Shao Kahn

    Character » Shao Kahn appears in 28 issues.

    The powerful and evil ruler of Outworld who seeks only to conquer other realms.

    Short summary describing this character.

    Shao Kahn last edited by BadassBeck on 11/14/21 12:15AM View full history


    Shao Kahn
    Shao Kahn

    Shao Kahn was once the adviser of the former ruler of Outworld, the invincible Dragon King Onaga. He however poisoned Onaga and took the throne. He then sought out to conquer other realms. Because of his immense power and the force of his armies, the Elder Gods decreed that the other realms must be given a chance to defend themselves and created the tournament, Mortal Kombat. The rules of the tournament are simple, once a generation, Shao Kahn's greatest warriors and the challenged realm's greatest warriors will fight. The champion will be gifted with immortality so that he/she could continue to fight for their realm until he or she loses. If Shao Kahn wins 10 tournaments in a row, he's allowed claim to that realm. However if the challenged realm wins 10, Shao Kahn must leave that realm alone.

    Then comes the current Mortal Kombat tournament. Shao Kahn's warriors had won 9 in a row, but Shang Tsung lost to Liu Kang. Shang Tsung begged for Shao Kahn to give him another chance and had a plan, so Shao Kahn restored Shang Tsung's youth and gave Shang Tsung his second chance. Shang Tsung's plan was to bypass the Elder God's decree. While Shang Tsung did this, Shao Kahn, being a former champion, challenged Liu Kang. However since Shao Kahn isn't allowed to enter Earthrealm, the Earth warriors had to venture to Outworld. However this was a trick and Shang Tsung's plan worked, Shng Tsung made it so that Shao Kahn's deceased wife would be brought back on Earth, allowing Shao Kahn to cross over to claim her. In doing so, he began his assault on Earth, starting by stealing everyone's souls and having his extermination squads eliminate anyone who escaped Shao Kahn's magic. He was ultimately defeated and forced to retreat back to Outworld where Edenians, Shokans, and Centaurians began their rebellion against him.

    In these assaults, a weakened Shao Kahn ordered Noob Saibot to assassinate Goro, and he struck Goro down on the battlefield. Though Goro was gravely wounded, he was not dead. Shang Tsung and his ally Quan Chi came asking for a meeting with the emperor, then they attacked and killed him. However this was just a magical duplicate the emperor created of himself while he gathered his strength, but he wouldn't have time as Shang Tsung and Quan Chi would unintentionally revive the Dragon King. Shao Kahn fled to avoid the wrath of the Dragon King while he continued to regain his strength, in doing so he came across Goro. He made Goro a bargain and healed the dying Shokan. Together they would planned to defeat Onaga.


    Shao Kahn is a fictional character from the popular fighting game franchise Mortal Kombat, having first appeared in the video game Mortal Kombat II released in 1993. Created by John Tobias, Ed Boon and Mark Runion, the character would eventually make his way to comic books when Malibu comics would release a comic series based and inspired from the games.

    Shao Khan would make his comic book debut in Mortal Kombat II Collector's Edition and following that up with more substantial appearances in Mortal Kombat Blood & Thunder #2 released in 1994. The Blood and Thunder series would be written by Charles Marshall with art by Patrick Rolo.

    Character Evolution

    Shao Kahn is a major antagonist within the Mortal Kombat franchise appearing in its video games, movies, animation, television shows and comic books. Originally written as a demonic like figure over time Shao Kahn acquired more human features. Still cut as an imposing figure towering over most other characters, Shao Kahn's distinctive horned warlord helmut and deep gravelly voice helped make him one of the most popular video game villains of all time.

    His representation in the comics not straying far from his video game characterization with only few changes in the characters history and appearance. His appearance in a few early Mortal Kombat comics essentially retelling his role within the games, miniseries such as Blood and Thunder and Battlewave branching out more into unfamiliar territory and plots, although these comic series are not considered canon to the actual video game canon.

