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Series / Shadowhunters

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"All the legends are true."

Shadowhunters is a Freeform series based on the novel series The Mortal Instruments by Cassandra Clare. It was the second attempt to adapt the books after the ill-fated film series.

Eighteen-year-old Clary Fray finds out on her birthday that she is not who she thinks, rather, she comes from a long line of Shadowhunters — human-angel hybrids who hunt down demons. When her mother Jocelyn is kidnapped, Clary is thrown into the world of demon hunting with mysterious Shadowhunter Jace and her best friend, Simon. Now living among faeries, warlocks, vampires and werewolves, Clary begins a journey of self-discovery as she learns more about her past and what her future may hold.

The show stars Dominic Sherwood as Jace Herondale and Katherine McNamara as Clary Fray. Also cast are Alberto Rosende as Simon Lewis, Emeraude Toubia as Isabelle Lightwood, Matthew Daddario as Alec Lightwood, Isaiah Mustafa as Luke Garroway, Alan van Sprang as Valentine Morgenstern, and Harry Shum Jr. as Magnus Bane.


Like the film, the show was produced by Constatin Film and McG (Joseph McGinty Nichol), but with Ed Decter as showrunner. A 13-episode straight-to-series order was announced on March 30, 2015, the show began filming in Toronto, Ontario on May 25th, 2015, and the series eventually premiered on January 12th, 2016. After three seasons, the show was cancelled in 2018, but an additional two episodes were ordered to give closure.

Teaser trailers can be viewed here and here. Officially released sneak peaks of the first episode can be viewed here and here.

Outside of the United States, new episodes are available worldwide on Netflix.



