Mortal Kombat is a Long Runner with Loads and Loads of Characters. But the utter cruelty and horrible deeds of some of these villains are more than enough to earn them a special place in the Netherrealm.
Canon works, by first appearance
- Shang Tsung, the Evil Sorcerer of Outworld and right-hand man to Shao Kahn, was the grandmaster of Mortal Kombat who attempted to open Earthrealm to invasion by the dark forces he serves. Cursed by the Elder Gods for stealing a soul long ago, Shang Tsung delved into forbidden arts, making stealing his victims' souls his trademark move. Allying with fellow sorcerer Quan Chi in the Deadly Alliance, the sorcerers, after murdering Shang Tsung's longtime foe Liu Kang and supposedly killing Shao Kahn, would proceed to open a path to the heavens so Shang Tsung could consume all the souls therein and gain even greater power. Later on, he would form an uneasy alliance with Quan Chi, Shao Kahn, and Onaga in the hopes of preventing the Forces of Good from defeating Blaze, then seizing his own opportunity to strike when it came. Also serving as a scientist of sort to Shao Kahn, Shang Tsung used the "Flesh Pits", where he tortured and vivisected people, including Kotal Kahn, to attempt to create Tarkatan clones of Kitana. Making his escape from the Void beyond time upon Kronika's death, Shang Tsung deceived the heroes into helping him retrieve Kronika's Crown from the past so he can kill Kronika, become the new Keeper of Time, and rewrite history in his own image, while also having Shao Khan and Sindel brutally eliminate the heroes, but has Raiden and Fujin kept alive so their powers can be siphoned for all of eternity, before betraying them as well and stealing their souls. Ambitious and greedy, Shang Tsung repeatedly demonstrates nothing is beyond him in his tireless pursuit of power and his hunger for souls.
- Shao Kahn, Emperor of Outworld, is a brutal warlord who seeks to merge all realms with his own. Having poisoned his master, Onaga, Shao Kahn would later subjugate many other worlds, including the peaceful Edenia, where he took King Jerrod's family for his own. Shao Kahn would later invade Earthrealm and, with the help of Sindel, who had been resurrected by Shang Tsung, would use his magic to rip out the souls of everyone in Earthrealm while sending his extermination squads to hunt down survivors. Later on, he would go on to form an uneasy alliance with Quan Chi, Shang Tsung, and Onaga in the hopes of preventing the Forces of Good from defeating Blaze, then seizing his own opportunity to strike when it came. He eventually succeeds and takes Blaze's power and brutally beats Raiden before killing him. In the new timeline, Shao Kahn, besides using Shang Tsung's Flesh Pits to create Mileena, a psychotic clone of Kitana, continues his brutal conquests, showing his total and utter disregard for anything resembling honor when he snaps Kung Lao's neck without even a formal issue of challenge, drains Shang Tsung of life to empower Sindel to slaughter Earthrealm's defenders, and then attempts to beat Earthrealm's remaining protectors to death, glorying in his attempts to conquer Earthrealm for himself. Upon being recruited by Kronika, Shao Kahn turns on her and plans to take her Hourglass for himself to build his own empire spanning across all the realms. To that end, he leads his forces to wipe out both Kronika and Earthrealm's forces, while also spitefully breaking both of Liu Kang's legs to make him suffer even more. Absolutely bloodthirsty and only valuing those who are useful to him, Shao Kahn proves to be one of the most persistent threats to Earthrealm.
- Quan Chi, Shang Tsung's occasional partner in evil, is ostensibly the right-hand man of Shinnok, but is loyal only to himself, giving Shinnok a fake amulet. Playing the Lin Kuei against the Shirai Ryu, Quan Chi exterminates the Shirai Ryu and blames the massacre on Sub-Zero, leading to the undead Hanzo Hasashi—better known as Scorpion—murdering him; he then turns the older Sub-Zero into a wraith named Noob Saibot. Manipulating Scorpion against Sub-Zero's younger brother, Quan Chi was eventually banished to the Netherrealm when the Shirai Ryu ninja learned the truth. Escaping by enlisting—and betraying—two demons, Quan Chi allies with Shang Tsung and assists in the crimes of the Deadly Alliance. In the new timeline, Quan Chi enslaves the souls of Earthrealm's fallen heroes, turns them into hideously-corrupted revenants, and sends them against their friends, while manipulating Shao Kahn's war to merge the realms so he can help free Shinnok and initiate more destruction. Loyal to nobody, with the exception of Shinnok in Mortal Kombat X because he has no choice, Quan Chi desires nothing less than ultimate power, no matter who he has to rub out or double-cross.
