortal Kombat 4
After the invasion was driven back into Outworld, Shinnok, with the aid of Quan Chi, again sought to rise from the Netherealm and conquer the realms. However, with Liu Kang again uniting Earth's warriors at the side of the thunder god, Raiden's Forces of Light emerged successful. Now granted the status of Elder God, he turned over his position as Earthrealm's protector to Fujin.
As an Elder God, Raiden could not interfere when Shang Tsung and Quan Chi killed Liu Kang many years later. Disgusted at his peers for their refusal to intervene, he renounced his position as an Elder and gathered his warriors to stop the Deadly Alliance. This time, disaster struck the heroes. The Earthrealm warriors Sonya Blade
and Johnny Cage
were slain in battle with a Tarkatan horde; Kitana
and Jax Briggs
were slain by Quan Chi, and Kung Lao
by Shang Tsung. In a desperate measure, Raiden confronted Shang Tsung and Quan Chi in front of the Soulnado, but Shang Tsung struck Raiden with a soul from the Soulnado, allowing Quan Chi to attack, and Raiden suffered defeat at the hands of both sorcerers.
He returned to his feet when Onaga, the Dragon King, entered the chamber; he put his differences aside with Tsung and Quan Chi and helped them as they attacked Onaga. When he saw that their attacks barely made an impact, Raiden released his godly essence, resulting in an enormous explosion. It obliterated the Dragon King's tomb, snuffed out the Soulnado, and killed both members of the Deadly Alliance, yet did little damage to Onaga.
After doing battle with the Deadly Alliance in the ether, Raiden's essence soon gathered again in the Earthrealm, where he had now become furious with the way Earthrealm's inhabitants had treated their own realm. He became even more enraged when he learned that Shujinko
had foolishly unleashed the Dragon King by attaining the Kamidogu of various realms for him. With that, his patience exhausted, Raiden decided he was going to take matters into his own hands.
Removing Liu Kang's body from its grave, Raiden took it to an underground temple that belonged to an ancient sect of necromancers called the Houan, whom he had destroyed centuries earlier. Binding Kang's body with enchanted shackles the Houan had used to control their revived undead, Raiden spoke the enchantments etched into the temple's walls that revived his former ally, infusing it with a thunderclap of lightning. The corpse of Liu Kang was now the enforcer of Raiden's will, and he sent it on a mission to wreak havoc on those he believed did harm to Earthrealm. This caught the attention of Shinnok, who appeared before Raiden and offered him an alliance. If Raiden were to assist him in whatever he wanted, Shinnok would try to ensure the safety of Earthrealm. Raiden was well aware of Shinnok's deceptive nature, but he accepted the offer in an attempt to secretly uncover Shinnok's plans.
His story is further expanded in the Konquest mode of Armageddon
, when Taven
(the mode's main character) encounters him. He informs Taven that he had struck a deal with Shao Kahn, agreeing to let the Emperor conquer and rule all other realms, so long as Earthrealm was left alone. In return, Raiden agreed to hunt and eliminate Taven for Kahn, so that he could claim Blaze's
godlike power for himself. Raiden confronts Taven as Kahn, Onaga, Shang Tsung, and Quan Chi escape into a portal leading to Edenia. He is unsuccessful however, as he is defeated by Taven, and left unconscious on the ground. Taven, while still being in shock and disbelief at Raiden's actions, leaves and follows the villains through the portal.
In Raiden's ending, he becomes extremely powerful after defeating Blaze. To make sure no other realm will possibly threaten Earthrealm again, he destroys them all.
