Shang Tsung (real name Shang Lao) is a fictional boss and player character from the Mortal Kombat series. A powerful evil sorcerer, he is a demonic shapeshifter who absorbs the living souls of those he defeats in order to maintain his youth and power and is able to change his appearance, including by morphing into other characters while retaining their abilities and movesets in-game. Shang Tsung is usually portrayed as the right-hand man of series archvillain Shao Kahn and the main rival and archenemy of the series' early protagonist, Liu Kang.
Shang Tsung debuted as the main antagonist of the original Mortal Kombat, serving as the in-game tournament's grandmaster and the game's boss. He has since appeared in several games and other media spawned from the franchise, and was received positively by game critics.
Shang Tsung (originally named "Shang Lao") was based on the Chinese sorcerer Lo Pan from the film Big Trouble in Little China. A character named "Kitsune", which was later developed into Kitana, "was going to fit into the story as Shang Lao’s (Tsung) princess daughter - the spoil of victory for winning the tournament", who would betray her father after she fell for Liu Kang. Mortal Kombat art director Herman Sanchez said that as the series progressed he decided to emphasize Tsung's air of "sinister regality."
Shang Tsung's design varies throughout the series. The initial history of the character was explained in the 1992 Midway-produced comic book based on the original MK game, in which he was the first-ever Mortal Kombat (then the Shaolin Tournament) champion over 500 years ago from the date of the then-current tournament depicted in the actual game, yet he was stricken with a curse that forced him to consume the souls of his defeated opponents in order to keep his youth. The book cited his "failure to appease the gods" as the reason for his premature aging to a withered old man, but he was noticeably younger in Mortal Kombat II, in which Shao Kahn had restored Shang Tsung's youth and powers as part of his plan to take over Earthrealm by luring Liu Kang and his fellow Earth warriors into Outworld for the next MK tournament.
According to GamePro magazine in 1993, the MKII version of Shang Tsung was nineteen years old, and an article about the game also included a rough sketch by Mortal Kombat co-creator John Tobias of Tsung's "true form," a twisted demon, which has never actually appeared in the video games. Tobias wanted Shang Tsung's long hair to hang loose in Mortal Kombat 3, but potential problems with it flopping about whenever he jumped resulted in it being tied back into a ponytail.
Responding to player queries about how Shang Tsung's last name is pronounced, Acclaim Entertainment stated in 1994 that there is no one definitively correct way of pronouncing the character's name.
A powerful, deadly sorcerer and a primary villain in the Mortal Kombat franchise, Shang Tsung is a shapeshifter who needs to consume souls in order to sustain his health and life. In the Mortal Kombat series, he is the epitome of cunning and decadence, as symbolized by his preference for lavish parties, grand palaces, and stylish clothing. Unlike the crude Shao Kahn, this bombast is a facade, disguising Tsung's true intellectual and mental sophistication. His arch-nemesis is Liu Kang, but throughout his unnatural lifespan, he has earned the hatred of many others, including Kung Lao and Kenshi.
Shang Tsung's allegiance to Shao Kahn granted him the status of a free roaming sorcerer. As such, he is able to move between realms without detection by the Elder Gods or local deities, an ability which has granted him many opportunities to commit atrocities over the centuries. Only Delia, Shinnok, Shao Kahn, and Quan Chi can match Shang Tsung's skills as a sorcerer.
Shang Tsung initially had the appearance of a decrepit old man. His skin was pale with long, balding white hair, a beard and mustache, with dangling thin fingers and long fingernails. He wore robes with shades of blue and yellow and had a katana holstered at his side at all times. Since MKII, he regains his youth, though with varying degrees. His skin returns to a natural tint and is depicted with long black hair. As with his older persona, he shares featureless white eyes. In both MKII and MK3, he wore yellow and black clothes. In Deadly Alliance and beyond, he wears a heavy red uniform. Interestingly, he is depicted with pupils, having brown eyes.
Shang Tsung is based off of Lo Pan from the 1986 film Big Trouble in Little China. Originally his name was intended to be Shang Lao. He used a staff and had the look of an ancient Chinese royal.
