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Characters / Mortal Kombat – Shang Tsung

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Mortal Kombat Main Character Index
Original and Reboot Timeline: MK (1992) | MK2 | MK3 | MK4 | Deadly Alliance | Deception | Armageddon | MK vs. DC Universe | MK9 | MKX | MK11
New Era: MK1
Spinoffs: Mythologies: Sub-Zero | Special Forces
Non-video game: The Movie | Conquest | Defenders of the Realm | 2021 Movie
Individual Characters: Scorpion I (Hanzo Hasashi) | Sub-Zero I/Noob Saibot (Bi-Han) | Johnny Cage | Kano | Liu Kang | Raiden | Shang Tsung | Sub-Zero II/Scorpion II (Kuai Liang) | Kitana | Mileena | Shao Kahn/General Shao | Shinnok and Quan Chi | Kotal Kahn | Kronika

Spoilers for Mythologies will be unmarked

Shang Tsung
Click here to see his older self 

Debut game: Mortal Kombat (Ho Sung Pak, Eric Kincaid)note 
Other appearances: Mortal Kombat II (Phillip Ahn, M.D.), Mortal Kombat 3 (John Turk), Mortal Kombat Mythologies: Sub-Zero (Richard Divizio), Mortal Kombat: Deadly Alliance, Mortal Kombat: Deception (cameo) (Max Crawford), Mortal Kombat: Shaolin Monks (Max Crawford), Mortal Kombat: Armageddon (Max Crawford), Mortal Kombat vs. DC Universe (James Kyson-Lee), Mortal Kombat 9 (Andrew Kishino, Richard Epcar note ), Mortal Kombat 11 (DLC) (Cary-Hiroyuki Tagawa, English; Galo Balcázar, Latin American Spanish), Mortal Kombat 1 (DLC) (Alan Lee, English; Galo Balcázar, Latin American Spanish)
Non-game appearances: Mortal Kombat: The Movie (Cary-Hiroyuki Tagawa), Mortal Kombat: Conquest (Bruce Locke), Mortal Kombat: Defenders of the Realm (Neil Ross), Mortal Kombat: Rebirth (James Lew), Mortal Kombat: Legacy (Johnson Phan in the first season, Cary-Hiroyuki Tagawa in the second), Mortal Kombat Legends: Scorpion's Revenge (Artt Butler), Mortal Kombat (2021) (Chin Han), Mortal Kombat Legends: Battle of the Realms (Artt Butler), Mortal Kombat Legends: Snow Blind (Artt Butler)

A powerful and deadly sorcerer and a primary villain in the Mortal Kombat series, Shang Tsung is a demonic shapeshifter who needs to consume souls in order to sustain his health and life. Throughout his unnatural lifespan, he has achieved an intellectual and mental sophistication far greater than that of any other baddie of the series.

Several centuries before the start of the series, a young and promising Tsung was taken to Outworld and trained by the Emperor in the Black Arts. For a time, Shang Tsung would be the Grand Champion of Mortal Kombat himself, but when he lost his title to the legendary Shaolin warrior, the Great Kung Lao, he had to wait several years for his greatest student, the Shokan prince Goro, to restore once more Outworld's domination of the Mortal Kombat Tournament. This time Tsung, now aged and weakened, secured his domain on the Tournament, by becoming its sole Grandmaster and holding future competitions on his private island, a zone in between Earth and the Outworld.

During the tenth Mortal Kombat tournament, the final victory that would enable Shao Kahn to conquer Earth, Liu Kang, a Shaolin Monk, defeated Goro, breaking the streak. Liu Kang then challenged Shang Tsung in Kombat to restore the honour of the once-sacred tournament; Liu Kang prevailed, and Shang Tsung fled to Outworld. He confronted an enraged Shao Kahn and convinced him that, if they challenged Earthrealm to Mortal Kombat in Outworld, they would have to accept or forfeit. Kahn agreed to this plan, and restored Tsung's youth. Despite this, in the Tournament the sorcerer lost again to Liu Kang, who also defeated Kahn. Shortly after, with the aid of his cult of Shadow Priests, Shang Tsung managed to revive Shao Kahn's former queen, Sindel, on Earth, giving Kahn and his forces a way to invade the Realm. Tsung was granted more power than ever before, but during the invasion that followed he lost to Liu Kang once more.

Sometime after the merge of the two Realms failed, the fellow sorcerer Quan Chi come to Shang Tsung with an offer: if Tsung helped him revive the lost army of the Dragon King by means of his ability to transplant souls, he would open a "Soulnado" to the Heavens, giving him an endless supply of souls. Tsung accepted, and they formed the Deadly Alliance. Together, the sorcerers not only managed to assassinate both Liu Kang and Shao Kahn, but eventually, the duo defeated Earthrealm's champions and triumphed over Raiden himself in a final battle. Their victory, however, would not be savored. Shang Tsung's lust for power and Quan Chi's suspicion finally came to light. The two fought, with Quan Chi emerging the victor, and immediately after that, Shang Tsung had to confront a revived Dragon King alongside the two enemies; in the battle that ensued, Tsung was killed by Raiden's self-sacrificial blast.

His soul, still bound to Kahn, reached the not-so-dead Emperor. Kahn provided Tsung with a host body and then allied with him and Goro in taking his kingdom back. Sometime later, during the Armageddon, the sorcerer formed an alliance with Onaga, Shao Kahn, and Quan Chi so that the group may prevent the Forces of Light from obtaining the power that Blaze possessed.

The events of Mortal Kombat 9 happen pretty much the same for Shang Tsung as in the previous games, with an exception: nearing the end of the events of Mortal Kombat 3, Outworld's general, Motaro, has been slain and Shao Kahn is running out of options. In a last-ditch effort to weaken Earthrealm's forces, he siphons Shang Tsung's life energy into Sindel and sends Sindel and a squad of Lin Kuei cyber-warriors to the Earthrealm base.

Despite all of this, however, Shang Tsung returns in Mortal Kombat 11 as a DLC character. Cary-Hiroyuki Tagawa - his original actor from the first Mortal Kombat live-action movie and the second season of Mortal Kombat Legacy web series - reprises his role as the shapeshifting sorcerer. Also, he is one of the characters playing the pivotal role in the Aftermath expansion of the Story Mode.

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Tropes related to Shang Tsung in the Midway and original Netherrealm timelinesnote 

