Sub-Zero is actually the name of two separate characters in the Mortal Kombat world - Bi Han and Kuai Liang, both warriors of the Lin Kuei and brothers. Bi Han was the first Sub-Zero. He was merciless, and also the killer of Scorpion. He was a participant of the original Mortal Kombat tournament, however, during that tournament, the undead Scorpion had his revenge, ending Bi Han's life. This deceased Sub-Zero was banished to the Netherrealm and became the undead fighter Noob Saibot. His younger brother, Kuai Liang, partook in the second MK Tournament in order to complete the mission of his fallen brother. He is known as a kinder, balanced warrior who fought out of a sense of justice, not cruelty and anger. When Scorpion witnessed him spare a combatant's life, he realized this was not the Sub-Zero he loathed. Since then, the younger Sub-Zero has become older, stronger and wiser; growing out of the shadow of his brother's legacy and transforming into a powerful leader in his own right.
Mortal Kombat II
Kuai Liang was sent to the Mortal Kombat tournament after his brother, Bi-Han, the original Sub-Zero failed to kill Shang Tsung and return home. He discovers that Scorpion killed his brother over the course of the tournament and also fails to kill Shang Tsung.
Sub-Zero enters the Outworld tournament and succeeds in killing Shang Tsung. He learns of Scorpion's vendetta against his older brother but has no idea why his life was spared. Perhaps a third tournament is in his future.
Mortal Kombat 3
Sub-Zero returns for the third tournament, this time unmasked. Betrayed by the Lin Kuei, Sub-Zero is marked for death and is pursued by his former clansmen, Sektor and Cyrax, who have been turned into cyborgs.
Sub-Zero finds himself in a battle with Sektor and Cyrax. However, he isn't alone. His old ally, Smoke, is there to assist him. Before Smoke was turned into a cyborg, he and Sub-Zero were friends. With Sub-Zero's help, Smoke remembers his past and assists his friend once more. Sub-Zero defeats Sektor and Cyrax with Smoke's help and then uses all of his own inner strength to defeat Shao Kahn. He vanishes once again, his legacy known to only a few.
Mortal Kombat 4
After Shao Kahn is defeated by Earth's fighters, the Lin Kuei is disbanded. However, with the threat of Quan-Chi present, Kuai Liang dons the blue garb of his older brother to fight again. He also holds secrets that were passed on to him by his brother, and holds the key to stopping Shinnok.
Sub-Zero defeats Scorpion but spares his life, telling him that neither he, nor his brother were responsible for the massacre of Scorpion's clan. Just then, Sub-Zero is ambushed by Quan Chi who reveals that he made a deal with Scorpion. In exchange for his freedom from the NetherRealm, Scorpion would fight for Shinnok and Quan Chi, a deal that neither of them intended on keeping. Outraged, Scorpion kills Quan Chi and ends his feud with Sub-Zero, freeing him from his curse.
Mortal Kombat: Deadly Alliance
Sub-Zero and Sektor battled one another as the future of the Lin Kuei hung in the balance, each fighting to possess the Dragon Medallion and the title of Grand Master. Sub-Zero emerged victorious and vowed to reforge the Lin Kuei as a force for good. He relocated the Lin Kuei to a remote location in the Arctic where he found a temple that was frozen into the side of a glacier. This would serve as the Lin Kuei's new headquarters. The Dragon Medallion also had the unfortunate effect of accelerating Sub-Zero's age.
Raiden appeared to Sub-Zero and asked for his help with battling the Deadly Alliance in Outworld. Sub-Zero decided to lend his aid and went on the dangerous mission to prove himself and earn the respect of his Lin Kuei followers. He also took Frost with him, a powerful, promising young cryomancer like himself.
After the defeat of the Deadly Alliance, Sub-Zero returns to the Lin Kuei temple with the severely injured ninja, Frost. Raiden visits Sub-Zero to commend him on his victory in Outworld. With the Lin Kuei now a force for good, the Earth would be protected.
Mortal Kombat: Deception
After Frost tried to betray Sub-Zero and take the Dragon Medallion for herself, she was consumed by her own cryo powers. Sub-Zero searched Outworld for a suitable place to bury her remains when he came across a structure carved into the side of a mountain. He learned that the ruins were a holy place to a race of long lost people who developed the mastery over cold. Determining that he and Frost were these people's descendants, Sub-Zero leaves Frost's body in a sarcophagus there while donning the Dragon Armor of his heritage.
