Outworld's known history goes back millions of years and points at Onaga the Dragon King, as its first ruler. Though he would eventually be supplanted by Shao Kahn, they both shared the same vision of expanding Outworld by taking other realms by force. Unwittingly, both were being controlled by the echoes of the One Being. Outworld is an empire that stretches out over numerous realms which have been magically annexed. Despite the despotism both emperors have displayed, Outworld is in a constant state of turmoil, more so under Shao Kahn than it was under Onaga. Outworld is a large realm of varying landscapes. Outworld's primary landscapes appear to consist of barren, purple wastelands, deserts, pools of acid, dense forests with animated faces, and high, mysterious mountain peaks. Small villages are scattered throughout the landscape, and like Edenia, the realm teems with magic. Beyond the imperial palace, the great temple of the Dragon King and the city of Lei Chen, no real metropolises have been seen in the series. Outworld also houses a brewery, specializing in creating 'Outworld Wine,' popularly drank by master Bo' Rai Cho. It's often rumored amongst many Outworld inhabitants that Earthrealm's rice wine 'puts Outworld Wine to shame'. Commuters also ride the Dragonfly, said to be the fastest form of transportation across the vast expanses of Outworld, aside from sorcery and actual dragons. There are many of these flying transports, each with its own set of destinations.
Native realm species
Due to Outworld's composite structure, not all races found on Outworld are truly native to it, but some have been there for so long they have virtually become natives.
- Cryomancers. Though now nearly extinct, they used to be a race that lived in Outworld long ago. They resemble very pale humans and have a natural affinity with ice. A few scattered descendants of this race live on Earthrealm (such as the ninjas Sub-Zero, Noob Saibot and Frost). It is unclear why their race died out.
- Outworlders. Like most inhabitants of the realms of Mortal Kombat, Outworlders look like humans, but they seem to have a greater talent for magic and longer life expectancy. Most Outworlders that have been seen so far resemble East Asian people of Earthrealm. Though they dislike their rulers, each of them have their own schemes to attain more power and influence. There are only four known Outworlders, they are Li Mei, Bo' Rai Cho, Reiko, and Shao Kahn (though some ambiguous canon information would identify him as a god instead).
Originally non-native or of uncertain origin
- Shokan, described as "half-human, half-dragon", are a four-armed humanoid race possessed of towering stature and powerful builds. They are organized in terms of a clan-based monarchy. They are fierce warriors and hate the Centaurians. Goro, Sheeva, and Kintaro are all Shokan that appear within the series. The hostility between the Shokan and the Centaurs is exemplified in Motaro's Armageddon ending, where the Shokan place a curse on the entire Centaurian race, removing their hind legs and turning them into minotaurs.
- Centaurians (AKA Centaurs). Though largely resembling the mythical Earthrealm creatures of the same name, this race is far more vicious, possessing scorpion-like tails and horns. They are renowned hunters and powerful warriors. Centaurians have been violently feuding with the Shokan for ages, and the two races compete for the favor of Shao Kahn. Although the emperor seems to encourage this animosity to an extent, forcing Centaurians and Shokan to fight each other for the right to enter his service, he does not allow it to escalate into open warfare that could threaten the already tenuous stability of his realm.
- Vampires have been a part of Outworld since their realm was annexed by Shao Kahn. They possess the ability to travel in between realms and are excellent record keepers. Contrary to other fictional vampires, they can move by daylight in most realms, but are highly allergic to Earth's sun. The realm Vaeternus, from which the vampires originate, was liberated from Outworld by Nitara in Deadly Alliance.
- Zaterrans are a virtually extinct, reptilian race that was once governed by a matriarchy on the realm of Zaterra following their displacement from Earthrealm due to the war between Raiden and Shinnok. Despite their ability to blend into their surroundings and resulting talent as hunters, spies, and assassins, they are branded as untrustworthy slaves.
- Tarkatans, also known as Mutants or Nomads, are a nomadic, humanoid race feared for their barbarous nature and extreme bouts of rage. Tarkatans are a mutant crossbreed of Netherrealm demons and Outworlders. They possess retractable metal blades in their forearms, and their mouths are lined with razor-sharp teeth. They are notorious cannibals and exhibit animalistic behavior, with the men observed flying into a murderous rage at the scent of a competing male. Though their demonic ancestors originated from the Netherrealm, the Tarkatans have long resided in the wastelands of Outworld.
- Edenians, originally from the realm of Edenia, became inhabitants of Outworld after losing 10 consecutive Mortal Kombat tournaments against Shao Kahn's minions. Biologically similar to other humanoids, Edenians are rumored to be descended from the Gods themselves, explaining their extremely long lifespans, slow aging process and natural affinity with magic. Although many returned to the liberated Edenia following the failed invasion of Earthrealm, some Edenians remained in Outworld, having few if any recollections of their realm and unable to accept the place as home. Liberated Edenia is ruled in a diarchy by Queen Sindel and her daughter Kitana, with loyal native Jade commanding the royal Edenian Knights. Edenian traitors and defectors include Rain, Tanya and Daegon.
