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Villain Overview

Your soul is mine!
~ Shang Tsung's most famous quote.
You participate in the most important Mortal Kombat in history. This tournament, the tenth after nine Outworld victories, will determine Earthrealm's fate. If you defeat all of your opponents, you will face one final challenge... me.
~ Shang Tsung speaking at the beginning of the first Mortal Kombat tournament.
After losing control of the Shaolin tournament, Tsung promises his ruler Shao Kahn to shape events that will lure the Earth warriors to compete in his own contest. Convinced of this plan, Shao Kahn restores Tsung's youth and allows him to live.
~ Shang Tsung's fighter description in Mortal Kombat II.

Shang Tsung is one of the two secondary antagonists (alongside Quan Chi) of the Mortal Kombat series. He is Shao Kahn's right-hand-man and the archenemy of its de-facto protagonist, Liu Kang.

He is a powerful, manipulative and deadly sorcerer, virtually unmatched in his mastery of sorcery, and a shapeshifter who consumes souls in order to sustain himself. He is also an ambitious traitor who prefers planning behind other's back instead of direct conflict.

Roles

In the original timeline he served as the main antagonist of the first Mortal Kombat game, the secondary antagonist of Mortal Kombat II and Mortal Kombat 3, a cameo character in Mortal Kombat Mythologies: Sub-Zero, the titular secondary antagonist of Mortal Kombat: Deadly Alliance, a minor antagonist in Mortal Kombat: Deception, the central antagonist of Mortal Kombat: Shaolin Monks, a supporting antagonist in Mortal Kombat Armageddon, and a supporting protagonist in Mortal Kombat vs. DC Universe.

In the alternate timeline he served as the secondary antagonist of Mortal Kombat (2011), a posthumous antagonist in Mortal Kombat X, and the Mortal Kombat X comic series, a mentioned/DLC character in Mortal Kombat 11, and the main antagonist of its DLC story mode, Mortal Kombat 11: Aftermath.

He also served as the main antagonist of the first movie, a posthumous antagonist in Mortal Kombat: Annihilation, a minor character in Mortal Kombat Rebirth, the main antagonist of Mortal Kombat: The Journey Begins, a major antagonist in Mortal Kombat: Legacy, Mortal Kombat: Defenders of the Realm and Mortal Kombat: Conquest, one of the two main antagonists (alongside Quan Chi) of Mortal Kombat Legends: Scorpion's Revenge and is set to appear in the upcoming 2021 live-action film presumably as the main antagonist.

Appearance

Shang Tsung initially had the appearance of an old man. His skin was pale with long, balding white hair, a beard and mustache, with thin fingers and long fingernails. He wore robes with shades of blue and yellow and had a sword holstered at his side at all times. Since Mortal Kombat II, however, after being given a second chance by Shao Khan he gives Shang Tsung his youth. His skin returns to a natural tint and is depicted with long black hair. As with his older persona, he shares white eyes. In both Mortal Kombat II and Mortal Kombat 3, he wore yellow and black clothes. In Deadly Alliance and beyond, he wears a heavy red uniform. he is also depicted with pupils, having brown eyes.

In Mortal Kombat 11, he once again appears in his older and younger forms, with his older appearance being a slight redesign as his one in the reboot and his younger form being based directly off of his physical appearance in the 1995 live-action movie, sporting a near-identical hairstyle and a complete lack of facial hair. One of his alternate costumes also grants him his look from the aforementioned movies. Interestingly, his old form has visible pupils rather than being pure white.

Personality

Shang Tsung is infamous for his sadism and greed. Even before joining Shao Kahn, he was a heartless sorcerer who gleefully took advantage of his punishment after the Elder Gods cursed him to die unless he consumed the souls of those he defeats. Using his polite facade as a means of tricking opponents, Tsung shows he is willing to do anything that will help him gain more power. All of this proves that he is nothing more than a heartless coward who would do anything to ensure his survival.

During the events of Mortal Kombat 11, Shang Tsung despite helping the heroes against Kronkia, shows how treacherous he can be after he betrays them and later Shao Kahn and Sindel. Furthermore, although he remains as pragmatic as ever, he barely even tries to hide his true intentions nor convince his allies that he isn't using them.

Powers and Abilities

Shang Tsung has the power to steal the souls of those he defeats and must do so to continue living. He can shapeshift into the people whose souls he steals, giving him their combat abilities and memories. However, he can shapeshift into someone without their soul. Shang is highly skilled in black magic and sorcery, and his attacks are mainly fire-based, much like his archenemy Liu Kang. Like with most other kombatants, he also has superhuman strength, speed, and endurance with him becoming more powerful after each soul consumed. When transformed into someone else, he also gains their abilities. Even without transforming, however, he is powerful enough to stand up to the likes of Liu Kang even in his elderly form. 

