Kuai Liang (奎良 or 快涼), also known as Sub-Zero (絶対零度, "Absolute zero"), formerly known as Tundra and the cyborg LK-52O, is a Lin Kuei assassin in the Mortal Kombat fighting game series. He is the younger brother of Bi-Han, who was the original Sub-Zero in the first Mortal Kombat game. The younger Sub-Zero made his debut in Mortal Kombat II.
In one form or another, Sub-Zero has appeared in every generation of Mortal Kombat games as a playable character.
There are in fact two incarnations of Sub-Zero, and they are siblings; older brother Bi-Han and younger brother Kuai Liang. Both are blue garbed warriors who at different times have used the codename "Sub-Zero", and both have served the Lin Kuei. Both descended from Cryomancers, an Outworld race possessing the ability to generate and control the powers of ice. However, they were born in Earthrealm and only the younger Sub-Zero would discover his heritage. Kuai Liang bears a scar on his right eye which he received between the events of MK3. However, as seen in Deception, the scar has faded away. This may have been caused by the Dragon Medallion's power.
In their biography, both Sub-Zero brothers were sons of a Cryomancer father and a human mother. It is known that the father of both brothers was a secret operative for the Lin Kuei in the United States. He married an American woman and together they had two sons. Against the will of their mother, the father took the sons with him to move back to China, and as such both brothers were trained as Lin Kuei assassins. This was later retconned as both brothers being kidnapped by the Lin Kuei when they were still children (this was revealed in Sub-Zero's trailer in Mortal Kombat 2011).
Bi-Han appeared as Sub-Zero in the first Mortal Kombat, while Kuai Liang went by the codename "Tundra". After Bi-Han was murdered by Scorpion during the tournament, Kuai Liang swore revenge on him. He mastered the art of Ice and Cold, and took his brother's former code name: Sub-Zero. Driven by anger, Kuai Liang entered The Mortal Kombat Tournament with one goal: To destroy his brother's killer, and anyone else that gets in the way.
Kuai Liang replaced him as Sub Zero for the rest of the games - Bi Han later was resurrected by Quan Chi and became the undead Netherrealm wraith Noob Saibot. The younger Sub-Zero clearly shares many traits with his older brother, and was perhaps too similar to his brother upon his introduction. Like the elder, the younger Sub-Zero gives the impression of being a stern, distant and cold man who goes about his business silently, without attracting unwanted attention. However, as time progressed, Sub-Zero evolved - from what fans labeled a "carbon copy" of his brother - into a man of great integrity and self-discipline. The disparities between the brothers, who were once neutral and almost indistinct from each other, have now grown so large that one could speak of the evil twin syndrome.
While the younger Sub-Zero was depicted as a young Lin Kuei warrior who was living in the shadow of his older brother, he has since changed and grown into a warrior who has progressed towards the more humane sides of moral issues. This change in characteristics has not only strengthened him as a man, but has also set him apart from his former Lin Kuei counterparts. This included leaving his clan in disgust and breaking the sacred codes of honor, joining the rebellion against Shao Kahn and assisting Raiden and Liu Kang (along with Earthrealm's other chosen warriors). More recently, he defeated the cyborg assassin known as Sektor after the events of Mortal Kombat Gold to gain the leadership of the Lin Kuei and become the Grandmaster, where he has grown even stronger and more powerful. He is a dependable ally of Earthrealm who is willing to assist when needed, especially when Raiden gives the call. He is, without question, one of the greatest and most powerful warriors that Earthrealm has to offer. He, like much of the MK cast, follows a character archetype. In his case, he is the enigmatic hero that shows up to aid the main hero(es) when needed.
Sub-Zero dresses in the familiar blue-garbed ninja-like uniform. Originally, Sub-Zero was depicted with Asian facial features as revealed in the ending when unmasked, due to a Chinese-American heritage.
Around Mortal Kombat 3, Sub-Zero was given a scar over his right eye to help differentiate himself from his older brother. Sub-Zero was the first ninja-like character in the series to go on without a mask and wore a less-concealing version of his outfit. In MK4, he wore the traditional uniform his brother wore, but again wears an updated version of his MK3 outfit in Deadly Alliance featuring Chinese characters. His alternate costume from Deadly Alliance and beyond is more of a stream-lined version of his original costume featuring the Dragon Medallion on the right side of his chest. In Deception, Sub-Zero dons an ancient armor once worn by his Cryomancer ancestors.
Interestingly, Sub-Zero is one of the few characters in the series to show signs of natural aging (faster than anyone due to the Dragon Medallion). Around Deadly Alliance, he is depicted with slight wrinkles and graying hair, which has begun to bald around the time of Deception. His scar also changes blue, and eventually fades from his face entirely.
In sporadic appearances beginning with MK4, Sub-Zero bears a flexible ice sheet on his forearms, a sign of his growing power of cryomancy.
Combat characteristics (as Sub-Zero)
Powers and abilities
Having descended from a race of Outworld inhabitants known as Cryomancers, Sub-Zero has the innate ability to control ice in many forms. Throughout the span of the series, Sub-Zero's powers have continued to evolve. Aside from flash-freezing opponents, Sub-Zero also has the ability to instantly conjure up an ice statue of himself to act as both a scapegoat and a 'landmine' of sorts as any who touch it instantly flash freeze. Since having taken possession of the Dragon Medallion, the scope of Sub-Zero's powers and abilities has increased significantly. As a member of the Lin Kuei, Sub-Zero has attained a great degree of skill in many forms of hand-to-hand combat. The Dragon Medallion and his ancestral armor increased and amplified his martial arts and ice-related abilities, as shown in his Deception Arcade ending. Throughout the Mortal Kombat series, Sub-Zero's abilities have grown more powerful; he can even transform his body into a liquefied state, solid state or transform his body into solid ice at will. Raiden has commented that Sub-Zero is more powerful than his brother.
