Shao Kahn is a fictional character in the Mortal Kombat fighting game series. He made his debut in Mortal Kombat II as the boss, a role he also served in Mortal Kombat 3. He serves as the main antagonist of the series.

About Shao KahnEdit

Shao Kahn, who resembles an Asian warrior-king in many respects, embodies evil in many forms. He is known for his godlike strength, extreme callousness, brutality and his fondness of personal executions, but rises above the level of a mere warlord through his intelligence and knowledge of black magic. Like his subordinate Shang Tsung, he has the power to consume other souls. His greatest strength is probably his ability to work towards his goals with great tenacity and his ability to organize, but his greatest weaknesses are his arrogance and his overconfidence. However, he does have a romantic side, such as when he took Sindel as his wife and in issue 6 of the Battlewave series when he hypnotizes Sonya Blade into becoming his wife in order to weaken Earthrealm's barriers.

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Shao Kahn originally served as an adviser to Onaga when the latter ruled Outworld as the Dragon King. Onaga's Empire had become the most powerful in the realms and so he began searching for a way to become immortal. Before his goal could be realized, Shao Kahn made his move by poisoning Onaga and taking his kingdom. Leading whatever troops that remained loyal to the Dragon King, Kahn continued many of the former emperor's plans. He continued to add lesser realms to Outworld, either through direct conquest or through Mortal Kombat.

A milestone in his military victories was the merging of Edenia with Outworld. After his warriors had won in Mortal Kombat, Kahn invaded the realm. On the battlefield, Kahn killed King Jerrod, and took Queen Sindel as his wife, raising her daughter, Princess Kitana, as his own. He had the young princess trained as his personal guard and as an assassin. Sindel took her own life in an attempt to escape subservience to the Emperor. Unwilling to be denied, Shao Kahn held her soul in Outworld, stopping her transition to the afterlife.

Many years later, Kahn chose Earthrealm as his next conquest. He sent Shang Tsung and eventually Goro to Earthrealm to prepare it for an invasion in the event of Goro maintaining his position of champion. A turning point came when Prince Goro defeated the Great Kung Lao and started a winning streak that would last for 500 years. Shang Tsung, a shapeshifter, supervised the tournament. The tenth Mortal Kombat however, saw the defeat of both Goro and Shang Tsung by a Shaolin monk, Liu Kang, ruining five hundred years of Tsung's investment. Shang Tsung begged Shao Kahn for his life, and came up with a plan to lure Earth's chosen warriors to Outworld for a second tournament. Shao Kahn spared Tsung's life and restored his youth. If Earthrealm's champions could be killed, they would not be able to cause further damage to Kahn's plans. With the captured Kano and Sonya Blade as bait, and enraging Liu Kang by sending Baraka and his troops to destroy the Shaolin temples, they confidently waited for the Earth warriors to fall into the trap. Despite Kahn's vast power, Liu Kang's determination saw him through, and he defeated the despot. Unwilling to accept defeat, Kahn called his armies to destroy the Earthrealm warriors. They fled back to Earthrealm, out of Kahn's clutches.

By this time, Shang Tsung was able to resurrect Queen Sindel in Earthrealm, and Kahn would be able to cross the border to claim her. Kahn had Tsung proceed, and once he invaded Earthrealm, he began to merge it with his own realm of Outworld. Nearly every living being in Earthrealm had their souls ripped from their bodies by Kahn, claiming them as his own. Kahn's day finally seemed to have come. Kahn sent extermination squads to hunt them down and kill the remaining survivors, but Lord Raiden had protected the souls of a handful of warriors. It would be their task to try to stop Kahn, and return Earthrealm to its normal state. In the ensuing fights, Kahn was confronted by Kung Lao, another Shaolin monk and descendant of the warrior Goro defeated to become champion of Mortal Kombat, but Kahn crushed him. It was Liu Kang who again managed to defeat Kahn. Worn down from the battle, Kahn recalled his squads and retreated back to Outworld. This stopped the merger with Outworld, and restored Earthrealm to its original status. To make matters worse for Kahn, many of his loyal soldiers had abandoned him, and Kitana had succeeded in turning Sindel to her side, restoring Edenia as an independent realm.

