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Self Demonstrating / Shang Tsung

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Myself, albeit a bit older 
(If you like your soul where it is, then picture Shang Tsung through Cary-Hiroyuki Tagawa. Trust us on this.)

Shang Tsung is a character from the Mortal Kombat series and was originally the host of...oh, no. No-no-no! No, wait! WAIT! AARRGH!!

(cue the soul getting drained, and the body falling to the ground, a lifeless shriveled husk)

Your soul is MINE.

(ahem) Apologies, troper. You should not have seen that. There is no one worthy to tell my story but me.

That unfortunate business aside, welcome to my page, troper. I am Shang Tsung. If you are here, then it means you wish to hear my story. Do not worry. No harm shall come upon you. You shall bear witness to what I shall reveal.

Every story has a beginning. And mine is no exception.

I am not originally from Outworld. As you can tell by my name, I am Chinese in origin, but prefer Outworld. Not only was I a fledgling sorcerer, but also a superb martial artist.


When I consumed the soul of my opponent, well...the Elder Gods overreacted. Winning is all that matters. Alas, those self-righteous fools cursed me for my supposed offense: To stave off my untimely demise from rapidly aging. I was to consume the souls of my fallen opponents. However, my consuming of their souls have granted me an unexpected boon: I would not only have access to their memories, but also their knowledge, a happenstance that would be very beneficial for the centuries to come and and nearly became Elder Gods' undoing in the original timelinenote .

Around the same time, I was approached by Outworld's Emperor, Shao Kahn. Seeing the ambition in my eyes, Kahn made me an offer: come to Outworld and learn the Black Arts from him personally.


I was but a young man when I first competed in Mortal Kombat. I rose through the ranks and would become its Grand Champion...for a time.

Then, he came. The fighting monk known as The Great Kung Lao. I underestimated him and paid dearly for it. The Great Kung Lao defeated me yet spared my life.

That one decision would prove to be fatal.

Years passed, and I would return to Mortal Kombat. Not as a competitor, but to "replace" one of the elderly grandmasters who had died. No, my place as a competitor was taken by my chosen replacement: the Shokan Prince, Goro.

Kung Lao did not stand a chance. Goro finished him, and I took great pleasure in consuming his soul.

Goro's victory over the Great Kung Lao was the first of nine consecutive victories for Outworld. In order to conquer Earthrealm without consequence, Outworld must have ten consecutive victories.

But fate was not kind to me or to The Emperor's plans.

I never liked fighting monks. I thought I couldn't hate them as much as I hated The Great Kung Lao.

That was, until Liu Kang came to my island to compete.

I would face off against that infernal Shaolin no less than five times: being the first, of course, on my island fortress, the second during the Outworld Tournament, the third during Shao Kahn's Invasion of Earthrealm, the supposed final time when I snapped his neck like a twig, and the final time was at the Battle of Armageddon. Six, if you count that little squabble with the Justice League.

The first three times, I admit that I lost due to my own hubris. But I wised up after my third loss and joined forces with Quan Chi in his scheme to revive Onaga's mummified army. First, we took down Shao Kahn. Then, I took great pleasure in snapping Liu Kang's neck and consuming his soul.

Oh, but Liu Kang's demise was just the beginning. Despite Raiden's best efforts, his champions were no match for us, and they fell in battle, leaving only Raiden.

The thunder god, for all his power, was no match for both Quan Chi and I. However, with Raiden's defeat, the Deadly Alliance soon fell apart, and Quan Chi and I attacked one another, with Quan Chi being the victor in our battle.

He would not get the chance to savor his victory. Onaga, the Dragon King, had risen and was coming for Shinnok's Amulet.

Not even when Raiden had joined forces with Quan Chi and myself was Onaga deterred. Then Raiden gathered his essence and unleashed it in a final attack which destroyed Quan Chi's fortress and killed not only that wretched necromancer but also myself.

However, it was not the end. My soul was still bound to Shao Kahn, and to prepare for the inevitable Battle of Armageddon, I was given a new body.

During the final battle, I confronted the rotting corpse of Liu Kang. Raiden had revived it using necromancy, transforming it into a mindless killing machine.

I did not survive the encounter. As I had done to Liu Kang, he had returned the favor.

Then, Raiden somehow reset the timeline.

Nothing special happened the second time through. Everything that happened did happen. Only this time, in the Outworld tournament, it was Kung Lao, not Liu Kang, that had defeated me.

During the Outworld Invasion, Raiden slew the Centaur Motaro, thus saving the life of Johnny Cage. I was not expecting the treachery from my Emperor when presented with Motaro's corpse.

He would use my soul and those that I have collected over the centuries to empower Queen Sindel and unleash her onto the Forces of Light. Posthumously, I was responsible for the decimation of Raiden's forces and providing minions for Shinnok's army.

