Details of Quan Chi's past are unknown, except that he is a free-roaming sorcerer, capable of travelling between realms without detection by the Elder Gods or local deities. He has spent time amassing great magical abilities from many worlds.
While travelling in the Netherrealm, Quan Chi came upon Shinnok, who was under torment from the realm's then-ruler, Lucifer. In exchange for power, and a place at Shinnok's side, he assisted the fallen Elder God in overthrowing his tormentor and helping him ascend to become the new ruler of the Netherrealm. Their victory achieved, Shinnok honoured his word and imbued Quan Chi with incredible power, making him arch-sorcerer of the Netherrealm. When Shang Tsung took possession of the Great Kung Lao's soul after his defeat at the hands of Goro, he learned the location of Shinnok's long lost amulet. Tsung later traded this information with Quan Chi. In return, Quan Chi would help to revive Sindel and enable Shao Kahn to take control of Earthrealm at a later date. Although Shao Kahn's invasion failed, it gave Quan Chi the opportunity to make his move.
Shortly after receiving this information, the sorcerer proposed a deal with the Lin Kuei, he would destroy their rival clan, the Shirai Ryu, in exchange for the assistance of one of their warriors. Quan Chi convinced the elder Sub-Zero to retrieve the amulet for him. Sub-Zero did so (and killed Scorpion in cold blood in the process), unaware of Quan Chi's motives. Once the Lin Kuei warrior acquired the amulet, Quan Chi claimed it, and explained its origins before leaving to give the amulet back to Shinnok. Unknown to the fallen Elder God, however, Quan Chi had replaced the amulet with a useless imitation, and kept the real one for himself. Shortly afterwards, Sub-Zero, who had been ordered to reclaim the amulet by Raiden, confronted Quan Chi, and defeated him temporarily with assistance from Sareena.
Quan Chi would spend the following years assisting Shinnok in preparation for his forthcoming assault, as well leading the unholy cult of the Brotherhood of Shadow. The invasion of mortal realms would occur during the time of Mortal Kombat Gold. Believing he would need a powerful warrior to defeat the younger brother of the original Sub-Zero (who had since been destroyed by Scorpion), Quan Chi informed the ninja spectre that this younger Sub-Zero had killed his family and clan, and allowed him access to the outer realms once again. Scorpion's rage enabled him to defeat the Lin Kuei warrior, but as he prepared to finish his enemy, Quan Chi appeared and revealed that he was the actual murderer. Enraged, Scorpion grabbed him as the sorcerer made a move to send the ninja to the Netherrealm, and the both of them were sent back down to the depths.
In the Netherrealm, Quan Chi was tortured by Scorpion until the Oni Drahmin and Moloch found them. The Oni protected Quan Chi from Scorpion, and in return, Quan Chi promised to bring them back with him when he eventually escaped the Netherrealm. Upon discovering a portal that led to Outworld, he fled without them, leaving them determined to destroy him. The portal led Quan Chi to the tomb containing the mummified remains of the long forgotten Dragon King. Reading the writings on the king's sarcophagus, Quan Chi realized that the army of the Dragon King was invincible, and could be revived. He also discovered information that could enhance the powers of his amulet. With an idea in mind of the individual who could assist him in his newest ambitions, he journeyed to Shang Tsung's palace. The sorcerer was still not safe from Scorpion, however. The specter had pursued him into Outworld, and they fought, gaining the attention of Shang Tsung.
Dispatching Scorpion temporarily, and impressing Tsung, Quan Chi described his plan to his fellow sorcerer; Quan Chi would open a "Soulnado" to the heavens, providing Tsung with infinite souls, and Tsung would help him revive the army of the Dragon King. Together, they would embark with determination to achieve absolute domination of all realms, forming the Deadly Alliance. But before they could enact their plans, they had to eliminate the only two people who could oppose them. They began with the current ruler of Outworld, Shao Kahn, still weakened from his failed invasion of Earthrealm, and waging a war against joint Edenian-Shokan forces. Tsung introduced Quan Chi to Kahn, and they pledged their loyalty in a false show. They then quickly sprang their attack, killing Kahn (in actuality, a clone, although they had no way of knowing this). Kano, Kahn's acting general who had witnessed the murder, pledged his own support to them. Soon after, using a portal known only to sorcerers and deities, they then headed to Earthrealm's Wu Shi Academy, where the Mortal Kombat champion Liu Kang was practicing a kata. Under the guise of Kung Lao, Tsung snuck up on and battled Kang. Quan Chi attacked Kang from behind with a skull fireball attack, taking him completely unaware and weakening him. Tsung took the opportunity to break his old adversary's neck and consume his soul.
