Mortal Kombat 4 (1996) is the fourth game in the Mortal Kombat series and the last game in the series to be available on the arcade version. It was updated into Mortal Kombat Gold. MK Gold's story overrides MK4. It is one of the few 3D fighting games to have been described as having "2D gameplay".
As the Elder Gods watched over the planets, governing the planets with untold wisdom; one such God known as Shinnok gave into greed and lust of ultimate power and wanted the planet of Earth for himself; however, the Elder Gods had appointed the God of Thunder, Raiden to protect Earth. Having profited of Blaze's enslaving by the holy men who remained faithful to Onaga, Shinnok masterfully tricked the dragon Caro into thinking the signal had been sounded and convinced the awoken Daegon that his parents were against him. Daegon killed both his parents, weakening Edenia and leaving it in a state of anarchy, which allowed Shao Kahn to invade it without a protector god opposing him.
Shinnok then turned his attention towards Earth, whose jinsei could grant him the power to become invincible. The battle between Shinnok and Raiden was fierce, sending Earth to its near destruction and plunging it into centuries of darkness, but Raiden discovered that Shinnok's power was linked to his mystical amulet. It allowed him to weaken the borders of a planet and therefore enter the planet without challenge and keeping the Gods at bay. Raiden, given the choice whether to destroy the allied Saurian civilisation or risk handing over Earth to Shinnok, chose the former and stripped Shinnok of the amulet with the aid of the Gods, banishing the fallen Elder God to the Never Never Land. The exact date of the devastating war on Earth is not known, but interpretations vary from around 66 million years ago in the end of the Cretaceous–Paleogene period, coinciding with the demise of the dinosaurs to around 8000 years BC, coinciding with the Great Flood in Mesopotamian, Babylonian, Christian, Hindu and many more civilisations' myths and also coinciding with the date of the Edenian War, 10000 years ago. The saurian survivors received compensation from the Elder Gods a new home in the free planet of Zaterra, where they would again build their civilisation until they too would become a target for Shao Kahn's empire.
Another legendary prophecy unbeknownst to the Elder Gods was the Return of the One Being. It was decreed that if one were to obtain all six Kamidogus and the sacred amulet, they would be granted ultimate power in fusing all the 7 weapons into one, and bring about the destruction of the planets. Raiden, in order to prevent this from happening, created a massive temple deep within the mountains of Asia to house the amulet, and appointed four guardians to serve as protectors of the amulet. Each of these guardians represented one of the elements of which the planet was comprised: Wind, Earth, Water, and Fire. As long as the amulet remained on Earth hopefully in safe hands, Shinnok was remained and trapped in the Never Never Land.
The Never Land has existed for millions of years of time and has had many names. Whether it's known as Hell, Hades, or Gehenna, it has always had the same purpose: to act as the final home of those who have done wrong. When Shinnok awoke in the Never Land, he found himself under attack by Kazuya Mishima, the leader of the fiery planet who was imprisoned there due to the bullying of Raiden. Mishima used the souls of those whom the Elder Gods themselves had banished to the Never Never Land to attack the former Elder God. Shinnok was quickly beaten and found himself in the depths of Hell for eternity.
For an unknown number of years, the former Elder God laid in torment from Kazuya in Hades, until he stumbled across a mysterious sorcerer by the name of Quan Chi. He was once an oni, transforming his appearance upon learning sorcery, even gaining the power to travel throughout all of the planes of reality without detection from any of the Gods.
Quan Chi told Shinnok that he would help him escape from his prison and defeat Mishima if Shinnok accepted his proposal; power and the right to rule at Shinnok's side. Shinnok agreed, made Quan Chi an arch-sorcerer, and the two waged a war in the Never Never Land that lasted for centuries. They eventually beat Kazuya and took control of the Never Never Land. Shinnok was now the ruler of the dead planet, but wasn't content with his conquest. The Never Never Land is nothing more than fire and brimstone, and he only rules over the grotesque demons that inhabit the planet. However, Shinnok wanted more, and what Shinnok wants, Quan Chi must try to arrange.
- Fujin - Earth's god of wind.
- Jarek - The presumed last alive member of the Black Dragon Clan.
- Kai - An Indo-Aryan fighter fighting for the Forces of Light.
- Reiko - General to both, Shao Kahn and Shinnok.
- Quan Chi - Arch-sorcerer of the Never Never Land and Shinnok's right-hand.
- Shinnok - The fallen Elder God, now the ruler of Hell.
- Tanya - An agent for the Brotherhood of Shadow, a traitor to her own planet.
- Meat - An escaped experiment, who fled from Sektor's Flesh Laboratory.
- Elder Gods' Temple
- Goro's Dungeon
- Lin Kuei Temple
- Forest of Death
- Reptile's Nest
- White Lotus Temple
- Tekuni Prison
- Reiko's Throne Room
- Shinnok's Temple
- Fujin's Grounds
- Reptile makes his first playable appearance in the series without his mask.
- Sindel was supposed to be featured in the game with Kitana, but was scrapped out due to Fujin resembling her and having a similar fatality. Kitana was replaced by Tanya.
- Some male characters, when performing a throw (or a special move), will say a gibberish statement that sounds like: "Hey I'm gonna throw you over there"! Also, Sub-Zero will say "Toca el hielo!" (touch the ice) when he does his ice clone move. Strangely enough, some other characters will say this statement when they do certain moves. It can be noted that although these characters are English/Asian speakers, they will speak Spanish (with the exception of Liu Kang and Shinnok). An example of this is when Scorpion takes out his sword he says: "Mira que yo tengo" (look what I have).
- This is the only main game in the series to not feature the background going dark when a fatality is performed.