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Living Shadow

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"I have gone through the most terrible affair that could possibly happen; only imagine, my shadow has gone mad; I suppose such a poor, shallow brain, could not bear much; he fancies that he has become a real man, and that I am his shadow."

You're sitting by the fire one night, reading your book, when suddenly there's a gust of wind. The light flickers and you see your shadow move... except you're not moving. You get up and see that there are actually two shadows — one is yours and one, well, that one's moving independently of you. How (creepily) amazing!

This is the Living Shadow. Sometimes it's evil, sometimes it's good, sometimes it's merely mischievous. It may be a ghost, a person with the power to become a shadow, a shadow magically animated and separated from its person (who often Casts No Shadow), an alien that only appears to be a shadow, or something much, much worse. Regularly, they're used as Nightmare Fuel.

Voluntarily separating yourself from your shadow is one of the more dangerous things you can do. It usually has the obvious corollary that you Cast No Shadow but that's merely the obvious.

Not to Be Confused with a Shadow Archetype, which isn't usually a Living Shadow, or with Fighting a Shadow, or Loving a Shadow (which may happen with a Living Shadow, but is not necessary). Also not to be confused with Casting a Shadow, though it's not uncommon for the two to overlap.


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    Anime & Manga 
  • The Illegals in Den-noh Coil resemble living shadows, especially the humanoid Nulls.
  • Seiichirou Tatsumi's power in Descendants of Darkness is manipulating shadows as a mean of transport and as a weapon.
  • An early Doraemon story have a gadget called the Shadow-Cutting Scissors, which can extract it's users shadows by cutting them from their feet. The shadow will become an obediant servant who follows the master's orders, which Nobita exploits asking said shadow to do his homework and clean up the lawn while he chills in his room reading manga. But unfortunately Doraemon forgot about the side effects that the shadow must be re-attached within a certain time limit, otherwise it will turn into an evil version of this trope and take over the owner's life - which Nobita finds out when the shadow starts having Nobita's facial features while Nobita himself begin turning dark and shadowy. Ultimately, they decide to "borrow" Tamako's shadow to recapture Nobita's.
  • In The Executioner and Her Way of Life, Manon Libelle becomes one after being turned into a demon by Pandaemonium. Though she still appears to have a body, it is just a meat puppet she pilots around, and her true form is her shadow.
  • Rogue's shadow in Fairy Tail, at times, has a mind of its own. It turns out to be his future self hiding in his shadow.
  • Fullmetal Alchemist:
    • Pride/Selim Bradley has the ability to transform any shadow in his area into an Eldritch Abomination covered with eyes and teeth. Those shadows are also quite 'physical'; they can touch people and objects (and rip them apart or consume them). However, the shadows have to be visible, so he can't do anything in an area of complete darkness. Ironically, he needs light to use his shadows, while at the same time being vulnerable to very bright light, as a flash grenade at close range can temporarily hurt him.
    • In a flashback, Father's original form was shown to be a tiny, shadowy ball in a flask that was able to manifest a single eye and mouth. Late in the series, his true form is shown to be a nothing more than an mass of shadows covered in teeth and eyes formed to resemble a human.
  • Alucard and some of the other heavy hitters in Hellsing have abilities similar to Pride in Fullmetal Alchemist, creating living, tangible shadow monsters (or transforming into the same).
  • JoJo's Bizarre Adventure:
    • Alessi from Stardust Crusaders uses a shadowlike Stand, Sethan, who de-ages whomever it touches.
    • In Golden Wind, the Stand wielded by Polpo, Black Sabbath, has the ability to jump from shadow to shadow. This means any shadow big enough to fit him not attached to a human, and he attacks by pulling your shadow up from the ground and stabbing it with an arrow that comes out of his mouth. Really. However, it's only a 50% chance you'll die from it because if you can handle the strain on your soul, you get your own Stand.
  • In My Hero Academia Fumikage Tokoyami's quirk Dark Shadow is a shadowy entity connected to Tokoyami's body. It's Weakened by the Light, but is also more controllable — in the darkness, Dark Shadow will start disobeying him and going on rampages.
  • In Natsume's Book of Friends after a bound malicious spirit marks Natsume with a death curse that will consume his life energy and force him to return to the spirit in five days the impatient spirit sent its shadow after him to hunt him down and consume him before the five days of the curse are up.
  • Shadow type magic in Negima! Magister Negi Magi uses this as a fighting style, and can create tangible objects out of the stuff. Word of warning — as tempting as it might be, don't make clothing out of it. Like any magical construct, it will vanish if the person generating it is incapacitated. It took Takane D. Goodman quite a... while to learn it.
  • Leliel, the 12th Angel in Neon Genesis Evangelion, proved to be a two-dimensional creature resembling a shadow that projected a three-dimensional, spherical shadow; everyone understandably assumed the sphere was the Angel. You attack the sphere, you get eaten by the "shadow".
  • In the Thriller Bark arc of One Piece, Gecko Moria's Kage Kage no Mi (Shadow-Shadow Fruit) powers allow him to remove shadows from people as if they were living things. He can also stuff them into corpses, turning said corpses into zombies (which gain all the abilities and personality of the shadow's true owner). Shadows can also be stuffed into living people, with the same result, but after a certain period of time (depending on the willpower and concentration of the person), the shadows remove themselves forcibly. The Shadow-Shadow Fruit also gives Moria's own shadow the ability to move (and, of course, fight) independently, as a straighter example of this trope. It is unknown, however, if the shadow is sentient or controlled by Moria.
  • Some Pokémon: The Series (mostly ghost types) can turn into moving shadows to evade attack. In one of the movies, Darkrai did this a lot, much to Ash's frustration.
  • Power of Hope ~PreCure Full Bloom~: The main threat the Cures face in this spinoff series are Shadows, which appear when the Big Bad Bell sends an orb of dark magic to touch a person's shadow. They're born from the collective selfishness and apathy of humankind, so they end up being too powerful for her to control and attack the city independently of her.
  • Puella Magi Madoka Magica: The witch Elsa Maria and her minion Sebastian. Kriemhild Gretchen appears as this as well.
  • An episode of Ranma ½ had Ranma train against his shadow (literal "shadow boxing") thanks to a magical incense. Inevitably, the shadow became independent and mischievous (although not really evil) and has to be put back to normal.
  • The Monster of the Week Sailor Moon anime's fourth season, the Lemures, emerge from the shadows of their masters, first the Amazion Trio then later Amazoness Quartet. For the ones summoned by the Trio, after defeat, the Lemures briefly return to shadows before fading away; the ones summoned by the Quartet instead crack like mirrors and break apart.
  • Shadows House: The titular shadows have the name and look. Their facial features and skin are completely obscured by a dark substance, but otherwise they behave like a typical human being. They're actually fairy-like creatures made of living soot.
  • Soul Eater:
    • Tsubaki's brother Masamune, the Uncanny Sword, has the ability to twist his shadow into a stick-figure shadow monster, an ability she inherits after defeating him.
    • Crona talked to their own shadow in their Mental World.
  • Summer Time Rendering: The 2D shadow cast beneath a clone's feet is the shadow's true body, and it will move out of the way independently of its clone if anyone tries to step on it. While injuries sustained by the clone body can be healed in a matter of seconds, any damage done to the shadow itself is irreversible, including fatal damage.
  • Yu-Gi-Oh! has the monster "Wall Shadow", which is pretty much Exactly What It Says on the Tin. A living creature hiding inside its shadow, only capable of moving along walls. In the actual card game, however, it is just a level 7 monster with 1600 ATK and 3000 DEF, capable of attacking just like any other monster.

    Asian Animation 
  • Happy Heroes: In Season 4 episode 45, Big M.'s evil scheme involves using an hourglass-shaped device to bring people's shadows to life, with the shadows then hurting the people who had them and wreaking havoc in the city. Sweet S. is the first victim.