  • Abhorrent Admirer: As of 11, he has a very outspoken and blatant Villainous Crush on Sonya Blade. She is extremely uninterested.
  • Adaptational Nice Guy: Granted, stopping Quan Chi from freeing Shinnok in Mortal Kombat Legends: Scorpion's Revenge would normally fall under Pragmatic Villainy, given Shinnok's Omnicidal Maniac tendencies, but he also chastises Quan Chi for betraying Shao Kahn. Between that and the fact that at no point in that film or its sequel, Mortal Kombat Legends: Battle of the Realms, does he even plot to betray Shao Kahn, the films' version of Shang Tsung appears to be loyal to the Kahn.
  • Ain't Too Proud to Beg: A very tame and downplayed example. He smugly asks Shao Kahn for another chance in an 11 match intro, to which the Kahn responds to by saying Shang sickens him.
  • Alchemy Is Magic: In addition to his magical prowess, Shang Tsung is also an accomplished alchemist, and his New Era counterpart utilizes a lot more alchemy in battle, injecting his opponents with poisons.
  • All Your Powers Combined: Mortal Kombat 11 allows him to transform into all the colored ninjas (except Tremor) in order to use one of their special abilities.
  • Ambiguously Human: We don't really know where Tsung came from initially, but his biography in Mortal Kombat 9 confirms he is from Earthrealm. His Mortal Kombat: Tournament Edition bio states his origin as "Earthrealm/Outworld."
  • Ambition Is Evil: Shang Tsung is heavily motivated to prove his worth to Shao Kahn as well as betraying him and seeking ultimate power (which he succeeds in doing should he defeat Fire God Liu Kang).
  • Amplifier Artifact: Somewhat. He wears a runestone around his neck that houses all of the souls he's absorbed over the ages and is able to replenish his strength.
  • Animal Motifs: Has a minor one for serpents, representing his intelligent, but untrustworthy nature. It also highlights his rivalry with Liu Kang (who has a dragon motif).
    • Animal-Themed Fighting Style: Naturally, he uses Snake Kung Fu as his primary style in Deadly Alliance and Armageddon. The Crane style is his secondary style in Deception.
  • Arch-Enemy:
    • He's this to Liu Kang and to a lesser degree to Kung Lao in Deadly Alliance; the one who corrupted the tournament in the first place, absorbed the soul of the Great Kung Lao, and is one of the most prominent enemies of Earthrealm. This intensifies when he ends up killing Liu Kang, causing his zombie to become vengeful.
    • He also becomes a major nemesis to Kitana, both as the person who created Mileena, and because she is in love with Liu Kang. In 11, he even taunts her by revealing he killed Ermac just to rub having Jerrod's soul in her face.
    • Shang Tsung and Raiden also are sworn enemies, due to Shang Tsung serving as Shao Kahn's emissary and representing the threat of Outworld looming over Earthrealm. The fact that he's also betrayed his native realm doesn't help matters.
  • The Assimilator: Every soul he devours makes him that much stronger, and grants him their knowledge and skills. According to some banter in MK11, Shang Tsung even gains special abilities related to the souls he takes (which is true, considering how his transformations allow him to use the other characters' movesets with no difference from the original):
    Kabal: Stealing my soul won't make you faster.
    Shang Tsung: Actually, that is precisely how it works.
    Kabal: ...Eh, shit.
  • Asshole Victim:
    • He is killed by Shao Kahn anticlimactically in the ninth game with the latter stealing his soul, no less, to have it be transferred to Sindel in an effort to empower her. No one in their presence really cares about his fate and he is not bought up again after his demise.
    • Makes one of both Shao Kahn and Sindel in the Aftermath DLC by doing to them exactly what they did to him.
    • If the player picks Fire God Liu Kang in Aftermath, Liu Kang defeats Shang Tsung and erases him from history. And Shang Tsung is such a dangerously callous Evil Sorcerer, that no-one's going to miss him.
  • Attack of the 50-Foot Whatever: At the end of his own ending of 11: Aftermath, his new Elder God form is absolutely gigantic, dwarfing both Fujin and Raiden by many meters. He's practically the size of a house, and his throne is equally sized as such.
  • Back from the Dead:
    • In Ermac's MKX ending, Tsung returns when he devours Ermac's many souls to reconstitute his body.
    • He returns in the New Era after his Cessation of Existence by the hands of Liu Kang at the end of Aftermath, though this isn't the Shang Tsung we know. But, the one we are more familiar with is actually still alive, by means of both endings of Aftermath being canon. The battle between Fire God Liu Kang and Time Titan Shang Tsung split the flow of time in multiple directions, resulting in a timeline where Shang Tsung won. Now, dissatisfied with simply ruling over his own universe, he's decided to take over Liu Kang's.
  • Badass Boast: Delivers one to Raiden in his gameplay trailer for 11.
    Shang Tsung: I will torment you for eternity.
    Raiden: Do your worst, Shang Tsung!
    Shang Tsung: And now, a taste of things to come...
  • Badass Bookworm: Shang Tsung is one of (if not THE) smartest kombatant, and he's got the Kung Fu skills to match his intellect.
  • Badass Longcoat: In the movie. Proved so badass that it was included as one of his alternate costumes in 11.
  • Badass Long Robe: Has this only when he's in his elderly form.
  • Bad Powers, Bad People: Played With. One would assume the ability to steal and manipulate souls for their own ends can only be evil, but Shang Tsung has demonstrated many positive uses for his abilities. Shang's soul-based magic can halt aging, heal people, greatly empower allies, resurrect the dead, and if his 9 ending is anything to go by, can be reversed from its inherently malevolent nature into a force of good. It's just Shang Tsung is so evil that any time he uses his abilities these ways, it's only for his own gain.
  • The Bad Guy Wins: Should you choose his ending in the final battle Aftermath, Shang Tsung successfully defeats Kronika and Fire God Liu Kang to become the new Keeper of Time and shape reality to his liking, becoming an all-powerful dictator of the realms.
  • Beard of Evil: White in the first game, black in the other ones.
  • Big Bad:
    • Of the first game and film, being the foreseer of the Mortal Kombat tournament and the most immediate threat to Earthrealm. However, the sequel reveals that Shao Kahn was The Man Behind the Man.
    • Comes full circle in Aftermath of Mortal Kombat 11, where he is the Big Bad once more. For bonus points, he's manipulated Shao Kahn into getting Demoted to Dragon without him even realizing it.
    • Acts this in Shaolin Monks, manipulated Liu Kang and Kung Lao into various locations to fight and kill enemies so he can use the souls of those they kill to grow stronger. Shao Kahn is in the game but only appears at the end, so he is instead a Greater-Scope Villain.
    • The original Shang Tsung — who won his ending in Aftermath of Mortal Kombat 11 and became a Titan thanks to The Multiverse being real — returns as the main villain of MK1, posing as Kronika and Damashi to hide his presence from Liu Kang until he can fully sabotage Liu Kang's New Era to merge his timeline and universe into his own. Funnily, the New Era Shang Tsung ends up being a Big Bad Wannabe in the eyes of the original after he's served his usefulness, forcing the New Era Shang Tsung to do a begrudging Enemy Mine with Liu Kang to survive the original's treachery.
  • Big Bad Duumvirate: With Quan Chi in Deadly Alliance, though Quan Chi is the one who formed this alliance in the first place. Happens again in 1, in two different ways. There are the New Era versions of Shang Tsung and Quan Chi, but they are actually decoys for the real Deadly Alliance: Time Titan Shang Tsung and Titan Quan Chi.
  • Big Bad Ensemble:
    • He's in one with Kronika in the Aftermath DLC storyline, while also being a Villain Protagonist. Shang Tsung fully intends to hijack Kronika's power for himself to usher in his own New Era. Shang Tsung wins out against Kronika and becomes the Final Boss in Fire God Liu Kang's ending.
    • He’s also this with Quan Chi in Scorpion's Revenge, he hosts the Mortal Kombat tournament, while Quan Chi plots to betray Shao Kahn and free Shinnok from his imprisonment.
  • Big Bad Wannabe: After the first game. He has ambitions to overthrow Shao Kahn, but never able to get anywhere with them until he forms the Deadly Alliance with Quan Chi. This still leaves him as this trope since their alliance ends with Quan Chi pulling an Eviler than Thou on him, before Onaga pulled an Eviler than Thou on both of them. Averted in Aftermath, where manages to become the Big Bad for the first time since the original game.
    • In the non-canon Shaolin Monks, he is this compared to Shao Kahn. The plot of the game was set up by Shang Tsung luring Liu Kang and Kung Lao to fight and kill enemies so Shang Tsung could feed on the souls of those who died and gain the power to overthrow Shao Kahn. The end of the game shows that Shao Kahn was aware of Shang Tsung's plot the entire time and from the looks of things, Shang Tsung didn't have much chance of overthrowing him.
  • Brick Joke: One of his many iconic lines in the movie (which comes back for a Victory Pose in 11) is "IT HAS BEGUN!". When killing an opponent with a Brutality in 11, however, he has a chance to say...
    "It has ended."
  • The Bus Came Back: After his sudden death in 9, he returns as the host for the Krypt in 11, and later as a fully playable DLC character. He also transitions his absence from the events of 11's story mode into a major role in the Aftermath story expansion.
  • Camp: He either wears stylish robes or revealing outfits, and he constantly has long and straight hair. His outfit when wearing Kronika's crown has an even bigger Navel-Deep Neckline than his other outfits and his hair has small braids in it. Simply put, Shang Tsung is vain.
  • Card-Carrying Villain: While all video game versions of Shang Tsung are unapologetically evil, the New Era version takes pride in being evil and hated.
