|“||The Shadow. The thing that rules the Empty.||”|
As it explained to Castiel, the Shadow controls the Empty and, that the dimension existed before God or the Darkness. When angels and demons die, they go to the Empty where they eternally slumber, allowing the Shadow to do the same. If even one of its charges is awake, the Shadow is awoken as well and left in pain until the awakened being is asleep again or removed from the Empty.
In The Big Empty, after the Seraph Castiel is awakened by Jack's telepathic call, the Shadow is awakened. It arose in the form of a pool of dark liquid inside the Empty after Castiel walked by before taking on a vague humanoid form. The Shadow followed Castiel as he made his way through the Empty, though he sensed the Shadow 's presence and called out to it. The Shadow took on Castiel's form to communicate with him directly, though it spoke with a distinct voice and accent. The Shadow identified itself as "just your friendly, neighborhood cosmic entity" and stated that it has taken on Castiel's form as its real form is too frightening.
The Shadow explained to Castiel that the Empty is what existed before everything, including God and Amara, adding that Castiel was "soaking in it." The Shadow told Castiel that every angel or demon that has ever died was in an eternal sleep inside the Empty, though it was confused that Castiel was awake. According to the Shadow, "in all of forever", nothing has ever awakened inside the Empty as it mentioned its slumber being disturbed by his awakening. Castiel didn't know and suggested that the Winchesters must have made a deal, but the Shadow disbelieved this and stated that only it has power over the Empty with not even God having power there. The Shadow then put its hand to Castiel's forehead and painfully went through his memories in an attempt to find out what could have woken up Castiel. Afterwards, the Shadow explained to Castiel, who remained in pain, what he did and that it wanted Castiel back to sleep. It described Castiel being awake as a trapped gnat that was loudly buzzing in its head as Castiel realized from the Shadow's description that him being awake was painful for the Shadow. This was confirmed by the Shadow, stating that if Castiel could not sleep, then the Shadow could not sleep as well.
|“||If you can't sleep, I can't sleep. Yeah? And I like sleep. I need sleep.||”|
The Shadow insisted that it likes and needs sleep, causing Castiel to suggest that it get rid of him by sending Castiel back to Earth. The Shadow instead suggested that it throw Castiel so deep into the Empty that he could not bother it anymore, but Castiel recognized that the Shadow was bluffing. Castiel challenged that the Shadow's plan would not work as the Shadow would have already done it. The Shadow acknowledged that Castiel was right, but refused to send him back, telling Castiel that "it's not part of the deal." The Shadow stated that it has gone through all of Castiel's mind and knew everything there is about him and claimed that there was nothing back on Earth for Castiel. The Shadow grasped Castiel's head and painfully showed Castiel visions of his grace being stolen by Metatron, his death at the hands of Lucifer, the Escape of the Leviathans and Castiel returning the souls to Purgatory. The Shadow struck down Castiel, attempting to convince Castiel he was worthless so he would return to sleep. However, Castiel refused the entity's demands and declared that no matter what the Shadow does, he will fight it for eternity if he was not released. The Shadow angrily denied Castiel's demands as Castiel continued to demand for his release from the realm, staring down the Shadow while making his statement.
Castiel later awakened in a meadow on Earth and realized that the Shadow has complied and resurrected him as Castiel demanded.
In Tombstone, the resurrected Castiel tells the Winchesters that he annoyed an "ancient cosmic being" so much that it sent him back.
In Byzantium, following the death of the Nephilim Jack, the Shadow invades Heaven to get Jack's soul, believing him to belong to the Empty because of the boy's angel side by possessing and incapacitating all of the angels. The Shadow easily defeated all defenses put up and chased Jack when he emerged from his Heaven but he managed to elude it. Jack later told Kelly Kline of what is after him and she hides him from it.
When Castiel entered Heaven in search of Jack's soul, the Shadow, possessing the angel Duma, accompanied Castiel in his search. The Shadow overwhelmed and possessed Naomi when she reminded Castiel of it and tried to convince him to help them turn Jack over to it.
As Castiel met with Jack and Kelly Kline, he told them of the Shadow and its intentions. The Shadow overheard their plans to resurrect Jack, before it revealed itself and attacked in an effort to take Jack to the Empty, easily defeating Castiel and Kelly's attempts to protect Jack. Recognizing that the Shadow wanted to get back at him, Castiel offered to trade himself to it for Jack immediately, pointing out that otherwise, it would have to wait years, perhaps eons for Castiel to die again. The Shadow accepted Castiel's deal, but decided to wait until Castiel was truly happy to collect on it since it wanted his end to be painful. After making the deal, the Shadow left Heaven and returned to the Empty, restoring the angels back to normal.
