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Radio / The Shadow

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"Who knows what evil lurks in the hearts of men? The Shadow knows!"

The Shadow began in 1930 as the host/narrator of a Radio Drama anthology series, introducing stories adapted from the Street & Smith Pulp Magazine Detective Story Magazine. Announcer Frank Readick buried himself in the role, chilling the airwaves with his haunting laughter. Intrigued, magazine buyers began asking for "that Shadow magazine." Not ones to pass up a profit opportunity, Street & Smith commissioned magician turned writer Walter Gibson to create the first story for their new magazine starring and named for the mysterious Shadow.

First published in April 1931, and continuing for 325 novels, The Shadow Magazine was hugely influential in the creation of other pulp heroes, and eventually the Comic Book superheroes. The pulp Shadow, although established as the same person as the radio announcer in the first issue, was a Chessmaster who used a small army of agents and informants to manipulate both criminals and the police, until the final confrontation, when he would take a direct hand.


This popularity led to a Shadow radio series in 1937, initially starring Orson Welles. The stories were greatly altered to fit the format of a half-hour radio drama. Lamont Cranston, one of the Shadow's many aliases, was made his Secret Identity. The army of agents was replaced with "constant companion" Margo Lane. And most famously, the Shadow was not merely a Master of Disguise who was good at hiding in the dark, but could actually become invisible by clouding people's minds!

The radio series was a hit, lasting for decades with several changes of lead actor. The Shadow has also had several Comic Book series, ranging in quality from excellent to terrible, including one from Dynamite Comics, a movie serial, a low-budget 1950s feature,and a 1994 feature film. He has even crossed over with Batman a few times, with the Caped Crusader idolizing him!


Not to be confused with the Fairy Tale "The Shadow" by Hans Christian Andersen.

This work provides examples of:

  • Accomplice by Inaction: In Dynamite #23, the Shadow calls out the White Tiger for being so focused on his own survival that he turns a blind eye to the suffering of others.
  • Anti-Hero
    • The Shadow of the radio series is a Lighter and Softer version of this, at least during Orson Welles' tenure. He was much more moral overall and never directly killed anyone, but still often manipulated villains into killing each other or themselves. Once Welles left the role, however, later actors played him as a straight-up hero.
    • The Shadow of the Dynamite Comics (written by Garth Ennis, of course) is recast as a full-blown Sociopathic Hero; World War I spy Kent Allard floated into Shanghai one day and used his skills to become an opium kingpin, only to be abducted by Buddhist monks who specialized in turning the foulest of villains into forces for justice; he then killed every ranked criminal in the city and used their resources to re-invent himself in New York as Rich Idiot With No Day Job Lamont Cranston. This version of the Shadow is an Ax-Crazy Laughing Mad psychopath who kills for the sheer joy of it, and makes no pretense of heroism; by killing evil-doers he at least has the pretense that Smiting Evil Feels Good. Hell, his motivation throughout "The Fire of Creation"(which takes place in Japanese-occupied China)is that he knows that the MacGuffin (weapons-grade uranium) will be used to create nuclear bombs, resulting in the Atomic Bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki. He just likes to point out that they really have it coming for the Rape of Nanking.
      The Shadow: Soldiers of Nippon! Cowards! Butchers! Rapists! Desecrators of China! I know you scum of old, I know what evil lurks within your craven hearts! You slaughter peasants and their women, and you call yourselves men?! You hoist infants high on bayonets, and you call yourself soldiers?! You rabble! You motherless pigs! Come try your steel on me! Heh. Heh, heh, heh... Heh heh ha ha ha ha ha...! Ha! Ha! Ha ha ha ha! [pissed-off soldiers then charge right at his "clouded" image — into a minefield — and are blown to paste] HAHAHAHAHAHAA HAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA!
  • Animal Assassin: Appears in "Garden of Death"; not surprising since it was a staple of the pulps.
  • Arbitrary Skepticism:
    • In Dynamite #24 and #25, despite his own mystic powers, the Shadow is convinced there's a rational explanation for the Zombie Apocalypse. He's right.
