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Mortal Kombat character
Nightwolf's alternate costume in Mortal Kombat (2011)
First game Mortal Kombat 3 (1995)
Created by John Tobias
Voiced by Tod Thawley (DotR)
Paul St. Peter (MK:D)
Larry Omaha (MK 2011)
Portrayed by Sal Divita (MK3, UMK3, MKT)
Litefoot (Annihilation)
Fictional profile
Origin Earthrealm (United States)
Fighting styles Vale Tudo (MK:D, MK:U, MK:A)
Tae Kwon Do (MK:D, MK:U)
Weapon Tomahawk

Nightwolf is a fictional character in the Mortal Kombat fighting game series. He debuted in Mortal Kombat 3 as a Native American shaman and historian who is chosen as a warrior of Earthrealm during Shao Kahn's invasion. As one of the main characters, he was also featured in the game's companion media, such as the live action film Mortal Kombat Annihilation and the animated series Mortal Kombat: Defenders of the Realm.

He was also playable in the updates Ultimate Mortal Kombat 3 and Mortal Kombat Trilogy. After being absent from Mortal Kombat 4 and Mortal Kombat: Deadly Alliance, he reemerged as a player character in 2004's Mortal Kombat: Deception and also appeared in the follow-ups Mortal Kombat: Armageddon and the 2011 Mortal Kombat reboot.

Response to the character has been mixed, with some citing Nightwolf as an example of a Native American stereotype. His retooled character in the 2011 game has met with mainly positive reception.


In video games[edit]

Although introduced as a historian and a shaman, he does not live in the past. He is a proud and fierce warrior dedicated to the cause of good, and is in contact with Raiden through visions. As such, he draws both on internal and external spiritual energy to enhance his strength. Although his patch of tribal land provided a vital shelter territory for the Earthrealm warriors at the time of Shao Kahn's invasion, it seems Nightwolf prefers solitary work to companionship. Nightwolf had been warned of the coming invasion of Earthrealm by a vision from Raiden. As such, he was fully aware and prepared for the events as they occurred, including the attacks of Kahn's extermination squads. His own homeland protected through shamanic magic, he would soon be joined by the other chosen warriors. Together, they then travelled back to the East Coast, prepared for battle against the Emperor and his minions, and won.

Nightwolf made his return during the events of Mortal Kombat: Deception. In the events leading to Deception, Nightwolf viewed images of the Dragon King and his resurrection in his dreams. These nightmares recurred constantly, and Nightwolf came to recognize them as a warning. He knew that a new evil threat was about to arise from the ashes, and in view of Reptile's transformation into Onaga, his predictions most assuredly came true. The method that Nightwolf would use to destroy Onaga was one passed down to him by his forefathers. This method was that of the "Sin Eater", which involved absorbing the sins of his tribe. However there was a terrible consequence to be considered in taking on such a role. If he were to do this, he would be a danger to all that surrounded him, including his allies. Hence, he made the decision to destroy Onaga on his own, keeping his allies out of harm's way. His role as a Sin Eater would involve entering the Netherealm, drawing Onaga's soul to him, and releasing the absorbed sins of his ancestors, which would bind Onaga to the spot. His method was successful and he managed to separate Reptile from Onaga, and bind the Dragon King to the Netherealm.[1]

After completing his quest, he was guided back to Earthrealm by his spirit guides - a pack of wolves. Nightwolf began to receive visions of a battle, where an unknown power was forcing the participating warriors to fight each other. His visions started to become reality, when he spoke with Johnny Cage and their allies, and agreed to assist them in battle against Shinnok and his forces. Eventually, Nightwolf was met by Kitana and the spirit of Liu Kang. The bond that the two of them shared was enough for Kitana to keep Kang's spirit whole, until a way was found for him to rejoin with his body. Still drained after using his shamanic powers on Onaga, Nightwolf used what magic he could to relieve Kitana of her burden, and took on the responsibility of looking after Kang's spirit.[2] In his Armageddon ending, he defeats Blaze, allowing him to absorb his power. Nightwolf is catapulted into the spirit world, where he becomes the ultimate shaman, a living ghost. He finds Liu Kang's spirit and guides it back to the physical world. There, Liu Kang is able to reunite with his body, becoming human once more.[3]

In the 2011 reboot, Nightwolf is responsible for destroying Shao Kahn's Soulnado and is one of the few Earthrealm warriors to survive Sindel's initial onslaught. Ultimately, Nightwolf sacrifices himself to destroy Sindel, resulting in his soul being among those claimed by Quan Chi.