- Static Teleport: At will, Raiden vanishes and reappears behind the opponent. (MK, MKII, MKT, MK4, MKG, MK:D, MK:U, MK:A)
- Lightning Bolt: Raiden sends bolts of lightning flying at the opponent. (MK, MKII, MKT, MK4, MKG, MK:DA, MK:D, MK:SM, MK:U, MK:A)
- Torpedo: Raiden flies horizontally at his opponent and pushes them against the wall. Raiden can also do the move on the air, although not in the first game and Armageddon. (MK, MKII, MKT, MK4, MKG, MK:D, MK:U, MK:A)
- Shocking Touch: Raiden grabs the opponent, holds them in the air, and electrocutes them. In Deception and Armageddon, he ends the move by punching the enemy away. (MKII, MKT, MK:DA, MK:D, MK:U, MK:A)
- Electric Decapitation: Raiden sends a surge of electricity into the opponent's head and it explodes. (MK, MKT)
- Explosive Uppercut: The god crouches down and sends a vicious electric charged uppercut to the opponent blowing him/her into pieces. (MKII, MKT)
- Electrocution: Raiden grabs his opponent, holds him/her a few feet off the ground, and electrifies them until they explode. (MKII, MKT, MK4, MKG, MK:DA)
In the Japanese religion Shinto
, from which the character is derived, Raiden (also known as Raijin
) is usually portrayed as a small, red-skinned demon that beats a drum to create thunder. However, his appearance in the games resembles more a Taoist thunder god presented in the Chinese temples, right down to his attire.
In Mortal Kombat and Mortal Kombat: Deadly Alliance, it states that Raiden is seven feet tall. His sprite, however, was the same height as the other fighters. His coolie hat is his most recognizable feature, and he occasionally wields a quarterstaff that holds the power of thunder and lightning. The Chinese character for thunder, 雷, is visible on most of his costumes. A saya (katana scabbard) appears on Raiden's secondary costumes in Deadly Alliance, Deception, and Armageddon, but he is never seen actually using the sword. Raiden has electricity pulsating across his body in MK, MK4 / Gold, and MK: Deadly Alliance. He has glowing white (occasionally blue) eyes, which glow red in Deception and Armageddon.
Raiden was voiced by Midway employee Jon Hey in the first two games. He became notorious for yelling randomly while performing his Torpedo move. Fans originally believed that he was yelling in Japanese, while others believed it to be mangled English phrases such as "Get back in the car." John Tobias revealed in a 1993 MKII feature in GamePro that Raiden was merely speaking gibberish and not actual Japanese or English. This was featured in the VH1 program I Love 1992, when one of the cast thought Raiden was saying "Santa Monica." This tradition was also revived for all of Raiden's supermoves in Armageddon.
Appearances in other media
In the first Mortal Kombat movie, Raiden, played by Christopher Lambert, is disallowed from participating in the tournament, but remains the guiding god of thunder, bent on doing all within his power to help Earth's chosen warriors gain victory. His wardrobe consisted of the guise of an old beggar (his coolie hat was the only carryover from the games), though his eyes occasionally displayed his true nature. Raiden also possessed a sense of humor that was lost on the other characters, often prompting him to apologize after making dry remarks.
Raiden was played by James Remar In the 1997 sequel, Mortal Kombat: Annihilation. He was depicted as the brother of Shao Kahn and the son of Shinnok in the film's non-canon storyline, which included both Raiden and Kahn sporting a dragon tattoo that was explained to be a family crest bestowed to his family's bloodline while allowing its bearers to travel safely between realms. A planned fight scene he was to have with Sheeva was included in the shooting script, but it was eventually cut from the film; Raiden instead fought a pair of Reptile clones while Sheeva met her demise by being crushed by a falling cage. At the end, he became an Elder God in the place of his father.
played Raiden in the live-action series Mortal Kombat: Conquest
. Unlike his film and game incarnations, this Raiden is far more upbeat, with a sarcastic personality making him less aloof toward humans. He was Kung Lao
's mentor since childhood, and constantly reminds the young warrior of his duty to find new fighters to protect Earthrealm and to prepare for the next Mortal Kombat tournament.
Raiden was a regular in the 1996 animated series Mortal Kombat: Defenders of the Realm, and was voiced by Clancy Brown. He was depicted in his MKII attire and retained the dry wit and sarcasm of his Conquest counterpart, clashing with Sonya and Jax in several episodes.
Raiden appeared in the Malibu Comics
series in his usual role as the guide and mentor of the Earthrealm warriors. He and Shang Tsung were often portrayed therein as bitter enemies, and he also was forbidden from intervening in the mortals' affairs, as shown when Johnny Cage was to answer one of the questions in the Tao Te Zhan. However, in a departure from the storyline of the first game, he was not allowed to participate in the tournament in the first six-issue series, Blood & Thunder,
due to his godly status.