    • In "The Shadow over Innsmouth", the Shadow initially expresses disbelief about fish-men and ancient gods. Margo reminds him that they've seen strange things before.
    • Justified in the radio show, because he considers his powers entirely scientific and easily reproducible by anyone willing to put in the effort, so he looked at the supernatural with a jaded eye.
  • Badass Boast: In Garth Ennis's run on the comics, the eponymous character gives a retort to Margo Lane's concern
    Margo: But there could be an army waiting for you...!
    The Shadow: Then God have mercy on their souls.
  • Badass in Distress:
    • The Shadow himself, briefly, in The Romanoff Jewels. Also briefly in Green Eyes.
    • Surprisingly, this happened not infrequently in his pulp outings.
    • A lot of early episodes of the radio show, too, most dramatically in "The Society of the Living Dead", where he was trapped in a mausoleum quickly filling up with water, with only a dead man and a nearly-dead man for company. Only the timely arrival of the police saved him.
  • Bait-and-Switch Gunshot: Standard practice in the radio drama, as you never know who's been shot until the survivor actually speaks up.
  • Beard of Barbarism: Buffalo Wong from Garth Ennis's run on the comics has a big, messy Beard of Evil.
  • Been There, Shaped History: The Shadow sometimes crosses paths with historical events and figures. For example, the MacGuffin of the Dynamite arc "The Fire of Creation" is uranium-235 that gets used in the atomic bombs dropped on Japan.
  • Beneath Suspicion:
    • The true identity of the Light from that arc of the Dynamite run? A hospital nurse, who Margo has a close encounter with.
    • The killer in Dynamite #21 is an elderly washerwoman who no one would look at twice.
  • Bizarro Episode: "Out Of This World", which only survives in the form of a recording of the Australian broadcast, features actual extra-terrestrials as the villains.
  • Cacophony Cover Up: In Gangdom's Doom, gangsters set up a fake riveting crew on a skyscraper under construction to cover up the sound of machine guns being fired at street level.
  • Canon Immigrant: Margo Lane, created for the radio series, eventually showed up in the pulp stories as well.
  • Catchphrase:
    • "Who knows what evil lurks in the hearts of men? The Shadow knows!"
    • "The weed of crime bears bitter fruit. Crime does not pay. The Shadow knows!"
    • Some of his earliest episodes instead ended with, "As ye sow evil, so shall ye reap evil. Crime does not pay. The Shadow knows!"
    • In DC's Neil\Kaluta comics he also had "The Shadow never fails!"
  • Cheap Costume: In The Shadow: Year One from Dynamite Comics, Lamont Cranston is attending a party when he sees Margo Lane being abducted by gangsters who plan to throw her off the roof. Not having his Shadow accoutrements with him, he is forced to improvise a mask out of his dress scarf, and rely upon his mind tricks to do the rest.
  • Coat, Hat, Mask: One of the earlier examples of this trope.
  • Crossover: The Shadow Over Innsmouth is... a crossover with The Shadow Over Innsmouth.
  • The Cowl: The Shadow represents a darker take on hero work and works, well, in the shadows.
  • Dangerously Close Shave: In The Shadow One-Shot 2014: Agents of the Shadow from Dynamite Comics, Cliff and Clyde interrogate a gangster by replacing his barber while he is getting a shave. Cliff holds the razor against his throat while commenting how he has never done this before till the gangster tells them what they want to know.
  • Dark Is Not Evil: Author Walter B. Gibson designed him to be a hero with villainous characteristics.
  • Death Dealer: In The Shadow #0 from Dynamite, the Shadow takes on a group of stage magicians. One of them attacks the Shadow by flinging razor edged playing cards at him.
  • Dirty Communists: Mostly averted in the novel The Romanoff Jewels, as one group of villains (the ones that the Shadow was originally chasing) were actually Czarist. The other villains, while Bolshevik, are acting not so much on political principles as much as good, old-fashioned ass-covering (the Bolshevik baddie was a man charged with guarding the titular jewels, and wants them back solely to avoid the... unpleasant... results of failure, and is not picky about who he has to kill or torture to get them). Their ruthlessness, however, would put them in this camp, if Communism had anything substantially to do with the plot.
