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    The Shadow 

The Shadow

https://static.tvtropes.org/pmwiki/pub/images/Shadow_sans_text_5302.png

Real Identity: Kent Allard (pulps), Lamont Cranston (1937-54 radio program), John Halvorson (British reprints)
Key Aliases: Lamont Cranston, Henry Arnaud, Issac Twambley, Fritz the Janitor
First Appearance: The Living Shadow
Portrayed by: James LaCurto, Frank Readick, Jr., Robert Hardy Andrews (1930-34 radio programs), Orson Welles, Steve Courtleigh, John Archer, Bret Morrison, Bill Johnstone (1937-54 radio program), Rod LaRocque (serials), Victor Jory, Kane Richmond (1940s films), Tom Helmond (1954 TV pilot), Alec Baldwin (1994 film)

A mysterious figure clad in black, with a menacing laugh and twin .45s for any who would dare defy the law.


  • Ace Pilot: Kent Allard was the famed “Black Eagle” of World War I, and had made a name for himself as a celebrated aviator before his disappearance. Allard’s “return to civilization” was the cause for public celebration in New York. As the Shadow, he often is seen at the controls of aircraft, though he just as often has Miles Crofton handle flying.
  • Badass in Distress: Is not immune to being captured or injured (even severely injured, as in The Romanoff Jewels).
  • Berserk Button: You do not kill any of The Shadow’s agents, or any innocent person for that matter in the commission of a crime. If you do, The Shadow will go to the ends of the earth to find you and take you and your organization apart piece by piece. Just ask Nick Savoli.
  • Big Good: For varying values of good. While certainly not blanching at putting a permanent and lethal end to evil, and laughing like a maniac while he does it, The Shadow is firmly on the side of protecting the innocent.
  • Blood Knight: The Pulp Shadow laughs like a maniac while gunning down evildoers. While some of the laughing is psychological warfare, there is a certain blood-knight quality to it as well.
  • The Chessmaster: The Shadow can play Xanatos Speed Chess with the best of them.
  • Combat Pragmatist: Don’t expect Marquis of Queensbury rules when fighting him. Once he’s on your tail, you’re fair game for any tactic short of those outlawed by the Geneva Conventions, and even then, only if you’re lucky.
  • Crazy-Prepared: Some stories have hinged on The Shadow having prepared beforehand for situations he could never have foreseen, such as building a secret hiding compartment into a filing cabinet in his Sanctum in Crime, Insured or having an entire set of red clothes to thwart a room bathed in red light in The Voodoo Master. The Shadow generally takes Batman-level precautions.
  • Cunning Linguist: Can speak numerous languages (often, he’ll know a language important to the plot) including Chinese, Russian, Xinca and Roma.
  • Development Gag: Early stories have The Shadow himself hosting a weekly radio program… on the same night and time as the real-life Detective Story Hour that originated the Shadow character and sparked Street and Smith to give the character his own magazine. Even later stories have The Shadow occasionally enter a radio studio to send a coded message.
  • Everything's Sparkly with Jewelry: Gibson devotes on occasion Purple Prose to loving descriptions of how light plays over the girasol gem on The Shadow’s iconic ring.
  • Expansion Pack Past: He's had a lot of adventures between his time in WWI and becoming the Shadow, traveling throughout the world.
  • The Faceless: Early stories seemed to point in the direction of The Shadow being this, hinting at some ghastly injury that was never described, but that shocked the few who were privileged(?) enough to see the Shadow unmasked.
  • Fountain of Expies: So, so many. The Avenger, The Octopus, Doc Savage, The Spider, The Masked Detective and… some flash-in-the-pan costumed detective who dressed as a bat. Seriously, nearly every superhero in some way owes his or her creation to The Shadow.
  • Good Is Not Nice: The Shadow is an uncompromising protector of the innocent. However, if you are a lawbreaker and a deadly threat to The Shadow, his agents or the public at large (not necessarily in that order), get ready for all tactics up to and including rigging rooms in his sanctum to explode intent on taking you down. Even if you're on his side, don't expect the warm fuzzies from him, instead whispered orders and an expectation they'll be carried out.
  • Good Scars, Evil Scars: His earliest stories hint at his face being messed up to the point of being The Faceless. This is later ignored once the Kent Allard identity is established.
  • Guns Akimbo: His weapon of choice is two .45 automatics.
  • I Work Alone: Averted, unlike many of his expies. He relies on a sizeable network of agents to help him.
  • It's Personal: Related to Berserk Button above, you hurt one of his agents, he will track you down and make your life a living hell.
  • Master of Disguise: The undisputed master. Legion are the Shadow’s double identities.
  • Master of Illusion: Of both the mundane and paranormal variety. The Shadow is well versed in traditional escape artistry, stage magic and misdirection but since he's also an Empowered Badass Normal due to his meditation and mental training from Shamballa, he's can use psychic abilities to enhance his skills or even create a false image of a person, place, or thing.
  • Mighty Whitey: Kent Allard purposely crash-landed deep in the Amazon, where he became the “white god” of a tribe of South American Xinca tribesmen.
    • The radio Shadow was established to have learned his “power to cloud men’s minds” at the feet of a Tibetan master, one who saw fit to teach it to no one else, not even the master’s own children.
  • The Mole: The Shadow often acted as this himself in his quarry’s outfit. He also pulled this on the NYPD, playing the part of a senile old janitor to keep abreast of leads on crooks.
  • Old Soldier: A WWI veteran, he would by 1931 qualify as this.
  • Pragmatic Hero: The Shadow is Good Is Not Nice personified. If you are an innocent, he will protect you. However if you are a crook, you are screwed if he gets on your trail. He will end you. Or in the radio show, arrange things so that karma would end you.
  • Pay Evil unto Evil: Teaches a Ph.D-level course in it.
  • Proto-Superhero: One of the most influential ever.
  • Psychic Powers: The Shadow developed psychic abilities through meditation and mental training while under guidance of monks in a Tibetan temple. These abilities essentially let him manipulate the minds of others and communicate telepathically to varying degrees. It should be noted however that while his psychic gifts give him a big edge, the Shadow isn't Professor X and at best his ability to manipulate is more like a powerful suggestion meaning the strong willed can resist him. His ring focuses and enhances his abilities so that when he uses it directly on someone it's more straight up Mind Control.
  • Ring of Power: The Shadow's Iconic Girasol ring is mystical in nature and while useless in the hands of normal people, is powerful in the hands of those properly trained in it's use. While the ring's abilities and limits tend to be vague, it's known to be a powerful focus and enhancing object for the psychically gifted (think cerebro if you could put it on your finger). The shadow uses it to enhance his psychic powers of manipulation and illusion and when he uses it directly on someone (they need to look into the stone of the ring) he can control them instead of just manipulating them.
  • Stealth Hi/Bye: Was doing this trope long before Batman.
  • Terror Hero: If it weren’t for a typically ‘30s attitude towards language, most crooks’ first words upon hearing that laugh or seeing a black figure materialize in front of them would be “Oh, Crap!”…
    • He was so much The Dreaded that when one crooked insurance company started a business in insuring crimes, The Shadow was a hazard factored in by name by the actuaries.
  • Wall Crawl: Did this often with the aid of large suction cups worn on his hands.