  • Cast From Life Span: Shang's signature Flaming Skulls are in fact the lifeforce of deceased souls, which he depends upon to sustain himself. Casting this during gameplay doesn't actually affect his health no matter how many are spent, even if the move is amplified.
  • Catchphrase
    • "Your Soul Is Mine!". As beffiting of the Trope Namer, he gets good mileage from the phrase.
    • He gets another in the New Era due to his new life as a Snake Oil Salesman: variations of the phrase "You may ask yourself, can I afford it? But the question you should ask yourself is, can I afford not to?"
  • Cessation of Existence: This is his fate if Liu Kang wins their final battle in Aftermath, as his defeat has him dissolve into sand and removed from the timeline for good.
  • The Chessmaster: While he may not be a brute like his master Shao Kahn, Shang Tsung is far more intelligent and manipulates both the forces of light and darkness alike.
  • Chest Burster: One of his fatalities in MK11, where he implants the soul of Kintaro into his opponent. Kintaro proceeds to violently make his exit from inside.
  • Chronic Backstabbing Disorder: In fact, he is so untrustworthy that as soon as he was brought back to life via the time merger, Kronika sealed him in a temporal prison so that he couldn't be a potential Spanner in the Works. Even Frost of all people calls him out on it.
    Frost: Kronika's worried about your loyalty.
    Shang Tsung: As if I would ally with Raiden...
    Frost: You're capable of anything.
    • An exchange with Geras confirms that Shang Tsung's untrustworthiness is truly a universal constant.
      Geras: You scheme against Kronika.
      Shang Tsung: Prove your slander, Geras.
      Geras: In all previous timelines, you betrayed her.
    • And of course, several lines from Aftermath trailer allude to this.
      Fujin: I must ask, sorcerer: how long before you betray us?
    • This is such a well known trait of his that in Aftermath, the first action that almost every single person he recruits to help against Kronika takes upon joining his team is to state how little they trust him. Fire God Liu Kang weaponizes this knowing full well that Shang Tsung would backstab everyone on his way to get the crown, lying to him by saying he has to stay with the Hourglass. After defeating Kronika, Liu Kang steps in at the last moment to take the crown from him. Liu Kang knows his arch-enemy far too well.
    • Of course, this is only after Shang Tsung managed to backstab, in rapid succession, Sheeva, Kitana, Raiden, Fujin, Shao Kahn, and Sindel. Even Kronika seemed stunned at the depths of his treachery.
      Kronika: You have no one left to betray.
    • This trait reaches its apex in Mortal Kombat 1, which confirms that Shang Tsung is so treacherous, he'll literally betray himself. Specifically, Titan Shang Tsung (who reached that status from his aforementioned series of betrayals in Aftermath) grooms his counterpart (as well as Quan Chi) in Liu Kang's New Era for his own purposes with promises of power and conquest, then casually discards him once he has the power to conquer the New Era for himself.
  • Co-Dragons: With Goro to Shao Kahn as they are Shao Kahn’s most loyal servants.
  • Collector of Forms: Shang Tsung can only take the form of people whose souls he's taken.
  • Color Failure: He can invoke this on his enemies in 11 by stealing their souls. Somehow draining a person of their soul and life force will also bleach the colors out of their clothing.
  • Cold Ham: Thanks to Cary-Hiroyuki Tagawa's incredible delivery, Shang Tsung in MK11 is an amazing ham while almost never raising his voice.
  • Court Mage: Part of his job for Shao Kahn.
  • Cruelty Is the Only Option: It should be fairly obvious and justified, but anyone that fights Shang and loses isn't leaving alive regardless of a fatality not being performed. Averted in games in the series with Friendship fatalities.
  • Cursed with Awesome: When Shang Tsung committed the atrocity of taking a soul, he was cursed by the Elder Gods not only to kill his enemies but to take their souls as well. Only in this way would he hold off his grim fate: to age rapidly and die prematurely. However, as a side effect of his consuming the souls of others, Tsung was able to access their memories and knowledge, a happenstance which would greatly benefit him in the future. 11 reveals that Kronika orchestrated this so she could use the Well of Souls he created as a back-up power source in case she needed it.
  • A Day in the Limelight: In MK vs. DCU, he's the focus of the MK side's Chapter 6. The Aftermath story expansion for 11 also focuses on his return after his absence from story mode, with him as the final chapter.
  • Deader than Dead: In Mortal Kombat 11: Aftermath's Good Ending, Liu Kang obliterates him. Liu Kang's words imply he didn't just kill him, but erase him from time. It turns out this technically didn't take, because their battle split the flow of time in multiple directions, one of which resulted in Shang Tsung being the victor (the Bad Ending of Aftermath) and becoming Time Titan Shang Tsung. This parallel version of the Shang Tsung who Liu Kang knows ends up sharing the same fate as his predecessor, being completely erased from time.
  • Deadpan Snarker: Of the very dry and downplayed kind. Compared to most of the other villains, Shang Tsung is rather humorless.
    Shang Tsung: "Kitana Kahn", is it now?
    Kitana: Welcome to the new age, Shang Tsung.
    Shang Tsung: May it be ever so brief.
  • Death by Irony: On rare occasions, Shang Tsung gets a taste of his own medicine.
    • Nearing the climax of Mortal Kombat 9, Shao Kahn extracts his soul in order to empower Sindel. He does deliver a payback in Aftermath, by stealing back Shao Kahn's and Sindel's near the endgame.
      • He in turn gets another taste of this in the heroic ending as he falls for Liu Kang's deception, effectively being beaten at his own game.
    • While on the topic of 11, he can be subjected to this via Mirror Match, which he himself lampshades in his intro. Doubly so if his double also ends up stealing his soul.
    • Going back to 9, the notorious soul stealer gets his soul stolen by Mileena in her ladder ending.
  • Dead Person Impersonation: In 1, he poses as Kronika after killing her by absorbing her soul in the previous game to manipulate the Shang Tsung and Quan Chi of Liu Kang's New Era.
  • Demonic Possession: In MKII, he enters his opponent's body, which violently shakes until it explodes as Shang appears in the opponent's place. It inspires one of Liu Kang's Deception Fatalities, and in MK9 it comes full-circle with it being based on Liu Kang's version instead of his own from MKII.
  • Devour the Dragon: In Aftermath he does this to both Shao Kahn and Sindel as Shao Kahn was Demoted to Dragon and Sindel was his unwitting dragon. Shang Tsung defeats them both and kills them by stealing their souls.
  • Did You Just Scam Cthulhu?: His MK11 ending has him become the new Master of Time after killing Kronika, and in doing so he gains power and influence among his newfound peers: the Titans.
  • Didn't See That Coming: He genuinely failed to anticipate that Liu Kang would lie and effectively let his allies die in order to create an opportunity to take Kronika's Crown back once she was taken care of. Of course, this could backfire spectacularly on Liu Kang if Shang Tsung wins their Final Battle.
  • Difficult, but Awesome: In MK2, MK3 and Trilogy, Shang Tsung's ability to temporarily shapeshift into any other playable character gives him unprecedented versatility. Need to use the character that fares best against your opponent? Shang Tsung can have that handled. This comes at the cost of having to learn the shapeshifting inputs for every character (35 different inputs for morphs between all versions of Trilogy), and also know how those characters work to go anywhere with him. Furthermore, these games give Shang Tsung a fairly limited moveset when not transformed (especially MK2). Later games restricted (or outright removed) shapeshifting from his moveset and thus behaves more like other regular characters, averting this trope.
  • Ditto Fighter: A trademark of the character which varies from continuity to continuity.
    • In the original trilogy, Shang Tsung could transform into any member of the roster with the corresponding command, with bosses mostly being an exception. This allowed him to perform their specials, combos and Fatalities - he'd revert back to normal in MK2 after doing one except in the case of characters with unique post-Fatality win poses like Kung Lao; this doesn't pop up in MK3. This actually got hit with a notable processing restriction in the PlayStation version of Trilogy, wherein giving access to all of his morphs caused the game to pause when he transformed; as such, one option allowed was to let his player choose 3 specific morphs, with all the male, female and cyborg ninjas counted as one choice each.
    • In Deadly Alliance and Armageddon, engine restrictions and the latter's large roster meant that he could not keep his shapeshifting.
    • MK vs. DCU saw this return, but only as he transforms into his opponents for his win pose and one of his Fatalities. His Soul Steal move in MK9 allows him to temporarily fight as his opponent if it lands, gaining a damage boost in the process; unlike the classic games, he cannot perform other Fatalities as he transforms after performing the match-ending blow. As a boss, he could transform on command into two other fighters in addition to the player'snote .
    • In 11, he could transform into any of the male ninjas to perform a move of theirs. His specials are taken from Rain, Smoke, Reptile and Ermac while he transforms into Sub-Zero, Scorpion and Noob Saibot (funny enough, the three sole ninjas in the base roster) for his Fatal Blow. As was the case in 9, he can transform into his opponent with his Soul Steal move. While he still can't copy their Fatalities, he does gain access to all their Crushing Blows and Brutalities; much like the previous games, he stays transformed if he successfully wins a match with a Brutality, complete with copying his opponents' win poses.