    Major Story Arcs

    Blood and Thunder

    Shao Kahn attempts to take over the Earth realm and uses one of his most powerful subjects the sorcerer Shang Tsung to ensure his eventual domination over Earth. Shang Tsung and Goro prepare for the Mortal Kombat Tournament and Shang Tsung also holds a powerful artifact the Tao Te Zhan, a powerful book that can only be opened by answering its riddles and once opened will grant exceptional power to its holder. A boat filled with participants of Mortal Kombat head towards Shang Tsung's island. Unbeknown to most of the combatants Shang Tsung is in communication with Shao Kahn and informing him of progress.

    Shao Kahn is also aware that Shang Tsung has the Tao Te Zhan and has opened it, what he is not aware of is that Shang Tsung is tired of serving the Emperor of Outward and seeks to overthrow Shao Kahn with the power of the Tao Te Zhan. Shang Tsung continues to delay the Mortal Kombat Tournament as so he can attain the power of the Tao Te Zhan, despite this slowly starting to offend Shao Kahn's patience. Shao Kahn eventually just decides to assemble all the fighters of Earth and Outworld at Shang Tsung's island. A massive brawl would ensue with many of the fighters trying to settle old scores, finish enemies and get their hands on the Tao Te Zhan.

    Eventually Goro would succeed unlocking the Tao Te Zhan's power but Raiden and Shang Tsung would recognize the danger the already powerful Goro possessed with additional power and strike him down before he would realize his potential. Goro would be stopped and Shang Tsung would fail in his quest.

    Kitana and Mileena

    Shao Kahn & Kitana
    Shao Kahn & Kitana

    After Kitana stumbles across a secret room within Shao Kahn's palace she uncovers her secret past. Although the lizard like Reptile tries to prevent her from entering the room Kitana is quick to defeat him. She sits in the secret room with a book she has discovered and realizes it contains the secret history of Shao Kahn, and the former Emperor of Outworld King Jarrod, and to Kitana's astonishment herself. Shao Kahn was but an enemy of Jarrod, who was otherwise much adored by his subjects and reigned in a fertile, and prosperous kingdom. Seeking to overthrow Jarrod, Shao Kahn would use his ally Shang Tsung and place him as an infant in the care of Jarrod.

    Shao Kahn would then bargain with the Lin Kuei to attack Jarrod and although they would fail in their attempt, they would provide a window of opportunity for Shang Tsung still an infant to attack Jerrod falling the Emperor. Dying he would tell his daughter Kitana to be strong. Shao Kahn would appear and declare himself the new Emperor. He would then enchant Kitana with a spell so she would think that she was his daughter and all traces of King Jarrod would be erased. Kitana would confront Shao Kahn over what she read and Shao Kahn would reveal how Mileena was cloned and crafted to be like Kitana by his servants, a perfect daughter for Shao Kahn. Shao Kahn however would find her anything but perfect, telling Kitana he could only lobe her.

    Kitana would tell her false father she would rather be killed than be his daughter, and she prepared herself for death. Shao Kahn as resourceful as ever would use his power to manipulate Kitana's memories to make her forget what had just transpired. Ordering Reptile to destroy the book, Kahn would walk away holding his daughter protectively in his arms.


    Kahn's Proposal
    Kahn's Proposal

    Shao Kahn takes more proactive and direct action in his quest to acquire Earth Realm after the failure of Shang Tsung. Along with King Gorback and Kintaro, Shao Kahn chides Shang Tsung for his failure. His daughter Kitana also plots against him creating a team to oppose her father's ruling however he seems aware of this. Shao Kahn has acquired a new ally in Scorpion who he places in charge of an army of the dead. This was a move anticipated by Shao Kahn aware that Baraka and his species would rebel. Shao Kahn would also punish Reptile for his part in informing Kitana, Baraka, Kung Lao of his new plans and his army of the undead led by Scorpion. More of the pieces of Kahn's plans start to come together, as his powerful servant Kintaro beats and captures lieutenant Sonya Blade telling her limp body that Shao Kahn has plans for her.