File:Shao Khan's Ending Deception.PNG

The emperor was now greatly weakened, and would remain so for a period of several years, remaining inactive during Shinnok's war against the gods. The Edenians had in the meantime made peace and military treaties with the Shokan, on whom Kahn had always heavily relied, and were ready to attack Outworld a few years later. It was only through his new commander Kano's ingenuity, and the stealth of his unreliable assassin Noob Saibot (who critically wounded Goro) was Kahn able to save the day (in a manner of speaking) and force the Edenian army into a draw. Soon afterward, the sorcerers Quan Chi and Shang Tsung entered his throne room, and swore false allegiance to the emperor. Quan Chi and Shang Tsung caught Shao Kahn off guard and seemingly killed him. This would appear to be the demise of the mighty Kahn. In the GameCube version of Mortal Kombat: Deception it is revealed that Kahn did not die, and that it was a clone that Quan Chi and Shang Tsung killed. The real Kahn appeared to the wounded Goro and, using what little power he had left, revived him, thus gaining Goro and the Shokan as allies once again.

In the events of Mortal Kombat: Armageddon, Shao Kahn is the Emperor of Outworld once again. It was revealed in the bios of Shang Tsung and Mileena that Shao Kahn had regained power after Onaga's defeat, by storming his own fortress (then under the command of Mileena who had earlier deceived and used Kitana's Edenian force to capture the fortress) with the aid of Goro and Shang Tsung. When he succeeds in using his own brute force to storm the throne room, Mileena surrenders to him and Shao Kahn becomes Outworld's ruler once more.

Later on, he would go on to form an uneasy alliance with Quan Chi, Shang Tsung, and Onaga in the hopes of defeating Blaze and seizing his God-like powers. In his ending, Shao Kahn makes his way to the top of Argus's Pyramid for the final confrontation with Blaze. Shao Kahn proved to be too powerful for Blaze and easily defeated him. Shao Kahn's armies destroyed what was left of his enemies, and with the power Shao Kahn received from defeating Blaze, he merges all the realms with Outworld. With his main goal completed and having complete control over all the realms, Shao Kahn grew mad with boredom, as he had nothing else left to conquer.


  • Mortal Kombat Trilogy: "Long ago, Shao Kahn rose to power in the Outworld, usurping the realm from Kitana's parents and taking Queen Sindel for his bride. Then she died. Now, centuries later, Sindel is reborn. And since Shang Tsung failed to win the Earth Realm through Mortal Kombat I and II, her rebirth is the means by which Kahn will finally seize the planet forever unless..."

300px|right|Shao Kahn's Bio Kard from Mortal Kombat: Deception

  • Deception: "My defeat at the hands of the Earthrealm warriors had left me weakened, and my dominance in Outworld was waning. Kitana's forces were closing in. It was only a matter of time before they would overrun my stronghold. Using a powerful magical item retrieved long ago by my minions, I created a clone of myself to draw my enemies' attention while I escaped into the wilds. When I have regained my strength, I will destroy all who opposed my rule. Though I gone to great lengths to ensure my old nemesis Onaga could never be revived, I have discovered that he has indeed returned from beyond death, as his holy men had prophesied. He now commands the Tarkatan Horde, a vicious fighting force once loyal to me. Whwn I have killed Onaga and regained control of Outworld, they will pay for their treason with their lives."
  • MK vs DCU: "Emperor Shao Kahn's lust for power is matched only by his ruthlessness. For ages he conquered other realms and merged them with Outworld. Eventually he turned his attention to Earthrealm. To stave off invasion, Raiden convinced the Elder Gods to enforce the rules of the Mortal Kombat Tournament. Only if Shao Kahn were to win the tournament could he take Earthrealm. But Liu Kang defeated Outworld's champion, Shang Tsung, dashing any chance of Shao Kahn's victory. Enraged, Shao Kahn disregarded the Elder Gods' warnings and mounted an invasion. Defeated once again by Raiden and his allies, he was seemingly ripped apart by his own portal. But the realms are never truly safe from the evil that is Shao Kahn."