  • Action Girl:
    • Isabelle, who combines a Femme Fatale aesthetic with being a highly skilled warrior.
    • Clary too once she gets the hang of using the weapons. Notably in the book, Jace killed the demon in her apartment. In the show, Clary does it herself.
    • Lydia, who is able to hold off Raj who is possessed by a demon at this point, and punches him quite a few times.
  • Adaptational Attractiveness:
    • In the books Hodge Starkweather is described as a thin man with a long, beaky nose who looks older than he is (which is around 36 according to Word of God). Hodge is played by the very handsome and youthful-looking Jon Cor.
    • Clary to a lesser extent. She's very I Am Not Pretty in the books, and the narrative doesn't describe her too flatteringly. Katherine McNamara is extremely glamorous. Though it is helped by the Age Lift, since Clary is now a confident young adult instead of an awkward teenager.
  • Adaptational Badass: In "The Mortal Cup", Dot helps Jocelyn fight off some of Valentine minions, although she ultimately fails to stop them from kidnapping Jocelyn. Her counterpart Madame Dorothea does no fighting in either City of Bones or The Mortal Instruments: City of Bones.
  • Adaptation Dye-Job:
    • In the books Camille Belcourt's silver blond hair and green eyes were given extra attention because of how striking they made her look. Here, she's dark-haired and dark-eyed.
    • Valentine was described as having white-blonde hair and black eyes. In the show he has dark brown hair and eyes, and completely shaves his head during the present-day.
  • Adaptational Job Change: In the books, Luke owned a book store. Here, he is an NYPD detective.
  • Adaptation Name Change: Madame Dorothea from City of Bones is given the surname Rollins and the nickname Dot here. Valentine does refer to her as Dorothea in Season 2 though.
  • Adaptation Personality Change: Madame Dorothea from City of Bones was originally reclusive and somber, "Dot" is sociable and upbeat here.
  • Adaptational Sexuality: In the books, Raphael is noted to be aromantic, additional to being asexual; in the show he states that he "hasn't felt like that in a long time" when talking about Isabelle to her brother Alec, which suggests he could be grey-aromantic and knows romantic attraction.
  • Adaptation Species Change: Madame Dorothea is a mundane in City of Bones, but "Dot" is a warlock here.
  • Adult Fear:
    • After seeing an eight year old Clary almost get eaten by a monster while playing in the park, it's not hard to see why Jocelyn would want to keep her away from magic.
    • Clary overhearing Luke saying that he doesn't actually care about her or her mother. Then coming home to find the house an utter wreck and her mother gone.
    • Both Lightwood siblings have pretty heavy conflicts. For Alec, it's having to choose between being out and proud and living for himself and staying closeted and retaining his parents' hard-earned approval. For Isabelle, it's forcing herself into a repressive persona to take the brunt of her parents' attention off Alec so he has a chance at happiness.
    • Simon's mother becomes increasingly worried about him after he gets involved in the Shadowhunter world and eventually becomes a vampire: strange, erratic behavior, never answering his phone, going missing for days at a time.
    • Iris's daughter Madzie, who's only five or six, was kidnapped by Valentine.
    • Imogen Herondale's son joined the Circle and died, her pregnant daughter-in-law committed suicide, and she learns that Jace is her long-lost grandson, whom she thought perished with his mother, after he's been taken hostage by Valentine.
    • In "Those of Demon Blood", Max is kidnapped and nearly murdered by a serial killer.
    • Alec and Maryse learning that Isabelle has developed a drug addiction.
  • Adults Are Useless: While they mean well, the adults of the Institute tend to get in the way more than they help because of their very strict adherence to their laws. The younger characters are the ones that are actually getting close to stopping Valentine by bending some of the more restrictive laws. This is averted by Luke - who proves very useful. And Jocelyn too, since the majority of conflict involves rescuing her so she can help them. Lydia eventually proves to be an asset to the Shadowhunters too.
  • Adventures in Comaland: When Alec is unconscious during Parabatai Lost he has multiple flashbacks of his bond with Jace.
  • Affectionate Nickname: Magnus has "biscuit" for Clary, and also "sweet pea" for Madzie.
  • Age Lift:
    • Clary turned 16 two-thirds of the way through City of Bones; here she starts off the series celebrating her 18th birthday.
    • Simon was 17 in the books, but says he's 18 in the fourth episode.
    • Jace is 17 in the book, but in his early 20s in the show.
    • Madame Dorothea was an old woman in City of Bones, but in the show her counterpart Dot is only in her thirties.
    • Maureen Brown is 14 (but looks about 12) in the books, but on the show she's around the same age as Clary and Simon, who are already older than their book counterparts.
    • Raphael Santiago was turned at 15 in the books, but has been aged up to roughly 21 in the show.
  • Alien Blood: Seelies have green blood.
  • All Love Is Unrequited: Maureen has a crush on Simon, who has a crush on Clary.
  • All Myths Are True: Stated verbatim by Jace. The series indeed has vampires, warlocks, werewolves, and countless demons.
  • Alternate Reality Episode: 1x10 - The World Inverted - sees Clary go to an alternate universe. Her mother and the villain of the series , Valentine, are Happily Married, and Clary herself is in a healthy relationship with Jace, who runs a smoothie store. Simon and Izzy are also happily together, and Alec is a borderline Camp Gay party planner, explicitly showing interest in the non-warlock, Magnus. The colouring of the episode is noticeably more vibrant. Throughout the episode, Clary is in danger of being "absorbed" by the alternate reality and forget her original existence.
  • Amazon Brigade: The Iron Sisters are a team of elite female shadowhunters who produce all the weapons.
  • Amicable Exes:
    • Magnus and Dot used to be lovers a century ago and are still good friends.
    • After Raphael and Izzy break up, they are shown to work on staying friends.
    • Also, Simon and Clary get back onto Best Friends levels after their rather harsh break-up.
  • And There Was Much Rejoicing: The Shadowhunters and Downworlders throw a huge party to celebrate Valentine's death in the season 2 finale.
  • Arranged Marriage: The Lightwoods are planning one for Alec as a means of restoring the family power and honor.
  • Alternate Universe: In "This World Inverted", Clary visits an alternate dimension where the Shadowhunters haven't needed to exist for centuries.
  • ...And That Little Girl Was Me: Jace tells Clary the story of a boy who got a falcon from his father but when the boy tamed the bird, the father broke its neck just to teach his son a lesson. As Clary guesses, the boy was indeed Jace himself.
  • Asexuality: Raphael expresses a long-standing disinterest in sex to Isabelle after they get involved. This is discussed at least twice in later episodes.
