The Reiko/Kahn Situation Explained

How It All Started

Reiko's original ending in the arcade was pretty boring.  He just walks through a portal.  As John Vogel said about it, "It was a stupid joke."  When they did the FMV endings for the PC and PlayStation, time was taken to add the Shao Kahn bit at the end of Reiko's ending.  What did it all mean?

The Kombat Kontinues

It was Steve Beran's idea to add to Reiko's ending.  Even Ed Boon wasn't sure what Steve meant by it.  It could have meant anything.  Maybe Reiko was Shao Kahn's son (or other family member).  Maybe Reiko was stepping up as the new emperor.  Perhaps this was his reward for saving Edenia.  It could be that Reiko just thought Kahn's helmet was hella-cool.  But most people had it in their heads that Reiko was Shao Kahn.

Image to the right created by Patrick Sarni.


Recently a Mortal Kombat Conquest epsiode featured Shao Kahn giving orders to Reiko, making them two different characters.  So the issue is settled, right?  WRONG!!  When are you people going to get it?!?  New Line and Midway have two separate storylines!!!  SEPARATE, SEPARATE, SEPARATE!!!  They are different!!!  Geez!

So uh, where was I?  Ah yes.  As far as the games were concerned, it was still a mystery.  Boon & Co., when asked, gave ambiguous answers like "Not exactly".  It must have meant they hadn't decided yet whether he's Shao Kahn or not, because later they decide...

Image to the left created by Malitor Greymaulkin.

With the battle over and only himself left standing, Reiko returns back to rule the realm which he left. Once again as Ruler Supreme, he can continue the attack on Earth as he did when leading the assault in the last Mortal Kombat.
Yes, Reiko is Shao Kahn!


THAT is the final answer.  It's an actual screenshot of Reiko's ending on the Game Boy Color version.

Q & A

Q: But ]{0MBAT, I don't believe the Game Boy version counts.

A: Why not?

Q: Two reasons - #1 - I think the arcade games and home games don't follow the same plot.

A: Hmm, good argument.  Well what about MK Mythologies and MK: Special Forces then?  Those are not arcade games, those are console games only.

Q: Midway made those themselves, so--

A: Midway made the Reiko ending too.

Q: Reason #2 - It's not clear whether Midway authorized Reiko's Game Boy ending.

A: Eurocom did the home versions of MK4... but they are not permitted any creative liberty at all.  They can't add in or take out anything without Midway's consent, to make sure that they don't change MK in any way that would hurt its success (or Midway's success, rather).  Ed Boon must have liked the idea of Reiko being Shao Kahn after all, so he let them put it in.  In fact, Midway didn't just *authorize* the Game Boy endings, they *wrote them themselves*.  Bottom line, the Game Boy version counts.

Q: What about the MK Conquest episode that showed Shao Kahn talking to Reiko?

A: The shows and the games follow two separate storylines!  you?  Here's an explanation for you people that INSIST on combining the games' and shows' storylines:  Let's say Shao Kahn's soul jumped into Reiko's body shortly before MK4.  How's that?  No good?  Okay, how 'bout this: You know what Shao Kahn did to Shang Tsung in between MK1 and MKII?  He shot some kind of magical beam from his hands that ripped off all of Shang's old wrinkly skin and replaced it with all new skin.  And it hurt.  A lot.  Let's say Shao Kahn did that to himself to change his appearance in between MK3/UMK3/MKT and MK4.  Works for me.  (And the thing about that solution is, Shao Kahn and Reiko don't need to be separate people for it to work.)

Even though Reiko and Kahn are separate characters on the MK Conquest television show, it's just not so in the games.

Q: Didn't Ed Boon say in a chat one time that Reiko wasn't Kahn?

