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Shao Kahn was originally a royal advisor to the first emperor of Outworld known as Onaga the Dragon King, and that position was somewhat similar to the celestial title "Protector" and the duty to the specific realm. But soon, consumed by his lust for power, Shao Kahn poisoned his former king and assumed the throne, turning the once unified and glorious realm of Outworld into an extremely dangerous and dystopian empire hated by all the other realms.
One of the backwards dialogues in Mortal Kombat: Deception says that Shao Kahn is part of the same race of beings as Lucifer and Raiden. In Deception's Konquest mode, Damashi who is the spirtual avatar of Onaga states to Shujinko that Shao Kahn was to Outworld is what Raiden is to Earth making Shao Kahn a god similar to Raiden. Given his power, what Damashi said might be true.
Mortal Kombat II
|“||I am Shao Kahn! Bow to me!||„|
| ~ Shao Kahn taunting a Mortal Kombat fighter before the fight begins.|
Shao Kahn makes his first physical appearance in Mortal Kombat II. Enraged that the final victory so close at hand was once again eluded from him and is forced to start over again for another 5 centuries, promptly orders Shang Tsung, the grandmaster and sponsor of Mortal Kombat Tournament on the island. But Shang Tsung concocted a plan to lure the Earthrealm champions to Outworld; if they could be killed, they would not be able to cause further damage to his plans. Kahn was mollified and restored Shang Tsung his youth. He captured Kano and Sonya Blade to use 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.
|“||You will die, mortal!||„|
| ~ Another one of Shao Kahn's taunts.|
Mortal Kombat 3
In an attempt to claim Earthrealm, Shao Kahn has his Shang Tsung and his other elite mystics called Shadow Priests revive Sindel but to where she would be revived in Earthrealm so he can go "reclaim" her forcibly to merge Earthrealm with Outworld. Upon doing so most of the souls in Earthrealm are stolen be Shao Kahn except those who are protected by Raiden. However due to Raiden being weakened due to the forced merger Raiden was unable to fight Shao Kahn on his own. Shao Kahn upon hearing of survivors sent his troops to kill all survivors. As Raiden and Earths defenders fight his men, Shao Kahn annoyed seemingly killed Kung Lao with an energy attack once Kung Lao defeated Goro. This lead to Liu Kang directly facing and even defeating Shao Kahn who then ordered his men to retreat thus preventing the merger and returning the world to it's original state. His revival of Sindel also weakens his power as Kitana was able to return her to her original mindset freeing their realm from him along with several of his troops abandoning him to return to Sindel's side.
Mortal Kombat: Deadly Alliance
In Mortal Kombat: Deadly Alliance, Shao Kahn was approached by Quan Chi and Shang Tsung, who pretended to offer themselves as servants. However, the two attacked the weakened Shao Kahn and slay him.
Mortal Kombat: Deception
|“||None shall oppose the might of Shao Kahn -- he will rule all!||„|
|~ Kahn's militia in Mortal Kombat: Deception.|
It was revealed that the Shao Kahn killed by Shang Tsung and Quan Chi was actually a clone and that after being weakened from his attempted takeover of Earthrealm, Kahn had created the clone to rule Outworld for him, while he recovered. Shao Kahn found his former servant, Goro, mortally wounded and healed him, regaining the allegiance of the Shokan. The two set out to overthrow Onaga, so as to let the emperor regain his control over Outworld.
Mortal Kombat: Armageddon
Shao Kahn had become the ruler of Outworld again and joined forces with Quan Chi, Shang Tsung, and Onaga in an uneasy alliance so as to gain the god like powers of Blaze. In his ending, Shao Kahn defeated Blaze and claimed his powers, destroying all of his enemies. He eventually conquered all other realms and joined them with his own. However with nothing left to conquer, Shao Kahn went insane from the boredom.
In Konquest mode, a giant statue of Shao Kahn stands in the courtyard of the emperor's fortress. If an intruder enters the fortress, the statue will come to life. It will use its enormous hammer to smash the intruder. The statue can only be stopped if four magical orbs are used. The orbs will weaken the statue to the point where it can be damaged by normal attacks. After being damaged by normal attacks, the statue will crumble into pieces.