Design and gameplay[edit]

During an early development of Mortal Kombat 3, the character was known simply as "Indian" before his name was determined. Ed Boon described him to VideoGames magazine in April 1995 (issue #75) as "a very nontraditional Indian. He doesn't swing an axe that he's always holding, like Chief Thunder from Killer Instinct. He doesn't have all of the stereotypical Indian-type things like T. Hawk or Chief Thunder; he doesn't go 'Hoya! Hoya!' and all that."[4] Nightwolf uses a mystical set of weapons (a tomahawk and a bow and arrow) in battle.

According to guides by both Mean Machines Sega and SuperGamePower, the best part about him in the original MK3 was his then-unique ability to deflect any projectile back towards an opponent.[5][6] Total 64 opined that, once mastered, Nightwolf "is one of the brightest stars" of Mortal Kombat Trilogy, as "none of his moves are seemingly useful at the start, but stick[ing] with him [might] get some great results."[7]

Prima Games' official guide for Armageddon gave Nightwolf a poor overall rating of 4/10, stating: "Nightwolf is a punishing character type, but he is almost forced to punish using ranged attacks. Unfortunately this means that Nightwolf, while being a solid punisher character, has a difficult time inflicting heavy damage on opponents."[8] In Prima Games' official guide for the 2011's Mortal Kombat, Nightwolf was judged to be a much improved character, especially since his player "can play the aggressor or the defensive force based on the fact that his Shoulder and Power Charge moves knock down and are instantaneous" if the former is blocked; his Uppercut is also "an excellent move to counter jumpers." Nightwolf's best matchup is against Reptile, and one of the only few characters that will give him serious problems is Noob Saibot.[9]

In other media and merchandise[edit]

Litefoot as Nightwolf in Annihilation

In the 1996 cartoon series Mortal Kombat: Defenders of the Realm, Nightwolf (voiced by Tod Thawley) serves to offer both spiritual and technical help to the Earthrealm warriors, having experience with computer technology. He only fights a few times, spending most of his time back at base monitoring the Earthrealm looking for dimensional rips. Nightwolf has a pet wolf named Kiva, who could merge with Nightwolf to increase his power. The cartoon version of the character uses his Mortal Kombat 3 design.

Nightwolf briefly appeared in the 1997 live-action film Mortal Kombat: Annihilation, played by Litefoot. Nightwolf has no fight scenes, although he attacks Liu Kang in his wolf form and strikes him unconscious with a hatchet in order to put him in a "dream state", where he is shown sitting at a campfire in Liu's dream and teaching him how to use his Animality. Nightwolf was initially described in the shooting script as wearing a Stone Temple Pilots T-shirt and a pair of Oakley sunglasses, which was ultimately aborted in favor of his MK3 outfit.

An action figure of Nightwolf was released by Jazwares in July 2012. It came in two versions, 4-inch[10] and 6-inch.[11] Nightwolf was also one of the characters that stunt coordinator Larnell Stovall wanted to be featured in the second season of Mortal Kombat: Legacy, describing him as "cool too due to his powers, knives and that axe!"[12]