    Comic Books 
  • Astro City mainstay The Hanged Man has a body that is a featureless silhouette.
  • Cloak of Cloak and Dagger (Marvel Comics) can take on shadow characteristics.
  • The Shadow Demons from the Crisis on Infinite Earths crossover are two-dimensional silhouettes of the Monitor, and their merest touch can be deadly.
  • The eponymous entity of The Darkness has elements of this. One notable example is when Jackie, paralyzed by holy light, summons tentacles out of the shadow cast by the person projecting said light.
  • In addition to the other Doctor Who examples on this page, there's also Shayde, from the Doctor Who Magazine comic, a mental construct who's nigh-indestructible, able to travel anywhere in space and time, and kills his enemies with psychic weaponry. Fortunately, he's on the Doctor's side.
  • The Doom Patrol villain Mr. Nobody was one of these, at least until he became "Mr. Somebody".
  • EC Comics:
    • In "The Living Shadow" from The Haunt of Fear #26, the main character kills his wife so he can marry his mistress and his wife's shadow comes back and kills the mistress, leaving him to be charged with her murder.
    • In "Shadow of Death" from Tales from the Crypt #39, a paraplegic newsstand owner's business is being ruined by a rival who sells papers more cheaply. After a few days of this the stand owner's shadow picks up the shadow of a sledgehammer and hits the rival's shadow over the head, causing the rival to mysteriously drop dead.
  • Shadow-powered Golden Age DC villain Ian Karkull; at one point, he was messing with Anti-Hero Obsidian, who can also become a Living Shadow. In Superman: The Animated Series, he was reimagined as a monster simply known as Karkull.
  • As mentioned in the Western Animation examples below, the Shadow Thief is a Hawkman foe who can turn into a living shadow using a high-tech belt. When Batgirl defeated him in Joker's Last Laugh, she kept his belt for herself, and used it during her time as a member of the Justice League Elite.
  • An old Marvel Comics horror comic has "Joe the Invisible Goon", a creature which obeyed a guy's literal commands (To the point where it caused his girlfriend to have a heart attack when he yelled at her to drop dead), which took the form of his shadow most of the time.
  • In the Judge Dredd/Batman crossover The Ultimate Riddle, they face a character actually called "The Living Shadow".
  • Sergio Aragonés' "The Shadow Knows" strips for MAD depict people's shadows acting out their secret fantasies.
  • New Gods: A member of the Female Furies named Malice Vundabar can summon a horrific shadow monster called Chessure to devour victims.
  • The Sandman (1989):
    • "Season of Mists" makes a specific point of describing the odd behavior of each of the Endless' shadows as they are introduced. Desire has two of them, Despair's has its own odor, Delirium's is tangible and changes shape on its own, Destiny doesn't have one, and Dream only has one when he remembers. Death's is not mentioned (although she is consistently the most human-like of the Endless), and Destruction is not present at the time. However, none of their shadows seem to be sentient, at least as far as we know (it would be entirely plausible, there's just no actual evidence for it).
    • The shaman who hides himself by transforming himself into a bear, the bear bites off his shadow, and the shadow turns into a decoy shaman.
  • The labyrinth in Satan's Hollow is guarded by a living shadow known only as the Shadow Man. It's later revealed that he Was Once a Man known as Burdaine, and was turned into a shadow by the Devil himself as punishment for botching a ritual that would have given him access to Earth.
  • The Void, The Sentry's Enemy Without and Arch-Enemy, frequently takes on this form, though at heart it's a shapeshifter. Fitting given Sentry's Light 'em Up nature that his greatest enemy is a great, horrible shadow. After all, the brighter the light, the darker the shadow it casts...
  • This is the power of The Shade, a foe of The Flash and a sometimes enemy/sometimes ally of Starman.
  • In The Shadow Hero, the Green Turtle's patron deity, the Turtle, one of the ancient spirit animals of China, takes over his shadow to communicate with him.
  • The reptilian Shadowjumpers from Tellos are this.

    Fan Works 
  • A Diplomatic Visit: In the fourth story, The Diplomat's Life, there are the Umbrum Forces, including Rabia and the deceased Umbrea, who are a sect that includes a mix of dark magic come to life and flesh-and-blood ponies who turned themselves into nebulous clouds of darkness in the shape of ponies. Umbrea's "offspring", Sombra, was also one before he was infused into a crystal and made into a flesh-and-blood pony, though he didn't know this for a long time.
  • Haunted Mansion and the Hatbox Ghost: Several ghosts and demons in the Fan Verse are (or can appear as) a Living Shadow:
    • The Shadow Pianist, Lewis Baroketch, who always appears as a shadow (wearing a hat);
    • In a case of Exactly What It Says on the Tin, the Shadow — though he is quite corporeal when he wants to be.
    • Emily, the Beating Heart Bride, is described as a "living shadow", though in truth, she is made of inky darkness but always three-dimensional.
    • The Ghost Host can control his shadow, giving off this effect.
  • The Last Great Time War: The Neverweres often take this form.
  • The Night Unfurls: From Olga's point of view, Kyril is never alone — he is surrounded by countless shadows resembling those he killed, including other hunters and beasts. Even Kyril himself admits that the dead sometimes come to speak to him in his dreams.
  • Ojamajo Doremi: Rise of the Shadows: The titular Shadows start out as sentient two-dimensional shadows cast by the heroes as normal, but show themselves capable of becoming three-dimensional beings as early as the second chapter after the prologue.
  • Romance and the Fate of Equestria: Annihilara. She is most often seen as a shadow on a wall or floor, but can also become a three-dimensional being.
  • RWBY: Second Generation: Noir can do this as his semblance. In his case, he's in complete control.
  • The World is Filled with Monsters: Animated shadows with nothing to cast them are among the things encroaching upon Hazelnacht, and possess enough substance to be actively predatory.

    Films — Animation 

    Films — Live-Action 
  • In The Artist, downtrodden hero George Valentin, in the depths of his despair, screams at his shadow from the light of a movie projector. The shadow turns and walks away.
  • In Bram Stoker's Dracula, Dracula had a shadow that could move independently of him.
  • Cirque du Soleil: Worlds Away: Mia and the Aerialist briefly become these in the "Get Back" number.
  • In The Daltons, a movie adaptation of the Lucky Luke comics, Luke's usual reputation of "firing faster than his own shadow" gets exaggerated with the shadow actually moving independently of the cowboy.
  • Played for laughs in Mel Brooks' Dracula: Dead and Loving It. His shadow limps after Dracula falls down a flight of stairs, despite his claim that he was unhurt, does an... interesting dance with Mina's shadow, and ultimately runs away after Van Helsing, Jonathan, and Dr. Seward are trying to kill him.
  • In Freddy vs. Jason Freddy Krueger plays with this trope by projecting his shadow to attack a potential victim; however, because Freddy's still recovering from his time deprived of Springwood's fear and belief, the shadow passes clean through the teenager without harming him.
  • Ghost (1990): At the end of the movie, living shadows drag Sam Wheat's former friend Carl Bruner and his associate Willy Lopez down to Hell.
  • The Necromancer (AKA: Sauron) appears as this in The Hobbit.
  • Lights Out (2016) is about a group of people haunted by the Shade (this plus Our Ghosts Are Different) of their photophobic childhood friend. She feeds on people's fear of the dark, and can only be seen as a silhouette with Glowing Eyes of Doom on the threshold of dark or dimly lit rooms.
  • The ghosts in Our House manifest as figures of smokey shadow with glowing eyes.
  • At the end of Pinocchio (2002), Pinocchio walks to school, while his shadow is left behind. The shadow then notices a butterfly and chases it.
  • The 2013 movie Shadow People depicts a sleep study conducted during the 1970s in which patients report seeing shadowy intruders before dying in their sleep. The movie follows a radio host and CDC investigator who research the story, and the story is claimed to be "based on true events".
  • Played for laughs and awesome during the "Bojangles of Harlem" number in Swing Time. Fred Astaire dances before a large backdrop on which he seems to cast three shadows. The shadows begin moving independently of him, and eventually walk away. (The amazing thing, on a meta level, is realizing that until this point he had been dancing in perfect sync with the prerecorded back-projection, which he wasn't even looking at.)
  • Thanatos and Aron DuBaer are all over the place in the sequel to Twitches, T*Witches Too, barely clinging to life within the Shadowlands.
  • In Carl Dreyer's 1932 film Vampyr, the main character sees shadows living independent of their owners. This wasn't due to their being vampires, however; the movie simply had a very, very dream-like quality.
  • In Vanishing on 7th Street the entire apocalypse seems to have been precipitated by shadows and darkness becoming sentient and malevolent. People left in the dark vanish, leaving behind a shadow that also starts trying to vanish people. They're capable of mimicking speech, cries and other human noises, as well as causing hallucinations in those they're about to vanish. Only light keeps them at bay, and they're somehow able to make the day shorter and shorter.
  • Done as a quick gag in Who Framed Roger Rabbit: While in Toontown, Eddie's shadow says "Gesundheit" after he sneezes.