    Sonya would wake up in a mysterious room in Shao Kahn's palace, and after being assaulted by Reptile and Mileena she would be saved from an unlikely source as Shao Kahn would freeze her attackers. In a move even more shocking to Sonya Shao Kahn would then propose to her. Using Reptile to hypnotize and rob Sonya of her free will Shao Kahn's plan would be to wed the Earth Realm woman making it so Shao Kahn could circumvent the Elder gods rules and cross into Earth realm on a technicality with no need for the Mortal Kombat Tournament. During the ceremony, Shao Kahn's plans are unraveled as the Earth realm warriors led by Raiden and Liu Kang interrupt and begin to brawl with Kahn's warriors and servants.

    Even Sonya Blade has managed to snap out of her subservient mindset. A frustrated Shao Kahn decides to issue a challenge that no fighter present could refuse and two teams are to be assembled, one led by Raiden and one led by Shang Tsung, with the teams opposing each other in a race to gain a medallion, with the winner to be the ultimate victor of both realms.

    Powers and Abilities

    Physical Strength: Shao Kahn is of Outworlder physiology, possessing greater power than most creatures. Being incredibly powerful, Shao Khan possesses superhuman levels of strength, speed, durability, stamina, and resilience.

    Magic: As an accomplished and knowledgeable sorcerer, Shao Kahn possesses the ability to empower himself with strong magic and cast spells as well. The extent of Shao Kahn's strength is comparable to gods. Shao Kahn also possesses the ability to consume the souls of others.

    Combat skills: Shao Kahn is a deadly and fearsome fighter, particularly in the styles of Tai Tzu and Lui He. His combat skills are legendary, manages to defeat such skilled fighters as Kung Lao with ease and smash through sturdy magical powers created by Mileena with raw force.

    Energy attacks: Shao Kahn can also generate and project many forms of destructive energy blasts.

    Immortality: Shao Kahn is extremely long-lived easily over 10 thousand years old, with a wealth of knowledge and experience accumulated over that period. Shao Kahn has the ability to clone successfully, revival, and heal others. He is almost immune to death, has survived deadly wounds like being penetrated on the chest or cut through eyes.

    Weapons and armors: Shao Kahn is outfitted with distinctive battle armor and wields a large war hammer referred to as the Wrath Hammer. He usually uses his hammer to brutally smash enemies into pieces. Shao Kahn wears a mask with a skull-like motif design. His armor has several spikes and skull-like designs incorporated into them.

    Physical Characteristics

    • Height: 7'2"
    • Weight: 400 lbs
    • Eyes: Red
    • Hair: Bald

    Other Media


    Mortal Kombat (1995)

    Shao Kahn briefly appears at the end of the first Mortal Kombat film only as a CGI image, voiced by Frank Welker. Throughout the film he is never actually referred to as Shao Kahn; only as "The Emperor". The movie ends on somewhat of a cliffhanger with Shao Kahn dramatically announcing himself to the Earth warriors at the climax of the movie.

    Mortal Kombat: Annihilation (1997)

    Shao Kahn appears in the sequel to the live action Mortal Kombat movie, Mortal Kombat Annihilation released in 1997. Shao Kahn is portrayed by actor Brian Thompson. Kahn is the main antagonist in Mortal Kombat: Annihilation. Unlike his video game counterpart, he is the brother of Raiden and the son of the elder god Shinnok.

    Kahn breaks the Mortal Kombat Tournament rules and tries to absorb Earthrealm into Outworld. Shao Kahn holds Sonya Blade as hostage early, to force Raiden to recognize his authority and Johnny Cage is killed attempting to rescue her. The forces of Earth must regroup and Shao Kahn is ultimately defeated and killed by Liu Kang during the final battle.