- Ice Blast: Sub-Zero sends a blast of ice directly towards the opponent to temporarily freeze them in place for a free hit. He could also freeze opponents in midair, if timed correctly. In the earlier Mortal Kombat games, if Sub-Zero were to freeze the opponent twice, the second ice ball would defrost the opponent and freeze Sub-Zero, setting him up for a free hit. Like Scorpion's Spear, it has had different depictions. In MK, it is depicted as frozen liquid while in MKII to MKT, it is depicted a series of ice shards; From MK4 onward, it is an energy blast of ice condensed into a spherical form, but in Armageddon, it is depicted as a strong beam of energy. In Mortal Kombat: Shaolin Monks, the Ice Freeze can also perform a small bit of damage, even to enemies who are immune to being frozen by the move. In MK 2011, this is called Iceball. (MKII, MK3, UMK3, MKT, MK4, MKG, MK:DA, MK:D, MK:U, MK:SM, MK:A, MKvsDCU, MK 2011, MKX)
- The enhanced version is called Ice Beam. Instead of a single ball of ice, Sub-Zero will shoot a beam of ice, making it easier to hit opponents in the air. The opponent is also frozen for a longer amount of time.
- In MKX, it is a much larger, faster-moving projectile rather than a beam, and is armored.
- Slide: Sub-Zero slides across the floor, knocking the opponent off their feet. It is assumed Sub-Zero slides by freezing the soles of his feet. This move was later given to Frost. In Mortal Kombat: Shaolin Monks, Sub-Zero can perform an uppercut or throw a snowball-like projectile after executing the Slide. In MK 2011, he leaves a trail of ice behind. (MKII, MK3, UMK3, MKT, MK4, MKG, MK:SM, MK:DA, MKvsDCU, MK 2011, MKX)
- The enhanced version is called Power Slide. After Sub-Zero hits the opponent, he will follow up with an additional attack (twin palms).
- In MKX, the enhanced version has Sub-Zero follow up with a blast of ice to the opponent's back.
- Ground Ice: Sub-Zero freezes the floor and whoever steps on the circle of ice will temporarily slip all over the place, setting the opponent up for a free hit. Since it aims for the opponent's feet, it cannot be blocked. This move was also later adapted for Frost. In Mortal Kombat: Shaolin Monks, the Ground Ice maneuver can be upgraded to allow Sub-Zero to freeze the ground around him in a radius affecting multiple enemies or even create chunks of ice to pop opponents into the air. In MK 2011, the opponent is frozen to the ground, and the move is called Ice Puddle. (MKII, MK:SM, MK 2011)
- The enhanced version is called Ground Freeze and it freezes the entire arena floor that is in front of him.
- Ice Clone: Sub-Zero creates an ice clone of himself anywhere he chooses, and anyone who touches it will freeze. (MK3, UMK3, MKT, MK4, MKG, MK:D, MK:U, MK:A, MK 2011, MKX - Grandmaster variation)
- The enhanced version is called Ice Statue. The clone will stay for a longer period of time.
- Ice Shaker: Sub-Zero emits a wave of cold air from his body freezing anyone or anything near him. (MK:DA)
- Ice Burst: Sub-Zero sends out a pulsing wave of ice, knocking the opponent off their feet. (MKX)
- The enhanced version is called Frost Bomb and launches the opponent into the air.
- Frost Hammer: Sub-Zero summons a large warhammer made of ice and pounds the opponent into the ground with it. (MKX - Cryomancer variation)
- The enhanced version is called Crushing Hammer and bounces the opponent.
- Air Frost Hammer: Sub-Zero summons his Frost Hammer while in the air and slams the head into the ground, knocking the opponent off their feet. (MKX - Cryomancer variation)
- Barrier of Frost: Sub-Zero forms a large barrier or shield of ice in front of him that cancels projectiles and freezes opponents who touch it. (MKX - Unbreakable variation)
- The enhanced version is called Barrier of Ice and lasts for a longer time.
- Frozen Aura: Sub-Zero covers himself in an armor-like layer of rock-hard ice, rendering him immune to chip damage. (MKX - Unbreakable variation)
- The enhanced version is called Ice Aura and reduces all damage taken.
- Ice Shower: Sub-Zero shoots ice straight overhead which falls back down atop his opponent. He can shoot it close, mid way, or far away to freeze the opponent. In Armageddon, it is known as Ice Pillar and instead of falling on the opponent, the ice comes up underneath them like a frozen geyser, freezing and suspending them in the air. (MK3, UMK3, MKT, MK:A)
- Cold Shoulder: Sub-Zero rushes the opponent with his shoulder, leaving a trail of ice behind him on the ground. This is the replacement of his Ice Slide in these games. In MK (2011), Sub-Zero uses this move to initiate his X-Ray move. (MK:DA, MK:D, MK:U, MK:A)
- Tombstone Teleport: Sub-Zero's body becomes ice, falls backward into the ground, and reappears behind his opponent. (MKvsDCU)
- Icy Counter: Sub-Zero quickly covers himself in a sheet of ice. If an opponent attacks him physically whilst in this state, they will automatically be flash-frozen as Sub-Zero disappears and reappears behind the opponent with his Kori Blade in hand to strike them down. A low or sweep attack from the opponent does not trigger this ability. (MKvsDCU)
- Ice Nugget: Sub-Zero makes a nugget out of ice above his opponent, which comes crashing down onto the opponent. It is unblockable. (MKvsDCU)
- X-Ray Move - Deep Freeze: Sub-Zero charges at the opponent with a cold shoulder and punches into the stomach, proceeding to freeze and crush the opponent's stomach, also cracking their ribs. He recoils and headbutts the opponent in the side of the head, shattering their skull and jaw. (MK 2011)
- X-Ray Move - Deep Freeze: Sub-Zero sucker punches the opponent before plunging his hand into their stomach, grabbing and ripping out their entrails. He freezes these into an icicle, which he violently rams into the opponent's eyeball. (MKX)
- Suplex Throw: Sub-Zero grabs his foe, proceeds to roll backwards, brings up a leg as in a monkey flip and launches the foe halfway across the area. He then does a kip-up. Almost all male ninjas share the Suplex Throw pre-MK4. (MKII)
- Icy Skateboard: Sub-Zero freezes his opponent and skateboards with the frozen opponent's body. (MK:DA)
- Free-Fall Super Move: Sub-Zero freezes his opponent solid, before slamming them to the ground with a powerful axe-handle punch, shattering their icy restraint in the process. (MKvsDCU)
- Throw: Sub-Zero creates an icicle and stabs the opponent with it, then twists it, breaking it. (MK 2011)
