The titular Shadowhunters are an ancient order of Demon Slaying humans with angel blood. They keep normal people (known as mundanes) safe from demons and Downworlders, which are various mythological and fantastic creatures like werewolves, faeries, and vampires.
The franchise consists of the following media:
- The Mortal Instruments (2007-2014): The first series of novels. Beginning in 2007, it follows the adventures of teenager Clary Fray, who discovers her powerful Shadowhunter heritage just as a war brews between Earth's shadowhunters and invading demons led by the mysterious Valentine.
- The Infernal Devices (2010-2013): A prequel series, set in Victorian London. In 1878, Tessa Gray arrives in London to visit her brother, but is instead introduced to the world of the Shadowhunters where she discovers her mysterious heritage.
- The Dark Artifices (2016-2018): A sequel series to The Mortal Instruments. Set in 2012, it follows young Shadowhunter Emma Carstairs as she investigates and avenges her parents' deaths.
- The Last Hours (2020-): A sequel series to The Infernal Devices. In 1903, Cordelia Carstairs becomes entangled in the politics of the London Enclave that prominently involves her two family friends, James and Lucie Herondale.
- The Wicked Powers (TBA): An upcoming sequel to The Dark Artifices.
- Various companion books:
- The Shadowhunter Codex (2013): An in-universe guidebook to the Shadowhunter world.
- The Bane Chronicles (2014): A short story collection about the life of warlock Magnus Bane.
- Tales From The Shadowhunter Academy (2016): A short story collection about Simon's time at the Shadowhunter Academy.
- A Long Conversation (2017): A short story about the engagement party of two characters from The Mortal Instruments.
- Ghosts Of The Shadowmarket (2019): A short story collection about brother Zachariah and the Shadowmarket.
- The Eldest Curses (2019-): A Spin-Off series about Alec Lightwood and Magnus Bane.
- The Mortal Instruments: City of Bones (2013): A film adaptation of the first book of The Mortal Instruments, starring Lily Collins as Clary and Jamie Campbell Bower as Jace. After the film bombed, plans for a sequel were shelved.
- Shadowhunters (2016-2019): A series adapting The Mortal Instruments, starring Katherine McNamara as Clary and Dominic Sherwood as Jace. The series ran on Freeform for three seasons before being cancelled in 2018. Two extra episodes were commissioned to wrap up the story; these premiered in 2019.
- A graphic novel adaptation of The Mortal Instruments
- A mobile video game adaptation of City of Bones
- Manga adaptations of The Mortal Instruments and The Infernal Devices
Tropes common across the franchise:
- Demon Slaying: The main characters' primary occupations. Because they possess angel's blood, they are capable of killing demons.
- Fantastic Racism: Relations between the Shadowhunters (half-angel, half-human) and the Downworlders (vampires, werewolves, warlocks and faeries) have always been testy, with the former looking down on the latter.
- Fantasy Kitchen Sink: Humans coexist alongside angels, vampires, werewolves, warlocks, faerie, etcetera.
- Paranormal Romance: Borderline case. It's an urban fantasy where romance is given a heavy emphasis.
- Star-Crossed Lovers: Used liberally. Every main protagonist in the series is in some or another prevented from pursuing a normal relationship with their lover because of something.
- In The Mortal Instruments, Clary and Jace are conventionally forbidden from dating after they are revealed to be siblings. Until City of Glass, when it's revealed that they are not siblings after all.
- The Infernal Devices has arguably the most tragic example. Unlike Clary or Emma, Tessa is perfectly able to pursue a relationship with the love of her life from the very beginning. The problem? Tessa is immortal, while Will is not. The two do live happily ever after, but only as long as Will lives. After his death, Tessa can never see him again. And she never does.
- A key plot in The Dark Artifices is Emma and Julian desperately trying to find a way to be able to legally love each other, because being parabatai they are forbidden by Shadowhunter law from pursuing a relationship.
- Urban Fantasy: The Mortal Instruments, The Dark Artifices series, the movie and the TV-series are set in the 21st century, and features a Fantasy Kitchen Sink living alongside humans.
- The 'Verse: A shared universe, with multiple characters appearing across different media.