Raiden co-starred in his own 3-issue miniseries alongside Kano, entitled Rayden & Kano. In this miniseries, it is stated that, while his fellow gods remain out of mortal affairs, Raiden never remains silent, and always tries to give the good side an advantage in the eternal struggle. Raiden saved Kano's life, and attempted to give him a sword called "Ebbonrule," which drew strength from an evil man who turned to the side of good. Raiden hoped Kano would slay Shao Kahn using the sword's power, but Kano gave the sword to Shao Kahn instead in exchange for godlike powers, which left Raiden to realize that his actions would never tip the balance of good and evil.
During the last Tournament Edition issue, Raiden commandeered the group of heroes in Shao Kahn's tournament. He ultimately sacrificed himself to save the team from an ambush from Kano, Kintaro, Goro, and Smoke.
Raiden was depicted as having two female servants, Wynd and Rayne. Though never explicitly stated, it is heavily suggested that each of these servants had powers over the element resembling their respective names.
Gaming and character information
Raiden's fatality in the original MK
, in which he obliterated his opponent's head with a lightning strike, was drastically altered in the Super NES
version due to Nintendo's strict no-blood policy at the time. The decapitation was changed to the opponent's simply turning into a gray pile of dust. In the same game, by using Raiden's Finishing Move on the final opponent in the third Endurance Match, Goro appeared with a glitchy body that was the same shade of gray as the ashes of Raiden's defeated opponent.
Raiden was originally going to use his staff as a weapon in MKII, but Midway was forced to omit it due to memory constraints. He was unplayable in all versions of MK3 and briefly appeared only as part of Nightwolf's Friendship, which saw him transform into Raiden while an arcade machine of MKII appeared along with one of two quotes, "Yes, But I Can Do a Raiden Transformation," or "I've Never Seen a Kano Transformation," both of which were based on false reports that Kano was secretly playable in MKII and Raiden likewise in MK3. The Friendship was changed in the Nintendo 64 version of Mortal Kombat Trilogy after Raiden became a playable character in that game.
According to Raiden's Konquest Mode in MK:DA, Raiden has mastered all of more than 750 documented varieties of Jujutsu, which is his secondary fighting style. He is referred to as "Dark" or "Evil Raiden" in his alternate costume and concept renders found in Deception, while Liu Kang's Armageddon ending refers to him defeating a Raiden that had been "corrupted by his suicide" to become Earthrealm's protector god. Raiden's behavior had also become more erratic and uncharacteristic; he became increasingly aggressive in his protection of Earth, going as far as to destroy all other realms to prevent them from being a danger to Earth in his Armageddon ending. This new Raiden bore a similarity to the characterization of Raiden from the very first game as a god angered by mortals, participating in Mortal Kombat only to prove the gods are superior to humans in combat. In his original (though non-canon) MK ending, Raiden wins the tournament, but soon becomes bored with human competition and he invites other gods to participate in the tournament, which ends up destroying the planet.
He appeared as a secret character in Unreal Championship 2: The Liandri Conflict, NFL Blitz, and NBA Jam Tournament Edition. Raiden also made a cameo appearance in Bally's 1994 World Cup Championship pinball machine in a bonus round.
In an interview for Raiden's Deception trading card, Ed Boon said that the hat that actor Carlos Pesina wore to portray Raiden in the earlier MK games was ruined as a result of Pesina repeatedly performing falls during production.
Raiden's name was spelled as is in all of the original MK
arcade versions, and in every game released since MK4
. The console ports released up until then, along with both movies and the comic book series, changed the name to "Rayden." This was allegedly because of copyright issues regarding the Raiden
series of arcade games, or possibly to prevent confusion with a playable character named Raiden
from the Fatal Fury
- At the onset of the Mortal Kombat storyline, Raiden was inarguably a force of good, doing what he could to protect Earthrealm from outside forces. However, his actions in Mortal Kombat: Deception (seen in the opening cinematic) apparently corrupted his soul, making the Thunder God a much darker character.