He mainly got these powers from Shao Kahn, but in later games, this was no longer the case. Shang Tsung can fire flaming skull projectiles, which can also be summoned from the ground, that are believed to be the souls he has collected. He can create a giant flaming cobra, though he only used this ability in the opening of Mortal Kombat: Deception, which is a reference to his Animality in Mortal Kombat 3. Shang can also create portals between realms and teleport in bursts of fire. Furthermore, he can also engulf his hands with fire to increase the power of his attacks as shown in Mortal Kombat 11.

Souls That Shang Tsung Possess

  • Kenshi Takahashi and his powers from- new timeline
  • Drahmin and his powers- from another timeline
  • Goro and his powers- from the new timeline
  • Moloch and his powers- from another timeline
  • Ermac and his powers- from the new timeline
  • Jerrod (Kitana's father) trapped in Ermac- from the new timeline
  • Kintaro and his powers- from another timeline
  • Rain and his powers- from the original timeline
  • Tremor and his powers- from the original timeline
  • Smoke and his powers- from the original timeline
  • Chameleon and his powers- from the original timeline

Relations

Allies

Enemies

  • Liu Kang
  • Raiden
  • Kung Lao
  • Current Sonya Blade (sacrificed herself in MK 11)
  • Earthrealm heroes
  • Kitana
  • Jade
  • Kotal Kahn (former leader)
  • Current Johnny Cage
  • Fujin
  • Kurtis Stryker
  • Current Jax Briggs
  • Sareena
  • Li Mei
  • Nightwolf
  • Sub-Zero
  • Past Scorpion
  • Bo' Rai Cho
  • Current Kenshi Takahashi (body found on Shang's Island in DLC)
  • Onaga
  • Elder Gods (lost their powers and were defeated by Kronika)
  • Kronika

Quotes

Sent here by you as it happens.
~ Shang Tsung arriving from the future into the past and tells Liu Kang that he was sent by him.
When you die Kitana will be unprotected.
~ Shang Tsung telling Liu Kang what will happen in the future.
I killed Ermac and stole Jerrod's soul.
~ Shang Tsung to Kitana.
Yet you trusted Shao Kahn and Sindel.
~ Shang Tsung after Kitana said she knew not trust him he reminds that she has trusted the wrong people before.
Have the Shaolin tought you nothing? You are an ignorant fool to challenge me.
~ Shang Tsung talking about how arrogant Kung Lao is.
Killing you will break Liu Kang's heart. Poor Kung Lao always second best.
~ Shang Tsung knowing the future of what will happen if Kung Lao dies.
Join me Jade. To spare your parents souls of course.
~ Shang Tsung telling the what will happen in the future to make Jade turn on Kitana.
An invisible hand must guide Outworld. Such has it always been princess.
~ Shang Tsung telling Jade the hand that has always guided Outworld and the hand that always will guide Outworld.
Imagine he's about to betray me.
~ Shang Tsung to D'Vorah knowing that Shao Kahn doesn't want to see him.
I have use for you D'Vorah. Why lead one when I can influence all.
~ Shang Tsung trying to recruit D'Vorah.
I won't be kicked like a dog Shao Kahn.
~ Shang Tsung vs Shao Kahn.
Why so you can transfer her my power?
~ Shang Tsung knows Shao Kahn's plan.
Kronika would sacrifice you in a blink.
~ Shang Tsung knows what Kronika will do to Shao Kahn but he doesn't believe she can.
What do you think this is.
~ Shang Tsung is telling Shao Kahn that he is currently a sacrifice for Kronika's plan.
As if I would ally with Raiden.
~ Shang Tsung telling Frost he knows he wouldn't do that but Kronika isn't sure.
Wealth, influence, whatever you disre.
~ Shang Tsung offering Frost many things to recruit her.
How brave of you to confront me.
~ Shang Tsung vs Jax.
I'll teach her what you never could.
~ Shang Tsung telling Jax that he will have Jacqui under his control.
Returning to my service Scorpion? I like you better as Scorpion.
~ Shang Tsung wanting Scorpion to work for him again.
Are you prepared to lose another clan?
~ Shang Tsung telling Scorpion the future his clan.
Thank you for sparing me the trouble.
~ Shang Tsung is glad that Scorpion killed Quan Chi.
You lack vision Sub-Zero.
~ Shang Tsung upset that Sub-Zero won't join him.
He knew the rules of Mortal Kombat.
~ Shang Tsung remaining Sub-Zero that his brother knew what he was getting into as sided with him.
I would rather raise Onaga.
~ Shang Tsung would rather revive the dragon king than join Noob Saibot in the Netherrealm.
No more haunting my island's shadows.
~ Shang Tsung to Noob Saibot.
So she is your master now?
~ Shang Tsung not happy that Noob Saibot working for Kronika.
I can make you better faster stronger.
~ Shang Tsung trying to recruit Baraka.
I will torment you for eternity. And now a taste of things to come.
~ Shang Tsung telling Raiden the future.
Such beauty in kombat is rare.
~ Shang Tsung complimenting Jacqui Briggs.
Think why should Kronika need you? You are her sacrificial pawn.
~ Shang Tsung telling Kano the truth of Kronika's plan.
You have no dignity or manners Kano.
~ Shang Tsung vs Kano.
Your soul with stood Shinnok's might.
~ Shang Tsung impressed with Cassie Cage.
If you can control your power.
~ Shang Tsung telling Cassie Cage she can only beat if she has better control of her power.
Truly you have mastered hellfire.
~ Shang Tsung impressed with Scorpion.
With it I can defeat Liu Kang.
~ Shang Tsung talking about the future of Scorpion using his hellfire under Shang Tsung's control.
Behold the final resting place of Kenshi Takahashi. Valent and brave he was an excellent warrior which made feeding on his soul most enjoyable.
~ Shang Tsung impressed the Kenshi's bravery and skill before he died.

