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Shan Yu

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Shan Yu
Background information
Feature films Mulan
Short films
Television programs House of Mouse
Video games Mulan
Kingdom Hearts II
Park attractions
Portrayed by
Portrayed by
Animators Pres Romanillos
Trey Finney
Travis Blaise
Dan Tanaka
Anthony Ho Wong
Voice Miguel Ferrer
Corey Burton (in Kingdom Hearts II)
Mikael Persbrandt (Swedish)
Performance model
Inspiration Atilla the Hun
Karl Malone
Genghis Khan
Honors and awards 18th greatest Disney Villain,(UltimateDisney)
6th Place in's Another Top 10 Animated Disney Villains
Character information
Full name
Other names
Personality Ruthless, cunning, violent, brutal, vicious, aggressive, harsh, evil, murderous, emotionless, mysterious, dark, merciless, overconfident, sadistic, powerful, barbaric
Appearance Slender, mongoloid texture, gigantic, muscular, mustachioed, black eyes with yellow scleras, pale gray skin, half bald, dark and abundant hair, sharp nose, prominent forehead, jagged fingernails
Occupation Hun Chieftain
Alignment Bad
Affiliations Huns
Disney Villains
Goal To conquer China (failed)
Home North of China (presumably Mongolia)
Pets Hayabusa the Falcon
Minions Hayabusa the Falcon (formerly), Hun Army, Elite Hun Soldiers
Enemies Mulan, Li Shang, the Emperor, Mushu, Yao, Ling and Chien Po, Cri-Kee, General Li, Chi-Fu
Likes Getting his way, murder, violence, invading other lands
Dislikes Anyone getting in his way, his plans failing, Mulan
Powers and abilities His powerful abilities
His superhuman strength
His fear-spreading
Weapons His sword (now belongs to Mulan as a prize once he was killed by a tower full of fireworks)
His brute strength
His hands
Fate Gets carried by a giant firecracker into a tower of fireworks and dies in the explosion.
Quote "Your walls and armies have fallen, and now it's your turn. Bow to me!"
"Then, you will kneel.... in pieces!"
"You! You took away my victory!
Now you'll bow to me
―Shan Yu

Shan Yu is the evil leader of the Huns and the main antagonist in Disney's 1998 feature film, Mulan. He has been voiced by Miguel Ferrer and Corey Burton. He has quickly became one of Disney's most recognisable villains.



Shan Yu is among the most ruthless and merciless villains ever seen in the Disney universe. He proves that it is not below him to kill his enemies in cold blood to prove his strength. He even makes jokes about it: After capturing two imperial scouts and sending them to deliver his challenge to the emperor, he asks his lead archer how many men it takes to deliver a message. The archer then draws his bow and replies, "One." Ultimately, only one scout delivers the message, implying that the archer killed the other. He is also shown to be merciless even to defenseless individuals, as evidenced by his murderous smirk when he suggests that he "return" the doll to its owner, as well as being implied to have killed the owner of the doll as well as her entire village. His penchant for brutality was such that the Emperor immediately took the matter seriously as soon as he learned that Shan Yu was leading the invasion, and one of the captured scouts fearfully recognized him when they were brought before him.

Shan Yu is also supremely confident in both his and his army's strength and superiority, often deliberately allowing his enemies the advantage in order to prove his might. Such examples include his attack on the Great Wall, where he allowed a lone sentry to light the signal fire, sending word to the Emperor and giving him time to mobilize the Imperial Army. Later, he allows one of the Chinese spies to return to the Forbidden City, smugly telling the spy to inform the Emperor to send his best troops to face the Huns. In this instance, he even claims that the Emperor "invited" him. He also decides to head straight for the mountain pass that would lead him straight to the Forbidden City, knowing full well that the entire Imperial Vanguard is guarding the pass and completely rejecting the option to simply go around the mountains and avoid the enemy army. As he and his men was later revealed to have managed to completely wipe out the Imperial Vanguard presumably without any significant casualties at his end, this confidence may have been perfectly justified. Even after being buried under an avalanche, he took it in stride outside of letting out a loud yell, and simply used his "deceased" status and decreased army to infiltrate the palace.

Shan Yu is also notable for being one of the only people in the movie who does not underestimate women. As soon as he recognizes that Mulan is "the soldier from the mountains" he forgets about Li Shang, considering him to be insignificant in comparison, and tries to kill Mulan instead.