    The Shadow’s Agents 

Harry Vincent

Portrayed by: Pulp-exclusive character
First Appearance: The Living Shadow


  • Badass Normal: Even with his Distressed Dude tendencies, Harry is resourceful, bright, a good shot and a capable agent.
    • As confirmation of this, he is one of the very few people allowed to wear The Shadow’s slouch hat and cloak to double as the hero when the needs demand it.
  • Distressed Dude: Taken to virtual Once an Episode levels, as Harry is the most likely member of The Shadow’s agents to be taken captive in any given story.
  • Driven to Suicide: How we first encounter Harry, as a despairing young man about to jump to his death from the Brooklyn Bridge. The Shadow, however, had other ideas.
  • The Mole: Harry very often fulfilled this role on behalf of The Shadow. This, not coincidentally, was the root cause behind most of his captures.
  • Rich Idiot with No Day Job: Harry is well taken care of and does not have to work, at least not outside whatever duties his status as an agent for The Shadow has him perform.

Burbank

Portrayed by: Pulp-exclusive character
First Appearance:

The Shadow’s communications expert, often broadcasting from a hidden location in New York to the rest of The Shadow’s agents.


  • Communications Officer: Burbank is the point of radio and telephone contact for the network of agents.
  • The Ghost: Burbank usually enters the story only as a voice over a radio or telephone. Very rarely does he physically appear in any story.
  • Last-Name Basis: Burbank’s full name is never revealed, nor even any indication whether or not “Burbank” is his real surname or an alias.
    • The re-edited versions published in England did give Burbank a full name, Richard Burbank. However, so much was changed in the British versions (most notably, placing all the action in England rather than New York) that this version qualifies as its own separate continuity.

Lamont Cranston

Portrayed by: All actors on radio and film who portrayed The Shadow
First Appears in: The Eyes of the Shadow (mentioned, Cranston alias for The Shadow established), The Shadow laughs (first actual appearance)

The real Lamont Cranston, a globe-trotting playboy who allows The Shadow to use his identity and resources in his fight against crime.


