Shao Kahn is a character in the Mortal Kombat fighting game series. He made his debut in Mortal Kombat II as the final boss, a role he also served in Mortal Kombat 3. He serves as the primary antagonist of the series in many instances.
About Shao Kahn
Shao Kahn the Konqueror is represented as the embodiment of evil. In many respects, he resembles a large Asian warrior, and is well known amongst the roster of Mortal Kombat Kombatants for his godlike strength which rivals, if not outright exceeds, that of Raiden, the God of Thunder. He is also known for his extreme callousness, brutality, ferocity in battle, and his fondness of personal executions, though he has occasionally spared the lives of his subordinates, if they prove their worth, and his victims such as Sindel and Kitana, raising the latter like his own daughter and treating the former like his own wife. However, his true power that has served him well and allowed him to rise above the image of a mere warlord is his high intelligence and profound knowledge of the black arts. Like his subordinate Shang Tsung, he has the power to consume other souls.
Perhaps Shao Kahn’s greatest strength lies in his ability to work towards his goals with great tenacity and his ability to organize. However, his greatest weakness is his arrogance and overconfidence. Shao Kahn has often underestimated mankind, and therefore tried to conquer Earthrealm many times, with or without a queen (consort), to no success. He also possesses a blinding lust for conquest that can sometimes overwhelm his better judgment, allowing him to be manipulated by those that are cunning enough to exploit this weakness.
Shao Kahn is one of the few non-ninja characters whose appearance has stayed consistent throughout the years. He is easily recognizable by his intimidating stature; his apparent height varies between appearances, but he is always significantly taller than regular characters. He is almost never seen without his trademark warlord helmet which features a skull-like design with a long crest at the forehead. His attire usually consists of spiked shoulder pads, similarly designed kneepads and gauntlets, and a skull medallion embedded in two straps that intersect across his chest. When his helmet is removed, he appears to be bald with a slightly demonic face featuring red eyes and small spikes protruding from his head.
Powers and abilities
Shao Kahn is shown to be an immensely powerful being throughout the series. He is able to utilize magic and has superhuman strength and durability. 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, where he defeated Kung Lao with relative ease. Armed with his Wrath Hammer, 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. Like Shang Tsung, he can absorb the souls of others to increase his own power, often through the usage of soulnados.
Apart from his projectile attacks, Kahn's knowledge of magic seems to include cloning, as this is how he managed to avoid assassination at the hands of the Deadly Alliance. After escaping into the wilderness, he was able to resuscitate a mortally wounded Goro and recruit him back to his cause.
- Light Spear: Shao Kahn crouches down to his knees and throws a long light spear at his opponent. (MKII, MK 2011)
- Charging Spikes: Shao Kahn shoulder rams his opponent with a shadow trail following behind him, much like Johnny Cage's Shadow moves. All three games (MKII, MK3, UMK3), "Charging Spikes" had white trailing shadows and in Trilogy was replaced to green, however in N64 version, the shadows were blue. (MKII, MK3, UMK3, MKT, MK:D, MK:U, MK:SM, MK:A, MKvsDCU, MK 2011)
- Wrath Hammer Attack: Shao Kahn summons his Wrath Hammer, seemingly from thin air, and smash his opponent over the head with it, setting them up for a free hit. 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, MK 2011)
- Explosive Ball: Shao Kahn fires 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 performs a rising knee attack with a streak following behind him, much like Johnny Cage's Shadow moves. Between two games, "Uplifting Knee" had white shadows, but in Trilogy they were replaced by green, however in the N64 version, they were blue. (MK3, UMK3, MKT, MK:D, MK:U, MK:SM, MK:A, MK 2011)
- Hammer Dance: Shao Kahn swings his hammer at an alarming rate, causing his foe to fly. He makes nine dancing strikes and one final strike. (MK:SM)
- Ridicule: Shao Kahn would often taunt, mock, and ridicule his opponents with insults, mockery, or just plain laughter. It is a trademark of Shao Kahn's and is 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. Same goes for Armageddon; however, in Armageddon there is no limit to the amount of times this is used. It heals him once for a rate above 10%, and decreases the more it is used. (MKII, MK3, UMK3, MKT, MK:D, MK:U, MK:SM, MK:A, MK 2011)
