Shadow Archetype

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"The brighter the picture, the darker the negative."
Rupert Thorne, Batman the Animated Series
"I am a Shadow... The true self..."
Every Shadow, Persona 4

Shadow Archetype has to do with two elements of writing; characters and settings. In this part of the wiki we're talking about character archetypes. For the settings viewpoint, see Shadowland.

Character-wise, it's the part of the personality that embodies everything a character, called the 'Self', doesn't like about himself, the things he denies and projects on to others. To show these things to the reader/viewer we need an embodiment of some sort. Around here, we call some of those embodiments things like:

Those tropes have examples listed of characters playing those more-precise Shadow roles.

A common theme involves the Self accepting his Shadow, metaphorically coming to terms with his flaws. That is, The Hero refuses to kill the Shadow, given the opportunity, or outright refuses to fight it. In Enemy Within, Enemy Without, and Evil Twin situations, the Self and Shadow sometimes even merge towards the end for an endgame powerup, further emphasizing the symbolism.

Note that in Jungian psychology, the Shadow Archetype includes positive as well as negative things, anything suppressed or denied in the personality. You seldom have such manifestations in fiction, which sticks to Shadow Is Dark, and Dark Is Evil.

Examples of Shadow Archetype include:

Anime and Manga[edit | hide | hide all]

  • Many Shonen Anime series where the hero and his self-described rival have known each other for a long time have the rival slowly become the hero's Shadow. See Red Oni, Blue Oni.
  • In Cowboy Bebop, it's heavily implied that Vicious is what Spike would've turned into without Julia's influence (and vice-versa).
  • Revolutionary Girl Utena being a complex psychological piece has plenty of examples of this trope, namely: Utena/Mikage (the name is a clue); Nanami/Utena; Akio/Dios; Akio/Utena; Anthy/Nanami.
  • Paranoia Agent is ultimately about what happens when someone's Shadow Archetype gets out and starts breaking everyone else's shadows free.
  • In Trigun, Vash's brother Knives, instead of having an extreme aversion to killing, sees humans as pathetic and inferior, and has no compunction about killing them for any or no reason.
    • And, in fact, Knives has serious self-control issues which occasionally cause him difficulties and turn out to have shortened his lifespan, while Vash being The Fettered is...ubiquitous. His twin isn't just everything-bad-that-he-isn't, he's everything Vash refuses to be.
      • Even more in the manga, where Vash almost flipped out same time Knives did, and had a suicide attempt and accidentally almost killed Rem, which was met with maniacal laughter, and then he pulled himself together and chose to not give up on people.
    • Wolfwood, instead, is Vash's foil, though Vash may be viewed as the idealism-shadow of either Knives or Wolfwood, who wear Jade-Colored Glasses.
  • In Neon Genesis Evangelion, Gendou gives a good idea of how disillusioned, cynical and bitter Shinji could grow up to become. It's even Lampshaded in the Angelic Days manga, which shows Gendou as a Troubled but Cute (in Yui's eyes!) "nobody loves me so I hate everybody!" teen.
    • And the actual shadow archetype from Jungian psychology shows up in this Jung- and Freud-inspired show, as a shadowy Shinji on a train that reveals truths Shinji doesn't want to face.
      • Kaworu is a whole lot of things that Shinji is not, or has repressed. Also Kaworu seems to be actively trying to bolster Shinji's low sense of self-worth. Since Shinji frequently suffers from negative opinions of himself, he rather likes his shadow and feels it to be much better than he is. This projection of positive value judgements makes his shadow contrast with the typical 'dark' and 'evil' depiction of this archetype.
  • Among the many interpretations of Fuuma's strange anti-Christ character in X 1999 is that he is a Shadow Archetype born out of the dark side of Kamui's nature. In the TV series this character claims to be Kamui's "Gemini" and its implied that if Kamui had been consumed by his own rage and grief, this character would have instead become The Messiah in Kamui's stead.
  • The incredibly freaky first appearance of dark Sonic in the Sonic X, in response to the sight of his friends being injured and imprisoned (and exposure to the negative energy of Fake Chaos Emeralds, see: Green Rocks) Dark Sonic emerges from the normally far-calmer (by comparison, anyway) Sonic and proceeds to beat the living begeezus out of a couple of Metarex testing robots. Ironically enough, he was snapped out of it by Eggman.
  • In Aquarian Age: Sign for Evolution the character Yoriko has two distinct personalities for two of the five different factions in the show, Aryashiki (the side she grew up believing she had to take command of) and Darklore. It turns out that her Darklore persona (which has been causing havoc for most of the series) was as much a part of her as her Aryashiki one and it just took a while for her to realize. She embraces her other half and takes her back.

Yoriko: I kept thinking... I'm not doing those awful things to Kyouta. It's not me. But it was.
It was a little scary there for a while. But it's going to be okay now.