Mortal Kombat vs. DC Universe
- Main article: Dark Kahn
At the beginning of the game, Shao Kahn had been defeated and met in a graveyard with his secret ally, Quan Chi. He was blasted into a portal by a blast of lightning from Raiden, causing him to combine with Darkseid and transform into Dark Kahn. After his defeat, Kahn ended up in the DC universe, rendered powerless. Kahn was then imprisoned in the Phantom Zone by Superman.
In his ending, while the Phantom Zone weakened the others imprisoned there, the magical nature of Kahn's powers made it have the opposite effect on him. It restored his power, allowing him to escape the Phantom Zone along with an army made up of all the others imprisoned there, who swore him their allegiance in gratitude and joined Kahn in his quest to take control of both universes.
Mortal Kombat (2011)
|“||Where are the Elder Gods, Raiden? Their pathetic Mortal Kombat shackles me no longer. They masquerade as dragons, but are mere toothless worms. My venom spreads. It is the end of all things. Armageddon.||„|
| ~ Shao Kahn, victorious at last.|
At the beginning of the Story Mode of Mortal Kombat, depicts the ending of the battle of Armageddon with every character dies. The only ones who were left standing were Raiden and Shao Kahn who taunted Raiden for relying too much on the Elder Gods. Before Raiden was killed by Shao Kahn, the thunder god showed images of events to his past self so he can alter the future, also leaving his past self one message: "He must win!"
After Liu Kang won the original Mortal Kombat tournament, a furious Shao Kahn decides to execute Shang Tsung for his failure. Begging for his life, Shang Tsung told Shao Kahn that if he called for another tournament and wins, he could have another chance at conquering Earthrealm, to which Shao Kahn agrees to. To Raiden's surprise, he even rewarded Tsung by restoring him to his younger form. During the tournament, Shao Kahn is approached by the new Sub-Zero (who assumed the identity of his older brother, the original Sub-Zero), demanding that he fight Scorpion as revenge for killing his brother, which the emperor allows after the ice warrior proves his skill by defeating Reptile. Before Sub-Zero could finish off Scorpion after beating him, Lin Kuei cyborgs suddenly appear and subdue the warrior. Cyrax and Sektor approach Shao Kahn, offering their loyalty and service to the emperor in exchange for Sub-Zero, which Shao Kahn accepts. The emperor then summons his daughter Kitana and scolds her for allowing Earthrealm warriors to so easily appear before him after he had ordered her to intercept them while the tournament was taking place. Upset by her father's words, and with encouragement from Raiden, Kitana begins to search for answers and eventually makes a disturbing discovery: Shao Kahn was planning to create a "perfect daughter" to replace her. In denial, she brings Shang Tsung before her father, so he would deal with her.
Upon learning of Kitana's discovery, Shao Kahn reveals to Kitana that he is not her real father, and that he originally did not want to accept her as his daughter as he thought she was weak. But now, with his new daughter's creation, he no longer has to accept Kitana as his daughter, and sentences her to death for disobeying him and her pervious failure. Continuing with the Mortal Kombat Tournament, Kung Lao defeats both Quan Chi and Shang Tsung at the same time, as well as Kintaro afterward. As Kung Lao was celebrating his victory, Shao Kahn sneaks up behind the gloating Shaolin warrior and snaps his neck, killing him. Enraged, Liu Kang tackles Shao Kahn and fights him.
|“|| Shao Kahn: Witless boy. Do you know who I am?|
Liu Kang: The murderer of my friend!
Shao Kahn: I am Shao Kahn! Konqueror of Worlds! You will taste no victory.
| ~ Shao Kahn to Liu Kang as their fight begins.|
Even with his incredible strength, Kahn loses to the Shaolin monk whose rage let him best him. Severely bruised and beaten, Shao Kahn stands up and tries to regain his composure, but Liu Kang delivers a flaming Fist of Shaolin through the emperor's chest, causing Kahn to vomit blood and collapse to the ground, seemingly dead. All seemed to have ended in victory for Earthrealm, but Raiden's Amulet was still cracked, indicating that the events in the timeline that his future self warned him about were still going to happen.