- Grab and Punch: Shao Kahn lifts his opponent up by the throat with one hand and then smashes 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 creates an energy shield to either reverse attacks or to shatter the opponent. (MK:D, MK:U, MK:A, MKvsDCU)
- Mystic Choke: Shao Kahn engulfs his foe in a force field and slams him/her twice in the chest. (MK:A)
- Hammer Throw: Shao Kahn throws his hammer at an opponent, stunning and setting them up for a free hit. This move is only blockable with Nightwolf's Absorb, Kratos's Golden Fleece, and Kenshi's Blade Absorb, or dodgeable with Freddy Krueger's Nightmare Stance and Jade's Shadow Flash. (MK 2011)
- Hammer Swing: Shao Kahn uppercuts the opponent with his hammer, also allowing a possible juggling combo if the move connects. (MK 2011)
- Hammer Cut: Kahn sweeps the foe with his hammer. (MK 2011)
- Upward Shoulder: Shao Kahn charges upwards, juggling the opponent. (MK 2011)
- X-Ray Move - It's Official: Shao Kahn hammers his opponent to the ground and grabs their arm. He then stomps on their head (breaking the whole skull), lifts the opponent up by the arm, and delivers a skull-shattering headbutt. (MK 2011)
- Throw: Shao Kahn slams his fist down on his opponent's head, forcing them to their knees, and then summons his Wrath Hammer to strike them with. (MK 2011)
- Headcrusher: Shao Kahn hammers his opponent into the ground leaving only their head sticking out. 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. In MK 2011, he grabs the opponent by the neck and flips them in the air before delivering the killing blow. (MK:D, MK 2011)
- Fore: Shao Kahn hammers his opponent into the ground and then, when they are buried up to their torso, smashes their head off with a golf swing. (MK:D)
- Emperor's Bash: Shao Kahn boasts out to the crowd then pounds his opponent with his hammer several times, eventually breaking their neck. (MK:SM)
- Double Down: Shao Kahn jabs his hands into the middle of his foe's torso and slowly rips their body down the middle. (MK 2011)
- Hara-Kiri: Hammer Throw: Shao Kahn launches his hammer into the air, and it comes back down and crushes his head. (MK:D)
- Babality: Shao Kahn is turned into a baby and still standing on his feet, points at the opponent and says "You suck!" (in a high-pitched voice). He then starts to laugh (in baby giggles) in his laughing taunt pose. (MK 2011)
Shao Kahn appears in both Mortal Kombat movies. In the first movie, Kahn's appearance is only as a special effect at the end of the film (though he is referred to throughout the movie only as "the Emperor"). His voice is provided by an uncredited Frank Welker (who also did vocals for Goro in the movie).
Mortal Kombat: Annihilation
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 MK canon, and most fans have dismissed this as another example of how far removed from the games Annihilation was.
In 2008, eleven years after Annihilation, Shao Kahn's relationship with Raiden was mentioned in Mortal Kombat vs. DC Universe, with Raiden's profile stating that the two are brothers. Given the game's non-canonical status, it has caused many to again disregard this information.
Mortal Kombat: Legacy
His motives and history are mostly kept intact from the games though he so far lacks his distinct war helmet and Wrath Hammer, and his relationship with Sindel is slightly changed.
First seen in episode four in flashbacks, Shao Kahn's realm of Outworld won ten Mortal Kombat tournaments, allowing him to merge Edenia with his realm and conquer it. He participated in the slaughtering of the Edenians, observing his brutal Tarkatan hordes kill every man and woman they came across. When Shao Kahn's forces claimed the capital and the castle, he personally prevented Sindel and her child Kitana from escaping, and revealed to her that the man she thought was her husband Jerrod, was in truth nothing but a decoy after his general Baraka slew him before her very eyes and contemptuously told her king had already fled.
Having claimed Edenia for himself, Shao Kahn took Sindel as his wife and Kitana as his own daughter. Shao Kahn grew to have genuine feelings for Sindel, even love her, but she only showed contempt and disgust at his advances. Fearing Kitana would grow to hate him from Sindel's influences, Shao Kahn tasked the sorcerer Shang Tsung to create a clone of Kitana but with Tarkatan blood, a true daughter of his own, and named her Mileena. This proved to be too much for Sindel, and she took her own life, leaving Kahn to raise the girls himself.
Shao Kahn raised the two, and after realizing their exceptional skills for combat, began training them as his personal assassins. He also manipulated their maturing emotions in their adolescence, particularly Mileena's by showing more affection for Kitana, to ensure that they remained loyal only to him. As the two grew older, he eventually assigned them the task of hunting down the remainder of Jerrod's impersonators before finally ordering them to kill the former king himself, though he warned them of grave consequences should they fail.