  • Disney Death: In the radio airing of "The Blind Beggar Dies," The Shadow tricks Spike Grogan and Marty Nelson into thinking that they kill him so he could avoid his actual death. It's not the only time.
  • Disney Villain Death:
    • Used in DC's Neil\Kaluta and Jones\Barreto comics.
    • The Voodoo Master has one, retroactively, in his first appearance. He was supposed to die, but Gibson, the editors, and more importantly, the readers loved Dr. Rodil Mocquino so much that Gibson retconned his death just so he could face off against the Shadow again.
    • This is the fate of the Light.
  • Doomy Dooms of Doom: Over a dozen of the pulps had "doom" in the title. "Bells of Doom", "The Golden Doom", "Room of Doom"...
  • Dueling Messiahs: The Shadow vs The Light. Both think they are fighting the good fight, but they have their differences: The Shadow knows what evil lurks in the hearts of men and judges them not by their thoughts or desires but only when they put that evil into action. The Light seeks to purge all who have tainted souls, even if they are innocent of actual wrongdoing.
  • Electronic Telepathy: In the radio show, Lamont frequently instructs Margo to keep "the shortwave radio" tuned to a specific frequency—presumably this is his telepathic "distress beacon."
  • Even Evil Has Standards: Rare due to the Black-and-White Morality of the radio series, but it happened a few times.
    • In "The Ghost Wore A Silver Slipper", Li Won surrenders to the Shadow and confesses to selling narcotics and murdering a young woman. When the Shadow reveals that Li Won didn't actually kill the woman, her own father did, Li Won reacts with disgust at the thought of killing one's own child.
    • "The Leopard Strikes" features a leopard-worshipping cult who wear highly-realistic animal costumes (to the extent that most people mistake them for actual leopards) and apparently drug and kidnap women to use as "offerings" in their ceremonies, but they are not killers. (It's not clear what they do to the women in their ceremony) They're horrified to learn that the episode's villain is one of their members who has been using the costume (and its functional claws) to go on a murder spree.
  • Evil Counterpart: "Revenge of the Shadow" featured a man who had learned the same trick of hypnotic invisibility, now trying to pass himself off as the real Shadow.
  • Evil Laugh: He may have been on the side of the angels, but the Shadow's laugh was creepy as all hell.
  • Femme Fatalons: In The Shadow: The Death of Margo Lane from Dynamite Comics, the Red Empress has razor-edged decorative nail sheaths that she uses as her primary weapon. When she attempts to slit Margo's throat, the Shadow shoots her in the hand; destroying most of her hand.
  • Foreign Remake: During the 1940s original radio scripts were sold to broadcasters in Australia and Brazil so that the series could be recreated locally (and, in the case of the Brazilian version, in Portuguese). Some of the episodes of the US series that have been lost over the years survive through preserved recordings of the Aussie remakes.
  • Genre Roulette: The pulps could have The Shadow in one story going after gangsters, the next fighting cackling mad scientists, then quasi-mystical descendants of Genghis Khan. It was that sort of title.
  • Genre Shift: Well, more like sub-genre shift. The radio series always held fast to its Detective Drama roots and a degree of supernatural styling in the form of the Shadow's powers, the genre of the cases he would explore each episode tended to change with what was popular at the time. Early episodes focused on standard crime drama adversaries like mobsters, arsonists, murderers, and thieves. Then there was a shift to more Science Fiction inspired cases with robots and fantastic inventions. This gave way to more horror themed enemies and cases with zombies and werewolves, and eventually Lovecraftian horror. Finally as the series came to a close in the 50s it wrapped all the way back around to standard big city crime again, with most of the supernatural elements (the Shadow's powers aside) having fallen out of favor.
  • Good Is Not Nice: Although completely good, the pulp Shadow frightens his own agents and demands unquestioning obedience. The effect of this on the agents is explored in the DC comic series.
  • Gory Discretion Shot: In issue #4 of Garth Ennis's run on the comics, the Shadow and co. encounter a village that has been massacred by the Japanese. There are plenty of male corpses, but the females... All we get to see are the horrified reactions of two characters.
