The Shadow. The thing that rules the Empty.

The Shadow, also known as the Cosmic Entity, is a mysterious being who lives in and controls the Empty, a place of nothingness predating God, Death and the Darkness.

History

Background

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 awakened as well and left in pain until the awakened being is asleep again or removed from the Empty.

Season 13

The Shadow, appearing as Castiel

In The Big Empty, after the Seraph Castiel was awakened by Jack's telepathic call, the Shadow was 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 the angel sensed the Shadow 's presence and called out to it, the entity did not reveal itself right away. Later, the Shadow took on Castiel's form to communicate with the angel 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 was too frightening.

The Shadow explained to Castiel that the Empty was 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 the angel's awakening. Castiel did not know why he was awake 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 to Castiel
in The Big Empty

The Shadow insisted that it liked and needed 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 the angel 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 the angel demanded.

In Tombstone, the resurrected Castiel told the Winchesters that he annoyed an "ancient cosmic being" so much that it sent him back.

Season 14

The Shadow, invading Heaven.

In Byzantium, following the death of the Nephilim Jack, the Shadow invaded Heaven to get Jack's soul, believing him to belong to the Empty because of the hybrid's angel side. It possessed or incapacitated all of the angels during the attack. The Shadow easily defeated all of Heaven's defenses and chased Jack when the nephilim emerged from his Heaven. However, Jack managed to elude the Shadow. Jack later told Kelly Kline of what was after him and she hid her son 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.

The angel Duma possessed by the Shadow.

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 the angel's end to be painful. After making the deal, the Shadow left Heaven and returned to the Empty, restoring the angels back to normal.

The Shadow smiles at Jack.

In Moriah, after Jack is killed by God, the nephilim woke up in the Empty. Jack was greeted by the Shadow who took the form of a viscous black humanoid figure. Using a circular motion with its hands, the Shadow formed a smile on its face. When Billie appeared in the Empty to talk to Jack, the Shadow stood by, watching and smiling.

Season 15

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.
— The Shadow to Castiel.
in Destiny's Child

The Shadow, appearing as Meg

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. While Castiel was trying to leave, the Shadow, tortured the angel. Castiel told the Shadow that they were on the same side but the entity specified it was on Death's side--revealing it had no intentions of freeing Castiel from the Empty. The Shadow shared that if Billie were to succeed, the Shadow would finally get to sleep. However, Jack returned Castiel's life force on Sam and Dean's insistence, forcing Castiel out from the Empty, and returning to his vessel on Earth. The Shadow remarked that it would see the angel soon.

In Unity, Sam used the Key to Death to enter Death's Reading Room in search of Billie. There, he found the Shadow, still in the form of Meg, having slaughtered several Reapers. The Shadow forced the last Reaper to pray to Billie, but when she did not appear, the Shadow killed the Reaper by telekinetically snapping his neck. Sam tried to sneak away but the Shadow sensed his presence and transported Sam in front of it with another snap of its fingers.

Sam was confused to see Meg, but the Shadow explained that the real Meg was still dead, and it was just borrowing her face "because really, I'm Empty." Sam realized who he really was talking to. The Shadow explained that it needed a word with Billie, but Billie had been ignoring it. The Shadow explained 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 over, but Castiel came along and gave the Shadow trust issues. This caused Sam to realize that Billie wanted to take over which the Shadow confirmed, stating that Billie wanted to become the new God. Billie wanted everything back to how it used to be, everyone back to where they belonged, realities and dimensions separate, and the Shadow back to sleep. However, the Shadow started to doubt Billie's trustworthiness.

The Shadow revealed Chuck's Death Book which only Billie could read. All that Billie had said was that Sam should be dead, except that Billie needed him. The Shadow began torturing Sam in the hopes of drawing Billie out and Sam made it stop by claiming that Billie sent him. The Shadow doubted Sam's sincerity, but Sam pointed out that as they are trying to beat God, there was not a whole lot of time for questions. Sam lied that Billie sent him to get the book and did not say why, and that Billie was on Earth. Sam realized the Shadow could not visit Earth. The Shadow confirmed this, stating that it can only come to Earth if it was summoned. Sam claimed that Billie could not 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 would go back to sleep. Sam suggested that the Shadow had two choices: give him the book and maybe they all win or kill him and they lose and the Shadow would never go back to sleep. The Shadow accepted the former and allowed Sam to return to the bunker with the book.