Powers and abilities
As mentioned above, Shang Tsung was cursed by mysterious entities identified only as his gods. The curse forcibly decreases his lifespan, unless he takes the souls of others to replenish himself. Shang Tsung's primary objective is to find an infinite source of souls on which to thrive indefinitely. Without souls, his body will rapidly age, wither, and eventually die.
However, due to his ability to absorb souls, he has also discovered an unforeseen side effect, granting him the ability to shapeshift into the people whose souls he has taken. The change is more than skin deep as he has access to their memories and powers as well. Shang Tsung is not required to steal a person's soul in order to morph into them, as he took on the form of Kung Lao to sneak up on Liu Kang. As a sorcerer, Shang Tsung wields incredible black magic, most of it provided by Shao Kahn though after the third and second tournaments, this is no longer the case. It would appear that he, when paired with Quan Chi, was able to defeat the Thunder God of Earth, Raiden.
Like his rival, Liu Kang, he is associated with the element of fire, able to fire flaming skull-shaped projectiles at his opponent. In addition to his projectiles, he has the ability to create a giant, flaming cobra of fire that easily defeated Raiden (as seen in Deception's opening cinematic). In Mortal Kombat vs. DC Universe, Shang Tsung could teleport using pools of fire. He can also use his element of fire for sorcery and black magic, such as his ability to create portals as seen in Mortal Kombat: Shaolin Monks. Early concept sketches of Shang Tsung for Mortal Kombat II revealed that he had a hidden, demonic form.
Additionally, Shang possesses knowledge of genetics, having created such biological abominations as Mileena and Meat in his Flesh Pits.
- Morphing: Shang Tsung assumes the shape of anyone in the game. In the second and third games, he couldn't morph into the bosses. (Although in Mortal Kombat II, as a fatality, he could briefly morph into Kintaro to punch the opponent in half.) In Trilogy, he could morph into anyone in the PSX, Saturn, and PC versions only. In the Amiga versions of Mortal Kombat and Mortal Kombat II, Tsung's morph is limited to that of the character he is fighting against. In Deadly Alliance, he can morph into anyone on the Game Boy Advance ports only. In MK 2011, he uses the Soul Steal to morph into his opponent. As the sub-boss in MK 2011's Arcade Ladder, Shang Tsung can morph into two of the fighters the player has fought until him. (MK, MKII, MK3, UMK3, MKT, MK:DA, MK:TE, MK:SM, MK 2011)
- Flaming Skulls: Shang Tsung sends a fiery skull at his opponent. In the first game, he could throw up to six. In the other games it is one, two, or three only. In MK 2011 this is called Fire Skull. (MK, MKII, MK3, UMK3, MKT, MK:SM, MKvsDCU, MK 2011)
- The enhanced version of this is called Triple Skulls and fires three skulls, one after another.
- Flaming Skull Eruption: Shang Tsung summons his fiery skulls to burst out of the ground in a series of three. In MK 2011, this is called Ground Skull and can be done from three distances: Close, Medium, and Far. (MK3, UMK3, MKT, MK:SM, MKvsDCU, MK 2011)
- The enhanced version is called Ground Eruption in which a Far range skull appears first, followed by a Medium range skull, and a Close range skull. The skulls will also launch the opponent towards Shang Tsung instead of away, and thus has the potential to hit the opponent with all three skulls.
- Soul Steal: Shang Tsung steals a small portion of his opponent's life force. He also does this in Shaolin Monks in a manner similar to his Mortal Kombat II fatality. The special move version allows him to regain health should he take damage. In MK 2011, he morphs into his opponent after using this move and gets a damage boost by 33%. If Shang Tsung uses this move on Goro, Kintaro, or Shao Kahn in the Ladder mode, the player will not morph, but will still get the damage boost. (MK:DA, MK:SM, MK:A, MKvsDCU, MK 2011)
- The enhanced version is called Soul Capture. Shang Tsung stays as the opponent for a longer time.
- If Shang Tsung delivers the round-winning blow with Soul Steal, a glitch will cause him to have the damage boost for the rest of the rounds.