    Video Games

    Mortal Kombat II (1993)

    For Further Information: Mortal Kombat II

    Shao Kahn first appears in the sequel to the successful Mortal Kombat game Mortal Kombat. Shao Kahn is the primary antagonist of the game, serving as its end boss character. Shao Kahn's voice is provided by Steve Ritchie, and his appearance is derived from Brian Glynn's likeness.

    Mortal Kombat 3 (1995)

    For Further Information: Mortal Kombat 3

    Shao Kahn appears in the third installment of the successful Mortal Kombat game franchise. Shao Kahn is the primary antagonist of the game, serving as its end boss character. Shao Kahn exploits a loophole and with his wife Sindel resurrected it allows Shao Kahn to open a dimensional portal to Earth where he proceeds to consume humanities souls. He is eventually defeated by Liu Kang and Kun Lao.

    Ultimate Mortal Kombat 3 (1995)

    For Further Information: Ultimate Mortal Kombat 3

    Ultimate Mortal Kombat 3 is an updated and improved version of Mortal Kombat 3. Shao Kahn's appearance is as similar.

    Mortal Kombat Trilogy (1996)

    For Further Information: Mortal Kombat Trilogy

    Mortal Kombat Trilogy complies the first three Mortal Kombat games as well as offers additional extras. Shao Kahn appears as per his roles in two of the three games, Mortal Kombat II and Mortal Kombat III.

    MK: Deadly Alliance (2002)

    For Further Information: Mortal Kombat: Deadly Alliance

    Shao Kahn appears in Mortal Kombat Deadly Alliance however its only in a small cameo capacity. He is the first character to be targeted by the deadly alliance of Quan Chi and Shang Tsung in the games opening.

    MK: Deception (2004)

    For Further Information: Mortal Kombat: Deception

    Shao Kahn appears in the sixth official installment of the Mortal Kombat franchise Mortal Kombat Deceptions. Shao Kahn's past is delved into as Onaga, the former ruler of Outward prior to Shao Kahn is the primary antagonist and end boss of the game.

    MK: Unchained (2006)

    For Further Information: Mortal Kombat: Unchained

    Shao Kahn appears in Mortal Kombat Unchained which is a hand held video game version of Mortal Kombat Deception.

    MK: Shaolin Monks (2005)

    For Further Information: Mortal Kombat: Shaolin Monks

    Shao Kahn appears in Mortal Kombat Shaolin Monks, which stars Liu Kang and Kung Lao. The plot is a retelling of the events of Mortal Kombat II from the vantage of the two Shaolin Monks.

    MK: Armageddon (2006)

    For Further Information: Mortal Kombat: Armageddon

    Shao Kahn appears in the seventh installment of the hit fighting game franchise.

    MK vs DC Universe (2008)

    For Further Information: Mortal Kombat vs. DC Universe

    Shao Kahn appears in this video game cross over pitting Mortal Kombat characters against that of DC comic book characters. Shao Kahn and DC super villain Darkseid end up fusing together to create a new villain known as Dark Kahn.

    Mortal Kombat (2011)

    For Further Information: Mortal Kombat

    Shao Kahn reappears in the Mortal Kombat franchises attempt to reboot itself. Raiden has gone back in time and has altered the events surrounding the leading up to Armageddon, including Shao Kahn's invasion into Earth.

    Mortal Kombat 11 (2019)

    For Further Information: Mortal Kombat 11

    Shao Kahn appears as a playable character and special content for pre-order.


    Mortal Kombat: Konquest (1998)

    Shao Kahn appears in this live action Mortal Kombat television series. He is portrayed by actor Jeffrey Meek and once again a main antagonist in the show. Curiously actor Jeffry Meek also plays the character Raiden.

    Mortal Kombat: Defenders of the Realm (1996)

    Shao Kahn appears and is voiced by John Vernon in this animated television show. He once again typically plays a role as a major antagonist.


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