- Rib Breaker: Sub-Zero grabs his opponent, delivers two elbows to the ribs then flips his opponent to the ground. In Armageddon, he freezes his opponent then delivers a massive forward punch to the ribs. (MKD, MKA)
- Force Claws: Sub-Zero winds up and then hits the opponent with a double palm strike. This move can be charged,, and at full charge it will freeze the opponent on hit. (MK 2011)
- Throw: Sub-Zero freezes his opponent solid, then punches them with an ice-covered fist, knocking them to the ground. (MKX)
- Snowball Grenade: Sub-Zero creates a small orb of ice and launches it at the opponent. It lodges within their chest and detonates, causing them to explode from within. (MKII)
- Ice Shatter: Sub-Zero deep-freezes his opponent, then uppercuts their upper body, shattering it in the process. However, in MK:SM, Sub-Zero only knocks off the opponent's upper body after freezing him/her. (MKII, MK4, MKG, MK:SM)
- Freeze Kick: Sub-Zero freezes his opponent and kicks them, smashing them to pieces. (MKvsDCU)
- Freeze and Throw: Sub-Zero freezes his opponent before ripping the head off, sliding away, then throws the head at the opponent, shattering the body and head. In MK:SM, Sub-Zero freezes the opponent first, and then launches a snowball that crushes the opponent. (MK:D, MK:SM)
- Frosty!: Sub-Zero breathes icy breath at his opponent, who falls back and shatters upon contact with the floor. In the mobile phone version of UMK3, he still breathes icy breath, but uppercuts their body into pieces, similar to his Ice Shatter fatality. (MK3, UMK3)
- Overhead Ice Smash: Sub-Zero grabs the opponent and presses them over his head. After freezing the opponent, Sub-Zero breaks them into pieces with his own hands. In MKvsDCU, it is called Freeze Slam and Sub-Zero throws the opponent on the ground, shattering them. (MK3, UMK3, MKvsDCU)
- Spine Rip: Sub-Zero grabs the opponent's neck, and tears out their spine and skull. This Fatality was taken directly from his older brother. This was later used as a finisher in Armageddon. (MK4, MKG, MK:DA[GB], MK:SM, MK 2011, MKX)
- In the Game Boy Advance version of MK:DA, Sub-Zero rips out opponent's frozen skull with spine instead of head with spine while some organs will fall out when the spine is removed.
- In MK:SM, Sub-Zero freezes the opponent first before performing the spine rip.
- In MK 2011, this Fatality is unlocked via a DLC code. Sub-Zero can use this in any costume.
- In MKX, this Fatality is renamed as Head Rip.
- Skeleton Rip: Sub-Zero rips the whole skeleton out of his opponent's body. Different from Kano's version in MK3, Sub-Zero pulls it from the lower spine. (MK:DA)
- Below Freezing: Sub-Zero freezes the legs of his foe and shatters them. He then walks forward, ignoring the victim's pleas for mercy, and stomps them, causing their head to explode. (MK:D)
- Have an Ice Day: Sub-Zero freezes his opponent from the feet up to the waist. He then rips the opponent's torso off and holds the victim's bleeding torso. (MK 2011)
- Spinal Smash: Sub-Zero rips the opponent's spine and skull out through his/her chest. He then freezes the opponent's body and smashes it with the spine. (MK 2011)
- Chest Kold: Sub-Zero freezes the front of his opponent's chest before punching through it, leaving a huge, gaping hole through their torso, with their spine intact. He reaches in and grabs this with both hands, breaking it in half. Finally, he presses the victim over his head and rips them completely in half. (MKX)
- Bed of Ice: Sub-Zero forms a frozen bed of spikes behind his opponent, then kicks them onto the surface and jumps onto them, impaling them in several places. He then stands over the opponent and gives a final stomp, the spikes penetrating the skull with one eyeball gouged out and impaled on a spike. (MKX)
- Friendship #1: Sub-Zero takes out a Sub-Zero doll and text appears onscreen saying "Buy a Sub-Zero Doll !" (MKII)
- Friendship #2: Sub-Zero covers himself up with a snowman. (MK3, UMK3, MKT)
- Animality: Sub-Zero turns into a polar bear and mauls his opponent. (MK3, UMK3, MKT)
- Multality: Ice Stomp: Sub-Zero leaps up and comes back down, stomps on the ground and then freezes and shatters all opponents. (MK:SM)
- Brutality: Frostbite Rage: Sub-Zero covers himself up in ice, sliding toward the opponent, mercilessly pounding them until they shatter. (MK:SM)
- Hara-Kiri: Meltdown: Sub-Zero covers himself with ice, falls over and shatters, leaving him as a mess of ice and bones. (MK:D)
- Babality: Sub-Zero urinates on the floor and accidentally freezes it with his feet, making him slip and hit his head on the ground, causing him to cry. (MK 2011)
- Brutality #1 - Snow Ball: Sub-Zero freezes his opponent and sends an ice blast into them from across the screen, smashing their torso to pieces. (MKX)
- Brutality #2 - Frozen Dinner: Sub-Zero freezes his opponent and shatters their head with an uppercut. (MKX)
- Brutality #3 - Pick Your Brain: Sub-Zero grabs his opponent and stabs them three times with an ice dagger before creating another one and stabbing them through the head. (MKX - Cryomancer Variation)
- Brutality #4 - Ice Cubed: Sub-Zero activates his Ice Aura and performs an enhanced Ice Slide; the ice blast obliterates the opponent save their head. The camera pans down and zooms in on the head, now encased in an ice cube (MKX - Unbreakable Variation).
- Brutality #5 - Splitting Image: Sub-Zero creates an ice clone of himself and shatters it with an Ice Burst, sending ice shards in the opponent's direction, impaling them through the head and body. Their corpse then freezes into ice. This Brutality can also be done by throwing the clone on the opponent. (MKX - Grandmaster Variation)
- Brutality #6 - Ice Skulpture: Sub-Zero performs his throw, freezing the opponent and then thrusting his palm through their chest so hard that it shatters, taking their spine along with it and causing their head to fall off and shatter. (MKXL - Secret)
Combat characteristics (as Cyber Sub-Zero)
Powers and abilities
As a cyborg, Sub-Zero's natural strength is further enhanced through cybernetics. While he has a noticeably lighter frame, he appears to easily be the strongest and most capable of the cyborg ninjas, not only for soundly defeating his former Lin Kuei brethren Sektor and his older brother, but both Shokan champions, Kintaro and Goro single-handed at the same time. He still retains his old cryomancy powers and wields the same skill he had when he was human, but these have been translated into a fighting style especially suited for his unique frame, taking attributes from both his original form and Cyrax.