  • Adaptation Displacement: Most people today believe Lamont Cranston ‘’was’’ The Shadow, because they’re more familiar with the more accessible and available radio show and movies.
  • Ascended Extra: Of sorts – some of the very late stories dispensed with The Shadow altogether and were essentially Lamont Cranston-Commissioner Weston mysteries.
  • Badass Normal: The times that Cranston does team up with The Shadow, he is shown to be a capable fighter and crack shot.
  • Cool Car: Being a Rich Idiot with No Day Job, he owns at least one or more very nice limousines, which The Shadow makes free use of.
  • Grand Theft Me: The initial situation that let Allard assume the Cranston identity was one where he essentially blackmailed Cranston into the identity theft.
  • Rich Idiot with No Day Job: It’s not really stated outright what Cranston’s actual source of wealth is, whether inherited, thrift or investments. The Shadow takes advantage of Cranston’s globetrotting ways to use Cranston’s identity.
    • The radio Cranston’s wealth is similarly mysterious, though it’s hinted that it’s most likely a vast inheritance, given that he spent much time in Tibet and elsewhere training and not running a business.

Cliff Marsland

Portrayed by: Pulps-exclusive character
Appears in:

A former crook and WWI companion of The Shadow, Cliff Marsland often uses his criminal past in The Shadow’s service by infiltrating gangs.


  • The Mole: Cliff is the most likely agent to infiltrate an actual mob or gang.

Hawkeye

Portrayed by: Pulps-exclusive character
Appears in:


Joe Cardona

Portrayed by: Pulps-exclusive character
Appears in:

An honest cop and high-ranking inspector in the New York Police Department.


  • Friend on the Force: He is one of Shadow’s agents and supplies him with tips on the latest crimes and mysteries. Either personally, or through Clyde Burke.

Clyde Burke

Portrayed by: Pulp-exclusive character
Appears in:


  • Intrepid Reporter
  • Stock Superhero Day Jobs: Although not technically a “superhero”, Clyde’s job as an ace reporter allows him to keep abreast of leads for The Shadow. It has the added half-bonus that since Clyde isn’t actually reporting on himself (usually) that bit of journalistic ethics is sidestepped (that and journalistic ethics in the ‘30s were fluid at best.)

Claude Fellows

Portrayed by: pulps-exclusive character
Appears in:

An insurance broker, Claude was one of the key conduits of information through the Shadow’s network of agents. He would be murdered in 1931 by members of Nick Savoli’s Chicago mob.


Rutlidge Mann

Portrayed by: Pulps-exclusive character
Appears in:


Moe “Shrevvy” Shrevnitz

Portrayed by: Alan Reed, Keenan Wynn (1937-54 radio show), Peter Boyle (1994 film)
Appears in:

A New York cabbie who provides transport for The Shadow.


  • Cool Car: His hack cab does have a sophisticated shortwave radio setup. Also it is one of The Shadow’s preferred means of transportation, making it cool by association.
  • Flanderization: The radio and 1994 film versions of Shrevvy are quite a bit more comical and dense than the pulps character.
  • Strange-Syntax Speaker: The radio version only. He would often repeat the first few words of his sentences again at their ends for no apparent reason, resulting in dialogue like "I was talking to my friend Big Charlie, I was talking." No other version of the character displayed this tendency, no reason was given for this quirk, and the other characters never seemed to think anything unusual about this habit beyond that it showed Shrevvy's relative lack of formal education.

Jericho Druke

Portrayed by: Pulps-exclusive character
Appears in: The Chinese Discs


Dr. Roy Tam

Portrayed by: Pulps-exclusive character
Appears in:

A Chinese-American physician, Tam serves as the eyes and ears for The Shadow in Chinatowns across the nation.


Dr. Rupert Sayre

Portrayed by: Pulps-Exclusive Character
Appears in: Master of Death

A physician who serves as The Shadow’s personal doctor.


  • Heel–Face Turn: Started out as a semi-willing assistant to the “Master of Death”, Eric Veldon, in his plot to make electronic zombies.

Miles Crofton

Portrayed by: Pulps-Exclusive Character
Appears in:

An inventor and aeronautical engineer, who is The Shadow’s pilot when The Shadow himself can’t fly.


Myra Reldon

Portrayed by: Pulps-Exclusive Character
Appears in:

A former Department of Justice agent who fell in with the Shadow’s agents while The Shadow was on a mission in San Francisco.


  • Action Girl
  • Secret Agent: Started out as a law enforcement agent for the United States before joining the Shadow’s organization
  • Yellowface: Although Caucasian, she could convincingly pass for an Asian/Chinese woman, and often adopted the alias “Ming Dwan”.