In Moriah, after Jack is killed by God, he awakens in the Empty where Jack is greeted by the Shadow who takes the form of a viscous black humanoid figure. Using a circular motion with its hands, the Shadow forms a smile on its face. When Billie appears to talk to Jack, the Shadow stands by, watching and smiling.
|“||I'm on Death's side. When her plan works, I finally get to go back to sleep. (…) Funny thing about her plan though: she didn't say anything about needing you. (…) See you soon.||”|
In Destiny's Child , wanting answers on the Occultum from Ruby, Castiel had Jack drain most of his life force so that he could go to The Empty to find the demon. Castiel encountered the Shadow, masquerading as Meg. After brief banter, it reluctantly allowed him to meet with Ruby. When Castiel tries to leave, the Shadow, who is revealed to be working with Billie in exchange for sending it back to sleep when it's all over, tortures Castiel while he is still in its power. However, Jack returns Castiel's life force on Sam and Dean's insistence and Castiel vanishes from the Empty, returning to his vessel on Earth. The Shadow remarks that it will see him soon.
In Unity, Sam uses the Key to Death to enter Death's Reading Room in search of Billie. There, he finds the Shadow, still in the form of Meg, having slaughtered several Reapers. The Shadow forces the last Reaper to pray to Billie, but when she doesn't appear, the Shadow kills the Reaper by telekinetically snapping his neck. As Sam tries to sneak away, the Shadow senses his presence and transports Sam in front of it with another snap of its fingers.
Sam is confused to see Meg, but the Shadow explains that the real Meg is still dead, but its just borrowing her face. Sam realizes who the Shadow is and it explains that it needs a word with Billie, but Billie has been ignoring it. The Shadow explains that the Empty was supposed to belong to it, a place where not even God held sway, but it was "sweet little lies." Billie had promises to make it all better when she takes it all over, but Castiel came along and gave the Shadow trust issues. Sam realizes that Billie wants to take over which the Shadow confirms, stating that Billie wants to become the new God. Billie wants everything back how it used to be, everyone back to where they belong, realities and dimensions separate, and the Shadow back to sleep. However, the Shadow now doubts Billie's trustworthiness.
The Shadow reveals God's death book which only Billie can read. All that Billie had said was that Sam should be dead, except that Billie needs him. The Shadow begins torturing Sam in the hopes of drawing Billie out and Sam gets it to stop by claiming that Billie sent him. The Shadow doubts Sam's sincerity, but Sam points out that as they are trying to beat God, there's not a whole lot of time for questions. Sam lies that Billie sent him to get the book and didn't say why and that Billie is on Earth which he realizes the Shadow can't go to. The Shadow confirms this, stating that it can only come to Earth if its summoned. Sam claims that Billie can't leave either due to the plan and so sent him in her stead with a message that Billie will honor her promise. God and Amara will die and the Shadow can go back to sleep. Sam suggests that the Shadow has two choices: give him the book and maybe they all win or kill him and they lose and the Shadow will never go back to sleep. The Shadow accepts and allows Sam to return to the bunker.
In Despair, a detonating Jack is sent to the Empty where the Shadow, still in the form of Meg, is amused by his sudden appearance and the fact that he isn't doing too good. Jack can only apologize before detonating with the Shadow only managing to mutter an aborted "oh --."
Billie explains to the Winchesters and Castiel that she sent Jack to the Empty because it was "the only player on the board that could possibly absorb that impact." However, she is unsure if Jack and the Shadow survived or not and knows that if they did, the Shadow will be pissed at her. However, the Shadow can't reach her on Earth which Sam remembers is because it can't come to Earth unless it is directly summoned.
Shortly afterwards, both Jack and the Shadow reform. Appearing weakened and horrified, the Shadow pulls Jack to itself with telekinesis and claims that Jack "made it loud." As the Shadow starts to torture Jack, Billie returns him to Earth, causing the Shadow to growl in frustration.
Chased by a mortally wounded Billie, Castiel realizes that only the Shadow can stop her and reveals his deal with the being to Dean and that when he experiences a moment of true happiness, the Shadow will be summoned to Earth to take him the Empty forever. By expressing his love for Dean, Castiel experiences a moment of true happiness and a portal to the Empty opens. The Shadow sends two dark tendrils through, absorbing Billie and a crying but smiling Castiel who doesn't resist. The tendrils return through the portal which then closes.