  • "Groundhog Day" Loop: The radio episode The Man Who Murdered Time features this. The villain has created a time loop of New Year's Eve, and only Margo and Lamont Cranston notice.
  • Guns Akimbo: The pulp Shadow's weapons of choice were twin Colt 1911s.
  • He Knows Too Much:
    • In Dynamite #8, a seemingly ordinary couple is killed. Their deaths are widely dismissed as just another murder, but the Shadow knows they chanced on something that the murderers were trying to hide.
    • In Dynamite's the Light arc, the first victim of that murderer doesn't match the profile of the subsequent victims. After some investigation, the Shadow concludes that he must have known something about the Light that she didn't want to get out.
  • Horrifying the Horror: Despite the Shadow's Terror Hero ways, in Dynamite's Special #1 he has a disturbed look when he learns just what his old comrade has been up to.
  • Hypocrite: There are other examples, but a particularly egregious one is an episode called "The Silent Avenger" in which Lamont goes on and on about how society is so evil for creating the main villain of the story, a shellshocked sniper, for it teaches men to "take life in time of war and respect it in time of peace". This from a man who cackles evilly after he gets half his Rogues' Gallery to kill themselves and who doesn't really care if a poor blind kid who was being manipulated by an evil hunchback blows his own brains out rather than get arrested because "law and order must prevail". You want to feel free to make a comment on "respecting life"? Stop tricking your enemies into blowing their own brains out!
  • Inspector Lestrade: At his absolute worst, Commissioner Weston tended to fall into this category with his penchant to loudly declare that a case was essentially closed based on his immediate gut reaction and supposed "obvious" explanation. Invariably these were always totally incorrect and it would fall to The Shadow to uncover the real truth.
  • I Should Write a Book About This: The final page of "The Shadow over Innsmouth" has H. P. Lovecraft make a comment:
    Lovecraft: A shadow? In Innsmouth? I like that.
  • Invisibility: The Shadow's primary superpower. Nominally, it was just a side effect of his great skill at hypnotism- he was just "clouding men's minds" so they wouldn't notice him, and he could use hypnosis for other things, too. But some adaptations (particularly the later seasons of the radio series) prefer to have him only use the invisibility. In the pulps, he had no powers at all, merely very high skill at stealth and disguise.
  • Joker Immunity:
    • Completely averted. Whether he kills them directly (the pulps) or tricked them into killing themselves (radio show), the Shadow never lets his enemies live. If the villain survives to the end of the story, he's coming back for a sequel in which he will be killed.
    • Played straight at least for Rodil Moquino, the Voodoo Master. In two of his three clashes with The Shadow, he seemingly dies, but is back for another round. The Shadow makes sure he's dead the third time.
    • The Japanese agent in "The Fire of Creation" appears to escape, leaving the Shadow with the load of worthless rocks (actually uranium) before World War II breaks out. The comic's epilogue shows him enjoying life in Hiroshima a few years later, then there's a really bright light in the sky...
  • Karmic Death: Happened sometimes in the pulps, but almost constantly in the radio show, due to broadcasting standards meaning the Shadow couldn't be quite so bloodthirsty. There were exceptions, like him shooting the villain outright in "The Leopard Strikes", though it could be argued that was in self-defense.
  • Leaning on the Fourth Wall: In Dynamite's the Shadow #6, the Shadow remarks that a Death Ray is "sort of thing you'd read in some dime store magazine".
  • Luckily, My Powers Will Protect Me: Once an Episode, the radio Shadow will remind someone that they cannot see him, because he's clouding their mind.
  • Master of Disguise: The pulp Shadow had several identities, including the one usually considered his alter ego, Lamont Cranston. Cranston was a real person, and the Shadow could fool people who knew Lamont, with something like Latex Perfection.
  • Meaningful Name:
    • Ms. Jean Harsh is a harsh criminal. No points for subtlety.
    • In The Romanoff Jewels, Frederick Froman is one. He picked the name "Frederick O. Froman", due to "F.O. Froman" being a Significant Anagram / Sdrawkcab Name for "Romanoff" — he was actually a scion of the Imperial family.
  • Mighty Whitey:
    • The radio Shadow learned his ability to cloud men's minds "years ago, in the Orient," a secret his teacher did not see fit to teach the local students.