Later, in the throne room, several of Shao Kahn's subordinates start arguing about who should succeed the emperor and lead Outworld. To everyone's surprise, however, Shao Kahn approaches the group fully recovered, albeit still limping in pain from his wound. He then scolds Tsung for his behavior, stating that he would have invaded had Earthrealm in his grasp if it weren't for his suggestion. It turns out that Quan Chi accelerated his recovery and saved his life. Since Shao Kahn lost the Mortal Kombat tournament, he could no longer merge Earthrealm with Outworld. Quan Chi recommends invading Earthrealm, but Shao Kahn points out that he cannot invade Earthrealm due to the protective ward Sindel placed after sacrificing herself. In order to start an invasion, Sindel needs to be revived to nullify the ward. Quan Chi successfully resurrects the empress, negating the ward and allowing Shao Kahn to invade Earthrealm.
During the invasion, Motaro is killed. After Shao Kahn discovers this, Sindel insists that she can finish what Motaro started. Shao Kahn agrees, but before sending her to fight, he kills Shang Tsung for his repeated failures and transfers the innumerable souls the sorcerer absorbed to Sindel, increasing her power immensely. With her newly acquired power, the empress arrives in Earthrealm and single-handedly kills almost every hero, except for, Raiden, Liu Kang, Sonya Blade, and Johnny Cage, before being killed by Nightwolf, who sacrifices himself to stop her. Raiden then figures out that the person his future self was referring to when he said "He must win!" was Shao Kahn. If the emperor attempts to merge Outworld with Earthrealm without winning a Mortal Kombat tournament, the Elder Gods would be able to punish him for breaking the rules they set in place.
Raiden tried to explain to Liu Kang that they must allow Shao Kahn to merge the realms, but the Shaolin Monk dismisses the thunder god's statement as "insane". Kang then fights Raiden after a heated argument between them, leaving Kang dead after Raiden redirects his fire out of self-defense. Once Kahn enters Earthrealm, Johnny Cage and Sonya Blade attempt to stop him, but the emperor effortlessly pushes them aside, knocking them both out. He then approaches Raiden, who submits himself to the emperor and accepts Kahn's victory, stating that further resistance will not help Earthrealm win. Shao Kahn starts brutalizing and taunting the thunder god for denying him his "rightful claim" in the past just as his future self did at the beginning of the story, and nearly kills him before the Elder Gods intervene and grant Raiden some of their power, evening the odds.
|“||An anemic effort from ineffectual deities! Today, I become THE Elder God!||„|
|~ Shao Kahn to Raiden as their final battle begins.|
Raiden and Shao Kahn then fight, with Raiden emerging victorious thanks to the power of the Elder Gods. Dazed and severely weakened after the fight, Shao Kahn lifts his hammer and tries to strike Raiden again, but Raiden delivers one final blast, allowing the Elder Gods to restrain the emperor and send him away for punishment, leaving only his damaged warlord helmet behind. The helmet was later retrieved by Quan Chi as he was discussing Kahn's defeat with Shinnok. It turns out that Quan Chi used Kahn and along with Shinnok, planned the events of the game by pitting Raiden and Shao against each other.
Mortal Kombat X
|“||Other followed in Shinnok's foosteps... like Outworld's emperor, Shao Kahn, who was obsessed with conquering Earthrealm.||„|
|~ Shao Kahn's mention in the opening.|
Mortal Kombat X takes place 25 years after Shao Kahn was defeated. Although the warlord never physically appears in the game, he is mentioned a few times during the story. A statue of him appears in the game's introduction as well.
After his defeat at the hands of Raiden and the Elder Gods, the successor to the Outworld throne was heavily contested between Mileena and Kotal Kahn. Mileena claims that her status as Shao Kahn's daughter makes her the rightful heir to the throne, while Kotal Kahn believes this claim is illegitimate, as Mileena was created in a lab by Shang Tsung. Ermac's concept confirms that after his death in Mortal Kombat (2011), his soul was later trapped inside Ermac.
Mortal Kombat 11
|“||I am no refugee! I am Kahn of Outworld. Vacate my throne, or I'll soak these sands with your blood!||„|
|~ Shao Kahn|
Shao Kahn appears in Mortal Kombat 11 as a major story mode villain and a playable character to people who preordered the game. In the game, he is voiced by Ike Amadi, who also voiced Atrocitus in Injustice 2.
It revealed Shao Kahn had betrayed his general, Kotal Kahn, and destroyed the entire Osh-tekks but kept Kotal alive for Shang Tsung's experiments until he escaped after Shao Kahn died.