Though they succeeded, with Mileena having personally struck Jerrod down herself, Shao Kahn was unaware Kitana had learned of her true origins. When he next brought Kitana and Mileena before him, Shao Kahn began to discuss his new plans for merging Earthrealm to theirs, and though not stated on screen, his desire for them to enter the Mortal Kombat tournament.
Though mentioned by Mileena and Kitana in season two, Shao Kahn does not physically appear, as Shang Tsung commands his chosen fighters while in Earthrealm.
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 and charms several women in the series, including two of Quan Chi's undead female slaves) and shows a fatherly, caring 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 society 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.
Shao Kahn also appeared in several episodes of the animated series Mortal Kombat: Defenders of the Realm as the main villain. He still seeks to conquer Earthrealm and have it as another addition to his collection of enslaved realms that he had merged with Outworld.
Comic book appearances
Shao Kahn makes his first appearance during the Battlewave series of Malibu Comics, though he already was present during the first, Blood & Thunder. Shao Kahn remained mostly faithful to his game counterpart, being the Emperor of Outworld and attempting to take Earthrealm for himself. During the two series, he never appears wielding his trademark helmet, instead always shown with his visible face and design taken from the official Mortal Kombat II comic written by John Tobias. However, in Kitana & Mileena, a comic about Kitana's past, Shao Kahn does appear wearing his helmet.
Shao Kahn appeared during Blood & Thunder while communicating with Shang Tsung by means of a big purple orb. He became disgusted by Shang Tsung's hold of the tournament, so he used his powers to bring all the kombatants into Shang Tsung's palace, triggering the big fight shown in the Tournament Edition final issue.
In Battlewave, Shao Kahn would arrange a different plan to open the portals. He kidnaps Sonya and, by means of hypnosis and brainwashing, convinces her to marry him. The marriage would weaken the barriers between realms enough to allow Shao Kahn to seize Earth easily (and make Sonya the queen of both realms and his wife). During the wedding ceremony held, however, the wedding would be crashed and he would be stopped by the Earthrealm warriors' interruption, ending with Sonya becoming free from Kahn's influence. In the comic, he claims to not be the romantic type, but he also states that Sonya is very beautiful as his bride. However, he soon comes to realize that both Outworld and Earth would be in turmoil as a result of the wedding.
Shao Kahn then would devise a tournament of sorts: a race to reach a medallion high into a frozen cliff. Two teams were arranged, with the ultimate victor being Sub-Zero for Earthrealm.
Mortal Kombat (film)
- "You weak pathetic fools, I've come for your souls!"
Mortal Kombat: Shaolin Monks
- "You insult me, flea. I am Shao Kahn. I will be your death!" (to Liu Kang and Kung Lao, after blasting Raiden)
- "Follow if you want to defeat Shang Tsung. Follow me if you want to die at my hands!" (to Liu Kang and Kung Lao)
- "Silence! Your presence here is unwanted! Uninvited!"
- "But like all who come to this realm, you serve me, whether you are aware of it or not."
- "Ah, your master. You know his voice so well, yet know him almost not at all. Your master is here. He wants to see you. He has another lesson for you!"
- "Don't fail me again, Shang Tsung!"
- "Your soul will soon suffer."
- "As I said, all within this realm serve my will, even those that seek to betray me."
- "Shang Tsung impersonated your master Raiden, and led you on a quest for power. The more you killed, the more powerful he became. He meant to use this power against me to become supreme ruler of Outworld."
- "Now... what am I to do with you?"
- "The people have spoken! And a king must, if only once every millennium or so, listen to the will of his people." (as he brings Kintaro out to fight)
- "Finish him, Kintaro!"
- "You disappoint me!"
- "How pathetic!"
- "Crush him!"
- "Rip him apart!"
- "There is something in you... that makes me feel like a conqueror again!"
- "You can earn their freedom! If you defeat me, they will be freed!" (referring to Kitana, Johnny Cage, and Raiden)
- "Earthrealm will be mine! It will fall as easily as Kung Lao!" (after he catches Kung Lao by the neck and casually tosses him aside)
Mortal Kombat vs. DC Universe
- "Hold your tongue, sorcerer."
- "Quan Chi! Traitor!"
- "What have you done?!"
- "I am Shao Kahn! And you will bow to me!"
Mortal Kombat (2011)
- "Where are the Elder Gods, Raiden?" (in the intro)
- "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."
- "It is done."
- "Your time has passed."
- "Ages wasted in foolish resistance."
- "Now is the dawn of my rule."
