Raiden is a video game character from the Mortal Kombat series. Raiden, also known as Lord Raiden, is a thunder god of the Mortal Kombat universe and protector of Earthrealm. He commands many supernatural abilities such as the ability to teleport, control over lightning, and flight. As an immortal, he thinks in terms of eternity rather than normal human lifespans and his memories date back to the beginning of time itself.
In the Japanese religion Shinto, from which the character is derived, Raiden (also known as Raijin) is usually portrayed as a small, red-skinned demon that beats a drum to create thunder. However, his appearance in the games resembles more of a Taoist thunder god presented in the Chinese temples, right down to his attire. Raiden's name was spelled this way in all of the original arcade games and in every console game since Mortal Kombat 4. The console ports released up until Mortal Kombat 4, along with both movies and the comic book series, changed the name to "Rayden". According to Ed Boon, he spelled it that way to avoid confusion with the Fatal Fury character Raiden.
The creators claimed they based Raiden's character design on The Three Storms, Lo Pan's three servants from the film Big Trouble in Little China. The third storm, Lightning, exhibited the ability to ride and control lightning, and wore a hat that closely resembles Raiden's conical hat. In an interview featured in Deception, Ed Boon said that the hat that actor Carlos Pesina wore to portray the character in the earlier Mortal Kombat games was ruined as a result of Pesina repeatedly performing falls during production. In Mortal Kombat and Mortal Kombat: Deadly Alliance, it states that Raiden is seven feet tall but his sprite was the same height as the other fighters. His coolie hat is his most recognizable feature, and he occasionally wields a quarterstaff that holds the power of thunder and lightning. The Chinese character for thunder, 雷, is visible on most of his costumes. A saya (katana scabbard) appears on Raiden's secondary costumes in Deadly Alliance, Deception, and Armageddon, but he is never seen actually using the sword. Raiden has electricity pulsating across his body in Mortal Kombat, Mortal Kombat 4, and Mortal Kombat: Deadly Alliance. He has glowing white (occasionally blue) eyes, which glow red in Deception and Armageddon.
Raiden was voiced by Midway employee Jon Hey in the first two games. He became well known for yelling randomly while performing his Torpedo move. Fans originally believed that he was yelling in Japanese, while others believed it to be mangled English phrases such as "Your momma's from LA," "Go to Bob's for eggs!", "Bring on the sauce!" or "Get back in the car." John Tobias revealed in a Mortal Kombat II feature in GamePro that Raiden was merely speaking gibberish and not actual Japanese or English. This was featured in the VH1 program I Love 1992, when one of the cast thought Raiden was saying "Santa Monica." This tradition was revived for all of Raiden's supermoves in Armageddon.
According to the Konquest mode in Mortal Kombat: Deadly Alliance, Raiden has mastered all of more than 750 documented varieties of jujutsu, which is his secondary fighting style. He is referred to as "Dark" or "Evil Raiden" in his alternate costume and concept renders found in Deception, while Liu Kang's ending in Armageddon refers to him defeating a Raiden that had been "corrupted by his suicide" to become Earthrealm's protector god. Raiden's behavior had become more erratic and uncharacteristic; he became increasingly aggressive in his protection of Earth, going as far as to destroy all other realms to prevent them from being a danger to Earth in his Armageddon ending. This new Raiden bore a similarity to the characterization of Raiden from the very first game as a god angered by mortals, participating in Mortal Kombat only to prove the gods are superior to humans in combat. In his ending in the original game, Raiden wins the tournament, but soon becomes bored with human competition and he invites other gods to participate in the tournament, which ends up destroying the planet.