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Shadow Archetype

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Darren Cross: All those years ago, you picked me. What did you see in me?
Hank Pym: I saw myself.
Darren Cross: [hurt] Then why did you push me away?
Hank Pym: Because I saw too much of myself.

Shadow Archetype has to do with two elements of writing: characters and settings. In this article we discuss character archetypes. For the settings viewpoint, see Shadowland.

Character-wise, it's the part of the personality that embodies everything a character, called the 'Self', doesn't like about themselves, the things they (often subconsciously) deny about themselves and project on to others. In fact, the more the Shadow has been repressed, the more powerful it becomes. To show these things to the audience we need an embodiment of some sort.

Around here, we call some of those embodiments things like:

Those tropes have examples listed of characters playing those more-precise Shadow roles that often overlap with this but do not have to.

A common trope involves the Self accepting their Shadow, metaphorically coming to terms with their flaw (see I Am What I Am). That is, The Hero refuses to kill the Shadow, given the opportunity, or outright refuses to fight it. In Enemy Within, Enemy Without, and Evil Twin situations, the Self and Shadow sometimes even merge towards the end for an endgame powerup, further emphasizing the symbolism.

Note that in Jungian psychology, the Shadow Archetype includes positive as well as negative things, anything suppressed or denied in the personality. Compare and contrast Foil and Mirror Character which highlight traits a character has or lacks.

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Other Examples:

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    Films — Animated 
  • The Lion King (1994): Scar is Simba's Shadow Archetype in Jungian terms: he is an adult with young Simba's headstrong and cocky nature and immature understanding of what being king means ("I'm the king, I can do whatever I want"). The plot is only solved when Simba defeats Scar, representing how he's overcome his irresponsible outlook on being king.
  • Superman: Doomsday features Superman's clone, who still holds Supes' desire to help people and protect his city, but goes into extreme measures to do so, from threatening civilians to killing Toyman. Superman even calls him "My reflection in a cracked mirror."
  • Cars has Chick Hicks, who is this to Lightning McQueen, representing what McQueen could've been if he didn't stop by Radiator Springs and went down the path of arrogance. While McQueen also starts out as a selfish and arrogant racecar, he eventually moves out of this thanks to Character Development. Chick doesn't, as he wins the Piston Cup only because Lightning forfeited his own chance, stopping just short of the finish line to go back and help another racecar after Chick rammed him off the track out of spite. This, combined with his Unsportsmanlike Gloating, results in him being heckled at during the cup presentation, rendering his victory meaningless.
  • Wreck-It Ralph has Turbo, a character from another game who, like Ralph, felt unappreciated about his status in the arcade. However, Ralph's adventure outside of Fix It Felix Jr.'s is motivated by an innocent need for approval. Turbo is driven by his obsession for recognition. Ralph doesn't intend to harm anyone and sneaks into a neighboring video game simply to win a medal, whereas Turbo is responsible for the destruction of his home world, another nearby video game, and the reprogramming and enslavement of the Sugar Rush world. Turbo's pursuit of respect and acknowledgement mirrors Ralph's, but he is shown as willing to destroy anything that opposes him out of spite to get it.
  • In How to Train Your Dragon 2, Hiccup has his mother Valka. While they both saw that dragons weren't the monsters others thought they were, she gave up on trying to change Stoick and the other Berkians and left to live with dragons for roughly two decades, adopting a Humans Are Bastards view and trying to keep dragons and humans apart. Hiccup, on the other hand believes that people CAN change for the better, and didn't give up trying to change Berk (and his father's mind) for the betterment of both humans and dragons, and succeeding.
    • From the same film, we have Drago Bloodfist. He and Hiccup both lost an appendage to dragons, both learned to tame dragons, and both seek to bring peace. However, whereas Hiccup sees dragons as the living beings they are, and belives in peace via cooperation, Drago sees them as nothing more than weapons, and believes the only true peace is one born of tyranny.
  • In Big Hero 6, Big Bad Yokai aka Prof. Callaghan and Hiro are both Gadgeteer Geniuses who suffered the loss of a loved one, and end up using their technological knowledge to enact their revenge against those they hold responsible. However, Hiro's friends are able to pull him out of the darkness, whilst Yokai stubbornly pushes onward.
  • In Beauty and the Beast, Gaston and the Beast start out very similar to each other. Both are indifferent to the pain they cause to others, aren't afraid to use violence to get what they want and both want to use Belle for their own selfish reasons (the Beast to break his curse and Gaston to be his trophy-wife). For both men at the beginning, their self-worth comes from the exterior. The Beast is cursed to look like a monster so he thinks he's a monster whereas Gaston wants Belle because "here in town, there's only she who is as beautiful as me". However, the Beast learns to see Belle as the kind, intelligent, courageous and independent woman she is, changes his behavior upon realizing that it's wrong and proves his own self-worth by letting her go be with her father, which helps him earn her love to break his curse. Gaston, on the other hand, refuses to change as he still clings to his opinions of self-worth. Also, the Beast is proven to be more courageous, as he was willing to risk his life to protect Belle from danger, while Gaston is proven to be cowardly, as he has no qualms using cheap shots to get what he wants for himself.
  • In Moana, the Giant Enemy Crab Tamatoa serves as one to Maui. Tamatoa is a monster who overcompensates for his insecurity by decorating himself with priceless treasures and artifacts. Maui compensates for his insecurity (due to being abandoned at birth by his parents) by performing heroic deeds for mankind and receiving praise for it. These heroic deeds are then immortalized as tattoos on his body. At one point, Tamatoa even states that he got the idea of decorating himself from seeing Maui's tattoos. However, where Maui hates that he has to define his self-worth this way, Tamatoa whole-heartedly embraces it and even believes it to be the RIGHT way to live.
  • Conversed in Coco: Miguel's family, living and dead, continuously admonish him for his musical ambitions, saying that they don't want to see him become like his great-great-grandfather. The man who Miguel believes to be his great-great-grandfather, Ernesto de la Cruz, was an accomplished musician who achieved his dreams by murdering his songwriter and taking credit for his work; these action reflect Miguel's hurtful actions against his family, and after discovering Ernesto's true colors, Miguel laments following in the footsteps of de la Cruz. Miguel's actual great-great-grandfather, Héctor, was de la Cruz's first victim who wrote all the songs he sang in his life, and was murdered for wanting to return home. All the warnings from Miguel's family apply here, as Miguel came dangerously close to ending up like Héctor, if he hadn't succeeded in reconciling with his family.
  • ParaNorman: Norman has two of these in his relatives, who are All of the Other Reindeer among the townspeople because of having the ability to speak to the dead:
    • Mr. Prenderghast is what Norman would be if he had completely (and bitterly) resigned to everyone's expectations about him being weird.
    • Unlike the goofy Mr. Prenderghast, Agatha the witch serves as the Evil Counterpart as well as the Big Bad. She's what Norman would be if he embraced his desire to be mean back to the people who treat him badly. Norman, however, seeks to save the townspeople and learns to value the people who care about him, while Agatha only sought to make them suffer and completely forgot about the people who loved her in the process.
  • The Incredibles: Syndrome/Buddy Pine is one to Mr. Incredible/Bob Parr. At the start of the movie, they both desire the glory of being a superhero, but while Bob's motivation was due of his sense of justice and desire to save people, Syndrome wants the praise and recognition. When the Super Relocation Act is passed, Bob continues to pursue the glory by illegally listening to the police scanner and helping out when he can. Syndrome, however, kills Supers to develop his Omnidroid which will be part of an elaborate Engineered Heroics scam that will bask in the glory without regards for those who may be hurt or killed as a result. In the end, Bob realizes his desire for the glory days has caused him to miss out on his family and apologizes, but Syndrome has no such realization. Basically, Syndrome is what Bob could have become if he never let go of his excessive obsessions with glorifying the golden age of superheroes and seeking public recognition, and also if his ego got worse.
  • Aladdin:
    • Gazeem represents what Aladdin could've been as a heartless, completely greedy thief. It was because of Aladdin's lack of those vices that he was allowed to enter the Cave of Wonders and not Gazeem. As an afterward sense of irony, Gazeem's name is similar to that of Cassim, Aladdin's father who's also the King of Thieves.
    • Prince Achmed is one of the Hopeless Suitors that attempts to marry Jasmine before Aladdin does the same in his Prince Ali alter ego, and shows how repulsive Aladdin would be had he been born in royalty, rather than poverty. Whereas Prince Ali shares his newfound riches with the people of Agrabah, Prince Achmed holds them in such low regard that he attempts to whip two children that ran in front of his horse. Aladdin even lampshades this trope:
      "If I were as rich as you, I could afford some manners!"
  • In Frozen (2013), Hans is this to Anna and Elsa.
    • With Anna, he embodies her feelings of inadequacy and self-doubt, and shows what she can become if she stopped reconciling with Elsa. Unlike Anna, who remains optimistic and loving, and reconciles with the sister who pushed her out, Hans's Freudian Excuse causes him to think Love Is a Weakness, remain estranged with his brothers, and zealously focus on his own betterment at others' expense. Also, it's all the more telling to the trope regarding how they react towards someone who truly needed help: while Hans chooses to leave Anna to die, Anna chooses to sacrifice herself for her estranged sister Elsa when she could have gotten a kiss to save her own life at the cost of hers.