  • The Fighting Fantasy series have a few enemies made of shadows, and they're all hostile:
    • Creature of Havoc sees you getting ambushed by a powerful and invincible Shadow Stalker, which you can't harm due to it being made of shadows. On the other hand, the stalker can hurt you by stabbing your shadow, and your only hope is to take damage and run to a dark room nearby.
    • Battleblade Warrior sees you ambushed by Shadow Ghouls in a dimly-lit room, but this time they're actually vulnerable thanks to your sword being magical. You can also avoid a fight with these guys, by breaking your lantern - without a light source, the ghouls are unable to materialize and are forced to leave.

  • In The Bartimaeus Trilogy the magician Khaba the Cruel has one of these. He avoids going out at noon to make it less obvious, but it's always behind him wherever the sun is, and is always long and dark no matter the time of day, and its limbs are sometimes threateningly outstretched when his are crossed. It's actually a powerful Marid called Ammet, who is extremely devoted to his master.
  • Bas-Lag Cycle: Iron Council has a sort-of example in the form of a golem made of shadow, which is somehow able to engulf and choke people.
  • In David Eddings' The Belgariad, strong sorcerers can send their shadows to other places as spies, although they need to be casting a shadow before they can do it. Very strong sorcerers like Garion can do more - their shadow-self can use sorcery and even physical force.
  • Broken Ring: The senkata, who are demons and appear like this in the mortal world.
  • Bruce Coville's Book of... Nightmares II: In The Shadow Wood, the final challenge that the hero faces is an army of living shadows, which he defeats... or at least, he thinks he's won, as his own shadow finally rises up and blows out the magic candle he'd used.
  • Played straight in Terry Pratchett's Carpe Jugulum, when King Verence's (second) shadow has to be removed and "killed" by the Nac Mac Feegle (with a well-aimed crossbow bolt) because its presence allows the vampires to control him.
  • In Ursula Vernon's novel Castle Hangnail, Molly can cast a spell that makes her shadow separate from her, and she can then command it.
  • The Chronicles of Dorsa: The creatures of the Shadowlands appear as being moving shadows. Usually they're just called "shadows" as a result. Not all of them are malevolent, but many are, with the worst, most powerful ones being undatai, called princes of shadows. They can possess people, willingly or not. Undatai also can create and enter dreams, appearing in many forms.
  • In P.C. Hodgell's Chronicles of the Kencyrath, Kencyrs' shadows have multiple powers:
    • a Kencyr Highborn can give up their shadow temporarily, and with it their soul, so that they can do things that would be considered dishonorable without tainting their soul. Only Highborn can do this, and only pure-blood Highborn can carry another person's shadow.
    • those Kencyr dead whose remains have not been given to the pyre may remain in this world, but can only be perceived through their shadows. One particular such ghost girl appears in Book 2, Dark of the Moon, and again in book 4, To Ride a Rathorn.
    • The Shadow Thief, which figures in the first book, turns out to be a shadow liberated from its owner using magic from the Kencyrath holy book, the Book Bound in Pale Leather.
  • In the Chronicles of Thomas Covenant, Lord Foul can assume many forms, but his Shapeshifter Default Form is a living shadow whose only clear features are its glowing yellow eyes. Covenant remarks at one point that he thinks Foul looks like his shadow; though the idea is not without merit, Foul is less than amused.
  • In Robert E. Howard's Conan the Barbarian story "Shadows in the Moonlight" this is one of the problems.
    Far below her something moved. It was as if a black shadow detached itself from the gulf of shadows below her. It moved slowly up the sheer face of the cliff — a vague bulk, shapeless in the semi-darkness.
  • Shadow, in Casey Fry's Death Speaker is a ghost who takes form in the shadows of other people, particularly in the main character, Ricker's, shadow. When he does this, the shadow he infiltrates takes on an altered form. Presumably, it is the silhouette he would have cast when alive.
  • In the fourth "Disney Descendants" novel, Celia Facilier discovers that she has one, much like her father, Dr. Facilier. Strangely, hers can speak.
  • The title monster in The Double Shadow by Clark Ashton Smith arrives when an arrogant wizard tries an unknown Summoning Ritual. It does nothing except approach the casters one by one, very slowly, ignoring everything they throw against it, and eventually merging with them horrifically.
  • The Dresden Files:
    • Nicodemus Archleone, co-leader and mastermind of the Knights of the Blackened Denarius, and a major figure in Harry Dresden's Rogues Gallery. In addition to a "tie" that makes him all but invincible, Nicodemus has a silver coin which gives him a mobile shadow he uses to strangle people and fly at high speeds. This makes him fairly unique in the Knights, who usually transmogrify into monstrous forms, which are actually the forms of Fallen Angels. Most of the Fallen are in a subtle battle of wills with their bearer, acting as a subordinate until the host dies or breaks down, giving the Fallen total control until the host's demise. In Nicodemus's case, he's in partnership with his Fallen Angel Anduriel, because Anduriel just respects Nicodemus that much. Anduriel gives Nicodemus its shadow instead of transforming him since it's actually not very strong in a fight on its own, and Nicodemus is a skilled swordsman and proficient marksman, in addition to his Nigh-Invulnerability. And he fights dirty. Anduriel's strength lies in synergizing with Nicodemus, and he can listen in on any conversation next to any shadow that hasn't been "secured", and it's strongly implied that he can communicate through them as well. The upside is that he has potentially near-omniscience in information gathering, which is a tremendous boon for Nicodemus in forming his plans; the downside is that he has to know which shadow to pay attention to when he listens in, or it fades into the barrage background noise. This reveal was a major plot point in Ghost Story, and in Changes before it.
    • A Walker called He Who Walks Behind resembles a living shadow in that it stays behind its target at all times. No matter where they turn or what they do, even something as simple as putting their back against a wall, He Who Walks Behind will always attack them from the rear and is next to impossible to look at directly beyond talking to its reflection.
  • The members (cousins) of Faction Paradox have independent shadows called sombras que corta (shadows that cut) that they graft weapons onto — a cousin's shadow could take a roomful of mooks apart while they themselves wouldn't have to budge an inch. Of course, this is just part of their shtick of Magic from Technology ... or is it?
  • Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them describes Lethifolds, which look like shadows but are actually just very flat black creatures.
  • The Ghosts of Fear Street book ''Revenge of the Shadow People". The blurb reads, "Afraid of your own shadow? Vinny Salvo is. Lately weird things have been happening to his shadow. It's grown horns. And claws. And big sharp teeth! Now it's coming after him! Vinny needs someplace to hide — and quick. But where can you hide from your own shadow?"
  • Shades from Karen Marie Moning's Fever Series are low-caste Unseelie which hunt at night and drain their victims until there's nothing left except clothing and the dehydrated remains of whatever they couldn't eat.
  • The Ghouls in Gil's All Fright Diner are part-Living Shadow when in darkness. Also, Earl, being a vampire, has a shadow that is completely independent of him.
  • In The Girl Who Circumnavigated Fairyland in a Ship of Her Own Making, September trades away her shadow at one point. The shadow didn't seem at all upset about being given an independent existence of its own.
  • In Hard-Boiled Wonderland and the End of the World by Haruki Murakami, the narrator of the "End of the World" sections has become separated from his shadow, and must reunite with it if he wishes to escape the city.
  • In "The Haunter of the Dark" by H. P. Lovecraft, the titular being appears to be some type of a shadowy creature (with wings, tentacles and a three-lobed burning eye). Its weakness is light (little light hurts it, bright light will banish it).
  • John Dies at the End features the Shadow Men, malevolent entities that can erase people from existence. They have since appeared in every subsequent book in the series and are implied to be behind most of the supernatural strangeness going down in Undisclosed
  • In Jonathan Strange & Mr. Norrell it's revealed that Childermass can transform himself into a shadow, having learned something during his years of service to the magician Norrell.
  • In The Lost Years of Merlin series, Merlin eventually gets his shadow to come alive. His shadow ends up being headstrong and mischievous, and leaves after a disagreement with Merlin. Luckily, he comes back just in time for the final battle, having gone to recruit the swamp ghosts to aid their cause.
  • Matthew Swift has to deal with his old teacher, Robert James Bakker's Hunger, a shadow-creature that is the projection of Bakker's will to live that will do anything to ensure its survival. Including tearing Matthew open to get at the blue electric angels.
  • In James Herbert's Once, insidious occult practitioner Nell Quick summons a permeative concentration of darkness, which amalgamates into various fearsome phantasms.
  • George MacDonald:
    • In Phantastes, a dark shadow attaches itself to the protagonist, causing him to suffer a severe depression.
    • They play a more benevolent role in a short story entitled "The Shadows," in which they cast themselves on walls to comfort the bereaved, amuse children, inspire musicians, and confront guilty parties with their misdeeds.
  • In Odd Thomas, the main character sees these shadows and calls them "bodachs". It's implied that they might actually be visitors from the future.
  • In the Old Kingdom novels, there are particularly dangerous Mooks called Shadow Hands. They're noncorporeal Dead spirits created from people's heads, and they can only be handled by using the bells to banish them. Although, because they're shadows, they're especially vulnerable to sunlight.
  • Peter Pan has a living shadow that escaped, and he has to have Wendy sew it back on.
  • In L. Jagi Lamplighter's Prospero Lost, the barghests combine this trope with Hell Hound.
  • In Septimus Heap, in Flyte, Marcia Overstrand is haunted by her own shadow, who turns out to be the Suspended Ellis Crackle that DomDaniel set upon her so that she would build a Shadow-fang that he corrupted for his own purposes.
  • Garth Nix's The Seventh Tower series has the Shadowguard and Spiritshadow Bond Creatures to the Chosen. Uncommonly for the trope, they have normal bodies in their native Spirit World of Aenir, their natural home, and only appear as shadows when brought into the physical world.
  • Hans Christian Andersen's 1847 story The Shadow is about a writer whose shadow comes to life and eventually overcomes its owner. It has a Downer Ending, too.
  • The Shadow appears to be able to become one (the first book is even called The Living Shadow). Whether or not it's really a trick is unclear.
  • In Nnedi Okorafor's The Shadow Speaker, the main character Ejii has the ability to talk to shadows like they are alive. However the ability is not common.
  • In Shadows of the Apt, Scyla is haunted by a shadow from the box.
  • In A Song of Ice and Fire, Melisandre the red priestess can give birth to these by drawing on a partner's Life Energy, typically for assassinations. Targets include Ser Cortnay Penrose and Renly Baratheon.
  • In Star Wars Legends, there's an entire alien species called the Defel or Wraiths that appear as shadows.
  • In The Stormlight Archive, Inkspren, the spren connected to the Order of Elsecallers, look basically like this, though with an iridescent sheen like oil or ink.
  • Theodore Sturgeon's short story "Shadow, Shadow on the Wall" features a flickering thing living in the upper corner of a little boy's bedroom. In the light, it's a shade darker; in the dark, it's a shade lighter. When the little boy's Wicked Stepmother interferes with it, it doesn't end well for her.
  • In Graham McNeill's Warhammer 40,000 Ultramarines novel Dead Sky Black Sun, they are attacked by shadows and escape only by Kill It with Fire. They are told they are only pollutants with life.
  • The sleeping humans on Dorma Island in Welkin Weasels are guarded by their now-independent shadows. The weasels get past them by waiting till noon. Since it's near the equator and the shadows are still cast in the same way they would be if the humans were attached, the shadows are reduced to tiny blobs which the weasels can just step over.
  • In A Wizard of Earthsea, Ged accidentally summons up one of these, and spends the rest of the novel trying to either escape from or destroy it. The author explained that this is an allegory of the Jungian concept of the Shadow.
  • In Susan Dexter's The Wizard's Shadow, a murdered wizard turns himself into this; he then attaches himself to a passing peddler and more-or-less drags him off to finish the wizard's unfinished business.

