The Mortal Kombat franchise has introduced a variety of kombatants to its expansive roster. Everything from ninjas to literal gods have been included in the game’s profound lineup of fighters. With such a vast selection of characters, it is common for details of the most notable kombatants to be overlooked. Numerous characters are overshadowed leaving interesting aspects of their background unknown to many. Of these neglected fighters there is one in particular whose fascinating history has been forgotten.
The green ninja and first-ever secret character Reptile, has served as the lackey of the series’ most powerful characters. Working as a loyal protector and a deadly spy, Reptile is often seen as nothing more than another disposable underling. Regardless of his skill, Reptile is often belittled in the franchise reinforcing his role as the undeserving henchman. Despite his portrayal in the Mortal Kombat universe, there is a lot more to Reptile than his obsequious servitude.
10He Originated In A KFC Parking Lot
Nearly every character in Mortal Kombat has a unique history behind their creation. Fighters like Liu Kang and Sonya Blade were inspired by real people while Scorpion and Sub Zero were made to save memory. Of the extensive list of kombatants, none has an origin as unusual as Reptile.
An interview with Ed Boon during his Injustice 2 tour revealed the unorthodox and hilarious event that led to Reptile’s creation. Boon explains that during a Sunday trip to KFC a peculiar, yet genius thought came to mind. He thought about how Mortal Kombat featured a blue and yellow palette ninja which led Boon to consider adding a third. By the end of the day, a new green palette ninja named Reptile was implemented as a secret character.
9He Was The Combination Of Sub Zero & Scorpion
Every character in the original games had their own unique appearance and moves. All of the kombatants were distinct fighters that boasted their own special abilities. Even Sub Zero and Scorpion who were essentially the same character had opposing moves that set them apart. However, the impulsively added kombatant Reptile was not afforded the same luxury.
Each aspect of Reptile’s character was derived from Scorpion and Sub Zero. His green coloring comes from the combination of blue and yellow. Even Reptile’s moveset consisted of attacks from his ninja counterparts allowing him to use ice balls and the spear. Regardless of his lack of individuality Reptile would become a popular addition to Mortal Kombat 2 and a notable figure in the franchise.
8His True Name Was Revealed
The strangest aspect of Reptile was the fact that his name is Reptile. It is a simple and unoriginal name that seemed more like a description than anything else. However, with the introduction of Khameleon and Chameleon, the criticism of his name subsided. Many fans will be surprised to know that Reptile’s true name was revealed in Mortal Kombat X.
It took 23 years for Reptile’s identity to be disclosed during dialogue preceding a fight. Battles between Reptile and Raiden may lead to a conversation in which the elder god calls him Syzoth. This shocking revelation left fans and Reptile himself in utter disbelief. Reptile is even referred to as Syzoth by Shang Tsung in Mortal Kombat (2021).
7He Is From Zaterra
Reptile is from a humanoid reptilian species known as either Saurians or Zaterrans. He and his people are descendants of the dinosaurs that have evolved into the intelligent and bipedal species of raptors. The Saurians once inhabited Earthrealm but they were displaced during a war between the elder gods. The Saurians fled to a new world called Zaterra where they would live in harmony.
The Saurian’s newfound utopia was short-lived as the merciless Shao Kahn conquered Zaterra and assimilated them into his kingdom. Shao Kahn subjugated the Saurians to his domain which ultimately led to the destruction of their homeworld and species. Reptile blindly serves Shao Kahn unknowing of the conquerer’s role in the extinction of the Saurians and their home.
6He Is Not The Last Of His Kind
Reptile is the most notable Saurian, but he is not the ending of his species. While a majority of the Saurians were wiped out under Shao Kahn’s reign there were a few that survived. The Saurians are often described as being extinct due to the remaining few working as underlings or living in seclusion. The negligible number of Saurians left is hardly enough to revitalize their species.
Reptile is not the only memorable Saurian to appear in the Mortal Kombat franchise. The female Saurian Khameleon made her appearance in Mortal Kombat Trilogy and has since then worked to resurrect her species. Khameleon has attempted to work with Reptile but failed to gain his companionship. Another character named Chameleon is possibly a male Saurian due to his similarities to Khameleon but it is unclear.
5He Is Not Evil
Reptile’s repulsive appearance and allegiance to the franchise’s top baddies may guide fans to believe that he himself is evil. This is not the case as Reptile does not go out of his way to inflict harm to others. Every terrible act Reptile has committed was simply in correspondence to his master’s orders. Reptile follows the wishes of Shao Kahn in hope that he could one day resurrect or free his people.
Reptile does not crave power, nor does he have an insatiable bloodlust. He simply wishes to bring back his species and return to Zaterra to live in peace. In fact, a few of Reptile’s endings result in him achieving his goal or suffering in an attempt to achieve it. Similar to Scorpion, he is not bad but instead blinded and misguided by his pursuit to revive his people.
4He Is Anywhere From Ten Thousand To A Million Years Old
The Saurians are a species that has existed for a long time dating back nearly 65 million years. Nearly everything concerning the Saurians is unknown such as their lifespan. This means that Reptile – and other Saurians – are possibly a million years old or at the very least ten thousand.
The exact time that Zaterra was conquered is unclear but evidence reveals that it occurred in the distant past. Even surviving Saurians are no longer able to remember their homeworld since they left it long ago. What is known is that Reptile is a survivor from this assimilation and there is a possibility that he was alive during the Saurians’ time on Earthrealm.
3He Can Change Forms
Reptile’s appearance has changed throughout each installment that he appeared in. In some, Reptile is depicted as a reptilian humanoid while in others he is much more beast-like. These changes were not random in fact Reptile has the ability to change between his humanoid and animalistic forms. Reptile maintains humanoid form to avoid reverting into his primal state which is prone to mindless behavior. This explains his change in design but not exactly why he changes between forms.
Reptile’s constant alterations between his humanoid and beastly form may be due to his isolation from the rest of his species. The Saurians have a close connection to the matriarch of their species, and it is hinted that prolonged separation can have adverse effects. This may be why Reptile seems to “devolve” into a more primal dinosaur-like state. While in this form Reptile is significantly unstable and susceptible to maintaining it permanently.
2He Committed Genocide Several Times
As one of the last living members of his species Reptile suffers from madness induced by isolation. He has endured the pain of losing his homeworld and a majority of species. Reptile knows the effects of genocide and he hates those that slaughtered his people but ironically, he has committed this heinous act several times.
During the events of Mortal Kombat 4, Reptile joined Shinnok’s army of darkness as a general. During his service to Shinnok, Reptile was responsible for the genocide of several species. He and his army killed millions in his plight to please Shinnok and revive his species. For his odious actions, Reptile was banished to the Netherrealm where he remained until the following installment.
1He Was A Vessel For Onaga
In Mortal Kombat: Deadly Alliance, Reptile became the vessel for the long-dead dragon king Onaga. After being deceived by Nitara, an enraged Reptile tracks her down to the Lava Shrine. When Reptile arrives, there is no sign of Nitara but instead a completely incubated dragon egg. Within moments the egg hatched and from it, a beam of energy struck Reptile imbuing him with Onaga’s soul
Onaga took control of Reptile’s body and shaped it into his likeness. Onaga was eventually defeated through the combined efforts of Shujinko and a variety of renowned kombatants. Shujinko’s final blow forced Onaga’s soul from Reptile’s body and was bound to the Netherrealm by Nightwolf. Reptile surprisingly survived the expulsion of Onaga’s soul, and he would live on until his death in Mortal Kombat: Armageddon.