When Kronika began taking a more direct approach in shaping the timeline, she found me to be too devious, too dangerous to let roam free, so she locked me in the Void where I would be powerless to interfere, along with the Matoka shaman Nightwolf and the Wind God Fujin, both of whom held no love for me, but we had to unite in face of a common enemy.

As the Titan fell to Fire God Liu Kang, our path was clear. I knew that without Kronika's crown, my own creation, he would not be able to control the flow of time expertly. This is where my plan begins.

"Cease, Liu Kang, before you doom us all!"

With these words I and my companions appeared before the new Keeper of Time and now-mortal Raiden. The situation was quite unfortunate, so Liu Kang agreed to send us into the past to revive Queen Sindel and get a new ally that would tip the scales in our favor.

Gaining Sheeva's support, we managed to capture the Empress' revenant and restore her back to life so that she would aid us in retrieve the Crown from the ruins of my once-glorious island. Her strength was vital in fending off Cetrion and other minions of Kronika, and the next stage of the plan was about to begin.

I had aligned myself with Sindel behind the scenes so that she would restore Shao Kahn to his former glory and deal with the Earthrealm warriors and Outworlders who would eventually get in my way. Their betrayal paved the road for me, and in the ensuing chaos, I took Raiden's form and convinced Fujin to give the Crown to me.

That gullible god had no idea what he had just done. With the artifact's power, I had easily defeated both deities and their allies, marching along with Sindel and Shao Kahn to Kronika's sanctum. There I had executed my revenge on them for treating me like dirt, draining their souls. Kronika also was no match for my newfound power and, like everyone else, she had fallen to me.

Victory was certain, and I was about to begin reshaping the timeline to my liking when another foe had appeared. The Liu Kang who had sent me into the past. It was his plan all along to have me betray everyone else and claim the Crown for myself so that he would have an easier time snatching it from me. I couldn't help but note the irony of my situation, a puppet master who had been strung along as a puppet. He had certainly learned from the best, but at that point, I did not intend to lose everything I had gained.

There are two possibilities of what happened next. In one of them the damnable Fire God bested me and completely erased me from existence, altering the timeline so that he would mentor the Great Kung Lao.

Or fate would take a liking to me, and I gained the upper hand, draining my nemesis' soul. No foe would oppose me, and with my limitless power I would go on conquer other realms, having Raiden and Fujin as my attack dogs. From a lowly sorcerer to the master of the universe... a glorious path undertaken by the one and only Shang Tsung.

Somehow, I found myself in one of Johnny Cage's films detailing the first tournament. While not a fan of any type of motion picture, I found myself enjoying how the film portrayed me. So much so, that I made my avatar's visage my own.

Like the others, I have past dealing with both the Justice League and their assorted gallery of rogues. Shame I could not have met up with Ra's al-Ghul. He sounds quite the interesting man. But surprisingly, I, too, believe that the same group of heroes comes from the alternative Earthrealm in which their greatest hero becomes a tyrant. As for that annoying jester, he is not who I want. Besides his soul would cause...indigestion. If we meet again, Kryptonian, consider this my personal pledge: I shall enjoy devouring your soul. It seems The Lord Of Apokalips is here as well. My previous incarnation tried to absorb his soul. It did not end pleasantly...

Be careful, troper. You may just lose your soul upon reading this...