- "Yes. Pray to the worms, Raiden."
- "As your world ends." (preparing to kill the Future Raiden)
- "You failed me! Five hundred years I have waited! Now I must wait five hundred more!" (to Shang Tsung)
- "Curse the Elder Gods and their tournaments. I should have taken Earthrealm by force!"
- "The tournament will begin!"
- "And you shall." (in response to the younger Sub Zero's demand to fight Scorpion)
- "And what do I gain from granting this bold request?" (to Sektor and Cyrax)
- "Very well. He is yours." (allowing Sektor and Cyrax to take Sub-Zero)
- "Kitana! ...How is it that Earthrealm ninjas brazenly appear before me when my daughter, Princess of Outworld, was sent to intercept them?!"
- "Well done, sorcerer." (to Shang Tsung)
- "I am your emperor! Your father was a weakling Edenian king. I annihilated him while merging his realm with Outworld and took his queen as my wife. If only I had not allowed Sindel to convince me of your worth... But now I have a true daughter!" (revealing the truth to Kitana)
- "Return to the Flesh Pits. Bring me my daughter. Mileena." (to Shang Tsung)
- "Raiden! Put forth a worthy champion... if you can."
- "You will face Shang Tsung. And Quan Chi." (to Kung Lao)
- "Witless boy. Do you know who I am?" (to Liu Kang)
- "I am Shao Kahn! Konqueror of Worlds! You will taste no victory." (to Liu Kang)
- "And you breathe because I restrain mine."
- "I am not so easily killed. Quan Chi accelerated my recovery." (unexpectedly appearing before his lieutenants)
- "Not. One. Word. Because of you, Outworld can no longer merge with Earthrealm!" (to Shang Tsung)
- "Do you mock me? Sindel's Ward prevents me from setting foot in Earthrealm." (to Quan Chi)
- "Of course. But even after millennia, her motives are a mystery" (About Sindel, to Quan Chi)
- "I am weary of sorcerers, Quan Chi. Prove your worth. Bring her to me."
- "Shang Tsung... The empress requires something of you." (just before sacrificing Shang Tsung to empower Sindel)
- "Ah, Raiden. You have come to your senses." (when Raiden bows to him)
- "All these ages you have fought me. You denied me my rightful claim. Not this time." (to Raiden)
- "The Elder Gods fear me, now."
- "I have won."
- "Now, Raiden. Your world ends."
- "An anemic effort from ineffectual deities. Today, I become THE Elder God!" (when the Elder Gods attack him through Raiden)
- "Bow to me!"
- "Feel the wrath of Shao Kahn!"
- "Feel the power of Shao Kahn!"
- "Don't make me laugh."
- "You will never win!"
- "You will die, mortal!"
- "Prepare to die!"
- "You are pathetic!"
- "Is that your best?"
- "That was pathetic!"
- "You weak, pathetic fool!"
- "You are nothing!"
- "You suck!"
- "It's official! You suck!"
- "You're still trying to win?"
- "Ha ha ha ha ha ha!"
- "I rule this world!" (MKII only)
- "No, no! NOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO!" (MKII death)
- Kahn started out unmasked and with large gnashing teeth similar to Baraka, since everyone from Outworld was originally to be of Baraka's race. The idea of all inhabitants of Outworld being Tarkatans was later dropped.
- In MKII, Kahn was digitally re-sized to a taller height to make him tower over the playable characters. Ironically, the actor who played him, bodybuilder Brian Glynn, was not nearly as imposing in comparison; a photograph published in GamePro magazine of Glynn and Ed Boon standing side-by-side, which was snapped during production of the game, showed that Boon was taller.
- In many official depictions of Shao Kahn made by Midway, he is shown wearing a cape, which he takes off before starting a fight. Mortal Kombat: Deception was the first game in which he wore the cape in-game.
- In Mortal Kombat: Deception, in Konquest Mode, his costume is based on his MKII appearance.
- Kahn was never seen unmasked in a game until Mortal Kombat: Shaolin Monks, where once he loses half his health, a scene plays in which he pulls out a hammer and throws it at the player, which the player throws back at him and smashes the mask to pieces. His face is based on the MKII comic depiction.
- His height changes considerably between depictions. In the 2D games, he was scaled to be even taller than the Shokan Goro and Kintaro, yet he was depicted as only half a head taller than the regular characters in Mortal Kombat: Deception and Mortal Kombat: Armageddon. In Mortal Kombat: Shaolin Monks, he appeared to stand around seven-and-a-half feet, with Liu Kang and Kung Lao only coming up to his chest, but he was not quite as tall as either Shokan character. He appears to be around the same height in Mortal Kombat (2011) as he was in the 2D game, about a head taller than the playable characters, but Goro and Kintaro are again taller than him.