- Shinnok himself is a former Elder God banished to the Netherrealm. While he acts as The Corrupter to Daegon and a lesser degree Taven, this is only a sample of his deeds. Prior to the events of the franchise, he betrayed his fellow Elder Gods due to his lust for power and desire to rule Earthrealm, but was exiled to the Netherrealm, where he endured constant torture from the Netherrealm's overlord, Lucifer, and was at his mercy until he encountered the sorcerer Quan Chi; with Quan Chi's aid, he overthrew Lucifer and took control over the Netherrealm, amassing an army of loyal demons on his side over time. In Mortal Kombat 4, he tries to seize control of Earthrealm again by invading the Heavens, but was thwarted by Raiden. In the new timeline, he orchestrates a massive amount of bloodshed with Quan Chi to gain freedom, unleashes the demons of the Netherrealm—as well as the souls of the fallen heroes who have been revived as revenants and brainwashed to serve him and Quan Chi—to wreck havoc in Earthrealm as part of his revenge against Raiden and the Elder Gods for banishing him to the Netherrealm, and attempts to corrupt the Jinsei, Earthrealm's life force, nearly leaving Earthrealm in chaos. Though he was defeated after a long struggle, he does get his revenge against Raiden by twisting the Thunder God into something as evil as himself. In his lust for revenge, Shinnok planned to consume the life of all that lived, followed by destroying the Elder Gods themselves, and reawakening the One Being to end all of reality. The closest to ultimate evil in the world of Mortal Kombat, Shinnok showcases the terrifying nature of a fallen Elder God consumed only with pride and hunger for power.
- Mortal Kombat 11:
- Kronika, the Titan, is the mistress of time and the Greater-Scope Villain of the entire franchise. A vicious Control Freak obsessed with her notions of balance between good and evil, Kronika manipulates her own children, Cetrion and Shinnok, into eternal conflict, keeping their armies fighting forever with countless lives lost. When a timeline proves disappointing to her, Kronika exterminates it, killing everyone and rebooting them to try again, which she has done countless times. Manipulating Liu Kang and Raiden's conflict, Kronika gains allies by promising them anything they want, even having the Lin Kuei traitor Frost unwillingly convert many people to cyborgs for her army. Finally having her own daughter sacrifice herself through a combination of control and emotional manipulation, Kronika proceeds to attempt to erase history again, caring only for her own domination and shaping of destiny.
- Frost is the former star pupil of Sub-Zero who betrayed her master in the cruelest way imaginable. Arrogant and brash, Frost believed she was more fit to take over the Lin Kuei and took Kronika's offer to lead the new Cyber Lin Kuei. Transforming herself into a cyborg, Frost lured out numerous of her former comrades to transform them into robotic minions, using a process that involves ripping them apart and then removing their will to place her own will on them, deliberately choosing Lin Kuei as a form of petty revenge against Sub-Zero. When Sub-Zero and Scorpion tried to stop the Cyber Lin Kuei, Frost ambushed and tried to kill them, believing neither of them ever saw her talent. She returns in the finale leading Kronika's defenses in hopes of having another chance to kill her former comrades and to bring Kronika's plans to fruition, even knowing this would destroy the universe.
Non-canon works, by release/publication date
- Comic Books:
- Midway Comics (MK1 Collectors Edition & MKII Collector's Edition): Shang Tsung used his ability to steal people's souls to keep himself young and appease his gods. Participating in the Mortal Kombat tournament to steal the souls of countless warriors he defeated, Shang Tsung was eventually beaten by Kung Lao, leading him to trick his way into organizing the tournament itself and using the Shokan prince Goro to kill Kung Lao and many warriors, so his new master Shao Kahn could invade the Earth. After Earthrealm champions destroyed his forces and foiled his plans, Shang Tsung managed to convince Shao Kahn to give him youth and return his full power, so he could hunt down the Earthrealm champions and destroy the Shaolin Temple of Light, a place where Liu Kang lived from childhood, massacring everyone within.
