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Sub-Zero is the alias of two video game characters from the Mortal Kombat franchise; one of which was amongst the original characters in the first Mortal Kombat game in 1992. A mainstay of the series, Sub-Zero is one of only three characters who have appeared in every main Mortal Kombat fighting game (in one form or another). The character also appears in many other Mortal Kombat media works such as the Mortal Kombat live action film series and animated series.

The character is a formidable fighter possessing the innate ability to control ice in many forms. In his first return appearance in Mortal Kombat II, it was revealed that the original Sub-Zero had died during the events of the first game (at the hand of Scorpion) and was replaced by his brother. In the subsequent games, the younger brother of Sub-Zero, remained as Sub-Zero, while the older brother became Noob Saibot. The most defining trait of the character is his fierce rivalry with his nemesis Scorpion.

Mortal Kombat Karnage Edit

Origin Edit

The elder of the two men who take the name Sub-Zero, called Bi-Han[3] was introduced in the first Mortal Kombat game where he participates in the eponymous tournament as he was ordered by the Lin Kuei to kill the host Shang Tsung and take his treasure.[4] He fails to accomplish his mission, and is killed by the specter Scorpion, who sought to avenge his own death.[5] Bi-Han then becomes the undead Noob Saibot.[6][7]

In the direct sequel Mortal Kombat II, Bi-Han's place is taken by his brother Kuai Liang,[3] who was originally known by his codename Tundra prior to assuming his elder brother's codename to honor him. Upon his brother's death in the first tournament and the survival of Shang Tsung, Kuai Liang[3] is sent by the Lin Kuei to complete his brother's unfinished task.[5]In doing so, Scorpion eventually discovers that Liang is not the Sub-Zero he previously held accountable. In return for taking Bi Han's life, Scorpion vows to forever protect Liang, which becomes a deciding factor in the sequel. In Mortal Kombat 3, the younger Sub-Zero escapes from the Lin Kuei who wanted to transform their warriors into cyborgs.[8] They program three cyborg assassins to hunt and terminate Sub-Zero (one of which being his old friend, Smoke, who failed to escape), who by this time had received a vision from Raiden and agreed to join the rebellion against a new threat.[9]

In addition to the current Sub-Zero, Ultimate Mortal Kombat 3 and Mortal Kombat Trilogy included a playable character known as "Classic Sub-Zero".[10] His biography states that although he was believed to have died after the first Mortal Kombat, he returned to try again and assassinate Shang Tsung.[11] However, his ending states that he is not Sub-Zero, but an unidentified warrior who was missing from the previous tournament.[12] In Mortal Kombat Mythologies: Sub-Zero, which serves as a prequel to the first Mortal Kombat, sorcerer Quan Chihires the Lin Kuei to find an ancient amulet.[13] After the first Sub-Zero delivers the amulet to Quan Chi, he is sent back to the Netherrealm by Raiden upon learning it is the key to releasing the god Shinnok.[14] Sub-Zero regains the amulet while fighting Shinnok and returns it to Raiden.[15]

In Mortal Kombat 4, Raiden once again summons Sub-Zero to assist in the defense of Earthrealm against the former Elder God Shinnok.[16] In the meantime, Sub-Zero fights Scorpion, who was told by Quan Chi that the Lin Kuei killed his family, but he leaves him upon discovering Quan Chi was the actual person responsible.[17]

In Mortal Kombat: Deadly Alliance, Sub-Zero defeats Sektor in a fight for leadership of the Lin Kuei Clan.[18] He also meets Frost, his apprentice, and takes her to fight alongside Earthrealm's warriors against the alliance of Shang Tsung and Quan Chi.[19]

In Mortal Kombat: Deception, Sub-Zero joins Shujinko's group to defeat the new threat in Onaga. He also confronts his corrupted older brother, now the undead Noob Saibot, across the game.[6][7] In both Deadly Alliance and Mortal Kombat: Unchained, Sub-Zero comes to encounter Frost for the Lin Kuei's leadership, but he remains victorious.[20][21] In Mortal Kombat: Armageddon's Konquest mode, Sub-Zero faces the warrior Taven, who invaded the Lin Kuei Palace. Both eventually decide to ally to stop the invading Noob Saibot and Smoke. After the invaders' defeat, Sub-Zero stays with the unconscious Noob Saibot to find a way to save him.[22]

In Mortal Kombat: Shaolin Monks, which reprises the events from Mortal Kombat II, Sub-Zero first appears as a boss character, but then allies with the protagonists Liu Kang and Kung Lao for a short time during the search of his older brother. He is last seen pursuing Noob Saibot in the Netherrealm.[23] Mortal Kombat: Fire & Ice, which would star Scorpion and Sub-Zero in co-operative gameplay, was cancelled when Paradox Development, creators of Shaolin Monks, "couldn’t do it in time and under budget."[24]