  • In Pokémon Special, Lance is this to Yellow. Both were born in Viridian Forest, and both have the power to heal pokemon and listen to their thoughts. While Yellow is a pacifistic Friend to All Living Things who just wants everyone to live in peace as a result of this, Lance is a brutal Well-Intentioned Extremist who plans to wipe out all of humanity because he believes Pokémon and humanity to be completely incompatible with each other. (And when they clash? Good. Lord.)
  • Characters are very fond of telling Ed Elric in Fullmetal Alchemist that he's just like them for trying to bring his dead mother back to life, something he really doesn't want to hear but sometimes acknowledges is true. Arguably, Izumi reacts with anger when she finds out because Ed represents her own guilt at her own attempts to bring her child back to life.
    • Of course, the creepy creature that sits outside the Portal of Truth and selectively reveals ugly truths is a proper, Jungian shadow archetype, and even tells Ed in the manga "I am also you." Interestingly, he's visually inverted, so he's bright light and not the traditional shadow.
    • And that's not even bringing up Hohenheim and Father.
    • Or Bradley, who manages to be this to Roy, Ling, and Scar all at once.
    • Greed may eventually pull his Heel Face Turn act, but he is this to Ling as well. Both expressed interest in Alphonse's nature as a disembodied soul attached to armor, both are power-craving individuals inclined to do anything to get what they want, and both have a strong unwillingness to lose anything of value to them, which extends to their comrades. Ling however is good-natured and has an openly declared willingness to serve his people, compared to his Jerkass Homunculus counterpart who tries to center absolutely everything around himself. Their similarities foreshadow Ling merging with Greed.
    • Anime!Wrath is a shadow archetype to anime!Envy. They're both Artificial Humans of Ambiguous Gender, with the same bad taste in fashion, vindictive streak (watch Wrath kill Lust and tell me there's no sadism there), impulsive tendencies (although Envy's are slightly more controlled due to his greater experience), abandonment issues and fondness of displaying a Slasher Smile in combat.The difference is that Wrath has people who genuinely care about him, and is eventually able to lose that anger and pull a Heel Face Turn, whereas Envy, after 400 years of nurturing his spite, has nothing but deep-seated rage left to him; all that remains is psychosis and self-loathing, which eventually drives him into Complete Monster territory.
  • Haruhi and Kyon of her her eponymous anime are shadows of each other - Haruhi is the Daydream Believer that Kyon keeps locked away in his mind, and Kyon is the rational aspect of Haruhi that she tries to ignore.
  • Kenichi and Kanō in Kenichi: The Mightiest Disciple. Kenichi embodies the light aspect of martial arts, and Kanō embodies the dark aspects. They are opposites in pretty much every way, personality and appearance-wise, yet they are also very similar in that both are students of multiple Master-class fighters and partly because of this, they are viewed as the best fighters in their individual peer groups.
  • Prince of Tennis has a few as well. Fuji originally did not care as much for winning as enjoying the thrill of the game. Shiraishi, on the other hand, finds his own tennis boring but is committed to winning no matter what. Both are also considered the most formidable members of their respective teams, even more than their captain/lancer.
  • It's a common trope in Death Note fandom that Kira is Light's Super-Powered Evil Side, but the way he becomes all the things he claims to hate, even as he's punishing the world for being them, is very Shadow Archetype.
    • Of course, Kira doesn't have any superpowers, just a powerful weapon, and he isn't actually distinct from Light. And what he mostly appears to really hate are useless no-accounts and disorder, and the fact that the world is petty and hollow and small. (All of which he increasingly becomes as his power over the world increases, but he doesn't see it.)
    • L and Light have a whole reciprocal shadow thing going, though. Light is the social one, who not only understands but really cares about proper socialization and not being indecorous, but as Kira he's also the one who's the most prolific serial killer in history. L is antisocial and willfully unsocialized, and he doesn't really care about a little thing like legality, let alone propriety, but he's the one trying to enforce the social stricture you don't go around killing people, and he means it. Enough to be unwilling to test the Note. Shadow stack.
  • Big Bad Shishio in Rurouni Kenshin is the assassin who succeeded to Kenshin. He represents what Kenshin could have become if not for a certain incident in his past.
  • To Aru Majutsu no Index: Besides Accelerator, Tsuchimikado Motoharu serves as the Anti-Hero counterpart to Touma. Despite his good intentions, he is almost always willing to take more deadly measures to achieve things. While Touma has no organization affiliations, he tries to help any of his friends regardless of their loyalties. Tsuchimikado has multiple affiliations but is only really loyal to his younger step-sister. While Touma's Blessed with Suck powers are played for laughs, Tsuchimikado is in danger of dying from using his powers.
  • In Tiger and Bunny, it's shown that Kotetsu and Kriem both had very similar histories. Both were NEXT that grew up during the height of NEXT prejudice and had come to hate themselves before encountering someone that inspired them to embrace their abilities and follow in their new idol's footsteps. The key difference is that Kotetsu's encounter was with Sternbild's first Superhero Mr. Legend, while Kriem ran into NEXT-supremacist Super Villain Jake Martinez.
  • Black Lagoon: The protagonist Rock serves as a shadow for later character Yukio, who chose to take leadership in her yakuza family not that she had much choice. Later, Yukio even calls him out on his motivations for saving her, citing that he only sees her as his old self, but is unwilling to let go of his past.
  • Hachimaki talks with his Shadow in Planetes.
  • This is the entire premise of Yu-Gi-Oh! (well, besides the card game) and was the whole plot of the beginning manga. There are three doubles: one of the main character and two of the main antagonists, respectively. For the main character, Yugi, his double, which in the American fandom is called a yami (literally "darkness") evolved into a protagonist, but is still a Darker and Edgier version of Yugi. The antagonists are a classmate of Yugi's whose body is taken over by a vengeful spirit (the second yami) and a revenge-obsessed teen with an actual Split Personality (the third). A good deal of conflict in the series revolves around the magic of the Shadows wielded by them and others.
  • Shadow Yuuko from Tasogare Otome x Amnesia is a literal version of Kanoe Yuuko

