The Story Behind Mortal Kombat’s Iconic Dragon Logo

Promotional art for Mortal Kombat shows the dragon logo overtop of people cheering.

You’ve probably seen the silhouette of Mortal Kombat’s dragon logo so often that you don’t even think about how little sense it makes. There weren’t any dragons in the original Mortal Kombat, and it doesn’t factor into the backstory about an interdimensional martial arts tournament to determine the fate of the planet. So what’s the deal? Co-creator John Tobias now explains that the iconic dragon was inspired by a statue on his boss’ desk.

Tobias recently re-discovered his original pencil sketch for the dragon logo and took to Twitter to share the backstory behind how it ended up becoming the central symbol for the now decades-running fighting game series. Midway general manager Ken Fedesna had a golden statue of a four-toed Chinese dragon on his desk and Tobias apparently saw it one day when a colleague borrowed it to scan and upload it as an asset in one of the stages.

“The inspiration to use a dragon as the fictional tournament’s symbol came from ‘Dragon Attack,’ which was in contention as our game’s title before [Ed Boon] and I changed it to ‘Mortal Kombat,” he wrote on Twitter yesterday. That working title was inspired by a Queen song of the same name. While it was ultimately ditched, the colors mentioned in the original song formed the basis for the eventual arcade cabinet, which also included the Chinese dragon from Fedesna’s desk.

“I had been thinking of creating an icon to represent the fictional tournament, but also to brand the game with a symbol… like Superman’s ‘S’ or Batman’s bat symbol,” Tobias wrote. The final design ended up being a combination of the yin-yang symbol and the profile of the dragon’s head. Tobias’ sister thought it looked like a seahorse, but 30 years later it’s synonymous with one of the bloodiest and most popular fighting game franchises ever. The original statue is still around too.

Meanwhile, fans are desperate for news of the next game in the series. The last one came out in 2019, and so far there haven’t been any hints about when Mortal Kombat 12 can be expected. Director Ed Boon and NetherRealm Studios were expected to pivot to working on Injustice 3, but there’s been no official announcement on that either, and the messy Warner Bros. Discovery merger has some fearing the worst. Maybe NetherRealm can fill the gap with a 30th anniversary collection that brings the series’ past into the present.

    

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