  • Audible Sharpness: The seraph blades, sometimes. See for example the fight between Jace and Valentine in the season 2 premiere.
  • Awesome Mccoolname: Magnus Bane.
  • Back from the Dead:
    • Clary, in hopes of bringing her mother back from the grave, goes to a warlock who's willing to perform dark magic to do the job in exchange for a favor. Clary calls the ritual off, but the warlock, Iris, insists that Clary still owes her a favor.
    • In the season 2 finale Jace is killed by Valentine, but Clary brings him back by making a wish to the angel Raziel.
    • In season 3, Lilith's goal is to resurrect Jonathan.
    • In the finale of season 3 Clary resurrects Valentine with a rune — only to kill him before he can leave Idris to do more damage.
  • Badass Bookworm: Izzy. She's considered one of the best forensic anthropologists in New York and also able to take down guys twice her size.
  • Badass Gay:
    • Magnus Bane is a borderline Camp Bisexual. He's also a one of the most skilled warlocks in the country.
    • Alec Lightwood is Straight Gay and is a highly skilled demon fighter.
  • Bad Date: Magnus and Alec make the mistake of discussing their past relationships (or lack of past relationships) on their first date. Fortunately, they work things out and their date ends quite nicely.
  • Bad News, Irrelevant News:
    Simon: (reading a restaurant menu) I'm [being held prisoner] at the Jade Wolf Chinese Restaurant on the pier at Greene St. And they have really inexpensive cocktails!
  • Bald of Evil: Unlike in the books, Valentine.
  • Battle in the Rain: In How Are Thou Fallen Clary and Jace fight a horde of demons mid-storm.
  • Beautiful All Along: After becoming a vampire, this is proved of Simon. He stops wearing glasses, gets a more stylish haircut and starts dressing more fashionably. Isabelle even lampshades this when she sees him dressed up for the wedding.
  • Beauty Is Bad: A rule of thumb when it comes to dealing with Seelies. Their extremely beautiful appearance hides their vicious nature.
  • Beethoven Was an Alien Spy:
    • In the episode "Raising Hell", Isabelle claims that David Guetta is a vampire.
    Isabelle: Have you ever seen him in the daylight?
    • The Seelie Queen claims to have mentored Sia and Björk, as well as having met David Bowie which sounds as if he is part of the Downworld too.
    • Given, that the Institute has pictures and statues of Beethoven and Bach scattered across the building, they seem to have adapted the notion that both were Shadowhunters, which is mentioned in the movie.
  • Berserk Button: In "The Mortal Cup", Valentine kills one of his underlings for insulting Jocelyn.
  • Betty and Veronica: For Clary, Simon is Betty and Jace is Veronica.
  • Beware the Honest Ones: Isabelle's mother says this about the Seelies in "Of Men and Angels":
    Maryse: Never trust a people who can't lie. They find much more inventive ways to stab you in the back.
  • Beware the Nice Ones: Simon manages to give a No Holds Barred Beat Down to a rogue vampire when Clary has been kidnapped by Valentine
  • Big Brother Instinct: Alec is extremely protective of his younger siblings.
  • Big Damn Kiss:
    • Clary and Jace after Clary gets the Cup in "Major Arcana." Accompanied by a swelling, dramatic soundtrack, no less.
    • Alec and Magnus in the appropriately titled episode "Malec" after Magnus interrupts Lydia and Alec's wedding and Alec finds the courage to come out rather than marry Lydia and remain closeted and unhappy.
    • Luke and Jocelyn in Day of Wrath after Luke decides to come to Idris with her.
    • Clary and Lewis share one in "Love Is a Devil", starting their Relationship Upgrade.
  • Big Damn Heroes:
    • Magnus portals into Alicante mid-battle and blasts a sky full of demons to ashes.
  • Bittersweet Ending: Season 3; both Lilith and Jonathan are defeated, Asmodeus has been banned to Limbo, Edom has been destroyed entirely (though other realms of Hell remain), most characters are in happy couples, and with Alec as the Inquisitor, Magnus as the High Warlock of Alicante and Isabel as the head of the Institute, Shadowhunters are finally improving their treatment of Downworlders. However, Clary had to sacrifice her Shadowhunter powers and all her memory from the Shadow World in order to defeat Jonathan, forcing her back to a normal life and taking her away from Jace, not to mention the many casualties Jonathan did in his rampages.
  • Blonde, Brunette, Redhead: Lydia (blonde), Isabelle (brunette) and Clary (redhead).
  • Body Horror: Maia's transformation into a wolf is very unsettling to watch.
  • Breeding Slave: A warlock named Iris Rouse holds young women prisoner and forces them to breed with demons to produce a new generation of warlocks, before wiping their memories. Because of Valentine's violent crusade against Downworlders, she believes it's necessary for warlocks to increase their numbers so they don't go extinct. She almost does this to Clary.
  • Brother–Sister Incest:
    • Jace and Clary, who have romantic feelings for each other and have kissed numerous times, are actually brother and sister as revealed in the episode "Blood Calls To Blood". Later this is proven to be false; Jace was adopted by Valentine, who lied about them being biologically related.
    • Jonathan Morganstern, Clary's actual biological brother, is utterly obsessed with her and kisses her fully aware of the fact that they're related. Clary was unaware of this.
  • Brought Down to Normal:
    • In season 3a, Magnus gives up his powers to his demon father while trying to save Jace from Lilith.
    • In season 3b, Isabelle and Simon learn that Aldertree has been running a top secret experiment to turn Downworlders into Mundanes with heavenly fire. Raphael accepts it as a gift, while Iris is horrified by what was done to her.
  • Bullying a Dragon: When Magnus fails to awaken Alec from his coma, Raj believes it's a good idea to belittle and arrogantly tell the hundred years old, emotionally involved warlock to leave. Needless to say, he gets thrown to a wall for his troubles.
  • Calling the Old Man Out: In "Love is a Devil", Alec and Izzy criticize Maryse for turning her back on Jace earlier in the season.
  • Cast Full of Pretty Boys: The show might have one the prettiest casts on network television. Jace, Alec, Simon, Luke, Raphael, Magnus and Meliorn are all very attractive young men - and the show has no problem giving them their share of Shirtless Scenes. Hodge likewise gets Adaptational Attractiveness to become a Hunk.
  • Came Back Wrong: The crow revived by Iris quickly turns violent. This convinces Clary not to bring back Jocelyn.
  • Canon Foreigner:
    • Several, notably Captain Vargas (a police captain and Luke's boss) and new minions for Valentine, and Lydia Branwell, with whom the Lightwoods attempt to broker an Arranged Marriage for Alec.
    • Season 2 introduces Iris and Madzie, as well as Olivia "Ollie" Wilson.
    • Season 3 introduces Charlie Cooper.
  • Cannot Tell a Lie: The Seelies are unable to lie, but they find ways to manipulate the truth in other ways.