Expert Combat: Shan Yu is a hardened fighter and a lethal combatant, armed or not as shown where he overpowers Shang in a fight.

Superhuman Strength: He possess superhuman strength (perhaps second only to Chien Po). He can break down a barricaded door with no effort and simply slice a massive pillar to shreds with his sword.

Superhuman Endurance: Besides his strength, he also possessed a superhuman amount of endurance, having survived being buried in an avalanche for what is implied to have been for hours with no apparent ill effects, something that only 5 other Huns managed to survive.

Expert Tracker & Survivalist: He is a skilled tracker and survivalist, being able to deduce a doll delivered to him by his falcon came from a village in a nearby mountain pass where imperial armies awaited him by only a few subtle clues found on the doll (white horse hair from an imperial stallion, black pine which grows in the mountains, and the smell of sulfur from a cannon).

Master Strategist: His leadership is matched by his cunning intellect. Able to kidnap the Emperor of China with only five remaining Huns. His strategic nature is rivaled with Mulan.

Physical Appearance

Shan Yu carries a slender, mongoloid texture, but he's gigantic and muscular. He is mustachioed in a thin horseshoe style. He possesses black eyes with yellow sclera, pale gray skin, sharp nose, prominent forehead, and jagged fingernails. He also has dark and abundant hair, but half bald. He wears a stocky tunic consisting of black on the right and cream on the left with both a eggplant animal pelt brim and cuffs, an eggplant pelt sash, and a fluffy gray pelt scarf with timberwolf stripes. He only dons a black glove on his left hand. He also sports gray trousers and a pair of black boots with gray linings. On occasion, he wears a black hood with a fluffy gray trimming.



Shan Yu 18

Shan Yu in Mulan.

The film's opening scene sees Shan Yu scaling the Great Wall of China and leading the Huns in an invasion of China, setting the tone for the rest of the film. When one of the Chinese guards of the Great Wall revealed that he lit the torches and that the Emperor will soon know of Shan Yu's presence in an attempt to intimidate him, Shan Yu's only response was to burn one of the Imperial flags before giving a satisfied "perfect," revealing that the Emperor receiving the message of Shan Yu and the Huns' invasion was precisely what he had intended to accomplish.

Later on Shan Yu destroyed yet another village and expose two spies sent by the emperor. He orders them to pass a message to the Emperor telling to send his best men for battle. Before the two are able to leave, he murders one.

While heading to the imperial city, his falcon recovers a little girl's doll from a village. On the doll is white horse hair from the General's army and the smell of sulfur from cannons. Instead of avoiding the army, he and his men plan to go that direction. His armies crush the Emperor's soldiers with ease until they get to a mountain pass where they are cut off by Captain Li Shang's troops. In an act of fierce barbarity, he and his troops also take the opportunity to raze the village from which the girl's doll came, after Shan Yu mockingly suggests they return it to the child, apparently leaving no survivors.

The armies battle by constantly shooting cannons after Mushu accidentally fired a cannon causing Li Shang's troops' position given away to him and his army. Eventually Shan Yu leads the Huns down to the army to attack. Though the Huns vastly outnumber Shang's troops, Mulan manages to bury them in an avalanche by aiming a rocket at a nearby mountain. Shan Yu then slashes her causing her identity to be revealed. Shan Yu nearly escapes but, like his men, is taken away by the snow. Despite this, he survived, alongside five other Huns. Upon unearthing himself from the snow pile, Shan Yu let out a loud warcry, thus exposing his survival to Mulan (who was left behind by the rest of the army at Shang's orders after refusing to strike her dead).

Believed to be dead and defeated, Shan Yu and a group of surviving Huns are able to infiltrate the Emperor's palace and capture him during the victory ceremony.

Mulan, Shang, Yao, Ling, and Chien-Po scale the palace wall and quickly overcome the Hun guards. Just as Shan Yu moves to strike the Emperor down, Shang attacks him and Chien-Po carries the Emperor to safety. Just as the Emperor escapes, Shan Yu overpowers Shang and soon recognizes Mulan as the soldier who caused the avalanche. Mulan lures him to the palace rooftop, where he attempts to kill her, until Mushu aims a firecracker at Shan Yu, which propels him into a tower full of fireworks and is killed in the explosion.