    • Not even the teacher's own niece, who appeared in the early episode "The Temple Bells of Nehban". She did learn some other powers (the titular "Temple Bells", which could dispel the Shadow's invisibility, though it took time for her to fully manifest them).
    • The pulps Shadow had something similar: The Shadow had deliberately lost himself in the jungles of South America long before becoming The Shadow, where he ended up being the "white god" for a native tribe, the Xinca. He learned the language, and eventually brought two Xinca back with him as servants once he resumed his true identity of Kent Allard.
      • The show "The White God" from the 1937 Goodrich summer season is inspired from this story.
  • Mook Horror Show: Mooks are often scared witless because some invisible man is beating them up.
  • Multilayer Façade: The radio Shadow had several of these, Lamont Cranston being the most famous.
    • The Pulp Shadow had a number of these as well: Cranston, Isaac Twombley, Henry Arnaud, Fritz the janitor at NYPD headquarters, "Monk" Thurman... the pulp Shadow was such a Master of Disguise that he could pass for anyone within reason.
  • Mutual Disadvantage: In #7 of the Dynamite comics, the Shadow and Red Raja, having trained under the same old masters, No-Sell each other's supernatural powers. They end up settling things in a Sword Fight.
  • Not My Driver: In The Shadow #100 from Dynamite, a wealthy gambler leaving his club with his poker winnings discovers that his driver is not really his driver when his car turns into a deserted alley. A few moments later, he is murdered and robbed.
  • Perception Filter: In the radio series. Notably, the Shadow achieved this by "clouding men's minds," and so did not have to worry about many of the usual problems with this power. Although he did have to avoid cameras, and sometimes more exotic methods of exposing him were used.
  • Police Are Useless:
    • The police in the Shadow radio dramas are almost hilariously bad at their jobs when they're not being racist Irish stereotypes or dirty cops. Commissioner Weston, the head honcho, almost never listens to Lamont and Margo's ideas even when it's obvious that Lamont's been right in his "cuckoo theories" time and time again. He never figures out the "how" or "why" of the crimes unless Lamont indirectly or directly helps him, and he's always arresting the wrong people until the very end of the story. In fact, without the Shadow, Weston probably couldn't catch anyone.
    • Somewhat averted in the pulps, where the police, while they can't hold a candle to the Shadow, are usually at least minimally competent (especially Joe Cardona), and Weston, though often befuddled, at least realizes and appreciates when Cranston hands him a good idea.
  • Proto-Superhero:
    • One of the most influential of the era, to such an extent that both Batman's creator and Batman himself (in an in-Verse crossover story) acknowledge The Shadow as their inspiration.
    • Though there was a weird period in the 1960s where the Shadow was presented as a full-on superhero, cape, mask, pirate boots, and all.
  • Psychic Powers:
    • The Shadow, in addition to clouding men's minds, sometimes demonstrated telepathy and an ability to detect the presence of danger. This was downplayed or outright eliminated in later seasons.
    • The Orson Welles version of the character was particularly prone to New Powers as the Plot Demands.
  • Punch-Clock Hero: Harry Vincent starts out as one in the pulps — the entire reason he joins on with The Shadow as an agent was out of gratitude for The Shadow saving him from suicide, as well as being set up in a cushy apartment. At first, fighting the good fight against crime doesn't factor into the picture.
  • Punch-Clock Villain: David Tholbin in The Romanoff Jewels counts as one. He's joining in with Froman and the Czarists solely for two reasons — for an astronomical amount of money and a chance to court Betty Waddell. It doesn't keep karma from catching up to him.
  • Reality Ensues: In the sixth Shadow novel, The Death Tower, a Dirty Cop tries to launch an APB for the Shadow after the Shadow eludes his trap. The next chapter immediately begins with the cop's superiors rescinding his order, as they point out the Shadow's only physical descriptors are wearing a black hat and cloak. Not only is this vague, but it could lead to many cases of Mistaken Identity of normal people who happen to be wearing the same clothes. They also remind him that plenty of other criminals have claimed to be the Shadow before, meaning they're not even sure if the man the cop fought was even the real Shadow to begin with.