Comic Books[edit | hide]

  • Batman is often seen as a Shadow Archetype for Superman, as well as for Bruce Wayne (himself...except the voice in his head that says "Here I am" doesn't call him Bruce). Looking at comics as a whole, Batman might also be seen as a Shadow Archetype of Captain America (comics)—both Badass Normal, highly-intelligent people coming at evil with little more than guts, wits, and a gadget or two.
    • On the subject of Batman, it should be noted that most of his prominent villains are intended to be his Shadow Archetypes in various ways:
      • The Joker, in obsession and madness, though this is a case of Not So Different.
      • Two-Face, in his origin.
      • The Catwoman, fellow master thief/spy using a motif of an animal associated with the supernatural and the night.
      • Ra's Al Ghul, in his aim to make the world a "better" place.
      • Scarecrow, in using fear to manipulate.
      • The Riddler, who leaves clues instead of finding them.
      • The Penguin, a dark shadow of Bruce Wayne's fop persona (this last according to the widow of Bill Finger, Batman's co-creator).
      • Hush, a rich kid who tried to kill his parents.
      • Catman, duh.
      • Prometheus and the Wrath are entirely explicit about being Batman-driven-to-villany-when-parents-killed-by-cops.
    • The Joker being Batman's Shadow Archetype is explored by Alan Moore in Batman: The Killing Joke, where the Joker tries to turn Commissioner Gordon insane by putting him through "one bad day" (including shooting his daughter Barbara, which had the bonus effect of paralyzing her, and running him through a literal carnival of horrors). In the end, when Batman confronts the Joker, the Joker says, "You had a bad day once, am I right? ... I can tell. You had a bad day and everything changed." This is all while we see what could be the Joker's origin, where his "bad day" consisted of his wife and baby dying....maybe. The whole thing ends with Batman and the Joker laughing together at one of his jokes about two guys in a lunatic asylum.
    • The Captain America parallel is made rather explicit in the JLA/Avengers crossover. While Cap and Superman are set as the opposing team leaders, it's Batman who gets the We're Not So Different match, as they prove evenly matched in skill and intelligence, and decide to set aside the fight to figure out what the hell is really going on.
    • To a lesser extent, Deadshot, Catman, the original Black Mask, and Jean-Paul Valley as Batman can also be seen as shadow versions of Bruce Wayne.
    • The best example may be Bane, trained to physical perfection? Check. Genius-level intellect? Check. Lack of parents in his formative years? Check. Papa Wolf tendencies? Just ask Scandal.
  • Two good examples from the X-Men comics. Sabertooth is what Wolverine would be like if he ever fully embraced his berserker side. Cassandra Nova is almost literally Prof. X's shadow archetype, being his evil twin that was killed before birth.
  • Aquaman had an explicit Shadow Archetype in the Thirst, which was literally the dark side of his then-newfound Waterbearer abilities; As his mentor the Lady of the Lake put it, "he is you Arthur".
    • It's also in this same series that Batman is established as the clearly defined opposite of Superman, the pair taking roles previously held by Hades and Apollo.
  • The Sentry and his nemesis/other-half, the Void are a pretty literal example given the Void's appearance and the nature of their relationship.
  • Quite literally in the form of Nega-Scott of Scott Pilgrim.
    • In the true Jungian tradition. Scott is kind of a jerkass, Nega-Scott is kind of cool.
  • Spider-man has several. The Scorpion was the first, being a crazed villain with arachnid-based powers and costume. The Green Goblin has similar strength and agility, and is the dark side of Peter's sense of humor and love of adventure. Venom has many of Peter's powers, and represents what he would have become if he hadn't had the will to resist the symbiote. Kaine is Peter's defective clone. During JMS's run on Spider-Man, we met Ezekial, who had all of Spider-Man's powers but no sense of responsibility to others. Then there is Doc Oc, the Spider-man evil counterpart who is the he could have easily became if he let his powers go to his head.
  • Baron Mordo to Doctor Strange, who represents what Strange might have become if he hadn't learned humility, patience, and respect for others. Doctor Strange: The Oath introduces Nicodemus West, yet another student of the Ancient One, with the added resonance of also being a physician.

Fan Fiction[edit | hide]

  • This is how many fanfics handle NightMare Moon.
  • In the fanfic Slayers Reflect every character meets a "reflection" of them.
  • One of Stray's major themes is "What can change the nature of a man?" The protagonist, Adamska, has two shadow counterparts within the story who represent different variants of himself-gone-wrong. One is an older version of himself that represents everything he doesn't want to become and the other is a former Tyke Bomb raised by the setting's Ancient Conspiracy as a successor when Adamska himself broke free of their control.
  • In keeping with the Shinji/Gendo dynamic mentioned above, Shinji and Warhammer 40 K makes the comparisons between the two quite explicit, which Shinji fervently hopes to avoid coming to pass. Ritsuko even goes as far as to label Shinji "mini-Gendo".
  • JLA Watchtower-DC Nation - the "Strangers" plot. Dark Angel "swapped out" several Titans with Evil Counterparts, and twisted reality so that the feelings people had towards the "replaced" Titan went to the villain instead. Nastiest in the case of Cheshire and Troia, but also pretty bad with Starfire's husband and a creepy shapeshifter, and between Fauna and Terra.
  • In the Order of the Stick Fanfic series, Oneiroi, Deirdre is the Shadow Archetype of Tiasal. Sadly enough, Tiasal didn't figure it out on time before she surrendered control of her body over to her.

