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The Shadow Knows

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"I tend not to trust a guy whose shadow don't match his body."

Deception is a common tool of the trade, used by both villains and sometimes heroes. Shapeshifting and Invisibility are two common ways to disguise one's true nature or intentions.

But no form of disguise is completely, 100% foolproof. If you know what to look for, you can find the truth out. And sometimes, the truth is right behind you. Everything in the light casts a shadow...

And that's the nature of this trope. As a warning to the viewer (or even other characters), a character casts a shadow that hints at their true form or nature. A common variation with characters who can make fake copies or clones of themselves or another person/object will have the illusory copies cast no shadow at all to signify that they aren't actually real.

Conversely, sometimes invisible stuff still casts a shadow. This can be Hand Waved when the "invisibility" is actually an illusion rather than actual "not stopping light".

Compare Living Shadow, which occasionally overlaps this trope; and The Mirror Shows Your True Self which is the same with reflections. Sub-Trope of Glamour Failure, Super-Trope of Casts No Shadow.

This trope is named after the catchphrase of The Shadow.


    open/close all folders 

  • There used to be an Israeli campaign encouraging men over 50 to take regular colonoscopies to avoid colon cancer. It showed a man walking normally towards a bus stop and waiting while reading a newspaper, while his shadow collapsed in the street and had to be driven away in an ambulance.

    Anime & Manga 
  • Downplayed in the finale of the first season of Bakugan, given that it happens after The Reveal. When Alice says goodbye to Hydranoid, a combination of camera angles and the wind blowing causes her shadow to heavily resemble Masquerade.
  • In the Black★Rock Shooter anime, Yuu has no shadow, which helps set up The Reveal about her in episode 5.
  • Bleach: Ukitake meets with Shunsui in the ruins of what was once the Seireitei as Shunsui notes the extensive damage done to the Wandenreich City. As Ukitake states that they can rebuild the Seireitei, he can be seen casting an unusual shadow with a large eye in the center. It sets up The Reveal of his connection to the Soul King and how he was able to survive his illness up to this point in the story.
  • Doraemon: The Record of Nobita's Parallel Visit to the West have demons posing as demons in the modern-day, but their identities can be exposed thanks to their shadows having horns, which they cannot hide. Nobita (and the audience) can tell something's wrong when Nobisuke, silhouetted behind a newspaper he's reading, casts a horned shadow.
  • In Durarara!!, Celty's Cool Bike is really her horse; it still has a horse's shadow. And a more subtle example in Celty's own shadow being much darker than anyone else's, hinting at her supernatural origins.
  • In the Closing Credits of Freezing, Chiffon's shadow quite accurately reflects her nickname, The Matchless Smiling Monster.
  • In the anime adaptation of JoJo's Bizarre Adventure: Diamond is Unbreakable, for a split second as Kosaku-Kira is sneaking up on Hayato in the bath, his shadow shows his Stand Killer Queen, with its thumb on the trigger for one of its bombs.
  • In MÄR, one of Alvis' opponents has an ARM which clones him infinitely. Alvis figures out where the real one is hiding by the shadow he casts.
  • Naruto: Naruto as a child has been drawn with the Nine-Tails' silhouette instead of his shadow, in reference to the kitsune legend below.
  • In Onegai My Melody, Kuromi's shadow doesn't change when she takes human form.
  • From One Piece, Gecko Moria's Shadow-Shadow Fruit has this as one of the fundamental laws of nature: the shadow always conforms to the physical body. Using this principle, Moria can invert it with his Shadow Revolution technique, where he warps the shadow so that it's the physical body that must now conform with the shadow. It is theorized that this is also the reason why people who had their shadow stolen disintegrates in sunlight - as they cast no shadow when shone by a natural light, then they can't exist.
  • Paranoia Agent: During the "Happy Family Planning" episode, after a certain point none of the three main characters have shadows. The Reveal at the ending reveals they've been Dead All Along.
  • Pokémon Adventures: When the Red and Blue Orbs take over Maxie and Archie's minds, their shadows change to Groudon and Kyogre.
  • Princess Tutu: After the Raven's blood starts to take hold of Mytho, his shadow turns into that of a raven more than once before he actually transforms into one.
  • In Soul Eater, Death the Kid's shadow is occasionally shown as a skull. It doesn't quite reveal anything the audience hasn't already been told, but generally accompanies a violent reminder that he is a death god.
  • In Wolf's Rain there are a couple of scenes where the wolves are wearing their human glamour but still casting wolf shadows.
  • Very prominent in the Yu-Gi-Oh! (first anime series), especially in the opening; Yugi's shadow expands demonically, opening glowing yellow eyes (along with an Egyptian-style Third Eye)—implying the existence of Yugi's other self, an ancient Egyptian spirit who periodically possesses him.

