|“||In the world I come from, the chaos consumes us, and we consume the chaos. But over here, this world has so much potential to be reborn and consumed. To be ruled.||„|
|~ Dodge's plans for global unity.|
The Shadow Demons are a demonic species of otherworldly spiritual entities with the ability of possession and are the central antagonistic group in Locke & Key. They reside in a mysterious, galaxy-like dimension and can manifest as Whispering Iron, whizzing out of a portal called the Black Door to embed themselves in anyone they can, successfully possessing Howe, Frederick Gideon, Lucas Caravaggio, and Eden Hawkins. When the Crown of Shadows is harnessed, the shadow demons can be used as an army, and when the Demon Key is used, they can beam onto human hosts that way. They were initially believed to be malevolent spectral destroyers plotting to rip Earth apart, but later it was revealed that they are survivors deeply hurt by the prejudices of humankind trying to protect themselves and find peace with humanity and live in mutual harmony with them. Their most benevolent member is Dodge, who came further than any other shadow to making their shared dream a reality, and their most ruthless was the possessor of Frederick Gideon, who had his own enigmatic plans and ominous ideas for humans.
Possessing Howe and Frederick Gideon
The earliest origins of the Shadow Demons are mysterious, with them first appearing during the waning days of the Colonial Period. They were first discovered in 1775 when a trio of British soldiers were hiding inside the Caves from pursuing American revolutionaries, where they found a crack in the walls of the Drowning Caves. Their captain, Frederick Gideon, came to inspect it, causing the wall to crumble and for the shadows to open a gateway to the Earthly Plane. One shadow attempted to possess Gideon, but his neck twisted sideways and they narrowly missed him. The trio was joined shortly by Minutemen, engaging in a gunfight with their mortal enemies. The revolutionaries then arrived, among them Benjamin Locke, and a firefight ensued. A shadow demon possessed Howe, one of the redcoats, only to be blasted back into his home dimension by a musket round, never to be seen again.
Seeing what had become of his military friend, Gideon faced the portal itself, allowing another shadow demon to possess him. With a host body, the demon saw several humans who would not take kindly to its presence, and he apprehensively lunged forward for one last stand with the Minutemen. The creature was horrified when Benjamin injured his brand-new host body. Following this, Gideon was locked away by the colonists. While imprisoned, Gideon wrote down his knowledge of the Black Door into a journal with a piece of Whispering Iron, for anyone or his host's descendants to someday retrieve. He was subsequently hung for his crimes. Before dying, the shadow foretold the colonists this was only the beginning and that he is only the first that will come through the portal.
Possessing Lucas Caravaggio
|“||Some kind of demon latched onto him.||„|
|~ Ellie Whedon's exposition.|
The shadow demons still dwell in another dimension, yet when the Black Door is open, they become free to enter the Earthly Plane. Twenty-five years ago, a shadow demon manifested as a bolt of orange energy to possess Lucas Caravaggio, one of the original Keepers of the Keys, after the Black Door was opened with the Omega Key. Hours later, the creature realized the presence of her magical keys and, using Lucas as a vessel, fought against their keepers, breaking the neck of Jeff Ellis and smashing Kim Topher headfirst against a shelf. When it advanced on Lucas' girlfriend, Ellie Whedon, Rendell Locke was forced to brandish a fireplace pole and put down Lucas while he was possessed, ending his life and leaving the lone creature with no host body to sustain it and no way of fleeing back to the Black Door.
The Crown of Shadows and possessing Eden Hawkins
|“||I hope you don't mind... I invited some new friends.||„|
|~ Dodge on her fellow Shadow Demons.|
In the modern day, Dodge returned as an echo, and dozens of shadow demons were summoned from the Black Door when she procured the Crown of Shadows from Whedon and used the Shadow Key to access its powers. She dispatched them into Keyhouse Manor as part of her agenda to take revenge on Whedon, and they began wreaking havoc until Bode Locke struck at a shadow demon the Echo was using as a decoy, and as it fell through the railing to land downstairs, Dodge sneaked inside and laid Whedon (disguised as herself) to progress the coup, proceeding to recall all of the shadow demons to the void they had come from before turning into Gabe via Identity Key.
