Two Enter… One May Pay Medical Expenses, ‘Cause Ouch, Dude.
Let me set a scene for you: Johnny Cage walks into the arena, stretching his legs and doing a quick, preparatory bounce. He thinks that the insurance bill came in the mail today, but he doesn’t really sweat it. What, Cage thinks, am I gonna lose or somethin’? That ain’t me, baby!
Cage’s opponent stands across from him, ready to fight. Cage dominates the battle, bringing the opponent to 30% health without taking a bit of damage. Ha! This is a piece of cake! I’ll just go home, and bring the–
Right then, right there… The opponent uses their Fatal Blow, and Cage is suddenly in a world of hurt.
In Mortal Kombat, a fighting series that has promoted its brand of brutal, over-the-top violence for over 25 years (and even reportedly inspired the ESRB rating system), I’ve never stopped and thought, Wow, they staggered away from that? That looked costly. That is, until today. Armed with little more than a selection of YouTube videos, a really shady-looking Google Search history, and a passable knowledge of human anatomy, I hope to uncover the medical costs, or “Kosts,” of Mortal Kombat 11’s Fatal Blow mechanic, ranked by character from least to most damage dealt.
What’s a Fatal Blow?
The Mortal Kombat series changed its mechanics a lot in the 11th installment. The X-Ray attack, introduced in Mortal Kombat (2011), was a bone-crushing series of three blows that dealt massive damage to the opponent, at the cost of your Super Meter, a resource that built up over the course of a fight.
In MK11, Fatal Blows come in. These are similar to X-Rays, in that they are a series of three zoomed-in hits that deal massive damage, with a peppering of additional smaller hits. Instead of relying on a Super Meter, however, Fatal Blows are simply unlocked when the player reaches 30% or less of their health.
Considering how heavy-hitting the characters in Mortal Kombat are, we are going to assume that, if a Fatal Blow zooms in on the opponent and slows down to showcase the brutality… something broke, something ruptured, or something equally gruesome occurred.
I am only going to be discussing the three zoomed-in, slow-motion impacts, since that’s what the game focuses on. The extra hits peppered in undoubtedly cause various lacerations and bruises that would otherwise increase the Kost of the attack, but they are harder to recognize or see the results of, so we’ll be sitting those out for now.
Breaking Down the Medical Costs in Mortal Kombat 11
Before we begin, here are some of the more common Kosts dealt during a Fatal Blow:
Laceration: $3,000. I’m gonna focus on the high end of the estimate given by CostHelper Health, considering these guys have hella good knives.
Gunshot: $5,000. According to this article by the Washington Post, this is how much the typical gunshot victim pays in emergency room costs. Considering these guys can take a shotgun blast to the face and keep spin-kicking, we’re going to assume that they don’t quite reach the upper end of this cost, and that the bullet wounds just need suturing.
Broken Ribs: $6,085. This number is presented by a study of medical professionals, and is considered the most severe cost for broken ribs, at least that I could find.
Broken Sternum (and other complications): $8,000. If a Fatal Blow is going directly through the center of a chest, I am going to use this price.
Broken Nose: Also $8,000. While minor realignments tend to cost less, if surgery is required (pretty much guaranteed, in our case), that cost goes all the way up to our $8k value.
Stab Wound: $8,589. This one was hard to find. I converted a study about stab wounds into dollars for this. I am not going to use the gunshot information, since the Washington Post article was a bit more focused on the topic.
Repairing a Broken Skull: $22,500. I was unable, in all of my research, to determine the exact cost of putting a skull together. This is the cost of skull reconstruction surgery, to make a skull look better.
Broken Jaw: $30,000. We are going to assume that the strongest fighters on Earth can cause some brutal broken jaws when they want to.
Spinal Surgery: $100,000. This is the cost that’s considered to be “cost effective” for spinal cord injuries.
Brain Surgery: $100,000. I decided to take the average of $50,000 and $150,000, the two prices offered.
Severe Burn: $200,000. Only three fighters use a specialized, burning attack in their Fatal Blow (and one of them is because of electricity), so this is the cost we will associate with those.