Combat characteristicsEdit

Powers and abilitiesEdit

Shao Kahn is shown to be immensely powerful throughout the series. He is able to utilize magic and has superhuman strength. He is also able to charge at the opponent with considerable speed and power. His kombat abilities were demonstrated during the events of Mortal Kombat 3, wherein he defeated Kung Lao with relative ease. Armed with his Wrath Hammer, however, Shao Kahn can send opponents flying with one swing. During the events of Armageddon, he was able to smash through Mileena's magic barrier with his hammer.

Apart from his projectile attacks, Kahn's knowledge of magic seems to include cloning, as he has managed to do so to avoid assassination at the hands of the Deadly Alliance. After escaping into the wilderness, he was able to revive a severely injured Goro and recruit him back to his cause.

Signature movesEdit

  • Light Arrow: Shao Kahn would crouch down to his knees and throw a large light arrow at his opponent. (MKII)
  • Mystic Choke: Shao Kahn would engulf his foe in a force field and slams him/her twice in the chest. (MK:A)
  • Charging Spikes: Shao Kahn would shoulder ram his opponent with a streak following behind him, much like Johnny Cage's Shadow moves. (MKII, MK3, UMK3, MKT, MK:D, MK:U, MK:SM, MK:A, MKvsDCU)
  • Wrath Hammer Attack: Shao Kahn would summon his Wrath Hammer, seemingly from thin air, and smash his opponent over the head with it. In Deception and on, the Wrath Hammer became a weapon style and thus was no longer needed as an individual special move. (MK3, UMK3, MKT, MKvsDCU)
  • Explosive Ball: Shao Kahn would fire off a green star like fireball, seemingly from his mouth or eyes. (MK3, UMK3, MKT, MK:D, MK:U, MK:SM, MK:A, MKvsDCU)
  • Uplifting Knee: Shao Kahn would perform a rising knee attack with a streak following behind him, much like Johnny Cage's Shadow moves. (MK3, UMK3, MKT, MK:D, MK:U, MK:SM, MK:A)
  • Hammer dance: Shao Kahn swings his hammer at an alarming rate, causing his foe to fly. (MK:SM)
  • Ridicule: Shao Kahn would often taunt, mock, and of course ridicule his opponents with insults, mockery, or just plain laughter. A trademark of Shao Kahn's and what makes him one of the more memorable bosses in fighting game history. In Deception, performing a Ridicule could heal Shao Kahn, though only a tiny sliver of health would be recovered and could only be performed three times a match before it was automatically disabled. (MKII, MK3, UMK3, MKT, MK:D, MK:U, MK:SM, MK:A)
  • Grab and Punch: Shao Kahn would lift his opponent up by the throat with one hand and then smash his fist into their face sending them sailing back. In Deception, this is simply his throw, and if performed next to death traps could automatically knock opponents into them. (MKT, MK:D, MK:U, MK:A, MKvsDCU)
  • Emperor's Shield: Shao Kahn would perform an uppercut like motion that would not only throw up a force field for a split second to deflect projectiles, but could also knock an opponent off his/her feet if physically too close. (MK:D, MK:U, MK:A, MKvsDCU)

thumb|300px|right|Shao Kahn's fatality from MKD.


  • Headcrusher: Shao Kahn hammers his opponent into the ground leaving only their head sticking out of the ground. He then laughs before hammering his opponent into a bloody explosion. Only available in the Nintendo 64 version of the game. (MKT)
  • Home Run: Shao Kahn uppercuts his opponent into the air, and smashes them to pieces with his hammer as they fall. (MK:D)
  • Fore: Shao Kahn hammers his opponent into the ground and then, when they are buried up to their torso, smashes their head off, golf ball style. (MK:D)
  • Emperor's Bash: Shao Kahn boasts out to the crowd then pounds his opponent with his hammer several times. (MK:SM)

Other finishersEdit

  • Hara-Kiri: Shao Kahn tosses his hammer into the air, and it comes back down and crunches his head in. (MK:D)