    Comic Books 
  • Many superheroes, while in their civilian identities, will have a shadow shaped like their alter ego when in a situation that their heroic identity is needed for, especially if the costume has a distinctive silhouette. Peter Parker will have a shadow with webs in it (or in some older ones, the "armpit webs") and often his mask's eyes as well, Matt Murdock's shadow will have horns, Clark Kent's shadow will lose his glasses and gain a cape, etc.
  • Batman's cape and cowl are frequently visible in Bruce Wayne's shadow—the idea being that, unlike, say, Superman and Spider-Man, the true identity is the superhero, not the civilian.
    • Speaking of Batman, this trope is used in the Elseworlds one-shot The Batman of Arkham, where Bruce Wayne ran Arkham Asylum to cure the insane criminals he turns in as Batman during the early 1900's. Jonathan Crane appears as a secondary antagonist, and while he never becomes the Scarecrow, his shadow is shaped like one.
    • A dual example occurs early in the Batman/Hulk crossover story, in which the reader sees both Bruce's shadows from outside a window while the two are conversing. Take a guess what they look like.
  • In The Dark Phoenix Saga, the man responsible for Jean's timeslips or rather, the elaborate illusion that makes her think she's having them has a different shadow. When he's revealed as Mastermind, we even get an author's note telling you to go back and look at the shadow in one scene (admit it - you didn't notice either.) It was brilliant at the time, though it loses something by this point due to Late-Arrival Spoiler: it's hard to be an X-Men fan and have missed learning Mastermind's real name, which he went by for the first time in this story pre-reveal.
  • In Don Rosa story A Little Something Special, Magica DeSpell gives Flintheart Glomgold a magical disguise but his shadow clues the heroes to his real identity.
  • Sergio Aragonés used to regularly produce cartoons on this theme for MAD, using the trope's name, where people in various situations cast shadows showing what they really thought or wanted.
  • In the first issue of Red Hood and the Outlaws Simon Amal's shadow in one panel is Crux.
  • The Sandman (1989) gives this quality to all of the Endless, one way or another:
    • Desire smells almost subliminally of summer peaches, and casts two shadows: one black and sharp-edged, the other translucent and forever wavering, like heat haze.
    • While Despair has no odour, her shadow smells musky, and pungent, like the skin of a snake.
    • Destiny smells of dust, and the libraries of night. He leaves no footprints. He Casts No Shadow.
    • Delirium's appearance is the most variable of all the Endless, who, at best, are ideas cloaked in the semblance of flesh. Her shadow's shape and outline has no relationship to that of any body she wears, and is tangible, like old velvet.
    • Dream casts a human shadow, when it occurs to him to do so.
  • Transformers (2019): The cover of Galaxies #1 has the six Constructicons casting the silhouette of their combined form, Devastator.