Intestinal Transplant: $300,000. The most expensive procedure on the list. If someone has a large blade, stone, laser beam, etc. stabbed through them, they are probably gonna need a transplant for their absolutely decimated inner body. This cost varies based on research, but… Let’s just say we’re going to see this a lot, and this is a good price for it.
Now, without further ado, here is the culmination of my research concerning the medical costs of Fatal Blows in Mortal Kombat 11. (My Google Search history is not a sight any FBI agent wants to see…)
27. Sub Zero ($31,585)
Sub Zero’s Fatal Blow breaks his opponent’s ribs ($6,085), crushes their skull ($22,500), and then causes a laceration ($3,000). While the axe barrage is brutal, the wounds it causes are relatively tame compared to other characters’ attacks… Although it is impressive that a broken skull and pair of broken ribs are some of the lower-tier stuff this game has to offer in terms of price.
26. Jax Briggs ($33,585)
Ranking in at an extra $2,000 over Sub Zero, Jax’s clap — which destroys his opponent’s skull ($22,500) and ribs ($6,085), then sends a shotgun blast to the mouth ($5,000) — would leave most people very, very, very dead. Unfortunately, Jax’s opponent can end up getting back up and continuing the fight, meaning Jax probably somehow missed the shotgun blast… These people are tanks!
25. Erron Black ($39,000)
A gunshot wound ($5,000), a broken nose ($8,000), and then two corneas that need to be replaced ($26,000, or $13k per eye). Erron Black’s bullet-ridden opponent will be hurting, quite a bit, but the accuracy of his attacks mean that his opponent won’t have too many broken bones, hurting his Kost.
24. Frost ($43,500)
Frost starts off strong, with quite a brutal impalement of the sternum ($8,000). She then takes a page out of Scorpion’s book and impales her opponent through the skull with a large spear, right through the eye ($35,500)… But then she stabs them through the (already destroyed) skull, again. As with Scorpion, the low spread of damage ends up being Frost’s Kostly downfall.
23. Scorpion ($48,500)
Scorpion’s Fatal Blow is a brutal assault against his foe’s skull ($22,500). What’s more, his opponent’s going to have to do something about those corneas that he just decimated ($26,000). Unfortunately — or fortunately, for those on the receiving end — Scorpion does the same attack three times to the same exact place, which limits his Kost. Spread out your damage, bro! …Still going to leave one hell of a headache.
22. Johnny Cage ($60,500)
Johnny Cage doesn’t need to be high on this list; he’s got the style, breaking his opponent’s jaw ($30,000) and skull ($22,500), and then stabbing them with one of his own trophies, right through the sternum ($8,000). Brilliant performance, Mr. Cage. Brilliant.
21. Shao Kahn ($91,799)
Shao Kahn is a master at weaponry… Wait, this is Mortal Kombat, aren’t you supposed to use your bare hands? Well, he just broke his opponent’s jaw ($30,000), stabbed them through the pelvis (probably requiring hip replacement… $39,299) and then smashed in their skull ($22,500) with a hammer. I think he can do whatever he likes, really.
20. Kung Lao ($111,000)
My personal favorite character breaks the $100k barrier, but barely scratches the top 20… uh oh. Kung Lao causes a laceration ($3,000), then… well… this might be giving the magic hat too much credit, but I’m gonna say that his opponent needs to replace their spine ($100,000) after getting drilled like that. And then needs a new nose ($8,000).
“You’d think they’d just roll to the side or something…”
19. Kitana ($115,089)
The princess of the underworld is proficient with her fans, and uses them with quite good efficiency to pick her opponent’s brain. She brutally breaks her opponent’s chest ($6,500), stabs them twice in the throat ($8,589), then stabs them deep in the head, probably puncturing the brain ($100,000). That’s a brain surgery!
18. Noob Saibot ($122,500)
Our favorite Semordnilap, Noob Saibot, almost suffered the same fate as most other characters that target the same area more than once. That dropkick breaks the skull ($22,500), then Noob Saibot dropkicks the skull, again… Thankfully, his sickle comes in to save the day, easily piercing the brain and requiring surgery on that thing ($100,000). And you thought you were seeing double before!