  • The Dog Bites Back: A downplayed example since Tsung would certainly have betrayed them anyway, Tsung takes time out of his attack on Kronika to betray and murder both Shao Kahn and Sindel. Given that the former spent the last several eons treating him like garbage and used his soul as a power source in a previous game for the latter, Tsung seems even more giddy to torment them than usual. Which says a lot.
  • Downloadable Content: The second character in 11 after Shao Kahn.
  • The Dragon: To Shao Kahn. While he may have been the Big Bad of the first game he’s actually Shao Kahn’s right-hand man and to that end in both II and 9 you always fight Shang Tsung before you go onto the final bosses as the last regular opponent.
  • Dragon with an Agenda: In spite of the above, Shang Tsung has his own ambitions to fulfil and is not above trying to usurp or kill Shao Kahn if it means furthering his goals. He joins forces with Quan Chi, another Dragon with an Agenda at some point with Quan Chi being the more authoritative figure. Again, Shang makes no pretence of taking out Quan Chi regarding his personal objectives.
  • Dressing as the Enemy:
    • Inverted. He disguised himself as Kung Lao in order to get the drop on Liu Kang in Deadly Alliance.
    • In Aftermath, he appears as Raiden to get Fujin to give him Kronika's crown.
  • Dropped a Bridge on Him: His death in 9 is rather sudden and no mention is made of him afterwards.
  • Enemy Mine: In Aftermath, he invokes this to position himself as an ally to Liu Kang, Raiden, and the other heroic characters against Kronika. Inevitably, he goes on to betray the heroes and side with Shao Kahn and Sindel before backstabbing and killing them as well.
  • Energy Absorption: In later games, he can absorb part of his opponent's soul during a fight to restore his health.
  • Even Evil Has Loved Ones: While his early life remains a complete mystery in the games, he claims to have had lost loved ones at some point in Mortal Kombat: Legacy Season 2.
  • Even Evil Has Standards:
    • Noob Saibot orders him to take his place in the Netherrealm, and Rain once demanded an army of clones from him; to both, Shang Tsung says up front that "I would rather raise Onaga". Considering what Onaga is, that says enough.
    • He hates the Joker just as much as the other kombatants, and finds him to be an unbearable nuisance. But that doesn't stop him from trying to make him a henchman.
    • He chides Kano for being a 'disrespectful cretin'.
  • Everything's Better with Rainbows: His Friendship in MKII and MK11.
  • Evil Counterpart:
    • To Raiden, being the Big Good to his Big Bad and that the both of them lead the opposing ensembles in Mortal Kombat while having a special power over an element (Electricity for Raiden, Fire for Shang Tsung). While Raiden is well-respected and admired among the heroes while caring greatly for humanity, Shang Tsung was considered a failure among the Rogues Gallery and his own personal motivations lean towards For the Evulz.
    • To Liu Kang, who is Shang Tsung's Arch-Enemy has Playing with Fire and Voluntary Shapeshifting powers just like him. However, while Liu Kang is honorable and heroic, Shang Tsung is an embittered and self-centered jerkass who snakes his way into power while Liu Kang earns it. By the end of MK11's Aftermath DLC Liu Kang and Shang Tsung have both become the strongest kombatants in The 'Verse thanks being brought Back from the Dead.
    • To Kenshi. Both him and Shang Tsung wield blades, wear red, and have beards. They both also use Soul Power, though Kenshi uses it positively through his Cool Sword Sento while Shang Tsung violently sucks the souls out of people to keep his youth.
  • Evil Genius: Among the smartest kombatants, and he does not have good intentions.
  • Evil Is Petty: Titan Shang Tsung's whole reason to oppose Liu Kang and his New Era in MK1 — despite ruling an entire Alternate Universe already as is — is specifically because of the gall that Liu Kang had the potential to beat him at all in another timeline, and seeks to wipe out the entire New Era from existence because of it.
  • Evil Mentor: To Goro, the Shokan prince. To the point that he misses him the most in 11. Based on pre-match banter with Jax and Jacqui, he seems to be scheming to corrupt the latter into becoming his disciple as well.
    [Towards Jax]: I'll teach her what you never could.
    [Towards Jacqui]: Such beauty in kombat is rare.
  • Evil Old Folks: As his old form, he definitely qualifies given he was the original final boss.
  • Evil Smells Bad: Subverted. While not explicitly foul, he has a particular odor that Baraka can exploit to instantly detect him through his shapeshifting.
  • Evil Sorcerer: He literally is one.
  • Evil Sounds Deep: In the movie and in MK11, courtesy of Cary-Hiroyuki Tagawa - who brings his smooth, rich baritone to the role. After almost 25 years, this Evil sounds even deeper.
  • Eviler than Thou: Of all the villains in Mortal Kombat, he pretty much overshadows the likes of Shao Kahn and even Kronika, as well as other antagonists who are stupid enough to ally with him. Even Kronika herself deems Shang Tsung to be dangerous to be kept alive and is appalled by how low he can go betraying anyone to no end just to fulfill his ambition. Story creator John Vogel himself has even stated he is Mortal Kombat's "symbol of evil".
  • Fallen Hero: In Conquest, he was once Earthrealm's champion in the Mortal Kombat tournament until he was tempted to Shao Kahn's side.
  • Fantasy Gun Control: Subverted. In 9, he was very interested in modern weaponry and bought rocket launchers and shotguns from Kano.
    "Well done. You might tell your fellow Black Dragon that I'm very interested in your merchandise."
  • Fatal Flaw: He simply cannot stop himself from betraying whoever he's working with. Even if it's in his best interest not to screw someone over, he does it anyway. And everyone knows this, making alliances with him tenuous at best.
  • Faux Affably Evil: His politeness is never genuine when he's in Kombat.
    Jade: You cloned Kitana, you despicable fiend!
    Shang Tsung: Would you like a sister too, Jade?
    Jade: I would like to end your life.
    • However, during his reveal in MK11's Krypt, he does sport Cary-Hiroyuki Tagawa's trademark polite behavior and charm... which still makes him legitimately creepy. The following words are not helping, either:
      Shang Tsung: Take what you want... within reason.
    • Also, this moment from the Krypt:
      Shang Tsung: Behold the final resting place of Kenshi Takahashi. Valiant and brave, he was an excellent warrior. Which made feeding on his soul most enjoyable...
  • Final Boss: The elderly Shang Tsung is the last opponent a kombatant faces in the premiere game's ladder, and can shapeshift into any of the player characters plus Goro, though he also has a powerful flaming skull attack (complete with screams) when in his true form.
    • He is one of two potential final bosses in Deadly Alliance, the other being the other member of the titular Deadly Alliance Quan Chi.
    • He eventually becomes the very last opponent to fight against in the Aftermath expansion of Mortal Kombat 11. That is if you choose to side with Liu Kang.
    • He serves as this for 1 as well, now fighting alongside a Titan version of Quan Chi, forming the Deadly Alliance once more.
  • Finger-Tenting: His signature scheming pose.
  • Flaming Skulls: He uses them as projectiles in some games.
  • Foil: As Liu Kang's nemesis, they naturally mirror each other in a few ways.
    • Tsung himself used to be Mortal Kombat Champion before the Great Kung Lao defeated him, and operates as Shao Kahn's champion compared to Liu Kang who is Raiden's.
    • Shang Tsung is doomed to prolong his life through souls, compared to Liu Kang's agelessness as Mortal Kombat Champion... although taking souls doesn't make Shang any weaker.
    • Though they don't really ever interact, he's a pretty twisted mirror of Bo Rai Cho. Both are ancient masters who defected from their native realm to help the opposing side (Tsung switching from Earthrealm to Outworld, and Bo Rai Cho vice-versa), and both use their centuries of experience and expertise to train and hone new fighters (Tsung with Goro, Bo Rai Cho with Liu Kang). Both are even always putting on a false face to others, with Shang Tsung being a two-faced schemer and Bo Rai Cho being a Trickster Mentor. But while Tsung is an urbane, gentlemanly, and collected evil-doer, Bo Rai Cho is a slovenly, drunk, Big Fun trainer of heroes.
  • For the Evulz: Has a massive torture chamber beneath his island that'd put any serial killer's to shame. Many have been victims to gruesome mutilation and death for his own sadistic desires. Then in Mortal Kombat 1, where his Titan self that already controls an ENTIRE timeline in which all beings tremble before him, decides he wants the rest of The Multiverse just because.
  • For Science!: His stated reason for his horrific experiments.
    Shang Tsung: If your arms are cut off, will they grow back?
    Kollector: I am not one of your experiments, sorcerer.
    Shang Tsung: Come, Kollector. It's for science.
  • Giving Someone the Pointer Finger: As an homage to the first movie, Shang does this to the player in 11, complete with his iconic line.
    Shang Tsung: Your Soul Is Mine!!
  • Glowing Eyes of Doom: In some of his incarnations.
  • A God Am I: After killing Kronika, Shang Tsung wastes no time in waxing how powerful he has become and bathes in his newfound powers. Even when challenged by the literal Physical God that is Liu Kang, he's still gloating like it's going out of style. You can even have him ascend to Elder God status, his godhood upgrading from delusion to reality.
  • Godhood Seeker: This is his primary motive for wanting Kronika's Hourglass and Crown, and achieves it should you choose his ending.
  • Gold and White Are Divine: Absorbing the souls of Raiden and Fujin to an extent allowed Shang Tsung to de-age himself to his physical prime whilst also being dressed in a white and gold costume to signal is newfound power. But then again, this is Shang Tsung we're talking about. However, there’s a good version of him wearing similar attire in the finale of MK 1.
  • Grievous Harm with a Body: One of his new moves in 11 involves summoning a mutilated corpse to fall on his opponent. Enhancing the move causes the corpse to explode.

