Created By: Goldfritha on August 1, 2013 Last Edited By: Goldfritha on August 30, 2013
Troped

Casts No Shadow

A character casts no shadow.

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Trope
Whenever anyone, or anything, stands between the light and a surface, you get a shadow.

Except for these characters.

It may, like a vampire's lack of reflection, indicate the character is not what he appears to be. It may show that someone stole his shadow. It may indicate that, Casting a Shadow, he has animated his into a Living Shadow, and it's elsewhere, or even that he's a Living Shadow himself. But it definitely indicates something uncanny's going on.

A Sub-Trope of The Shadow Knows, more cryptic than the usual ones, where the shape gives a clue what the issue is. (Unusual shadows belong there, along with the inversion where an invisible character casts a shadow; this covers only a total lack.)


Examples

Anime & Manga
  • In One Piece's Thriller Bark arc, Brook (a living skeleton) casts no shadow. It's not really mean to emphasize his supernatural-ness (although he's supernatural already); instead, he lacks a shadow because someone with a power to control shadow stole it and used it to reanimate one of his zombie minions. Later on, there are a couple of pirates stuck there who also casts no shadow, for the same reason. Having no shadow is a bad thing for them, because they'll have to avoid sunlight in that state - otherwise the sunlight will vaporize them.
  • In Paranoia Agent episode "Happy Family Planning" 3 people make multiple attempts at suicide through out the episode. At the end the end they realize that they don't have shadows and that one of their suicide attempts was successful.

Comics

Fairy Tales
  • In The Woman Who Had No Shadow, after consulting a witch and using her magic to ensure she would have no children, a woman casts no shadow.

Film, Animated
  • Peter Pan when his shadow is literally separated from him.

Literature
  • In Andre Norton's Witch World novel Year of the Unicorn, after Gillian is abandoned by the company, she casts no shadow. Only later does she find out what was done to her to cause that.
  • In Creator/Erin Morgenstern's The Night Circus, Mr. A. H-- casts no shadow. Noticing this nearly drives Chandresh mad.
  • In the story "Cast the First Shadow", a man without a shadow, long persecuted for it, meets with a woman who similarly has no shadow -- only to be revolted and turned away from her by the discovery that she also has the unnatural property of having no reflection.
  • Inverted in J. R. R. Tolkien's The Hobbit, where Bilbo casts a shadow even when he shouldn't -- when he's invisible.
  • In Lord Dunsany's The Charwoman's Shadow, both the charwoman and Ramon have bargained away their shadows to the magician and cast none.
  • In The Seventh Tower, people with Spiritshadows have no normal shadows. It's later revealed that the Aeniran creatures that become Spiritshadows bond by actually picking up the shadow and assimilating it.
  • In Mary Hoffman's Stravaganza series certain characters are able to use a talisman to travel between modern Earth and Talia, the Fantasy Counterpart Culture version of Renaissance Italy. A character who is only visiting that world has no shadow. If they gain one, it means that their body has died in their world and they are stuck there.
  • In the novella Peter Schlemihl's Miraculous Story (1814) by Adelbert von Chamisso, young and naive Peter Schlemihl sells his shadow to a mysterious Grey Man in exchange for a purse that gets never empty. Initially, Peter thinks he has made an excellent deal, but to his surprise people are not only very quick to notice his lack of shadow, but also react with horror and contempt, turning him into a shunned outcast.

Music
  • The Oasis song "Cast No Shadow" is about a man who can't express what he really wants to say and has allowed himself to be dominated by others.
    "As he faced the sun he cast no shadow."

Opera
  • In Richard Strauss's Die Frau ohne Schatten, the Empress has no shadow because she is a Shapeshifting Lover; if she does not gain one, she will be reclaimed by her father, and the Emperor turned to stone.

Tabletop Game
  • In The Dark Eye high-ranking priests of the Nameless God will sacrifice their own shadows (and souls) to their patron. This makes them a little easier to identify than the rank-and-file of the cult, but they tend to be powerful enough by that point to more than make up for it. Mages who mess up while performing certain spells or rituals, or people who managed to attract the wrong kind of extraplanar attention can also lose their shadows and will frequently be mistaken for Nameless cultists, usually with fatal consequences.

Web Comics

Web Original
  • The focus of the third episode of Civil Protection is on a man who happens not to have a shadow. Mike and Dave theorize on why that might be, going from "he's a vampire!" to "bad light." When they try to trump up a charge to bring him in on, he suddenly has a shadow again. Mike doesn't care, ending up chasing him down the street so he can arrest the guy for jaywalking.

Western Animation
  • On one The Smurfs episode, Jokey's shadow is brought to life and goes around playing pranks, for which Jokey is blamed. As he is put on trial, one of the Smurfs notices that Jokey is not casting a shadow.