As Sub-Zero went on his way to meet with Raiden, he was ambushed by the Tarkatan. He tried to outrun them but there were too many. He decided that his last living action would be to take out as many of them as possible. As he began his attack, his armor spoke to him and guided his attacks. It strengthened his attacks as he broke their limbs and skulls. A dying tarkatan at his feet managed to utter "Long live the Dragon King."
Mortal Kombat: Armageddon
The Lin Kuei is assaulted by Noob Saibot, Smoke and their army. Taven and Sub-Zero defeat them before Taven leaves to finish his journey to reach Blaze. Sub-Zero is later one of the many warriors fighting for the side of good on the way up the pyramid leading to Armageddon.
After Blaze is slain, Sub-Zero's Dragon Medallion changes him into an ice god. Sensing, that a deity was born without their consent, the Elder Gods send their champions to find and kill the Lin Kuei Grandmaster.
Mortal Kombat (2011)
Sub-Zero once again is out for revenge for the death of his older brother. However, Raiden's attempts at changing the timeline to avoid Armageddon inadvertently leads to the Lin Kuei managing to capture Sub-Zero and convert him into a cyborg like Cyrax and Sektor instead of Smoke. Despite this, Sub-Zero continues to fight on the side of the remaining Earthrealm warriors.
Sub-Zero learns the conditions of his brother's death from Raiden , and thus comes to understand the Lin Kuei's own actions were responsible for tragedies among both it's own members and those of other clans. With this understanding, he confronts Scorpion and proposes an alliance with the purpose of defeating those responsible for their suffering. The two become known as a team that, together, seek vengeance for the fallen innocents of EarthRealm.
- Iceblast - A blast of ice that freezes the opponent long enough for a free hit. If a second blast hits a frozen character, Sub-Zero himself will freeze.
- Ground Ice - An ice blast sent to the floor leaves a large frozen patch - any character to walk over it will slip around uncontrollably.
- Ice Clone - Creates an ice replica in front of him. If an enemy touches it, the clone smashes and freezes them
- Slide - Crouches and slides along the ground, knocking down an opponent.
- Ice Shower - The same principle as the Iceblast, except he fires the blast upwards off-screen. The blast will then come back down on top of the opponent if they have not dodged.
Fatalities & Finishers
Unsurprisingly, the majority of Sub-Zero's finishing moves involve ice in some way. Ironically, his most iconic Fatality, the Spine Rip, arguably belongs to his brother, Noob Saibot.
- Spine Rip - (MK4, MKG, MK:SM, MK:2011): Rips his opponent's head off along with their spinal column. In Shaolin Monks, he freezes his foe before doing so. Used first by his sibling in Mortal Kombat, Sub-Zero carries on the tradition in later games.
- Deep Freeze - (MKII, MK4, MKG, MK:SM): Sub-Zero freezes his opponent before walking forward and delivering an uppercut, which either shatters the opponent's torso, shatters them entirely, or rips them in half, depending on the game. Mortal Kombat II required two sets of inputs to complete the full Fatality, one to freeze, and one to uppercut.
- Ice Grenade - (MKII): Standing far from his foe, Sub-Zero conjures a small ball of ice in his hand. He tosses it toward his enemy, causing their entire upper half to explode violently.
- Ice Breath - (MK3, UMK3, MKT): Sub-Zero breaths on his opponent, freezing them solid. They fall backward, shattering upon the ground.
- Snap Freeze - (MK3, UMK3, MKT, MKvsDCU): Lifting his enemy over his head and freezing them, Sub-Zero proceeds to snap his opponent in half. This was modified in Mortal Kombat vs.DC Universe, where the opponent is thrown to the ground and shattered.
- Skeleton Rip - (MK:DA): Very similar to Kano's MK3 Fatality. Sub-Zero inserts his hand into the loser's lower back and rips out their entire skeletal structure.
- Frozen Throw - (MK:D): Sub-Zero freezes his opponent before tearing their head off. Sliding backward, he then throws the head back at his foe, shattering their still frozen body.