    • With Elsa, he embodies her fear of becoming a villain, but she is able to maintain a grip on herself thanks to her family and friends. Due to his Freudian Excuse, Hans accepts causing harm to others and avoids forming emotional bonds. Also, while both hide key aspects of who they are, Hans does so to selfishly manipulate others for his own gain.
    • Hans represents what Kristoff could have been if he selfishly exploited Anna's desire to be loved via deception and lies rather than genuine care. Also in contrast to Kristoff being adopted by trolls who care for him, Hans grew up in a human family that treated him horribly, causing him to desire power for himself.
  • In Frozen II, King Runeard, Anna and Elsa's grandfather, is one to both sisters:
    • Elsa: Both are monarchs who dealt with the fear related to magic's impact on their rule, but Runeard shows what Elsa could be if she valued her power over other people's lives. While Elsa feared others would react negatively if they find out their queen has magic, but eventually develops a trust toward others closest to her, Runeard feared that magic wielders would threaten his rule and allowed it to corrupt his judgement in order to protect his power, even showing a selfish willingness to attack others. Elsa also worried her magic could be monstrous, but eventually learns that magic isn't inherently bad and eventually embraces hers as a gift, while Runeard never learned, and it led to his demise.
    • To Anna: He shows what she could be like if she let her desire to be significant and her fear, especially of magic, overrule her empathy for other people. Both are monarchs without magic of their own, and both have some unease about it. Their character designs even have the most similar complexions and coloring of the family, but they have very different approaches to magic and fear:
      • Runeard is primarily worried that magic would empower people to question his own authority, and he never learns to see the good in it. By contrast, although Anna has herself been seriously harmed by magic before, her fear is primarily for the sake of others, and not only does she see the good in it, she wants other people to be empowered and helps Elsa to embrace her magic, even knowing that Elsa could hurt her with it. She only fears that Elsa will get killed, and only if Elsa goes too far. Yet although Anna tries to caution her sister about that particular danger, she is still able to realize that it is not the magic itself that is the problem and to let her love guide her instead of her fear. She still supports Elsa and sees the beauty in it when others don't, even Elsa herself, and is even the one to show her sister how to embrace her power.
      • While Runeard attacks people out of fear, Anna can empathize with and trust people who are different from her. Runeard, to protect his power, builds a dam designed to harm the Northuldra, and Anna, despite the personal cost, risks her life to destroy it.
      • They both are focused on maintaining some part of the status quo and are afraid of how magic will affect it, but for very different reasons and have very different responses. Runeard is afraid of the Northuldra's connection to magic itself and that they might use it to challenge his power, and so he uses subterfuge to attack them. By contrast, Anna celebrates and encourages Elsa's connection with magic, and is only afraid of Elsa dying if she goes too far, even though such an outcome would increase Anna's own power. She is straightforward with Elsa and rather than try to stop Elsa from exploring magic, sincerely offers to help her do so in a safe way. Realizing what Runeard did plays a major role in spurring Anna to accept Elsa's pursuit of a magical destiny.
  • Toy Story 3: Lotso the Hugging Bear is a shadow of what Woody could've been if he gave into his resentment over being replaced and possessiveness toward his owner. This even mirrors Woody's character arc in the 1st movie. While Woody and Lotso are the leaders of a "family" of toys, Lotso keeps his own in line with outright bullying and manipulation instead of love and genuine friendship. Also, whereas Woody decides he wants what's best for Andy, Lotso has grown to hate children for their constant destruction and abandonment of toys. Lotso also believes the bond he had with his owner was a sham in his Straw Nihilist mindset, having sunk into bitterness after being accidentally abandoned and venting his anger out on the world.
  • Cinderella III: A Twist in Time: Drizella represents what Anastasia could've been had she not made a Heel–Face Turn and continued to be a nasty stepsister under her cruel mother's rule.
  • Zootopia:
    • As a small child, Nick Wilde had a dream to become a Junior Ranger Scout, but found that species' prejudices against predator animals made it very hard to be accepted in that role by facing the same struggles as Judy did to become a police officer. However whereas Judy pressed forward to achieve her dream, Nick decided "there's no point in trying to be anything else". However, Nick eventually realizes the error of his ways and becomes allies with Judy.
    • Like Judy, Assistant Mayor Bellwether is an unappreciated, small prey animal who is not appreciated by her larger boss, and has a bias against predator animals. However, whereas Judy eventually rises above this, takes responsibility for her anti-predator statements at the press conference, and works to make the world a better place, Bellwether incites anti-predator fear for the sake of revenge and power, and doesn't care who she hurts with her biases. Bellwether represents a Judy whose anti-predator biases and pangs of insecurity are out in the open and drive her to act without caring who she harms rather.
  • Kung Fu Panda:
    • Tai Lung serves as one to both Po and Tigress in Kung Fu Panda:
      • He represents what Po could have been with a bad teacher. Notice one of his first lines is similar, if less funny, to Po's first line. Also, both of them are incurable show-offs, even when the situation calls for dead seriousness. When Tai Lung appeared before Shifu out of nowhere before their confrontation, he was hiding at a distance for some time and waiting for Shifu to blink, so that his entrance could be appropriately dramatic (as explained in DVD commentary).
      • He is also one to Tigress, due to their similar Inferiority Superiority Complex and The Resenter role for not being chosen as the Dragon Warrior. However, while Tigress' honour code and loyalty to Shifu still offset that slight, Tai Lung's sense of entitlement made him betray his masters.
    • Lord Shen serves as one to both Po and Master Shifu in Kung Fu Panda 2:
      • With Po, both have parental abandonment issues and are real animals likened to mythical beasts (Po the Panda is the Dragon Warrior, while Shen the peacock is clearly meant to be a phoenix with his passion for fire). Both are nervous and unsure of themselves, having many a Failed Attempt at Drama moment. Both are black-and-white animals who are (apparently) the last of their kind, and both fight using unconventional methods. They achieved their places of power by using fireworks and by defeating highly skilled masters (Tai Lung and the Masters' Council) who stood in their way. Both their destinies were set in motion when the Soothsayer predicted their eventual conflict, and both sought inner peace to deal with their tragic pasts. Shen represents what Po could have been had he kept on to old grudges and refused to move on from the past.
      • Shen is Master Shifu's villainous foil. They both had a clairvoyant elder who watched their development (the Soothsayer and Master Oogway) and who foretold a disaster (Shen's demise and Tai Lung's return). Both proteges then try to avert said disaster, only to inadvertently cause it to happen. Like with Shifu in the first movie, Shen's present is influenced by the pains of the past, making him demanding and biased, with his high expectations in regards to his subordinates mirroring those of Shifu with his students. In particular, neither of them believe initially that someone like Po could be a mighty warrior, only for the determined panda to defy their expectations. Their main difference is in regards to the advice offered to them by their mentors; Shifu doesn't want Oogway to leave and afterward respects his master's wish to train Po despite his doubts, but Shen eventually sends the Soothsayer away when he decides he can't find happiness from her advice. Shifu ultimately finds inner peace by listening to Oogway while Shen can find peace only in death through his own self-destructive decisions.
  • The Sword in the Stone: In the book The Disney Villain, Frank Thomas and Ollie Johnston say that if Arthur had spent much more of his life under Sir Ector, he would have degenerated into a boorish, cynical bully like Kay.
  • The Emperor's New Groove: Yzma is what would happen if Kuzco never got over his "It's All About Me" attitude.
  • In Turning Red, Ming represents what Mei could have become if she continued to repress her panda. While Mei has friends who love and support her, allowing her to eventually embrace the panda as a part of herself, Ming had a Friendless Background and continued to fear the panda, repressing it until it comes out as a destructive Kaiju. Mei grows to become a stronger, more independent person who fully embraces her quirks, while Ming became an obsessive, overbearing Control Freak.