- Forward Fireball: Shang Tsung shoots a fireball at his opponent. (MK:DA, MK:A)
- Fire Ring: Shang Tsung shoots a fireball from each hand. The two fireballs come together in a circle-like process, hitting the opponent at close or far range. (MK:DA, MK:A)
- Mysterious Magic: Shang Tsung glows with a green aura, and runs toward the opponent, suddenly disappearing just before reaching them, and reappearing right behind them to strike with a low sliding kick. (MK:A)
- Body Switch: With a gesture of his magic, Shang Tsung will switch sides of the screen with the opponent, which can be considered a form of teleportation. (MKvsDCU)
- Slide Launch: Shang Tsung does a slide kick that trips the opponent, then launches them into the air. (MKvsDCU)
- Hot Escape: He digs into the ground and erupts at his opponent as a means of teleportation. (MKvsDCU)
- Up Skull: Shang Tsung throws a skull upwards hitting the opponent from mid-air. This can be done from three distances: Above, Behind, and In Front. This move is similar to Sektor's Up Missile. (MKvsDCU, MK 2011)
- The enhanced version is called Skull Storm and fires three skulls, one for each of the three distances and they all come down at the same time.
- X-Ray Move - Your Soul is Mine: Shang Tsung magically drains a portion of the soul out of his opponent, showing only the muscles due to the soul taken from the skin (and the ribs broken due to his hands inside the opponent's chest), then knees his/her skull causing it to break. (MK 2011)
- Free-Fall Super Move: Shang Tsung floors his opponent with a massive fireball. (MKvsDCU)
- Throw: Shang Tsung grabs his opponent by the throat and drains a portion of his or her life force. He then flings the opponent away either forwards or backwards. This attack restores a very small amount of Shang Tsung's health. (MK 2011)
- Soultaker: Shang Tsung consumes the soul of his opponent, leaving behind a shrunken corpse. In MKII, he would simply grab his opponent, whilst in MK3, he would levitate them instead. In MK:DA, he would levitate his victim and slam them onto the ground three times before jumping on top of them, each time extracting a part of their soul. In MKvsDCU, he transforms into his victim first, picks them up by the back of the neck, consumes the soul, then throws them to the floor before reverting back to normal. In MK 2011, this move has been downgraded to a throw. (MKII, MK3, UMK3, MKT, MKDA, MKvsDCU)
- Inner Ear: Shang Tsung enters his opponent's body. The body violently shakes until it explodes as Shang appears in the opponent's place. (MKII)
- Kintaro Morph: Shang Tsung morphs into Kintaro and punches the upper half of the opponent's body clear across the stage. (MKII)
- Bed of Nails: Shang Tsung makes a bed of spikes rise out of the ground and he slams his dazed opponent into them. (MK3, UMK3, MKT)
- Back Breaker: In a variation to the Soultaker Fatality, Shang Tsung grabs his opponent and consumes their soul before throwing their body to the ground. He then stomps on their back, breaking their spine. (MKvsDCU)
- Bang Bang!: Parodying The Joker's first MK vs. DCU Fatality, Shang Tsung transforms into an evil looking clown, takes out a gun and fires, but it is fake and instead a flag with the word 'Bang!' comes out of the gun. He drops it and starts to laugh. With the opponent in a bit of a shock, anger and confusion, he then pulls out a real gun and shoots the opponent in the head, blowing the head to pieces, and then proceeds to laugh maniacally. (MK 2011)
- Identity Theft: Shang Tsung enters his opponent's body through magic and makes the opponent rip off their own head; this is almost identical to Liu Kang's 'Soul Invasion' Fatality (the only differences being Tsung's head does not appear after the opponent removes their own head and he exits their body once the deed is done). (MK 2011)
- Friendship #1: Shang Tsung casts out his hands and makes a rainbow. (MKII)
- Friendship #2: Shang Tsung turns into the main character from the Joust video game and hops offscreen. (MK3, UMK3, MKT)
- Animality: Shang Tsung turns into a cobra and swallows his opponent whole. (MK3, UMK3, MKT)
- Babality: Shang Tsung turns into a baby and takes out a teddy bear and consumes the soul and color of it. Afterwards, instead of crying like other Babalities, he sits and looks as if he has evil plans. (MK 2011)
Shang Tsung's name was hyphenated in Midway's official press release for the original MK ("Shang-Tsung"). He first appeared as an elderly man in his mid-eighties, then became a younger man in his late-twenties to early-thirties. According to GamePro magazine in 1993, the Mortal Kombat II version of Shang Tsung was 19 years old. (In an MKII feature by the magazine that same year, included was a rough sketch of Tsung's "true form" – a twisted demon. Though it was drawn by MK co-creator John Tobias, this form has never actually appeared in canon.)
