The dark god Shinnok is a major antagonist in the Mortal Kombat franchise. While he has been playable in some of his appearances, he has mostly worked from behind the scenes, manipulating others into carrying out his plans to dominate the realms. As ruler of the Netherrealm, he commands a vast army of demons and wields great magical power.
Eons ago, when the universe was new, Shinnok stood amongst the Elder Gods. Not content with merely observing the realms of mortals, he desired power over them and plotted to conquer Earthrealm. He fashioned a magical amulet as his tool for weakening the dimensional barriers, allowing him to travel between the realms without directly breaking the Elder Gods' sacred rules. Shinnok then travelled to Earthrealm, using it as his staging ground as he waged war against his own kind.
In the final days of his war against the Elder Gods, Shinnok fought against Earthrealm's guardian, the thunder god Raiden. Their final battle ended with Shinnok's defeat, but at the expense of the near-annihilation of Earthrealm's then-dominant race, the Saurians. For his crimes, Shinnok was stripped of his status as an Elder God and cast down into the deepest depths of the Netherrealm where he was to be tortured for all eternity by Lucifer. But Shinnok's suffering would not last forever; within the Netherrealm, he encountered the sorcerer Quan Chi, a being capable of freely travelling across the realms. Quan Chi aided Shinnok in overthrowing Lucifer and seizing his throne, establishing the fallen god as ruler of the Netherrealm. Shinnok rewarded Quan Chi by increasing his magical abilities and making him his arch-sorcerer and most trusted servant. Since then, Shinnok has built up a new Army of Darkness in order to wage war against the realms and take revenge against Raiden and the Elder Gods.
Shinnok spent centuries planning his conquest and manipulating others from different realms as he waited for the appropriate time to make his move. He hired the Lin Kuei ninja clan to retrieve his lost amulet and was responsible for resurrecting Queen Sindel on Earthrealm and allowing Shao Kahn to invade. After the failed merging of Earth with Outworld, the fabric of the realms was compromised and Shinnok's forces were able to make their assault on several worlds, beginning with the newly-liberated Edenia. From there, he waged war against the heavens and the Elder Gods once more, but his ambitions would again be thwarted. Quan Chi had stolen Shinnok's amulet and replaced it with a fake replica, and Raiden and Fujin managed to rally the champions of Earthrealm to fight back against the Army of Darkness. Shinnok fought Liu Kang in Mortal Kombat but ultimately lost, leading to his banishment to the Netherrealm once more.
Banished once again, Shinnok's powers had dwindled without his amulet which had been stolen by the treacherous Quan Chi. Regardless, he was still able to reach out across the realms, contacting other beings and persuading them to do his bidding. As Armageddon loomed, the dark lord contacted the many evil kombatants across the realms, informing them of the quest being undertaken by Taven and Daegon, the sons of Argus. The prize that the brothers were fighting for was the power of the fire elemental Blaze, which would be bestowed upon whomever defeated him in Mortal Kombat.
Shinnok, unable to leave the Netherrealm himself, created a magical duplicate of himself that would serve as his avatar. Through this clone, Shinnok rallied the Forces of Darkness in Edenia. There, they engaged the Forces of Light in the final Battle of Armageddon which would ultimately decide the fate of all reality. Shinnok's clone was killed during the battle.
In the current timeline, Shinnok is revealed to be the mastermind behind the Outworld Invasion of Earthrealm. He had sent Quan Chi to Outworld to gain Shao Kahn's favour and subtly manipulate him into launching an invasion of Earth despite not having achieved victory in Mortal Kombat. When Kahn attempted to merge Earth and Outworld, he was punished by the Elder Gods and destroyed. However, his merger attempt had severely weakened the barriers between the realms, allowing Shinnok to escape from the Netherrealm.
Two short years after the war with Outworld, Earth was caught off-guard by the sudden assault from Shinnok and his demon armies. Though taken by surprise, Earthrealm was not defenceless as Raiden once more rallied his mortal allies to defend the planet. Escorted by Quan Chi and the Brotherhood of Shadow, Shinnok made his way to Raiden's Sky Temple where he planned on corrupting the Jinsei, the source of Earthrealm's life-force. Before he could carry out his plan, the evil deity was forced to contend with Johnny Cage. Johnny, unknowingly possessing the mystical power of an ancient Mediterranean war cult, was able to defeat Shinnok in kombat and took his amulet from him. Raiden then took the amulet and turned its power against Shinnok, trapping the fallen Elder God inside his own treasure.