  • Aristotle and Dante Discover the Secrets of the Universe: Bernardo to Aristotle. Both seem to be good people at heart, or at least Bernardo was at some point, but have deep anger issues that they don't deal with. Bernardo eventually committed two murders due to his complete lack of self-control, one of which was a tranvestite prostitute in a hate crime. Ari's anger is much more controlled, but there are many moments where it bubbles to the surface, with the specific moment where he attacks a man who attacked Dante bringing back bringing back memories of Bernardo to their mother. It's easy to interpret Bernardo as what Ari could have become without Dante.
  • The Beginning After the End: Arthur has two of these.
    • The first is the Big Bad himself, Agrona. Both discovered that Kezess, the ruler of the Asuras, committed genocide upon the ancient Djinn and seek to make him answer for his crimes by any means necessary. In his desire to exact revenge on Kezess, Agrona has become no better than his nemesis in that he launches an invasion of Dicathen as a stepping stone in his war against the rest of the Asuras and views everything at his disposal as expendable. However, in doing so he brings himself into opposition with Arthur as not only is Dicathen Arthur's homeland but it reminds Arthur of how in his past life he declared war on another nation for killing his Parental Substitute when he was young, an action that he regrets in his new life especially since now he is on the receiving end of such a war. Making matters worse is that not only is Agrona responsible for his reincarnation, but that he had also reincarnated his childhood friends Nico and Cecilia and brainwashed them into serving him, in the process bringing the lowest moment of Arthur's past life back to haunt him in his new life. Agrona is basically a reflection of Arthur's past life as a vengeful conqueror. To further hammer in the similarities, in her second message to him where she outlines the truth about the war, Sylvia remarks how Agrona truly had once been a decent person but after being betrayed by his people had gone insane out of grief and vengeance to an extent that not even Arthur in his past life went down. In his new life, Arthur has careful not to follow down that same path, which is easier said than done given all he has lost due to the senseless Divine Conflict and the callous warmongering of both Agrona and Kezess.
    • Speaking of which, the second is Nico. Both him and Arthur were reincarnated by Agrona to serve as anchor points for the Legacy, who as it turns out is their shared Childhood Friend Love Interest Cecilia. However, while both Nico and Cecilia were brainwashed by Agrona to serve him, Arthur was spared their fate as his temporally-displaced bond Sylvie managed to wrest his soul away from Agrona before he could be reincarnated into Agrona's vessel of choice. When Arthur learns of Nico and Cecilia's reincarnations, he realizes that Agrona has twisted their memories by emphasizing the wrongs he had done to them in their past lives. While Nico is a slave to his past life (until he gets inadvertently freed from Agrona's brainwashing), Arthur seeks to move on from his past life and treats his new one as a second chance while trying to prevent what happened to his loved ones from happening again. In a sense, Nico is Arthur if he had remained chained by his past life and refused to move on from it, the manipulations of an evil deity notwithstanding.
  • In the second arc of the H.I.V.E. Series, Otto is forced to kill several innocent people while under the control of the Animus, only able to break loose when his intended target is his best friend, Wing. Because of this, Otto develops a paranoia of hurting the people he cares about. Cue the entrance of cold, evil, fairly emotionless Agent Zero, who works for Anastasia Furan. He is Otto's clone, with advanced control over his electrokinesis to enable mind reading. Zero mind rapes Laura, who turns into a shivering huddle when confronted with Otto. This bothers Otto deeply, as seeing himself harm one of the people he cares about most is his greatest fear. Zero is one of only two or three people in the series whom Otto kills.
  • Sherlock Holmes has Professor Moriarty: Holmes's equal in every way but dedicated to crime.
  • Jekyll & Hyde, from The Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde.
  • In the fantasy novel A Wizard of Earthsea, the main character Ged accidentally raises an evil spirit representing the darkness in himself, which is actually called the Shadow in the book. It follows him everywhere until he can call it by its true name — which is Ged.
  • The Lord of the Rings.
    • Gollum is the shadow of Bilbo and Frodo Baggins — and, to some extent, Sam. Remember all those conversations between Sméagol and Gollum that Sam spied and was utterly sick of hearing? Just when Sam and Frodo reach Mount Doom, what is Sam doing? Talking to himself about the futility of their quest!
      Sam: And then what, Sam Gamgee, then what?
    • Sauron is to an extent the shadow of both Gandalf and Galadriel, while Saruman is a more specific shadow of Gandalf.
      Gandalf: I am Saruman. Or rather Saruman as he should have been.
    • Frodo gets to watch several people confront their own Shadows when he offers the Ring to them. (The ever-humble Sam, notably, sees his Shadow — a mighty hero — when he becomes Ringbearer, and consciously rejects it.)
  • Discworld
    • The sisters Esme and Lily Weatherwax (complete with lots and lots of mirror imagery). After Lily chose to use magic to serve herself Esme grudgingly became her good counterpart. They're both clever, proud and absolutely certain of their rightness.
    • Angua and her psychotic brother Wolfgang von Uberwald. Angua constantly struggles with the werewolf dilemma of looking like a human sometimes and a wolf the other, but not really fitting in with either. Wolfgang is utterly exultant in both forms and is a Fully-Embraced Fiend.
    • Moist von Lipwig and Reacher Gilt. Moist's clashes with Gilt cause him to do a bit of soul-searching to see what actual difference there is between them. Turns out Moist can make a pretty good Anti-Hero when he puts his mind to it. Reacher is Moist if he indulged his ambition and greed and cared nothing for screwing people over.
    • And Vimes has his Beast, which he sees in many of the worst criminals he faces. Carcer is another example of a shadow archetype for Vimes: Where Vimes spends all his time controlling his inner monster, Carcer indulges the Beast to the fullest extent.
    • Death gains one in Reaper Man, when he is replaced and made mortal. This "New Death" lacks his respect and compassion for mortals, instead seeing itself as a ruler, not a caretaker.
  • Harry Potter
    • Voldemort and Harry share many things, but the most important might be that both had a hard time when they were children and had their lives completely turned around when they discovered the world of magic. But if Harry found friends and love, Voldemort found a way to gain power. And while Voldemort's desire for fame and respect ended up corrupting his soul, Harry never let his fame as "The Boy Who Lived" go to his head. The "Not So Different" Remark is often given with these two.
    • Voldemort also could be considered a shadow to Severus Snape. Both are: ambitious, magically-gifted, half-blooded, lonely young men from uncaring families; fascinated by the Dark Arts and fashioned a fancy name (The Dark Lord, The Half-Blood Prince). Snape could easily have been (and for most of the series seems to be) a Voldemort In The Making. Ultimately, it may be Voldemort's greatest weakness that keeps Snape from becoming a Dark Lord in his own right.
  • In the sequel to Chocolat, The Lollipop Shoes, Zozie de l'Alba is Yanne's shadow, everything about herself that she has repressed — her magic, her glamour, her bohemian lifestyle, her free-spirited ways — as well as her impulse to use her magic to influence and control others.
  • In the works of Douglas Preston and Lincoln Child, Aloysius Pendergast has a shadow in the form of his brother Diogenes. Both are utterly brilliant, masters of disguise, and experts in numerous fields; Diogenes, however, suffered a childhood trauma which drove him quite mad.
  • Charles de Lint has the formation of actual Jungian Shadow Archetypes be an actual thing that happens in his Newford setting. One story revolves around the young woman who is the shadow of a recurring skeptic character; he cast her off at some point in childhood and no longer is aware of her, and she has identity issues. Eventually concludes she can be her own person, having been independent ever since she was cast; honorable mention to a conversation she has with a mentor figure:
    Mentor: I once met the shadow of a man who was on death row for murder.
    Christmas: What was he like?
    Mentor: Meanest sonuvabitch I ever saw.
    Christmas: I meant the shadow.
    Mentor: Yeah, me too.
  • In The Girl Who Circumnavigated Fairyland in a Ship of Her Own Making and its sequel, this is done with actual shadows that separate from their owners. The shadows are usually similar in personality to the originals, but tend to act with less restraint. The shadows of Ell and Saturday, for instance, still care for September as her friend, but do things like enchant her or kiss her trying to make her happy, without considering that she doesn't like having things done to her without her permission. Halloween, meanwhile, is much colder and crueler than September, but they do share some similarities as we see Halloween is willing to use her considerable power to rescue her father (the shadow of September's father). Inversely, we see that the shadow of Maude/the Marquess is considerably more subdued and kind to September than the original ever was.
  • In A Frozen Heart, a tie-in book to Disney's Frozen:
    • Prince Hans's older brothers are darker versions of Elsa, as like her, they shut out their siblings due to their father's influence, but while Elsa's father was genuinely well-intentioned but allowed his fear for his daughters' safety to guide him, Hans's father is a cruel man who manipulates his sons to become his sycophantic enforcers, deliberately picks favorites among them, and doesn't let them reconcile with each other. Because of this, the 13 brothers show how the relationship between Anna and Elsa could've become had Elsa truly stopped caring about Anna in her drive to not let her emotions affect her or had Anna let her insecurities make her The Unfettered like Hans, as he reflects her darker feelings of inadequacy and self-doubt.
    • Hans's father represents what Agnarr could have been if he micromanaged his children too much. While Agnarr is genuinely well-intentioned even as he allows his fear for Elsa's safety to guide him and isolate his daughters, Hans's father is manipulative and abusive towards his sons by forcing them to use underhanded means to earn his respect. Due to this, Caleb doesn't take anything seriously, Hans is deported in disgrace for his attempted takeover of Arendelle, and the 13 sons don't get along with each other.
  • Star Wars: Honor Among Thieves: Baasen Ray for Han Solo, made explicit after his death. Baasen was once a fellow smuggler and a friend of Han, though they had a falling out, and a run of poor luck turned Baasen into a cynical Bounty Hunter willing to turn his former friend in to Jabba. After he is shot in the process of killing the Big Bad Galassian, Han muses that he could have easily turned out like Baasen, if he hadn't taken a certain charter to ferry an old man and a kid to Alderaan.
  • Reign of the Seven Spellblades: Anti-Hero Oliver Horn and The Lancer Nanao Hibiya are very much alike, but also quite different in very important ways. Both are Master Swordsmen, but Oliver's skills are rooted in endless hours of rigorous practice and book learning, whereas Nanao is a natural talent who does her best work when she isn't even thinking about what she's doing. Their other differences are highlighted by the conclusion of volume 1 (episode 6 of the anime): Nanao invents the Seventh Spellblade and severs Miligan's hand with it out of a need to rescue Katie, but spares Miligan's life, as her sword style repudiates the idea of vengeance in favor of finding joy in a fair fight against a Worthy Opponent. Oliver, meanwhile, uses the Fourth Spellblade, which he reconstructed from the Ghost Memory of his mother Chloe Halford, severs Darius Grenville's hand with it, and then slowly tortures him to death with pain spells to avenge Grenville's part in Chloe's murder. Oliver himself is reminded of Nanao's words, "Enjoy not the sword of vengeance, but the sword of mutual love," and ruefully muses that "I will test the limits of this philosophy."