While he can fire ice blasts in an instant from his chest cavity, he still performs the charging motion subconsciously to help focus his power. He still retains the ability to shape the cold around his body into solid weaponry and thus, regularly uses an ice sword in battle, albeit with a different, much larger shape featuring a hand guard. Like Cyrax, he has the ability to teleport by separating his limbs and reconfiguring at a different location. While he has lost the ability to make ice clones, he is instead given the ability to flash-freeze himself temporarily, passing the freeze to melee attackers for a quick counterattack.
- Ice Ball: Cyber Sub-Zero sends a ball of ice directly towards the opponent to temporarily freeze them in place for a free hit. This move is similar to his freeze in human form, except it's smaller, slightly slower, and is fired directly from the chest. (MK 2011)
- The enhanced version is called Ice Beam. Cyber Sub-Zero shoots a beam of ice instead of a ball, and the opponent stays frozen for a longer amount of time.
- Ice Bomb: Cyber Sub-Zero drops an ice bomb from his chest compartment. When the bomb explodes, it damages the opponent. It will freeze the opponent if the bomb is in very close range to them. There are short, medium and long range variations of the attack. This move is similar to Cyrax's Bomb. (MK 2011)
- The enhanced version is called Cryo Bomb and sends out three bombs at once. It is unblockable.
- Slide: Cyber Sub-Zero slides across the floor, knocking the opponent off their feet. This move is taken directly from his human form. (MK 2011)
- The enhanced version is called Cyber-Slide. Cyber Sub-Zero travels further and faster, and follows-up with a flying kick.
- Teleport: Cyber Sub-Zero's limbs detach from his body with a flash of blue-white light. Then they reattach behind his enemy. This move is very similar to Cyrax's Teleport. (MK 2011)
- The enhanced version is called Bangport. Cyber Sub-Zero's detached limbs hit the opponent while teleporting, damaging the opponent.
- Ice Parry: Cyber Sub-Zero flash-freezes himself in a sheet of ice. If he is touched by melee attacks while in this state, he will pass the freeze to his opponent and hit them with his Kori Blade. This does not work when hit by low attacks. (MK 2011)
- The enhanced version is called Frozen Parry. Cyber Sub-Zero completely freezes his opponent without a counterattack.
- Divekick: While in the air, Cyber Sub-Zero dives down in a diagonal kick. This can be done in close and far proximity. (MK 2011)
- The enhanced version is called Powerkick and it makes him kick the opponent three times.
- X-Ray Move - Cool Down: Cyber Sub-Zero does a Dive Kick to get behind his opponent, dizzying them, then creates a ball of ice and slams it to the back of their head, damaging their skull. Then he creates a Kori Blade and stabs upward through their back before pushing his opponent to the ground. (MK 2011)
- Throw: Cyber Sub-Zero grabs his opponent and freezes them. He then punches them in the face, knocking them to the ground, or steps behind them and kicks them in the back, knocking them to the ground. (MK 2011)
- Kold Fusion: Cyber Sub-Zero enters a code on his arm and then jumps on his opponent, freezing himself with them. After that, they both explode into shards of ice, leaving only the opponent's legs. This Fatality resembles the Hara-Kiri Fatalities of Mortal Kombat: Deception as well as Cyrax's MK3 Self-Destruct Fatality (further giving him resemblance to Cyrax, along with a similar teleport and ranged bombs). (MK 2011)
- Brain Freeze: Cyber Sub-Zero fires 2 shurikens from his chest, one into each of the opponent's eyes. After that, he charges an ice blast and fires it while shooting a third shuriken. Both get into the opponent's brain, where they spin, shredding it, which is shown in a fashion similar to the X-Ray moves. As the shuriken spins, the opponent enters rigor mortis, freezes in a comedic pose and falls to the floor, dead, their limbs twitching in awkward ways. (MK 2011)
- Babality: Cyber Sub-Zero plays with one of his ice bombs. He then drops it, freezing himself into a block of ice. His cries can be heard while frozen. (MK 2011)
Appearances in other media
In the first Mortal Kombat movie, the elder Sub-Zero appears as a guardian of Shang Tsung. He confronts Liu Kang, Johnny Cage, and Sonya Blade alongside Scorpion, and the two prepare to fight the trio before being incapacitated by Raiden. In the tournament, he confronted Liu Kang again and engaged him in combat. Although he came close to victory, he was ultimately defeated and killed by Liu Kang (due to Kitana's previous advice) when he threw a bucket of water at Sub-Zero's freeze field, thus turning it to an icicle and piercing through him.
The younger Sub-Zero also makes a brief appearance in Mortal Kombat: Annihilation. After saving Liu Kang and Kitana from an assassination attempt by Smoke, he fights and is temporarily subdued by Scorpion. As Liu Kang rushes to the assistance of Sub-Zero, Scorpion teleports away from the battle, with Kitana as his captive. Afterwards Sub-Zero disappears, and is not seen again for the remainder of the movie. Sub-Zero was portrayed by Keith Cooke, who appeared as Reptile in the first movie.
Sub-Zero and his brother are mentioned in the short film Mortal Kombat: Rebirth, by Sonya Blade and Jax Briggs, in an attempt to gain Scorpion's trust, and get him to enter Shang Tsung's tournament. Here, Sonya Blade tells Hanzo Hasashi that if he joins the tournament, he will get the opportunity to kill Sub-Zero. Scorpion believed he was dead, but he was then informed that he killed his older brother.
Harry Shum Jr. portrays Kuai Liang in Mortal Kombat: Legacy season 2. In this, he is portrayed as the younger brother of Bi-Han without morals or honor, using Scorpion's son, Jubei, as bait to attempt to lure him into an ambush. What happens to him is unknown, but it is implied he was killed by Scorpion.
Sub-Zero appeared in the cartoon Mortal Kombat: Defenders of the Realm as one of the leading characters, in which he was voiced by Luke Perry from Beverly Hills 90210. Sub-Zero has to prove he was trustworthy in the first episode of the series (Kombat Begins Again), since his status as a Lin Kuei traitor cast a shadow of doubt over his intentions, especially with Sonya, who takes longer to be convinced. In episode 2 (Sting of the Scorpion) he confronts and is defeated by Scorpion, only to be succeeded by Liu Kang. His last important episode is Episode 5 (Old Friends Never Die) in which he is attacked by former friend Smoke, and is able to free his soul and later take on the Lin Kuei Grandmaster.
