In the '90s, Mortal Kombat ruled the arcades with its bloody fighting mechanics and over-the-top Fatalities. But it was a different story when it came to Saturday morning cartoons. Mortal Kombat: Defenders of the Realm was definitely a more kid-friendly take on the concept. Instead of an interdimensional martial arts tournament for the fate of the Earth, it was essentially the X-Men by way of G.I. Joe.
The show premiered in 1996, just over a year after the Mortal Kombat movie hit theaters. Additionally, Defenders of the Realm acted as a pseudo-sequel to the film, which united the heroes into a team under the leadership of Raiden. Together, they went out on missions and stopped bad guys wherever they turned up.
Despite the content restrictions, Defenders of the Realm had a stellar voice cast, including the great Clancy Brown as Raiden, Ron Perlman as Stryker, Luke Perry as Sub-Zero, and animation veteran Cree Summer as Kitana. Yet strangely enough, the show didn't feature fan favorite characters like Johnny Cage, Kung Lao, Mileena, Sindel, Goro, and Kintaro. Instead, the focus fell on lesser-known heroes like Night Wolf and Stryker.
In another interesting quirk, the Mortal Kombat animated series was paired with the Street Fighter cartoon, which adapted MK's arcade rival. While Street Fighter got two seasons, Defender of the Realm lasted only a single season before it came to an end.
For more information about Mortal Kombat: Defenders of the Realm, check out the final episode of SYFY WIRE's original series, Everything You Didn't Know!