  • The song "Forty Six & 2" by tool is explicitly about the internal struggle of a person confronting and integrating their shadow, in its Jungian meaning.
  • One possible interpretation of Billy Joel's "The Stranger," although some interpret it to be about infidelity. The first verses of the song are about the "face that we hide away forever"... but that we secretly delight in when no-one else is around. The later verses warn that everyone has this hidden side, and that people have no right to be shocked when they discover other people have secrets too. It closes by reminding the listener that while "the Stranger" can be alarming, it isn't evil — in fact, it can be the more truthful self.
  • BTS explicitly explore the concept in MAP OF THE SOUL: 7, which directly takes inspiration from and is structured after Carl Jung's archetypes of the Persona, the Shadow and the Ego. BTS connect them to the ideas of fame and art, meaning that the "Shadow" here (corresponding to the middle section of the album), aka. the side of the self that is hidden from the rest of the world, relates to things such as the greed and insecurities that lie behind reaching such heights (such as in "Interlude: Shadow"), fears of losing passion for creating and enjoying art ("Black Swan"), and longing for what may be sacrificed in the process of becoming famous (such as in "My Time").
    • In "Interlude: Shadow", the shadow is described by SUGA as something that follows him; as "the light" (in this case, implied to be the spotlight) "gets brighter", his shadow "grows bigger", "darker", "swallows [him], and becomes a monster" - that as he gets higher and gets the life he always wanted, the idea of the fall becomes more terrifying, with his fear and greed driving him to not rest. The song concludes with the shadow speaking:
    Yeah, you’re me and I’m you, you get it now, right?
    We’re one body, and sometimes we will crash
    You will never be able to take me off of you, you get it, right?
    Yeah yeah, you can’t take me off of you, whatever you do
    Yeah, you’ll be more at ease if you accept it
    • The shadow is ultimately shown to not be an inherently bad thing. The Art Film version of the "Black Swan" music video in particular has the main dancer (who's shirtless) surrounded with other dancers (dressed in black) who control him, hold him back and put him down, until the main dancer manages to command them and symbolically be free while still being tied to them. The album later leads towards acceptance of the Shadow with the "Ego" section.
  • Eminem's Slim Shady alter ego is Marshall's Enemy Within, expressing all his insane, ridiculous and self-destructive emotions and fantasies, no matter how horrible, ugly or bigoted they are. Mostly Shady is a Heroic Comedic Sociopath Played for Laughs or Lightmare Fuel, but Eminem says (even within the songs themselves) that speaking through Shady is like therapy for him.
  • Carousel (An Examination of the Shadow, Creekflow...): A literal one in the form of Vylet's shadow being given sentience, who seems to point out all the little aspects of Vylet that she doesn't like.