  • Real Life Writes the Plot: The very first Shadow novel, The Living Shadow, originally had no Chinese characters involved. However, Street and Smith, trying to get the first issue published as soon as possible (to capitalize on the popularity of the radio character) but also hoping to contain any possible damage should The Shadow Magazine be a failure out of the gate, recycled a cover from a 1919 issue of their detective stories magazine. This showed a Chinese man cowering from a menacing shadow. Walter Gibson, once he was aware of the intended cover, quickly rewrote his story to include a Chinese connection.
  • Resurrected for a Job: Downplayed. The Shadow can't bring people fully back to life, but he can keep them from crossing over for a short while, usually long enough to get information or, in one case, land a plane.
  • Rich Idiot With No Day Job:
    • Lamont Cranston, amateur criminologist. In the pulps, there was a real Lamont Cranston, whose identity the Shadow had borrowed while the man was out of the country on an extended tour. This caused a bit of a problem when the real Cranston suddenly returned. In later stories, the real Cranston sometimes assisted the Shadow in pulling off a "two places at the same time" gambit.
    • Howard Chaykin's 80s revamp had its own real Lamont Cranston, quadriplegic billionaire Preston Mayrock, who was decidedly more sinister and active than the original.
  • Rogues Gallery: The Shadow usually faced a lot of one-shot villains who always got killed off at the end of the adventure where they were featured. However, he did manage to get a gallery of recurring enemies, especially once he branched out into comic books (including several mini-series across different publishers and even crossovers with the likes of Batman).
    • The most notable recurring foe that the Shadow had in the pulps was Shiwan Khan, who made a total of four appearances there and also made a number of appearances in the comic books and was the main villain in the 1994 film. Others who made multiple appearances in the pulps were Voodoo Master (three), The Prince of Evil (three), The Wasp (two), "Diamond" Bert Farwell (two), Isaac Coffran (two), Steve Cronin (four, two times acting as The Dragon to Farwell and Coffran, respectively), and King Kauger (two, one as the story's unseen mastermind). The Shadow also fought the criminal organization known as the Hand (no, not that Hand), with him defeat one of the group's five "Fingers" across different stories, and another collective called the Silent Seven, a conspiracy of underworld criminals which sought to control a violent crime wave in New York City.
    • Among the one-shot villains in the pulps, we have Gray Ghost, Blue-Face, Five-Face, Zemba, Gray Fist, Silver Skull, Red Envoy, Red Blot, Dr. Z, the Blur, and the Cobra, plus a host of others.
    • Unique to the various comic books (standalone series and crossovers alike), we have Black Sparrow, Dr. Gerhard Zorn, The Stag, The Light, Black Dragon (a one-shot villain in the pulps), Devil Kyoti, The Talon, Monstradamus, Professor Solarus, and even Grendel and Shiwan Khan's granddaughter Batu Khan.
  • Roma: In the pulp novel "Malmordo", the eponymous villain uses prejudice against "Gypsies" to make it appear as though they're his allies. In fact, they were simply being charitable to what they thought were penniless refugees. The Shadow speaks Romani fluently, by the way.
  • Sarcastic Confession: In Dynamite #12, when quizzed about his whereabouts the previous night, the Shadow gives the truth: he was at a Chinese brothel. The questioner promptly tells him that he doesn't "have to make up outrageous stories".
  • Saved to Enslave: At least some of the Shadow's agents are persons whose lives he saved.
  • Scarf of Asskicking: The Shadow's red scarf is probably his most iconic visual element. The film gives Alec Baldwin a prosthetic nose every time he dons it so the Shadow's gigantic beak pokes out over it.
  • "Scooby-Doo" Hoax: Innsmouth was supposedly founded by a cult of Deep One worshipers, who mated with the locals and made them rich. In fact, they're submarine-using smugglers dressed up as Deep Ones.
  • Secret Identity: Lamont Cranston, in the Radio Drama.
  • Secret Identity Identity: Lamont Cranston in most other adaptations, although it only comes into play when he returns from his journeys abroad.