An ancestor of Sub-Zero, played by J. J. Perry, also appeared in the live-action TV series Mortal Kombat: Conquest, as a Lin Kuei assassin hired by Shang Tsung to defeat Kung Lao and retrieve from his home a magic crystal that had the ability to transport its keeper to other dimensions. The Lin Kuei were later forced into a partnership with Scorpion on orders from Shao Kahn, who believed that the combined strength of the two fighters would finally result in the death of Kung Lao after their individual failures. The alliance quickly dissolved when people close to both warriors were killed. Sub-Zero also killed a Grandmaster who attempted to bar him from meeting his original family from before his Lin Kuei days. Not only did these events turn Scorpion and Sub-Zero against each other in a stalemate battle, but the icy warrior was forced to become renegade, abandoning his clan. He turned down an offer by Kung Lao to join him in the fight against Outworld.
Sub-Zero makes a cameo appearance in the Malibu Comics series Battlewave epilogue, in which, wearing his MK3 attire, freeze a group of Lin Kuei while proclaiming the clan is corrupted and no more worthy of the services of Sub-Zero. If there was any plannings to the younger Sub-Zero, they were never met as the comic books ended before adapting the Mortal Kombat 3 stories.
Although Scorpion was intended to become the protector of the younger Sub-Zero in atonement for murdering his older brother at the end of MKII, and the plot is mentioned in UMK3, this was retconned by Deadly Alliance, whose Konquest mode specifies that Scorpion vowed only not to harm the Lin Kuei warrior.
It is believed that Sub-Zero was unmasked in Mortal Kombat 3 to give him an identity of his own. Because Sub-Zero had a nearly identical appearance to his elder brother from the first Mortal Kombat, fans didn't necessarily buy that this new Sub-Zero was the younger brother of the first, and because the younger Sub-Zero had a storyline that depended on the elder Sub-Zero's, the fans felt that this was the same Sub-Zero all along and begun to believe that there was only one Sub-Zero in the series. Midway gave Sub-Zero a new appearance and unmasked him to simply give him a new identity and make it clear that there are two Sub-Zeros and that the current Sub-Zero that exists today is the younger brother of the elder Sub-Zero.
Since Deadly Alliance, Sub-Zero has appeared far older, while few, if any characters show signs of dramatic aging. This is possibly due to the amplifications his powers have undergone during the time, as in MK:DA, his arms became frozen over, and his scar turned blue as well as his hair graying. In Deception, now wearing the armor of his ancestors in addition to the Dragon Medallion from MK:DA, Sub-Zero's skin has become far more pale than a normal human's.
When filming Mortal Kombat 3, the unmasked Sub-Zero costume was red, as shown in the Mortal Kombat history section featured in Deadly Alliance, due to the photocapture technology used to recolor character sprites.
Since Mortal Kombat 3, Sub-Zero has had a scar running from his forehead across his right eye, but in the early arcade version of Mortal Kombat 4 and Deadly Alliance, this was forgotten, each time leading to speculations that his older brother had returned. The scar was first featured to be red, only to later change blue as a result of Sub-Zero's enhanced powers. In Mortal Kombat: Deception, his scar seems to have faded to the point where it can no longer be seen. In Mortal Kombat Armageddon, Sub-Zero's ninja outfit retains the scar, while his alternate outfit, his Deception armor does not, due to re-using models from two different games. In Mortal Kombat: Shaolin Monks, the player witnesses Kung Lao vertically slashing Sub-Zero's face with his hat, resulting in bloodshed and ultimately a scar. However, very little of Shaolin Monks is considered canon. Sub-Zero no longer has the scar in Mortal Kombat (2011), having not received it in the alternate timeline, though he later receives a similar facial scar after being cut by Kano in the Mortal Kombat X comic.
Although Sub-Zero originally had blue eyes, they turned white after obtaining the Dragon Medallion. Renders from Mortal Kombat: Shaolin Monks also give him white eyes. Official renders from Deadly Alliance also depict him having ice-blue eyes. After the timeline change, he originally features blue eyes, but these later turn white after he is revived by Raiden.
In early versions of Mortal Kombat 4, Sub-Zero was able to draw a broadsword to use in battle. (This same sword was also used by Scorpion in the same game.) The second revision of the game changed his weapon to an "Ice Scepter" that could be used both as a club and as a means of freezing opponents. Any character who picked up the Ice Wand if it was dropped could use it to freeze Sub-Zero, though using it twice in succession would freeze the player similar to the behavior of Sub-Zero's freeze move. In Deadly Alliance, Deception and Armageddon, Sub-Zero used a large broadsword formed of solid ice called the "Kori Blade." In MK 2011, Sub-Zero could create katanas out of ice to use combos, though not as a full on weapon as the katanas melt shortly afterwards.
In the N64 version of Mortal Kombat Trilogy, the unmasked Sub-Zero was nowhere to be found, due to the N64's lack of ROM space of the cartridge, though the ninja Sub-Zero is still present. This version of ninja Sub-Zero can perform the moves of unmasked Sub-Zero in addition to his own, though not his finishers. While the unmasked version was omitted, his Babality sprite can be seen in Stryker's Friendship. The PlayStation, PC and Sega Saturn versions of MK Trilogy had two different forms of Sub-Zero with the correct movesets.
In Armageddon's Motor Kombat Sub-Zero drives a blue snow mobile with spiked tires and his special is to send an iceball to another driver.
Sub-Zero, in one incarnation or another, is the only character to have been playable in all Mortal Kombat games, with the exception of Mortal Kombat: Special Forces and Mortal Kombat: Tournament Edition as well as the only character to have been playable in all of the original mainstream fighting games (other characters, such as Scorpion and Raiden, do appear in the updates for Mortal Kombat 3, but not in the original version).
Quotes (as Sub-Zero)
Mortal Kombat 4/Gold
- "The battle is finished, your quest for vengeance is over, Scorpion!" (to Scorpion, when he defeated him)
- "I serve no one! Not the Lin Kuei, and not you. (to Quan Chi when he knocks him down)
- "Your soul will never rest, Scorpion. The Lin Kuei may have been responsible for your murder... But your family's true killer still remains free..." (to Scorpion, after being defeated by him)
Mortal Kombat: Armageddon
- "Rest? Think again intruder. You may have bested my Lin Kuei warriors, but you will not get past me."