Film[edit | hide]

  • In Lord of the Rings, Gollum is a vivid reminder of what Frodo could turn into if he gave into the ring.
  • Harvey Dent and Batman of The Dark Knight are shadows of each other - both had a day where they lost the people most important to them, which changed their lives forever.
    • The difference being that Rachel Dawes was there to push Bruce back into believing there's good in the world worth fighting for, where as for poor Harvey there was just the Joker showing up to mess with his head some more.
    • The Dark Knight Joker tries to draw parallels between himself and Batman:

"Don't talk like you're one of them [normal regular citizens]...To them, you're just a freak. Like me."

  • Darth Vader of Star Wars was this to Luke. Both expert Lightsaber duelists, both masters of The Force, both reliant on prosthetics, and the family connection only added to their similarities. The prequel trilogy tried to emphasize them further by giving Anakin's backstory parallels to Luke's. Luke was even offered a chance to turn to The Dark Side; the difference between Vader and Luke was that Luke opted to remain in the light.
    • In the first film, the nearest thing Luke has to a shadow is Han Solo. Luke is young and naive, empathic, believes in the Force, and is a great pilot; Solo is Older and Wiser, self-centered, a Flat Earth Atheist, and is also a great pilot. The second and third movies played up the shadow symbolism between Luke and Vader, both of them dressing in black, losing a hand in battle, etc., but Luke wasn't that great a duelist or much of a Force master. He did inherit his father's talent for flying, and his impulsive nature.
  • Fight Club: Tyler Durden is quite literally the Shadow Archetype to The Narrator, considering that he is nothing more than The Narrator's alternate personality, comprised of all the things The Narrator wants to be, but can't, because of the pressures of society. For Hollywood, this makes him an unusually Jungian version - he's what is repressed, not what is evil.
  • Ironically, Shiwan Khan in 1994 The Shadow movie is this to the titular protagonist, The Shadow himself. He got the same training as The Shadow, has same powers and is a big fan of Shadow's former self, ruthless crime lord Ying Ko.
  • The Lion King: Scar could be considered Simba's Shadow Archetype in Jungian terms: he is an adult with young Simba's headstrong and cocky nature and immature understanding of what being king means ("I'm the king, I can do whatever I want"). The plot is only solved when Simba defeats Scar, removing from himself his childishness.

Literature[edit | hide]

  • Sherlock Holmes has Professor Moriarty: Holmes's equal in every way but dedicated to crime.
  • Jekyll and Hyde, from Robert Louis Stephenson's The Strange Case of Doctor Jekyll and Mr. Hyde.
  • In the fantasy novel A Wizard of Earthsea, the main character Ged accidentally raises an evil spirit representing the darkness in himself, which is actually called the Shadow in the book. It follows him everywhere until he can call it by its true name-- Ged.
    • In the Ghibli animation, the shadow is rather confusingly characterised. It opens the film by making him kill his father (from within), then doing nothing, then saving the love interest, then going without to try and drown poor Arren, then reappearing 'without' once more to save the day again and flirt with said love interest.
  • Gollum is the shadow of Bilbo and Frodo Baggins - and, to some extent, Sam - in The Lord of the Rings.
    • About Sam and Gollum: in the first book, Sam is spying on Frodo and Gandalf when the latter surprises him. Later, Sam pretends to be sleeping when Frodo and Gildor are talking, then Sam is outed as a spy by Merry before they depart to Rivendell, and Sam is present without invitation at Elrond’s council. In the second book, after Gollum’s fight with himself, in his most vulnerable moment, what is the accusation Sam makes that truly sends Gollum over the edge? Snooping.
      • Also, remember all those conversations between Smeagol and Gollum that Sam spied and was utterly sick of hearing? Just when Sam and Frodo reach Mount Doom, What is Sam Gamyi doing? Talking to Themself about the futility of their quest!

And then what?, Sam Gamgee, then what?

    • Similarly, Sauron is to an extent the shadow of both Gandalf and Galadriel, while Saruman is a more specific shadow of Gandalf.
  • Discworld has quite a few shadow pairs: Esme and Lily Weatherwax (complete with lots and lots of mirror imagery), Angua and Wolfgang von Uberwald, Moist von Lipwig and Reacher Gilt (arguably), and Vimes has his Beast, which he sees in many of the worst criminals he faces. Carcer is another example of a shadow archetype for Vimes: Where Vimes spends all his time controlling his inner monster, Carcer indulges the Beast to the fullest extent.
  • Voldemort and Harry Potter share many things, but the most important might be that both had a hard time when they were children and had their lives completely turned around when they discovered the world of magic. But if Harry found friends and love, Voldemort found a way to gain power. The Not So Different speech is often given with these two.
  • In the sequel to Chocolat, The Lollipop Shoes, Zozie de l'Alba is Yanne's shadow, everything about herself that she has repressed - her magic, her glamour, her bohemian lifestyle, her free-spirited ways - as well as her impulse to use her magic to influence and control others.
  • In the works of Douglas Preston and Lincoln Child, Aloysius Pendergast has a shadow in the form of his brother Diogenes. Both are utterly brilliant, masters of disguise, and experts in numerous fields; Diogenes, however, suffered a childhood trauma which drove him quite mad.
  • Charles DeLint has the formation of actual Jungian Shadow Archetypes be an actual thing that happens in his Newford setting. One story revolves around the young woman who is the shadow of a recurring skeptic character; he cast her off at some point in childhood and no longer is aware of her, and she has identity issues. Eventually concludes she can be her own person, having been independent ever since she was cast; honorable mention to a conversation she has with a mentor figure:

Mentor: I once met the shadow of a man who was on death row for murder.
Christmas: What was he like?
Mentor: Meanest sonuvabitch I ever saw.
Christmas: I meant the shadow.
Mentor: Yeah, me too.