In Deadly Alliance, he is roughly 45. Tobias wanted Shang Tsung's long hair to hang loose in Mortal Kombat 3, but potential problems with it flopping about whenever he jumped resulted in it being tied back into a ponytail. There are at least two different origin stories for Shang Tsung. On Midway's Mortal Kombat Mythologies website (long since inactive), it stated Shang Tsung was originally from Earth. This however presents a problem: namely, it was revealed Bo' Rai Cho could not fight in the Mortal Kombat tournament as his victories would be in Outworld's name, hence his training of Liu Kang. Therefore, any victories by Shang Tsung as Grand Champion would be in Earth's favor. However, his Armageddon bio makes reference to Tsung binding his soul to Shao Kahn, which may explain why his victories would count for Outworld. Shang Tsung's Mortal Kombat: Tournament Edition bio states his origin as "Earthrealm/Outworld". The 2011 game reaffirms that he was originally from Earth, and willingly bound his soul to Shao Kahn's in exchange for power.
In the original Mortal Kombat, Shang Tsung seems to be hovering on the floor, like his fellow Shadow Priests. Because of this, he is completely immune to sweep attacks and Sub-Zero's Slide. He can't transform into anyone in the GameCube, PlayStation 2, and Xbox versions of Mortal Kombat: Deadly Alliance (Due to problems between switching character models). However, he did assume the form of Kung Lao and Ermac in the opening cinematics of Deadly Alliance and Armageddon, respectively. He could actually transform into anyone in the Game Boy Advance version of Mortal Kombat: Deadly Alliance (and the second re-release called Tournament Edition). Oddly enough, he can't transform into Reptile in that game.
Shang Tsung appears in the Dead Pool arena in Mortal Kombat: Deception, watching on a balcony (in his MKII attire). He isn't normally playable in Mortal Kombat: Deception without the use of a GameShark code or Xbox mod. However, when he is used in a battle other than the fight challenges in Konquest mode, he uses the voice samples of the younger Shujinko, many of which are, otherwise, never heard in the game. For an unknown reason, Tsung's alternate outfit from Deadly Alliance is used as his character model in Deception when he is in kombat; however, in Konquest he is actually shown in his standard outfit from Deadly Alliance. Tsung's Friendship in Mortal Kombat 3 turns him into a sprite from the arcade game Joust. He also has a joke picture in Deadly Alliance that promotes a foot-odor killer.
Film and TV Appearance
Played by Cary-Hiroyuki Tagawa in the first Mortal Kombat movie, Shang Tsung serves as the primary villain.
Although a powerful warrior, Shang Tsung regularly resorted to intimidation and trickery when dealing with his enemies. He lures Liu Kang, Johnny Cage, and Sonya Blade to the Mortal Kombat tournament by playing on their insecurities and desires. He kills Liu Kang's younger brother Chan Kang to lure Liu Kang to the tournament. He lures Johnny Cage in by telling Cage (in the form of one of his teachers) that if he wins, no one in the world will think of him as a fake. (It is unknown if he killed Master Boyd or not, as he takes his form.) He also hires Sonya's nemesis Kano to lure her to the tournament; however, Shang warns him that if he does so much as to touch her, he will apparently make Kano need a seeing-eye dog. Later, he betrays Kano and allows Sonya to kill him. Shang Tsung shows a particular interest in Sonya, as he plans to face her in the final battle of the tournament, seeing her as easy prey. (This interest is implied in the story mode of Mortal Kombat (2011), as shown in several scenes.)
Shang Tsung also harbored suspicions of Princess Kitana and tasked Reptile with watching her and keeping her away from Liu Kang. He expressed disappointment with Kitana after she (deliberately) failed to defeat Liu Kang in the tournament.