17. D’Vorah ($126,085)
D’Vorah is something of a brain surgeon, herself. Her first blow targets the cranium ($120,000), her second goes for the ribs ($6,085), and finally, she arrives back at the skull by giving the opponent the ol’ q-tip cleaning. Not sure if a hive queen should be conducting brain surgery, but I’m not sure how easy it is to argue right there.
16. Jade ($133,000)
Similar to Kung Lao, Jade’s Fatal Blow loses a lot of monetary value if the depth of her blade’s cut isn’t deep enough to require spinal surgery ($100,000). This might be the case; if so, the simple laceration ($3,000) and jaw-breaker ($30,000) combo that follows would barely place her in the bottom four. I’ll be an optimist and consider spinal surgery a necessary requirement.
15. Cassie Cage ($134,000)
The young daughter of Johnny Cage does her best to make sure we know just how much she likes her firearm. She uses the butt of it to break her opponent’s jaw ($30,000), then shoots through both of their kneecaps ($99,000 for kneecap replacement; if the bullets would only cause a partial replacement, then this cost drops to around $19,800, and puts her right above Frost), and then shoots them one more time, just for good measure. This shot is through the gut, but I’m going to consider this bullet wound the standard cost for a gunshot survivor ($5,000).
14. The Kollector ($136,000)
Being the right-hand man of Shao Kahn, you bet the Kollector knows a thing or two about using his weapons. A lamp to the jaw ($30,000), a stabbing spree (I am considering this a laceration, $3,000, just because there aren’t any obvious signs of organs being ripped. This is probably a bit lower than the actual cost because of this estimate), into a stab through the brain ($100,000)… and a slit throat ($3,000). Just in case they survived the brain stab, I guess.
13. Geras ($136,085)
Geras is the only Kombatant that doesn’t quite follow the normal Fatal Blow formula. His attack takes place during a time-stopping moment of stasis, so there are no slow-downs or zoom-ins. I am going to count the first uppercut (jaw-break, $30,000), the punch that causes his opponent to spit-up blood (rib-break, $6,085), and the blow to the top of their head that crushes their neck (spine break, $100,000) as the three hits worth focusing on. He does good work in that (non-) time span…
Geras’ uppercut takes a dude straight off the ground. That’s gotta hurt.
12. Shang Tsung ($138,500)
The shape-shifting trickster himself dishes out a good amount of monetary (and very real!) damage. First, he turns into Sub Zero and stabs the opponent through the skull, via their eyeball ($35,500), before turning into Scorpion and slitting the throat of the enemy, causing a laceration ($3,000). He finishes up by turning into Saibot who, thankfully, knows what to target to bring up the big bucks, and body-drops the opponent on their head, breaking their neck ($100,000).
Wow, a DLC character that’s a 3-in-1 deal!
11. Liu Kang ($275,384)
Woah, that was a bit of a jump, eh? Well, that’s because after breaking his opponent’s jaw ($30,000), Liu Kang summons a massive fire dragon, delivering a chomp right onto the opponent’s pelvis and then burning them severely ($239,299). He finishes by breaking their ribs ($6,085). Just in case the fire dragon wasn’t quite enough.
10. Nightwolf ($308,589)
Shockingly, not many sources I’ve read document the cost of getting shot with an arrow. The best cost I could come up with is the same as a major stab wound: $8,589. The next blow is an axe to the head, easily bypassing the skull and causing brain damage ($100,000); a little more clear than the Kollector’s blow. Finally, Nightwolf ends the attack by becoming a lighting rod and shocking his opponent — grounds for some very severe burns ($200,000).
9. Kano ($316,589)
Now for Kano, our favorite, full-bladdered bounty hunter. That machete impales his opponent’s abdomen deep enough that I am counting it as requiring major intestinal surgery ($300,000). His follow-ups are breaking the nose ($8,000) and stabbing fully through the neck ($8,589) before somersaulting away. A jolly, stabbing man!