- "I am Sub-Zero. Grandmaster of the Lin Kuei. And you are trespassing. Fight!"
- "Your tattoo!"
- "It resembles the dragon image on the door behind you! Who are you? And why are you here?"
- "This must be what?"
- "I assure you. It had been abandoned long before we arrived."
- "I assume you have a key."
- "I may."
- "Friends of yours?"
- "Time to choose sides: Friend or Foe?"
- "Then defend the Lin Kuei Temple! Smash these new intruders!"
- "I should thank you. You probably saved my life."
- "He is Noob Saibot. A warrior from the Netherrealm. He is my brother. He was corrupted long ago. But now I have the chance to save him.
- "The Lin Kuei owe you much, Taven. In return for your aid I will help you find the men who have been hunting you. They are called the Red Dragon, a clan of mysterious warriors. I can't help you get inside their base, but I can reveal its location. Charred Mountain."
Mortal Kombat (2011)
- "This fight will be your last!" (Battle Cry)
- "But assuming Bi-Han's identity is the best way to honor him." (to Smoke)
- "If he killed Bi-Han, he will die!" (about Shang Tsung)
- "Be stealthful as the night..." (to Smoke)
- "I'm sorry for what they did to you, but I will not comply." (to Cyrax)
- "I will face the Lin Kuei when my task is done, not before." (after defeating Cyrax)
- "I am not the Sub-Zero you speak of. He was my brother." (to Sonya and Jax)
- "I'm only here to find out Sub-Zero's fate." (to Sonya and Jax)
- "Where can I find him?" (to Sonya and Jax)
- "Not if I break you first!" (to Ermac)
- "I remain whole, for now." (after defeating Ermac)
- "You have stopped the bleeding." (to Sonya)
- "I must go to the Colosseum." (to Sonya)
- "There is a portal to the south, you can use it to transport yourself back to Earthrealm." (to Sonya)
- "Shao Kahn! I challenge Scorpion, the murderer of my brother! You will bring him before me!"
- "I would kill you. But that is not my purpose here." (after defeating Reptile)
- "Your followers hold you in high esteem, warlord. They fight and die for your amusement. My brother participated in this folly. I do so only to face his killer!"
- "I am his family and clan! I fight for his honor!" (to Scorpion)
- "For my brother!" (after defeating Scorpion)
- "No! I will not be turned!" (being taken away by the Lin Kuei)
Mortal Kombat X
- "It is time to entertain our guests." (to his Lin Kuei ninjas)
- "You are not welcome here. State your intentions." (to Kung Jin)
- "You demand my cooperation. Yet you are cut off. Surrounded. What will you do?" (to Cassie Cage and her partners)
- "Talking. Always his first choice."
- "Cassandra Cage, you lead this group, but they do not follow. What would your mother do?" (asking Cassie Cage)
- "You are more like your mother than you think." (after defeating Cassie Cage)
- "Your powers should have revealed my intention, Takahashi Takeda. No doubt Kenshi taught you how to use them." (to Takeda Takahashi)
- "Let us see."
- "You are not your father. Not yet." (after defeating Takeda)
- "You announced your arrival, Jacqueline Briggs." (To Jacqui Briggs)
- "Yes. Military decorum is important in your family."
- "Only histories share a dark chapter." (to Jacqui Briggs)
- "Do not judge yourself harshly, Specialist Briggs." (after defeating Jacqui)
- "Kung Jin, you should rally your companions rather than mock your superiors." (to Kung Jin)
- "False bravado does not suit you." (after defeating Kung Jin)
- "That opportunity has passed."
- "Yes, I suppose so. Chuo! Dangun!" (calling his Lin Kuei ninjas to unbind Cassie and her partners)
- "A training exercise."
- "You and your friends show much promise, Cassandra Cage. But until you function as one...you will fall short." (to Cassie)
- "Master Hasashi. I'm grateful that you've come." (while greeting Scorpion)
- "You reestablish the Shirai-Ryu as I reform the Lin Kuei. We both seek to shed our clans' dark pasts. Dedicate them to Earthrealm's protection. Our common purpose gives us a chance to end old rivalries. To start anew." (to Scorpion about the story of themselves)
- "Our honor is indeed stained. Please. Sit."
- "After you and I were freed from Quan Chi's control, I sought out my clan. I had hoped rebellion from within would have quashed the Grandmaster's plans. But Sektor had realized his father's vision. The Lin Kuei had been fully cyberized. I pledged to kill Sektor and his followers. Reform the Lin Kuei and restore our honor." (to Scorpion about the past time)
- "When I finally killed Sektor, I discovered the Lin Kuei had not sacrificed its honor with the Cyber Initiative. We had abandoned it long before."
- "Master Hasashi, wait!" (telling Scorpion to stop)
- "I didn't bring you here for treachery." (to Scorpion after stopping Frost)
- "Frost is strong, but lacks judgement. She cannot see the wisdom of peace. I will deal with her." (to Scorpion about Frost)
- "For years, I had thought you had unfairly blamed the Lin Kuei for the death of your family and clan. But Sektor's cyber-preserved memories revealed the truth." (to Scorpion)
- "Had I known of my clan's complicity in the Shirai-Ryu's extinction, our history would be different." (to Scorpion)
- "Quan Chi is responsible for Bi-Han's death." (to Scorpion and assuring Hanzo he holds nothing against him for Bi-Han's death)
- "You stood together against formidable odds. Lesser warriors would not have fair so well." (after saving Cassie, Jacqui, Kung Jin, and Takeda)
- "I will remain here to push Kotal Kahn back to Outworld. Proceed to the Sky Temple. Earthrealm's fate lies with you."