After the deaths of both Scorpion and Sub-Zero, Shang Tsung unleashed Goro upon the Earthrealm kombatants. He then allows Johnny Cage to challenge Goro, on the condition that he may challenge anyone of his choosing, in any place. After Cage killed Goro, Shang Tsung kidnapped Sonya Blade and took her to Outworld, where he intended to challenge and defeat her in the final battle of Mortal Kombat - thereby securing Outworld's victory.
After imprisoning Sonya in the Black Tower, Shang Tsung tried to trick her into fighting him. He told her that unless she accepted his challenge, Earthrealm would forfeit the tournament and lose (in truth, the rules of Mortal Kombat stated that no final battle could take place unless a challenge was accepted). Sonya defiantly declared that her friends would come for her. At that moment, Liu Kang, Johnny Cage, and Princess Kitana revealed themselves. Kitana berated him for attempting to use treachery and deceit to win the Tournament. Shang, despite knowing where her loyalties truly lay, stood down, and then formally challenged Johnny Cage. Liu Kang, however, stepped in and challenged Shang Tsung to Mortal Kombat, telling him to either fight or yield. Shang accepted Liu Kang's challenge and ordered his guards to leave.
During the battle with Liu Kang, Shang Tsung summoned an army of phantom warriors - the enslaved souls of those he had defeated in the past. After Liu Kang managed to defeat his minions, Shang Tsung then attempted to trick Liu Kang into letting his guard down by transforming himself into the image of his murdered brother Chan. Liu Kang was not fooled and continued the fight. During this time, the captured souls of Shang Tsung's victims rose up against him, weakening the sorcerer. Liu Kang finally used a fireball to knock Shang Tsung off a platform and into a pit of spikes. Shang Tsung was impaled on the spikes and died, his corpse rapidly decaying into a skeleton. All the captured warrior souls then escaped into the Heavens, including Liu's younger brother, Chan.
Mortal Kombat Rebirth
James Lew portrayed Shang Tsung in Mortal Kombat: Rebirth.
In the short, Shang Tsung is the owner of an illegal underground fighting tournament. He hired Baraka and Reptile to fight for the tournament. His appearance closely resembles his attire in the 1995 Mortal Kombat movie.
Mortal Kombat Legacy
Johnson Phan portrays Shang Tsung in Mortal Kombat: Legacy.
Shang Tsung in this continuity is still one of Shao Kahn's servants and a sorcerer of unrivalled power, going so far as to call himself a demigod. He fulfills many of the same roles he did from the games.
Chronologically appearing for the first time in the fourth episode, Shang Tsung is summoned by Shao Kahn to create a clone of Kitana when Kahn fears that Sindel will raise her to hate him. Shang Tsung eagerly agrees to the task with a devious smirk, a flashback in the fifth episode revealing he stole some of Kitana's blood to create Mileena, though he mixed in Tarkatan blood to truly make her Shao Kahn's daughter.
Tsung would reappear in the eighth episode, having aided fellow sorcerer Quan Chi in framing the Lin Kuei for the slaughter of the Shirai Ryu and the murder of Hanzao Hasashi's family. He then witnesses Quan Chi ressurect Hanzo as the spectre Scorpion to fight for Outworld in Mortal Kombat.
Shang Tsung would then appear in the third episode, stopping time around Johnny Cage before appearing from the shadows before the disgraced action star. He offers Johnny a "Way out of everything" and presumably attempts to recruit him to the side of Outworld for the Mortal Kombat tournament, though the next season reveals that he failed to recruit Johnny.
Cary-Hiroyuki Tawaga reprises the role in season 2 of Mortal Kombat: Legacy. This version of the character is unrelated to Tagawa's previous work as Tsung.
Mortal Kombat: Conquest
In the Mortal Kombat: Conquest TV series, Shang Tsung (played by Bruce Locke) was portrayed as a sorcerer eager to take revenge on the Great Kung Lao, who had defeated him in Mortal Kombat. For most of the series, he is confined to the Cobalt Mines of Shokan for his failure in the Mortal Kombat tournament, although he occasionally escapes (his powers unaffected by the cobalt in the mines, thanks to his human heritage). He keeps the Kreeyan princess Vorpax in the Cobalt Mines as his personal slave and henchwoman until she is freed by her sisters. He is later chosen by Vorpax to be her mate after she obtains Queen Kreeya's powers.