8. Kotal Kahn ($322,500)
Just in case you worried a Kahn wouldn’t reach the top 10, here’s Kotal Kahn and his massive sword. While he starts by embedding a sickle into his opponent’s skull ($22,500), you better believe that he is going to follow up with a sword strike right through his opponent’s stomach ($300,000). And that’s before he forces the sword even deeper into their stomach with… a statue, or something. I am not counting the sickle as going through the opponent’s brain, but that is a possibility (which would put him at $400,000).
7. Kabal ($333,000)
Not-Flash does his best to use his hook weapons to give his opponent a really bad day. Similar to most people in the top 10, his devastation involves stabbing a weapon into his foe’s stomach (or, in this case, both weapons: $300,000). He then tears out the sides of the stomach again, a laceration in our case ($3,000), then proceeds to make the opponent look vaguely like a fish by jamming his hook through their mouth ($30,000).
6. Skarlet ($338,000)
As a blood witch, Skarlet can make all sorts of weapons to use on her opponent… out of her foe’s blood. First, she moves her knife through the opponent’s body, up their sternum; I’m not going to call that a “needs to get their intestines checked,” but I am going to say that their sternum is done for ($8,000)… Because she then “checks” their intestines herself with a scythe made out of their own blood ($300,000), before spearing them in the mouth ($30,000) with a spear made out of their blood, as well. Visceral.
5. Raiden ($352,500)
Raiden doesn’t use lightning during his Fatal Blow. Like, really. His spear makes for a good tool in breaking his opponent’s jaw ($30,000), their skull ($22,500), and then impaling them for another intestinal check ($300,000). There’s definitely a theme in this top 10, I’m sad to say.
4. Sonya Blade ($408,000)
Sonya is military personnel, so I have no doubt that she has some high-grade tech. Even so… I have no idea what laser beam she starts with that blows out her opponent’s stomach, but it looks neat ($300,000). A headshot with a bullet is going to count as brain surgery ($100,000) instead of the normal bullet cost. And then, just in case the opponent thought their day was bad enough, bam; now they need a nose job ($8,000). How could you, Sonya?
3. Jacqui Briggs ($411,000)
Now… I know what you’re thinking. “She literally hit them with a missile!” From the reaction of the character on the receiving end, we can believe that they suffered burns ($200,000) and loss of skin (about $3,000). There’s probably more damage done, but there’s no obvious breakage. Jacqui then follows up with a barrage of gunfire. Based on the locations where the bullets leave her opponent’s body — which includes the brain — that brings the Kost of her gunshot wounds up to around $200,000. To cap it off, Jacqui gives her opponent a boot to the face ($8,000). What is it with people shooting others and then requiring them to get a new nose? Rude.
2. Baraka ($416,589)
With a bone-claw through both the sternum ($8,000) and the hand (That’s a stab wound! $8,069), a quick brain examination with another claw ($100,000), then a triumphant impalement with a flag of the Tarkartan people ($300,000), Baraka claims a 2nd place finish in the “wow, this looks expensive” battle… But, he’s no goddess.
1. Cetrion ($522,500)
The goddess whose name sounds a little too close to a fruit for my liking has a rather explosive Fatal Blow. Impaling her opponent with a massive rock to pin them to a tree ($300,000), impaling their face with another rock to make the point clear ($22,500), and then shooting them with Solar Beam from Pokémon ($200,000) makes for an intestinal-ripping, skull-smashing, burn-inducing conclusion to our list.
This research isn’t perfect. There have been thousands of medical studies about this stuff, and sometimes these studies can clash. Maybe there are some Kombatants whose Kosts would increase dramatically if, say, certain procedures or clinical trials were invented down the road that cost exorbitant amounts of money. And maybe there are a few places where I misjudged a blow that may have given a Kombatant an edge.
Please feel free to comment if you think any of these rankings seem out of place. And remember, just because a Kombatant isn’t high on this list, that doesn’t mean their Fatal Blow is bad… It just probably doesn’t impale the opponent on a stick.
For more content from me, check out my Dicey Dungeons review.