Margo Lane

Portrayed by: Agnes Moorehead, Margot Stevenson, Marjorie Anderson, Lesley Woods, Grace Matthews and Gertrude Warner (1937-54 radio show) Paula Raymond (1954 TV pilot), Veda Ann Borg, Barbara Reed (1940s' films) Penelope Ann Miller (1994 film)
First Appearance: The Death House Rescue

A socialite who, particularly in the radio show, is a close companion of Lamont Cranston.


  • Canon Immigrant: Walter Gibson was not enthusiastic about including Margo in the pulp novels, as she was a radio-specific character, included to draw female listeners. In addition, he already had a female agent for The Shadow, Myra Reldon. However, Street and Smith kept on him to include Margo, and she finally made her pulp appearance in 1941.
  • Damsel in Distress: Often gets this role in the radio show, as a further impetus for Lamont to spring into action.
    • This was often subverted in the earliest years of the radio show. Margo was originally an active participant in The Shadow's operations, albeit not to the extent of being an out-and-out Action Girl. This was apparently the work of then-story-editor Edith Meisner, who wanted Margo to be a capable partner to Lamont instead of a passive, traditional damsel. When Meisner left the show in the early 40s, Margo's role morphed into the more traditional damsel trope.
  • Expy: For Myrna Loy's Nora Charles, according to The Other Wiki.
  • Spell My Name with an "S": The radio scripts had her name as "Margot" Lane, in honor of Broadway star Margot Stephenson, whom she was named after, and who poprtrayed the character briefly in 1938. Walter Gibson, however, used the other, just as valid, phonetic spelling in the pulps.
  • The Scrappy: At first, Gibson treated her like this in the novels (essentially a sometimes useful annoyance), before later promoting her to a full agent.

    Rogue’s Gallery 

Dr. Rodil Mocquino, The Voodoo Master

Appears in: The Voodoo Master, City of Doom, Voodoo Trail

Dr. Mocquino, a Mad Scientist, poses as a voudoun to lead a cult of fanatics in a series of crimes


Shiwan Khan

Appears in: The Golden Master, Shiwan Khan Returns The Invincible Shiwan Khan, Master of Death

The descendant of Genghis Khan, Shiwan Khan uses superscience to gain tools for his criminal empire.


Nick Savolli

Appears in: Gangdom’s Doom

A Chicago mobster who runs afoul of The Shadow.


Five-Face

Appears in: The Fifth Face


The Salamanders

Appears in: The Salamanders

A gang of asbestos-suited arsonists who burglarize specific locations to steal a controlling interest in a company for their masters, burning the buildings to the ground once their mission is complete to cover their tracks.


  • Kill It with Fire: The sum of their MO.
  • Morally Bankrupt Banker: Huxley Drune, the mastermind behind The Salamanders' arsons. He's ordered the assaults, with zero concern for potential loss of life, purely to seize a controlling interest in an energy company.

Marvin Bradthaw

Appears in: Crime, Insured


  • Corrupt Corporate Executive: The head of the Solidarity Insurance Company, he found that big profits were to be had in an underserved insurance market – that of insuring crime. Sometimes, to ensure that it stays profitable, he takes out (or attempts to take out) insurance risks. It doesn’t work so well when he tries to do it to The Shadow.
  • Cut Lex Luthor a Check: Marvin, Marvin, Marvin. If only you had stuck to your already profitable legitimate insurance business. You wouldn’t have ended up a raspberry stain on the street.
  • Destination Defenestration: Did it to himself, trying to bull-rush The Shadow, but forgetting that he was on the 40th floor of his office building, and that he had rebuilt the Shadow’s Sanctum in a room with windows… well, the math does itself. The results are not pretty.
  • Magnificent Bastard: Plays an epic game of Xanatos Speed Chess with the Shadow, including actually stealing The Shadow’s Sanctum and setting it up in his office to make it seem like The Shadow was an employee of the company.
  • Only in It for the Money: His entire motive. He doesn’t care for crime, but having crooks pay him to ensure their jobs allows him a totally new revenue stream.

"Diamond" Bert Farwell

Appears in: The Living Shadow, The Chinese Discs


  • Put on a Bus: Diamond Bert was arrested and sent to prison after his first appearance. According to Gibson, this was a case where Early Installment Wierdness worked in their favor — most Shadow villains met fatal ends unless there had been a deliberate reason to keep them around. Gibson kept meticulous notes on all the villains who appeared in his stories, and had stumbled across Diamond Bert's index card and realized he'd sent him to prison and promptly forgot about him. And so, some sixty-odd stories later, he had Diamond Bert return to finally have a rematch.
  • Yellowface: The entirety of his first appearance is in the disguise of a Chinese tea merchant.

Steve Cronin

Appears in: The Living Shadow, Gangdom’s Doom


  • The Dragon: To Bert Farwell in The Living Shadow.
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