    Myths & Religion 
  • Aztec Mythology has Tezcatlipoca to Quetzalcoatl. They were born together and created the earth together, but from there on, Tezcatlipoca is the one causing the various apocalypses while Quetzalcoatl is the one cleaning them up and populating the new worlds.
  • Christianity has Satan to God, obviously. Adaptations may play this up — for example, The Divine Comedy has Satan as a three-headed monster as a sort of imitation of the Trinity. And, of course, the Antichrist to Jesus.
  • In The Bible, Balaam to Moses. While Moses gave up life as an Egyptian prince to lead the Hebrews from slavery, Balaam is a sort of prophet-for-profit who tries to curse the Hebrews for King Balak. Jewish tradition says that Balaam was actually given abilities near Moses's level just so that the other nations couldn't claim that they would have been better if they had had a leader like Moses.

    Professional Wrestling 
  • Sometimes enemies sometimes allies Low Ki and Xavier. Xavier openly expresses many things Low Ki himself feels or relates to but chooses to keep under control. Xavier has repeatedly mocked Low Ki's style of wrestling but in fact wrestles in largely the same manner, which only becomes more obvious when they are opponents.

    Puppet Shows 
  • Fraggle Rock
    • Boober Fraggle came into conflict with the fun-loving, irresponsible part of his personality, which manifested as his Evil Twin, Sidebottom (the side of himself which he keeps on the bottom). It wasn't until Boober accepted Sidebottom as a part of himself that he was able to make his Evil Twin go away.
    • Lively, enthusiastic Red met her own opposite—the modest, cautious Beige—when the Fraggles encountered another colony of their species.