    Fan Works 
  • The Bridge: During a moment of Unstoppable Rage, Xenilla's shadow changes from a Unicorn to his true form of a mutated dinosaur.
  • Child of the Storm: Strange's shadow usually looks normal. Usually. In the first arc of the sequel, he's pushed to the limits of his power and sanity trying to patch up the crisis. As a result, he starts behaving very oddly, as does his shadow, which twists and takes on different forms, more dramatically the darker his mood gets. This comes amongst questions of whether he's even human. He's human all right, just drastically altered by the Time Stone.
  • A Loud Among Demons: Lincoln's magical abilities start becoming affected by the corruption of his soul brought on by his mere presence in Hell, and when pushed over the edge, Lincoln loses control and unleashes a demonic version of himself. Physically, he looks the same barring gaining Black Eyes of Crazy, but his shadow morphs into a humanoid monster resembling a jackalope.
  • Naruto, from A New World, A New Way sidestory Swarm suffers this. His Illusions cannot hide his shadow. Justified, in that they are Illusions so he's not physically changing. Lampshaded by Naruto later in the story:
    Naruto: Finally someone thinks to look at the shadow! Do you realize how often others realize that the best way to find a Zoroark is to look down? Almost never. I swear, it gets even more annoying when they know a Zoroark is in their midst.
  • The Ultimate Evil: One of the tests the Guardian of the Book of Ages puts Valerie through has him turning his staff into an inland taipan. She passes the test by realizing that the snake merely an illusion since the Guardian's shadow holds only a staff.

    Films — Animation 
  • Batman: Mask of the Phantasm. Moments before The Reveal that Andrea Beaumont's father is dead, she walks up the stairs of her home carrying a bag of groceries and her shadow is that of the Phantasm, the persona she has adopted to avenge him.
  • Coco: At the end, when alebrijes Dante and Pepita are in the world of the living, the latter takes the shape of a domestic cat, but her shadow is that of her true form of a giant winged jaguar.
  • The Princess and the Frog: During "Friends On the Other Side", Dr. Facilier's shadow transforms in ways that make it clear that he does not have the best interests of his clients at heart, including kicking the shadow of one of them and briefly turning into a rattlesnake.
  • Puella Magi Madoka Magica The Movie: Rebellion uses this at one point. For just the briefest moment in the opening credits, Homura's shadow morphs into a winged figure, hinting at her eventual transformation into a God of Evil.
  • In Puss in Boots: The Last Wish Wolf's shadow looks normal in shape, but the way it crawls under a closed door certainly doesn't.
  • In The Secret of Kells, when Pangur Ban is in spirit-form as she's being sent by Aisling to free Brendan, you can see her casting the shadow of a cat. In another scene, where Abbot Cellach and Brother Aiden are ostensibly having a civil discussion about the Book of Iona, the shadows show Cellach looming over Aiden, trying to take the book away.
    • Cartoon Saloon seems to like this one. In Song of the Sea, as Saoirse ascends the lighthouse stairs with the seashell, her shadow is that of her selkie form.