  • Child Mage: Madzie, a warlock who's about 5 or 6 years old and exceptionally powerful for her age. Unfortunately, it takes Valentine almost no effort to manipulate her.
  • Chuck Cunningham Syndrome:
    • Maureen, a close friend of Clary and Simon and also a potential love interrest for the latter unceremoniously vanishes halfway season 1. Simon calls her once in season 2 and that's it.
    • Lydia disappears early in season 2 after being injured by a demon. Reportedly, the writers wanted to keep her around but the actress had other commitments.
  • Coming-Out Story: Alec struggles with this throughout all of season 1, culminating in him finally admitting his feelings for Magnus in "Malec", kissing him in front of everyone.
  • Commonality Connection: In "Love Is a Devil", Isabelle and Raphael bond over their respective drug addictions.
  • Continuity Reboot: Is the second attempt at an adaptation of The Mortal Instruments books, starting again with City of Bones, the first book in the series, ignoring the previous film adaptation, The Mortal Instruments: City of Bones, and featuring a different cast.
  • Cool Sword: Seraph blades, which are covered in glowing runes.
  • Cruel and Unusual Death: Jocelyn is killed by a possessed Alec reaching into her chest and ripping her heart out. With his bare hands.
  • Darker and Edgier: Season 2 is much more intense than season 1.
  • Dating What Daddy Hates: Izzy's relationship with the Seelie Meliorn is heavily frowned upon and is given as a reason for her being unsuitable for the arranged marriage plans. In general, Shadowhunters dating Downworlders is not well regarded.
  • Deadpan Snarker: Everyone has their moments, considering this is a World of Snark.
  • Death by Adaptation: In "Day of Wrath" Jocelyn is killed by a demon-possessed Alec. Her book counterpart survived the series.
  • Decomposite Character: Raphael Santiago's role in Simon's vampirism in City of Ashes is largely given to Camille Belcourt, despite Raphael still existing as a separate character.
  • Deal with the Devil: Clary makes a deal with the warlock Iris to bring her mom back. Despite not going through with it, she still ends up owing Iris a favor.
  • Demon Slaying: What the Shadowhunters are supposed to be all about doing.
  • Demonic Possession:
    • The main plot point of Day of Wrath is a demon invading the institute and possessing various shadowhunters.
    • In season 3, Jace falls under the influence of Lilith and is made to aid her in trying to resurrect Jonathan.
  • Disappeared Dad:
    • Clary was told growing up that her dad died before she was born. Unfortunately, this turns out to be untrue.
    • Simon's dad died before the events of the series from an unknown cause.
  • Disney Death: Alec appears to stop breathing in Parabatai Lost, only to wake up when Jace finishes the Parabatai oath.
  • Distressed Dude: Simon fills the role most of the time before his transformation into a vampire.
  • Double-Meaning Title: The season 2 episode, Bound By Blood, refers to Clary's blood oath with Iris and Izzy and Raphael's relationship.
  • Dramatic Irony: Multiple times in season 2, characters discuss Jonathan Morganstern with or near Sebastian completely aware that Sebastian is actually Jonathan in disguise.
  • Due to the Dead: The Institute holds a beautiful, elaborate funeral for their fallen warriors in "Dust And Shadows", including Jocelyn.
  • Everyone Loves Blondes: Invoked in the episode "The Mortal Cup". Isabelle wears a platinum blonde wig while hunting the demon because they apparently like blondes more.
  • Eye Color Change:
    • Werewolves' eyes turn green before they transform.
    • Magnus' warlock mark are his yellow cat-eyes, which are revealed when he loses control of his emotions or performs powerful magic.
  • The Fair Folk: Seelies are Downworlders with both angelic and demonic qualities. They can't lie, but they're experts at manipulating the truth. And they don't attack directly; they trick you into destroying yourself.
  • Fanservice:
    • At Pandemonium in the first episode, both Isabelle and the demon girl wear very tight, revealing outfits. Isabelle even drops her coat and does a dance to distract the nearby demons.note .
    • For much of the first episode, Clary wears a see-through mesh top with a black bra underneath. At the end of the episode, she changes into a black leather mini-dress with thigh-high boots, courtesy of Isabelle.
    • Simon gets to change his shirt in the van, showing off his sixpack.
    • Isabelle bags another example when she seduces a Seelie for information in episode 3. Meliorn, her on-again, off-again boyfriend, is shirtless, and she gets a Lingerie Scene in a red bra and matching panties and later shows some Toplessness from the Back when they have sex.
    • Alec and Jace are both seen shirtless numerous times, usually in Workout Fanservice scenes. And then Alec has a scene of using parabatai tracking on his own to find Jace, an incredibly difficult task. So of course he ends up shirtless and sweaty, panting, grimacing, and arching off the bed he lay down on.
    • It seems that the main purpose for Hodge's Age Lift was to give him gratuitous shirtless scenes once every couple episodes.
  • Fantastic Drug: Yin Fen, which is highly addictive and made from vampire venom. Becomes a main plot point mid-season 2
  • Fantastic Racism: The Shadowhunters see themselves as the superior species because of their roles as protectors and the fact that they are the descendents of Angels. They view the Downworlders (Seelies, warlocks, werewolves, and vampires) as infinitely inferior and untrustworthy, partially because of their demon blood, while they view humans as just weak and worthless. Even most of the protagonists hold these views. This is advanced by the fact that the most significant Downworlder in the show is bisexual and of Chinese descent.
  • Foreshadowing:
    • In the Pilot, Simon sings a song about living forever, hinting at his eventual transformation into a vampire.
    • In "Dust and Shadows" the assistant who answers the door for Clary and Alec is heavily pregnant. The warlock she works for is using human women to breed more warlocks by forcing them to mate with demons.
    • In "Those of Demon Blood", Jace briefly encounters one of his past flings, a Seelie named Kaelie, who's incredibly pissed off at him for some reason. At the end of the episode it's revealed that Kaelie has been murdering Shadowhunters and taking their runes as trophies because her brother died after Jace activated the Soul Sword.
  • "Freaky Friday" Flip: Magnus and Valentine accidentally swap bodies at the end of "Mea Maxima Culpa".
  • Friend to All Living Things: Magnus refers to a fire-breathing snake as "his baby" and regularly feeds the stray cats that show up on his balcony.
  • Fur Against Fang: As in the books, vampires and werewolves hate each other. Though they eventually agree to an uneasy alliance to stop Valentine, who wants to kill all Downworlders.
  • Gayngst: Alec, who spends most of season 1 in denial that he is gay. In the episode "Raising Hell", a memory demon requires everyone loses a memory of the person they love the most, making the memory visible to everyone for a few moments. When Alec's memory is of Jace, he freaks out so badly that the spell is wrecked, ruining their only lead at finding the Mortal Cup.