    Live-Action TV 
  • In Bear in the Big Blue House there's a living shadow character. She falls under the friendly/mischievous category.
  • Charmed (2018) brings us Parker Caine, who can transform into a shadowy figure and phase through solid objects and travel long distances.
  • Charmed (1998):
    • The Woogyman appeared like this when giving instructions to the people it had possessed. In later seasons, the "Woogyman" name is dropped and it's only ever referred to as "the Shadow".
    • High ranking demons were capable of using servants of the Source for surveillance and reporting back to the Source. These beings replaced their shadows, so whenever the being disappeared to report back to the Source, the demon would be left without a shadow entirely. They were Cole's primary method of reporting to the Source when Balthazar was first introduced. Other demons of the same type as Balthazar have also been shown to use the shadow servants as well.
  • Doctor Who has had plenty of Paranoia Fuel over the years:
    • "Love & Monsters" revealed that Elton's mother was killed by an "Elemental Shade". It's not the same thing as the Vashta Nerada, since in Elton's flashback we see her body, rather than a skeleton. Apparently the universe is big enough to contain multiple shadow races.
    • The Vashta Nerada in "Silence in the Library"/"Forest of the Dead". They are piranhas of the air, swarms of tiny black creatures that mimic your shadow and can literally melt flesh. (Their name actually translates as "the shadows that melt the flesh".) They exist on billions of worlds, including Earth, where, though they mainly feed on roadkill, they still kill humans, and are the reason why every intelligent form of life is afraid of the dark. Plus, if they get inside a suit meant to keep them out, they can control your skeleton and use it to chase down your friends, all whilst your last words repeat endlessly and remind the Nerada's new victims just whose corpse is chasing them down. Technically, the last words part was a side-effect of the communicators and happens for non-Nerada deaths too, but we all know it's really there to make the Nerada victims even more creepy. They later learn how to reanimate the consciousness sufficient to communicate properly. Finally, however, they threaten the Doctor, who is in a severely bad mood, extending their shadows towards him. As he warns them, "I'm the Doctor and you're in the biggest library in the universe. Look me up." They pause, do just that, then immediately back down.
    • Expanded Universe Time Lord rivals Faction Paradox combine this with Hyperspace Arsenal and nightmarish imagery. How? They use their weird technology to transform their shadows into living arsenals capable of directly manifesting in 3-D, allowing their priests to calmly sit down for a spot of tea as their shadows tear all enemies around to pieces.
    • Spinoff Class has the Shadow Kin, who travel around as shadows, but are also capable of assuming a physical form. However, they cannot exist where there are no shadows.
  • The Friday the 13th: The Series episode "Shadow Boxer" revolves around a pair of cursed boxing gloves that allowed a washed up boxer to bring his shadow to life. While the boxer was in the ring, the shadow would murder someone while the gloves granted the boxer a surge of strength, allowing him to win any fight he entered.
  • An extraterrestrial Monster of the Week from Fringe resembles a three-dimensional shadow.
  • Game of Thrones: Melisandre gives birth to one in "Garden of Bones" to kill Renly Baratheon.
  • The Haven episode "Ain't No Sunshine" featured a man's shadow coming to life and killing people who angered him. The heroes destroy it with bright light, but it reappears on the man. They defeat it for good by keeping the man isolated in total darkness: no light equals no shadow. Fortunately for the man, he's blind.
  • Kageo Sugata and Suzuko Kazamura have the ability to trade places with their shadows, bringing them to life as The Kagestar and Bellester, a superhero duo who have all sorts of shadow-themed abilities. In early episodes their actual bodies would stay seperate from their shadows, but this was later changed to make them more like traditional Henshin Heroes.
  • One Monster of the Week in Lois & Clark was a man like this. He was an invincible killer who could enter any place as a shadow and kill his target without being seen or leaving any trace of his presence… but unfortunately, he was facing a guy with laser eyeballs and light means to him just what it means to actual shadows.
  • Once Upon a Time has Pan's shadow, a creature that can rip the soul from others and make them like itself.
  • In the Smallville episode "Prey," the freak-of-the-week was partly based on Shadow Thief.
  • Star Trek: The Next Generation:
    • The trope is flirted with in Identity Crisis, in which an alien parasite is discovered by its shadow since the magic camouflage it inflicts its hosts with doesn't work against spotlights.
    • In "True Q", when the Q continuum want a word with Q, his shadow comes to life and speaks to him.
  • An episode of Supernatural dealt with creatures who were invisible except for their shadows.
  • There's an episode of The Twilight Zone (1985) called "The Shadow Man" about a living shadow that lives under the bed of Danny Hayes and will harm anybody except the person whose bed he lives under. It has no features of any kind and resembles the silhouette of a man in a hat and trenchcoat. At the end of the episode, the Shadow Man starts choking Danny, saying that he is a Shadow Man from a different bed.
  • The X-Files: Not precisely "living", but in the episode "Soft Light", an experiment involving antimatter goes horribly wrong, causing the shadow of the scientist to consume the body of anyone it fell upon, leaving only a scorch mark on the wall/floor.