    Films — Live-Action 
  • In 300, when the Spartans arrive at the destroyed village they are met by a young boy who tells them of the Persian attackers before dying. When he first approaches them, before he is close enough to be clearly visible, his shadow's shape vaguely resembles that of a Persian Immortal.
  • In the opening scenes of Bram Stoker's Dracula Count Dracula's shadow does not mimic his movements, indicating that there's something odd about him.
  • Parodied in Dracula: Dead and Loving It, where the Count's shadow likes to act on its own, including humping Mina's shadow. At the beginning, Dracula falls down the stairs. He gets up as if nothing has happened and walks upstairs. His shadow then gets up and limps upstairs, while clutching its back.
  • In The Faculty around the end of the film, the Hive Queen tries to appeal to Casey, using the Marybeth disguise she's been using for the whole film. The shadow in the room, however, is a tentacled mass that keeps moving and nearly covers it, all coming from a average-sized teenager.
  • In Ghost Rider (2007), the scene when Johnny is signing the contract that will enable Mephisto to transform him into the Ghost Rider features a couple lightning flashes that illuminate Mephisto's shadow and offer a brief glimpse at an outline of his true form, which vaguely resembles the appearance of his comic counterpart and is clearly far from human.
  • In Godzilla vs. Gigan, somehow, the disguised aliens' shadows are of their true roach forms. No explanation is given how this is possible, considering their disguises are bodysuits and not a glamour.
  • A non-evil example; the poster for Saving Mr. Banks features Walt Disney and P.L. Travers, with their shadows being Mickey Mouse and Mary Poppins respectively.
  • In The Shadow, the Trope Namer can cloud men's minds so that they can't see him, but he can't make his shadow invisible, hence his name. This gets him shot on two occasions. He eventually compensates by making people think that they see his shadow in multiple places at the same time.
  • Star Wars:
    • The teaser poster for The Phantom Menace shows the child Anakin Skywalker casting Darth Vader's shadow, as literal Foreshadowing.
    • In Attack of the Clones, in a scene between Anakin and Padmé on Tatooine, Anakin's shadow on the wall of a hut looks remarkably like the helmeted Darth Vader. The commentary states that the shadow wasn't faked with CGI, although presumably it was deliberate.
  • Wadatuzin from Ultra Q The Movie: Legend of the Stars, an alien disguised as a human, have her shadow revealing her alien silhouette every now and then.
  • The poster of Warlock (1989) has the good-looking villain casting a shadow showing him for what he really is: a being of pure evil.
  • The poster/home release case for What About Bob? depicts Leo and Bob shaking hands - and their cartoony shadows show Leo furiously throttling an obnoxious Bob.

  • In the fourth book of The Bartimaeus Trilogy, Khaba's shadow not matching the sun, or indeed Khaba's movements, gives Bartimaeus the hint there may be more at work than meets the eye.
  • According to Jorge Luis Borges' Book of Imaginary Beings, the peryton (which also ended up in Dungeons & Dragons) is a mythological monster said to come from Atlantis that resembles a stag with the wings and hindparts of an eagle, but casts the shadow of a man.
  • In the Commonweal books Halt's rosebush shadow gives you an impression of the terrible multi-limbed thing that she is, rather than the kindly grandmother she presents as.
  • The Dark is Rising: It's been stated that "The Dark Casts no Shadow".
  • A dragon in human form in Dragonlance Chronicles reveals her true identity by pointing out the shape of her shadow.
  • The Dresden Files: Cat Sith is noted as having a disproportionately large shadow, indicating how much more powerful he is than the other Malks (who are plenty dangerous enough themselves). However, unlike Nicodemus, there is no indication that Sith has a full-blown Living Shadow.
  • In I Capture the Castle, when the family first meets Simon, Cassandra notes that from the angle where she stands, his shadow looks like a devil. She references this incident later when she has misgivings about him.
  • In James Branch Cabell‘s Jurgen, the judgmental supernatural being Sereda attaches her own shadow to the title character in place of his own, to keep an eye on his behavior. However, Jurgen spots this and, before doing anything which Sereda would consider immoral, carefully puts out all the lights, so there is no shadow around to take notes.
  • In The Machineries of Empire, the people who belong to factions have shadows in shape of their signifiers, which are personality-based variations on the faction's Animal Motif - for example, Jedao's shadow is shaped like a nine-tailed fox, and Cheris' is an ashhawk with folded wings.
  • In J. R. R. Tolkien's Middle Earth books, The One Ring makes its wearer invisible, but in bright light their shadow can still be seen. That's how the goblins almost recapture Bilbo in The Hobbit.
  • In A. Lee Martinez's Monster, many of the cats at Lotus's house have shadows that are not feline. That's because they're other creatures she's transformed into cats.
  • The Perfect Run:
    • The Rabbit Plushie's shadow is the shape of a monster with tentacles, appendages, and geometry-defying comprehension.
    • Gemini's shadow doesn't match her body. This is because her body is an illusion. The Psycho is her shadow, and can attack others through their shadows.
  • There is a short story titled The Shadow and the Flash which tells of two rival scientists who both invent invisibility simultaneously by different means, each of which still gives off a subtle hint as to the user's location. One of them, the titular "shadow", invents a paint so black that anything it covers doesn't even register visually... but still casts a shadow.
  • Aimians (and, apparently Elsecaller Radiants at times) in The Stormlight Archive cast shadows the wrong way around (towards light instead of away from it). In the case of the Elsecallers this is likely due to their spren, which looks like a Living Shadow, and their connection with Shadesmar since in Shadesmar all shadows point in the wrong direction.
  • In the Stravaganza series, if you are in a world that is not your own, you will be marked by a lack of shadow. If you see your shadow has returned, your sleeping body in the other world is dead.
  • In David Eddings' The Tamuli, the Delphae — AKA The Shining Ones — are capable of using their mastery of light to make themselves perfectly invisible. It's only one of several invisibility-techniques in that world (others involve messing with minds and messing with time), and like all of them, it has a drawback — their shadows are still visible, and can be spotted. It never actually comes up anywhere outside of an initial warning, though. Despite the Delphaic companion of the main cast doing lots of invisible scouting, nobody ever notices her shadow.
  • An especially creepy case appears in Dean Koontz's Ticktock. There is one scene where Tommy is running from the monster, and when they pass under a street light, he sees that the creature is casting three distinctly different human shadows. This is creepy enough until you realize that those are the shadows of the three men it just ate.
  • In The Wheel of Time, Rand, Mat and Perrin are approached by a man named Mordeth who lead them to a treasure trove he's discovered. After his name fails to set alarm bells ringing, it eventually dawns on Rand that something's amiss when he notices that Mordeth casts no shadow.

