Mortal Kombat X is less than 7 months away! Even as the April release date and pre-order bonus draw nearer - there remains much to be discovered about the reboot sequel's fundamental elements! The playable cast continues to be a source of new speculation, but one of the overarching mysteries introduced during June's E3 unveiling is the identity of the final boss!

Every fighting game needs a memorable final challenge. Mortal Kombat has enjoyed some of the genre's best bosses - MKII & MK3's Shao Kahn still looming large since his introduction more than 20 years ago!

Series co-creator Ed Boon says MKX's boss is: "a fun surprise returning character" and "[not] a lot of people will see it coming". He's eliminated a few contenders along the way, blatantly ruling out Goro, and supressing suspicions about Kotal Kahn. With this information - Mortal Kombat Online has had its finest minds on staff debating the lead suspects. After a few months of fisticuffs and consideration - the following is our Top 10 Final Bosses for Mortal Kombat X!

Mortal Kombat (2011) concludes with a clandestine meeting teasing MK4.

#1 Quan Chi
Prior to the announcement of Mortal Kombat X - speculation was shepherded toward the next chapter in the reboot timeline: MK4. That being the case, Shinnok was the logical frontrunner for an exciting new turn as final boss.

We're not ruling out Shinnok's return from the Netherrealm entirely, but a 25 year story mode offers plenty of time for events to progress beyond the fallen Elder God's revenge. Enter Quan Chi: a villain whose sinister presence provided a through line of skulduggery throughout Mortal Kombat (2011)! He made his debut in MK4, and as noted in a recent feature - there's an entire alternate version of MK4 that tells of Quan Chi's rise to power! His suitability as a boss hardly ends there, though.

Few villains achieve the distinction of spreading their evil to the material world. Quan Chi was so thoroughly insinuated into the plot of the original MK trilogy (during MK2011), he actually became a genuinely despised character. The turn from cult favourite to devious provocateur arguably makes him the perfect final foe for fans facing Mortal Kombat X!

The whys behind his "bad bag" status are pretty simple. Quan Chi shared boss duties with Shang Tsung in 2002's series reinvention: Deadly Alliance. There, as in other outings, he had all the desire necessary to amass power and rule the worlds. For all we know, the time distorting plot of MK2011 was all just part of another elaborate Quan Chi scheme. Ohhh, he's just so evil.

Quan Chi gets the better of Shinnok in MK4 [read more]

#2 Liu Kang
For the first four instalments of Mortal Kombat, he was the traditional kung fu hero. Shaolin fighting monk Liu Kang may have been the epitome of a champion, but that success bred resentment from a fanbase enthralled by the dark and diverse cast of the ever growing series. Consequently, Kang was unceremoniously killed off in the intro to Deadly Alliance - a bold response, but a short-lived dismissal, as a zombie return reinvigorated enthusiasm for the character.

MK2011 brought back classic Kang with one of the best character revamps in the reboot, but it wasted little time on the pretence of a destined return to victory. The new timeline was a just new opportunity to divorce the series from its stock hero - this time at the lightning charged hands of one of its other lead protagonists: Raiden!

Legacy Series II introduced an outright bad Liu Kang, but we're not convinced a boss version needs to play the villain. In fact, we'd contest that a reigning Mortal Kombat Champion is a most logical final boss - regardless of their moral leanings.

Liu Kang was seemingly killed off in the 2011 story mode, but Deception's "Zombie Liu" showed just how useful a deceased MK champ can be! With the Elder Gods at the centre of MK2011's Shao Kahn resolution - Liu Kang's arcade ending just might be one of the vaguely plausible ones, making him the new Protector God of Earthrealm. Alternatively, he may simply serve as the Champion of the Elder Gods -- a role once occupied by Scorpion in the previous timeline.

Raiden infuses Liu Kang with the power of gods in MKvsDC.

#3 Shao Kahn
If you're shocked to see Shao Kahn on this list -- you understand the argument! Taking Ed Boon's words at face value - few final boss characters could be more surprising than the one who was just destroyed!

There's more here than just wordplay, though. Shao Kahn really does rank amongst the all-time great fighting game bosses. As much as we're advocates of moving on from the most frequently used boss, we also think it would be a tragedy to lose such an iconic, klassic MK bad guy! How do we get him back? Well, if a hero can be resurrected -- why not a villain?