In Inherit the Earth, a resurrected Lucifer claims that the Shadow sent him to retrieve Chuck's Death Book and use it to kill God. Later, Lucifer admits that it was actually God who resurrected him and not the Shadow.
When the Winchesters explain their ultimate plan to defeat God, a flashback of Jack exploding in front of the Shadow is shown.
The Shadow does possess a true form, but it's unknown what it looks like, however it instills insanity in demons and angels. He can manipulate the Empty to alter his appearance. The Shadow appears to prefer to take on forms that will best taunt its opponents or best fit the situation, initially choosing to appear to Castiel as a duplicate of Castiel himself and then later taking on the form of the demon Meg due to Castiel seeking the demon Ruby. The Shadow later uses Meg's form again in its attempt to speak with Billie, telling Sam that its borrowing her form "because really, I'm empty." After being caught in Jack's explosion and reforming, the Shadow immediately takes on Meg's form once again.
|“||I'm just your friendly neighborhood Cosmic Entity.||”|
In its first appearance, The Shadow was shown to utilize highly cynical sarcasm when meeting individuals, as shown with his meeting with Castiel. It showed frustration at its failures to break his spirit in an attempt to get him to give up on wanting to live again to get him to return to his slumber.
When this didn't work, it attacked him out of frustration and called him worthless, which proved unsuccessful. The Shadow was very angry at Castiel's defiant attitude but finally complied in annoyance, to resurrect Castiel to be able to return to its slumber. This shows that the Shadow is somewhat impatient.
|“||I want you to suffer.||”|
— The Shadow to Castiel
During its attack on Heaven, more about the Shadow is revealed. The Shadow is shown to be impulsive, mentally unstable, possessive, invasive, vindictive and sadistic. It views angels' and demon's essences as its material possessions, and is wiling to go to great lengths to claim them. It targeted Castiel's nephew Jack at least partly for this reason. Naomi also worded this by stating that the Shadow considered Jack as its property, or because of his indirect role in waking it. Its impatience and mentally unstable psychology is shown when it aggressively reacts to Castiel interrupting it.
It is also proven to be relentless in its goals as seen when it invaded Heaven and violently attacked the remaining angels in an effort to claim Jack and according to Naomi, threatened that Heaven would fall if they do not hand Jack over to it. The Shadow proved to be crafty, as it deceived Castiel by pretending to be Duma after possessing her and letting him lead it to Jack who was hiding in his mother's heaven.
The Shadow's sadism was proven when after Castiel offered himself in Jack's place: the Shadow quickly accepted the bargain, but it chose to wait until Castiel was truly happy to collect on their deal in order to make him suffer to complete its vengeance. This sadistic side of the Shadow is seen again when Castiel comes to the Empty to talk with Ruby. After he gets the information he needed from her and before he could return back, the Shadow tortures him, telling that, despite allying himself with Billie, she didn't tell it she needed Castiel for her plan. It put Castiel in an immense pain until he got brought back by Jack. It also tortured Reapers and Sam to try to get to Billie. Later on, when Jack was about to explode, the Shadow took time to taunt him when Billie teleported him into the Empty before realizing what was going to happen.
Despite all this, The Shadow showed some kindness when it greeted Jack in its realm by forming a smile on its face to relax him after the latter expressed fear at encountering it again though it may have also been a taunt as the Shadow appeared to laugh afterwards.
While posing as Meg due to Castiel's search for Ruby causing it to choose to continue with the demon theme, the Shadow adopts many of the demon's mannerisms such as calling Castiel "Clarence" and Meg's trademark "Hello, Clarence" greeting for Castiel. However, the Shadow's imitation of the demon is far more sadistic than the real thing. The Shadow continues its imitation of Meg while searching for Billie and communicating with Sam. The Shadow shows a possible preference for Meg's form and maybe a respect for the demon, calling Meg "the queen" while explaining its choice of form to Sam. It once again immediately assumes Meg's form after Jack's explosion rather than using its true form or another shape.
The Shadow reveals to Sam that Castiel's visit to the Empty to see Ruby shook its faith in Billie's trustworthiness so much that it personally sought her out for answers. On this occasion, the Shadow appears to be much less hostile and more open while talking to Sam about Billie's plans. The Shadow makes it clear that it just wants to return to its eternal rest which is the entity's motivation above anything else. After Billie teleports Jack to the Empty and he explodes there, the Shadow for the first time shows genuine horror despite surviving, stating that Jack "made it loud" and it's faith in Billie was completely erased, resulting in it not only taking Castiel but also taking Billie as well. Billie herself expected this, stating that the Shadow would be pissed and want revenge upon her for Billie's actions, something that Castiel exploited in order to defeat Billie once and for all.