    Live-Action TV 

    Myths & Religion 
  • Kitsune in Japanese Mythology and folklore retain their fox-shaped shadows even while in human form. Seen here.

    Print Media 
  • MAD had a series of features titled "The Shadow Knows" depicting people in a normal setting, while the shadows cast on the wall depict what they (or at least one or more of the people shown) really want to do in that situation, such as beating the crap out of their domineering boss.
    • There was also a old issue that depicted various B-list superheroes who were parodies of existing ones, one of whom was a Shadow-parody whose only ability was to cloud his own mind.
  • The famous 1893 Puck cartoon "Looking Backward" shows five well-dressed gentlemen from The Gilded Age trying to stop a poor immigrant from disembarking his ship, while their shadows show that they were once poor immigrants themselves.

  • The Trope Namer is of course The Shadow, who happens to be a good example, as his Shadow is still visible when he clouds the minds of his enemies to hide from their sight. In one instance of the pulps, a particularly observant criminal is able to discover that Lamont Cranston is The Shadow by observing his shadow on the floor and noticing the resemblance to the one he had seen earlier while pursuing The Shadow (even though Cranston is dressed normally). Often ignored in the radio series, though it was prominent in the movie.

    Tabletop Games 
  • This is used in the artwork for the Kitsune in Call of Cthulhu: Secrets of Japan. Its visible form is a humanoid fox, the shadow... not so much.
  • While not "shapeshifting" per se, one of the rules of the Mask in Changeling: The Lost is that your shadow always retains features of how you were changed in Arcadia. If you're a mountain goat aspected Beast, your shadow may have horns; if you're an earth-like Elemental, then your shadow may be craggy
  • In Dungeons & Dragons, most people have trouble differentiating shadowcasters from more conventional wizards or sorcerers, but there's one reliable, if subtle, tell - when a shadowcaster is using one of their mysteries, their shadow will be making different gestures than they are.
  • In Hc Svnt Dracones the Followed are completely normal Vectors, whose parents both had Reality Warping implants, save that they have shadows that look like small Eldritch Abominations. Needless to say, it freaks other people out and a lot of corporate R&D departments would like to get their hands on them. Especially since reality warping in their proximity agitates the shadow and the Followed themselves can dampen the damage.
  • The artwork for the Mask cards from Malifaux sometimes have this. Weaker Mask cards depict an ordinary boy with a creepy-looking but still child-like shadow behind him. Stronger Mask cards show the same child now with a demon-like shadow.