There are a multitude of ways Kahn could be brought back. One way wouldn't be dissimilar from the popular theory about Liu Kang. You just need to flip the script, and keep that alternate version of MK4 in mind. After all, if Shinnok were successful in his war against the gods - even temporarily - he would have the power to bring back anyone he sees fit. Shao Kahn has been a minion before, but that ended with his taking the throne of Outworld (from Onaga) -- something that could be a good thing, under the right circumstances.

We know the Outworld throne is a major piece of the Mortal Kombat X puzzle, but not how significant it is. Story mode will detail the rise and fall of Kotal Kahn, if not other characters. Who better to bring stability to the situation than the dominant ruler from centuries of conquest prior?

#4 Shinnok
We'd never accuse Ed Boon (Creative Director) of falling back on hyperbole or rhetoric - but what if he's over estimated how many people won't "see it coming"?

Shinnok was heavily implied in the 2011 story mode cliff hanger/epilogue: a sequential continuation of that game's do-over timeline. That makes Shinnok a very easy boss to expect - providing you know who Shinnok is. The cameo itself doesn't necessarily explain a great deal to the extra 2 million gamers who bumped MK's sales to record breaking levels. Hardcore fans may be in the know, but there are more "noobs" running around these days than in an MK Trilogy casuals tournament. MK's new generation of fans may not see this one coming by virtue of simply not knowing!

While it's been noted Outworld has a part to play in MKX, we also know there are plenty of Earthrealm fighters with a stake in the next 25 years. Shinnok's conquests pose a threat to all realms and are the perfect over-arching danger to bring a wide variety of post-apocalyptic warriors together in a tournament called Mortal Kombat. As villains go, he's a darn versatile one. Plus - we really would like to see the replacement Devil live up to his infernal potential. He was a grotesque demon briefly in Mortal Kombat Mythologies: Sub-Zero - but we think the best is still yet to come!

#5 The Dragon King
As long as Mortal Kombat dwells in a timeline parallel to its original twenty years of story [MK-Armageddon], there's going to be suspicions based on what's happened before. If the plot of MKX is to go beyond the timeframe of MK4 - The Dragon King is the next logical threat!

Onaga ruled Outworld centuries ago, before he was poisoned and assassinated by his trusted minion: Shao Kahn! His spirit lived on, manipulating a powerful Earthrealm advocate named Shujinko into subverting events toward his resurrection. The once immortal Dragon King is master of an army, former possessor of Shinnok's amulet, and a powerful enough force to dominate any fighter who stands in his way! Such was the plot of Deception, where he served as grand manipulator and ultimate final boss.

The significance of Onaga's Amulet throughout MK4, and the conflict surrounding Outworld's throne [in MKX] makes The Dragon King a very logical player in the next chapter. Boon also made it known (during E3) that characters from later episodes will make appearances in 2015! Fans who followed the Creative Director in the break between MK games will remember Deception featuring heavily in fans conversations. This could all point toward Onaga's supreme rise in the 25 years of MKX!

The Dragon King makes a dramatic entrance in Deception!

#6 Blaze
Mortal Kombat (2011) may have told us Shao Kahn was the ultimate victor of Armageddon - but the source of the original threat was Blaze! In this sense, he is the catalyst for Raiden's creation of the deviant reality Mortal Kombat X is presumed to be a continuation of.

Based on an innocuous background element from Mortal Kombat II -- the smouldering elemental became an unlikely through line for the Armageddon trilogy! He was (re)introduced as a reward character in 2002's Deadly Alliance, before rising to final boss status in Armageddon, when his mysterious purpose was revealed to be a god quest to cleanse the realms of its deadliest warriors. He was the brainchild of Edenian gods Argus & Delia, who foresaw the destruction of reality under the strain of powerful influences like The Dragon King.

In theory, MK2011 should have Blaze still enslaved by disciples of The Dragon King - who forced him to guard the last dragon egg from which Onaga could be reborn. The Dragon King's resurrection some time during the 25 year MKX story would free Blaze to resume his mission of Armageddon. The stakes may have been diminished by MK2011's deadpool of classic characters, but as we know, MKX will introduced an unprecedented cast of replacements. Does this prevent Armageddon at the hands of Blaze, or merely delay it?

Could the shattering dragon logo in June's announce trailer forecast Armageddon?

#7 Raiden
Like the storm god of Japanese mythology, Raiden has flirted with darkness many times in Mortal Kombat's history. His soul became corrupted in Deception, leading to an unlikely alliance with Shinnok during the course of Armageddon. He resisted evil in the past, but some would say no villain has been as successful in decimating the warriors of light than Raiden (during MK2011)!