  • One Old Master Q comic strip have Master Q's walking at night, where his shadow feels the pain after randomly hitting it's head on the shadow of a pillar. Somehow.


    Music Videos 

    Myths & Religion 
  • Wraiths and Shades sometimes.
  • In Nigeria, the Yoruba people believe that a person has at least three spiritual beings. One of them, the Ojiji, is a shadow that follows its owner and awaits his return in heaven when he dies.
  • Older Than Feudalism: In Greco-Roman Mythology, ghosts were usually jet-black, and resembled living shadows. The souls in the underworld/afterlife were called shades, so everyone becomes a Living Shadow upon their death (unless you are deified).
  • In Greek Mythology, every shadow was a living shadow. In fact every shadow in the world was part of a single entity called Erebus, who was the primordial god of shadows and darkness (and whose name was also used for the underworld, stemming from the fact the place was a mostly a gloomy, shadowy land of eternal night.)
  • An urban legend known as the shadow people entails humanoid shadows appearing in the periphery of some people's vision, only to disappear when confronted, while others are seen straight on as they walk around and are often described as being extremely black or even "blacker than black". There are many explanations - both scientific and pseudoscientific - for this phenomenon, such as being caused by sleep paralysis, but little agreement over the true culprit.

  • There was an episode of Hall Of Fantasy, an old time radio program in 1953, called "The Shadow People."

  • In The Gamer's Alliance, the Shadow is a living shadow created by the mage Zarnagon and works as his henchman.

    Tabletop Games 
  • Chaotic: The Underworlder Drakness, as evidenced by the not-so-subtle wordplay in his name, is a being seemingly made of darkness.
    Flavor Text: Trust not your own shadow - for Drakness dwells there before he strikes."
  • Dungeons & Dragons:
    • Shades are humanoids whose essence has been blended with "shadowstuff", giving them some aspects of this trope.
    • There's an undead creature called a shadow which drains the strength of whatever it encounters. If the creature it attacks dies, the creature will become a new shadow under the control of its creator.
    • Black slaadi appear as masses of pure darkness, toad-shaped voids in creation broken only by a wide fanged grin and two eyes that gleam like stars.
    • Dungeons & Dragons 3rd Edition:
      • The shadowdancer prestige class allows characters to summon a shadow as an obedient servant.
      • The shadowcaster base class can do a whole series of interesting things with shadows, including summoning them. Most of these shadow creatures come from the plane of shadows or the Shadowfell (depending on which edition of 'D&D'' you're playing).
      • In addition to introducing the shadowcaster base class, the Tome of Magic also introduces shadow elementals, as well as the Master of Shadows prestige class which upgrades your mere dark familiar into having a shadow elemental as a companion.
    • Dungeons & Dragons 4th Edition: One of the Epic Tier Arcane Familiars is the Shadow Incarnate. It is implied to actually be the caster's shadow separated from them, and once per encounter it can be used to determine line of sight, effect, etc. for your arcane spells.
    • Dark Sun: Shadow giants are just that: giant humanoid shadows.
    • Forgotten Realms: The Devil-analog of the Chultan Pantheon is the literal shadow of its ruling Creator-god.
  • Exalted:
    • A practitioner of the Ebon Shadow Style martial arts can temporarily transform into this.
    • The minor deity/spirit Five Days Darkness is the shadow of the Unconquered Sun. He's a pretty nice guy, but he has a hard time helping people since he disappears in sunlight.
    • The Dragon's Shadow, the Shadow of All Things, used to be this before the Primordial War, but the wounds he suffered forced him to become an actual three-dimensional Ebon Dragon instead of just the shadow of a Dragon.
  • Godforsaken: Shadows are semi-intelligent patches of darkness roughly in the shape of a humanoid creature's silhouette. They creep along walls, floors and ceilings, blending in with actual shadows, peeling themselves free only when ready to clutch at a victim with their cold claws.
  • GURPS: The Shadow Form ability. It's a powerful advantage if it can be controlled but a disadvantage if it's always on.
  • Mage: The Awakening: A mage can temporarily become one of these via a spell that blends Casting a Shadow from the Death Arcanum with Voluntary Shapeshifting from the Life Arcanum — a rare and advanced combination of skills. While transformed, they can be two-dimensional and Intangible or three-dimensional and solid.
  • Magic: The Gathering: Some Shades, such as Darkling Stalker, Slithering Shade and Undercity Shade, are depicted as living masses of shadow.
    "In this dark place, yes, I am afraid of my own shadow."
  • In Nomine: The Ethereal Song of Shadows animates shadows and places them under the control of the singer. In the corporeal plane, they're insubstantial and banished by bright light. In the ethereal plane, they're much more substantial and capable of attacking other beings.
  • Princess: The Hopeful has the Animate Shadow Umbra, which causes a Darkened's shadow to come to life and serve him as a familiar. The drawback is that if the Darkened isn't paying attention, his shadow tends to act out, carrying out the character's ruling Vice in petty ways (The Shadow of a greedy man will swipe loose change, the Shadow of a lustful woman will take any opportunity to pinch a cute hunk’s bum, etc).
  • In Sentinels of the Multiverse Writhe is stuck in this form, due to a botched experiment.
  • Summerland: Some drifters report seeing moving shadows within the Deeps of the forest, which flit from trunk to trunk, moving away from the heartwoods, and occasionally strick to a traveler and seep into their skin.
  • Vampire: The Masquerade: The Lasombra have the Obtenebration Discipline (shadow manipulation), which can allow the user to temporarily turn themself into a shadow. Their Antediluvian (also called Lasombra) becomes a creature of pure shadow living in the Abyss, and comes to the world during Gehenna.
  • Warhammer 40,000: It's heavily suggested that Dark Eldar Mandrakes are this. They can crawl into and out of the shadows of their targets, come from a dimension of pure shadow and often request odd things in exchange for their services. Also in 40k, some daemons are shadows. This means that bullets and cannon shells pass through them harmlessly, but laser beams and similar energy weapons will utterly destroy them. Just one of the reasons why a lasgun is the most practical weapon in the Imperium.

  • Hans Christian Andersen's The Shadow was adapted into a play by the Russian playwright Eugeny Shwartz (and later into two movies). The concept of a living shadow is deconstructed — when the Shadow becomes the king and orders its former master beheaded, it loses its own head. Its henchmen are forced to resurrect the writer but the Shadow is nevertheless exposed and dethroned.