Powers and Abilities
|“||I'm the only one that has any pull here. Not Heaven, not Hell, not G-O-D himself.||”|
Being the supreme ruler of the Empty, the Shadow possesses immeasurable supernatural power, allowing it to do almost anything it wishes within its own realm. The Shadow has also shown to be extremely powerful outside of the Empty, easily overpowering angels, invading Heaven killing Reapers, and Death itself without the aid of anything.
- Nigh-Omnipotence (At least within the Empty) - The Shadow has the power to do practically anything and has complete control over the Empty. The Shadow claims that not even God has strings on the Empty and all within it, though this claim appears to have been "sweet little lies". The Empty is noted by Death to be "vast". It is at least equal, if not stronger than a fully-powered Death, and easily overpowered and killed her when she was weakened. It is not as strong as God or The Darkness however.
- Reality Warping - The Shadow is able to create matter out of nothing as it fully rebuilt Castiel's vessel, which was previously burned and destroyed with no visible damage leftover. When it attacked Heaven, the Shadow broke open all of the gates, even the ones sealed by Metatron's unbreakable spell.
- Resurrection - The Shadow was able to resurrect Castiel, returning him to Earth in the process.
- Possession - While in Heaven, the Shadow was able to possess all of the surviving angels, essentially consuming them as seen with Naomi and Duma and turning the angels into its vessels. When the Shadow left their bodies, Duma at least had no memory of the experience but the angels were left otherwise unharmed.
- Flight - After leaving Duma's vessel, the Shadow's true form flew into an air vent in a house within Kelly's Heaven before returning to The Empty.
- Shapeshifting - Due to its terrifying true form, the Shadow takes on the form of the being it is speaking to, though it speaks with a distinct voice instead of mimicking the being's voice. In The Empty, it changed from its true form to Castiel's visage when speaking to him and before pursuing him, it changed from a puddle of black ooze and took on a vague humanoid form to walk around The Empty. When possessing Duma, the Shadow briefly altered the appearance of her face to that of it's true face before reverting back to Duma's appearance. However, it seems powerful beings like Jack and Billie are able to see it in its true form. The Shadow later takes on the form of the demon Meg to communicate with Castiel when he comes in search of Ruby going so far as to wear the same outfit Meg had on when she died. When going to speak with Billie, the Shadow continues to use Meg's form, stating that its "because really, I'm empty," referring to its general lack of a real form. After reforming from Jack's explosion, the Shadow immediately shifted into the form of Meg once again.
- Super Strength - The Shadow was able to effortlessly overpower and beat Castiel. When it attacked Heaven, the Shadow effortlessly defeated all of the remaining angels. The Shadow was also able to overpower Castiel and Kelly, and strangled Jack to the point that he was briefly unconscious with no effort.
- Telekinesis - The Shadow was able to stop Jack by raising its hand towards him. It was also able to kill several Reapers by snapping their necks with telekinesis. After surviving Jack's explosion, the Shadow easily pulled Jack to him.
- Telepathy - In order to learn more about Castiel, the Shadow painfully dug through his memories. The Shadow later used this power to show him some of his most painful memories in an effort to convince Castiel that he was worthless and should go back to sleep.
- Biokinesis - While Castiel was in the Empty, the Shadow was able to torture the Seraphim simply by clenching its hand. It later did the same Sam in Death's Reading Room.
- Clairsentience - The Shadow was able to sense Sam's presence in Death's Reading Room despite him being out of its line of sight.
- Teleportation- The Shadow has the ability to go anywhere in the realms of the afterlife. It was able to transverse both Heaven and Death's Reading Room. It appears that this is not absolute because it states the inability to go to Earth without being summoned, though The Shadow implied this was due to God causing this limitation.
- Portal Creation - After Castiel finally allows his deal to come due, the Shadow opens a portal from the Empty into the Men of Letters bunker to suck him and Billie in.
- Absorption - The Shadow, once summoned by Castiel, was able to absorb and subsequently kill Billie and Castiel by manifesting and impaling both of them with shadowy tendrils that turned their forms into the same shadowy liquid before pulling the tendrils and subsequently the two of them into the Empty.
- Immortality - It has been around for a very long time, since at least before angels, and is immune to aging and disease. At one point, The Shadow called Castiel "kiddo" implying that it is older than the angel.