  • Genre Savvy:
    • In "The Descent Into Hell Isn't Easy", Simon invokes this when the group want to leave him outside before storming an enemy lair.
    Simon: I've seen every horror movie ever made and the funny best friend who gets left behind... Dead man.
    Jace: You're not that funny.
    • And in "Moo Shu To Go", when he's told to start a fire as a distraction.
    Simon: That never works! Haven't you seen an action movie?
  • Gentle Giant: Luke is the tallest of the main cast, but also extremely caring and acts as a father towards Clary and Simon.
  • Geometric Magic: The angelic Runes utilized by Shadowhunters to perform feats of magic and physical enhancement.
  • The Good, the Bad, and the Evil: The clave may not be as Ax-Crazy as Valentine but they have some major flaws.
  • Green-Eyed Monster:
    • Simon and Jace are Clary's main love interests and don't get along the majority of the time.
    • Alec hates Clary at first, partially because she takes up so much of Jace's attention. He warms up to her once he gets over his feelings for Jace.
  • Hair Today, Gone Tomorrow:
    • Valentine has a shaved head in the present, but his younger self has a full head of hair.
    • Maya keeps her hair short in the present, but it was longer in a flashback to when she was first turned.
  • Hairstyle Inertia:
    • Both Jocelyn and Luke are shown with the exact same hairstyles in flashbacks to their youth. Clary too in a flashback has the same curly style as in the present. However another flashback shows her getting her memories erased while she has a fringe.
    • We're shown child and teenage versions of Jace and Alec. Both of Jace's have the same slicked back style he has in the present. Alec's child self has the same style as his adult counterpart, but the teenager's one is slightly different.
  • Half-Human Hybrid: The warlocks are the offspring of matings between (usually disguised) demon fathers and human mothers.
  • Hell-Bent for Leather: The Shadowhunters, oh so much. Who knew death-dealing could be so stylish?
  • Heroic Bsod:
    • Jace has this upon learning Valentine is his father.
    • Luke has this after Jocelyn's death
    • Alec after being possessed and forced to kill Jocelyn. It eventually leads to him attempting suicide.
  • Heroic Sacrifice: At the end of season 1, Jace willingly joins Valentine to stop him from killing his friends.
  • Heterosexual Life-Partners: Being parabatai is the Shadowhunter version of this: It means that two warriors fight together as one, with their hearts beating in unison. When one dies, the other immediately knows it. Jace claims that it's stronger than any human bond, but Clary counters that she has the same kind of bond with Simon.
  • Hidden Depths: Izzy. She's more than a pretty face. In "Of Men and Angels", one of the crew calls her the best forensic pathologist in New York. And she earns it too, performing an autopsy on a monster and ascertaining why it was there simply through noticing an oddity in its blood.
  • High-Heel–Face Turn: Maryse Lightwood. Not an extreme example, but she herself noted, that she was the one to recruit shadowhunters into the so-called Circle, and has a huge redemption arc, spanning over three seasons. While she betrayed Valentine 'because everyone did it' and because she had to keep her face, she is shown to be verbally specicist against Downworlders, especially when it comes to the romance between her son Alec and the Downworlder Magnus. This gets gradually better. At the end of season 3A, she is shown apologizing for her biases and thanks Magnus for loving her son. She also accepts the punishment that the Clave sees as fitting for the crimes she committed under Valentine.
  • Hollywood Nerd: Simon defaults to this despite being very handsome and quite ripped. In "The World Inverted" Isabelle and Magnus are as well.
  • Hollywood Old: Despite having two children in their twenties, Maryse Lightwood is played by Nicola Correia-Damude, who at 37 is less than ten years older than all of the actors portraying her kids.
  • Holy Hand Grenade: The Mortal Sword becomes this when activated by someone with pure angelic blood, unleashing divine light that will kill demon-blooded beings, including Downworlders.
  • Homoerotic Subtext: The Parabati bond between Alec and Jace is full of it. Despite Jace being Clary's love interest, he and Alec get far more scenes that are rather like lovers quarrelling. This is lampshaded more than once. Of course since Alec is actually gay and did harbour feelings for Jace it's rather justified.
  • Honey Trap: Camille seduces Simon to get information about the Mortal Cup.
  • Hotter and Sexier: Isabelle's outfit in Pandemonium was rather conservative in the book. In the show it's much skimpier, and she even does a sexy dance to distract the demons.
  • How Dare You Die on Me!: Jace to Alec in "Parabatai Lost".
  • Hufflepuff House: The Seelies. All the other species on the show have at least one main character and multiple recurring characters, while the Seelies just have Meliorn, who has only appeared in less than half of the episodes so far. There’s also much less known about Seelie traditions when compared to the worldbuilding given to the Shadowhunters and other Downworlders.
  • Hypocritical Heartwarming: Simon and Raphael rarely get along, and Simon hates being a vampire, but the second a werewolf shoves Simon, Raphael and the other vampires immediately jump to his defense.
  • I Have Many Names: Jace. He grew up thinking he was born a Wayland, but was Happily Adopted by the Lightwoods, whom he considers to be his real family. Then it was revealed that Valentine impersonated Michael Wayland and Jace was told he was a Morgenstern. However, it is finally revealed that Jace is actually a Herondale.
  • Incompatible Orientation: Alec's feelings for Jace, since Alec is gay and Jace is straight.
  • Inelegant Blubbering:
    • Simon upon realizing he's becoming a vampire
    • Clary at Jocelyn's funeral
  • "I Know You're in There Somewhere" Fight: Alec says this to Izzy in Day of Wrath. It doesn't work.
    • Alec again, this time to Jace, who's possessed by Lilith into being her "Owl" in the season 3A finale.
  • Imperiled in Pregnancy: Years before the series started, a shadowhunter named Celine Herondale killed herself while nine months pregnant. The baby, Jace, survived and was raised by Valentine.
  • Intergenerational Friendship: Magnus and... well, everyone.
  • Internal Reveal: Clary learns that Jace isn't actually her brother in "Mea Maxima Culpa".
  • Interspecies Romance:
    • Alec, a Shadowhunter, and Magnus, a warlock as well as Izzy, a Shadowhunter and Meliorn, a seelie. Relationships between Downworlders and Shadowhunters are highly frowned upon. (See Fantastic Racism above.)
    • Luke, a werewolf, and Jocelyn, a Shadowhunter.
    • Season 2 has two vampire/Shadowhunter relationships- Clary and Simon and Izzy and Raphael.
    • Season 3 has a very short romance between Izzy, a shadowhunter, and Charlie Cooper, a mundane, as well as a frowned-upon romance between Simon, a vampire, and Maia, a werewolf.