    Video Games 
  • Arabian Fight have a section in the mausoleum where you character's shadow suddenly duplicates itself and takes a life of its own and attacks you, though in this case your shadow-clones are actually vulnerable to punches and kicks.
  • The main antagonist of GRIS is a shadow that stalks Gris and changes shape, from a butterfly to a giant bird to a giant eel to a dark silhouette of Gris herself.
  • The Eldritch Abomination shadow demons haunting the titular Ambridge Mansion are this.
  • Being the Arcana of Shadow in Arcana Heart, Gier naturally takes this form, swimming around in the floor of the stage and jumping out when the Maiden (usually Lieselotte, but other characters can use him) commands him to attack.
  • In the sequel of Baldur's Gate: Dark Alliance the fortress of Mordoc is filled with tons of living shadows. Since he no longer has one (being a vampire and all) he likes to manipulate them.
  • The Binding of Isaac: As of the Repentance expansion, the item My Shadow turns Isaac's shadow into a familiar that follows behind him, walking at a slightly slower rate than him. It rapidly spawns friendly Dark Chargers whenever an enemy comes in contact with it.
  • Chaos, one of the last bosses of Bloody Spell, is a towering sentient shadow.
  • In Blue Dragon, each character has a magical blue living shadow.
  • Castlevania:
    • Castlevania: Order of Ecclesia had Blackmore, a boss near the end of the game. His shadow is host to a powerful demon, which manifests as a wolf-monster, and he apparently feeds on the shadows of others if his introduction is any indication. ("I will take your shadow!") Appropriately, his area is lit with hundreds of floor-mounted candles.
    • Castlevania: Harmony of Dissonance has a living shadow as a being cast off of your childhood friend Maxime. This, coupled with his Obviously Evil look in his eyes is the first big sign that you are dealing with a Rival Turned Evil. The shadow itself takes on the forms of several things, among others a giant moth, a black panther, and a sabre.
  • In Contrast, Dawn can become one at will, and it is the core mechanic of the game.
  • Control: When Jesse finds the new type of path blocker in the Investigations Sector, which she calls "sentient shadows" and the game's tutorial names as the "Darkness".
  • In Devil May Cry 3: Dante's Awakening, Dante had to fight Doppelganger the Deathvoid, a shadow being that can morph and refract light to take any form he wants. It later became an ability of Dante; the Doppelganger Style.
  • In Diablo II the Assassin can summon a shadowy clone to fight on her side.
  • In Hollow Knight, the shade the player leaves behind when they die is this, but it's far from the only example of this trope in the game. Case and point:
    • The enemies in The White Palace are also living shadows, the in-universe explanation for it being they, just like the player, are golems made out of a black liquid called void. Though this only becomes visually apparent once their pearly-white armor/shell is removed and their true form is exposed.
    • The Collector is also this, and he's also noteworthy for being the only Living Shadow type creature in the game to be shown to have individual goals and emotions as opposed to single-mindedly obeying its creator or being part of what basically seems to be a force of nature. He shares the same backstory as the enemies in the White Palace, despite not being found there and wearing no armor.
    • Most enemies in The Abyss bear a striking similarity to the player's shade, so they count as examples of this trope as well.
  • In Don't Starve, when the player's sanity is sufficiently low, monstrous shadows appear and hunt them. Maxwell can use shadow hands to attack and manipulate his victims. Or do the shadows manipulate him?
  • Ecco the Dolphin: Defender of the Future has a level where you run across dolphin shadows that have no dolphins to cast them.
  • The Fairly OddParents! video game ''Shadow Showdown'' has as its main villain the Chamberlain's Shadow.
  • Fairune has the Shadow mooks found in the little patch of ocean ruins in the overworld.
  • Five Nights at Freddy's 2 has Shadow Toy Bonnie and Shadow Freddy, two animatronics that are very dark in colour (the former is black while the latter is purple). They have glowing white eyes and teeth, can appear out of nowhere, and if you look at them for too long, the game crashes.
  • The Empress in The Fool's Errand has been cursed with a second, jagged shadow who carries a screaming crystal ball.
  • In Ganbare Goemon 2: Kiteretsu Shōgun Magginesu, the Puppeteer boss fights by means of shadowgraphy. He's positioned between a canvas and a candle and makes shadow dogs, cats, and birds, which spring from the canvas and attack Goemon. Goemon has to survive until the candle burns out, only after which the Puppeteer himself can be hit.
  • Gift: The Informer's shadow has arms which the creature itself doesn't have. Some way subverted since the Informer is harmless and helps Gift pointing the right path.
  • Gladiator: Sword of Vengeance has Deimos' summons, shadows of former gladiators who can actually wield physical weapons. They serve as one of her many mooks during her boss fight, but luckily your weapon can harm ghosts and animated shadows alike thanks to being blessed by the gods.
  • Eddie in Guilty Gear is a living shadow that managed to take full control of the corpse of his old host, Zato-1. Subverted in Xrd, when Zato-1 is revived and takes back control of his body AND Eddie. In gameplay, Zato-1 can summon Eddie to attack for him, allowing the former to play more as a Puppet Fighter. Xrd: Rev 2 takes this further with Zato-1's Instant Kill, where Eddie eats his opponent's shadow; this is somehow fatal.
  • Gylt has shadowy monsters vulnerable only to your flashlight.
  • Heart of Darkness has a monstrous medley of these as the Kid Hero's enemies. They all try to kill and eat you, sometimes not even in that order.
  • Hearthstone has the Shadow of Nothing, a 0/1 minion that is summoned when a character uses the "Mindgames" card to try and summon a copy of a minion from their enemy's deck, and they have no minions in their deck to copy.
  • Living shadows in a variety of shapes and sizes are the main enemies in ICO. They show up in Shadow of the Colossus, though they're harmless this time around. Dormin's true form is a colossal shadow as well.
  • In Immortal Souls the Black Witch is Cursed with Awesome with one that she can wield like a set of Combat Tentacles, and increases her strength and power overall.
  • Shade from Jitsu Squad, the game's second-to-last boss, can summon shadowy clones of the previous slain bosses (except Dash Kobayashi since he turns out to be still alive) to attack the heroes. The shadow clones are invincible, but disappears after launching their attacks; you need to time your hits and inflict damage on Shade between her summons and dodge their subsequent counterattacks.
  • Kingdom Hearts:
    • While none of The Heartless are anybody's shadows, they are clearly designed with this in mind, being the darkness from people's hearts. Many of the Pureblood Heartless (naturally-forming Heartless, like Shadows, Darkballs, and Invisibles) have the ability to temporarily become shadows to dodge attacks and move faster. Ansem's invincible Guardian Entity seems to sprout out of his own shadow.
    • Sora also has to fight his own shadow in the Neverland level in Kingdom Hearts. This is based on the scene from the original story (and Disney movie) where Peter Pan has to chase his own shadow.
    • Sora's shadow also turns into a Darkside at the beginning of the game, and Sora has to battle it.
  • Your Shadow, a Boss Monster from Kingdom of Loathing. Attempting to attack it does nothing, since it's your opposite; defeating it requires healing yourself. As the thing does 80% of your health with each hit, it's not a hard puzzle.
  • The Legend of Tian-ding has the game's last boss, General Shimada, who upon defeat reveals his ability to separate his shadow from himself, turning into a black silhouette to continue the battle. Luckily, his shadow form can be harmed with your weapon, and only has a single health bar unlike his physical form.
  • League of Legends:
  • Some versions of Dark Link in The Legend of Zelda.
  • Lethal League Blaze has Dust and Ashes, a convict who was sentenced to death by hanging, only to get struck by lightning and thrown into a limbo between life and death, as well as splitting his shadow into its own being called "Ashes" that he can now use as a weapon.
  • Lost in Shadow: You play as a boy's shadow which has been ripped from its owner and thrown off a tower. The aim of the game is to get back to him.
  • Bogmire in Luigi's Mansion is a living shadow type creature apparently made by negative emotions. Then there's the fact that its own shadows are not only sentient, and attack in swarms of about five or ten at once, but are half transparent and created by lightning.
  • In Mega Man Battle Network, there are shades that are incorporeal and can only be hurt by swords.
  • Silhouettes in Metro 2033, which are imprints of the past, appearing only as shadows linked to nothing material when you happen to shine your flashlight on them, constantly repeating a window of time shortly before the person's death. And they can hurt the living by contact.
  • Noob Saibot in Mortal Kombat 9. There, he gains a shadow clone that appears to be made of an ink-like substance that Noob can send out to attack enemies from afar or to bolster his close-range combos. If you look closely, Noob's real shadow doesn't return until his clone disappears. This might overlap with Literal Split Personality, as developer notes and drawings designate this entity as "Saibot", with "Noob" as the playable character. (Previous games gave his full name in this form as Noob Saibot — usually just Noob for the sake of brevity; there was no implication of a second person beforehand.)
  • Mr. Bones: In "Shadow Monster", Mr. Bones is attacked by several of these.
  • In M.U.G.E.N, there's a character called XXX, which is a Living Shadow that can release other shadows of himself to help him in battle as assist characters, stated by his author as a homage to MK's Noob Saibot.
  • Five Living Shadow-Eldritch Abominations serve as the bosses for the five Nightmare Worlds in Nightmare Ned.
  • Slashout have shadowy clones of the four playable heroes, called "Falso", in the final stage. They look like an all-black version of the player characters, and are armed with shadowy versions of the heroes' weapons, as well as the ability to duplicate their attacks. Luckily these enemies can be hurt by the players' weapons, which are magical and works against spirits and ghosts.
  • In Odin Sphere, Oswald's Super Mode turns him into one of these, which allows him to draw upon the power of the Netherworld to boost his attack power in combat, but also rapidly drains his strength even while standing still. Also, in-story, overusing its power runs the risk of turning him into a Revenant, a ghostly creature that is but a tortured reflection of the original person.
  • Okage: Shadow King is the story of a boy and his shadow, which was possessed by the Evil King Stan in return for curing his sister of a Pig Latin curse.
  • Ying Ling from Paper Dolls is a monster made of shadows whose sole facial features are glowing yellow eyes on a featureless face. And to complicate the battle, you fight it in total darkness, and you'll need to flush it out using your flashlight.
  • Persona 3, Persona 4 and Persona 5 refer to all enemies as Shadows. Their base forms are inky blobs. This is supposed to be a reference to the Jungian Shadow, not the physical absence of light.
    • 4 plays it a bit more straight with the Shadow Selves, as they are both the Jungian Shadow interpretations, but also seem to have some semblance of sentience, especially in later titles.
  • In Planescape: Torment, the Transcendent One's main servants are these. Oh, and they're not just a horde of mooks it raised/found one day, they're the vengeful souls of the thousands of innocent people killed to fuel your immortality spell.
  • In the Pokémon games, Gengar are described as being able to take this form. The Ghost-type attack Shadow Sneak does exactly what you would think it does.
  • Prince of Persia had a shadow that separates from the Prince after he jumps through a mysterious mirror.
  • Randal's Monday: Mortimer, Randal's roommate. When we finally do get to see him in the prison, he's rendered as a shadow with eyes.
  • Slashout has the "Falso" enemies at the final stage, clones created from the shadows which resembles black silhouettes of the four playable heroes, complete with identical attacks, exactly the same weapons and special moves.
  • Stardew Valley has the shadow people, also known as void spirits, it's mentioned that they crossed into this plain of existence after a "great catastrophe" and waged a war against the dwarves who drove them out of their home. Most of them are hostile to the player character, except Krobus, who's a friendly shadow folk that has a shop in the sewers of the town.
  • Super Mario Bros.:
  • The Wind Road have these as the last enemies in the spirit world, depicted as shadowy humanoid silhouettes shrouded in dark flames and having two glowing red eyes as their only facial feature. However you're a spirit at this point, as such you can harm them with your sword.
  • The World Ends with You: Mitsuki Konishi states that she would hide in one place in the six days Neku and Beat were allotted to find her. She was able to abide by her own rules and remain mobile, because her choice of location was Beat's shadow.