Trivia

  • In Mortal Kombat: Shaolin Monks, his death is very similar to Liu Kang's death in Mortal Kombat: Deadly Alliance and likewise his death in Mortal Kombat: Armageddon and at the beginning of Moral Kombat (2011) is also similar as well:
  • In Mortal Kombat: Shaolin Monks, he's killed in a similar manner to how he killed Liu Kang in Mortal Kombat: Deadly Alliance. If the player performing this fatality is controlling Kang, there appears to be a perfect swap of roles.
  • Mortal Kombat: Shaolin Monks, Mortal Kombat: Deadly Alliance, Mortal Kombat: Armageddon and Mortal Kombat vs. DC Universe are the only games where the Soul Steal allows Shang Tsung to regain health.
  • Shang Tsung used his Morphing and Flaming Skulls during the intro of Mortal Kombat: Armageddon, but they are not present in the game.
  • In Mortal Kombat 3, occasionally, Shang Tsung appears on the Master tournament ladder twice.
  • Shang's alternate outfit from Mortal Kombat: Deadly Alliance is based from the time he was champion of Mortal Kombat before the Great Kung Lao defeated him (Mortal Kombat official comic).
  • In Moral Kombat (2011), Shang Tsung has his classic outfit as his alternative costume, to note this further, his voice changes to that of an older tone.
  • Shang Tsung was also inspired by the character Lo-Pan from "Big Trouble In Little China."
  • Shang Tsung is the only character who appears in all of the 2-D games that is absent from Mortal Kombat 4.
  • Mortal Kombat (2011) was the only game to mention of Shang Tsung's origin. His bio states that he is originally from China in Earthrealm.
  • Shang Tsung is the only character in Mortal Kombat (2011) whose throw move heals him.
  • In Annoying Orange videos, he appeared in Annoying Orange Vs. Mortal Kombat after successfully defeating Shao Kahn to become champion, but was interrupted by Orange who annoys him, however, Shang Tsung was later killed by Orange who has summoned Knife which kills Shang Tsung.
  • In SidLexia's second page of the Mortal Kombat Fatality Extravaganza, he mentions that when Shang Tsung uses his bed of spikes fatality upon his opponent further describes him as utterly vicious even by the standards of an evil wizard.

External links

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Main Villains
Daegon | Dark Kahn | Havik | Kronika | Onaga | One Being | Quan Chi | Reiko | Shang Tsung | Shao Kahn | Shinnok

Secondary Villains
Cetrion | D'Vorah | Geras | Goro | Kintaro | Noob Saibot | Sindel

Other Villains
Baraka | Chameleon | Cyrax | Drahmin | Ermac | Erron Black | Frost | Hsu Hao | Jade | Jarek | Kabal | Kano | Kira | Kobra | Kollector | Mavado | Mileena | Moloch | Motaro | Rain | Reptile | Scorpion | Sektor | Sheeva | Skarlet | Smoke | Tanya | Tremor | Triborg

Undead Villains
Jade | Kabal | Kitana | Kung Lao | Kurtis Stryker | Liu Kang | Nightwolf | Sindel | Smoke

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Non Playable Villains
Bannak | Cilene | Forrest Fox | Hideyoshi | Jataaka | Jola | Kebral | Kia | Kiri and Ankha | Komodai | Lin Kuei Grandmaster | Liu Kang (Legacy) | Lucifer | Malebolgia | No Face | Oni Warlord | Oniro | Peron | Rojack | Ruby | Ruutuu | Siann, Mika and Sora | Zaggot | Zara | Zenkaro

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Evil Organizations
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Movies
Mortal Kombat: The Journey Begins (1995): To be added
Mortal Kombat (1995): To be added
Mortal Kombat: Annihilation (1997): To be added
Mortal Kombat: Rebirth (2010): To be added
Mortal Kombat Legends: Scorpion's Revenge (2020): Scorpion | Quan Chi | Shang Tsung | Goro | Shao Kahn | Kano | Baraka | Reptile | Moloch | Motaro
Mortal Kombat (2021): To be added

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Television
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See Also
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