Li Mei's home village was forced into slavery to help construct Shang Tsung's palace around the Soulnado, which had been a long-time legend of her people. In attacking Kano, however, she gained the attention of Quan Chi, who promised her freedom if she could win a tournament. Around this time she befriended an old warrior among her enslaved villagers: the supposed "Champion of the Elder Gods" Shujinko, captured by Kano during his 40 year quest for the Kamidogu. Shujinko offered to train her even though he felt that her chances in the Deadly Alliance's "tournament" were slim.
In Mortal Kombat: Deception, Li Mei returned (most of the newly-introduced fighters did not). Though her ending in Deadly Alliance depicted her winning Quan Chi's tournament, and "winning" the right to be imprisoned forever in one of the Dragon King's soldiers' bodies, Deception had Bo' Rai Cho rescuing her from this fate. However, he was apparently only partially successful, and Li Mei took on some of the aspects of one of these ancient warriors. As such, she is far more battle-oriented in this game, wearing armor, for example.
In Mortal Kombat: Armageddon, Li Mei joins the Forces of Light in the Battle of Armageddon. She becomes the first casuality in the battle when Hotaru impales her with his Naginata.