    Visual Novels 
  • Kind of turns up in Heaven's Feel route of Fate/stay night. The shadow Dark Sakura kills people and can corrupt all Servants other than Gilgamesh. Including your love interest from the previous two routes (well, certainly from Fate, and possibly from UBW).
  • In Monster Prom, the yellow player character (Oz) is a lanky humanoid shadow, described as a personification of nightmares.

    Web Animation 
  • DSBT InsaniT: The Darkness counterparts can sink into the ground and move around like a shadow.
  • The Auditor from the Madness Combat animation series is a living shadow who can become intangible at will, among other things.
  • An Easter Egg in a Strong Bad Email features Homestar being pitted against his shadow self, fighting game style. He begins to mock the old "dip the main character in ink and make him fight himself" trope when he gets his bwathom whomped almost before the fight even really starts.

  • Blip's resident vampire, Liz, has the ability to become this, and merge with people's shadows. This is so she can go outdoors during daylight. If she happens to catch a glimpse of someone's panties, she counts that a perk.
  • Sarah of Cat Legend is a shadowmancer, and her shadow occasionally separates from her and acts of its own accord. She names it Sunny.
  • Ursula Vernon's Digger:
    • The Shadowchild, who was supposedly 'hatched' from a dead bird and has absolutely no idea what he is. In addition to being a shadow, he can also eat the shadows of other things, which apparently kills them on the spot.
    • Sweetgrass Voice, who is far more malevolent than the innocent but powerful Shadowchild.
  • In Dragon Mango, Vinegar's sidekick is a shadow beast.
  • Shadow 2 and the other "glass-eyed men" from Gunnerkrigg Court are a race of 2D shadow-people which cannot exist without something to "cast" them. Eventually Shadow 2 is accidentally peeled off the floor and suddenly turns 3D. Though created by Coyote, many of them live in England.
  • Lapse features a particularly creepy shadow that stalks Bean both in the real world and in the in-between.
  • Misfile has the Big Bad of Book 8, a shadowy entity dubbed the Wraith by fans. Apparently, it was the manifestation of Bronwyn's confused inner desires towards her boyfriend. Finally stopped when Rumisiel stuffed it back where it came from.
  • Shadow Magic in A Modest Destiny allows one to use his shadow as a third arm. Usually only available to Theives, but Maxim trades the warrior-exclusive "Decoy Mannequin" for getting taught how to do this.
  • In The Red Star, the enemy attack turns its own soldiers into these, making them impossible to fight.
  • The Shadow Beasts in Roommates, who are literally the shadows of the characters brought to life by a magicuser, are this when they aren't granted full autonomy (when they are they become beings of hard darkness). They also look like animals / mythical beings that fit the characters' Shadow Archetypes.
  • For a long while in Sluggy Freelance, Bun-Bun's shadow was replaced with a living one (the same one that tries to scare the groundhog every February 2nd). For a while all it could do was talk and shift its shape, but after Bun-Bun started acquiring the powers of various holiday figures, it was able to take on a physical form as well.

    Web Original 
  • Brennus:
    • Creating Living Shadows called Darkwraiths is the power of the Dark. The Darkwraiths are three-dimensional shadows with six red eyes, capable of thinking and possessing a variety of abilities.
    • A more traditional example is in Elouise, the second Matriarch, whose shadow is not only sentient, it can keep secrets from her. This power is one of the clues that she's The Dark's granddaughter though her father.
  • In Dragon Cave, the 2011 Halloween dragon were the Shadow Walkers, dragons which can move among the shadow realm.
  • From The Fear Mythos: the Nightlanders. The Choir also sometimes manifest within people's shadows.
  • A good variety of these in Neopets; Perhaps the oldest example is the mysterious Shadow Usul.
  • Of The Shadows of Miir, only Despair really fits this trope. The other Shadows are more like The Fair Folk.
  • Moord Nag from Worm has an enormous (and murderous) monster-shadow as her familiar.
  • The SCP Foundation has SCP-017 and SCP-280, both of which are homicidal monsters made of shadows. They differ in the opposite ways they are contained; SCP-017 has to be in a cell surrounded by bright lights, while SCP-280 has to be in a cell surrounded by total darkness. Otherwise, they will escape and kill people.

    Web Videos 
  • One episode of Bedtime Stories (YouTube Channel) features the Shadow People, who are sentient, malevolent entities said to be harbingers of death.
  • Dynamo Dream: Humanoid shadow creatures with glowing red eyes appear throughout the Dynamo universe; they may originate in the so-called Shadow States, but their history and true intentions remain obscure. One shadow appears on Jo's train in Episode 1, right before she gets sick and passes out; at least one more is acting as a crewman on Maxwell Sterling's ship in Episode 2.
  • Petscop: The "Shadow Monster Man", implied to be Marvin. Most of the time, he's seen as a pitch black figure that appears dark even when next to a light source, and is usually seen coming out of a windmill. During Petscop 9, Paul temporarily becomes one to gain access to said windmill.
  • This creepypasta details the life of the narrator who says he noticed since he was a child that his shadow wouldn't copy his movements. Then when he has enough of a bully in middle school he discovers his shadow can do much more for him...
  • Unwanted Houseguest: The Shadow Demon takes this form in it's first appearance in the "Long Hallways" music video. In later appearances it becomes a more explicit Evil Doppelgänger of the Houseguest.

