—Shao Kahn’s war cry.
- Mortal Kombat Trilogy: "Long ago, Shao Kahn rose to power in the Outworld, usurping the realm from Kitana's parents and taking Queen Sindel for his bride. Then she died. Now, centuries later, Sindel is reborn. And since Shang Tsung failed to win the Earth Realm through Mortal Kombat I and II, her rebirth is the means by which Kahn will finally seize the planet forever unless..."
- Deception: "My defeat at the hands of the Earthrealm warriors had left me weakened, and my dominance in Outworld was waning. Kitana's forces were closing in. It was only a matter of time before they would overrun my stronghold. Using a powerful magical item retrieved long ago by my minions, I created a clone of myself to draw my enemies' attention while I escaped into the wilds. When I have regained my strength, I will destroy all who opposed my rule. Though I have gone to great lengths to ensure my old nemesis Onaga could never be revived, I have discovered that he has indeed returned from beyond death, as his holy men had prophesied. He now commands the Tarkatan Horde, a vicious fighting force once loyal to me. When I have killed Onaga and regained control of Outworld, they will pay for their treason with their lives."
- MK vs DCU: "Emperor Shao Kahn's lust for power is matched only by his ruthlessness. For ages he conquered other realms and merged them with Outworld. Eventually he turned his attention to Earthrealm. To stave off invasion, Raiden convinced the Elder Gods to enforce the rules of the Mortal Kombat Tournament. Only if Shao Kahn were to win the tournament could he take Earthrealm. But Liu Kang defeated Outworld's champion, Shang Tsung, dashing any chance of Shao Kahn's victory. Enraged, Shao Kahn disregarded the Elder Gods' warnings and mounted an invasion. Defeated once again by Raiden and his allies, he was seemingly ripped apart by his own portal. But the realms are never truly safe from the evil that is Shao Kahn."
Long ago, Shao Kahn once served as the adviser to Onaga when the latter ruled Outworld as the Dragon King. Onaga's Empire had become the most powerful among all of the realms, and so he began searching for a way to become immortal. Before this goal could be realized, Shao Kahn made his move by poisoning Onaga and taking his kingdom. Upon assuming the emperor's throne, Shao Khan began to drain the vegetation energies of Outworld and turned it into a barren wasteland. From then on, Shao Kahn continued many of the former emperor's plans to conquer all. He continued to add lesser realms to Outworld, either through direct conquest or through Mortal Kombat.
Taven and his brother fought alongside their father and the dragons Orin and Caro, repelling an attempted invasion by Shao Kahn in the realm of Edenia.
With Shao Kahn's threat still looming, many years before Armageddon, Taven and his brother Daegon were put to sleep by their father, Argus, who intended to send his sons in a quest to save the realms from Armageddon. They were sent to Earthrealm, encased in stone to protect them from harm and assigned two guardians by the name of Orin and Caro. Shortly afterwards, Daegon was mistakenly awoken too early by Blaze and Shinnok took advantage of his jealousy towards his brother by making him kill his mother and father, Lady Delia and Argus, with the god-slaying weapons that were meant for his and his brother's quest. With Delia and Argus dead and Taven and the dragons in Earthrealm, Shao Kahn's armies invaded Edenia and could not be stopped.
On the battlefield, Kahn killed King Jerrod, and took Queen Sindel as his own queen through (forced) marriage, raising her daughter, Princess Kitana, as his own. He had the young princess trained as his personal guard and assassin. Unfortunately for Kahn, Sindel took her own life in an attempt to escape what she believed was eternal subservience to the Emperor. However, Shao Kahn held her soul in Outworld, stopping her transition to the afterlife, not willing to let his beloved queen go so easily.
Many years later, Kahn chose Earthrealm as his next conquest. He sent Shang Tsung and eventually Goro to Earthrealm to prepare it for an invasion via Mortal Kombat. A turning point came when Prince Goro defeated the Great Kung Lao in Mortal Kombat and initiated a winning streak that would last for 500 years. Shang Tsung, a shape shifter, supervised the tournament. The tenth Mortal Kombat tournament, however, saw the defeat of both Goro and Shang Tsung by a Shaolin Monk, Liu Kang, thereby ruining five hundred years of Kahn's investment. Shang Tsung begged Shao Kahn to spare his life, and came up with a plan to lure Earth's chosen warriors to Outworld for a new tournament. Kahn agreed to this plan, spared Shang's life, and restored his youth. If Earthrealm's champions could be killed, they would no longer be able to interfere with Kahn's plans. After kidnapping Kano and Sonya Blade in the Living Forest, ambushing Johnny Cage on the set of his new movie, and enraging Liu Kang by sending Baraka and his Tarkatan hordes to destroy the Shaolin temples, they waited for the Earthrealm warriors to arrive in Outworld. Despite Kahn's vast power, Liu Kang's determination saw him through, and he defeated the despot. Unwilling to accept defeat, Kahn called his armies to destroy the Earthrealm warriors. They fled back to Earthrealm and out of Kahn's clutches.
By this time, Shang Tsung had been able to resurrect Queen Sindel in Earthrealm, and Kahn would be able to cross the border and claim his beloved wife, allowing him to conquer Earthrealm. Nearly every living being in Earthrealm had their souls stripped from their bodies by Kahn, claiming them as his own. He then had his extermination squads hunt down and kill the remaining survivors. However, Lord Raiden had protected the souls of a handful of warriors. It would be their task to stop Shao Kahn, and liberate Earthrealm from its new Outworld rulers. In the ensuing fights, Kahn was confronted by Kung Lao, another Shaolin monk and descendant of the warrior Goro defeated to become champion of Mortal Kombat, but Kahn had blasted him away, seemingly killing him. Enraged, Liu Kang attacked Shao Kahn and defeated him once more. Worn down from the battle, Kahn recalled his squads and retreated back to Outworld. This stopped the merge with Outworld, and restored Earthrealm to its original status. To make matters worse for Kahn, many of his loyal soldiers had abandoned him, and Kitana had succeeded in turning Sindel to her side, restoring Edenia as an independent realm.
