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The 5 Best And 5 Worst Friendships In Mortal Kombat

The Mortal Kombat series has always had a very tongue-in-cheek approach to its ultraviolence, and the series has seemingly gotten more self-aware (and plenty more violent) as it has gone through the years. One early indication that Mortal Kombat has always been very in on the joke came in Mortal Kombat 2, when "Friendship" moves were first introduced as a way to end a match much differently than a Fatality would.

It is generally assumed that Friendship moves were created in response to the hand-wringing over video game violence. They are so silly and saccharine that the joke is obvious to anyone. Despite being introduced in Mortal Kombat 2, Friendship moves only appeared in that game and MK3 before disappearing. Until recently, that is.

Friendships will make a triumphant return with the "Aftermath" DLC for Mortal Kombat 11. As of this writing, NetherRealm has put out videos of just a few Friendship moves, but it's assumed that every character will have one. To ease the anticipation, here are our picks for the five best (and five worst) Friendship moves of all time.

BEST: Noob Saibot is a double dutch fiend - Mortal Kombat 11

We have to kick things off with one of the newest Friendships on the list. Since these moves haven't been around for several years, it's fitting that the ones we'll see in MK11 are a bit more elaborate than what we've seen before. Of the Friendships we've seen so far, Noob Saibot's double dutch jump rope routine is probably our favorite.

Noob Saibot is literally an incarnation of evil. He is one of the worst characters in a game full of awful murderers. That's why his over the top goofiness shines through so well here. When Noob splits into other beings, you usually expect them to rip your skin off or some other nastiness. Instead (after giving cheeky little finger guns to one another), Noob's clones just keep the rhythm steady while he dances over a jump rope. It's mesmerizing.

It's fluid, it's dynamic and it goes totally against character. Friendships are such a major part of MK nostalgia because of how surprising they are in a game full of violent attacks, and Noob's sums that up perfectly.

WORST: Sonya Blade does aerobics (is that what those are?) - Mortal Kombat 3

Sonya Blade got the short end of the stick in Mortal Kombat for quite some time: in early games, she reads very much as a token female fighter. Her role in franchise lore and her personality have both developed substantially over time, but her early forms definitely feel like a bit of an afterthought compared to some of the other fighters.

As such, some of Sonya's jokes just don't quite land, like her Mortal Kombat 3 Friendship move. We don't even really know what she's doing. The screen darkens. She turns towards the player, a giant grin plastered on her face. Then she waves her arms. That's... it?

Is it supposed to be aerobics? Her hands continue to make this strange noise as she flits them around, and there's no conclusion or indication of what Sonya is actually up to. Maybe this is a reference that's lost to time, or maybe it's a "we need something for Sonya!" moment. Either way, it's bad.

BEST: Kano fires up the barbie - Mortal Kombat 11

Kano is another "really bad dude" in the world of Mortal Kombat. He's a greedy, immoral arms dealer who sold out Earthrealm to Outworld for a chance to gain more power for himself. He delights in violence and the suffering of others. Rather than the elaborate, magical finishers that some other fighters use, Kano's are almost always short and get his hands very, very dirty.

That said, we kind of want Kano to be our dad. He sort of has that "rough around the edges" hillbilly thing going that makes him seem like, at least, a cool uncle. That's why his Mortal Kombat 11 Friendship move is so satisfying.

There's so much good here. He dons a chef's hat. When the grill won't start, does Kano look up the proper amount of lighter fluid to use in order to get things reignited? Of course not: he simply blasts it with his eye laser and keeps on grilling. Kano is Australian, so you know he'd humor the little kids with a few "shrimp on the barbie" lines. The little smirk he's got after everything is all set is the move's pièce de résistance – Kano is jazzed to serve that bratwurst.

WORST: Kung Lao murders a dog - Mortal Kombat 3

Kung Lao became one of Mortal Kombat's most intriguing characters when he was introduced in Mortal Kombat 2. He had a unique look, helping to separate him from the roster that was mostly just different-colored ninjas. His projectile attack could be steered after it was thrown, giving him some nasty mind games. He also had a totally gruesome Fatality, even in a game full of gruesome moves.

Then he had to go and kill a dog in Mortal Kombat 3. We've never forgiven him.

In Kung Lao's Friendship move, a dog runs on screen and Kung Lao removes his hat and throws it like a frisbee. You know, the same hat he's been using to slice his opponent with the entire fight? The one that literally cuts people in half? You can see where this is going.

The dog chases it off screen as Kung Lao watches, but then the monk recoils as the dog lets out a yelp. Kung Lao's Friendship move ends with him defeatedly shaking his head, clearly upset over what he's done. Meanwhile, the familiar, lighthearted music plays over the background. That's hardly friendly, Mortal Kombat.

BEST: Liu Kang has a dance party - Mortal Kombat 2

The Mortal Kombat series has always had a bonkers, convoluted narrative, but it was pretty obvious to even casual players that Liu Kang was a focal character in the early games. As the game started pivoting to telling a compelling story, that became ever more obvious. Liu Kang started as the "Bruce Lee clone" that many fighting games have, bringing a stoic, fighting monk persona with him. That's what made his MK2 Friendship move so great.