  • There's a play where a soldier receives a beautiful photograph of his wife and child smiling and waving to him. All he can focus on is the shadow of the photographer on the ground, wondering who he is.


    Video Games 


  • The logo for indie games company Darkling Room depicts a man's silhouette standing in a doorway, with his shadow cast into the room the door opens into. The shadow, unlike the man, wears a hat: a discrepancy hinting at the creepy/uncanny forces that protagonists of the company's adventure games pursue and are pursued by.


  • In Bayonetta, the title character's shadow is that of the butterfly demon she is in contract with for the double jump ability. This is also present in her appearance in the Wii U version of Super Smash Bros. for Nintendo 3DS and Wii U.
  • Cuphead has a scene where Cuphead and Mugman are pleading with the Devil, who's taunting them with the Throat-Slitting Gesture. His shadow, however, is shown to have already decapitated them.
  • Simply for depiction's sake, Jon Talbain from Darkstalkers provides the trope picture. Nothing has actually been shown yet of his shadow being that of his true werewolf form.
  • In Devil May Cry and Devil May Cry 3: Dante's Awakening, you can unlock an alternate costume for Dante which makes him resemble his dad Sparda. Although Sparda looks like an ordinary handsome human with a fashionable outfit, the shadow he casts is always shaped like his demon form.
  • In his ending cutscene from the Special Edition of Devil May Cry 4, Vergil walks away from Fortuna in his hooded cloak, but the shadow he casts on the ground is shaped like the specter summoned by Nero's Devil Trigger.
  • Dusty Raging Fist have chameleon-men enemies who, in typical Hollywood Chameleon style, can turn invisible, clothing and weapons and all, and attempt ambushing you while cloaked. However their shadows on the floor are still visible, allowing you to avoid or counterattack.
  • In The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim, as part of the quest "The Black Star" you explore the lair of a dark wizard who did some twisted experiments involving soul gems. You find his skeleton slumped on a throne, but the shadow cast on the wall behind is of a flesh-and-blood man, flanked by a pair of kneeling attendants...
  • In one of the artworks for Garou: Mark of the Wolves, the protagonist Rock Howard casts a shadow of Geese, his father and the antagonist of the first game.
  • In The Legend of Zelda: Twilight Princess, Midna can be seen still on Wolf!Link's back in his shadow, even when she's not there.
    • Also in The Legend of Zelda: A Link to the Past, when Link uses the Invisibility Cloak, his shadow is still visible.
    • And then there's the Aganihm lookalike that appeared as a miniboss in The Legend of Zelda: Oracle of Seasons. Three of him appeared at once, but when you lit the torches in the middle of the room only one cast a shadow, and guess which the only vulnerable one was? The attacks from the fakes still hurt though...
    • Perhaps played with in the final boss of The Legend of Zelda: Link's Awakening. The enemy appears only as a shadow, which imitates all the things you'd expect Link to be scared of (several weak enemies, Agahnim, Ganon, and eventually this weird eyeball spiky wrecking thingy)
  • In the DLC for Little Nightmares, we see a bunch of the small Nomes who infest the ship huddled around a fire. The shadows they cast are of human children, foreshadowing that they are in fact children who've been transformed.
  • In Lucius, whenever you get visited by Lucifer, he appears like a cruelly smiling man in a throne-like easy chair. Point your flashlight at him, and his shadow has horns.
  • In Ōkami, in order to free a little sparrow from her cage, you must drag an old lady into the light coming out from a hole in the ceiling to reveal her (and her "husband's") true form, evil crow tengu. The light is moonlight. Mrs. Cutter (the disguised old lady) says their kind gets too excited at the time of full moon to go out without exposing themselves.
  • Pokémon:
    • In Pokémon Ruby and Sapphire, you sometimes bump into invisible obstacles in your path. Looking at their reflection in the water over a bridge reveals them to be none less than Kecleon.
    • In the spinoff Pokemon Ranger games, some Pokemon create illusions to make themselves difficult to capture. These illusions can be discerned by checking their shadow.
  • In The Essence Of SaGa Frontier, there's a picture of Red casting a shadow of Alkaiser, with the words "Chang for justice!" beneath it.
  • Shin Megami Tensei:
    • In Shin Megami Tensei III: Nocturne, the boss Ongyo-ki performs a Doppelgänger Spin, creating three shadow clones, and hits you hard whenever you attack one of them. How do you beat him? If you fight him during a full moon, only the real one casts a shadow.
    • Similarly, in Devil Survivor, when you fight Loki in Yuzu's route, he attacks you with several doppelgangers, but only the real Loki has a shadow.
  • Not present in the official Touhou Project series of games, where all manner of monstrous creatures are always depicted as cute little girls, but present in the official Forbidden Scrollery manga: Nitori has her shadow shift to that of a mythological, monstrous kappa when she's reassuring Reimu that the surrounding kappa mean no harm to humans "that mean no harm to us."