- Malibu Comics: Shao Kahn is a cruel despot of Outworld, who desires to expand his empire across the universe. Taking over the initially peaceful and utopian Outworld from King Jerrod, Shao Kahn turned it to a horrible wasteland full of life-threatening dangers, which regularly murder many innocents. Brainwashing Jerrod's daughter Kitana into thinking she is his daughter, Shao Kahn repeatedly mind-wiped her every time she found out the truth. Setting his eyes on Earthrealm, Shao Kahn tries to conquer it several times, torturing his minion Shang Tsung for failing to achieve this through the Mortal Kombat tournament. Growing paranoid, Shao Kahn decided to fill his army with undead creatures whom he controlled through Deathstone, and when mutants refused to work with them, Shao Kahn ordered their complete extermination, down to infants, as well as the annihilation of many denizens of Outworld, so he could make them his obedient undead slaves.
- 1995 novel, by Jeff Rovin:
- Shao Kahn, the demonic ruler of the hellish Outworld, is one of the sons of T'ien, the highest of gods, who originated from the creator of all life P'an Ku. Desiring to merge his realm with the Mother Realm—Earth—Shao Kahn sent his chief minion Shang Tsung there to open a portal and extend it enough to fit his demon army through. Sending his nephew Ruthay to serve as a communication device between them, changing his form in the process, Shao Kahn didn't care that it made Ruthay live in a state of eternal agony and the fact that if the portal were ever closed it could result in obliteration of the Mother Realm. Having Shang Tsung kill countless innocent people in search for "the right soul", which could extend a portal, Shao Kahn took parts of Shang Tsung's each time he failed and eagerly waited for a way to Earth, so he could transform it into Hell on Earth, with masses of people tortured and burned.
- Shang Tsung is an Evil Sorcerer who developed an ability to steal people's souls. Losing his memory on Earth after Shao Kahn sent him there, Shang Tsung immediately began slitting throats of lone travelers after Shao Kahn returned his memories and ordered him to do so, and killed a teacher, a warrior and a holy man in his search for "a right soul" to use to extend a portal to the Outworld. Realizing that souls of the warriors is what he needed, Shang Tsung captured, brainwashed and enslaved the seven traveling cooks to rebuild the ancient Shaolin Temple on an island and then enlarges it, so he could create the Mortal Kombat tournament, where he would invite many powerful warriors from across the world. He killed countless warriors and sent their souls to Shao Kahn, so he could enlarge the portal little by little. After being defeated by Kung Lao twelve times, Shang Tsung used the Shokan prince Goro to kill him by ripping his heart out, and much later Shang Tsung planned to quit being Shao Kahn's lackey by using the magic artifact to create his own kingdom, only backing down when the heroes were close to destroying him and his forces, while, for petty reasons, ordering his mercenaries to kill a child who lived in the Temple of Rayden (sic).
- 1995 film: Shang Tsung is an Evil Sorcerer who drains the souls of his victims and seeks to destroy Earthrealm for Shao Kahn, Emperor of Outworld. Starting the film by killing hero Liu Kang's younger brother and draining his soul, Shang Tsung manipulates the heroes into joining Mortal Kombat so he can see a victory for his side and finally see humanity destroyed. During his tenure as tournament grandmaster, Shang Tsung frequently drains the souls of defeated fighters, even still-living men from his own side, that he absorbs into himself, the souls suffering perpetual torment. When he realizes he may lose the tournament, Shang Tsung proves himself a dishonorable coward by doing everything he can to avoid fighting Liu Kang and trying to challenge weaker fighters in his place before relying on using Liu Kang's brother's form to try to break him mentally.