Live Action TV[edit | hide]

  • A classic shadow pair is the good-yet-indecisive Kirk and his evil-yet-effective twin in the Star Trek: The Original Series episode "The Enemy Within": "I have to take him back... inside myself. I can't survive without him. I don't want him back. He's like an animal, a thoughtless, brutal animal -- and yet it's me. Me."
  • Shadow pairs are very common on Buffy the Vampire Slayer, where they are what the good character could have been if they'd gone wrong. Faith is Buffy's shadow; Ethan is Giles's shadow; Adam is Riley's shadow. Vampires are sometimes seen as the shadow of the people they were when alive. Some characters manage to be their own shadows: Angel, Willow, Oz, Spike, and (in one episode) Xander. Willow's shadow, the vampire from the Wish Dimension, gets extra points - not just dangerous and creepy, but also showing signs of Willow's latent sexuality.
  • Similarly, the Miniature Killer (and her presumably-incestuous foster father Ernie Dell) are shadows of Sara and Grissom on CSI. The Miniature Killer represents everything that Sara and Grissom are unwilling to face about Sara's past and her consequent incompleteness as a person.
  • On Fraggle Rock, Boober Fraggle came into conflict with the fun-loving, irresponsible part of his personality, which manifested as his Evil Twin Sidebottom (the side of himself which he keeps on the bottom). It wasn't until Boober accepted Sidebottom as a part of himself that he was able to make his Evil Twin go away.
    • Also, lively, enthusiastic Red met her own opposite—the modest, cautious Beige—when the Fraggles encountered another colony of their species.
  • Elle Bishop and Claire Bennett of Heroes - it's actually explicitly mentioned by the resident Magnificent Bastard that he protected Claire from the company because he didn't want her to become Elle. Also, Gabriel Gray and Peter Petrelli - described as "Two Sides of the Same Coin", though it could just mean that one's emo and the other's psycho.
  • The Doctor and the Master, particularly in the revamped series.
    • The show also plays about the darkness within the Doctor himself, most recently in "Amy's Choice". This darker self shows the Doctor's wishes for control, power, and interestingly, his own self-hatred.
  • Tony's second series episode of Skins is a study in Jungian psychology; Sean Pertwee's character(s), the crazy dude on the train and the admissions counselor at the university, together form Tony's shadow (Tony explicitly describes himself as "<the counselor>'s bad dream, him before he was destroyed by the system").
  • Babylon 5 has the entire Vorlon race and its shadow counterpart, the, er, Shadows. The series starts off with the standard depiction of the Shadows as evil, but then shows that in a different way Vorlons are evil too.
  • Dexter's whole shtick is that he kills people who represent what he would be if he didn't have a code. So, in effect, he has murdered literally hundreds of manifestations of his Shadow Archetype. On top of that, every season introduces a new mentor-type figure who presents a more personal version of the archetype.
  • In an episode of House, a man became his own shadow when he had a neurological problem that caused him to spout whatever came into his head.
    • On a series-wide level, House and Wilson are shadows of each other. Wilson's cheerful Nice Guy personality is, at least in part, a deliberate persona he puts up because he doesn't want to be hurt by rejection. House's abrasive Jerkass personality is, at least in part, a deliberate persona he puts up to prop up his ego (thus preventing himself from being hurt by rejection). Both frequently note that the reason they're such good friends is because the other allows them to release a little bit of what they hide from everyone else, and because both can see right through each other.
  • In Smallville Lex Luthor was always being warned about the darkness that he carried within himself. Enter Lx-3, a failed clone of Lex in the Season 10 premiere, "Lazarus". Lx-3 was essentially Lex without the facade, with all the rage and anger simmering at the very surface. An Axe Crazy psycho to Lex's Manipulative Bastard, Lx-3 showcases exactly what is lurking beneath the surface of our favourite Corrupt Corporate Executive, while demonstrating how vital that restraint really is if Lex is to be a successful supervillain.
  • In the BBC's Sherlock, Jim Moriarty, the "consulting criminal", is an even more direct Shadow Archetype to Sherlock Holmes than the original literary character was. Like Sherlock, Jim is phenomenally clever, completely sociopathic and easily bored with everyday life. But unlike Sherlock, who solves crimes and puzzles, Jim staves off boredom and puts his brain to the test by masterminding perfect crimes on behalf of wannabe criminals. He represents what Sherlock could become someday, and shows just how important Sherlock and John's friendship is in pushing Sherlock towards being heroic and doing the right thing.

