Mortal Kombat Creator Reveals the Backstory of Sub-Zero and Scorpion's Creation

The rivalry between Scorpion and Sub-Zero has played a pivotal role in the Mortal Kombat franchise since its inception, and will be front and center in the upcoming live-action reboot. On Twitter, Mortal Kombat co-creator John Tobias was asked about the creation of the characters, and the inspiration for the Lin Kuei. Interestingly enough, Tobias says the idea for the clan came from China's Ninja Connection, a book he discovered during development that discussed the country's ties to the ninjas of Japan. Tobias and Ed Boon were already working on Mortal Kombat and had the idea of using palette-swapped ninjas to save on space.

While Tobias maintains that the book's claims were "dubious," it inspired the idea of further building the backstory between Sub-Zero and Scorpion beyond the change in coloration. Tobias went on to make Sub-Zero a member of China's Lin Kuei and Scorpion a member of Japan's Shirai Ryu, using "the historical implications as fuel for their rivalry."

As part of the Tweet chain, Tobias shared an early sketch of Sub-Zero. That image can be found embedded below.

From the start, Tobias and Boon wanted all of Mortal Kombat's fighters to fit into specific archetypes that would be easy for players to understand. Scorpion was the "hunter" while Sub-Zero fell under "hunted." That dynamic could be seen in the Mortal Kombat Collector's Edition comic. On Twitter, Tobias shared an image from the comic where Scorpion threatens to kill Sub-Zero, just as the Lin Kuei ninja killed him two years prior.


Nearly 30 years have passed since the release of the first Mortal Kombat game, and the rivalry between Scorpion and Sub-Zero remains a pivotal part of the franchise to this day. With that history coming to the big screen in just a few short weeks, it will be interesting to see how it's translated. This time around, Sub-Zero seems to be the hunter and Scorpion the hunted, though the former is clearly the film's primary antagonist. At the end of the first game, Scorpion gets revenge on Sub-Zero, killing his foe. Whether or not that sequence of events will happen in the movie, however, remains to be seen!

Are you a fan of the Mortal Kombat games? What do you think of the story behind the creation of Sub-Zero and Scorpion? Let us know in the comments or share your thoughts directly on Twitter at @Marcdachamp to talk about all things gaming!