As Kronika manipulates time by merging both past and present together, Shao Khan returns to Outworld in the midst of the execution of Kollector. Shao Kahn is joined by his allies, such as Baraka, Skarlet, Kano, and Erron Black. Shao Khan is first confused by what he sees, but gets furious when Kotal tells the old monarch that he is Khan now.
Believing it to be no more than a trick by Raiden, Shao Kahn then engages Kotal in a fight when he learns that both him and Mileena have been killed long ago. Shao Kahn nearly defeats Kotal Khan, but Liu Kang barges in the duel, this breaking the controlled duel to a free-for-all, with Raiden's and Kotal's forces against Shao Kahn's.
Kotal beats Shao Kahn and nearly kills him, but D'Vorah conveniently interrupts the fight, who escorts him to her hive. There, he learns that he was killed by Raiden himself, and D'Vorah killed Mileena. The latter bit greatly angers the king, who was going to attack the insectoid before Kronika appears.
Kronika offers Shao Kahn a great empire after she reboots the timeline if he can get his throne back and ally his troops with Kronika. Agreeing to the deal, Shao Kahn heads to a camp for the Tarkata, readying his goons.
After Kotal and Jade fail in trying to sneak into the camp, Shao Kahn finds them and has both of them locked up. He gives Jade to Skarlet so she can have herself a tasty meal, and hauls Kotal back to the Koliseum to kill him. Boasting to the crowd about how he is the true leader of his realm, the arena is ambushed by the Tarkatan and the Shokan, with Kitana joining forces with Baraka and Sheeva to destroy the emperor. He likes how she barged in courageously, but she calls both him and Mileena "unholy monsters" before fighting Kollector.
With Kotal freed by Jade, both Kahns have a rematch. Shao Kahn wins by breaking Kotal's back, but Kitana approaches her father, where he mocks her by telling her that he only kept her alive to not upset Sindel. Shao Kahn is then fought and defeated by Kitana, who blinds the man and knocks him out. It is unknown what happens to Shao Kahn after this. However, given Kronika wiping out the timeline before Fire God Liu Kang killed her, he likely got erased along with most of the universe.
Mortal Kombat 11: Aftermath
After his defeat by Kitana, Shao Kahn was imprisoned underneath the Koliseum. Here, he was tortured by two Shokan before being saved by Sindel from both them and Sheeva. Convincing Sheeva the guards that Sheeva was attacked by Kitana, he is brought to the Soul Chamber, where his body and eyes were restored.
After this, Shao Kahn and his bride head off to enter the battle between Raiden's and Kronika's armies to steal the Hourglass. Defeating several heroes (enslaving some, killing most) and stealing their ships, they sail across the Sea of Blood. However, they encounter Earthrealm-Outworld Alliance led by Kitana. Shao Kahn kills Kotal before he and Sindel attack Kitana and Liu Kang, crippling the latter in the process. Shao Kahn spares Kitana, only for her to suffer the "anguish of defeat".
At Kronika's island, Shao Kahn changes the loyalty of his realm's men and storm the fortress, working with the enhanced Shang Tsung. Murdering Kronika's revenant guards, he and his bride fail to be successful in the end, being backstabbed and having their souls consumed by Shang Tsung, using their souls to defeat Kronika.
- At the end of the film Mortal Kombat; Raiden, Liu Kang, Sonya Blade, Johnny Cage, and Kitana witness a giant storm cloud. There, they see a translucent version of Shao Kahn. Kahn declares that Earthrealm belongs to him, but Raiden replied "I don't think so.".
- Continuing the story in Mortal Kombat: Annihilation, Shao Kahn appears before the heroes along with Sindel, Motaro, Sheeva, and other evil fighters. He kills Johnny Cage by breaking his neck.
- He later holds Kitana hostage after Scorpion is successful in taking her to him. Kahn offers her a drink while in captivity, but she spits it back at him, angering him
- Raiden implies that he and Kahn are brothers and that they are the sons of Shinnok. Kahn managed to, presumably, kill off Raiden, but was ultimately defeated by Liu Kang.
- Shao Kahn appeared as the main antagonist of the cartoon series Mortal Kombat: Defenders of the Realm.
- Shao Kahn also serves as the overarching antagonist of the film Mortal Kombat Legends: Scorpion's Revenge as he is the one behind the tournament, but he only appears at the end torturing Shang Tsung for his failure and getting his forces ready to invade Earthrealm. setting up a potential sequel.