Tabletop Games[edit | hide]

  • The Shadow is an integral part of Wraith: The Oblivion. Basically your worst enemy, who's always with you, tries to manipulate you into falling into oblivion... and everyone has one. Even worse, the standard approach is to have the players play each others' shadows on the side, leading to a whole deal of sneaky backstabbing.
  • The Dungeons & Dragons Ravenloft setting had a monstrous device called The Apparatus which could split any character into two opposing personalities (it could also turn two people into one). The only way to undo it was to get them both back into the machine and run it again in reverse.
    • There's also the mirror of opposition. Any character who gazes into the mirror will create an identical twin of opposing alignment, with identical levels, skills and equipment.
      • There's a very powerful (Solar Circle Sorcery) magic spell with this effect in Exalted, with the twist that the original is trapped in the mirror while their Evil Twin runs loose.
  • The Ebon Dragon in Exalted is this trope. One of his titles is "the Shadow of All Things," and he exists to oppose heroism wherever it may exist and corrupt it into villainy.
    • Which just leads to layers of complexity, when one considers that the Ebon Dragon instigated the creation of the Unconquered Sun to provide him with an overarching 'light archetype' to define himself against. This, of course, resulted in the emergence of Five Days Darkness... best described as the Unconquered Sun's Shadow Archetype, and effectively the Ebon Dragon's grandchild.
    • On a more general level, the Abyssals are presented as being narrative Shadow Archetypes of what the Solar Exalted might become, now that they've returned... while the Terrestrials are easily used as a narrative Shadow Archetype for what the Solars had become when they ruled the world; oppressive tyrants that must be unseated.

Theatre[edit | hide]

Cyrano: Blended, we make a hero of romance!

Video Games[edit | hide]

  • In Breath Of Fire 4, Ryu and Fou Lu are the two split halves of one god; Fou Lu, an ancient Emperor, has grown tired of the mortals he once ruled, and basically decides to kill all of them, whereas Ryu, new to the world, wants to protect everyone, most prominently Nina. The two end up fusing together at the end of the game, but who ends up as the dominant personality depends on how well you do during the final fight.
  • Characters meet their Shadows in both Persona 2 games. There is much misery to be had as their doppelgangers air out character flaws to all in earshot, daring them to prove they have learned from or grown past these issues. However these are all just avatars for the one single collective Shadow of all humanity. In Eternal Punishment, neither Nate Najou nor Ellen Kirishima meet their 'evil twins' in this way, but find corrupted people who they share common traits with - Kandori Takahisa in Nate's case and Chizuru Ishigami in Ellen's. Ellen also gets chewed out by a former classmate (actually another doppelganger) she has obsessed over locating.
    • Aigis and Metis in Persona 3: FES. Aigis is more reserved and introspective, while Metis is more impulsive and extroverted. It turns out that Metis is, in fact, a product of the Abyss of Time, created when Aigis locked away her human side after the Main Character's death in the original storyline.
    • Same goes in Persona 4—all the main characters, except the Heroic Mime lead, encounter their inner Shadow Archetype at one point. These shadow archetypes follow the Jungian archetype and represent whatever the characters may have repressed. They will loudly exclaim these repressed feelings to the world, and do not take kindly to being denied. Accepting and embracing the flaws the shadow archetypes represent is how the party members obtain their persona, another call-out to Jung.
      • A non shadow example of Shadow Archetype in Persona 4 is the real killer, Adachi. The oddity is that the are not a counterpart to The Hero but to Yosuke. Both suffer from Small Town Boredom, Yosuke merely represses it causing it to form his Shadow, Adachi deals with the boredom by using murder for entertainment.
  • Also From Atlus and part of the Megami Tensei multiverse, in Catherine there is Shadow of Vincent, which represents all of Vincent's repressed fears of commitment to marriage and women in general, and is very similar to the Persona examples above, leading to the possibility of it having more ties to the Persona subseries than the other Mega Ten games.
  • Shadow from the Sonic the Hedgehog series is possibly one of these, because of the many Alternate Character Interpritations.
  • Likewise, Kingdom of Loathing makes the player character fight a shadow version of themselves. The only way to damage it is with healing items.
    • And every character has a (class-based) Nemesis, who turns out to represent a corrupted version of that class. In mid-2009, brief encounters with the Nemesis became possible.
      • As of early 2010, it's now possible to complete the full side-quest against the Nemesis, complete with a secret Island Base (complete with volcano!) and the Nemesis possessing a One-Winged Angel form. Oh, and the Nemesis is ultimately a Load-Bearing Boss, as the volcano erupts immediately after you defeat your Nemesis for the final time.
      • To elaborate: Seal Clubbers face a seal stronger and fiercer that any before. Turtle Tamers fight a Turtle Poacher. Pastamancers, who control Pasta Spirits, fight a pasta spirit who no one can control. Saucerors, who allow The Sauce to flow through them, fight a blob that was rejected by the sauce. Accordion Thieves fight an angry mariachi, and Disco Bandits fight the Spirit of New Wave, the genre which killed Disco.
  • Devil May Cry has one, in its 3rd game. One of the final bosses in the game (in fact the last you face before the Boss Rush) is literally a shadow version of Dante. When it first confronts him, Dante demonstrates an oddly adroit knowledge of literature and culture (pointing out that the Shadow typically represents aspects of themselves the hero must overcome) before defaulting to his typical persona.

"I know why you're here. You want to ask me some questions. Well too bad! I've already answered them myself. I don't need you. Get lost, you poser."

  • Word of God has it that NiGHTS is supposed to represent the Shadow Archetype. However, the character is, in fact, an aversion of the "Always Negative in Fiction": Ni GHTS, while somewhat mischievous, is definitely not evil...at least, not during the events of the game. It's said that Ni GHTS was created by the Big Bad, Wizeman, as a helper. He/she/it instead embodies positive traits that are buried in the protagonists due to their problems—freedom, courage, self-confidence, etc.
    • Interestingly, Ni GHTS, a shadow archetype, has his/her own shadow archetype: Reala, a servant to Wizeman. (Damn, it's hard to write anything involving Ni GHTS. The guy...er, girl...whatever is the Patron Saint of No Biological Sex.)
  • In Tales of Symphonia, Mithos seems to fit this trope with Lloyd, both having much the same origins, but the latter not becoming the former by willing to accept one's own mistakes.