  • Half the Man He Used to Be: One of his fatalities from 2, in which he morphs into Kintaro and punches the upper half of the opponent's body clear across the stage.
  • Hated by All: Shang Tsung has the dubious honor of being the single most disliked and distrusted character in the entire 11 roster, and perhaps the entire series.note  Even when compared to Frost and Kano, the former being given certain pity and the latter having his clan, Shang Tsung has absolutely no friends and is viewed with scorn and wariness by just about every character. He probably prefers it.
  • Hazy-Feel Turn: The most likely interpretation of his Ladder ending in 9, in which Bo' Rai Cho trains him to help defeat a power-mad and newly-deified Liu Kang.
    • This also seems the be the case for his return in Aftermath, as he potentially stands to gain from aiding Fire God Liu Kang in retrieving Kronika's crown.
  • The Heavy:
    • For the first three games as he was under orders from Shao Kahn at the time.
    • Also for Shaolin Monks as he drives the plot still under Shao Kahn’s orders.
  • Hidden Agenda Villain: Shang Tsung arrives to Fire God Liu Kang and Raiden's presence to allow for an alliance to retrieve Kronika's Crown so that the timeline could be merged proper. In reality, he seeks to acquire the crown and Kronika's Hourglass so that he could become a god-like Multiversal Conquerer. Something that Liu Kang saw coming from the very beginning.
  • Hijacking Cthulhu: Outsmarts the goddess of time and devours her soul in 'Aftermath'.
  • Heroic Sacrifice: A good guy counterpart of Titan Shang Tsung alongside a good Titan Quan Chi aid Liu Kang's heroes to the top of the pyramid in the finale, sadly perishing in the process.
  • Hetero Sexual Life Partners: He and Quan Chi appear to genuinely enjoy their Deadly Alliance in Mortal Kombat 1, so much so that even their multiversal counterparts are frequently seen working together. The Multiverse is a big place, and the fact that these two always find a way to each other is something special.
  • I Control My Minions Through...: Loyalty. According to him, the monks on his island were so devoted to him: news about his death were such traumatizing that they chose mass suicide over living in a world without him. When Nightwolf scoffs at this, Tsung even chides him on his lack of compassion.
  • I Have Your Wife:
    • He forced Sonya to participate in the first tournament by taking her unit hostage (in the new timeline, this was altered to be just Jax).
    • Ironically, he forced Jax and the other Earthrealm heroes to fight in the second tournament by capturing Sonya.
    • He will occasionally use the souls he's captured as leverage to comply with their loved ones to do his bidding. In 11, he specifically tries to force Jade's service by revealing he's taken (or plans to take) her parents' souls.
  • Impaled with Extreme Prejudice:
  • Immortality: Strongly implied. Several endings in Mortal Kombat X anticipate his return, and an interaction between him and Raiden has him asking the god if he's surprised to see him. Raiden is only surprised that it took long.
  • Incoming Ham: "It has...BEGUN!"
  • Ink-Suit Actor: His appearance in Mortal Kombat 11 is literally that of Cary-Hiroyuki Tagawa - his reprising actor from the first live-action movie and the second season of Legacy.
  • Interchangeable Asian Cultures: Shang Tsung is supposed to be Chinese, but his most famous actor is Japanese.
  • Irony:
    • In his arcade ending in Mortal Kombat 9, Bo' Rai Cho sought Shang Tsung who was about to commit suicide after being overwhelmed by Shao Kahn's soul. Bo' Rai Cho then trains him to defeat Liu Kang, who became mad with power, effectively saving the world.
    • The only time Shang Tsung ever allies himself with Liu Kang despite hating each other is if they have a common goal. MK1 has a player-chosen Shang Tsung and a good guy version of Shang Tsung actually joining forces with Fire God Liu Kang willingly to defeat his Eviler than Thou Titan counterpart, and Liu Kang treats the player-chosen Shang Tsung as if they're old friends despite both of them treating their alliance as an Enemy Mime and Teeth-Clenched Teamwork at best.
  • It's All About Me: Above all else, Shang Tsung's defining trait is his absolute lack of empathy toward everyone, caring only for himself and his own gain in power and treating everyone as either pawns, or free souls to acquire. Even upon discovering that many of his followers had committed suicide after hearing of his death, he was only amused by their devotion toward him and not at all bothered by the massive number of fatalities, further cementing the fact that Shang Tsung is fueled only by greed and eternal worship.
  • I Was Quite the Looker:
    • Compare his elder form to when his youth is restored.
    • His appearance in Mortal Kombat 11 for most of his costumes, as one of his match intros has him morph from his elderly self into a far younger form roughly around Liu Kang's age. As a bonus, he's modeled after his appearance from the movie.
  • Karmic Death: While it doesn't always stick, the times where Shang Tsung dies are almost always symbolically fitting.
    • Shao Kahn transferring his soul/power to Sindel in Mortal Kombat 9 as his usefulness has run out is a simple Hoist by His Own Petard example.
    • For as much as he loves to boast about his victims being Barred from the Afterlife and unable to return to life due to his soul-stealing in his pre-fight dialogue, being erased from existence by Fire God Liu Kang at the end of Aftermath is a very fitting fate.
    • It happens again in 1, with Time Titan Shang Tsung meeting the exact same fate as his predecessor did in Aftermath: total erasure from the space-time continuum by Liu Kang.
    • In Mortal Kombat Legends: Battle of the Realms, he kills Stryker using his MK9 fatality: possessing him and then forcing him to rip his own head off. Shang Tsung later meets a gruesome Off with His Head! end himself at the hands of Kano in Mortal Kombat Legends: Snow Blind.
  • Kick The Son Of A Bitch: In Aftermath, he betrays and painfully drains the life from the arrogant Shao Kahn and Sindel for centuries of their disrespect right after Kronika's revenants are dealt with. While Shang Tsung isn't any better, it's not like those two didn't deserve it.
  • Kill and Replace: Most of his Brutalities in 11 let him assume the form of his last victim.
  • Kill the God: Shang Tsung kills Kronika in order the usurp the throne. He even gets to kill and absorb the soul of Fire God Liu Kang in the bad ending.
  • Kung-Fu Wizard: While a sorcerer, he does plenty of fighting with his bare hands as well. Emphasized in 11 where a good chunk of his moves involve using either magic scrolls or magical lava.
  • Large Ham: Especially in the first movie.
    (to Goro, after he gets punched in the goolies by Johnny Cage) "You IMBECILE! Follow him! Finish Him!!"
    • There's also his behavior in MK9's story mode, especially after he has his youth restored.
    • The moment he puts on Kronika's crown in the final chapter of Aftermath, he effectively steals the soul of every single scene thereafter.
  • Last Plan Standing: He achieves victory and defeats Kronika in Aftermath by weaponizing the different factions of Outworld and their goals. Each group he aligns himself with knows that he's going to inevitably betray them, but his obvious backstabbing and the power he offers as a temporary ally actually makes them underestimate how brazen and cunning he can be. By the time they've realized what his true plan was, it's too late — by switching sides and sabotaging each of them in turn, he reduced the threat each could pose to him personally, meaning that he's come out on top while they're mired in civil war. He's only outwitted in the end by Liu Kang himself, who deliberately allowed it all to happen so that he could then defeat the sorceror and reverse the damage Shang Tsung wrought.
  • Life Drain: His soul-based moves in 11 give a small bit of health back to him each use.
  • Life Drinker: Shang Tsung adds to his lifetime by consuming the souls of his victims, and he's lived for millennia, so that's a lot of lives drunk. Power Copying is a bonus.
    • 11 provides a very graphic demonstration of his soul stealing. Not only does Shang Tsung extract the soul out of his opponents, but they also visibly shrivel and become rotten, desiccated corpses after he's done with them, as if he's channeling his inner Imhotep. And most of the time, his victims are fully conscious and aware of their rapid demise, too.
  • Magma Man: One of his attacks in 11 is to create a small pool of lava underneath his opponent.
  • Manipulative Bastard: One of his specialties. He once tricked Kenshi into leading him right to the souls of his warrior ancestors by posing as a harmless old man, posed as friends of Earth warriors in order to attack them from behind, lied about the terms of at least one tournament in order to further his agenda, and is generally an all-round untrustworthy bastard.
  • Mirror Match: Whether through shapeshifting powers or flesh pit cloning, he is usually considered to be the only reason for this whenever the characters meet their exact duplicates. As of 11, Shang himself gets this exchange:
    Shang Tsung 1: Shang Lao, I presume? note 
    Shang Tsung 2: You presume correctly, brother.
    Shang Tsung 1: When you die, you will be forgotten.
  • Monochromatic Eyes: White in the original (and 9), green in 3.
  • Monster Clown: One of his Mortal Kombat 9 Fatalities has him turn into one and execute his opponent with a gun, which doubles as a Take That! to MK vs. DCU's censorship of The Joker's fatality.
  • More Dakka: When he was the final boss in the first game, he could unleash up to 6 fireballs that each hit as hard as a roundhouse kick. In Mortal Kombat II when he was made a playable character, the damage was reduced and the number of fireballs got toned down to 4 and then 3 in later updates. In Mortal Kombat 3, he was given a multiple fireball move from the ground that could combo with his regular fireballs for plenty of hits. And all this took place when every other character could only shoot one projectile at a time.
  • More than Mind Control: Aftermath is a huge showcase of how this formerly mortal man lasted millennia. He was able to convince his enemies - many of whom include demigods - to work with him. Now, the circumstances are so dire that this alliance is needed; but every other character attacks Nightwolf and Fujin thinking that both are under some kind of Mind Control. They aren't: Shang Tsung is that good at persuading.
  • Muggles Do It Better:
    • Despite being an Evil Sorcerer, Shang Tsung is shown to be quite fascinated by modern Earthrealm technology (particularly in the field of weaponry).
    • In 9, Shang Tsung hires the Black Dragon clan to provide Outworld's supernatural armies with conventional military equipment, and one scene even shows him and Kano casually testing RPGs in the Living Forest.
    • In 11, Shang Tsung goes as far as to muse that "Perhaps technology is superior to magic" upon encountering The Terminator.
      Shang Tsung: You feel no pity or remorse?
      Terminator: I cannot feel human emotion.
      Shang Tsung: Perfect...
  • Multiversal Conqueror: Alongside wanting to become a god who rivals the Titans in might, Shang Tsung's end goal is also to have a firm grip in invading and taking over the many realms of the Mortal Kombat Universe, as can be attested to the bad ending of Aftermath.
  • Naked on Revival: In Ermac's ending in X, Shang Tsung is completely nude as he drains Ermac of all his souls. The cameras don't show anything below his waist, naturally.
  • Narcissist: Shang Tsung is a monumentally self-absorbed, vain, and selfish person, willing to destroy anyone and anything to benefit himself and the glorious destiny he thinks he deserves. He's an Insufferable Genius who delights in manipulating those around him, and his appetite for power is utterly limitless. Not to mention the fact he's a sadistic freak that genuinely enjoys the suffering of other beings. Even in Mortal Kombat 1, where he's a Titan with an entire timeline at his feet, he can't stand the idea of there being other timelines he doesn't rule, which drives him to try and destroy Liu Kang's New Era and embark on a multiversal campaign of conquest.
  • Neck Snap: In Deadly Alliance, he delivers one to Liu Kang, killing him.
  • Nightmare Face: Showcased at the beginning of the original movie during Liu Kang's dream sequence, and Aftermath. In the Netherrealm, when Revenant Nightwolf loses the fight against his living counterpart, Shang Tsung is quick enough to begin consuming the undead warrior's soul... sporting nightmarish rotting face on top of that. Thankfully, Tsung gets rejuvenated back to his old self.
  • No Campaign for the Wicked: He has no playable sections in the story mode for Mortal Kombat 9. Then inverted hard when Shang Tsung has a chapter all to his own in the Aftermath campaign of Mortal Kombat 11.
  • Non-Action Big Bad: Subverted. While he's a very capable fighter, he's more reliant on his souls and manipulation when dealing with others. In the movie, he even consciously avoids fighting Liu Kang until the last possible moment. Compared to his battle with Reptile, Liu Kang quickly shows that he is Shang Tsung's superior in combat.
    • He functions as one in Scorpion's Revenge. He never participates in any tournament fights.
  • Obvious Judas: An In-Universe example in Aftermath. Most characters don't wonder if Shang Tsung is going to betray them, but when. Bonus points go to Fujin's ladder ending, where Shang Tsung is seated in Judas' chair in the "Last Supper" Steal depicted.
  • Off with His Head!: In 9, he possesses his opponent then uses their own hand to rip off their head as his Fatality.
  • Oh, Crap!:
    • In the intro to Armageddon, he gets to face the revived zombie of Liu Kang, who promptly snaps his neck back into place after Tsung personally performed a Neck Snap on him. Tsung flinches at this, all too aware of the irony and danger he was in at that point.
    • The looks on his face when he's about to be Ret Goned by Fire God Liu Kang in the good ending of Aftermath can only be described as a mix of This Cannot Be! and absolute horror.
  • Old Master: Way old.
  • Only Sane Man: In the vs. DC Universe crossover, he has apparently the strongest self-control of all characters from both worlds, as he never gives up to the Rage until Dark Khan reveals himself and makes Rage take everybody. But even after that, he managed to bring himself back to normal, while Raiden was still under Dark Kahn's influence. It's also worth noting that he agrees with a Rage-stricken Raiden that while Shang Tsung himself might have taken the time to betray him right there and then, Evil Versus Oblivion means that he genuinely wants to defeat Dark Kahn.

