- Canon Immigrant: Originated as the resident Cobra Expy for the British equivalent of the G.I. Joe line, Action Force. When Hasbro bought Palitoy and began mixing the continuities, this meant the Red Shadows have periodically shown up in other Joe fiction.
- Depending on the Writer: Just about everything. Who is in charge? Are they an Ancient Conspiracy, or a relatively new kid on the block? Are they a third party faction that threatens G.I. Joe and Cobra alike, or are they a Private Military Contractor augmenting Cobra's ranks? The answer varies across continuities.
- Instant Awesome: Just Add Mecha!: Their troops are occasionally augmented with killer robots who can shrug off bullets. The Muton and the Skeletron are the most prominent examples.
- Kill It with Fire: Their pyro troop variant, the Shadow Torches.
- Putting on the Reich: The Shadowtroopers bear a resemblance to the Wehrmacht stormtroopers. They wear stahlhelms with a "Jerry helmet" design, and wield MP-40s, panzerschrecks, and stielhandgranates (stick grenades) as weapons. And while the Skull and Crossbones logo is often associated with pirates, it was also a notorious symbol of the Totenkopf armored division.
Real Name: Marcus Kassells
- Bad Boss: He takes his anger of defeat on his men.
- Brainwashed: He has hypnotic control over his men.
- Composite Character: Becomes Cobra Commander later on. In the Hasbro Comic Universe, he's Joe Colton.
- Cop Killer: During his service in the British Army's Parachute Regiment, it's implied he killed a fellow officer by pushing him out of a plane after an argument. But nothing was proven.
- Everyone Calls Him "Barkeep": He's known as "The Baron" during his mercenary days.
- Evil Genius: His toy bio describes him as a "Genius of Evil".
- Phrase Catcher: "BLODD FOR THE BARON!"
- Take Over the World: His "twisted criminal brain" dreams of it.
Real Name: John Shepherd
- Ace Pilot: He can drive or fly pretty much any Red Shadows vehicle, but he takes a particular liking to the Roboskull flight pod.
- Appropriated Appellation: During a mission in Latin America locals called him "Commandante Negro" (Spanish for Black Major). He took a liking to the name and decided to roll with it.
- Badass Longcoat: Wears one in the comics.
- Bad Boss: In the IDW ARAH comic. While generally braver and tougher than Cobra Commander, he still shares the Commander's tendency to throw his troops under a bus to save his own ass.Black Major: I saved myself for the good of us all, to ensure quality leadership in this time of peril.SAW-Viper: That was very noble of you, Black Major.
- Dragon Ascendant: After Baron Ironblood's betrayal, the Black Major reunites the remaining Red Shadows and becomes their leader.
- FaceHeel Turn: Was a loyal British soldier before the Red Shadows brainwashed him.
- Putting on the Reich: He looks like an SS officer, save for his cap being red instead of black. His personal sidearm bears a strong resemblance to the C-96 Mauser.
- Sociopathic Soldier: Likely a result of his brainwashing, he shows no emotion on the battlefield.
- Ace Custom: The Laser Exterminator, the Evil Counterpart to Joes' Heavy Artillery Laser.
- Bomb Throwing Anarchist: While he was a student at Tokyo University he was involved with some local extremist groups.
- Insufferable Genius: In the IDW ARAH comic.Red Laser: It's not my fault if my superiors in the planning stages did not see the scale of the opposition's weapon.
- King Mook: He wears the same helmet and mask combination as the standard Red Shadow stormtrooper, but a custom uniform otherwise distinguishes him from the rank and file.
- Mad Scientist: Picture an evil version of Q who likes to field test his inventions himself.
- Martial Arts Headband: Usually wears one when isn't wearing a helmet.
- Palette Swap: Of Cobra Commander. He even alternates between two forms of headwear: A battle helmet and a hachimaki.
Real Name: Anton Nobokov
- Ace Custom: The Hyena assault tank.
- Authority Equals Asskicking: Part of the Red Shadows' senior leadership, also one of their best hand-to-hand fighters.
- Badass Driver: Has a natural talent for high-speed driving.
- Cyborg: The immuno-compromised burnt flesh of his head is covered by a bio-mimetic "smart metal". He also has robotic hands and eyes.
- Improbable Aiming Skills: Thanks to his cybernetic eyes.
- Palette Swap: Of Destro. In the Battle Action Force continuity they're the same guy.
- The Quiet One: Even before being brainwashed by the Red Shadows, he was a loner with "an aversion to comradeship".
- Russian Guy Suffers Most: Actually Latvian, but nevertheless, life has not been kind to this guy.
- We Can Rebuild Him: And Baron Ironblood does.
Leader of the Red Shadows in the DDP comics. His purpose is to finish the established government he sees as corrupt.
- Evil Brit: Was an MI5 operative before he went rogue.
- Expy: Loosely based on Golobulus from the movie.
- We Used to Be Friends: With General Colton.
- Well-Intentioned Extremist
- Wild Mass Guessing: There's the theory that he could be the Black Major.
A ruthless female member of the Red Shadows.
- Bald of Evil
- Expy: Loosely based on Pythona from the movie.
- Hero Killer: Lady Jaye's murderer.
- Pretty in Mink: Wears a stylish mink coat.
Artur KulikA feared enforcer and assassin.
- Bald of Evil
- Composite Character: Loosely based on Nemesis Enforcer from the movie, and also a Russian member of the Red Shadows like Red Jackal.
- Good Scars, Evil Scars: Has some rather ominous scars from previous battles.
- Husky Russkie: A big Russian who serves as the Sledgehammer to Dela Eden's scalpel.
- The Only One Allowed to Defeat You: After his attempt to assassinate Hawk fails, Kulik becomes obsessed with redeeming this failure from his record.