“Finish him!”

Mortal Kombat celebrated its 30th anniversary this October. That’s three decades of over-the-top mayhem, stomach-churning gore, and throughout it all, a wry sense of humor to not take any of this too seriously.  Back in its early days, the Mortal Kombat franchise was the topic of congressional hearings and hand-wringing over its effects on children. To what extent did any of this have long-term psychological effects? 

Did the advancement of photorealistic graphics make the violence more impactful? There’s at least some evidence in recent years to suggest the latter; developers on Mortal Kombat 11 reported PTSD symptoms after animating the game’s signature Fatalities. But back in the 90s, the solution was for the gaming industry to self-regulate, lest the government do it for them. And the result is the current ESRB rating system. Rated T for Teen. Rated E for Everyone. Rated M for Mature. It’s a necessary gauge for violence and brutality.

Granted, every character from the Mortal Kombat series is brutal. But there are some that go beyond that--some, whose fatalities define their brutality, while others' brutality is defined by their cunning and ruthlessness. Brutal varies with each character on this list and although such a descriptor is often associated with villains or straight-up heartless dudes, you might be surprised by some of the fighters on here. Brace yourselves. Here are: The 20 Most Brutal Characters From The Mortal Kombat series.