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.
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. 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.
Shan Yu has currently been resurrected by Maleficent to join the Organization as a Harbinger. In the Ultima storyline, Shan Yu once appeared fighting Mulan and Po during the Safe House siege.