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Literature / Shadow Unit

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A Web Original series of short stories that is presented as episodes of a TV show. The Behavioral Analysis Unit of the FBI that investigates Serial Killers all over the US. And down the hall from them, in a tiny conference room, is the unit that deals with the ones they can't explain. This is the Shadow Unit: a team of experts in their respective fields joined together to track down and neutralize people who have become hosts for "the anomaly". These people are called gammas. An unknown force takes the host's deepest neurosis and forces them to act on it. In short, it turns them into psychopaths. But not only are the gammas run-of-the-mill crazy, the anomaly gives them a "manifestation", an inhuman power that allows them to carry out their brutal murders. They range from being killed by the idea of a bullet, to choking people by forcing their own tongue down their throat, to being utterly unnoticeable to the point of being invisible, leaving no footprints and being unstainable by blood.


An added twist is that there exist individuals that have been touched by the anomaly. They retain control, but are given inhuman powers too. These are termed betas. Their powers consist of having an existing mental skill boosted to super-genius levels. The enormous strain on brains of betas and gammas means they need to consume vast amounts of carbohydrates just to stay alive, and can starve to death in a very short amount of time if they don't get enough food.

The goal of the Shadow Unit is first to prevent the harm done by gammas, and second to capture them alive to understand the anomaly.

It can be found here.


This series provides examples of:

  • Anyone Can Die: By the end of Episode 4.13, the only surviving members of Shadow Unit are Nikki Lau, Arthur Tan, Stephen Reyes, Chaz Villette and Daniel Brady.
  • Asshole Victim: 2.01, "Lucky Day," is a whole episode devoted to the concept.
  • Badass Bookworm: Pretty much all of the characters.
  • Break the Cutie: Chaz and Hafidha.
  • Cast from Calories: Merely having a paranormal ability doubles a person's daily caloric intake; the team considers an increase in caloric uptake a sign of Traumatic Superpower Awakening. Actively using the power can starve you to death in hours (or even faster). Chaz considers himself to be middle-aged - burning all those calories is medically proven In-Universe to be wearing out various organs - and nearly starved to death as a child on numerous occasions; his foster families treated it as an eating disorder, so he had to resort to scamming his fellow students for extra lunch money and stealing sticks of butter out of people's fridges just to swallow them whole. When he's held captive by his uncle/father, he's reduced to a third-world refugee skeleton in a matter of days.
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  • Catchphrase: "Correlation is not causation" is Todd's, and "There are no fates worse than death" is the entire team's. The latter is a whole lot emptier than the former.
  • Character Blog: much of the team. Can be heartbreaking.
  • Crazy Consumption
  • Creepy Crossdresser: 4.02, "Five Autopsies" Pretty much the whole episode. The killer is a male-to-female transsexual who has been denied access to medical transition based on her looks, and kills other trans women because of it.
  • Cult: A gamma cult, no less!
  • Deadpan Snarker: Brady frequently, Daphne Worth at times.
  • Disposable Sex Worker: Totally, 100% subverted, considering Chaz's mother was one.
  • Downer Ending: Hooo boy is it ever. During the raid on Rupert Beale's safe house, Hafidha Gates is downed by a shot meant for Sol Todd. Slightly later, the rest of the team (Todd, Falkner, Villette and Brady) are taken out by Beale's final act of desperation, detonating a homemade pipe bomb in close proximity. Todd and Falkner are killed instantly, and Brady will never walk again. Hafidha dies at the hospital, presumably from blood loss. Villette makes the existence of the Shadow Unit public knowledge, and his ultimate fate is left ambiguous. The continuation of the BAU at all is dubious: all that remains of the original team is Lau, Tan and a retired Stephen Reyes.
  • Drives Like Crazy: Chaz
  • Dropped A Cargo Truck On Her: all right, it works brilliantly in context, but Daphne's death is just damn abrupt.
  • Expy: Chaz Villette for Spencer Reid from Criminal Minds. He's a tall, awkward genius with an eidetic memory who grew up in Vegas, had a terrible childhood, and was kidnapped by an UNSUB with delusions about angels and injected with something (in Chaz's case, blood).
    • Slightly less obviously, Hafidha for Garcia. Both are computer geniuses with a decidedly unconventional style of dress and humour. Of course, this is mitigated by Hafidha's status as a beta and her conversion into a gamma at the end of the second season.
  • Gay Conservative: Danny Brady
  • Intrepid Reporter: What Todd did before he started hunting gammas. His nickname is Duke, after all.
  • Killed Off for Real: goodbye, Daphne Worth.
  • The Masquerade: The FBI insists that the presence of the Anomaly be kept from the world at large—much to Stephen Reyes's frustration.
  • Manipulative Bastard: Stephan Reyes
  • Noodle Incident: Talk to Duke for five minutes.
  • Perception Filter: The gamma from Season 1 Episode 7 "Overkill."
  • The Profiler: almost the entire cast
  • Real Men Cook: Not only Chaz, who practically never stops (hazard of the beta trade), but also Reyes and Danny Brady
  • Running Gag: One of these days we'll find out what was really going on with that Argentinian racehorse...
  • Shoot the Dog: Or eat, in Mrs. Chow's case.
  • Wham Episode: Episode 3.01, "The Unicorn Evils", where we discover that Hafidha has become a gamma.
    • Episode 4.13, "Something's Gotta Eat T.Rexes. Hafidha, dead, presumably from blood loss sustained from a bullet wound given to her by Beale. Falkner and Todd, dead from a pipe bomb which also permanently crippled Brady. Chaz presumably living as an outlaw after revealing the existence of the Shadow Unit, which may not exist for much longer, considering all that's left is Lau, Tan and a retired Reyes. Wham Episode indeed.