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Raiden (Mortal Kombat)

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Game Series Mortal Kombat series
First Appearance Mortal Kombat
Alias: Rayden
Affiliation: Good
Species: God (Former Elder God)
Birthplace: The Heavens
Fighting Style: Nan Chuan (MK:DA, MK:D, MK:A)
Jujutsu (MK:DA, MK:D)
Weapon(s): Warhammer (MK4, MKG)
Staff (MK:DA, MK:D, MK:SM, MK:A)
Voice Actor(s): Carlos Pesina (MK, MKII, MKT)
Michael Garvey (MKM:SZ)
Christopher Lambert (first film)
James Remar (second film)
Jeffrey Meek (Conquest)
Clancy Brown (DotR)
Sal Divita (MKT versus screen)

Raiden is a fictional character in the Mortal Kombat fighting game series.


The thunder god of the Mortal Kombat universe, also known as Lord Raiden, is a protector of Earthrealm. Raiden commands many supernatural abilities such as the ability to teleport, control over lightning, and flight. 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 afterwards. He seeks to destroy anyone who tries to harm Earthrealm.

The creators claimed they based Raiden's character design on Lo Pan's three servants, The Three Storms from the film Big Trouble in Little China. The third storm, Lightning, exhibited the ability to ride and control lightning, and wore a hat that closely resembles Raiden's conical hat.

Raiden's fatality in the original game, 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 and a skull. 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 Mortal Kombat II, but Midway was forced to omit it due to memory constraints. He was unplayable in all versions of Mortal Kombat 3 and briefly appeared only as part of Nightwolf's Friendship, which saw him transform into Raiden while a Mortal Kombat II appeared along with one of two quotes, "No, 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 Mortal Kombat II and Raiden likewise in Mortal Kombat 3. The Friendship was changed in the Nintendo 64 version of Mortal Kombat Trilogy after Raiden became a playable character in that game.

According to the Konquest mode in Mortal Kombat: Deadly Alliance, 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 ending in Armageddon 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 ending in the original game, 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 featured in Deception, Ed Boon said that the hat that actor Carlos Pesina wore to portray the character in the earlier Mortal Kombat games was ruined as a result of Pesina repeatedly performing falls during production


Pre-Mortal Kombat

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 Shinnok's amulet of power 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 the elder Sub-Zero stole Shinnok's amulet from the temple for Quan Chi millions of years later, Raiden appeared before the Lin Kuei warrior and instructed him to enter the Netherealm and steal it back, lest Shinnok used 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 a time, no longer a threat. Though it was later revealed that the sorcerer Quan Chi had given Shinnok a false amulet, Raiden never realized the counterfeit; Quan Chi would remain in possession of the true amulet for years.

Mortal Kombat

Raiden was invited to compete in the Mortal Kombat tournament, by Shang Tsung himself. Raiden accepted the invitation and took human form to compete.

Mortal Kombat II

Watching events unfold from high above, Raiden realises the grim intentions of Shao Kahn. Raiden warns the last remaining members of the shaolin tournament Liu Kang and Kung Lao of Shao Kahn's threat. Raiden then disappears and ventures to outworld alone.

Mortal Kombat Trilogy

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 chances 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.

Deadly Alliance

As an Elder God, Raiden could not interfere when Shang Tsung and Quan Chi killed Liu Kang at the Wu Shi Academy. Disgusted at his peers for their refusal to intervene, he relinquished his position as an Elder God and gathered his trusted warriors to stop the Deadly Alliance.


This time, disaster struck the heroes. The Earthrealm warriors Jax Briggs, Sonya Blade and Johnny Cage were slain in battle with a Tarkatan horde; Kitana was slain by Quan Chi, and Kung Lao was slain by Shang Tsung. In a desperate measure, Raiden personally confronted Shang Tsung and Quan Chi in front of the Soulnado. Raiden put up an admirable fight and managed to hold his own against both villains for a while, but the combined powers of the two were in the end too much, and Raiden was defeated. He returned to his feet when Onaga, the Dragon King, entered the chamber. Momentarily putting his differences aside with Tsung and Quan Chi, he assisted them in their attempts to repel 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, but the essence came back corrupted. 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.


Raiden's story is further expanded in the Konquest mode of Armageddon, when Taven (the story 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.

Mortal Kombat vs. DC Universe

Raiden returns in the crossover fighting game Mortal Kombat vs. DC Universe, chosen due to his popularity in the series. He plays a significant role in the Story mode for the game, being in part responsible for creating Dark Khan (alongside Superman), which in turn causes the Mortal Kombat and DC Universes to merge. He also comes into contact with Batman when he rescues Liu Kang from him after Batman detains him for questioning regarding the merging of the worlds. Raiden attempts to electrocute Batman but finds it has no effect due to his insulated body armor. After a brief skirmish, Raiden is able to teleport himself away from the Justice League Watchtower with Kang in tow.

In his endings, Raiden returns to his realm to find that exposure to his world's sun has weakened him greatly. The sorcerer Quan Chi offers him a large jade amulet with unknown origins that would restore his powers. Raiden is given a choice between a life of servitude to the sorcerer, or mortality.


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. File:Raiden mk4.gif Raiden's 3D appearance in "Mortal Kombat 4"

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 Mortal Kombat, Mortal Kombat 4, and Mortal Kombat: 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 "Your mother's from LA," "Go to Bob's for eggs!" or "Get back in the car." John Tobias revealed in a Mortal Kombat II 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.



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 a robe which hides his attire from the first game (his coolie hat was worn only once in the film). 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 also appeared in the animated film Mortal Kombat: The Journey Begins as the guide of the protagonists. 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 original 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, and allowed 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 died after being crushed by a falling cage. At the end, he became an Elder God in the place of his father.


Jeffrey Meek 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 Mortal Kombat II attire and retained the dry wit and sarcasm of his Conquest counterpart, clashing with Sonya and Jax in several episodes.

Comic books

Raiden appeared in the Mortal Kombat comic books by Malibu 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.


Raiden's name was spelled as is in all of the original arcade games, and in every console game released since Mortal Kombat 4. The console ports released up until Mortal Kombat 4, along with both movies and the comic book series, changed the name to "Rayden". According to Ed Boon, he spelled it that way to avoid confusion with the Fatal Fury character, Raiden. Ed Boon personally hated that Acclaim spelled it with an Y.[1]

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