Liu Kang is all about tapping into the mystical, godlike powers that flow through his veins. Does he even have fun? If so, what could he possibly do for fun? His Friendship move answers that question: Liu Kang busts some sick moves.

A disco ball drops. He lifts one foot, then the other, bouncing his hands along with the beat. He eventually freezes, one foot off the ground, while his opponent continues to sway. Obviously, they are dumbfounded by Liu Kang's fly routine. It's glorious.

WORST: Sheeva uses it as an excuse for blatant T&A - Mortal Kombat 3

Female characters, especially in the mid-1990s, were often used for titillation. The Mortal Kombat series was no stranger to squeezing their characters into tiny little outfits, and few characters encapsulate this quite like Sheeva.

Sheeva is a Shokan (the same four-armed race as Goro), and her extremely muscled build threatens to pop out of her outfit at any moment. Her one piece outfit is strained to its limits, both over her chest and around her backside. Her Friendship move seems like it's just an excuse for her to showcase her tiny outfit.

Sheeva has four arms, and she decides to showcase her plate-spinning talent. In doing so, she turns her back to the player, gets the plates going, and thrusts out her thong-clad booty towards the screen. It's a cheeky little tease, and definitely nothing overly graphic (especially considering the ultraviolence that surrounds it). It's also the exact type of thing that would "prove the point" of all the hand-wringing censors who said Mortal Kombat only served to corrupt our innocent children.

BEST: Stryker the crossing guard - Mortal Kombat 3

There is one thing that many of us can agree on: Stryker was pretty lame. He joined the cast in Mortal Kombat 3, and he suffers from the fact that he is entirely one dimensional. Stryker is a cop, and... that's it. That's his character. That's his personality. Cop. On top of that, he had an annoying, keep-away style that made playing against him a complete nightmare. One thing he did have, however, was the single best Friendship move in all of Mortal Kombat 3.

Stryker leaned in hard to his sole personality trait with his Friendship. He sounds a shrill whistle and holds up a dinky little stop sign. Several other Mortal Kombat characters take this opportunity to run across the battlefield. They are clearly getting up to mischief as Stryker waves them all along, holding up traffic so they won't get splattered. Meanwhile, Stryker's opponent just stands there, totally dazed.

To top everything off, Stryker's goofy, surfer bro grin as he waves the cast of Mortal Kombat past is the best. Just look at him!

WORST: Jax has been put to shame - Mortal Kombat 3

Sometimes, things that were perfectly fine back in the day have just been surpassed by modern updates. As Mortal Kombat continues to move forward and up the ante, it seems likely that our favorite moves, characters and more will start to be outclassed. That's the space that Jax's Friendship move from Mortal Kombat 3 occupies.

On its surface, there's nothing wrong with it. Jax is a buff dude who probably works out a lot. He busts out his jump rope and shows us a little skipping routine. It's nothing fancy, but he sure looks happy doing it! You go Jax -– do what makes you happy.

Now, imagine you were at the eye doctor. They ask you this question: "Which is better: this one, or that one?" The first option is Jax skipping rope from MK3. The second is Noob Saibot's double dutch Friendship move from Mortal Kombat 11. "This one, or that one?" Sorry Jax, but Noob's jump rope shtick is just a far superior model to yours. Jax will surely have something tricky up his sleeve in MK11, but his simple little rope skipping won't cut it anymore.

BEST: Raiden and Kidd Thunder - Mortal Kombat 2

Mortal Kombat is often at its best when it throws in weird, random things. The guy popping up in the corner and screaming "Toasty!" The characters peeking out behind the trees in the Living Forest. These little tidbits added fun trivia and fueled all sorts of wild rumors about the bigger universe of Mortal Kombat.

Speaking of weird and random, we've got to talk about Kidd Thunder.

Most of the Friendship moves in Mortal Kombat 2 are simple little animations; many of them feel like they were just thrown in at the last minute. Raiden's is no different, but there's just something magical about it. Lightning fires from his fingertips, like with many of his moves. Then a tiny version of him appears and raises his arms, shouting "Thunder!" in a childish voice, and Raiden raises his own arms in triumph. Text even appears on the screen, declaring "Kidd Thunder!!" There have been references to Kidd Thunder in a few other MK games, but he has never appeared since.

We have so many questions.

WORST: Baraka has no creativity - Mortal Kombat 2

The best Friendship moves generally fall into a few different categories. Some play very well off the character, perfectly matching their personality but in an uncharacteristic, friendly way. Some subvert those expectations completely, turning bloodthirsty savages into cuddly little kittens. Finally, some of them are just so weird that you can't help but love them. Unfortunately, Baraka's Mortal Kombat 2 Friendship move is none of those things. It just... is.

Baraka is another character who seems a bit like a placeholder in MK2. He has evolved throughout the series, but he's just kind of a random dude in the early games. His Friendship move epitomizes that mentality. Baraka could do something cool –- roast marshmallows on his arm blades, or do something with those fabulously long teeth.

Instead, he reaches behind his back, pulls out a wrapped present, and holds it out towards his opponent. That's it. There's no reveal and no payoff; Baraka just stands there, holding it and looking like a clown. Such wasted potential!