  • Interrupted Intimacy: In "How Are Thou Fallen", Alec walks in on Jace and Kaelie while they're in bed. It doesn't bother them to much, with Kaelie even asking Alec if he wants to join them, although she's still using her arm to cover her chest.
  • Interrupted Suicide:
    • After his trial in "Day of Wrath", Jace attempts to kill himself with the Soul Sword but is stopped by one of the Silent Brothers.
    • In "Love is A Devil" Alec falls off of the roof but is stopped by Magnus's magic.
  • Invisible to Normals: The shadowhunters can make themselves invisible to mundanes with a special rune. Clary is able to see them because she's actually a shadowhunter too.
  • I Owe You My Life: Clary rescues Meliorn from being held captive from the Shadowhunters in "Rise Up", creating a life debt. Meliorn repays her in "This World Inverted" by opening a portal for her so that they can be on even terms again.
  • I Take Offense to That Last One!: When Jace describes the vampires as "not the sexed-up, romantic kind. The ugly, blood-sucking, coffin-dwelling kind."
    Raphael: That's offensive.
    Jace: Really?
    ' Coffin implies wooden box. We have caskets now. They are made of 14 karat gold.
  • I Will Punish Your Friend for Your Failure: Aldertree tortures Raphael as a means of punishing Magnus.
  • Kangaroo Court: The Clave is really into this trope. In particular the role of prosecutor and judge is seemingly held by one individual whose personal opinions carry more weight than any other factor. Lydia is just a symbolic prosecutor at Izzy's trial, with the Inquisitor making it quite clear that she is inclined to judge the case on her feelings. Likewise, when Jace is on trial with the Mortal Sword to compel answers from him, Aldertree carefully selects and phrases the questions asked so as to make him look as guilty as possible. No other judge beside Aldertree himself is present and Jace gets no defense attorney.
  • Kiss of the Vampire: Vampire bites contain venom that causes intense euphoria in the subject. Izzy actually seeks this from Raphael as a substitute for yin fen, which is made using vampire venom.
  • Laser-Guided Amnesia: Jocelyn hired Magnus to erase Clary's memories of being attacked by a monster when she was a child.
  • Lie to the Beholder: The Shadowhunters have a rune allowing them to take on the appearance of another person. It is first demonstrated in "Bad Blood," when Lydia Branwell arrives in disguise as Valentine to test the Institute's reaction. Later, it plays a more significant role when Jace's father "Michael Wayland" turns out to be Valentine in disguise. Clary used the same or a similar rune to disguise an ordinary coffee mug as the Mortal Cup.
  • Literary Allusion Title: The episode "The Descent Into Hell Isn't Easy" is a reference to Vergil’s The Aeneid.
  • Lost in Imitation: The show uses something that came from the film adaptation and not the original books - Simon being taken prisoner by vampires intentionally to be used as bait for the Mortal Cup.
  • Luke, I Am Your Father:
    • In the episode "The Descent Into Hell Isn't Easy" Clary finds out that her father didn't actually die and is actually Valentine Morgenstern. Nine episode later in "Blood Calls To Blood", Jace finds out his father "Michael Wayland" is actually Valentine as well, who was in disguise.
    • Clary tries to invoke this with Luke while he's telling her about his past in "Of Men And Angels". He gives her a long look and reminds her that while he and Jocelyn were in love while she was still married to Valentine, they would have known if he was her father.
  • Mayfly–December Romance: Magnus is immortal and is already hundreds of years old, while Alec is in his early twenties and will live for a normal human lifespan. The possible complications are brought up in "Morning Star", with both of them concerned about what their future will hold.
  • Modesty Bedsheet: Utilized whenever a couple is shown in bed post-sex. Special mention goes in the finale with the Seelie Queen and her lover under a sheet made out of grass.
  • Missing Mom: Magnus's mother committed suicide after realizing that he was the son of a demon.
  • Moment Killer: Jace manages to be this for Magnus and Alec three times within a span of four episodes.
  • My God, What Have I Done?: Alec is horrified and guilty-ridden after he kills Jocelyn while he's possessed by a demon.
  • Mythology Gag:
    • In "This World Inverted":
      • Alternate-universe Luke says in a So Bad, It's Good commercial that Magnus helped him realize the police force wasn't his calling but running an antique bookshop. In the books, Luke is a bookseller rather than an officer.
      • Alternate-universe Magnus has two cats named Chairman Meow and Church. In the books, Chairman Meow is Magnus's kitten, whose birthday party gets crashed by the main charactersnote , and Church is the resident cat at the New York Institute.
      • Alt!Simon plans to ask Alt!Isabelle to marry him, reflecting the relationship between their book counterparts.
    • When looking at profiles of warlocks around the world in "Malec", one of the profiles that can be seen is Theresa Gray. Tessa Gray was the protagonist of The Mortal Instruments spinoff The Infernal Devices. Magnus also mentions someone named Tessa in "Raising Hell."
    • In "Dead Man's Party", Clary compares her bond with Simon to the bond between parabatai. In the books, she and Simon did eventually become parabatai.
  • Narcissist: Jace. Best summed up in his own words:
    Jace: This is a glamour. A rune that makes me invisible to mundanes. (Beat) It's a shame really, because I'm denying them all this.
  • Nice Job Breaking It, Hero!:
    • In the episode "Raising Hell", the protagonists and Magnus Bane summon a memory demon - containing it in a bond they form by linking hands, but each of them has to give up a memory of "the one they love the most" in order to get Clary's memories from the demon. Alec freaks out when he has to give up the memory of Jace, since he's desperate to deny any sort of romantic attraction. He breaks the bond, despite Magnus' explicit instructions not to do that. This forces Clary to kill the Memory Demon to save Jace, costing her the chance of recovering her memories.
    • In "By the Light of Dawn", Jace grabs the Soul Sword thinking that he had demon blood that would destroy the sword (and himself in the process), preventing Valentine from being able to use it to massacre the Downworlders. He actually has pure angel blood in him, rather than demon blood, meaning he unwittingly activated the sword and allowed Valentine to carry out his murderous plot. Valentine quickly loses the Soul Sword, but not before using it to kill every Downworlder that was currently in the Institute.
  • Not So Different: In "Blood Calls To Blood", Isabelle points out that Shadowhunters aren't really all that different from Valentine and that his genocidial tendencies didn't just come out of nowhere.
  • No, You: When Clary urges Alec to admit he's in love with Jace, Alec simply returns the accusation.
  • Odd Friendship: Clary and Alec.
  • Offing the Offspring:
    • Jace thinks that Maryse is trying to do this in 2x08, but it turns out that it's just a hallucination.
    • In 2x20 Valentine kills Jace, which he raised for more than 10 years.
  • Ominous Chanting: Magnus chants in Latin when he does more complicated spells.
  • One Steve Limit: Averted. Valentine's biological and adopted sons have the same first and middle name: Jonathan Christopher Morgenstern and Jonathan Christopher "Jace" Herondale.
  • Ooh, Me Accent's Slipping: The Seelie Queen in both her incarnations seems to struggle with a southern English accent. Of course, it may be just her own unique seelie accent.
  • Our Fairies Are Different: The fairies in the show are known as Seelies. They are among the Downworlder species (species that are part demon) and have the distinction of also being part angel. They cannot tell lies, but are still considered untrustworthy. Meliorn is a Seelie that has an affair with Isabelle and helps Clary and Jace open a portal to another dimension in "The World Inverted".
    • Of course, Genre Savvy audience members will know the Seelies might not be the totality of The Fair Folk in the Shadowhunters universe, as their mere existence implies the possibility that the Unseelies also exist, although no mention of them, or how they might differ from the Seelies, has been made on the show so far.
  • Out-of-Character Alert: In "Parabatai Lost" Simon comes home to find vodka in his mother's bedroom when she hasn't had alcohol since his father died (it's implied that she's a former alcoholic). This leads him to believe that something bad has happened to her.
  • Over-the-Shoulder Carry: Luke carries Clary like this in "Moo Shu To Go". She's not happy about it.
  • Pair the Spares:
    • The final season romance of Simon and Izzy seemed out of nowhere. To be fair, the producers said they wanted it to be slower in build but the show's cancellation pushed it faster.
    • More obvious is the final episode as Lorenzo and Andrew hit it off instantly.
  • Papa Wolf: Magnus can't have biological children of his own, so he loves the wayward Downworlders he takes in as though they were his own and will do anything to protect them. He even betrays Camille, his former lover, to the Clave in order to protect Raphael.
  • Parents as People: Maryse and Robert Lightwood are this. While they are not abusive parents, their preoccupation with the Clave and their status within it tends to cause them to behave poorly towards their children even during those times when they are not absent. Maryse in particular tends to recite "I was following orders" so often that Alec finally stops accepting that as an excuse and tells her outright that it no longer means anything. They also have a troubled marriage, a fact which they try to conceal.
  • Platonic Life-Partners: As in the source material, Clary and Simon are each other's closest friends and confidantes.
  • Post Coital Collapse: In "Original Scene", we see Magnus collapsing beside Alec after having sex, both panting heavily.
  • Power Trio: Alec, Izzy, and Jace were this before Clary came along.
  • Power Walk: Used in the very first episode to show off Jace, Alec and Izzy as badass demon slayers. A little synchronized Jump Physics is included to show the audience that they are more than ordinary humans.
  • Pragmatic Adaptation: The series follows the same basic story as the novels, but with setting changes and plot developments revealed in a significantly different order.
    • Clary's mother tries to proactively tell her about her heritage and the associated dangers on her birthday (foiled by Clary rushing out the door) in contrast to the books, where she struggles to keep Clary in the dark until the villain strikes, even though she knows the ruse is crumbling and her daughter is in danger.
    • The Shadowhunters use significantly more modern technology than their book counterparts. Their base includes banks of high-tech equipment and computer displays to quickly convey the sense of a bustling, organized agency in a visual medium.
    • The circumstances of Simon’s vampire encounter and kidnapping was changed to be deliberate on the part of the vampires, in contrast to the book’s tangent involving the main characters crashing a party and running afoul of a magical party trick.
    • By Season 2, they've pretty much ditched the books entirely.
  • Promotion to Opening Titles: Season 3 adds Maia in the opening sequence.
  • The Purge: In the season 2 mid-season finale, Valentine uses the Soul Sword — which Jace accidentally activated — to kill every Downworlder in the room (though Simon manages to survive). Fortunately, he quickly loses the sword, but now relations between Shadowhunters and Downworlders are most strained than ever.
  • Put on a Bus: Lydia is sent to Idris after Day of Wrath due to her actress getting cast in another show.
  • Race Lift:
    • The Lightwoods are now a mixed-race family with Isabelle being played by a Latina-Lebanese actress, although strangely her brothers Alec and Max are still white. Depending if the series follows the book plot of Robert Lightwood having had an affair, this could end up being significant.
    • Luke was white in the books, but is black in the series.
    • Camille Belcourt was white in the books, being described as having silvery blonde hair and green eyes. In the series, she is played by a Chinese-Irish actress.
    • Magnus was half Dutch and half Indonesian in the books, but is played by a Chinese-American actor in the series, which could also qualify as a case of Interchangeable Asian Cultures.
  • Rapunzel Hair: Camille's long black hair goes well past her hips. Clary's too is quite long, at about hip length too.
  • Revenge: In "The Fair Folk", Luke attempts to kill Valentine for kidnapping his sister and killing Jocelyn.
  • Rewarded as a Traitor Deserves: After giving Valentine the Cup, Hodge assumes he'll be joining Valentine's crusade. Instead, Valentine openly scoffs about letting a known traitor into his group and cuts Hodge loose, knowing the man won't last long with the Shadowhunters after him.
  • Rite of Passage: Max undergoes a rune ceremony after finishing all his training.
  • Running Gag:
    • The minor Shadowhunter character Raj suffers a recurring fate as a Butt-Monkey. If he appears in an episode he is usually manhandled by one of the main characters, possessed by a demon, having his attempts to score a threesome interrupted, etc.
    • Magnus and Alec getting interrupted.
  • Self-Made Orphan:
    • Although not being responsible for the death of her mother, Clary, in 2x20, justifiedly kills her father Valentine for killing Jace and wanting to use the wish of the angel to kill the entire downworld.
    • She also does this again, after she brought Valentine back from the dead in 3x10.
  • Semi-Divine: The Shadowhunters are effectively a human sub-species gifted with angelic blood and paranormal abilities.
  • Shame If Something Happened: In order to press Simon to find Camille, Raphael befriends his mother and mentions how dangerous it is for her to be walking around the city alone.
    • Simon, following a tip from Isabelle, returns the favor in season three, when he meets Raphael's now-elderly younger sister.