  • Mortal Kombat Trilogy: "Shao Khan Wins."
  • Deception: "Shao Kahn had regained his strength, and he and Goro marched boldly to the Dragon King's throne room, slaying all who stood in their way. Like an echo of their battle ages ago, Shao Kahn and Onaga fought with a fury fueled by intense hatred. Knowing the Dragon King was too powerful to defeat in mere kombat, Shao Kahn blasted Onaga with his war hammer, causing him to hurtle into Goro's poisoned blades. Onaga had fallen victim to Shao Kahn's treachery once more. With Onaga defeated, Shao Kahn reclaimed Outworld once again. His army of Shokan decimated what remained of Kitana's armies and the Tarkatan Horde and scattered their survivors into the unknown. A new era had begun in the realm of Outworld. Long live Emperor Shao Kahn!"
  • Armageddon: "Blaze was no match for Shao Kahn the Konqueror. His strength increased tenfold, the forces of Light could not fend off his final invasion as he merged each realm with Outworld. But his ultimate triumph was soon to be his downfall. With nothing left to conquer, Shao Kahn was driven to madness."
  • MK vs DCU: "Defeated, Shao Kahn was imprisoned in the Phantom Zone, used for holding dangerous Kryptonian villains because of its ability to render them powerless. Possibly due to the magical nature of his strength however, the Phantom Zone had the opposite effect on Shao Kahn: Instead of neutralizing him, it revitalized the emperor, allowing him to break free. With him are untold numbers of criminals, released from millennia of imprisonment. Grateful, they have sworn allegiance to Shao Kahn and now follow him on his quest to konquer the universes."

Movie appearancesEdit

Shao Kahn appears in both Mortal Kombat movies, although he is played by different actors. In the first movie, Kahn's appearance is only a bit part, as he appears only as a special effect (though he is referred to through the movie only as "the Emperor"). In the second movie, Mortal Kombat: Annihilation, Kahn is played by Brian Thompson; he is ultimately defeated and killed by Liu Kang.

Thompson, because of the movie being a box office flop, was often accused of overdramatizing his character in many scenes.

In Annihilation, as an attempt to shock the viewer, Raiden announced that Shao Kahn was his brother and Shinnok their father. He bore the same tattoo on his right shoulder as a sign of their family that Raiden wore. This has never been made official in the MK canon, and most fans have dismissed this as another example of how far-removed from the games Annihilation was.

In 2008, 11 years after Annihilation, Shao Kahn's relationship with Raiden was mentioned in Mortal Kombat vs. DC Universe, Raiden's profile stating that the two are brothers. Given the game's non-canon status, it has caused many to again disregard this information.

TV appearances

Shao Kahn appears in Mortal Kombat: Conquest, played by Jeff Meek. Despite having lost much of his physical stature from the games and movies, he has a much more threatening disposition, though he rarely interacts with the heroes of the series (due to his inability to travel to Earth). However, he does have a romantic side (as he seduces several women in the series) and a fatherly relationship with Kitana despite the fact that she is covertly working against him. Jeff Meek's role is more interesting when one considers that he played Raiden on the same show, occasionally opposite himself. In episode 21 Stolen Lies, he deceives a group of people called the Shaakans into believing that he is their god; every aspect of their culture (Farland = Outworld, children pretending to steal souls, a six-armed Shokan warrior and Kahn's henchmen on the scarf, a skull on the head of a Shaakan warrior) reflects this blind worship of the Outworld emperor.

He also appeared in several episodes of Mortal Kombat: Defenders of the Realm.

Character RelationshipsEdit

  • Once an advisor of Onaga until Shao Kahn killed him and took over Outworld for himself.
  • Killed King Jerrod while invading Edenia and took Sindel as his queen and Kitana as his daughter.
  • Destroyed the realm of Zaterra and manipulated Reptile to serve him.
  • Orders his minions to destry Ashrah.
  • His minions fought with Hotaru's Seidan Guardmans.
  • Orders Shang Tsung to win the Mortal Kombat tournaments.
  • Defeated by Liu Kang in MK2 and MK3.
  • Allies with Goro to remove Onaga from his throne.
  • Joins the forces of darkness to fight in the last battle in Armageddon
{{Tnavbar-header|- Mortal Kombat series - Main characters
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