House of Mouse

Shan Yu makes several minor cameo appearances. His most notable is where he, Jafar and Hades are seen talking to Mortimer Mouse and making bets. In another episode, Daisy Duck kicks Shan Yu and some other villains out of a table because it was reserved for "someone important".

Kingdom Hearts II

Shan-Yu KHII

Shan Yu appears in Kingdom Hearts II as the main antagonist of The Land of Dragons. Instead of Huns, he possesses an army of Heartless at his command. The plot of the world follows the movie faithfully as it could. The only differences are that he hardly spoke, and that unlike in the movie, he, ironically, ended up falling off the balcony to his death.

Shan Yu first appears at the beginning of the world with his falcon, Hayabusa. He had burned down a village and was standing in the ruins, smiling about the destruction he had caused

He next is seen by Mushu walking into a cave outside the village. Sora, Mulan, Donald, and Goofy are in. In order to prove herself to Captain Li Shang, Mulan enters the cave followed by the others. However, it is actually a trap. While the heroes are trapped in the cave battling Heartless, Shan Yu attacks the village, burning it, scaring off the villagers and turning some of the solders into Heartless while subtling having some of them work as sleeper agents.

Once the party sees the destruction, they charge to the summit of the mountain to encounter the Hun. Although he charges with a mass army of Heartless, Sora and company destroy most of them and Mulan's quick thinking sends Shan Yu and the rest of the Heartless over the edge of a ridge in an avalanche.

After surviving the avalanche as in the movie, Shan Yu attacks the Imperial Palace and distracts Sora with a group of Captain Shang's soldiers, who are actually Heartless. He is defeated by Sora, Donald, Goofy, and Mulan in a climatic battle. After his defeat, Sora receives the Hidden Dragon Keyblade. His sword serves as the object needed to open the Land of Dragon's "Gate".

In the Manga adaptation of Kingdom Hearts II, Shan Yu was revealed to be working for Organization XIII and tasked with killing the Emperor and conquering the Land of the Dragons. However, when he was defeated by Sora and company, he ended up sniped by Xigbar as punishment for the failure.

Kingdom Keepers

Shan Yu appears in the China Pavilion at Epcot, where he tries to kill Finn and Charlene. He appears to be working independently from the Overtakers.

Disney Parks

Shan Yu Disney Parks Flickr

Shan Yu, posing for a photo, at one of the Disney parks.

Shan Yu is a rare character except for in Disneyland Paris. He appeared regularly in Walt Disney World prior to 2006 but since then has not made any true appearances there.

During the release of the original film, Shan Yu was featured on a parade float in the Mulan-themed parade in Disneyland. He was shown being blasted on a firework, referencing his demise.

Shan Yu also participated in the Martial Arts Festival at Disney's Wide World of Sports in Walt Disney World.

In 2013 and 2014, Shan Yu was joined with other Disney Villains for the "Unleash the Villains" nighttime stage event hosted by Hades at Disney's Hollywood Studios in Walt Disney World.

Cinderella's Surprise Party

In the former castle show at the Magic Kingdom, The Queen plans on taking control and she sends Shan Yu, Jafar and Captain Hook to do away with Mickey and Friends. Mickey calls fourth Mulan, Genie and Peter Pan to defeat the villains. Shan Yu is trapped in a large birthday box with a firework by Mulan and dies in the explosion. He is the only villain to be killed in the show.

The Disney Villains Halloween Party

In Disneyland Paris, Shan Yu joins the Halloween get together with other villains like Jafar, Gaston and Doctor Facilier. In the show he briefly battles Governor Ratcliffe in sword duel.