- Annihilation: Elder God Shinnok, the God of Outworld and the father—and the one behind—Emperor Shao Kahn, is in one form or another largely responsible for the events of the films as a whole. Having once decreed that his sons, Shao Kahn and Rayden (sic), must be able to kill the other to prove themselves worthy as his heir, Shinnok disowned his son Rayden after Rayden hesitated to kill Kahn, and seeks little else but his blood in the present day. Shinnok has conditioned Shao Kahn to be Emperor—threatening to take his soul should he fail to measure up to his standard—and has overseen the successful invasion of one other Realm by his hand, deliberately violating the Elder God's sacred rules to allow Kahn to invade Earth anyways after Shang Tsung's defeat. Shinnok callously oversees Kahn murdering Rayden after he denies his final offer of peace, sneering that Rayden shall die alongside the humans he's dedicated himself to protecting.
- Conquest: Shao Kahn is the lord of Outworld and the conqueror of countless worlds that he brutally dominates, enslaves and harvests for souls. Introducing himself by stealing the soul of a slave, Kahn aims to invade Earth and subject it to his brutal rule like so many others. Setting himself up as a god named "Shakaa", Shao Kahn attempts to harvest the souls of the people in the city of Shakaana under the promise of delivering them to "paradise." In the finale of the show, Kahn proceeds to use his Shadow Priests to exterminate every other member of the main cast, including Kahn's own daughter Kitana, while defeating Rayden (sic). Mocking Rayden for the deaths of all the others, especially Rayden's champion Kung Lao, Shao Kahn forces Rayden to watch as he leads Outworld's forces to utterly dominate and destroy every living soul on Earth.
- Shao Kahn is the tyrannical emperor of Outworld, who is bent on expanding his empire as far as possible. Invading the realm of Edenia, as soon as all their champions lose Mortal Kombat tournaments, Shao Kahn brings death and destruction to the peaceful kingdom, slaughtering countless innocents and forcing Sindel to marry him and adopting her daughter Kitana. Fearing that Sindel would tell Kitana the truth in the future, which could lead to her trying to rebel against him, Shao Kahn created her clone, Mileena, from Tarkatan blood, and when Sindel killed herself to merge her soul with that of her daughters to protect her from Shao Kahn's influence, Shao Kahn raised both his adopted daughters as his personal assassins, ordering them to murder all former King Jerrod's imposters and King Jerrod himself. Later ordering his daughters to participate in the current Mortal Kombat tournament, Shao Kahn plans to invade Earthrealm and do with it what he did with Edenia.
- Quan Chi is the powerful necromancer and leader of the Netherrealm, who has his own plans for the takeover of Earthrealm. Seeking his own champion for the Mortal Kombat tournament, Quan Chi found out about the rivalry between the Shirai Ryu and Lin Kuei clans and used it to his own advantage. As both clans managed to achieve a truce, Quan Chi murders the traveling lord of both clans Shogun and all his guards, while taking the appearance of Bi-Han, leader of the Lin Kuei, to lure Hanzo Hasashi, aka Scorpion, out of the Shirai Ryu village, so that he could brutally slaughter his whole clan, along with his wife and child, and blame it on the Lin Kuei. Using Scorpion's thirst for vengeance, Quan Chi resurrected him as his own champion and led him to murder Bi-Han, who was Scorpion's former friend, whom Quan Chi framed for the purging of the Shirai Ryu.
- Scorpion's Revenge: Quan Chi is a powerful sorcerer and the highest-ranking servant of the mad god Shinnok. Taking over the Netherrealm after Shinnok was imprisoned by the Elder Gods, Quan Chi keeps the realm as a hellish nightmare, where countless people get tortured for eternity. Hatching a plan to free Shinnok, Quan Chi impersonated Sub-Zero and led the Lin Kuei to slaughter the whole clan of Shirai Ryu, personally killing the wife and child of Hanzo Hasashi, aka Scorpion. Promising to resurrect Hanzo's family in exchange for the key to release Shinnok, Quan Chi sent him undercover to the Mortal Kombat tournament to act as his champion, and when Scorpion failed him by choosing to kill Sub-Zero instead, Quan Chi taunted him by revealing that he was the one who destroyed his family and clan.