  • Pet the Dog:
    • Zig-Zagged in Aftermath. When Shang Tsung travels to his abandoned island, he discovers that his minions have hung themselves, unable to cope with his previous death. Tsung is genuinely touched by this devotion. However, he's largely touched by their fanaticism to him and not necessarily the minions themselves.
    • Speaking of his island. For once, Shang Tsung is shown to be all but wholly generous, as he allows the Descendant of Apep to loot his hoard in the Krypt to the player's desire. Even if he may throw in a snide remark or two when the player gets killed by a trap or critter, he'd still gladly resurrect them at the nearest checkpoint no worse for wear, no matter how many times they die. Keep in mind, the Descendant is, for all intents and purposes, an insignificant stranger whom he holds no obligation towards, who came to basically steal his valuables, and yet he'd happily give them a treatment worthy of Goro.
    • He may be using his position in Empress Sindel's court to sow discord between Earthrealm and Outworld, but his serum for Mileena's Tarkat does work, albeit for a limited time.
  • Playing with Fire: Summons skulls on fire as projectiles.
  • Power Copying: Whenever Shang Tsung steals somebody's soul, he can learn their techniques and incorporate their powers into his own repertoire. Starting with 9, if he performs a Soul Steal during gameplay, Shang Tsung will briefly morph into his victim and gain a damage buff, whereas doing so in 11 will let him use their Krushing and Fatal Blows, as well as their unlocked Brutalities if the match ends while he's still transformed.
  • Power Floats: He's floating off the floor of Goro's Lair in the fight against him in the original game, making him impervious to sweeping attacks until he shapeshifts. He also uses this in Mortal Kombat 9, but not in battle.
  • Psychic Link: His Armageddon bio makes a reference to Shang binding his soul to Shao Kahn, which might explain why his victories would count for Outworld despite being from Earthrealm. MK11 confirm this when it's revealed that he willingly bound his soul to Shao Kahn's in exchange for power.
  • The Punishment: This is what the Elder Gods call his soul-sucking ability. Admittedly, it's required to keep him sustained, but he can do much more with it than that - and he's definitely not objecting.
  • Real Life Writes the Plot: His shapeshifting were originally added because their wasn’t enough memory left to give him a complete moveset.
  • Really 700 Years Old: Really ten thousand years old, to be exact, if his pre-match banter with Erron Black in 11 is to be believed. And he is capable of slowing down the aging process of anyone, as stated by Black's Arcade ending in MKX.
  • Red and Black and Evil All Over: He wears a black kimono shirt under a crimson robe in 9.
  • Reminiscing About Your Victims: Does this when the player discovers Kenshi's corpse in 11's krypt mode. Happily talks about how much pleasure he got from consuming the blind swordsmen's soul.
  • Scaled Up: He could turn into a cobra to finish his opponents as an Animality in MK3.
  • Sealed Evil in a Can: Even though the time quake in 11 brings him back, he's put into a temporal prison offscreen by Kronika to prevent his inevitable betrayal. Her death at the hands of Fire God Liu Kang is what releases him and sets off the events of Aftermath.
  • Serious Business:
    • Implied in MK11. Even though Shang Tsung personally welcomes the nameless traveler who came to the Krypt (with an obvious intention to rob the place), he gives said traveler a subtle warning (see Faux Affably Evil above). Considering the fact that the Krypt is located on Shang Tsung's private island...
    • Becoming a source of power for Sindel yet again is not a good course of action for Shang Tsung. And he doesn't need a reminder.
    Shang Tsung: I've heard rumors.
    Sindel: Tales of me "acquiring" your power?
    Shang Tsung: Obviously, such stories concern me.