Returning to Outworld, the Deadly Alliance commanded Kano's troops to force a small Outworld village to construct a new palace around the tomb to house the Soulnado. When one of the citizens, Li Mei, attacked Kano, they offered to free her village if she could win a tournament they would hold. About the same time, they approached Mavado, offering him a deal as well; he could earn the right to fight and kill Kano, in exchange for eliminating Kenshi, an old enemy of Tsung's who had recently been spying on him.
Quan Chi had no way of knowing, but Tsung had made a side deal with Drahmin and Moloch, who had recently escaped from the Netherrealm as well; once his own part of the plot was completed, and the army resurrected, Tsung would allow the two to have their revenge on Quan Chi. Mavado, in the meantime, mortally wounded Kenshi, accomplished his mission, and the Alliance granted him his wish. Li Mei, having won the local tournament, demanded her reward, but her soul instead began to be transferred to a mummified soldier of Onaga's army. It was at this time that the forces of Earthrealm, led by Raiden, attacked. Li Mei was rescued by Bo' Rai Cho, who escaped with her, but the remainder of the warriors assaulted the Alliance.
Their attack was in vain, as each one was killed by the sorcerers and their Tarkatan hordes (Quan Chi himself personally defeating and killing Kitana one on one). Only Raiden remained, and the Alliance confronted him together before the Soulnado.
They defeated him, but their victory was short-lived. Quan Chi had harboured his own suspicions on Tsung's part, namely that his ally wanted Shinnok's amulet for himself. He was correct. With all their enemies defeated, they turned on each other. Quan Chi emerged victorious, but could not savour his victory: Onaga, the Dragon King, newly reborn, entered the chamber. Tsung awakened, as did Raiden, and together, the three attempted to stop him. In desperation, Raiden released his essence in a blast that destroyed everything in the vicinity. Just a second before Raiden releases his blast, Quan Chi made a quick escape, though he lost Shinnok's amulet in the process.
In Mortal Kombat: Armageddon, Quan Chi is revealed to have somehow returned, likely with Shinnok's help, and with the amulet once more and now wishes to acquire the ultimate godlike power granted from defeating the elemental Blaze. To that end, he has formed an uneasy and distrustful alliance with fellow villains Onaga, Shang Tsung and Shao Kahn. He knows that the realms are in the brink of destruction, so he casts a deadly spell upon Orin, Taven's guardian dragon, in order to try and prevent him to put a halt to his plans. Quan Chi's alliance ultimately falters and he is thrown off the Pyramid of Argus by Shang Tsung. His corpse is found midway up the steps of the Pyramid.
In the altered timeline created by Raiden, it is revealed that Quan Chi had attended the Mortal Kombat tournament as a spectator and had offered his aid to Shang Tsung by allowing his revenant servant Scorpion to fight on behalf of Outworld. Though Outworld lost the tournament, the sinister necromancer continued to offer his services to Shao Kahn as the emperor makes plans to create a new tournament system to replace the original one. During the Outworld tournament, Quan Chi fought alongside Shang Tsung against the Shaolin monk Kung Lao, though the Earthrealm hero was able to defeat both sorcerers.
Following the failure of the Outworld tournament, Quan Chi suggested that Shao Kahn invade Earthrealm outright. However, a magical ward created by Sindel prevented Kahn from setting foot on Earth, but Quan Chi was capable of travelling between realms freely. He ventured to Earthrealm where he conducted a necromantic ritual to resurrect Kahn's former queen, thus allowing the emperor's forces to pass through the portal and reclaim her.