A: Yes, but Ed isn't in charge of the story line.  Also, he has been unsure of storyline related items in the past.  In an interview on MK: Deadly Alliance, he was unfamiliar with the Runestone (which is mentioned on Midway's MKDA site).  He also seemed unsure that Sub-Zero had a sister.  Boon just isn't the person in charge of the storylines - never has been, and probably never will.  Mainly John Tobias wrote the storylines, although John Vogel is the one doing it now.  Essentially, things happen in the MK universe that Ed's not aware of. :)

Q: I thought the endings are just "what if" scenarios - possibilities that only occur if that specific character wins.

A: This is partly true.  Each character's ending has 2 parts: what happened before the tournament, and what happens if the character wins.  For example, Mileena's ending in MKII mentions that she is a clone created by Shang Tsung - this is true whether she defeats Shao Kahn or not.  In Kitana's ending, it is mentioned that Shao Kahn overthrew her parents, the former rulers of Outworld - this is also true whether she wins the game or not.  Scorpion's MK1 ending mentions that he was killed by Sub-Zero - another event that happened before the game, and is therefore something that actually occured, not just a "what if".  Thus, the same logic applies to Reiko's ending from the Game Boy Color - he is Shao Kahn, whether he beats Shinnok or not.

Q: What exactly did the designers of the game say in regards to this question, when it was asked?

<McDaniel> is reiko shao-kahn? a real answer please! <ED_BOON> No, he's not. That sequence was made to add an element of mystery to the character... <ED_BOON> although he is most likely one of Shao kahn's minions.
This quote was from a live chat with Ed Boon.  It was referring to the FMV sequence (not the GB ending).  It's interesting that he says Reiko is one of Shao Kahn's minions, when the game's storyline has always said that Reiko works for Shinnok, not Shao Kahn.  Also, this answer was given before the Game Boy version came out - meaning the Game Boy ending would supercede this answer.  Furthermore, as already mentioned, Ed Boon is not the one in charge of the storyline.  A question about the storyline is being asked to someone who didn't really come up with the story at all.

<Total-MK> The_Purple_Bunny asks: 'Guys, to possibly clear once and for all, what is the official statement on Reiko.  Is he Shao Kahn, or not?'
<Mike-Taran> no he is not shao kahn, but he is associated with him
This is an odd answer.  In what way they are "associated" was never explained in the games, and is never explained here.  A Norman Osborn/Green Goblin relationship might even be possible, as far as "associations" go.  Also, the storyline for the games never says they have a relationship whatsoever - a number of theories (Shao Kahn's soul jumping into Reiko's body, etc.) could still be valid even with this answer.
<sansie> If I were to decide right now, reiko is a lame character that people should forget... and he's not Shao.
This is another interesting answer.  Although the game itself has said Reiko is Kahn, the Midway team, by the next game, is saying the opposite.  This sometimes happens in the storylines, which is why Johnny Cage has now never died in MKII/MK3, why Raiden has become the protector of Earth Realm (though you couldn't tell in MK1, he's been protecting it since centuries earlier), why Scorpion has become Japanese instead of Chinese as originally implied, etc.  Maybe it's a case of "too many chefs spoiling the broth", but events can change from one game to the next.  Remember, everything in Back to the Future II contradicted what was said in the original.  Similarly, certain plot points that were revealed in MKDA could be altered/ignored/changed/etc. by the time MK6 comes out.  This is what happens when there is not one writer, but a team of writers, who may disagree with each other on certain plot points and may write stories that contradict each other.

Personally, I have to commend the MK:DA team for making a storyline that works whether Reiko was Shao Kahn or not.  It seems like an area of the plot that they couldn't agree on, so for the most part, worked around it.

Also, there has never been an official comment from Midway regarding the GameBoy ending - they've never said it was false, wrong, incorrect, put in there by mistake, etc.  And since nothing in the games has contradicted it, I would say it still stands (unless a future MK games out, changing the storyline thereby overriding it).  Until that happens...the Game Boy ending still holds the final solution.

Click here to see an animated GIF of Reiko's ending (136 KB) (Image captured by Cyber Axe)

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