    Shao Kahn: Come, Sindel awaits.
    Shang Tsung: Why, so you can transfer her my power?
    Shao Kahn: Where would you get that idea?
  • Shadow Dictator:
    • Shang Tsung fashions himself as one of these. It's implied that he prefers to subtly influence all sides of conflict from the shadows while his pawns and enemies destroy each other on his behalf. Especially if said pawns are Titans themselves.
    Shang Tsung: I have use for you, D'Vorah.
    D'Vorah: You lead no faction, Shang Tsung.
    Shang Tsung: Why lead one when I can influence all?
    • His intro with Jade also applies:
      Shang Tsung: An invisible hand must guide Outworld.
      Jade: Your hand, Shang Tsung?
      Shang Tsung: Such it has always been, princess.
  • Shapeshifter Guilt Trip: In the movie.
  • Shapeshifter Mode Lock: Intro dialogue to most of the mirror matches in MKX imply that he came back like this.
  • Shapeshifter Swan Song: His demise in the first game.
  • Shipper on Deck: According to Kano's mirror match intro, Shang Tsung is this to Kano and Mileena, if making multiple Kanos can translate to anything.
  • A Sinister Clue: Given his weapon style in later games, Shang would appear to be a lefty.
  • Sickly Green Glow: Green is his signature color owing to his soul-based powers.
  • Smug Snake: He just couldn't bare a minute without evil smirk.
  • The Sociopath: Shang Tsung appears very polite and approachable towards allies and foes alike, an artificial mindset which is never inherently sincere. He is also very fixated on his goals and his desires, not giving a damn about anyone and is more than welcome to be mocking and sadistic when it comes to killing people and absorbing souls out of those. His parasitical characteristics come to a head when he attacks Kronika's Keep, betraying everyone he comes across without a shred of remorse - and his trait of boasting and caring only for himself becomes more pronounced after killing Kronika and developing a God-Complex.
  • Soft-Spoken Sadist: Compared to the bombast and boisterousness many of the portrayals in MK11 deliver, Shang Tsung is notably this, almost never raising his tone and delivering threats in Cary-Hiroyuki Tagawa's trademark smooth baritone. His portrayal in MK1 follows suit, giving him a chilling edge.
  • Sorcerous Overlord: Is this in the first game and the first third of MK9, since he personally hijacked the Mortal Kombat tournament and disgraced it.
  • Soul Jar: 11 gives him a literal one, in the form of his phylactery, from which he frequently draws his power (and more souls!). The player can unlock more Soul Jar options for him by playing. Subverted in that his phylacteries only contain the souls of those he killed and not his own.
  • Stalker with a Crush: 11 adapts his movie version's creepy crush on Sonya Blade, and hints that he might be similarly interested in Cassie as well.
    Cassie Cage: Another "friend" of my parents...
    Shang Tsung: I have always been so fond of your mother.
    Cassie Cage: Do you practice being creepy?
  • Stance System:
    • In Deadly Alliance, he has Snake and Crane as unarmed styles and Straight Sword as weapon style.
    • In Deception, he swaps Crane with Mantis.
    • In Armageddon, he has Snake as unarmed style, while keeping the weapon stance.
  • The Starscream: The degree varies with the adaptation, but he's always just a little too ambitious to be a good Number Two. With the exception of 9, his ending in every game amounts to him overthrowing his current boss and taking over, and the only reason he fails there is because he's killed before he gets the chance.
  • Story-Breaker Power: Having worn the Crown of Kronika, absorbed the souls of Raiden, Fujin, Shao Kahn, and Sindel, Shang Tsung is one of the (if not THE) most powerful beings in Mortal Kombat, rivaled only by Fire God Liu Kang (and possibly surpassed by the One Being).
  • Start of Darkness: The new Shang Tsung probably wouldn't have returned to his evil ways in previous timelines had "Kronika" not revealed that Liu Kang delliberately created him to be a desperate man forced to sell fake medicine in order to scrape by as part of his godly design. Though as revealed in the story, "Kronika" is actually the original Shang Tsung from the bad ending of Aftermath, who ended up showcasing through manipulating his new counterpart that the qualities which make him who he is were already there, merely suppressed by Liu Kang altering his destiny.
  • Suspiciously Similar Substitute: Most noticeable in 11: Shang Tsung can morph into Reptile, Ermac, Smoke and Rain to use their special moves during the fight - and into Sub-Zero, Scorpion and Noob Saibot for his Fatal Blow. This trait practically makes him a substitute for Chameleon, with his third competitive variation having a unique ability which grants him all of the ninja abilities at the cost of being able to mix and match them with his other options.
  • Tall, Dark, and Handsome: In his younger form.
  • Tele-Frag: One of his fatalities in MK11 involves opening a summoning portal inside his opponent, from which Kintaro will burst out from. His Spatial Override Brutality works in a similar fashion, only with Tsung himself doing the telefragging instead of a minion.
  • Took a Level in Kindness: A very minor example in the Krypt section of MK11. He's surprisingly polite to the player, basically inviting them to help themselves to whatever treasure they find as long as they don't get greedy. He even mourns Goro in his own way.
  • Tournament Arc:
    • He really likes these, to the point that, in MKvDCU, when he encounters Captain Marvel in the Netherrealm, he has his allies face off against Marvel one at a time, announcing results between rounds as if it were Arcade Mode ("Captain Marvel wins!").
    • In 11, Shang even brags to Nightwolf that he was able to finish Nightwolf's ancestor with Flawless Victory.
  • Treacherous Advisor: He serves as this to Shao Kahn, acting as his Number Two while having his own designs. This culminates in him betraying Shao Kahn to form the Deadly Alliance with Quan Chi in the original timeline.
  • The Unfought: In Scorpion's Revenge.
  • Unlimited Wardrobe: There's no better example in this franchise. Shang Tsung's "main" appearance has changed considerably from game to game, except in Armageddon, which reutilized his Deadly Alliance model.
  • Unwitting Pawn: To Liu Kang in Aftermath; after seemingly triumphing over all contenders, even Kronika, Shang Tsung is confronted with Fire God Liu Kang, who reveals that he allowed Shang Tsung's victories in order to restore Kronika's crown and allow him to both fully master the Hourglass and defeat Shang Tsung once and for all. Shang Tsung is genuinely impressed by his foe's stroke of cunning.
  • Villain Decay: While all the villains suffered from this in the new timeline, Shang Tsung got it the worst. Most of his roles were given to Quan Chi, reducing Shang Tsung to another henchman, one who loses every single fight he takes part in. He can't even win a fight with Kung Lao with Quan Chi's help. This ends when he returns in ''Aftermath'' and once again becomes the Big Bad.
  • Villainous Breakdown: When Liu Kang begins erasing him from history, the formerly-smug and ever confident Evil Sorcerer spends his final moments desperately trying to crawl away from Liu Kang, with a look of positive fear in his eyes.
  • Villainous Crush: His pre-fight banter with several characters demonstrates that Shang Tsung has an incredibly strong perverse interest in Sonya Blade. Which she is NOT enthused about.
  • Villain Protagonist: Is effectively the main character of Aftermath, being the one who drives almost the entire plot and the focus of most characters' attention. Despite allying himself with the heroes and helping them save the world from Kronika, it's openly stated that zero characters trust him, and will kill him at the slightest sign of betrayal.
  • Villain Respect: When Fire God Liu Kang arrived in Shang Tsung's moment of victory, he immediately deduced that he must have let him win due to his superior usage of the soul crown to Kronika's. He let him basically doom his friends to death or worse, and Shang is visibly impressed throughout, calling it "deliciously cold-blooded".
    Shang Tsung: I see now. The Hourglass showed that only I could wield the Crown against Kronika, successfully. You let me win!
  • Villain World:
    • His ladder ending in 11 sees him make one out of the entire universe after claiming Kronika's powers and manipulating the other Titans.
    • In the evil ending of Mortal Kombat 11: Aftermath, Shang Tsung uses the hourglass to set himself up as a Multiversal Conquerer and sole apparent elder god of the cosmos, with corrupted versions of Raiden and Fujin as his Co-Dragons.
  • Voluntary Shape Shifting: His signature move is the ability to turn into other characters.
  • Walking Shirtless Scene: After his rejuvenation.
  • What the Hell, Hero?: For the atrocity of stealing a soul, Shang Tsung was condemned to... do it over and over again, with the punishment of aging and dying prematurely if he relents. Just to twist the knife, Shang doesn't give a crap about the souls he takes - and it actually makes him more and more powerful! It's like condemning a murderer to life as a Serial Killer, while the murderer enjoys killing and giving him no incentive (or ability) to repent of his crimes. The 11th game does provide an explanation, however: Kronika engineered the situation in the event she ever needed the power provided by absorbing souls for her works.
  • Wicked Cultured: While he's a sadistic psychopath, he is also clearly a very sophisticated man.
  • Yellow Peril: In the original game, though it's balanced by the fact that the main protagonist is also Chinese. He thankfully has more characterization in later games.
  • You Don't Look Like You: Shang Tsung's had one hell of a makeover between 9 and 11. His character design was decidedly Ambiguously Brown, with a gaunt face and prominent cheekbones the last time we saw him in-game in 9 and Ermac's ladder ending in X, while his 11 appearance is literally just Cary-Hiroyuki Tagawa in a robe, young or old. "Race Lift" doesn't quite describe how drastically his character design has changed.
  • You Have Failed Me: Some of Tsung's dialogue with Shao Kahn lampshades the fact that Kahn turned against Shang Tsung the instant he failed, despite over a millennium of capable service.
    Shao Kahn: You've failed me too often, sorcerer...
    Shang Tsung: Over a millennium, I've failed you twice.
  • Younger Than They Look: He was biologically nineteen years old in MKII. He doesn't exactly look like it.
  • Your Soul Is Mine!: The Trope Namer. As expected of him, Shang Tsung has the power to suck out and devour the souls of his enemies to extend his own lifespan and grant him the skills of his opponents. During gameplay, by sucking a portion of his opponent's soul, this would grant him a temporary change to his opponent's playstyle and abilities. As it stands, he can even absorb the souls of those who explicitly lack one, such as the Terminator or Noob Saibot.
    • In 9, this ironically happens to him. After Motaro's death, Shao Kahn chooses to use Shang Tsung to empower Sindel, fueling the massacre of the heroes.
    • One of his victory poses in 11 has him recreate the iconic shot from the movie after stealing his opponent's soul, complete with quoting the trope verbatim.
    • Taken to extreme in Aftermath. Quite a lot of characters get their souls siphoned out of them by Shang Tsung... not even Shao Kahn or Kronika are safe!