  • Seppuku: In Dynamite's the Shadow #6, the Japanese general does it after the quest to find the "rocks" turns out to be a dud.
  • The Shadow Knows: Despite being the Trope Namer, the trope (which is about literal shadows) doesn't appear in the series.
  • The Shangri-La: Where the Shadow learned his powers.
  • Shrouded in Myth: The Shadow has this reputation in-universe. His true identity is Kent Allard. But there's a body inside the plane that Kent Allard crashed in...
  • Shut Up, Hannibal!: Margo gives one to the Light in Dynamite #16.
    Margo: Now wait just a second, sister. You're a fine one to talk about sin, running around with swords and murdering people. Isn't murder a sin? Or did that part get left out of the rulebook you were handed?
  • Sound-to-Screen Adaptation:
    • Adapted to film in the modern era with Alec Baldwin in 1994.
    • There are also a few less-remembered films from the 1930s: 1937's The Shadow Strikes and 1938's International Crime. These starred Rod LaRocque as Lamont Cranston/The Shadow.
  • Stealth Expert: The pulp version didn't have invisibility, instead being a master of disguise and able to hide in shadows.
  • Suddenly Always Knew That: In "The Phantom Voice," The Shadow turns out to have made a study of "the way a man's jaw moves when he pronounces certain words." Also, he finds himself grappling with a professional wrestler, who gets him into a chokehold... but he wins anyway, because the wrestler "didn't know one little hold that I learned in the Orient."
  • Superhero: The Radio version, with his psychic invisibility and other telepathic powers, was arguably the first proto-Superhero.
  • Superhero Sobriquets: The Shadow has been called both The Master of Darkness and the Knight of Darkness. The former is older, while the later may have been invented due to the popularity of Batman's own sobriquet "The Dark Knight".
  • This Is My Name on Foreign: In The Shadow 1941: Hitler's Astrologer graphic novel, the Nazi officer Col. Friedrich Wolff is revealed to be a renegade Russian army officer named Ivan Fedorovich Volko.
  • Thrown from the Zeppelin: In Dynamite #10, one of the conspirators gets cold feet and asks to be excused. He gets it... in the head.
  • Tired of Running: In Dynamite #17, though it's the villain who says she's "through running".
  • Two-Fisted Tales: The Shadow was one of the great pulp characters.
  • The Unreveal: In Dynamite's The Shadow #0, Harry Houdini's widow claims to have been told great secrets by her dead husband, which she passes on to the Shadow. All we get is a convenient thunderclap and the Shadow's declaration that she should forget, lest people kill for it.
  • Unscrupulous Hero: The Shadow has no problem gunning down criminals (or worse, like arranging for them to be institutionalized and lobotomized), intimidating people he saved into being his informants, or even defrauding and impersonating a rich man to keep up the "rich playboy" act. This was used less frequently in the radio versions of the stories but criminals still often met their ends here.
  • Ventriloquism: Used in the radio episode "The Creeper" to trick the villain into thinking The Shadow had gone down a tunnel.
  • Vigilante Militia: The Shadow from the original pulps had an army of agents who assisted him in his war on crime. This may be the Trope Codifier.
  • Where It All Began: The Dynamite comics' Girasol arc started in New York City, and after travelling the world, returns to NYC for the finale.
  • Yellow Peril:
    • Shiwan Khan, one of the Shadow's recurring villains, as well as a number of one-shot villains.
    • Subverted as well. The pulp Shadow has Asian allies.
    • On at least two episodes of the radio show, the "obvious" Chinese villain turned out to not be the episode's killer (though in both cases he was guilty of other crimes). In one of those episodes, "Bones of the Dragon", Cranston is in Chinatown visiting friends.
    • Subverted in the very first pulp: the Chinese villain turned out to be a white man in disguise.
    • This was done actually exceedingly sparingly in the pulp novels when compared to other pulps of the time. John Nanovic, the editor for The Shadow Magazine throughout the bulk of its run, did not want "ethnic" villains in the hopes of expanding the magazine's readership and so discouraged Gibson from employing such villains unless there was a story or plot reason.
  • Zombie Apocalypse: One happens in Dynamite #24 and #25, caused by the Big Bad of the two-parter.


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