    Tabletop Games 
  • The Shadow is an integral part of Wraith: The Oblivion. Your worst enemy, who's always with you, tries to manipulate you into falling into oblivion... and everyone has one. Even worse, the standard approach is to have the players play each others' shadows on the side, leading to a whole deal of sneaky backstabbing.
  • Dungeons & Dragons:
    • The Ravenloft setting had a monstrous device called The Apparatus which could split any character into two opposing personalities (it could also turn two people into one). The only way to undo it was to get them both back into the machine and run it again in reverse.
    • The mirror of opposition. Any character who gazes into the mirror will create an identical twin of opposing alignment, with identical levels, skills and equipment.
  • Exalted
    • The Ebon Dragon. One of his titles is "the Shadow of All Things"; in first edition, this means that among other things he is the shadow of the gods, being what they are not, while in second edition he exists to oppose heroism wherever it may exist and corrupt it into villainy. Which just leads to layers of complexity, when one considers that the Ebon Dragon instigated the creation of the Unconquered Sun to provide him with an overarching 'light archetype' to define himself against. This resulted in the emergence of Five Days Darkness... best described as the Unconquered Sun's Shadow Archetype, and effectively the Ebon Dragon's grandchild.
    • The Abyssals are presented as being narrative Shadow Archetypes of what the Solar Exalted might become, now that they've returned... while the Terrestrials are easily used as a narrative Shadow Archetype for what the Solars had become when they ruled the world; oppressive tyrants that must be unseated.
    • There's a very powerful (Solar Circle Sorcery) magic spell with a similar effect to the mirror of opposition above, with the twist that the original is trapped in the mirror while their Evil Twin runs loose.
    • The original concept for third edition Infernals was that they would fill a similar role to Dragon-Bloods as dark mirrors of the First Age Solars. The big difference would have been that the Dragon-Bloods were dark mirrors of the Old Realm itself, while the Infernals were dark mirrors of the Solars sitting atop it. Changes in developers mean the Infernals are being moved to stand more on their own terms, but narratively they can be seen as another mirror of the modern Solars, the dark reflection of the change they bring to Creation, the desire for revenge against the injustices of Creation's established orders, or to construct something new in their place.
    • The optional Umbrals gain a Shadow as part of their Exaltation, a manifestation of their darker side, of everything they can't accept about themselves, and can give it more control in return for situational power. However, while the Shadow won't set out to ruin or destroy the Umbral, given its nature, the Umbral is going to be at odds with what the Shadow wants and/or how it goes about getting it more often than not.
  • Warhammer 40,000 usually has the forces of Chaos and the Dark Eldar as merely Evil Counterparts, but as everyone is evil most of the time they fit better as Shadow Archetypes:
    • Corvus Corax, Primarch of the Raven Guard, and Konrad Curze, Primarch of the Night Lords. Both were stealth experts, preferring to strike from the shadows and end conflicts with minimal life lost, rather than the protracted full scale engagements every other Primarch used. Both had an extremely strong sense of justice and saw themselves as punishers of evil. However, where Corvus was an assassin and revolutionary, Konrad was a murderer and vigilante; Corvus never deliberately targeted civilian populations, but Konrad made them his go-to targets. Corvus inspired oppressed peoples to rise up against tyrants, while Konrad used fear and terror to keep them in line. Both were intimately aware of the similarities between them.
    • Imperial Space Marines and Chaos Space Marines are both fanatical Blood Knight Warrior Monks who worship powerful beings that couldn't care less about them, committing endless atrocities and slaughtering billions in their name. About the only difference is that Imperial Marines are fighting for some semblance of civilization, whereas Chaos Marines mostly do it For the Evulz.
    • The Imperial Guard and the Lost and the Damned are poorly equipped, poorly trained, and have piss-poor morale note , used as expendable Cannon Fodder by the higher-ups with little or no regard for the horrific casualties they'll inevitably suffer. This is especially evident in the Gaunt's Ghosts novel The Armour of Contempt, where a Guard character is smack in the middle of human wave tactics that are identical to the one Chaos forces used in Necropolis.
    • The Craftworld Eldar and the Dark Eldar are arrogant egotists desperately trying to stave off both their inevitable extinction and the attentions of the Chaos God Slaanesh. The difference is that while the former protect themselves by rigidly controlling their emotions at all times, the latter indulge that side of themselves entirely, satisfying Slaanesh by feeding it the souls of others in place of their own.
  • Chuubo's Marvelous Wish-Granting Engine: Chuubo/the Wishing Boy and Leonardo/Nightmare's Angel. Both have constructed magical engines, but Chuubo wants to be normal apart from that and Leonardo has grabbed at specialness with both hands, even when it wasn't a good idea. Chuubo staves off loneliness by making friends (literally, in the case of Seizhi/the Best Friend), while Leonardo has abandoned friendship in order to better defend Town. Chuubo's memory is a bit cracked through mysterious past experiences; Leonardo may have deliberately erased his own. Both are Imperators of a sort, but Chuubo is a healthy if amnesiac one while Leonardo has been corrupted into a Mimic. They're even depicted in artwork with similar hairstyles, although Chuubo's is wavy, unkempt and stops above the eyes while Leonardo's is straighter and has bangs. There's a lesser shadow-archetype pairing in Billy Sovereign and the Best Friend, who have very similar stats and Arcs, and are both Actuals, although Seizhi has a soul and Billy does not, but given that Billy once impaled Leonardo on a railroad spike, that probably crosses over into full-on Evil Counterpart.


    Visual Novels 
  • Fate/stay night:
    • Shirou has two main examples. Firstly, there is Kotomine, a man whose sense of self is just as underdeveloped as Shirou's, but who can only find meaning in hurting others where Shirou can only find meaning in helping them. Secondly, there is Archer, the embodiment of Shirou's Wide-Eyed Idealist ideals of becoming an 'ally of justice' who'll always try to save everyone; said person hates what he's become and wants to kill Shirou to wipe himself from existence or, at the very least, save Shirou from destroying himself.
    • The "Alter' Servant category as a whole perfectly encompasses this, going all the way back to the very first one in Saber Alter. Alter Servants as a concept involve said Servants becoming darker versions of their original characters, embodying what they could've been like without their personal scruples and standards, whether it's from being corrupted into it or being an Alternate Self that walked a different path. A large number of them end up being Evil Counterparts, since a Heroic Spirit becoming evil is a common way of becoming a darker version of themself, but turning into an Evil Counterpart is not fully necessary, just that they change into something their original self might feel embarrassed to acknowledge as what they could potentially become.

    Web Animation 
  • Red vs. Blue: Season 15 shows what the Red and Blues could have become if they lost someone dear to them in a meaningless way. The Blues and Reds have an identical line-up to the Reds and Blues, but they lost the "orange one" due to a "training session" between two Freelancer Agents. Their fates show that, just because they're labeled as "test dummies", it doesn't mean that they have to stay that way. As the season progresses, it shows just how "a bunch of idiots" can actually get things done extremely well when the Blues and Reds almost succeed in destroying not just Earth, but the entire Milky Way.