  • 0% Approval Rating: It seems that I am not to be trusted by any party, including Shao Kahn, a feat that is matched also by Kano.
  • All Your Powers Combined: My current outing has me transform into the likes of Rain, Bi-Han and his brother, Scorpion, Syzoth, and Ermac, merely to use their unique abilities.
  • Amazon Chaser: I have something of an...interest in Mrs. Sonya Blade. I even commissioned an outfit from Outworld's best tailors, fitted especially for her.
  • Ambiguously Human: Yes. I am Earthrealm in origin. You could probably guess my former nationality just from my name alone. But as Erron Black once famously stated, I am "Outworld-adjacent."
  • Amplifier Artifact: I have several. Their main purpose is to house all of the souls that I have taken over the centuries.
  • Arch-Enemy:
    • It seems the White Lotus has it in for me after I unleashed Prince Goro upon their finest champion, the Great Kung Lao. None more so than that infernal monk, Liu Kang.
    • Princess Kitana. It seems that she was a bit...annoyed that I created Mileena by combining her essence with that of a Tarkarta. That, and the fact that one of the many souls I had taken from Ermac was that of her true father.
    • Ah, Lord Raiden. A protector who constantly dooms the world he's sworn to protect. He holds a particular grudge towards me for being Shao Kahn's emissary and sending Goro to trample his so-called "champions". It all would be much easier if that stubborn god simply submitted to the Outworld's rule.
  • Animal Motifs: Serpents, particularly the cobra.
  • The Assimilator: With every soul that I devour, I not only become stronger but also acquire their knowledge and skills.
  • The Bad Guy Wins: The true final battle between me and the newly deified Liu Kang can go one of two ways. Either he wins and I am removed from existence, or I triumph and take both his soul and my place as supreme ruler of all creation.
  • Badass Longcoat: A staple which I had adopted from the first film. I must admit that I look good in it.
  • Badass Mustache/Beard of Evil: If that idiot Cage calls me Fu Manchu one more time, I will consume his soul in front of his former spouse and their daughter.
  • Big Bad: That is a matter of opinion. I was merely the host of the tournament; that honor truly went to Shao well as Shinnok. But were you to ask me by the time of the second Kronika's Crown quest, you might have more of a point...
  • Body Horror; Put simply, I appear to have, as mortals say, "seen better days" if I've not kept up my soul taking or suffered a grievous wound. The worst was during the Aftermath of Kronika's downfall. Lightning bolts courtesy of Nightwolf's revenant left me looking no better than a rotting corpse, and I had to consume his soul just to get back to looking like a slightly healthy old man.
  • The Bus Came Back: I made my glorious return to form during Kronika's scheme to rewind time following my untimely demise.
  • Cast from Hit Points: My signature attack, the Flaming Skull, of which I can fire off in rapid succession. The Skulls are in fact the deceased soul's lifeforce, and are quite formidable indeed.
  • Chronic Backstabbing Disorder: I take offense to that. I am not Tanya. I merely look out for my best interests, namely my own, no matter what Quan Chi might tell you. Kronika, on the other hand, had no such compunctions, and had me sealed in a temporal prison.
  • Court Mage: I am Shao Kahn's Chief Shadow Priest.
  • Cruelty Is the Only Option: You should know the risks when facing me in Mortal Kombat. Should you lose, will not be leaving alive.
  • Cursed With Awesome: Hmph. To say the Elder Gods overreacted when I consumed my first soul would be a complete understatement. Those damned fools cursed me to consume the souls of my enemies, lest I would rapidly age and die. But the trade-off is that a boon is granted with every soul I consume; I acquire the memories and skills of my fallen victims. It was Kronika who actually cursed me in the first place not that it would matter as I defeated her and consumed her soul.
  • A Day in the Limelight: The adventure that resulted after Kronika's defeat was largely about me manipulating all and sundry in order to reclaim the Crown that I had created. It almost works perfectly...until I found that Liu Kang was as capable of being as economical with the truth as I.
  • Did You Just Punch Out Cthulhu?: Of course, I can best Kronika in single kombat perfectly fine, but I feel my proudest achievement, Crown or no Crown, was defeating and crushing both Raiden and Fujin simultaneously and drinking deep of their souls. Not that I wanted them dead. They'd make fine minions for me, though I made sure to tell Shao Kahn we could siphon their power for eternity.
  • Did You Just Scam Cthulhu?: Kronika did not expect me to break free from her temporal prison and face her in kombat. After claiming both the Hourglass and her soul, I acquire power and influence among her fellow Titans. That is, of course, one outcome. Another sees me having to ally with Liu Kang and his Earthrealm comrades, for my own benefit of course.
  • Don't You Dare Pity Me!: In the movie, in response to Liu Kang's statement about pitying me for having no soul of my own. I shouted back "Save your pity for the weak!".
  • The Dragon: I serve Shao Kahn...for as long as it serves my own interests. I was also this to Kronika before she rightly realized how much of a..liability I could be, shall we say.
  • Dragon with an Agenda: And I am exceedingly efficient at it. The entire quest for Kronika's Crown displayed this to perfect degrees. Ask Shao Kahn, who was on the cusp of destroying Kronika and claiming victory before I took both his and Sindel's souls in one sudden attack. He should have known better than to rely on the viper whose deception is well documented, and who had the Crown upon his head.