Defenders of the Realm
Shang Tsung also made several appearances in the animated series Mortal Kombat: Defenders of the Realm, including its 9th episode Resurrection when, after being defeated by Liu Kang back in Outworld, Shao Kahn's Shadow Priests found his bones and thus used their dark magic on them, bringing him back to life. Now reborn, Shang Tsung was able to serve his emperor Shao Kahn whom he loathed the most, as well as to seek revenge on the young Shaolin monk who had killed him. He was given "The Orb" (also featured in the Street Fighter, Savage Dragon, and Wing Commander Academy cartoons), a mystical artifact that enabled the user to manipulate the very elements of Earth, and even strip Raiden of his godly powers.
The Journey Begins
Shang Tsung also appeared in the animated film Mortal Kombat: The Journey Begins as the main antagonist that had an army of Tarkatan minions as well as the loyalty of Goro, the Elder Sub-Zero, and Scorpion. He had his appearance from Mortal Kombat.
Shang Tsung plays his original role of main villain in the first series of the Malibu Comics, Blood & Thunder. Shang Tsung appeared in his old self, with his backstory mostly unchanged (serving Shao Kahn to open the portal through 10 consecutive Mortal Kombat wins). He and Raiden share a bitter relationship, usually ending in either verbal assaults or draw fights. While Shang Tsung hosted the tenth tournament, he secretly planned to gain the powers of the mystical book Tao The Zhan, which granted immense strength to whoever resolves its seven riddles. Unfortunately for him, Kano steals the book and later Goro vanishes in thin air, forcing him to hold the tournament endlessly, making Shao Kahn quite disgusted. During the final issue Tournament Edition, Shang Tsung and Raiden joins forces to stop Goro after he took the power of the book, since he cannot be trusted with such strength.
During the Battlewave series, it is implied that Shang Tsung resumed the tournament after his plans were foiled and lost it alongside Goro at the hands of Liu Kang. He is seen in the first pages of issue 1 being pursued and punished by Shao Kahn, Kintaro and Gorbak (Goro's father). Even though Shao Kahn supposedly punished him, he later appears in the last page of issue 5 completely rejuvenated and still under Shao Kahn's servitude. Shang Tsung would later serve as leader of Shao Kahn's team during the tournament he prepared in the last issue of the series, Tournament Edition II.
Shang Tsung's last appearance is during Kung Lao's 1995 one-shot comic, in which he serves as an antagonist, attempting to kill Kung Lao through deceptive tricks using his shape-shifting abilities to use Kung Lao's friends (Kitana, Baraka and Sub-Zero) and later his ancestor, the Great Kung Lao.
- Shang Tsung's Battle Cry originated from the Mortal Kombat movie and the TV series Mortal Kombat: Conquest.
- In Mortal Kombat: Deadly Alliance's Konquest mode, it is revealed that one of the souls he consumed during his tournaments was that of the samurai Muso Gonnosuke.
- Shaolin Monks, Deadly Alliance, Armageddon and Mortal Kombat vs. DC Universe are the only games where the Soul Steal allows Shang Tsung to regain health.
- Shang Tsung used his Morphing and Flaming Skulls during the intro of Mortal Kombat: Armageddon, but they are not present in the game.
- In Mortal Kombat II, Shang Tsung had 2 different win poses, in the arcade and earlier home versions of the game Shang Tsung had a normal win pose where he would just stand but in the Sega 32X (after completing the game) and Saturn versions it was found out that Tsung had a laughing animation during his win pose.
- In Mortal Kombat 3, occasionally, Shang Tsung appears on the Master tournament ladder twice.
Tsung's alternate outfit from Deadly Alliance is based from the time he was champion of Mortal Kombat before the Great Kung Lao defeated him (Mortal Kombat official comic).
- In MK (2011), Shang Tsung has his MK old man look as his alternate costume, to the point when his voice changes to his older tone when used in game.