  • According to the writers, the reason why they decided to kill Shan Yu in the manner they did was because they wanted to avoid the typical fall to the death, like how Gaston died.
  • Considering the setting and their point of origin, Shan Yu and his Huns could in fact be members of the Xiongnu people, Tuco-Mongol tribes who lived in the lands north of the Great Wall and conquered much of the Central Asia steppe in the 3rd-1st centuries BC. It is thought by many that the Huns that invaded Europe around 375 AD are descendants of those Western Xiongnu who were evicted by the Chinese in Turkmenistan.
    • This is further supported by Shan-Yu's name, as a "Shanyu" or "Chanyu" was what the Xiongnu leaders were called, much like a Mongol leader would be "Khan."
  • Shan Yu is shown to be very intelligent. Unlike most characters in the film, Shan Yu does not underestimate women. He also, unlike Chi-Fu, does not silence and belittle Mulan when they converse with each other before his death. When Mulan reveals that she caused the avalanche and came up with the idea to save the Emperor, Shan Yu instantly knows that Mulan is the greatest obstacle in his plans, and goes on to try to kill her without hesitation, but of course was blown to bits as part of Mulan's plan.
  • Shan Yu is one of the few villains to not have their own song. Many fans, though, argue that the deafening silence at the end of "A Girl Worth Fighting For" is the Huns' villain song.
  • Shan Yu is the third Disney Princess villain to ride a horse; he was preceded by Gaston and Jafar while followed by Prince Hans.


The Disney Wiki has a collection of images and media related to Shan Yu.


Media: Mulan | Mulan (soundtrack) | Mulan II | Mulan II (soundtrack) | House of Mouse | Kingdom Hearts II

Characters: Fa Mulan | Mushu | Cri-Kee | Li Shang | Yao, Ling and Chien Po | Chi-Fu | Shan Yu | General Li | Fa Zhou | Fa Li | Grandmother Fa | Fa Family Ancestors | The Emperor of China | The Matchmaker | Little Brother | Khan | Shang's Horse | Hayabusa the Falcon | Elite Hun Soldiers | Hun Army | Sha-Ron | Ting-Ting, Su and Mei | Lord Qin

Locations: China | Imperial City | Fa Family home | Village

Songs: Honor to Us All | Reflection | I'll Make a Man Out of You | A Girl Worth Fighting For | True To Your Heart | Lesson Number One | Like Other Girls | Here Beside Me

Kingdom Keepers Logo

Books: Kingdom Keepers | Kingdom Keepers I: Disney After Dark | Kingdom Keepers II: Disney at Dawn | Kingdom Keepers: Disney In Shadow | Kingdom Keepers IV: Power Play | Kingdom Keepers V: Shell Game | Kingdom Keepers VI: Dark Passage

Original Characters: Finn Whitman | Charlene Turner | Terrence Maybeck | Dell Philby | Isabella Angelo | Wayne Kresky | Amanda Lockhart | Jessica Lockhart | Mrs. Whitham | Wanda Alcott | Greg Luowski | Storey Ming | Bess Maybeck | Gladis Philby | Sally Ringwald | Dillard Cole | Hugo Montcliff | Mattie Weaver

Disney Characters: Mickey Mouse | Minnie Mouse | Pluto | Ariel | Violet Parr | Mulan | King Triton | Megara | Stitch | Remy | Django | Rajah | Prince Phillip | Elsa | Rapunzel | Timon | Pumbaa | Chip 'n' Dale | Goofy | Tigger | Lilo | Winnie the Pooh | Piglet

Overtakers: Maleficent | Chernabog | The Evil Queen | Cruella De Vil | Claude Frollo | Ursula | Jafar | Shan Yu | Jack Sparrow | Tia Dalma | Gaston | Prince John | Horned King | Big Bad Wolf | J. Worthington Foulfellow | Gideon | Shenzi, Banzai and Ed | Diablo | Magic Brooms | Green Army Men | Blackbeard | Shere Khan | Si and Am | Hopper | Flotsam and Jetsam | Judge Doom | Madam Leota | Sabor | The Headless Horseman | Stormtroopers | Scar | Zira

Locations: Magic Kingdom | Epcot | Disney's Hollywood Studios | Disney's Animal Kingdom | Typhoon Lagoon | DisneyQuest | Cinderella Castle | Escher's Keep | It's a Small World | Splash Mountain | The New Adventures of Winnie the Pooh | Big Thunder Mountain Railroad | Expedition Everest | Fantasmic! | Voyage of the Little Mermaid | Disney Dream | Walt Disney: One Man's Dream | Disney's Animal Kingdom Lodge | Soarin' | Mission: SPACE | Test Track | Wonders of Life | Morocco Pavilion | China Pavilion | France Pavilion | Norway Pavilion | Mexico Pavilion | Disneyland | Jungle Cruise | Indiana Jones Adventure: Temple of the Forbidden Eye | Buzz Lightyear Astro Blasters | The Haunted Mansion | Casey Jr. Circus Train |Toontown | Matterhorn | The Disney Gallery

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