Mortal Kombat‘s real-world story was strange, but here is the actual storyline of the game itself.
The very first game picks up with Liu Kang being the descendant of the Shaolin Kung Fu master Kung Lao as he is recruited by Rayden, the God of thunder, alongside Johnny Cage (a movie star) and Sonya (a special forces agent) to represent Earth in a tournament called Mortal Kombat. None of them really knew what was in store until they met Sonya’s rival, the criminal Kano and rival ninjas Sub-Zero and Scorpion, and fought alongside Rayden himself.
The shape-shifting sorcerer Shang Tsung had defeated Earth (or Earthrealm) in nine tournaments previously, and one more win would have given him free reign over Earth, and in order to weigh the odds in his favor, he recruited the renowned Shokan Goro, a half-human dragon, to destroy his opponents before they would even see him. Unfortunately for Shang Tsung, Liu Kang defeated all of them and won the freedom of Earth, or so he thought.
Shang Tsung begged his Outworld master Shao Kahn for mercy, saying he had a plan, and the Outworld master granted him one more chance, as well as restoring the sorcerer’s youth. In order to further aid his lackey, Shao Kahn kidnapped Sonya and Kano, taking them out of the equation to ensure Liu Kang’s defeat in Mortal Kombat. It didn’t work.
It just so turned out that Shao Kahn had been planning to cheat the entire time. He tore open a portal between Earth and Outworld, and used the dead Queen Sindel’s resurrection as an excuse to stay in Earthrealm and wreak havoc. Liu Kang, ever vigilant, defeated Shao Kahn and his minions once again.
It turned out Shao Kahn was not the top of the food chain after all, as Shinnok, his father and a crooked Elder God, practically threw out the rules of Mortal Kombat and decided to take matters into his own hands. This time around, Fujin, the God of wind, joined Rayden in his fight. Liu Kang defeated them again.
Fed up with several defeats in a row, Shao Kahn and his ilk were joined by fellow sorcerer Quan Chi, who revealed himself as the true murderer of Scorpion (Sub-Zero’s undead rival up to this point). Shang Tsung and Quan Chi struck a deal with the long-forgotten ruler of Outworld, the dragon king Onaga, and worked together to kill Liu Kang. Rayden found himself unable to interfere, and gathered his remaining human allies for another showdown.
Onaga was enraged at his defeat, though he was the only survivor of the former alliance, and all of the souls once consumed were now free. Something happened to Liu Kang, however, and he came back as a zombie. Shao Kahn had been killed, but with all of the souls free, he also came back. A lot of deals were made and broken, and in the end, it all came down to a fight with the fire elemental warrior Blaze.
All hell broke loose. The rules shattered, alliances broken, Mortal Kombat had become an inter-realm free-for-all, and all of the fighting was tearing the very fabric of reality to shreds.
Rayden knew something had gone horribly wrong, and in a final desperate act, he threw himself back in time to when it all began and attempted to fix what went wrong.
Mortal Kombat has a very complicated and confusing storyline to say the least, but this should help clear up the major plot points.