    Web Animation 

  • Alien Hand Syndrome: The title page for Chapter 2 shows the shy Mina and assertive Erin strolling down a path with their shadows ahead of them. Erin's shadow is normal, but Mina's is in the shape of a demon. A couple of strips later Mina turns evil and pushes a total stranger under a train. Turns out it's just a disturbing Daydream Surprise. This may have something to do with the mysterious stone that Mina had earlier touched and broken.
  • Charby the Vampirate: When Zeno calms down way too quickly after a freak out and tries to slip past Charby he knocks him out after seeing how little Zeno's shadow currently matches his body, a good thing since that shadow is evidence that Zeno has been possessed by the cruel "Bear Witch". It's not the last time his shadow gives this away.
  • The titular Erma's grandfather looks like a hunchbacked, frail, even kindly old man. His shadow, though, is that of a jagged Tengu warrior, and can stretch for miles. There is a reason he is both The Dreaded and ruler to the Yōkai, and it is not because he is weak.
  • The Fox Sister: In a few scenes where the Kumiho is shown in human form her shadow reveals her true shape.
  • Rusty and Co.: The Viscount, the new villain for Level 8, has a shadow that is slightly off with his silhouette, looking like he's carrying something horned with a pointy tail on his shoulders. Most likely, an invisible imp or some similar familiar creature. He's even making cryptic asides about it.
    Viscount: One must hear out the devil on one's shoulder, mm?
  • Sleepless Domain: A variation on this occurs on the cover of Chapter 10, though it's more symbolic than literal. The page prominently features the magical girl Heartful Punch in the foreground, while the shadow of a different girl holding a spear can be seen against the background. This girl turns out to be Heartful Punch's mother, the former magical girl Moonlight Spear, whom this chapter reveals was killed in a monster attack years ago and transferred her power as a magical girl to her daughter.
  • Tales of the Questor: The Animated Armor detects unchanged werewolves by their shadows.
  • Unknown Lands: Inara's black wings are not visible to the human eye, but they can occasionally be seen as part of her shadow. Elves on the other hand have no trouble seeing her wings and consider them and the type of magic she's tied to by birth a visual indicator that she's a monster.
  • Zebra Girl: In the 13 September 2014 strip, Wally's shadow in a panel reflects his werewolf form while he is in human form. It also highlights his ferocious nature and his wish to get rid of Sandra once and for all.