Nightwolf has often been discussed in the context of the portrayal of Native Americans in video games.[13] Boon's description of the character to VideoGames provoked a comment from the magazine: "For a character described by Midway as a 'nontraditional Indian,' he certainly has all the trappings of one. Let's see, he wears feathers and war paint, swings a hatchet, shoots arrows...could there be a 'Scalp' Fatality?"[14] GamesRadar featured him as on their 2008 top list of Native American stereotypes to represent "The Warrior" stereotype, concluding that "while this pro-Indian sentiment is certainly heartwarming, much of Nightwolf’s character is wide of the mark."[15] In 2011, Dorkly ranked him as the second most stereotypical Native American character in fighting game history.[16] In 2012, Complex called him the most stereotypical character in all video games (representing stereotype "Native Americans"), describing him as "the epitome of every red-skinned, feather-wearing sports mascot and old cowboy movie serial" and commenting that "while other characters can have a gallery of normal punches and kicks, Nightwolf, our resident shaman, calls upon skills that even the old DC ComicsApache Chief would frown on."[17] He was also used as an example of an ethnically stereotypical characters by that same year.[18]

Among other reception, Nightwolf was ranked as the 20th best Mortal Kombat character by in 2012.[19] That same year, Complex also ranked him as the fourth most underrated Mortal Kombat character, stating that "the fact that he can transform into a wolf and maul you to death should tell you he's nothing to play with."[20] One of his Fatalities in MK2011 was ranked as the ninth best in this game by Paste.[21] Game Informer also noted similarity of Soulcalibur V '​s new character Z.W.E.I. to him.[22] Dorkly users voted him the series' 28th greatest character in a 2013 poll.[23]


  1. ^ "Who Actually Won Mortal Kombat? - Features". 2012-02-01. Retrieved 2012-10-09. 
  2. ^ Nightwolf's Armageddon bio. Official Mortal Kombat Armageddon website. Retrieved on 2007-01-23.
  3. ^ Nightwolf's Armageddon info at Mortal Kombat Warehouse
  4. ^ VideoGames: The Ultimate Gaming Magazine #75 (April 1995), page 48.
  5. ^ "Mean Machines Sega Magazine Issue 37". Retrieved 2014-05-22. 
  6. ^ "SuperGamePower Especial - No. 01 (1996-12)". Retrieved 2014-05-22. 
  7. ^ Total 64 2/97, page 60.
  8. ^ Bryan Dawson, Mortal Kombat: Armageddon (Prima Official Game Guide), Prima Games 2006 (p. 221–224).
  9. ^ Jason Wilson, Adam Hernandez, Mortal Kombat: Prima Official Game Guide, Prima Games 2011 (p. 165).
  10. ^ "Mortal Kombat 9 4-Inch Nightwolf Action Figure : Toys & Games". Retrieved 2014-03-03. 
  11. ^ "Nightwolf Mortal Kombat 9 6-Inch Action Figure : Toy Figures : Toys & Games". 2014-02-12. Retrieved 2014-03-03. 
  12. ^ "Exclusive Interview With Larnell Stovall (Mortal Kombat: Legacy)". May 19, 2011. Retrieved 2011-05-19. 
  13. ^ Native Resolution. "The Escapist: Native Resolution". Retrieved 2012-10-09. 
  14. ^ VideoGames: The Ultimate Gaming Magazine #77 (June 1995).
  15. ^ The Top 7… Native American stereotypes, GamesRadar US, 2008-11-24
  16. ^ Bridgman, Andrew. "The Dorklyst: The 7 Most Stereotypical Native American Characters in Fighting Game History". Dorkly Article. Retrieved 2012-07-30. 
  17. ^ Chad Hunter, The 15 Most Stereotypical Characters In Video Games,, May 9, 2010
  18. ^ Wong, David (2012-07-18). "5 Prejudices That Video Games Can't Seem to Get Over". Retrieved 2012-10-09. 
  19. ^ "Top 50 Mortal Kombat Characters". Retrieved 2012-04-15. 
  20. ^ The 10 Most Underrated "Mortal Kombat" Kombatants,, Apr 12, 2012
  21. ^ Nathan Spicer (2011-04-23). "The 17 Best Fatalities from Mortal Kombat 1 & 9 :: Blogs :: List of the Day :: Paste". Retrieved 2012-10-09. 
  22. ^ "SoulCalibur V Review - Champ_Frosty Blog". 2012-01-31. Retrieved 2012-10-09. 
  23. ^ "The Greatest Mortal Kombat Character of All-Time (Vote Now!) - Dorkly Toplist". Retrieved 2013-12-19.