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There are in fact two Sub-Zeros: older and younger. Both are blue garbed warriors (assassins, but not "ninjas", since the Lin Kuei are Chinese despite being called ninjas in several Mortal Kombat games) that descended from Cryomancers, an Outworld race possessing the ability to generate and control the powers of ice, although both of them were born in Earthrealm. The younger one bears a conspicuous scar on his right eye, however, as of Deception the scar has faded away. The Elder Sub-Zero appeared in the first Mortal Kombat and then, after being killed by Scorpion, his younger brother replaced him for the rest of the games, his elder brother later became the undead Netherealm wraith, Noob Saibot.

The two Sub-Zeros are sons of a Chinese father and a Caucasian American mother. It is known that the father of both brothers (the fourth man to be known as Sub-Zero in his lineage) was a secret operative for the clan in the United States. He married an American woman and together they had two sons and a daughter. Against the will of their mother, the father took the sons with him to move back to China at a certain time, and as such both brothers became warriors of the Lin Kuei. The mother and the daughter remained in the U.S.

Following the death of his older brother and failure to kill Shang Tsung, the young Lin Kuei warrior was sent to Outworld along with his close friend Smoke to complete the assignment after Shao Kahn's Mortal Kombat tournament was announced. While traveling to Outworld with Smoke, Sub-Zero discovered Scorpion's foul vendetta against his brother; Scorpion had risen from the Netherealm once more upon learning of Sub-Zero's "survival" and continued to hold a grudge against the new Sub-Zero, believing him to be the same man that killed him years ago. However, Scorpion received a rude awakening when he witnessed Sub-Zero spare the life of a defeated opponent whom he battled during the tournament, which left him confused for he did not understand why this Lin Kuei warrior showed mercy. Scorpion then came to the realization that this new Sub-Zero was the younger brother of the man who murdered him so long ago, and thus swore not to harm him. Sub-Zero never learned why the specter spared his life. Despite their efforts, neither accomplished the mission that they were tasked to do for the Lin Kuei, although they did assist Liu Kang, Raiden, and their allies in Liu Kang's battle with Shao Kahn. Smoke and Sub-Zero returned home empty handed.
In the events leading up to Mortal Kombat Trilogy, the Lin Kuei obtained technology that could vastly improve the effectiveness of their warriors, and they chose four of their number to undergo the procedure that would turn them into cyborg assassins: Sub-Zero, Smoke, Cyrax, and Sektor. Sub-Zero and Smoke refused to participate, and fled the clan, who declared them anathema. While Sub-Zero successfully managed to escape, Smoke was captured and subsequently turned into a cyborg. In leaving the clan, Sub-Zero had broken the Lin Kuei codes of honor. After Smoke's automation, the Lin Kuei programmed the three cyborg assassins to hunt and terminate Sub-Zero, who by this time had received a vision from Raiden and agreed to join the rebellion against a new threat.

The armies of Shao Kahn attacked Earthrealm, and Sub-Zero was among the few mortals whose souls were spared so they could fight Kahn and his extermination squads. These events also signalled the beginning of Sub-Zero's transition to a greater moral consciousness. Unluckily for Sub-Zero, his cybernetic assassins, lacking souls, also survived. Sub-Zero eventually encountered Smoke and convinced him that he still had a soul, which then overrode Smoke's Lin Kuei programming. With his new ally, Sub-Zero battled and defeated both Sektor and Cyrax. However, instead of destroying Cyrax's CPU, he reprogrammed the cyborg to hunt and terminate Shao Khan (at which Cyrax failed - he would wander in Jade's Desert and become trapped there). Smoke was less fortunate: he was captured by Shao Kahn's troops and transported to Outworld as a curiosium. Eventually, the Earthrealm warriors were victorious and Earth was restored to its normal state.

When the banished Elder God Shinnok threatened the Earthrealm, Raiden once again summoned Sub-Zero to assist in the defense of Earth. In homage to his older brother, Sub-Zero donned his sibling's uniform, and brought to the battle information passed to him which could prove essential to Raiden in his mission to stop Shinnok. In the meantime, Quan Chi had convinced Scorpion that Sub-Zero still retained some culpability for the destruction of the Shirai Ryu, turning the spectre's hostile attentions to him once more. Sub-Zero met Scorpion in Goro's Lair and the two fought, with Scorpion gaining the upper hand. When it seemed that Scorpion was going to kill Sub-Zero, the Lin Kuei revealed that he had no role in the murder of Scorpion's clan. Quan Chi, convinced that Sub-Zero was about to die nonetheless, readily admitted his guilt to Scorpion, who then turned on Quan Chi and transported the sorcerer into the Netherrealm, where Scorpion hunted Quan Chi unceasingly. This was to be the last time Scorpion and Sub-Zero were to actively oppose each other.
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Mortal Kombat

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Mortal Kombat 2, Mortal Kombat 3, Ultimate Mortal Kombat 3, Mortal Kombat 4, Mortal Kombat Trilogy, Mortal Kombat: Gold, Mortal Kombat: Deadly Alliance, Mortal Kombat: Deception, Mortal Kombat: Armageddon, Mortal Kombat Vs. DC Universe, Mortal Kombat 9, Mortal Kombat X, Mortal Kombat 11, Mortal Kombat 1, Injustice 2


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Page Updated:  Apr. 17th, 2024

I never grasped the whole "two Sub-Zeros" story element until it was fleshed out and explained in Mortal Kombat 9. I still think they came up with that storyline simply because they used a different actor in MK3... but whatever, it worked out in the end somehow. lol.

Sub-Zero is an unforgettable fighting game character and brought a lot to the MK series. Whether you're a MK fan or not, you have to admit Sub-Zero's fighting style was innovative in the fighting game universe, at the time of his debut. His design developed nicely over the years, and the designers managed to keep him fresh. In fact, I'd say he's one of the few classic MK characters that managed to retain nearly 100% of his original coolness in nearly all the games he appeared in... coolness ... Get it? I crack myself up. :D

Fighting  Style  /  Moveset
Personality  /  Charisma
Outfit(s)  /  Appearance
Effectiveness  in  series
Overall Score

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