  • She Cleans Up Nicely: Lydia is seen mostly in her business suits and occasional battle clothes. At her wedding she looks gorgeous, and a lot of the characters look impressed at the result.
  • Shipper on Deck:
    • In "The Mortal Cup", Captain Vargas tells Luke that he should just marry Jocelyn already.
    • Izzy is very enthusiastic about Alec's potential relationship with Magnus.
    • In "Malec", Simon gets super excited after Magnus and Alec kiss in front of everyone for the first time. He even compares them to The Graduate.
  • Shout-Out:
  • Sibling Yin-Yang: Alec and Izzy- Lydia describes them as "A brother and sister who disagree on everything except how much they love each other".
  • The Show of the Books: Adapted from the The Mortal Instruments books by Cassandra Clare.
  • Speak Now or Forever Hold Your Peace: In "Malec", the words aren't said, but Magnus crashes Alec's wedding, giving Alec the courage to come out as gay instead of going through with the marriage.
  • Straight Gay: Alec is as manly a Shadowhunter as Jace so the reveal that he's gay can be quite surprising for non-book fans.
  • Stripperific: Some of Isabelle's clothes are quite revealing, being skin tight and showing ample amounts of cleavage, legs, and abdomen. As Jace puts it, she's very comfortable in her body. Partway through season 1 however, pressure from her family to adopt a more responsible role as a diplomat and leader cause her to adopt a more conservative look.
  • Stylistic Suck: Alt!Magnus's commercial in "The World Inverted".
  • Sugary Malice:
    • When Isabelle lends Clary a rather low-cut dress to wear at a party, her comment to Clary has some of this:
    "You're lucky to have such a flat chest. I could never wear that without a bra!"
    • Maryse and Magnus behave this way toward each other during the party for Max's rune ceremony.
  • Superdickery: The trailers for "Love Is A Devil" show Clary telling Alec she hates him for his (possession-induced) murder of Jocelyn and Maryse attempting to kill Jace for having demon blood. In the episode, it's revealed that neither of these things actually happened. They were hallucinations resulting from a spell.
  • Surprise Incest: After an entire season of flirting, kissing, and overall developing strong romantic feelings for one another, Jace and Clary find out they are actually brother and sister in the episode "Blood Calls To Blood". In "By The Light of Dawn" Valentine reveals he was lying and Clary and Jace aren't actually related.
  • Take My Hand: A variation in "Of Men and Angels". When Magnus is running out of strength to continue healing Luke, he asks Alec for help. Alec replies by holding out his hand and telling him to take his strength, whatever he needs to keep going.
  • Talking Down the Suicidal: Clary tries to do this to Alec in "Love Is A Devil"; unfortunately, due to the spell he's under, he hears her blaming him for the death of her mother instead, so it doesn't work. Thankfully, Magnus pulls a Big Damn Heroes.
  • Team Dad: Luke and Magnus both fill this role.
  • Took a Level in Badass: Simon spends a lot of season 1 needing to be rescued, but by mid-season 2 he's a skilled fighter and more than capable of defending himself. Clary, as well, goes from an Action Survivor to a capable fighter. Neither of them are as skilled as the more experienced Shadowhunters and other non-mundanes they meet, but they've both come into their own quite nicely.
  • Transparent Closet: Alec's crush on Jace was common knowledge to pretty much everyone, even before Alec was ready to admit it to himself.
  • Ungrateful Bastard: Jace saves Victor's life in the City of Bones, thus proving that he's not willingly collaborating with Valentine. Instead of thanking Jace, Victor rebukes him not stopping Valentine from getting the Mortal Sword and bans him from field work.
  • Unnaturally Blue Lighting: The flashback sequences in "Of Men and Angels" have a blue filter over them.
  • Unresolved Sexual Tension: As in the books, between Clary and Jace; it's resolved at the beginning of "Blood Calls to Blood", but then goes back to unresolved again after The Reveal that they are brother and sister. Magnus and Alec have this played up, with the latter in denial about his feelings for most of the season. It's resolved in the penultimate episode in this case.
  • Urban Fantasy: The show is about demon hunters and takes place in Brooklyn.
  • Vague Age: Aside from Clary and Simon, none of the characters have their ages specified.
  • Voluntary Shapeshifter: Demons are capable of changing their appearance at will. The demon Jace, Izzy, and Alec hunt in "The Mortal Cup" changes it’s appearance to that of whomever it bumps into. Later, a demon impersonates a family friend of Clary's, Dot.
  • Vow of Celibacy: According to Isabelle, the Iron Sisters must swear off men in order to be part of the order.
  • "Well Done, Son!" Guy: The main part of Alec's character arc in the first season is him learning he needs to do things for himself and not just to make his parents proud of him.
  • "What Do They Fear?" Episode: In "Love is a Devil" a spell is cast during Max's party that causes Jace, Clary, and Alec to have hallucinations based on their biggest insecurities.
  • What the Hell, Hero?: Magnus is absolutely enraged when he learns that Alec hid the fact that the Clave never recovered the Soul Sword, especially since they had recently talked about always being honest with each other.
  • What the Hell Is That Accent?: Isabelle has an accent that can be hard pinpoint because her actress is Latina and grew up in Texas. Isabelle's accent is especially noticeable because neither of her brothers or parents have any accent at all.
  • Wham Line: The final one of the series. Clary has had her memories erased of the Shadowhunter world and living the life of a normal woman. Jace uses his magical runes to keep an eye on her only for Clary to see him and ask "You're Jace, aren't you?"
  • Wham Shot:
    • Jocelyn's body.
    • The tied up man in "Sebastian"'s closet.
  • Why Did It Have to Be Snakes?: Just after mentioning his fear of them, Simon is trapped in a room with a snake. That also breathes fire.
  • Wrongfully Accused: The werewolves believe Jace murdered their pack member, Gretel, and that's why Maia tries to kill him. Valentine is the one who actually killed her.
  • You Have Outlived Your Usefulness: After Hodge brings Valentine The Mortal Cup, Valentine kicks him to the curb rather than allowing him to join his side, aptly pointing out that turning against The Clave means that he can't be trusted.
  • You Killed My Father: In "Those of Demon Blood", a Seelie named Kaelie murders numerous Shadowhunters and tries to make it look like there's a Downworlder uprising because her brother was killed in Valentine's massacre in "By the Light of Dawn".


Video Example(s):

Alternative Title(s): The Mortal Instruments


You're in love with Jace

When Clary urges Alec to confess his love for his friend Jace, Alec simply returns the accusation.

How well does it match the trope?

5 (3 votes)

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