A former member of the Lin Kuei clan and a longtime friend of younger Sub-Zero, Smoke debuted in Mortal Kombat II as a hidden character to fight against. He was often spotted in the Living Forest stage in which he (along with Jade) peeked out of the trees. Smoke was simply a gray palette-swapped version of Scorpion with puffs of smoke surrounding his body. He would appear randomly before matches, offering clues that would enable the player to fight him, as Reptile had in the original MK.
In the official Mortal Kombat II comic by John Tobias, Smoke was revealed to be a Lin Kuei warrior, and the clan itself was depicted as becoming a high-tech organization.
Mortal Kombat 3 continues this in the storyline, where he was once again a hidden character, but accessible to players with the use of a code. In this appearance, he was (and continues to be) a tortured human soul trapped in the body of a cyborg. His most defining feature is the fact that he constantly seems to emit smoke or vapor. This, combined with his power to teleport and turn invisible, once made him one of the Lin Kuei's top assassins.
During the events of MK3 and Shao Kahn's invasion of Earth, Smoke's fortunes continued to fail him. Although he discovered, with Sub-Zero's help, that he still retained his soul and was in fact one of Raiden's Chosen warriors and aided Sub-Zero in defeating Cyrax and Sektor, he was captured by Kahn's forces. The inert Smoke was transported to Outworld as a trophy and was locked away in the bowels of Kahn's fortress.
Nearly a decade later, however, he was discovered by Noob Saibot. He reactivated the cyborg, whose nanotechnology set about repairing and improving his systems. Reprogramming Smoke to obey only him, Saibot turned the cyber-ninja into both his ally and template for a future army of cyber-demons that was to rise from the Netherealm. Although Ashrah's ending depicted Smoke's innate goodness battling his cyborg programming, Smoke remained paired with Noob until the next game.
In Mortal Kombat: Armageddon's Konquest mode, Smoke appears with Noob staging an attack on the Lin Kuei temple located in Arctika. It is shown that Smoke has the ability to transform humans into shadow warriors, dark versions of their former selves. He does battle with Taven but is eventually beaten. He teleports away to inform Noob of Taven's interference with their plan.
In Smoke's Armageddon ending, he defeats Blaze and fuses with his power. His nanobot technology increases and becomes a life of its own. The microscopic machines begin to multiply at an exponential rate, eventually consuming the entire realm of Edenia until they transform it into a living grey material that calls itself Smoke.
Smoke makes a very brief appearance in his human form during the ending of one Mortal Kombat: Conquest episode, following Sub-Zero's betrayal of the Lin Kuei. Smoke is called upon by the clan as the next warrior to be sent to hunt and kill the traitor, at which point he emerges from mist as a faint, grey figure with glowing red eyes.
Smoke and Jade are ordered to take down menaces to Shao Kahn's rule. They attempted to kill the hospitalized Jax after Goro attacked him, but Jax stopped their attempt. They then hijacked the plane he and Johnny Cage used to travel to Outworld. Faced with defeat again, their last attempt to regain the emperor's grace was during Raiden and Kano's fight in the third issue of the miniseries Rayden & Kano, where they tried to kill a weakened Raiden, but were instead stopped by Kano himself.
Before Smoke was created for Mortal Kombat: Deception, a tinted Cyrax was used as a filler until the final version of the game was finished. An unlockable photo of him as a tinted Cyrax is in the Krypt.
Unlike previous hidden characters who acquired their own unique special moves and combination attacks upon becoming part of the standard cast, Smoke continued to use techniques identical or similar to other characters through the MK3' series, in both his human and cyber forms. It was not until Mortal Kombat: Deception that Smoke arguably acquired his first original set of moves.
In MK: Deception, his alternate costume shows his body as being fully composed of smoke and wearing clothes that are somewhat resemblant of the pre-Deadly Alliance traditional MK ninja outfit. This sparked debate as to whether this outfit was actually Smoke in his human form, or a cybernetic demon form. Information provided on production art from Deception seems to suggest that it is human; both of Noob-Smoke's appearances are depicted, with the comment that both Ninja Smoke and Robot Smoke have a lot of fans.
In Mortal Kombat: Shaolin Monks, Smoke (still in his human form, the game having been intended to take place during the first two tournaments) challenges the player to complete five missions; doing so will unlock Mortal Kombat II. Although Smoke resembles his original MKII self in this appearance, his ninja outfit is completely black with gray piping as opposed to gray, with the area around his eyes being the only flesh visible.
In the Mortal Kombat: Armageddon: Prima Official Game Guide, Smoke's relic is called "Smoke's Cigarette," but the actual name of the relic in the game is "Smoke's Mask."