Mortal Kombat vs. DC Universe
- "Closer than you think!" (to Liu Kang)
- "Is this the way of the so-called Forces of Light? Exterminate your enemies?" (to Liu Kang)
- "Many of our warriors have disappeared... and now I have found their assassin." (to Liu Kang)
- "The Lin Kuei do not know the meaning of surrender! Fight!" (to Wonder Woman)
- "He is Jax, a formidable warrior, as you will soon discover." (to Wonder Woman)
- "Obviously, I am a captive. It appears we are now allies." (to Sonya Blade over radio and Jax)
- "True, but you'd be a fool to refuse my help." (to Jax)
- "Only that these warriors are unlike anything that I've encountered." (to Jax about the DC universe)
- "I'm not my brother." (to Raiden)
- "For the same reason you helped my brother... to protect Earthrealm." (to Raiden)
- "Yes. Much like this rock formation, the warrior's appeared near the Lin Kuei temple. I wore him down and sealed him in ice." (to Raiden about the Fortress of Solitude and Superman)
- "You do not look so innocent yourself." (to Deathstroke)
- "I'm not from your world." (to Deathstroke)
- "And I assume you are the enemy?" (to Deathstroke)
- "This is where Scorpion first entered the mortal realm. What was he doing here? What is this place?" (inside the Batcave)
- "Then I will do it the hard way!" (to Batman)
- "That was not me..." (to Scorpion about his family and clan's murder)
Mortal Kombat: Legacy
- "I'm tired of you telling me what to do. You're going to regret underestimating me all these years." (To Hanzo)
Quotes (as Cyber Sub-Zero)
Mortal Kombat (2011)
- "You are not authorized for portal use." (To Kabal, upon Kabal's exit from the Outworld portal)
- "Sub-Zero. Unit LK-52O" (Introducing himself to Kabal)
- "As you will soon discover." (To Kabal, after Kabal mocks him)
- "Yes, Smoke." (Waking up from his reactivation)
- "I remember.... all the things that I've done for Shao Kahn...." (To the Earthrealm warriors)
- "They are not aware of my defection. I could deceive them." (To Stryker)
- "My soul was corrupted. Now it´s cleansed." (To Sektor)
- "Artificial enhancements are no substitute for the human soul."
- "All those teeth and claws, yet still overmatched." (After defeating Goro and Kintaro)
- "Come no further, fiend of Outworld!" (To Ermac)
- "You are not so fearsome." (After defeating Ermac)
- "Who are you to judge?" (To Noob Saibot)
- "Restored? You and I both. We are just flawed copies of our former selves."
- "For what end? To serve the Netherrealm and Outworld?"
- "Then I will not regret your defeat."
- "You are right. We are not brothers." (After defeating Noob Saibot)
- "The Lin Kuei. They surround us!"
Trivia (as Sub-Zero)
- During Sub-Zero's Mortal Kombat (2011) arcade ending, a warrior in shadow can be seen performing the infamous Spine Rip fatality on another warrior. This is likely depicting Scorpion's death by the original Sub-Zero, Bi-Han, in the Shaolin Temple.
- In Defenders of the Realm, Sub-Zero is shown to grow weak and debilitated in hot environments. It is unknown if this applies to other depictions.
- The Pinyin translation of Sub-Zero's Chinese name (奎良), going by the first name-last name standard (the second character represents the person's first name), can be translated as "Liáng Kuí". While "Liáng" is a fairly common first name in mainland China (direct translation = "Good"), "Kuí" as a last name/surname establishes the person as a "foreigner from another kingdom" to China (as the name originated from either Mongolia or from the Manchu). Whether this character's naming convention was chosen to represent Sub-Zero's status as an Outworlder that was born in the Earthrealm or, alternatively, is merely a happy coincidence to the character is unknown.
- The alternative Chinese characters for his name are "快涼", literally meaning "Fast and cool". In addition, "涼快" (Liang Kuai) means "cool".
- In an episode of Malcolm in the Middle, Reese mentions the fact that nobody believes that he beat the last level of Mortal Kombat, to which Hal responds "Because that's just ridiculous; no one beats Sub-Zero."
- Sub-Zero inspired the professional wrestling character known as Glacier in World Championship Wrestling. Ray Lloyd, a regional Karate champion, played the role for several years.
- His weapon is called the "Kōri-Blade". Kōri (or hyō) is Japanese for "ice" (Chinese bīng), hyōten (bīngdiǎn) is "freezing point", and hyōtenka (bīngdiǎnxià) is "below freezing" - or, "sub-zero".
- Despite not being a playable character in MK:TE, he is still involved in Sareena's ending.
- Ed Boon stated that Sub-Zero was originally going to be called "Tundra", which canonically was Sub-Zero's original codename before changing it to Sub-Zero, honoring his fallen brother.
- The game Mortal Kombat: Shaolin Monks has a small Easter egg when two players select Sub-Zero in versus mode; his player 2 outfit is recolored black and resembles Noob Saibot.
- In the television show Mortal Kombat: Conquest, it is mentioned that Sub-Zero had a sister, Lisa (who was murdered by Peron), but this seems to be the only universe where it shows he had a sibling other than Noob Saibot. Of course, the series takes place hundreds of years before the events of the movie, so the Sub-Zero in Conquest could be the ancestor of the character in the games.
- In his MK vs DCU ending, he becomes Earthrealm's version of Batman, even altering his attire based on Batman's, also, his leaving of the Lin Kuei to pursue this goal is similar to some plot elements of Batman Begins.
- In MKII, it is possible to defeat an enemy using only uppercuts, which in-turn, would allow the final blow to be a freeze move. If done quickly, a player could freeze the opponent as a final blow and perform either the Deep Freeze Uppercut or the Ice Grenade to finish their opponent which would then be followed by the thaw and collapse of the character just finished. The result would be to finish an opponent with a Fatality while still leaving their body on screen.
- The Chinese characters on Sub-Zero's MK:DA primary costume "冰龍的", mean "Ice Dragon's" (as in "this belongs to Ice Dragon"). 冰= "Ice" // 龍= "Dragon" // 的 = "'s". His alternative costume of the same game has the same Chinese Characters with addition to another "Ice" (冰龍的冰). As a result, it now means "Ice Dragon's Ice".
- During the making of Mortal Kombat: Deadly Alliance, Sub-Zero was originally given Tae Kwon Do as his primary fighting style, but this was given to Sonya instead.
- Sub-Zero is similar to Taven in the regard that they both have a brother (Noob Saibot/Daegon) that became corrupted (Noob's descent into darkness/Daegon's influence from Shinnok) and both have tried to kill them (Noob in Deception/Daegon in Armageddon).
- In his MK 2011 ending, Sub-Zero's partnership with Scorpion is very similar to the one formed by Shang Tsung and Quan Chi; they are even referred to as a "Deadly Alliance".
- Unlike Shang Tsung and Quan Chi's alliance however, this alliance did not end with Sub-Zero and Scorpion fighting each other, instead they remained partners.