- Nigh-Invulnerability - It cannot be killed or harmed by any known weapon. Despite being weaker than God and Amara, Billie stated that it's "vast" enough to survive the full force of Jack's bomb spell which could kill even those two primordial beings. Indeed, although the explosion destroyed the Shadow's physical form, it does survive Jack's explosion, though it appeared weakened.
- Regeneration - After Jack's detonation, the Shadow was able to reform itself although it appeared to be weakened by the experience.
- Nigh-Omniscience - The Shadow has a certain level of cosmic awareness: it knows about the world and what happened before its creation, as it knew about The Darkness and her human name. Despite this, even it couldn't figure out why Castiel had awoke in what it considers all of forever. It was also able to detect Jack's death and knew to find his soul in Heaven. While possessing Duma, the Shadow was able to perfectly mimic her behavioral mannerisms and personality. Even Castiel didn't notice that Duma was possessed, until the Shadow revealed itself. It also knew the nickname that Meg gave Castiel when masquerading as her before revealing its true identity. The Shadow was also able to detect when Castiel had finally admitted his love for Dean and thus experienced a moment of true happiness in order to take him and also knew that Billie was there for it to absorb as well.
|“||The Empty was supposed to be mine. Not even God held sway. But lies, sweet little lies.||”|
— The Shadow to Sam
Despite its immense power, the Shadow does have some limits in what it's capable of doing. Although it is the ruler of the Empty, it has a few weaknesses as well. It is also described by Billie as not being as powerful as God or Amara.
- Awakening of The Empty Inhabitants - As long as the inhabitants of the Empty sleep, so does The Shadow itself. However, if even a single inhabitant is awake, it also wakes up the Shadow from its sleep. Finally, the Shadow lacks the ability to force something that has awakened in the Empty back to sleep and must either convince them to return to sleep on their own or expel them.
- Sleep Deprivation - Being in deep slumber since before all existence, the Shadow can be severely disturbed if it cannot rest. Castiel claimed that, while he could not beat the Shadow, he could stay awake to lay pressure on it. Having waking inhabitants in the Empty also causes it pain.
- Higher beings - According to Billie, the Empty is not as powerful as God or Amara. God himself has been blocking the Shadow from invading Earth, perhaps from time immemorial; the Shadow can only surpass that obstacle if it is summoned. The Shadow's deal with Castiel also acts as a loophole to this as once he is truly happy, it summons the Shadow to take him. The Shadow's claim that not even God had any sway over its domain seems to be false, as God was able to resurrect Castiel many times, and then did the same to Lilith. In addition, Billie, though overall inferior to the Shadow in total strength, was able to bring Jack from the Empty twice; while the first time obviously counted with the Shadow's consent, as they formed an axis against God, the second time, in the episode Despair, clearly went against the Shadow's desire to hold and hurt Jack. The Shadow later admits that its claim that not even God had power in the Empty was "sweet little lies." In addition, its powers are limited outside of the Empty as it cannot go to Earth unless directly summoned though it appears to be able to visit Heaven.
- Magic - There are wardings that can stop the Shadow from entering places where the symbols are put up.
- Jack Kline - Although the Shadow has proven to be able to survive the explosion of Jack after he had became a "metaphysical supernova" that could kill even God and Amara, Billie stated that it would still have sufficient impact on the Shadow for it to be angry at her for having Jack explode in the Empty and indeed the Shadow's physical form was destroyed and despite being able to regenerate, it appears visibly weakened and horrified, stating Jack made it loud.
- Season 13
- Season 14
- Season 15
- The Shadow claimed that its true form induces complete insanity, even to angels.
- In Despair, Billie indicates that the Shadow may be the embodiment of the Empty itself.
- The Shadow's state of eternal sleep and maddening appearance shares similarities to two beings in Lovecraft Horror Stories, specifically Azathoth and the Magnum Innominandum. Azathoth represents the Entity's madness-inducing state, eternal sleep, and existing outside creation. The Nameless Mist represents the initial appearance of the Entity.
- There is a small similarity to Nyarlathotep as stating his true form incudes insanity similar to that of the elder god.
- Some religions have similar structure to what the Shadow is.
- Chaos, a primordial deity of void and nothingness in Greek mythology, which was described as a dark void predating the creation of the universe and the cosmos.
- Nun/Naunet in Egyptian mythology, which predated everything and created or from which the deities came from.
- Amatsu-Mikaboshi in Japanese Shinto Mythology, was originally a Shinto god of the Pole Star and the primordial chaos.
- Ginnungagap from the Norse Creation Myth, was the primordial void/mist in which the nine realms and the Yggdrasil, the world tree, which connects all the realms, float in.