As the armies of Outworld marched across Earthrealm, one by one Raiden's champions fell. Desperate, Raiden approached Quan Chi in the Netherrealm, stating that he was willing to offer his own soul and the souls of Earthrealm's fallen defenders if the sorcerer assisted him in stopping Shao Kahn. However, Shao Kahn had already promised the fallen heroes' souls to Quan Chi, who became the necromancer's undead servants. The revenants attacked Raiden but the thunder god was able to fight them off. Quan Chi then informed Raiden that Shao Kahn would soon arrive in Earthrealm to complete the merger with Outworld. It was then that Raiden came to realise what needed to happen: If Shao Kahn won, then the Elder Gods would punish him for breaking the rules of Mortal Kombat.
Raiden and Shao Kahn fought their final battle as Quan Chi observed them from afar. Sure enough, Kahn was destroyed by the Elder Gods and Earthrealm was spared, but it had lost many of its protectors and the fabric of the realms had been weakened as a result of the failed merger, allowing Shinnok and the forces of the Netherrealm to invade two years later.
During the Netherrealm War, Quan Chi commanded legions of demons and the revenants of Earthrealm's fallen champions. Raiden and the forces of the Shaolin and U.S. Special Forces are able to defeat Shinnok, with Raiden sealing the fallen Elder God within his own magical amulet. After Shinnok's defeat, Quan Chi went into hiding.
Several years later, he is confronted in his own lair by Johnny Cage, Sonya Blade, and a battalion of Special Forces soldiers. In response, he calls forth Scorpion, Sub-Zero (still undead), and Jax (also undead) to fight beside him. Thanks to Jax, Quan Chi nearly succeeds in killing Johnny Cage and adding him to his ranks, but Raiden intervenes. As the thunder god works to suppress Quan Chi's dark magic, Sonya directly confronts the sorcerer in combat and beats him. As a result, the link between Quan Chi and Johnny is severed, allowing Raiden to reverse the spell. As an unintended side effect, he also manages to free Scorpion, Sub-Zero, and Jax from Quan Chi's control and restore them to human form. After this, Quan Chi is forced to flee.
Later, it is revealed that D'Vorah had been secretly working for Quan Chi as a double agent. She had been ordered to steal Shinnok's amulet from Kotal Kahn and deliver it to Quan Chi directly. When the Special Forces learn of this plan, they (along with a newly revitalized Jax) head to Netherrealm to capture Quan Chi, also hoping to use his magic to free the rest of the fallen Earthrealm warriors from his grasp. Although they are successful in apprehending Quan Chi, Scorpion (who had learned five years earlier that it was Quan Chi who was responsible for the death of his family and clan) arrives with his fellow Shirai Ryu at the SF camp where Quan Chi is being held, intending to slay the sorcerer himself and finally have his revenge. After the Special Forces refuse to hand him over, Scorpion orders his ninjas to attack. After intense fighting, the Shirai Ryu successfully subdue the Special Forces, allowing Scorpion to go after Quan Chi. After Scorpion beats the sorcerer within inches of his life, D'Vorah arrives with Shinnok's amulet and immediately rushes to Quan Chi's defence. She is ultimately unsuccessful, however, as Scorpion brutally decapitates Quan Chi, but not before she can throw the amulet over to the sorcerer, allowing him to finally free Shinnok from his prison.
Powers and abilities
- Fighting skills - Quan Chi possesses remarkable combat prowess, though he prefers to use magic rather than martial arts.
- Necromancy - Quan Chi holds absolute control over the dead. He can reanimate corpses and force them to do his bidding.
- Teleportation - One of Quan Chi's signature attacks is teleporting into the ground then reappearing above an opponent and stomping on them.
- Green Skulls - Quan Chi's most recognisable ability. He can throw green skull-shaped projectiles at opponents and can also create barriers with them.
- Beatdown - Quan Chi's Fatality. He rips off one of his opponents legs and beats them to death with it.