Mithos: Farewell, my shadow, you who stand at the end of the path I chose not to follow.

  • Shirou from Fate/stay night has two main examples. Firstly, there is Kotomine, a man who has exactly as much a sense of self but can only find meaning in hurting others where Shirou can only find meaning in helping them. Secondly, there is Archer, the embodiment of Shirou's Wide-Eyed Idealist ideals of becoming an 'ally of justice' who'll always try to save everyone; said person hates what he's become and wants to kill Shirou from keeping him from going down the same path..
  • Silent Hill - From the second game on, the hero and antagonist are more or less shadow archetypes of each other:
  • Ryu's "evil" side (more like unrestrained) from Street Fighter, the result of Ryu letting go of his humanity to win at any cost. Akuma wants to permanently draw this out of him while Gouken (Ryu's master) teaches him that this is not the way of the warrior. In the actual canon of the story, this is more metaphorical than realized (Ryu never rampages around in his dark side, though he is always afraid it will get the better of him) but some games do allow the player to use this version of Ryu.
  • In Mass Effect 2, Mordin is a scientist who struggles with the guilt of unleashing a virus that reduced the fertility rate of an entire species, in order to save the galaxy from them. During his loyalty mission, you meet Maleon, another scientist who represents what Mordin would be if he let his guilt overtake him and Jumped Off the Slippery Slope.
    • Commander Shepard racks up three of these throughout the trilogy:
      • Saren Arterius much like Shepard, is an elite soldier who bands together an elite squad to deal with the reapers. Saren chooses to side with the Reapers in hope of being spared while Shepard is out to defeat them.
      • Kai Leng, who like Shepard, are both former N7 operatives and the best fighters of their respective organizations (Alliance/Council for Shepard and Cerberus for Kai Leng).
      • Javik, the first non-villainous version of this, is the Prothean version of Shepard who failed in his mission to stop the Reapers. During the last Cycle, he watched his homeworld burn, saw his team get indoctrinated and lost the War. As a result, he's taken a rather Social Darwinist philosophy.
  • Alex Mercer of Prototype has... Alex Mercer. Or rather, the real Alex Mercer and the Blacklight Virus as Alex Mercer act as shadow archetypes to each other. Both are ruthless, cruel in their methods, and quick to destroy those who get in their way or cross them... but while the real Alex Mercer truly was completely selfish and sociopathic -- trying to take his deadly enhanced Blacklight virus as a bargaining chip to buy his safety from a purge of his company, then releasing it out of spite when that failed, despite his sister living in the city -- the Blacklight Mercer actually has some capacity for compassion and kindness. It fights to protect Mercer's sister where the real Mercer was willing to let her die. Its fight, although selfish initially, helps save Manhattan and improve things for the innocents caught in the crossfire between Blackwatch and the infection. And in the end, it risks its own life to save Manhattan from nuclear annihilation -- it was powerful enough by this point to survive the detonation if it was not at the epicenter, but it had no way of being certain of this. Whereas the real Mercer sacrificed his conscience and morals out of self interest, an initial motivation of self interest causes the Blacklight Mercer to develop a conscience and morals.

Web Comics[edit | hide]

  • In El Goonish Shive, when Ellen first appeared—inadvertently conjured into existence when Elliot used the Dewitchery Diamond to cure himself of a Magitek Gender Bender—she came down with a bad case of Cloning Blues and decided that she was going to be Elliot's Evil Twin. Even after she realized she was completely unsuited to be a villain and pulled a Heel Face Turn, she deliberately rejected many facets of Elliot's personality, such as his shyness around strangers and his self-conscious attitude about sex. This puts her in a unique position to become a particularly effective Annoying Younger Sibling when she feels like it, dealing out good-natured teasing with pinpoint accuracy.
  • Probably Jadesprite to Jade in Homestuck, seeing as Jade is optimistic despite the future not looking too good while Jadesprite believes everything is doomed and won't even listen to a "the future's worth fighting for" speech, for chrissakes! Jadesprite's hysterics drive Jade from a get-ahold-of-yourself-man-slap to assault. This is eventually lampshaded by acting-psychiatrist Karkat.
    • A Dark Is Not Evil example in Homestuck is Karkat to John. Both have similar rooms, fulfil similar roles in the plot, and even use weapons with a symbolic similarity (John uses a hammer, Karkat uses a sickle). However, their personalities are quite different - John is sweet, mischievous and innocent, and Karkat is bitter, angry, but rather wise. John types in all lower-case, but Karkat types in ALL CAPS. And while both of them love terrible movies, John just has really bad taste and defends the quality of the films he loves - Karkat is aware his favourite romcoms are terrible, but loves them passionately anyway. This is one of the reasons why Karkat, at one point, falls in hate with John (and also one of the reasons why John doesn't reciprocate).