Community Feedback Replies: 21
  • August 1, 2013
    Paradisesnake
    I think this might be covered by The Shadow Knows.
  • August 1, 2013
    paycheckgurl
    Peter Pan when his shadow is literally separated from him.
  • August 1, 2013
    dalek955
  • August 1, 2013
    Bibliophile
    • In Mary Hoffman's Stravaganza series certain characters are able to use a talisman to travel between modern Earth and Talia, the Fantasy Counterpart Culture version of Renaissance Italy. A character who is only visiting that world has no shadow. If they gain one, it means that their body has died in their world and they are stuck there.
  • August 1, 2013
    DAN004
    • In One Piece's Thriller Bark arc, Brook (a living skeleton) casts no shadow. It's not really mean to emphasize his supernatural-ness (although he's supernatural already); instead, he lacks a shadow because someone with a power to control shadow stole it and used it to reanimate one of his zombie minions. Later on, there are a couple of pirates stuck there who also casts no shadow, for the same reason. Having no shadow is a bad thing for them, because they'll have to avoid sunlight in that state - otherwise the sunlight will vaporize them.
  • August 1, 2013
    arbiter099
    The focus of the third episode of Civil Protection is on a man who happens not to have a shadow. Mike and Dave theorize on why that might be, going from "he's a vampire!" to "bad light." When they try to trump up a charge to bring him in on, he suddenly has a shadow again. Mike doesn't care, ending up chasing him down the street so he can arrest the guy for jaywalking.
  • August 1, 2013
    OlafMerchant
    Comics

  • August 2, 2013
    LordGro
    The Shadow Knows is when a character "casts a shadow that reveals their true form or nature". I don't think "casts no shadow" is necessarily a subtrope of this, except in settings where "not casting a shadow" is established as the mark of a specific kind of beings (say, vampires). But in all other cases, not having a shadow does not in itself reveal the character's "true form or nature".

    Literature
    • In the novella Peter Schlemihl's Miraculous Story (1814) by Adelbert von Chamisso, young and naive Peter Schlemihl sells his shadow to a mysterious Grey Man in exchange for a purse that gets never empty. Initially, Peter thinks he has made an excellent deal, but to his surprise people are not only very quick to notice his lack of shadow, but also react with horror and contempt, turning him into a shunned outcast.
  • August 2, 2013
    TonyG
    On one The Smurfs episode, Jokey's shadow is brought to life and goes around playing pranks, for which Jokey is blamed. As he is put on trial, one of the Smurfs notices that Jokey is not casting a shadow.
  • August 2, 2013
    Larkmarn
    I also think this is covered by The Shadow Knows.
  • August 2, 2013
    reub2000
    • In Paranoia Agent episode "Happy Family Planning" 3 people make multiple attempts at suicide through out the episode. At the end the end they realize that they don't have shadows and that one of their suicide attempts was successful.
  • August 2, 2013
    DracMonster
    Actually, I think this could stand on its own as a Sub Trope of The Shadow Knows.

    Casting no shadow is one of the traditional vampire traits, if I recall.
  • August 2, 2013
    jamespolk
    Music
    • The Oasis song "Cast No Shadow" is about a man who can't express what he really wants to say and has allowed himself to be dominated by others.
      "As he faced the sun he cast no shadow."
  • August 2, 2013
    MattStriker
    • In The Dark Eye high-ranking priests of the Nameless God will sacrifice their own shadows (and souls) to their patron. This makes them a little easier to identify than the rank-and-file of the cult, but they tend to be powerful enough by that point to more than make up for it. Mages who mess up while performing certain spells or rituals, or people who managed to attract the wrong kind of extraplanar attention can also lose their shadows and will frequently be mistaken for Nameless cultists, usually with fatal consequences.
  • August 8, 2013
    randomsurfer
    Comicbooks: In Power Man And Iron Fist Tyrone King was seen casting no shadow. According to this you were supposed to suspect he was a vampire, but he wasn't.
  • August 8, 2013
    Paradisesnake
    ^ That one should probably be linked to Luke Cage Hero For Hire.
  • August 9, 2013
    Hodor
    Semi-OT, but glad the Peter Schlemihl example was added. Wanted to note that IIRC, the Yiddish term for fool, schlemiel, probably derives from the novel, not the other way around (so, the name probably isn't a Meaningful Name in the novel).
  • August 9, 2013
    KTera
    • Destiny from The Sandman doesn't cast a shadow or leave footprints. Several of the Endless have unusual shadows: Delirium's shadow doesn't match her outline and Desire casts two shadows, because Desire is never satisfied with just one of anything.
  • August 27, 2013
    oneuglybunny
    Web Comics
    • Phillip Jackson's Sequential Art strip #299 recounts how Joviel Jakovitch was hanged for high treason. His corpse cast no shadow. Later, his autonomous shadow led a revolt of the shadow-men, which obliterated Pypingrad. He and his minions subsequently migrated to the UK.
  • August 28, 2013
    Snicka
    There's also the inversion of this trope, when an invisible character still casts shadow; that's already covered by The Shadow Knows.
  • August 30, 2013
    samgj
    Since animation and video games often include this as a technical limitation it should be limited to those of those that do it on purpose.
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