Kuai Liang is also playable in the crossover title Mortal Kombat vs. DC Universe; in the storyline, Kuai Liang is involved in a war between the eponymous fictional universes and is the protagonist for one chapter of the story mode. Ed Boon notes that Kuai Liang's counterpart from DC Comics is Batman as both are "dark, mysterious, brooding characters."[25] In Sub-Zero's ending, he realizes he is no longer the assassin he once was and leaves the Lin Kuei. Inspired by Batman, he becomes a superhero donning a new costume with a cape; unknown to him, the Lin Kuei are on his trail because they do not tolerate desertion.[26] Sub-Zero is also as a guest character in The Grid.[27]

Both incarnations of Sub-Zero appear in the 2011 Mortal Kombat game.[3] While Bi-Han is still killed by Scorpion and becomes Noob Saibot,[28] Kuai Liang's fate changes in the second tournament due to Raiden's interference; the timeline is altered and, after he has defeated Scorpion, Sub-Zero is captured and turned into a cyborg instead of Smoke, as well as Lin Kuei served Outworld.[29] He is able to regain his mind and joins Raiden's warriors to stop Shao Kahn.[30] His reunion on seeing Bi-Han as Noob Saibot becomes much earlier, shortly when Nightwolf takes Sub-Zero's place and tells him to fall back, which he succeeded freeing Earthrealmer's souls by throwing Noob. However, Kahn's wife, Sindel, overloads his circuits, electrocuting him as a result. He is then "resurrected" and enslaved by Quan Chi in the Netherrealm.[31] Sub-Zero's background is further clarified during this installment as well, as it is revealed that the two brothers were in fact abducted by the Lin Kuei as infants, after the Lin Kuei murdered their parents.

In Mortal Kombat X, a cybernized Sub-Zero is temporarily awaken from Quan Chi's influence while being apprehended by his fallen friends turned Quan Chi's revenants to have his cyborg body removed along with killing him and completely resurrects him with his original human appearance, then re-enslaved him as Quan Chi's newly resurrected revenant for the upcoming Netherrealm War. After the war ends, he is revived along with Scorpion and Jax who were under Quan Chi's control. 25 years later and after the comic book prequel, Kuai Liang becomes the new grandmaster of the Lin Kuei, thanks to Kung Jin's help whom he and Bo'Rai Cho hired to steal a USB containing a computer virus. He later uses virus to free Cyrax and other human Lin Kuei warriors turned cyborgs from Sektor's enslavements. He would also make amends with Scorpion by revealing that Sektor and Quan Chi were involved in the murder of Hanzo's family and clan, as well as Bi-Han's downfall. 5 years later, he helps Johnny Cage's team of recruited warriors by testing them at the Lin Kuei temple. Sub-Zero eventually witnesses the Jinsei's corruption by Shinnok. He later finds Cassie Cage's team ambushed by Kotal Kahn's Outworld army, and alongside his clan, drives Kotal's army back to Outworld, allowing Cassie's team to reach a now compromised Shaolin Temple to stop Shinnok.[citation needed]. Sub-Zero's Cybernetic form is reused in Mortal Kombat X as a DLC and hidden Variation for Triborg who can also take the form of Cyrax, Sektor and Cyber Smoke.

Sub-Zero makes a cameo appearance in Injustice: Gods Among Us during Scorpion's intro, in which Scorpion is about to perform a fatality on the downed Sub-Zero before being pulled into the DC Universe. Sub-Zero, now featuring an original redesign by Jim Lee, appears as a playable character alongside Raiden via downloadable content in the game's sequel, Injustice 2. Despite having some references from his crossover appearance in Mortal Kombat vs. DC Universe, Sub-Zero's ending is revealed to have taken place while he was forcing Kotal's army back to Outworld in Mortal Kombat X, when suddenly Sub-Zero was transported into DC's Injusticeuniverse. In his ending, after he defeats Brainiac, Batman offers to help him return to his universe. Sub-Zero becomes a teacher to the three youngest members of Batman's Justice League (Supergirl, Blue Beetle, and Firestorm) in the process, while waiting for Batman to develop a portal to the Mortal Kombat universe, which accidentally frees Superman as well as Superman's new Kryptonian allies General Zod, Ursa, and Non from the Phantom Zone instead. Blaming himself for their release, Sub-Zero decides to delay getting home in order to assist the Justice League in re-imprisoning Superman and the escaped Kryptonian criminals, bound by duty.[32]Additionally in pre-battle dialogue against himself, Kuai Liang asks the other Sub-Zero if he is Bi-Han who confirms this by saying he has been freed from Quan Chi's control, though Kuai Liang asks his brother to prove his identity in a test of Kombat.

In the indie-game Punch Club, a ninja named Sub-273 serves as the game's final boss, with his character design based on the first Mortal Kombat film.[33] "-273" is a reference to the Celsius representation of 0 kelvins, considered absolute zero.