Web Original[edit | hide]

  • Metamor City -- Making the Cut:
    • Female alter-ego Danni brings out aspects of Daniel's personality that Daniel might not otherwise acknowledge. In particular, her rant at Rebecca for betraying their relationship is something Daniel never would have said, though he had doubtless been carrying those feelings around for years.
    • Subverted by Evan and Eva, who actively embrace their personality split; the alter egos will trade off situations between them, depending on which one is better suited to handle the task at hand.
    • Played straight with Victor, who has pushed all of the aspects of his personality that troubled him into his "Dark Place"—inadvertently creating a rage-fueled monster that he is no longer able to control.

Western Animation[edit | hide]

  • On Samurai Jack, Aku used a spell to create a Shadow duplicate of Jack. Aku theorized that Jack could not defeat himself in combat, which proved to be true. Jack prevailed by becoming peaceful and calm, proved his mastery over his own anger and drew the Shadow into himself
  • Shego is Kim Possible if she got bored of being good.
  • On Teen Titans, Red X and Slade are both Robin's shadows—X represents what Robin could become if he decided looking out for himself was more important than helping people, while Slade represents what could happen if Robin gave in to evil completely (as Slade is an Evil Mentor, he's also a shadow of Robin's actual mentor, Batman).
    • From the same series, though it isn't really played up, Terra can be seen as Raven's shadow. Both are Dark Magical Girls with uncontrollable powers, but Raven practices intense self-discipline to keep herself on the good guys' side, while Terra is an emotional wreck who doesn't really mean evil, but turns out to be very susceptible to serious temptation the first time it comes down the pipe. This could easily be seen as part of the reason why the two characters took an instant dislike to each other...
      • Raven even calls Terra out on how much she has to work to control her powers while Terra won't take that responsibility.
        • From a metafanbase PoV, their both Beastboy's Love Interest. Puts a weird spin on the Terra VS Raven Mudfight when you think about it...
      • To a lesser extent, Raven and Jinx. Raven tries to be a hero in spite of being the daughter of an Eldritch Abomination (and being one herself when she gets angry enough), while Jinx became a villain solely because she figured her 'bad luck' powers couldn't be used for good.
        • Teen Titans basically loves this trope, as Blackfire is in many ways the Shadow of her sister Starfire. They even have the same voice actress, Hynden Walch.
  • Katara and Azula of Avatar: The Last Airbender.
    • A better example would be Azula and Zuko: he spends most of the series on the verge of becoming as ruthless and as cruel as his sister, but pulls back when he realizes she's willing to commit genocide.
    • More like he spends a long time trying to be her, because that's what his father wants; his successes are moderate at best. Eventually, after much Character Development, he is allowed to reap the rewards of becoming like her even though he hasn't (though he did do something evil enough to freak him out), and discovers they're totally not worth even being an accomplice, because this isn't him.
    • Hama is a fellow Waterbender whose Irrational Hatred of the entire Fire Nation is similar to Jet's in that she has no qualms about harming innocent people. She develops a deadly Waterbending technique and becomes ruthless in order to survive in the Fire Nation and teaches Katara the same technique. Katara very nearly became consumed with the same vengeance when faced with her mother's killer but decides it wasn't worth it after a little help from Aang.
  • The Legend of Korra: Korra was deliberately designed as a Shadow Archetype of Aang from the parent series. Supposedly, the creators had a lot of fun writing her.
  • In the ThunderCats (2011) episode "Ramlak Rising" The Anti-Hero Captain Tunar to protagonist Lion-O. Like Lion-O, he too lost his home to a horrible monster, one that he wishes to destroy at all costs. Seeing where that mindset eventually leads convinces Lion-O to move past it.
  • American Dad quite literally parodies this trope to Hell and back with the Anti Christ who intentionally strives to take aspects of Jesus and the Bible and turn them inside out. For instance, he manages to trap Stan, Jesus, and Francine in a Death Trap that fills with sand... which breaks after two seconds. He gives an Evil Laugh and declares that since Jesus is a carpenter, he can't build to save his life.
  • American Dragon: Jake Long: Huntsgirl and Jake are both forced by their roles to be enemies. Jake being the protector of magical creatures, against Huntsgirl who has to hunt them. Jake has to deal with accepting responsibilities while Huntsgirl has to fight her fate.
  • Hey Arnold!: Helga is an Hypocrite with Hidden Depths who denies her feelings. Brainy is a guy with Hidden Depths who always try to say her feelings (but cannot for the asthma). Why Helga is continously giving OffhandBackhands to Brainy? Because Brainy is the one thing Helga wants and fears to be. Brainy is Helga's Satellite Character because Brainy is Helga's self, and Helga is his Shadow Archetype.

Real Life[edit | hide]

  • In the British Political System, the leadership of the most prominent opposition party consists of a group of spokesmen and -women with particular portfolios (the Treasury, Home Affairs etc), as counterparts to the Governmental Cabinet. This is known as The Shadow Cabinet. It's far less awesome than it sounds.
  • The "Fat Acceptance" and the "Pro Ana" movements, which present obesity and anorexia, respectively, as legitimate lifestyle choices, have many things in common despite the extreme opposition of their views. Both are composed almost entirely of women (with the few men being obvious chubby chasers/skinny fetishists looking for some action), both have a similary narrow-minded view of female beauty/health (For Pro Ana, any woman larger than a size two is fat. For Fat Acceptance, any woman smaller than a size twelve is gaunt), and both stubbornly refuse to accept that their lifestyles could possibly have any negative health effects, casually writing off any evidence to the contrary as propaganda.
  • The appropriately named "shadow types" in Myers-Briggs/Kiersley/etc. personality theory, which is based on Jung's original work. They can be messy, and there's a book on them called "Was That Really Me?"