- Shao Kahn's voice is an ever present sound in the Mortal Kombat games. Even when he isn't present, he can be heard in the form of an announcer with phrases such as "Outstanding", "Well Done", "Incredible", "Superb" and "Excellent". He also orders you to finish your opponent at the end of a match (supporting his character type). His voice can be heard in Unreal Championship 2: The Liandri Conflict, which featured Mortal Kombat themes. Starting in Mortal Kombat II, he narrates the match. He would often laugh when a kombatant was low on health. He was the announcer for all games from MKII until MK4, where Quan Chi was the announcer. Kahn resumed being an announcer afterward, even when you fight and kill him as an opponent.
- A 1993 UK-published strategy guide for Mortal Kombat II described Kahn as being "dressed like a '70s disco queen."
- Kahn's name was accidentally hyphenated in the closing credits of Mortal Kombat: Annihilation ("Shao-Kahn").
- Though Kahn has no official Animality in the games, in Mortal Kombat: Annihilation, Kahn is given the Animality of a Five-Headed Hydra.
- Though Shao Kahn was initially shown to be well over 10,000 years old, Mortal Kombat: Armageddon places him as being even older. Shao Kahn was shown to be highly infamous before Taven and Daegon were sealed, which happened before Shinnok's fall from grace. In Shinnok's ending in Mortal Kombat 4, he states that Raiden had imprisoned him for "millions of years." Contrarily, Raiden states in the intro of the game that it was only some thousands of years ago. The fact that Shinnok's ending is non-canon may mean that it was in fact not millions and only an exaggeration. This also indicates that Shao Kahn had been attempting to conquer Edenia for a very long time, since Taven stated that Shao Kahn had launched an unsuccessful invasion before he (Taven) was sealed.
- Although Shao Kahn holds a staff in Mortal Kombat II and Mortal Kombat: Shaolin Monks, he has never been seen using it.
- In UMK3, Shao Kahn is the only character who bleeds from Robot Smoke's teleport.
- Shao Kahn's "mask" or "Skull mask" is actually a Kabuto, a Japanese Samurai helmet with a Menpō, a facemask commonly worn with the Kabuto.
- Despite being the "announcer" for most games, Shao Kahn will have a different voice actor in-game then when commentating.
- In MK 2011, when he is performing his Ridicule, some of the classic taunts throughout the game returned, such as "It's official, you suck!", "Don't make me laugh!", and "Prepare to Die!"
- In an MK 2011 trailer, Shao Kahn uses his Double Down Fatality on Raiden.
- Shao Kahn has been the final boss in more Mortal Kombat games than any other character (MKII, MK3/UMK3/MKT, MK:SM, and MK 2011).
- In his MK 2011 victory pose, a slave girl is shown crawling to and hugging his thigh as he proudly stands. This could imply that he has female slaves of his own.
- In Mortal Kombat (2011), Shao Kahn's Hammer Throw can be avoided by the female character by simply crouching while the male characters cannot do this. This is due to the hitbox being smaller for female characters in comparison to the male characters.
- In a Top 10 list hosted by Screwattack.com, Shao Kahn was placed at #4 of the best Mortal Kombat Characters in the Mortal Kombat Series.
- In the start of MK 2011's story mode, Shao Kahn appears in his MK vs DCU costume, but is not present in the game. As his MK vs DCU outfit is similar to what he wore during the last leg of the 1st timeline, it was possibly a deliberate decision on the development team's part.
- Although, during Shao Kahn's X-Ray, the combo announcement says it does 52% damage, it does more damage, about 60%. This is because the first part, Shao Kahn's hammer slam, is not counted into the combo.
- Shao Kahn makes a cameo appearance during Scorpion's intro in Injustice: Gods Among Us.
- In the Parody fighting game "Divekick", In Kung Pao's story; she's the daughter of Theodore Khan and he's an evil dictator. Theodore Khan is more likely a parody of Shao Khan.
|Preceded by||Emperor of Outworld||Succeeded by|
|Onaga||many millennia BMK - 10 AMK (2002)||the Deadly Alliance (Original timeline)|
Mileena (Current timeline)
|Preceded by||Ruler of Edenia||Succeeded by|
|King Jerrod||10 000 BMK - 3 AMK (1995)||Queen Sindel|