    Web Original 
  • Nobody Here: In "Dodo", Jogchem thinks about reincarnating as the titular animal, which is reinforced by the visuals showing a dodo with Jogchem's shadow.
  • SCP Foundation, SCP-1058 ("The Semivisible Man"). Although SCP-1058 is completely invisible, his shadow can still be seen when there's light in the area.

    Western Animation 
  • The Avengers: Earth's Mightiest Heroes once has Captain America cast a shadow resembling a giant Skrull.
  • Part of The Reveal in the Batman: The Animated Series episode "Almost Got 'Im". For much of the episode's present time Batman has been at a poker table with Two-Face, Penguin, Poison Ivy, and Joker disguised as Killer Croc. When Batman finally gets the information on where Joker has taken Catwoman, he drops his fake voice and throws Joker into another table, knocking the light. As it swings away, Croc's silhouette reveals his Bat-cowl with distinctive ears. In the commentary, the animators admit it makes no sense, but it's such a great visual they kept it in the episode.
  • In the Ben 10 episode "Ghostfreaked Out", Ben's shadow appears as Ghostfreak for a second, which makes Ben do a Double Take. This is one of the final clues that Ghostfreak is a separate entity from Ben and has been trapped in the Omnitrix this whole time.
  • In Da Boom Crew one of the Big Bad's lackeys is a shape-shifter that looks any being but she has a shadow that looks like her normal form and it is constantly dancing and making odd gestures. The strange thing is this is not how the heroes recognize her, they only Spot the Imposter because she tried to mimic a person that spoke everything as an Expospeak Gag.
  • The Fairly Oddparents: The title card for the episode, "So Totally Spaced Out" depicts a Gigglepie, the episode's cute little antagonist, but in the background, you see a frightening shadow, indicating that this creature is secretly evil.
  • Hazbin Hotel:
    • Along with apparently being capable of moving, Alastor's shadow looks like a far more twisted and demonic shadowy silhouette of himself with noticeably larger antlers.
    • When Angel Dust catapults one of the Egg Bois into the air in the pilot, the shadow he casts on the street shows all six of his arms.
    • When Adam reveals the truth about Vaggie's past, their shadow shifts accordingly, reflecting how they looked before losing their wings.
  • The Legend of Vox Machina: After Vox Machina arrives in Whitestone, Percy explains that he is on a quest for vengeance against the people who murdered his family, and shows his friends that the pepperbox pistol he invented during his exile has his kill list inscribed on the barrel. Scanlan points out that there are only five names while the barrel is six-sided, and asks who the final bullet is for. Percy doesn't answer, but the shadow behind him shows him pointing the pepperbox at his own head.
  • My Little Pony: Pony Life has the true form of Hawthorne the Third appear as its shadow on the title card of "Terrorarium".
  • The Owl House: In "Thanks to Them", as Luz and Hunter leave the shack, Hunter's shadow suddenly grows a pair of antlers, indicating that Belos has entered his body and is starting to take over.
  • The Real Ghostbusters: In the episode "Mrs. Rogers' Neigbhborhood", after Peter is possessed by the demon Wat, it's Wat's shadow that is cast as Peter walks into the containment room.
  • The Villain Molecu-Lar in SilverHawks could take any form, but was often given away because his shadow was always of his true form.
  • Used at least once Todd McFarlane's Spawn; in the second episode, the fat little midget Clown casts the lanky, eerie shadow of the Violator, his true form.
  • The Tom and Jerry cartoon "The Invisible Mouse" had Tom able to spot an invisible Jerry this way.
  • One of the stock magical powers in W.I.T.C.H. is an illusion spell called Glamour that can alter one's appearance but not their shadow. This is used to reveal that the Oracle demanding the return of the Heart of Candracar in I is for Illusion is a disguised Nerissa.


Bruce Wayne's Shadow

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5 (24 votes)

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Main / TheShadowKnows

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