- A parody character called Absolute Zero appears in the game Adventure Quest Worlds.
- Sub-Zero, counting his Klassic Fatality and cyber form, is the only character in Mortal Kombat (2011) that has 5 Fatalities. Also, counting his cyber form, he is the only character who is playable in two complete chapters. Also, he is the only character to fight the same opponent twice, this one being Ermac, who is fought once in each of his chapters.
- Machinima held a V.S. video featuring Scorpion and Sub-Zero where fans could vote on who would win. Sub-Zero received 5,728 votes, but Scorpion won with 6,262 votes.
- In addition to his MK1 Klassic Costume, Sub-Zero later received an additional outfit with the Freddy Krueger compatability pack, labled as the MK3 Klassic Costume. Although the head resembles his MK3 appearance, the outfit is in fact the ninja outfit worn by Ninja Sub-Zero from UMK3.
- When using Sub-Zero's alternate costume in Mortal Kombat (2011), most of his sound files are changed to Noob Saibot's; this can be clearly heard when he dies from a Fatality or performs the Ice ball special move. This can be interpreted as being the first time in many years since the Elder Sub-Zero was last playable in canon.
- Furthermore, when wearing his Klassic Costume (Bi-Han's original costume), Sub-Zero's voice clips remain those of Kuai Liang.
- In a Top 10 list hosted by Screwattack.com, Sub-Zero was placed at #2 of the Mortal Kombat Characters in the Mortal Kombat Series.
- In another Top 10 list hosted by Screwattack.com, Sub-Zero was placed at #5 of the ninja characters in the videogames.
- In another Top 10 list hosted by Screwattack.com, Sub-Zero's Spine Rip Fatality was placed at #1 of the top Mortal Kombat Fatalities
- According to John Vogel, the Sub-Zero who taught the freezing abilities to Shujinko in his youth, was not Bi-Han or Kuai Liang but an ancestor of them (he could either be their father or grandfather)
- Originally in MK 2011, Sub-Zero's human form possessed the Icy Counter from MK vs DCU. He was later given the Ice Clone instead, while the Icy Counter was given to his cyber form.
- In MKX, Sub-Zero is the only character whose X-ray attack does not break or damage any bones.
- In Mortal Kombat, performing Sub-Zero's Spine Rip Fatality on Reptile or a mirror match made him hold Scorpion's head instead of Reptile's.
- This is a reference to a glitch in the first MK where when Johnny Cage's or Sub-Zero's fatality was preformed on Reptile, his head changes yellow.
- Sub-Zero makes a cameo appearance during Scorpion's intro in Injustice: Gods Among Us.
- Sub-Zero is also mentioned in a clash sequence with Scorpion and Batman.
- The League of Legends character Shen has two alternate skins that reference both Scorpion and Sub-Zero.
- Kuai Liang's older brother Bi Han has a weapon called the troll hammer, Kuai Liang has similar weapon in Mortal Kombat X but made out of ice.
- Fans of the Saudi Arabian soccer team known as Al-Hilal have payed tribute to Sub-Zero & the Mortal Kombat series before their club's matches first by showing Sub-Zero's face and then showing the words: "Finish 'em."
- Kuai Liang's Frozen Dinner Brutality is shared with Triborg as Cyber Sub-Zero.
Trivia (as Cyber Sub-Zero)
- In MKX, Cyber Sub-Zero appears as a fourth variation for Tri-Borg.
- To unlock Cyber Sub-Zero, the player needs to defeat him in Chapter 13 of Story Mode.
- Cyber Sub-Zero is the only character whose ending is mute.
- The "Cyber" part of his name is not said by the announcer.
- He has the lightest frame of all cyborgs, going as far as to have his brain shown after a few punches.
- He is the only character with a Fatality that puts his opponent into a "Rigor Mortis" state.
- The shurikens used in his Brain Freeze Fatality have the Lin Kuei symbol on them.
- Unlike the other cyborg ninjas, Cyber Sub-Zero has a unique tint of blue for his blood.
- Cyber Sub-Zero, along with Blaze, is one of the only two characters to have a very rare blood color. In his case, it is presumed to be some kind of specially designed coolant or antifreeze to accommodate his freezing abilities.
- If Freddy Krueger does his Tell 'Em Freddy Sent Ya Fatality on Cyber Sub-Zero, the blood that spews out will be blue instead of red.
- The Ice Parry special move, previously known as Icy Counter, is one of his human form´s special moves in Mortal Kombat vs. DC Universe.
- Originally, his human form was going to have the Icy Counter, but it was given to his cyborg form in later development.
- This move could also be considered a variant of Freeze on Contact, a move his older brother displays in later levels of Mortal Kombat Mythologies: Sub-Zero.
- Unlocking him will earn the player a secret achievement titled Cold Fusion. He is one of the two characters who grant achievements when they are unlocked, the other being Quan Chi.
- He is the only character whose X-Ray Move must be activated in the air.
- According to the electronic readout when he is reactivated, his internal temperature is -52° Fahrenheit (-47º Celsius).
- In Cyber Sub-Zero's moves list, under the enhanced attacks it will read: Cryo bomb (Close) but for Medium and Far, the "b" in Cryo Bomb is capitalized.
- When Cyber Sub-Zero performs his Brain Freeze Fatality on Kratos, he does not go into Rigor Mortis, but simply falls down instead.
- Cyber Sub-Zero is one of the only five characters that does not fight a good character in MK 2011's Story Mode. The others being Sub-Zero, Kung Lao, Stryker and Nightwolf.
- Bo' Rai Cho, Kenshi, Frost and Reiko are located inside his database, as seen when he first tries to learn the identity of Kabal.
- Cyber Sub-Zero, along with Nightwolf, is the only character in whose ending is possessed by Shao Kahn.
- Despite not being present in the original timeline (Smoke was the one who was turned into a cyborg instead), Cyber Sub-Zero received a Klassic Costume with the Freddy Krueger Compatibility Pack, along with his unmasked human counterpart. This is possibly a reference to Cyber Smoke.
- Cyber Sub-Zero's unit designation LK-52O, unlike the ones used by (Sektor LK-9T9, Cyrax LK-4D4 and Smoke LK-7T2), has the two numbers before the letter rather than the number separating them. His number also resembles the initials in his name S(5) and Z(2).
- ↑ Japanese manual of SNES version Mortal Kombat)