Shang Tsung is the only character who appears in all of the 2-D games that is absent from Mortal Kombat 4. However Shinnok's Impersonate move shares some of Shang Tsung's abilities, though impling that Tsung is a sorcerer and Shinnok is an Elder God.
- A recurring animal motif for this character is cobras. Shang Tsung's Animality in MK3 is a cobra, and in the MK Deception intro he unleashed a huge flame in the form of a cobra to knock out Raiden. His primary outfit in MK 2011 also has cobras designed in his shoulders, back and belt.
- Shang Tsung appears on a movie poster during Johnny Cage's ending in Deadly Alliance.
Mortal Kombat vs. DC Universe reveals that Shang is accompanied by two women, who appear to be lovers. However, the game isn't canon.
- Minus the clown model, his "Bang Bang!" fatality in MK 2011 is identical to, and could be perhaps perceived as a parody of The Joker's "Killing Joke" fatality from Mortal Kombat vs. DC Universe, due to its censorship in North America, such as the headshot here being considerably more violent than the Joker's fatality. It should be noted that in the Fatality Trainer, when the fatality is introduced, it mentions Tsung having "picked up some tricks from an old foe". Officially, of course, Mortal Kombat vs. DC Universe remains non-canon.
- Up until MK 2011, Shang Tsung's elderly form remained unplayable as it was eliminated ever since MKII.
- In his MK (2011) Ladder ending, Shang Tsung is taught a move to defeat Liu Kang, who has become villainous, reversing the roles of hero and villain, though Tsung's motivations are based purely on revenge.
- In MKII there's a color palette swapping glitch which occur when there's a Shang Tsung Mirror Match. The glitch start out that if both players or CPU choose Shang Tsung as their character, while in battle the first Tsung to morph into another character will reset the color palette back to default. If the second Tsung also morph into another character other than the one the first Tsung morph into, the palette will stay default. If the second Tsung morph into the same character that the first Tsung morph into, then that character palette will be the alternate color palette. Only the Tsung who had the default palette and the first to revert back to normal would be the default color Shang Tsung, the second Tsung to revert back would be the alternate color Shang Tsung. This minor glitch often cause confusion to players during a multiplayer battle due to the palette swap when morphing, this was fix in the sequels. In MK3, Ultimate MK3, and MK Trilogy if Player 1's Shang Tsung morph into another character, he would use that character's default color palette, if Player 2's Shang Tsung morph into another character (whether if they are the same character as the one Player 1 morph into or not), that character would appear in their alternate color outfit regardless which solved the problem of the palette swapping glitch.
- In MK (2011)'s Story Mode, after Quan Chi tells Kung Lao that "no Earthrealm boy could stop this Deadly Alliance", Shang Tsung said that "on that we agree". This implies that they normally do not get along.
- In some background material, however, their disagreements have not stopped their dealings with one another from being mutually beneficial. In the instruction manual for Mortal Kombat Mythologies: Sub-Zero, there is a reference to Quan Chi learning of the location to the Map of Elements from none other than Shang Tsung. As it turns out, Shang Tsung gained the knowledge from consuming the soul of The Great Kung Lao.
- Though Shang Tsung could not morph into a hidden character until that character was unlocked, the Sega Genesis and Saturn versions of MK3 and UMK3 allowed him to morph into characters that many other versions lack. Characters like Smoke, Rain, and Noob Saibot.
- MK (2011) was the only game to mention Shang Tsung's origin. His bio states that he is originally from Earthrealm and discovered a portal to Outworld.
- Shang Tsung is the only character in MK 2011 whose throw move heals him.
- In a Top 10 list hosted by Screwattack.com, Shang Tsung was placed at #7 of the bearded characters in video games.
- In MK (2011), Shang Tsung appears to bleed red but whenever it stains on someone, it appears as a pitch black color. Whether this is intentional or a glitch is unknown.
- In MK (2011), Shang Tsung frequently precedes many of his special attacks, including all his fatalities, with the phrase "你现在死!", which means "you die now" in Chinese.
- Tsung was originally supposed to have a Fatality in the original Mortal Kombat where he beheads the opponent with the katana at his side. Due to recent hacking, it was discovered that the sprites for this still exists within the ROM.