The thunder god has already been confirmed for MKX, participating in a role that Ed Boon describes as "not nearly as central to the overall plot as he was in Mortal Kombat [2011]." Given that he was the main drive of that game's story, it's still perfectly plausible that a boss version of the playable character could appear later in the game!

We know Raiden finds himself living with the consequences of his mistakes "with many of his allies dead, or gone." As it has in previous instalments, this predicament could encourage him to break the sacred rules, fighting new nemesis' like Kotal Kahn to his ultimate corruption.

Boss versions of playable characters have been present in Trilogy, MK4, Deadly Alliance and Armageddon - but NetherRealm Studios really invested in the concept in Injustice: Gods Among Us: creating a second version of Superman as the ultimate final boss! Lessons learned from the DC fighter are self-evident in MKX. With the introduction of 3 Character Variations for each playable fighter - the path to boss versions is as simple as a character who can harness the benefits of all three versions. Raiden already looks pretty deadly in his three styles. He'd make a fantastic boss with all powers at the ready!

#8 Reiko
When MK4 was released for home consoles - one character created more debate and fan conflict than perhaps any in the series' history! Reiko began life as a mysterious General in Shinnok's armies, but was ultimately an under developed character, consumed by the simple image of a throne and his donning Shao Kahn's helmet!

Subsequent games have played off the controversy as a joke, but the cult of Reiko reignites before every new games release. The expected significance of MK4 had MK Online thinking warm thoughts, and we're not quite ready to dismiss them just yet.

Two key factors have always stood in Reiko's way as the MK4 ending came to define him, but both are resolved by the basic premise of MKX. 1) Shao Kahn is dead, which means Reiko is free to pay as little or as much homage as he pleases. It's also finally realistic that a one-time third tier character could actually take the Outworld throne! As long as the rise and fall of Emperors remains a major plot element - we're excited by the potential for Reiko to reach new heights!

The strut heard around the realm: Reiko in MK4!

#9 Argus
Edenian god Argus was responsible for the creation of Blaze [#6 on our list] and the circumstances that threatened Armageddon. His elaborate plot was inspired by visions witnessed by his wife Delia. Visions of grim futures have had a heavy hand to play since Raiden began following vague prophecies based on the previous plot. So, what did Delia see in a timeline where things have gone even more awry?

Argus is the type of "returning" character that would really fit the bill of Ed Boon's "fun surprise returning character" that not many see coming. It would be an outside of the box pick, which could certainly be prompted by any number of plot lines. Shinnok's war on the gods from MK4 would certainly encourage Argus' involvement. The same escalation of powers that prompted Armageddon could still be relevant - perhaps even more so now that Raiden has tipped the scales in favour of any new emerging threats. It's a little bit of a longshot, but we like it. Especially for the mythology he can bring with him.

#10 Ermac
His origins may be steeped in a famous hoax, but the popularity of Ermac is no joke! Fans crowned him the Supreme Mortal Kombat Champion earlier in the year, and he remains one of the most talked about characters requested for Mortal Kombat X!

He was a powerful presence in Mortal Kombat (2011) - acting as enforcer for Shao Kahn and the invading armies of Outworld. MK2011 introduced the idea that Ermac -- a creature comprised from the merged souls of fallen warriors - contains the spirit of deceased Edenian ruler Jerrod [That's Kitana's dad, yo! - M.]. This new twist, if followed through, could be the kind of boost the character needs to reach big boss status!

With creator (and by extension, nemesis) Shao Kahn out of the way, his exact motivations become a little unclear. With an army of souls to draw from, he could have innumerable reasons for seeking to use his powers to dominate the realms. It might be presumed Kahn's defeat freed Edenia from its merged state with Outworld, but maybe King Jerrod's will is what's needed to complete that process. If Shinnok's MK4 plot comes to play - there's certainly new reasons for the ruler of Edenia to flex his soul-powered telekinetic powers. Powers that allow for any number of boss friendly applications! He could be an army of one, splitting into multiple variations of himself in a 3-on-1 attack. He could pummel opponents without ever clenching his fist, or he utilize the techniques of a thousand fallen warriors.

Given Ermac's fan favourite status, it's questionable whether he'll really leave the control of the player. We tend to prefer a resolution to our boss battles and eliminating one of the series' emerging icons would be a bit of a tragedy. It's certainly a plausible possibility, however.

Who's next? Register to immortalize your theories about the next big boss on the forum! New information is right around the corner! Stay tuned to the Mortal Kombat X forum for all the latest news, features and fan discussion! Support Mortal Kombat Online by liking & sharing stories via @MK_Online, Facebook & YouTube!