In Despair, a detonating Jack was sent to the Empty where the Shadow, still in the form of Meg, was amused by his sudden appearance and the fact that the Nephilim was not doing too good. Jack could only apologize before detonating with the Shadow only managing to mutter an aborted "oh --."

Billie explained 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 was unsure if Jack and the Shadow had survived or not, and knew that if they did, the Shadow would be pissed at her.

Shortly afterwards, both Jack and the Shadow reformed in the Empty. Appearing weakened and horrified, the Shadow pulled Jack to itself with telekinesis and claimed that Jack "made it loud." As the Shadow started to torture Jack, Billie summoned the Nephilim back to Earth, causing the Shadow to growl in frustration. Dean then attacked Billie with Death's Scythe, forcing her to retreat. Mortally wounded, Billie retreated to her reading room which she had warded against the Shadow so that it couldn't reach her there.

The Shadow overpowers and takes Billie and Castiel

Later, chased by a mortally wounded Billie, Castiel realized that only the Shadow could stop her and revealed his deal with the being to Dean that when he experiences a moment of true happiness, the Shadow would be summoned to Earth to take the angel to the Empty forever. By expressing his love for Dean, Castiel experienced a moment of true happiness and a portal to the Empty started to open. The Shadow sent two dark tendrils, absorbing Billie and a crying but smiling Castiel who did not resist. The tendrils returned through the portal which then closed.

In Inherit the Earth, a resurrected Lucifer claimed that the Shadow sent him to retrieve Chuck's Death Book and use it to kill God. Later, Lucifer admitted that it was actually God who resurrected him and not the Shadow.

When the Winchesters explained their ultimate plan to defeat God, a flashback of Jack exploding in front of the Shadow was shown.

Physical appearance

While the Shadow possesses a true form, it is unknown what it looks like as 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.

Personality

I'm just your friendly neighborhood Cosmic Entity.
— The Shadow to Castiel
in The Big Empty

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 did not 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
in Byzantium

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.
— The Shadow to Castiel
in The Big Empty

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 after invading Heaven, killing Reapers after raiding Death's Library, and eliminating Death herself on Earth without the aid of anything. The Shadow might not be as powerful as Chuck or Amara, but its huge size -- which encompasses everything beyond the universes that God created -- allows it to survive even those cosmic attacks that would threaten the existence of those two supreme beings.

  • 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 did not appear to be as strong as God or The Darkness, but it survived an explosion intended to kill both.
    • 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.
    • Super Stamina - The Shadow has been sleeping in The Empty since before existence, without needing any sustenance to maintain itself.
    • 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.
      • Apporting - With just a snap of its fingers, the Shadow was able to teleport Sam Winchester from across the room to right in front of it.

        The Shadow brings Sam to itself

    • 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 explosion which could kill even those two primordial beings. Indeed, although the explosion destroyed the Shadow's physical form, it survived Jack's explosion, although it appeared weakened.
      • Regeneration - After Jack's detonation, the Shadow was able to reform itself although it appeared to be weakened by the impact.

        The Shadow rebuilds itself after being hit by Jack's cosmic explosion

  • 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. 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 hadn't noticed 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 knew who Sam was after he entered Death's Library, and it detected the moment that Castiel had finally admitted his love for Dean and thus experienced a moment of true happiness which automatically summoned it to take him as per their deal; it also knew that Billie was there so it could absorb her as well. As with other cosmic beings, though, the Shadow's knowledge of things isn't perfect; even it couldn't figure out why Castiel had awoken from his death in what it considers "all of forever." It could also not tell whether or not Sam was telling the truth when he related that Billie had sent him to her library to talk with the Shadow; ultimately, the Winchester succeeds in manipulating the Shadow into letting him get back to Earth and take God's death book with him.

Weaknesses

The Empty was supposed to be mine. Not even God held sway. But lies, sweet little lies.
— The Shadow to Sam
in Unity

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 even after he had been weakened from getting shot at by the Equalizer. In addition, Billie, though not as strong as the Shadow, was able to bring Jack from the Empty twice; while the first time 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."
  • 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.

Appearances

Trivia

  • 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.
    • In the Kolbrin Bible the Biblical God is connected to the Primordial Chaos,the great Void before the creation,who sent an asteroid on Egypt.
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