  • In El Goonish Shive, when Ellen first appeared — inadvertently conjured into existence when Elliot used the Dewitchery Diamond to cure himself of a Magitek Gender Bender — she came down with a bad case of Clone Angst and decided that she was going to be Elliot's Evil Twin. Even after she realized she was completely unsuited to be a villain and pulled a Heel–Face Turn, she deliberately rejected many facets of Elliot's personality, such as his shyness around strangers and his self-conscious attitude about sex. This puts her in a unique position to become a particularly effective Annoying Younger Sibling when she feels like it, dealing out good-natured teasing with pinpoint accuracy.
  • Homestuck:
    • Probably Jadesprite to Jade, seeing as Jade is optimistic despite the future not looking too good while Jadesprite believes everything is doomed and won't even listen to a "the future's worth fighting for" speech. Jadesprite's hysterics drive Jade from a get-ahold-of-yourself-man-slap to assault. This is eventually lampshaded by acting-psychiatrist Karkat.
    • A Dark Is Not Evil example is Karkat to John. Both have similar rooms, fulfil similar roles in the plot, and use weapons with a symbolic similarity (John uses a hammer, Karkat uses a sickle). However, their personalities are quite different — John is sweet, mischievous and innocent, and Karkat is bitter, angry, but rather wise. John types in all lower-case, but Karkat types in ALL CAPS. And while both of them love terrible movies, John just has really bad taste and defends the quality of the films he loves — Karkat is aware his favourite romcoms are terrible, but loves them passionately anyway. This is one of the reasons why Karkat, at one point, falls in hate with John (and also one of the reasons why John doesn't reciprocate).
  • One Piece: Grand Line 3.5:
    • During the Syrup Village Arc, a parallel is created between Natalie and DM, who respectively play Nami and Kurahadol. Natalie lives by the Rule of Drama, and created Nami with a complex Backstory that makes her hate pirates. However, she's still fully capable of working together with the group while keeping Nami in-character. DM, on the other hand, makes absolutely no effort to intergrate with the others, having Kurahadol blantantly bait and insult them, then refusing to apologise in or out of character. (Unless you count her stating "That's just how he is," acting like it's the others fault for not being able to put up with him.)
    • Later in the same arc, another parallel with Luffy's player Luke is revealed: both are all about having fun. However, while Luke enjoys playing with his friends and doesn't care whether they 'win' or 'lose', DM only cares about her personal enjoyment. It simply doesn't matter that her preferred gaming style constantly screws over everyone else, so long as SHE's having fun.
  • Lackadaisy:
    • Freckle and Mordecai are an interesting case as this trope works both ways: both smart kids who join a criminal gang in their late teens when they have nowhere to go and become triggermen in their respective gangs, and both happen to have significant trouble handling social situations. While Freckle is painfully shy, nice to anyone remotely nice to him and struggles to remain a good person in spite of his sudden outursts of rage he can barely control when he has to use a gun, Mordecai is cold, calculating, heartless, has no sense of loyalty, only following his own interests and keeps himself in check thanks to his obsession with order. Mordecai is what Freckle would become if he stopped caring about his friends, and Freckle is what Mordecai would become if he didn't control his impulses.
    • Mordecai and Rocky eventually become this as well. Both are intelligent men who, like the above example, are socially awkward and who work in organized crime (and used to be coworkers), and both men are clearly willing to get violent in order to achieve their goals. However, Rocky's intelligence is creative while Mordecai's is strictly logical. Rocky clearly craves affection and validation which fuels most of his impulsive, eccentric and erratic behavior, while Mordecai largely rejects interpersonal relationships and is a remorseless Sociopath, albeit an extremely ordered and serious one. Rocky's need for affection also fuels his all-consuming loyalty to anyone willing to give him the time of day, while Mordecai has no loyalties beyond himself. Both men also sustained brain damage which has drastically altered their personalities. A stray bullet to the brain turned the nerdy, anti-social, but basically decent Mordecai into a heartless murderer. While Rocky was always erratic and kind of flaky-in-a-charming-way, his general demeanor has become more...disturbing after he got hit in the head by a hearse. Notably, it isn't clear that Mordecai has sustained such an injury, but Rocky has a large, ugly gash in the middle of his forehead. Rocky is effectively what Mordecai would be if he had empathy but no impulse control, and Mordecai is what Rocky is in danger of becoming if he gives up on trying to gain the approval of others.
  • In How to be a Werewolf it is rapidly made clear that Malaya Dysangco Walters and Aubrey Greensmith are frighteningly similar. Both are werewolves raised by non-werewolves, entirely isolated from any sort of contact with other werewolf packs, largely cut off from human interaction/society as well, greatly ignorant of their capabilities, and perhaps slightly emotionally stunted for being in their mid-twenties. The key difference is that Malaya's parents had no clue whatsoever what was going on when their five year old was infected with lycanthropy but did impressively well for going in blind; while Aubrey's mom got intentionally knocked up by her werewolf lover, consciously kept her in the dark from day one, and alternates between screwing with her kid's head and draining her inherent magic for her own use.

    Web Original 
  • Metamor CityMaking the Cut:
    • Female alter-ego Danni brings out aspects of Daniel's personality that Daniel might not otherwise acknowledge. In particular, her rant at Rebecca for betraying their relationship is something Daniel never would have said, though he had doubtless been carrying those feelings around for years.
    • Subverted by Evan and Eva, who actively embrace their personality split; the alter egos will trade off situations between them, depending on which one is better suited to handle the task at hand.
    • Played straight with Victor, who has pushed all of the aspects of his personality that troubled him into his "Dark Place" — inadvertently creating a rage-fueled monster that he is no longer able to control.
  • In Suburban Knights, The Nostalgia Critic and Jaffers. They're both pathetic and played by brothers, but whereas the Critic proves his loyalty to his friends by stepping up and becoming a leader, Jaffers is a cowardly weasel who acts more like a He Who Fights Monsters Well-Intentioned Extremist.

    Real Life 
  • The appropriately named "shadow types" in Myers–Briggs/Kiersley/etc. personality theory, which is based on Jung's original work. They can be messy, and there's a book on them called "Was That Really Me?"


Video Example(s):



Like Jango, Montross was a former Mandalorian who became a Bounty Hunter, but unlike Jango, Montross isn't motivated simply by the money but by the act of hunting bounties itself, taking sadsitic pleasure from it.

How well does it match the trope?

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Example of:

Main / ShadowArchetype

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