Tropes related to Shang Tsung in The New Era

    Tropes related to Shang Tsung in The New Era 
Tropes that appear all across Shang Tsung's appearances from Mortal Kombat 1 onwards.
  • Adaptational Attractiveness: As opposed to his more outwardly sinister-looking counterparts from the previous timelines, even in old age, Shang Tsung comes quite as a looker.
  • Adaptational Species Change: In the New Era, Shang Tsung's realm of birth is changed from Earthrealm to Outworld (presumably as an Edenian).
  • Adaptational Sympathy: Downplayed. He's still a cruel and insufferably smug backstabber, but he was born in squalor and has spent his entire life trying to claw out a living for himself through any means possible, so it makes sense why he'd immediately start reveling the moment he got an ounce of actual power. The original Shang Tsung never had any explanation for his villainy outside of him just being naturally power-hungry.
  • Adaptational Wimp: Zig-Zagged and justified as Fire God Liu Kang designed his life to be unfortunate and meaningless. He starts out as a struggling Snake Oil Salesman with none of his former Kung Fu prowess or dark sorcery but becomes cunning and capable again after meeting the mysterious woman.
  • Alchemy Is Magic: Due to the fact that he hasn't been given his magical powers at an earlier age, Shang Tsung relies a lot on his alchemical knowledge, both in his studies and in kombat.
  • Bait-and-Switch: When the Earthrealm infiltrators sneak into Shang Tsung's surface lab, they overhear him promoting the potency of the serum he was about to use on Princess Mileena, echoing his sales pitch in the prologue. However, unlike then, the serum legitimately works as a minor miracle to temporarily abate the effects of Tarkat.
  • Brilliant, but Lazy: In his bio, he's said to have a brilliant mind, also an aversion to manual labor and an inability to enjoy the honest work, so he chooses to peddle quack cures to earn some koin.
  • Big Bad Wannabe: Funnily enough, he ends up this to this Titan self.
  • Card-Carrying Villain: He really couldn't care less about the ethics of his actions so long as they benefit him. He'll even gloat about his crimes in a smug, mocking manner.
    Ashrah: Are you not aware that you repulse people?!
    Shang Tsung: I am, Ashrah. I just don't care.
  • Co-Dragons: While he is the more prominent of the two, Shang Tsung works with his fellow sorcerer Quan Chi, serving the agenda of their benefactor to conquer the realms by her side.
  • The Corrupter: Like the serpent he is, Shang Tsung has a talent for tempting people to embrace their worst instincts, doing so with General Shao, Rain, and Bi-Han.
  • Cut Lex Luthor a Check: One thing that separates him from his previous timeline counterpart is that, perhaps due to his origins as a conman in this timeline, he is aware of the more practical and monetary-centered uses his knowledge and powers bring him, and while he is averted to honest work he is not above pursuing the more unethical sides of such avenues if he considers them worth the effort. In one of the Pre-Match dialogues, Mileena accuses him of withholding a cure for Tarkat for his schemes, which Shang Tsung laughs off, and reveals he not only doesn't have one, he wouldn't be merely withholding it for a scheme; by saying that if he really did have a cure, he would already be a rich man from ruthlessly profiting off all those afflicted.
  • A Day in the Limelight: He is the focus character in Chapter 13: "Deadly Alliance". Doubles as a Villain Episode.
  • Deadpan Snarker: He has a dry and smug sense of humor about knowing what a bastard he is, but it's considerably less dry than it was in 11.
    Kenshi: Your mind's diseased, Shang Tsung.
    Shang Tsung: Like many great artists, I'm so misunderstood.
  • Enemy Mine: After being deceived by his Titan counterpart, he temporarily joins forces with Liu Kang and the rest of the heroes.
  • Entitled Bastard: Shang Tsung resents Liu Kang for his lot in life, considering himself deserving of both power and a far greater destiny than the mediocre existence he once endured. That Shang Tsung has committed atrocities with that power once he had it, and is willing to do even worse for the sake of his great destiny naturally means nothing to the sorcerer.
  • Even Evil Has Standards:
    • For all his treacherous shenanigans and horrifying experimentation, he nevertheless draws the line at destroying his own timeline. Especially if it's by being an Unwitting Pawn of his alternate self.
    • Likewise, in spite of his card-carrying villainy, he shows nothing but distaste at Havik's pursuit of anarchy and his attack on Seido, dismissing it as senseless destruction.
    • Smug backstabbing schemer that he is, Shang Tsung seemed legitimately loyal to "Damashi" for having uplifted him and is genuinely betrayed by the realization that he was nothing more than a pawn to his alternate timeline self... though he also seems furious that he didn't get what he was promised.
      Shang Tsung: You promised us realms! Now you leave us to slaughter?!
    • Played for Laughs as well in response to Johnny Cage's Troll tendencies prove too much even for him to bounce off of.
      Johnny Cage: You're who'd know! Is ensorcelled, like, even a word?
      Shang Tsung: I won't dignify that question with an answer!
    • While normally willing to troll the hell out of people to get under their skin, even Shang Tsung is quick to deny his involvement when accused of creating Tarkat. And is even quicker to point out if he had an actual cure he would be making a profit off it rather than hide it for malicious reasons.
  • Evil Cannot Comprehend Good: If it wasn't obvious he'd fall under this, several of his pre-match intros prove it. A key example is his inability to understand why Reiko wouldn't betray General Shao and is willing to die for him.
    Shang Tsung: To sacrifice one's life for another is lunacy.
    Reiko: It's no surprise you don't understand honour.
  • Evil Counterpart: Is effectively this to Raiden. The story even begins by following him then switching to Raiden. Both started as peasant boys born in a small town nestled in the wilderness, who's lives were marked by struggle and toil until they found their calling: Raiden, as an honest and hardworking Farm Boy, and Shang Tsung as a dishonest Snake Oil Salesman who robs others of their hard-earned pay. But their lives changed forever when a God, who is actually a Titan, introduces themselves to them, and uplifts them by granting access to supernatural power. Only, where Raiden uses his powers for the good of others, Shang Tsung is interested solely in his own ambitions. In Pre-Match dialogue, Shang Tsung even Lampshades their similarity, while Raiden questions how then Shang Tsung ended up evil if they're so similar.
    Shang Tsung: We're both small-town boys at heart.
    Raiden: Then why is yours so infected with evil?
  • Evil Chancellor: Works his way up to this position, having Sindel's ear and feeding her lies for his own gain.
  • Evil Sorcerer: Wouldn't be Shang Tsung if he wasn't this, though he had to be taught the dark arts to grow beyond his quack peddling days.
  • Faux Affably Evil: Witty and charming though he may be, Shang Tsung's courtesies are hollow; he's as callous and cruel a backstabber as he was in previous timelines, and his facade of civility is easy to see through. When he pays Kenshi a clearly facetious compliment during the Enemy Mine situation, Kenshi sourly tells him to drop the empty flattery.
  • For Want of a Nail: Instead of being a powerful sorcerer, here now ekes out a living traveling the fringes of Outworld as a Snake Oil Salesman.
  • Freudian Excuse Is No Excuse: Absolutely nobody accepts the notion that Shang Tsung's impoverished background justifies his inhumane experiments and lust for power, and it's abundantly clear that he actively enjoys hurting people for no reason. Furthermore, certain fight intros with Liu Kang or Geras imply that he had the opportunity to live a more honest and fulfilled life, and that his beggared existence of trying to con others was his own fault
    Shang Tsung: The squalor that I endured as a child—
    Geras: Do not lie. I know the truth.
  • From Nobody to Nightmare: Liu Kang intentionally gave Shang Tsung an unremarkable life to make sure he wouldn't become a threat in the New Era. Despite that precaution, and with interference from his Titan counterpart, Shang Tsung became a dangerous and powerful sorcerer regardless.
  • Hated by All: Everyone minus Quan Chi hates his guts when they clash with him. Including himself. Liu Kang even considers him a lost cause and just gives up on him.
    Liu Kang: You have fallen short of every hope I had for you.
    Shang Tsung: Music to my ears, Liu Kang.
  • The Heavy: While Titan Shang Tsung is the game's Big Bad, it's Shang Tsung who serves as the story's most prominent antagonist, spearheading the villains' plot and receiving more focus than his partner and fellow sorcerer Quan Chi.
  • How the Mighty Have Fallen: Got the short end of the stick in Liu Kang's New Era. Where his previous self was once a mighty soul-stealing sorcerer who ruled over his own island and whose schemes eventually saw him eclipse every other threat to the point that he nearly overthrew Liu Kang and seized control over time itself, this incarnation is nothing more than an ordinary con man, forced to scrape by day to day by selling fake cure-alls to Outworld peasants and left completely helpless when a mob of his bereaved customers beat him into the ground and rob him. At least until Kronika/Damashi manages to find him anyway.
    Kronika/Damashi: You are uniquely resilient. Who else could eke out a living travelling Outworld's hinterlands, selling quack cures and fake magic?
    Shang Tsung: (bitterly) A living? It is barely survival.
  • I Have Your Wife: Having seen Syzoth's shapeshifting in a circus years prior, Shang Tsung took the Zaterran's wife and son hostage to compel Syzoth to both serve him and allow Shang Tsung to learn shapeshifting for himself. Despite hating the sorcerer, Syzoth continued serving him under threat of his family's deaths, unaware that Shang Tsung carried out the threat months prior.
  • In Spite of a Nail: Even without his magical powers, he's still a sociopathic liar and manipulator, this time becoming a Snake Oil Salesman selling fake cures to commonfolk in Outworld.
  • Lack of Empathy: Shang Tsung cares for no one but himself. Even in his days as a Snake Oil Salesman, when an aggrieved customer says that his daughter died despite taking Shang Tsung's "cure-all", Shang Tsung's first response is to chuckle and deny that such a thing is even possible.
  • Lazy Bum: Before acquiring his powers, Shang Tsung became a con artist because he was too lazy and two-faced to have an honest job.
  • Mad Scientist: His experiments seen in his laboratory are down right horrific. When Queen Sindel sees what he's done it is finally enough to prove to her that this man is a diabolical fiend.
  • Manipulative Bastard: Relishes in knowing that he can so easily corrupt the morally weak into doing his bidding, most notably Bi-Han.
  • Moral Myopia: He has no problems going back on his word whenever it suits him, but he takes great umbrage to his Titan counterpart doing the same to him.
  • Pragmatic Villainy: Shang Tsung's main interest in life is his own enrichment, and while he is sadistic and cruel, he only acts to get something for himself, which is why he has no taste for Havik's senseless violence, and he admits that if he had a cure for Tarkat, he'd shamelessly enrich himself by selling it.
  • Rags to Riches: Started out his life as a huckster selling fake cures, but thanks to outside intervention has risen to become a trusted adviser to the royal court.
  • Smug Snake: As usual, Shang Tsung's every word ooze condescension and arrogance, being so certain his plans are infallible. And to his credit, his genuine cleverness and charisma allow him to easily manipulate allies and enemies alike, making his own manipulation by his Titan self all the more infuriating to him.
  • Snake Oil Salesman: The opening act shows that Shang Tsung peddles potions that he claims can cure any ailment, even Tarkat, while wearing a wig and fake beard to make himself look like a wise old man to help sales. He ends up being accosted by an angry customer, whose sick daughter died in spite of Shang Tsung's elixir (which is apparently nothing but simple tea), which leads to an angry mob turning on Shang Tsung, beating him up and smashing his wares.
  • The Sociopath: As ever, Shang Tsung is a vain, selfish, cold-blooded viper whose grandiose self-image and callous disregard for others spells trouble for everyone around him. Even before he was powerful enough to pose a threat to the realms, he had no qualms at all about selling fake medicines to the sick and desperate, showing no remorse when his quack cures failed. Once his benefactor has elevated him, he's even worse, experimenting on Tarkatans, murdering Syzoth's family after using them to compel his service, and plotting domination of the realms, all while manipulating anyone and everyone who actually listens to him.
  • Stance System: Shang can alternate between his young and elderly forms, with each of them having unique properties and different special moves (e.g., young Shang Tsung launches his fire skulls forward, while old Shang Tsung makes them erupt from the ground).
  • Villainous Friendship: Shang Tsung and Quan Chi are partners in crime, having been brought together by their mutual benefactor, and the two sorcerers get along quite well, though whether they would have ultimately turned on one another, as the previous Deadly Alliance did, is never tested.
  • Villainous Valor: Shang Tsung is many, many unpleasant things, but a coward isn't one of them. While he isn't foolish enough to pick fights he can't win, when necessary, he's more than prepared, and even occasionally eager to fight, and he's perfectly willing to set himself against a demigod of Liu Kang's caliber to get what he wants. He is also the only villain from the new timeline that joins Liu Kang in his final battle at the Pyramid at Argus. The many threats against his life in pre-fight intros only amuse Shang Tsung, who always has a quip or a defiant response ready.
    Sindel: You heartless, spineless, worm!
    Shang Tsung: [chuckles] Heartless, yes. Spineless, no.
  • Voluntary Shapeshifting: Once again has the ability to shapeshift into other characters; in-story dialogue reveals that he gained that power by studying Syzoth's own shapeshifting. As is the case with his previous Netherrealm era incarnations, he can only transform into a copy of his opponent, with his EX morph granting him a damage increase on top of that. To add salt into the wound, he also gains the ability to use his opponents' Fatalities and Brutalities against them.
  • Well-Intentioned Extremist: Ostensibly. According to one of Rain's intros, Shang Tsung had told him about his horrific experimentation on the Tarkatans had been done for the purpose of finding a cure for Tarkat. Even if his true motives were undoubtedly to further manipulate Empress Sindel by curing Mileena (as well as developing his hybrids), developing a serum to alleviate its symptoms was in and of itself a minor medical miracle that no one else could replicate.
  • Wolverine Claws: For this timeline, he wields a pair of bladed claws that also serve as syringes in kombat.
  • Worthy Opponent: In a pre-kombat dialogue with Kitana, he claimed to have at least respected Sindel, a claim Kitana discounts as one of his myriad of lies.
  • Would Hurt a Child: He admits to killing Syzoth's family, including his son, though whether he did it personally or had it ordered is unknown.