- Osh-Tekk and their like-named realm were annexed by Shao Kahn. They are a humanoid race with blue skin and a degree of power over sunlight. Consequently, however, the race is weakened by darkness. Due to the efforts of Reiko and Goro, the race has been driven to near-extinction; Kotal Kahn is the sole surviving member after his father, Kotal K'etz, was slain.
- Outworlder: Bo' Rai Cho, Li Mei, Reiko, Shao Kahn.
- Saurian: Chameleon, Khameleon, Reptile. (Though originally from Zaterra.)
- Shokan: Goro, Kintaro, Sheeva.
- Tarkata: Baraka.
- Centaurian: Motaro.
- Osh-Tekk: Kotal Kahn, Kotal K'etz.
- Other: Ermac, Onaga, Mileena, Skarlet, D'Vorah, Ferra/Torr.
- Hotaru (Seido)
- Kano (Earthrealm)
- Nitara (Vaeternus)
- Quan Chi (Netherrealm)
- Red Dragon (Earthrealm)
- Shang Tsung (Earthrealm)
- Shujinko (Earthrealm)
- Erron Black (Earthrealm)
- Special Forces (Earthrealm)
- Blood Stone Mines
- Dead Pool
- Dragon Mountain
- Dragon King's Temple
- Drum Arena
- Falling Cliffs
- Golden Desert
- Hell's Foundry
- Kahn's Arena
- Kombat Tomb
- Kuatan Palace
- Lei Chen
- Living Forest
- Lost Bridge
- Lost Tomb
- Lower Mines
- Lumber Mill
- Outworld Spire
- Pit II
- Pit III
- Quan Chi's Fortress
- Sea of Blood
- Shao Kahn's Fortress
- Soul Chamber
- Soul Tombs
- Sun Do
- Wasteland of Outworld
- Cobalt Mines of Shokan
- Outworld Marketplace
Movie & TV appearanceOutworld made its appearance in both the Mortal Kombat movie and its sequel as a vast mystical realm with dark, yet clear purple sky, crumbled cities with heads of huge broken statues, demonic torch-holding statues on Outworld's broken streets and roads, and even frightened human-like Outworlders living in fear under the reign of Shao Kahn. In the Mortal Kombat film, Liu Kang and Johnny Cage travel there by portal to rescue Sonya Blade after she was captured by the sorcerer Shang Tsung while Johnny battled the Shokan prince Goro. After Liu Kang defeats the creature Reptile who was secretly following him and Johnny, Kitana joins forces with them and guides them safely through Outworld's landscape. She explains the realm's origins as a once beautiful, majestic world before the Emperor (Shao Kahn) took it over after defeating her father's best warriors in ten consecutive Mortal Kombat tournaments. After they rescue Sonya and defeat Shang Tsung, All four of them returned to Raiden on Earth, seeking to enjoy relative peace for the next generation. This hope is dashed when Shao Kahn launches a direct invasion, and they are forced to defend Earthrealm from the invading Outworld army.
After Emperor Shao Kahn of Outworld breaks the sacred rules of Mortal Kombat and opens portals to Earthrealm, launching a direct invasion, Raiden and his warriors along with Princess Kitana of Outworld, Sonya's old partner Jax Briggs and the mysterious stranger named Jade (later revealed as a traitor in the movie) take their fight to Outworld. When they arrived, they see broken roads and ruined cities of the Earth colliding with the native landscape as the realm is merged into Outworld.
Outworld made another appearance in the animated cartoon series of Mortal Kombat: Defenders of the Realm as once a majestic realm turned into a dangerous and oppressed world under the iron fist of Shao Kahn the Konqueror.
Outworld has also made its one more appearance in the television series Mortal Kombat: Conquest as an ancient realm whose people are living in dark times with Shao Kahn reigning supreme as its emperor.
Relationships with other realmsLong millennia under the rule of a tyrannical emperor have put Outworld at odds with most other worlds and their inhabitants. The realms which have been merged with it over the years could be loosely called allies, only due to the fact their inhabitants were forced into submission to the emperor's might. Many inhabitants of these conquered realms, in fact, seek to separate their realms from Outworld and regain their freedom. Due to 10,000 years of oppression under Shao Kahn following its annexation, Edenia has come to be a tenacious opponent of Outworld following its liberation. There is also little doubt that Earthrealm and Outworld are opposing realms; long did Kahn attempt to rule the realm through Mortal Kombat, and later through direct invasion during the time of MK3.
Citizens of Chaosrealm seem content to have Kahn rule Outworld (due to his aggressive nature) while the inhabitants of Orderrealm oppose his rule and the civil strife it has created. Under the rule of Onaga, the relationships between the two neutral realms were reversed, with the Orderrealm citizens contented with Outworld's rule and Chaosrealm inhabitants seeking the overthrow of the Dragon King. However, neither world can actively be called Outworld's ally in a true sense, because of the respective strict and chaotic natures of each world and their inhabitants.
The Netherrealm could be considered an ally under Kahn's rule as he has forged acquaintances there himself, although it was invaded during the MK3 timeframe.
- According to the contact page on Midway Games' website, there is a Midway office in Outworld (though not listed with the other offices, it is included in a montage of pictures depicting cities which are home to a Midway studio or office).
- Outworld is nearly always depicted as being almost uniformly purple in color.