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's often seen at the controls of aircraft, though he just as often has Miles Crofton handle flying.
- The Atoner: A lot of later adaptations tend to make him one, though with a twist. Instead of renouncing the evil in his own heart and striving to become good, he's decided to use it against evildoers.
- 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. His Big Good tendencies are more pronounced in the radio show where standards and practices forbade the Shadow actively killing.
- 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: Dont expect Marquis of Queensbury rules when fighting him. Once hes on your tail, youre fair game for any tactic short of those outlawed by the Geneva Conventions, and even then, only if youre 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 (which is fitting for the character who taught Batman everything he knows).
- Cunning Linguist: Can speak numerous languages (often, hell 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 Shadows 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 a pair of .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 Shadows 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-lands deep in the Amazon, where he becomes the "white god" of a tribe of South American Xinca tribesmen.
- The radio Shadow is 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 quarrys 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's so much The Dreaded that when one crooked insurance company starts a business in insuring crimes, the Shadow is 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 Ace: Is often described as one of The Shadow's most trusted operatives.
- 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 Shadows slouch hat and cloak to double as the hero when the needs demand it.
- Demoted to Extra: If not outright Adapted Out of the more Margo Lane-focused adaptations.
- Distressed Dude: Taken to virtual Once an Episode levels, as Harry is the most likely member of The Shadows 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 Face: Is charming and affable and makes fast friends with the ones The Shadow sets to protect.
- 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.
- Supporting Protagonist: Harry often acts as a POV character, allowing The Shadow to stay... well, in the shadows.
- The Watson
The Shadows 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: Burbanks 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.
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 dispense with the Shadow altogether and are essentially Lamont Cranston-Commissioner Weston mysteries.
- Badass Normal: When Cranston does team up with the Shadow, he's shown to be a capable fighter and crack shot.
- Cool Car: Being a Rich Idiot With No Day Job, he owns at least one very nice limousine, 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: Its not really stated outright what Cranstons actual source of wealth is, whether inherited, thrift or investments. The Shadow takes advantage of Cranstons globetrotting ways to use Cranstons identity. The radio Cranston's wealth is similarly mysterious, though its hinted that its most likely a vast inheritance, given that he spent much time in Tibet and elsewhere training and not running a business.
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.
An honest cop and high-ranking inspector in the New York Police Department.
- The Ace: Is often described as the star detective of the New York police force.
- Badass Normal: Can handle himself pretty well in firefights with the mob.
- The Commissioner Gordon: Of the "keeping the relationship secret" variety.
- 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.
- Stock Superhero Day Jobs: Although not technically a superhero, Clydes job as an ace reporter allows him to keep abreast of leads for The Shadow. It has the added half-bonus that since Clyde isnt actually reporting on himself (usually) that bit of journalistic ethics is sidestepped (that and journalistic ethics in the 30s were fluid at best.)
An insurance broker, Claude was one of the key conduits of information through the Shadows network of agents. He's murdered in 1931 by members of Nick Savoli's Chicago mob.
- Non-Action Guy: Which kind of becomes his downfall.
- We Hardly Knew Ye: Claude ends up only appearing in the first six stories, as he's murdered by Chicago mobsters to set up for the Shadow's Roaring Rampage of Revenge in Gangdom's Doom.
- Non-Action Guy: Is never involved in the field work.
- Replacement Goldfish: For the murdered Claude Fellowes.
Moe "Shrevvy" Shrevnitz
A New York cabbie who provides transport for the Shadow.
- Ambiguously Jewish: Usually, though some of the comics strip the ambiguity and make him out-and-out Nice Jewish Guy.
- Badass Driver: The reason The Shadow picked him as his agent.
- Cool Car: His hack cab does have a sophisticated shortwave radio setup. Also it's 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 often repeats the first few words of his sentences again at their end 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 displays this tendency, no reason is given for this quirk, and the other characters never seem to think anything unusual about this habit beyond that it shows Shrevvy's relative lack of formal education.
- Fair for Its Day: Jericho is decidedly not anywhere as stereotypical as many depictions of blacks in media at the time (even within the Shadow novels themselves). Although strong, he is not just Dumb Muscle, and even has a day job running a job-placement agency in Harlem.
- Token Minority: Long before the idea had really taken shape.
Dr. Roy Tam
A Chinese-American physician, Tam serves as the eyes and ears for The Shadow in Chinatowns across the nation.
- Asian Speekee Engrish: Deliberately averted, almost to the level of this being a Denied Trope with regards to Roy Tam. Gibson very intentionally wrote this character to be educated and fluent and so to dispel the older stereotype that had been in earlier stories. Some accounts claim this was due to Executive Meddling (John Nanovic, the editor of the time may have cajoled Gibson to retire some of the more obvious ethnic stereotyping), once again a reminder that Tropes Are Not Bad.
Dr. Rupert Sayre
A physician who serves as The Shadows personal doctor.
- HeelFace Turn: Started out as a semi-willing assistant to the Master of Death, Eric Veldon, in his plot to make electronic zombies.
An inventor and aeronautical engineer, who is The Shadows pilot when The Shadow himself cant fly.
- Cool Plane: Crofton designed, built and often pilots The Shadows autogiro.
- Monochromatic Eyes: His left eye is white from having been blinded in WW1.
A former Department of Justice agent who falls in with the Shadow's agents while the Shadow is on a mission in San Francisco.
- Secret Agent: Started out as a law enforcement agent for the United States before joining the Shadows organization
- Yellowface: Although Caucasian, she could convincingly pass for an Asian/Chinese woman, and often adopted the alias "Ming Dwan".
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 is 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.
Dr. Rodil Mocquino, the Voodoo Master
Dr. Mocquino, a Mad Scientist, poses as a voudoun to lead a cult of fanatics in a series of crimes
The descendant of Genghis Khan, Shiwan Khan uses superscience to gain tools for his criminal empire.
A Chicago mobster who runs afoul of the Shadow.
- Lawyer-Friendly Cameo: Savoli is very nakedly supposed to be Al Capone.
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.
- 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.
- 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 wouldnt 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 Shadows 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
- Put on a Bus: Diamond Bert is arrested and sent to prison after his first appearance. According to Gibson, this was a case where Early Installment Weirdness worked in their favor — most Shadow villains meet fatal ends unless there's 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.
- The Dragon: To Bert Farwell in The Living Shadow.