    Western Animation 
  • In Disney's Aladdin: The Series an evil sorcerer steals the main cast's shadows and turns them all evil. There was a world where shadows went while people slept, ruled by a being called Farabu who looked like a living shadow but made of starry night sky.
  • The Birdman (1967) villain Murko had a Ring of Power that could bring people's shadows to life to do his bidding. He is defeated when he blocks out the sun in an attempt to weaken Birdman (Birdman is solar powered). While it did weaken Birdman, it also meant there were no shadows for him to animate.
  • One Captain N: The Game Master episode shows Glass Joe shadow boxing and getting KO'd by his own shadow.
  • Care Bears: No Heart controls a horde of living shadows that have the ability to attach to people’s own shadows and influence them to commit bad deeds. But they’re easily repelled by a Care-Bear Stare.
  • Courage the Cowardly Dog once encountered a sentient shadow that gained consciousness after its former master — a feeble, callous, ornery old man — died. Still retaining some of his master's cruelty, the shadow spent some time terrorizing Courage but eventually they reconciled and Courage even devised a plan for a shadow to find happiness — it becomes a shadow of a star.
  • Johnny 13's Shadow in Danny Phantom is interesting in that it's not quite an additional thing: it is the actual lack of light caused by his presence in said light's path, and while it's moving around being alive, he doesn't cast a shadow. Doesn't that mean that Johnny should be invisible while it's doing its thing? Yet he gives it orders, and the shadow follows them. Likely, Shadow just acts like Johnny's real shadow until called upon, since few other ghosts in the show cast shadows either. It's also been theorized that Shadow is the embodiment of bad luck that followed Johnny 13 around in life, and now does so in death...
  • Dante's Inferno: An Animated Epic. In Limbo, the first circle of Hell, great men such as Plato, Caesar, Aristotle, Socrates, and King Latinus, are depicted as whispering shadows, unaware of their fate. Unlike the other circles of hell, their torment is the least hellish.
  • Luci, as well as other demons in Disenchantment are depicted as these. Somewhat downplayed, as they seem to actually be physical beings.
  • There's an episode of DuckTales (1987) called "Magica's Shadow War," where Magica De Spell harasses Scrooge McDuck with lots of living shadows.
  • In DuckTales (2017) Magica's current form is as the living shadow of her niece Lena. In the Season 1 finale, Magica creates an army out of every shadow in Duckburg, and Lena is revealed to be Magica's shadow brought to life by her last act before being sealed away. After Magica is defeated, Lena becomes Webby's shadow, but is able to escape to the material world half a season later.
  • In the Dungeons & Dragons (1983) cartoon series, Shadow Demon was a series regular as a spy and messenger for Venger, the Big Bad. Shadow Demon could blend seamlessly into actual shadows, hovered even when his wings were still, and passed through tiny openings as necessary for his spying duties.
  • Family Guy:
    • One episode had a one-shot gag in which Peter, feeling lonely, says that he only has his own shadow as a friend, but the shadow takes off on its own and goes into the bar by itself, to which the other bar patrons shout "SHADOW!!!"
    • The episode "Quagmire and Meg" had Quagmire's giant shadow undressing Meg's.
  • Fangbone!: In the episode "The Pitch of Black", Venomous Drool brings his own shadow to life and sends it to attack Fangbone and his classmates while they're out camping.
  • On the Flip the Frog cartoon "The Cuckoo Murder Case", Flip's shadow keeps getting ahead of him, and he keeps telling it to get behind him. Eventually he just closes a door on the shadow and leaves it behind.
  • In one "U.S. Acres" segment of Garfield and Friends, Wade's shadow, brought to life briefly through the Rule of Funny by way of Tempting Fate, gives him good reason to reassess his realization that shadows cannot hurt him.
  • In the cartoon The Art of Self Defense, Goofy tries his hand at shadow boxing — and has his butt handed to him by his own shadow.
  • Subverted in Infinity Train, the corgis fear the shadow monster which raises the tides, but it's actually just a spider's shadow being cast by a work light and the rising tides was caused by a broken pipe which was caused by the Steward.
  • The Shadowkhan from Jackie Chan Adventures. They're an army of 9 different types of demonic creatures and warriors with the ability to teleport by turning into shadows. They originally served as the minions of Japanese Oni demons led by Tarakudo, the main villain of Season 4.
  • In the Jonny Quest: The Real Adventures episode "Diamonds and Jade", the villain brings a monstrous shadow puppet to life to do his bidding. Notably, the heroes tried to defeat it by shining bright light on it, but it turns invisible in the light. They defeat it by holding a mirror up to it, somehow making it reverse direction and accidentally destroy the puppet making the shadow.
  • One of the villains in Justice League Unlimited was a living shadow named the Shadow Thief. He has traditionally been an enemy of Hawkman, and also appeared in The Batman.
  • In The Mask, one recurring villain was Skillet, an immortal Enfant Terrible intended as an evil expy of Peter Pan. One of his powers was to release his shadow to consume those of others, causing them to rapidly age while keeping him immortal.
  • In the Merrie Melodies short "A Day at the Zoo", the groundhog and its shadow are caged separately.
  • One episode of The Mr. Men Show had Mr. Funny interacting with his own shadow. At one point, they have a pretend sword fight with brooms. The shadow loses.
    Narrator: Where there's sun, there's a shadow, and no one knows that better than Mr. Funny.
  • My Little Pony: Friendship Is Magic:
    • Judging from her appearance and Word of God on her origins, Nightmare Moon may very well be one of these.
    • At the end of his tyrannical rule, King Sombra was turned into this and imprisoned far away from his kingdom. His backstory in the comics reveals that this was his original form.
    • The mythical Pony of Shadows seems to have it right there in its name. When it was revealed as Real After All, it first appeared that something was casting a shadow on a wall, before the shadow opened its glowing yellow eyes.
  • Oggy and the Cockroaches had an episode weirdly titled "Oggy's Shadow". Oggy's shadow becomes independent from him and dosen't want to rejoin him, until Oggy has a moment and saves her(?).
  • The Owl House has the Collector, sealed away beneath the Titan and only able to interact with the outside world as a shadow.
  • The main cast of ReBoot and Mike the T.V. once fought a shadow monster towards the end of a Dungeons & Dragons-inspired game.
  • Rocky and Bullwinkle :
    • In one Aesop and Son segment the story of the dog who dropped his bone because he was trying to steal the one his reflection had was changed to the story of a dog who attacked his shadow for the same reason. He ends up knocking himself out and his shadow simply steals both bones and walks off. When he realizes that he no longer has a shadow he has to buy one off the black market. His new shadow once belonged to a man named Charlie who, it's implied, met a rather sticky end. Charlie's shadow refuses to mimic his new owners actions and the two of them don't get along very well. After they both learn to work together, it's reveled that "Charlie's shadow" was really the dog's old shadow all along.
    • Bullwinkle also had to deal with fighting his own shadow (and losing) while reading "My Shadow" (from Robert Lewis Stevenson's "A Child's Garden of Verse").
  • In an episode of School for Vampires, the vampire kids learn how to control their shadows, causing them to do everything from backflips, to picking up and holding physical objects. But the main character Oskar's shadow goes wild and becomes fairly menacing until he learns to control it.
  • The Simpsons: Bram Stoker's Dracula gets spoofed in the "Bart Simpson's Dracula" segment of "Treehouse of Horror IV", with vampire Mr. Burns' shadow shown playing with a yo-yo as he walks away.
  • In The Smurfs (1981), Jokey's shadow comes to life when he accidentally sprinkles Mother Nature's magic powder for bringing trees to life onto it.
  • The central gimmick of the forgotten cartoon Spy Shadow. Secret agent Richard Vance had the mystical power to bring his shadow to life as an independent being who could fit through any crevice and was invulnerable to physical harm while having fists as solid as anyone's. It had an Achilles' Heel similar to a lot of other examples in that it couldn't be summoned in areas of complete darkness. Unfortunately for Vance, areas of complete darkness were continually where he found himself trapped exactly when he needed Spy Shadow to come save his bacon.
  • Ebon from Static Shock could turn into a living shadow and teleport people.
  • In the Super Friends episode "Battle of the Gods", Superman's shadow is brought to life and attacks him. He defeats it by putting out the fire in the room, taking away the light.
  • In one episode of Wanda and the Alien, Alien makes his and Wanda's shadows come to life.
  • Piglet of Winnie the Pooh befriends his shadow when his friends are too busy to play with him in an episode. The shadow feels neglected and leaves when Piglet returns to his normal friends. Piglet's friends try to fill up his lack of a shadow by offering to give him their own shadows, but he's happily reunited with his shadow at the end.


Video Example(s):

Alternative Title(s): Shadow People, Shadow Demon


Pitch Black

He either becomes a shadow or creates and controls lots of his shadows, as evident when he circles Jack in the lair. During the climax, his shadow hands are substantial enough to smash the streetlights.

How well does it match the trope?

5 (3 votes)

Example of:

Main / LivingShadow

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