The emperor was now greatly weakened, and would remain so for a period of several years, gradually recovering his strength during Shinnok's war against the gods. The Edenians had in the meantime made peace and military treaties with the Shokan, on whom Kahn had always heavily relied, and were ready to attack Outworld a few years later. It was only through his new commander Kano's ingenuity, and the stealth of his assassin Noob Saibot (who critically wounded Goro) that Kahn able to repel the Edenian army and force them into a draw. Soon afterward, the sorcerers Quan Chi and Shang Tsung entered his throne room, swearing false allegiance to the emperor. Quan Chi and Shang Tsung caught Shao Kahn off guard and seemingly killed him. This would appear to be the demise of the mighty Kahn. In Mortal Kombat: Deception, it is revealed that Kahn did not die, and that it was a clone that Quan Chi and Shang Tsung killed. The real Kahn appeared to the wounded Goro and, using what little power he had left, revived him, thus gaining Goro and the Shokan as allies once again.
In the events of Mortal Kombat: Armageddon, Shao Kahn is the emperor of Outworld once again. It was revealed in the bios of Shang Tsung and Mileena that Shao Kahn had regained power after Onaga's defeat, by storming his own fortress (then under the command of Mileena, who had earlier deceived and used Kitana's Edenian Army to capture the fortress) with the aid of Goro and Shang Tsung. After succeeding in using his own brute force to storm the throne room, Mileena surrenders to him and Shao Kahn becomes Outworld's ruler once more.
Later on, he would go on to form an uneasy alliance with Quan Chi, Shang Tsung, and Onaga in the hopes of defeating Blaze and seizing his god-like powers. Shao Kahn soon found himself fighting his allies and was carried off by Onaga after an unsuccessful attack on Shang Tsung. Kahn somehow escaped from his nemesis and killed Blaze. Kahn becomes the ultimate winner of Armageddon when he kills Raiden.
Having suffered a humiliating defeat at the hands of the warriors of Earthrealm, Shao Kahn is first seen having retreated to a Graveyard, weakened and fuming from his loss. When Quan Chi arrives to chastise the emperor for his failure, while threatening him that Shinnok would not be pleased, Shao Kahn smashes the ground with his Wrath Hammer maul and orders the sorcerer to hold his tongue. Raiden soon arrives and strikes the weakened emperor with his lightning, angered by his blatant violation of the rules of Mortal Kombat.
After telling Shao Kahn that his Tarkata hordes had been routed by the Forces of Light, Raiden told the emperor his allies were now deserting him. Seeing Quan Chi summon a portal to flee from Raiden's wrath, Shao Kahn calls the sorcerer a traitor and knocks him aside with a single blow from his hammer. Before he could do anything else, Shao Kahn was struck by Raiden's lightning once again and knocked into the portal, which quickly destabilizes. Shao Kahn demanded to know what Raiden had done before the emperor and portal vanish in an explosion of yellow light.
Shao Kahn was believed dead, but in truth, he had merged with the despotic New God Darkseid, forming the monstrous abomination Dark Kahn, who sought to merge its progenitors realities and destroy them both. When Dark Kahn is defeated by Superman and Raiden, Shao Kahn was left on Apokolips in Darkseid's place. After Superman and Lex Luthor inquire his identity, Shao Kahn raged that they would all bow to him, only to discover he had lost almost all of his once formidable power. Though weakened, he was still considered too dangerous to be left freed, and so Superman imprisoned the emperor in the Phantom Zone. Shao Kahn is last seen futilely striking at the shards of the Zone he was imprisoned in, screaming in rage as he drifts further off into space.
- Trilogy (Non-Canonical): "Shao Kahn Wins."
- Deception (Semi-Canonical): "Shao Kahn had regained his strength, and he and Goro marched boldly to the Dragon King's throne room, slaying all who stood in their way. Like an echo of their battle ages ago, Shao Kahn and Onaga fought with a fury fueled by intense hatred. Knowing the Dragon King was too powerful to defeat in mere kombat, Shao Kahn blasted Onaga with his war hammer, causing him to hurtle into Goro's poisoned blades. Onaga had fallen victim to Shao Kahn's treachery once more. With Onaga defeated, Shao Kahn reclaimed Outworld once again. His army of Shokan decimated what remained of Kitana's armies and the Tarkatan Horde and scattered their survivors into the unknown. A new era had begun in the realm of Outworld. Long live Emperor Shao Kahn!"
- Armageddon (Semi-Canonical): "Blaze was no match for Shao Kahn the Konqueror. His strength increased tenfold, the Forces of Light could not fend off his final invasion as he merged each realm with Outworld. But his ultimate triumph was soon to be his downfall. With nothing left to conquer, Shao Kahn was driven to madness."
- MK vs. DCU (Non-Canonical): "Defeated, Shao Kahn was imprisoned in the Phantom Zone, used for holding dangerous Kryptonian villains because of its ability to render them powerless. Possibly due to the magical nature of his strength however, the Phantom Zone had the opposite effect on Shao Kahn: Instead of neutralizing him, it revitalized the emperor, allowing him to break free. With him are untold numbers of criminals, released from millennia of imprisonment. Grateful, they have sworn allegiance to Shao Kahn and now follow him on his quest to conquer the universes."