- Leg Shatter - (MK:D): Sub-Zero freezes the loser's legs and shatters them with a sweep. As the legless opponent tries futilely to escape, he walks up and smashes their head with his foot.
- Frozen Kick - (MKvsDCU): After freezing them thoroughly, Sub-Zero delivers a kick to the midsection that breaks them into pieces.
- Frozen Torso Rip - (MK:2011): Freezing the lower half of his foe's body, Sub-Zero yanks their torso a few times before separating the two halves.
- Spine Shatter - (MK:2011): Sub-Zero reaches into his opponent's chest, pulling out their spine. He then freezes his foe before smashing them with their own spine.
- Friendship - (MKII): Sub-Zero whips out a doll-sized version of himself, exhorting the player to "Buy a Sub-Zero Doll!"
- Friendship - (MK3, UMK3, MKT): Using his substantial mastery of cold, Sub-Zero transforms himself into a festive snowman.
- Animality - (MK3, UMK3, MKT): Morphing into a polar bear, Sub-Zero leaps onto the losing player and savagely attacks them.
- Hara-Kiri - (MK:D): Sub-Zero freezes himself from the feet up, falling over and breaking apart into a pile of ice, blood, and body parts.
In the alternate timeline of Mortal Kombat 2011, Raiden attempts to save Smoke from being transformed into a Cyborg Ninja, only for Sub Zero to undergo the same progress. As unit LK520, Cyber Sub-Zero is a slave to the Lin Kuei and was tasked with assisting Shao Kahn's invasion of EarthRealm.
After being disabled by Kabal, his mind and personality is restored by Jax and Sonya, who override his programming. They use this opportunity to use Sub-Zero as an Outworld sleeper agent, freeing prisoners (defeating Goro and Kintaro simultaneously in the process) and attempting to foil their plans. After meeting Noob Saibot and learning of his true identity many years before he would've done in the original timeline, Sub-Zero returns to the EarthRealm warriors base of operations.
Cyber Sub-Zero is one of the many warriors to fall to Sindel, empowered by Shang Tsung's essence.
Cyber Sub-Zero is shown defeating Shao Kahn, who in turn possesses Sub Zero, creating a new entity combining cyborg technology and Shao Kahn's powerful magic.
- Ice Ball/Ice Beam - Fired from the chest instead of the hands as per cyber-ninja tech, Cyber Sub-Zero temporarily freezes enemies in the same fashion as in human counterpart.
- Ice Bomb/Cyro Bomb - Much in the same vein as Cyrax, Cyber Sub-Zero will fire a bomb (or three) to the ground, freezing the opponent in place.
- Ice Parry/Frozen Parry - Instantly freezes opponents for an attack with Cyber Sub-Zero's Kori-blade, or leaves them frozen for starting a combo in the case of Frozen parry.
- Teleport/Bangport - Same as Cyrax, separates limbs to appear on the other side of the opponent, Bangport damages them.
- Slide/Cyber Slide - Taken from Human Sub-Zero, Cyber Slide will end with a kick instead of a punch.
- Divekick/Powerkick - Diagonal air kick, Powerkick hits three times.
Kold Fusion - Suicide attack in which Cyber Sub-Zero will enter a command before jumping onto his opponent, the resulting explosion killing both.
Brain Freeze - Shurikens into the eyes followed by a ice charged shuriken which spins violently in the brain, making the opponent collapse.
- "If he killed Bi-Han, he will die."
- "I will face the Lin-Kuei when my task is done, not before."
- "Not if I break you first!"
- "Your followers hold you in high esteem, warlord. They fight and die for you amusement."
- "My brother participated in this folly. I do so only to face his killer!"
- "I am his family and clan, I fight for his honor!"
- "For my brother!"
- "This fight will be your last!"
Sub-Zero is a secret character in the early versions of the arcade version of NBA Jam T.E. He, along with Reptile and Raiden, were removed from later versions at the request of the NBA.
Sub-Zero cameos in Scorpion's intro in Injustice: Gods Among Us; he is about to be finished by Scorpion when the yellow ninja is pulled through to the Injustice universe. Sub-Zero himself appears as a playable character in the sequel, Injustice 2.