Although imprisoned once again, Shinnok still posed a dire threat. His amulet could not be destroyed without releasing him and so Raiden consulted the Elder Gods on what to do with it. The Elder Gods took the amulet and sealed it away within a dark dimension where no one would be able to reach it.
Several years later, the chaos cleric known as Havik was contacted by Quan Chi and formed a plan to acquire Shinnok's amulet for the sorcerer. Using ancient "Blood Magik", Havik gained control over several key kombatants and obtained the relics known as the Kamidogu, which were essential to unlocking the prison dimension storing the amulet. Havik, however, considered Shinnok's vision of everlasting death upon the realms as the epitome of order, the antithesis to chaos. Thus, Havik intended to keep the amulet to himself and use its power unleash chaos untold upon the universe. His scheme was thwarted by the Shirai Ryu ninjas Hanzo Hasashi and Takeda Takahashi, who slew the mad cleric and retrieved the amulet.
Following the "Blood Code" incident, a non-aggression treaty was signed by Earth and Outworld and Shinnok's amulet was entrusted to Sonya Blade and the Special Forces. However, the SF proved to be ineffective keepers as the amulet was stolen by the Black Dragon thug Kano, who then sold it to Mileena so that she might use its power to reclaim Outworld's throne from Kotal Kahn.
Cassie Cage, daughter of Johnny Cage and Sonya Blade, along with her Special Forces team, travel to Outworld and offer to help Kotal Kahn take back the amulet from Mileena. Kotal's right-hand D'Vorah engages Mileena in kombat in her camp and defeats her, taking back the amulet. However, D'Vorah is secretly an agent of Quan Chi and she steals the amulet and heads for Earthrealm. There, she delivers the amulet to Quan Chi while he is being held in SF custody. At that time, Scorpion leads the Shirai Ryu in an infiltration of the SF camp so that Scorpion may at last have his revenge on the necromancer. Scorpion kills Quan Chi, but not before the sorcerer completes an incantation that releases Shinnok from the amulet.
Free once more, Shinnok attempts to finish what he began years ago and heads for Raiden's Sky Temple, intent on corrupting the Jinsei. Aided by his revenants and holding Johnny Cage hostage, Shinnok confronts Raiden and Bo'Rai Cho at the temple, incapacitating them. Unimpeded, the malevolent Elder God steps into the Jinsei and claims its power for himself. This results in Shinnok transforming into a much more demonic form and Earth's sky being tainted blood red.
However, Johnny Cage's daughter Cassie Cage shows up along with Kung Jin to stop him. Shinnok steps out of the chamber, fully empowered by the Jinsei and easily knocks Cassie aside. Poised to kill Johnny himself in front of Cassie, he slowly burns his body with repeated energy blasts, enraging Cassie and prompting her to jump in front of his finishing attack. A repeat of twenty-five years ago occurs as Cassie blocks the attack with her body, now empowered by the same energy that her own father used.
In spite of his newfound power, the fallen Elder God is once again soundly defeated in battle by yet another member of the Cage family. With Raiden freed from his grasp, the Thunder God tells the Earthrealm warriors to put him in the Jinsei chamber, where he absorbs Shinnok's power into himself in order to purify the Jinsei and return Earthrealm to normal. Shinnok and D'Vorah are then taken into custody by Sonya and the Special Forces.
Some time following Shinnok's defeat, a corrupted Raiden arrives in the Netherrealm and warns Liu Kang and Kitana, now the de facto leaders of the Netherrealm, not to threaten Earthrealm lest they face fates worse than death. As a final warning, he shows them the severed, albeit still living head of Shinnok. As he couldn't die due to his Elder God nature, Shinnok is now condemned to a catatonic state.
- Energy Projection - Shinnok relies primarily on magic in battle and can cast various energy attacks.
- Summoning - Shinnok can summon demons to his aid and giant skeletal abberations to crush his enemies.
- Mimicry and Shapeshifting - Like Shang Tsung, Shinnok is capable of assuming the forms of other kombatants and copying their abilities. He does not need to consume the souls of warriors to gain their powers, though soul consumption is likely to be one of his own abilities.
- Corrupted Form - After absorbing the energy of the Jinsei in Mortal Kombat X, Shinnok takes on this much more demonic form. His strength is greatly heightened and he displays the ability to manipulate fire and stone.
- Immortality - As an Elder God, Shinnok is ever-living and impossible to kill.