  • Dressing as the Enemy: I assumed the form of Kung Lao in order to ambush Liu Kang. I also took Raiden's form to fool Fujin into handing me Kronika's Crown. Poor Raiden arrived scant seconds too late...
  • Evil Mentor: To the late Prince Goro. Even now, I consider the son of King Gorbak to be my closest friend.
  • Evil Old Folk: If I've not kept up on my soul-taking, this becomes my default appearance.
  • Evil Sorcerer: One of the classic modern examples.
  • Evil Sounds Deep: Compliments of my most famous avatar.
  • Expy: Of Han and Lo Pan. The former sought greater ambitions beyond being a mere monk even had his own island while the latter was cursed by his Emperor to a decrepit form that was worse than mine ever was. He regained his physical form only to be killed by an idiot. I thankfully avoided such a fate. That inglorious dishonor went to Shinnok instead.
  • Faux Affably Evil: I am polite to my enemies. It's just that it's not entirely genuine.
  • Final Boss: The host and grandmaster of the tournament. Do not underestimate my elderly appearance. I am just as deadly then even more so in my prime.
  • Foil: You dare compare me to Liu Kang? much as it pains me to admit, we do share some similarities. Before Kung Lao's namesake defeated me, I was the original Mortal Kombat champion. While Liu Kang serves Raiden, I serve Shao Kahn.
  • Giving Someone the Pointer Finger: I do this to my fallen foe just before delivering my iconic line.
  • Half the Man He Used to Be: Ah, Kintaro. He was Goro's inferior in some ways, yet superior in others. Hence, my use of him for one of my finishing moves. After morphing into the Tigrar Shokan, I take the upper half of the opponent's body off with a single blow.
  • Hero Killer: Ages of wisdom and strength-building allowed me to take down the likes of Raiden and Fujin, draining their souls within an inch of their lives.
  • Impaled with Extreme Prejudice: Two examples, the latter which I am not entirely fond of.
  • Kung-Fu Wizard: I do not rely on my Black Arts most of the time. I am very skilled in the art of kombat, as Liu Kang can attest to.
  • Manipulative Bastard: Mind games and manipulation are among my many talents. I remember fondly at how I stoked Takahashi Kenshi's ego by telling him of his ancestral sword. I wasn't lying about the sword, but I did get the souls of his warrior ancestors in exchange.
  • Meaningless Villain Victory: Mortal Kombat: Deception opened with Quan Chi and I defeated all Earthrealm's defenders who came to oppose us. But neither of us had any intention of sharing power and turned on each other, Quan Chi emerging the victor. The only solace I can take is that he didn't have time to enjoy his victory over because Onaga returned to take Shinnok's amulet from him, and even with Raiden's help we could not stop the Dragon King. In short our scheme to use Onaga's army was doomed from the start.
  • More Dakka: Firing off multiple Flaming Skulls in rapid succession most certainly qualifies.
  • Naked on Arrival: Sorry, but when I drained Ermac of his souls in his outcome, I was lacking in my proper attire.
  • Neck Snap: The old timeline saw me dispatch my longtime nemesis Liu Kang with this very move, with welcome assistance from Quan Chi.
  • Non-Action Big Bad: Do not assume that my not being an active kombatant an act of cowardice. When one plays chess, the pawns are set out first. That, and having an army of souls also helps.
  • Off with His Head!: A particularly entertaining fatality of mine has me enter my hapless victim and force them to rip their own head off. Of course, that's if I don't feel like turning into a monstrous harlequin and blast their heads off with a .44 magnum. Hmm, perhaps that ridiculous jester has rubbed off on me after all.
  • Old Master: Very old.
  • Pragmatic Villainy: Unlike Kronika, I do not announce my presence to all should I become the ultimate master of time. I work in the shadows, manipulating the other Titans from the shadows and ensuring the downfall of good. I lurk where no one can ever reach me.
  • Promoted to Playable: I was the Final Boss of the original game. Since then I became a normal playable character.
  • Really 700 Years Old: Thanks in part to my research on Edenian longevity, I can also slow down the aging of anyone I choose.
  • Shadow Dictator: As I reiterated to Jade, an invisible hand must guide Outworld. Why lead one when you can lead all from behind the scenes?
  • Shapeshifter: Now who would I be without my other signature move?
  • A Sinister Clue: Yes. I am in Earthrealm terms, a southpaw.
  • Stalker with a Crush: Stalker? No. I have a keen eye for beauty, is all. Hence my interest in Sonya Blade.
  • The Starscream: I am ambitious. I will not deny it. So much so that I believe that the realms could be better under my rule. The only problem is that my plans are crushed before my ambitions are realized...until the Aftermath incident, where practically all of my schemes succeed in glorious fashion, even my final battle against Liu Kang.
  • Tall, Dark, and Handsome: In my younger form, yes.
  • Unwitting Pawn: To think that Liu Kang would manipulate me like I manipulated him and so many others... leave me to do the groundwork while he "observed" the Hourglass, then descend in my moment of triumph to take the Crown for himself. Nevertheless, only through mortal kombat could the Crown's true owner be decided.
  • You Have Failed Me: I've failed Shao Kahn all of twice in the current timeline, but he wasn't happy with that. Only my quick thinking spared me his fatal wrath. The old timeline saw me suffer torture at his hands as a result of his failed Earthrealm invasion.
  • Your Soul is Mine!: I am the Trope Namer, even quoting this after I win my match. When it comes to the original, accept no substitutes.

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