Mortal Kombat 1’s ‘Demotion’ of Shao Kahn Is a Fun Twist of Fate

Mortal Kombat 1’s ‘Demotion’ of Shao Kahn Is a Fun Twist of Fate

Mortal Kombat 1 has just revealed a new trailer, this time confirming that Shao Kahn will be back, but in Liu Kang’s new universe, he’s Kahn no more.


  • Mortal Kombat 1’s trailers have been gradually revealing its roster and creating hype for its September release.
  • The most recent trailer confirms the return of Sindel and Shao Kahn, but with changed roles in Liu Kang’s new universe. This time around, Shao will only be a General of Outworld.
  • This twist makes sense for Mortal Kombat 1’s story and exemplifies the game’s accessibility for newcomers while rewarding long-time fans. It will allow Shao Kahn to rise back up the ranks, and it could allow for some interesting character development.

Following its incredible initial reveal back in May, Mortal Kombat 1 has been consistently releasing trailers every few weeks, gradually revealing its roster, and keeping hype levels very high in the lead-up to the game’s September release. So far, Mortal Kombat 1‘s trailers have confirmed that Fire God Liu Kang has created a brand new universe, and that it’s filled with iconic characters from across the entire franchise’s history, albeit all with slightly different backstories and motivations.

Over the course of the last few months it’s been revealed that Scorpion and Sub-Zero are brothers, that Raiden is no longer a god, that Reptile is half-man half-human, and that Mileena is suffering from a reimagined Tarkat disease which is slowly deforming her body and mind. The most recent Mortal Kombat 1 trailer continues to unravel the puzzle, this time confirming that Sindel and Shao Kahn are back, but the latter is Kahn no longer.

Mortal Kombat 1’s Shao Kahn Twist Is Perfect

Shao Khan Sitting On A Throne With His Hammer

Mortal Kombat 1‘s “Rulers of Outworld” trailer aired during Gamescom Opening Night Live, and it’s generally considered to be one of the better reveals of the event. This most recent trailer follows the same trend as the rest, confirming the presence of some iconic returning fighters, while teasing their role in Liu Kang’s new universe. This time around, it was Sindel and Shao Kahn who got the spotlight, and as is the case with the rest of Mortal Kombat 1‘s roster, things aren’t quite as fans might remember them.

Sindel and Shao Kahn have essentially swapped places in Liu Kang’s new era. Once the mind-controlled wife – at least before her controversial Mortal Kombat 11 retcon – Sindel is now the Empress of Outworld in Mortal Kombat 1‘s continuity. And once the all-powerful Emperor of Outworld, Shao Kahn has lost his title in this new universe, having been demoted to General.

This fun little twist makes complete sense given Mortal Kombat 1‘s context. With Liu Kang at the helm, it’s only natural that Shao Kahn gets nerfed in this new universe. In every timeline so far, Shao Kahn has played a primary antagonist role at least once, and his constant desire to conquer Earthrealm has naturally led Liu Kang to rework his role in the new era, though that doesn’t seem to have completely stopped the tyrant’s bloodthirst. If the recent trailer is anything to go by, even with his demotion, General Shao is still a force to be reckoned with, and his role as leader of Outworld’s armies could easily lead to trouble for Mortal Kombat 1‘s heroes.

Not only does this twist make complete sense for Mortal Kombat 1‘s story, but it also acts as the perfect example of what NetherRealm is trying to do with the semi-reboot. Mortal Kombat 1 is designed to be both accessible for newcomers and rewarding for long-time fans, and this twist exemplifies that approach. New players will simply view General Shao as a potential threat, and be content with that, but long-time fans can take pleasure in understanding the character’s long history before this point, and enjoy how this twist shakes up the usual status quo. Based on everything fans have seen so far, it seems as though Mortal Kombat 1 is going to be full of these little twists to the usual Mortal Kombat history, and that’ll hopefully pave the way for some truly rewarding character interactions and moments of unashamed fan-service.

Mortal Kombat 1 launches September 19 for PC, PS5, Switch, and Xbox Series X/S.

MORE: What Mortal Kombat 1’s Liu Kang Beta Shows the Character Needs Before Release

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