That void would be approached again in a matter of minutes when the new Keepers of the Keys deposited the second decoy Dodge used, the human one, into the Black Door. When they did, several more concentrations of Whispering Iron manifested, striking Eden Hawkins without anyone's knowledge other than Dodge's (who visibly noted gleefully the cruel and imperious social climber was about to meet a gruesome fate one way or the other), and the remaining demons were met with a disguised Whedon. The shadow demon that possessed Hawkins brought its vessel to a restaurant under Dodge's watchful eye, where it began eating large portions of food to rejuvenate the focal point between its energy and that of its host.
Subsequently, the demon residing within Eden bonds with Dodge over the keys, with Dodge teaching her how to use the Crown of Shadows and showing her how to forge a brand-new magical key of their own make. However, Dodge was often impatient with the shadow, reminding it who was alpha by poking its host body with a stick or lifting it up by its host's collar. Additionally, more shadow demons exited the Black Door into the Drowning Caves not through the Omega Key, but through a possessed Eden's utilization of the Crown of Shadows.
The Demon Key
|“||See all these demons? They're all helpful, compliant, and obedient. Whereas you, Eden, you're insignificant to me.||„|
|~ Dodge reprimanding Eden Hawkins for taking advantage of her leniency.|
Shadow Demons found several ways to manifest, being first seen when one of their own, Eden, summoned them to pummel a group of coastmen, and again when they were dispatched to attack Eden herself. Through the Demon Key, Dodge was able to make several more demons manifest with green skin and fangs, so they subsequently possessed Javi, Daniel Mutuku, and Jackie Veda. Dodge proceeded to transform a small group of people as her vanguard and they used a cliffside residence as their headquarters.
The vanguard of shadow demons remained in their headquarters to dutifully protect their mistress and hence, were present when Kinsey, Duncan, and Tyler Locke and Scot Cavendish broke into the vault containing the Demon Key. As Kinsey provided a conniving diversion for Dodge, Duncan discovered that as the creator of the Demon Key, he could control the shadow demons that it summoned and turned them against Dodge. Horrified, Dodge commanded them to desist, but their free will was already too far gone and they were helpless to try and obey her. Dodge grew mortified as one of them swung at her and, being as unutterably venerable as she was, promptly took them out with her bare hands in a matter of seconds. Tyler unleashed the Alpha Key against several other shadows, leaving Dodge for last. She was driven out of the host body of Lucas Caravaggio, leaving her and her fellow exorcism victims to learn from what had transpired and bide their time.
|“||Let's go make you some new friends.||„|
|~ Dodge meeting up with Javi.|
On the surface, shadow demons appear to lack personality, individuality, and sentience, their mindsets seemingly being compared to very feral hunting dogs. There exist several stereoypes painting demonic beings as creatures solely defined by mindlessly seeking blood, spoilation, and grief for its own sake, being allegedly intrinsic to their very natures. Indeed, they were apparently willing to kill one of their own, however, leading to a cave-in and Ellie's preposterous and allegedly impossible escape from the Black Door. In truth, most of them are at least to some degree honorable, kind, and caring wanderers who want the best for their population and appear to watch out for each other. They appear to harbor a respect for diplomacy, often choosing to solve problems through communication instead of physical combat, such as when Dodge politely asked Bode to return her magical keys, Eden's possessor tried to talk down her awkward situation with Karl, and Jackie's possessor tried to reason with Tyler to stay with her as they did not need to be enemies. That being said, most of them have an intense hatred towards humans in general due to the beings persecuting them with every given opportunity and often wind up resorting to violence when facing them, as seen when Dodge briefly choked Bode for challenging her rightful ownership and Eden succumbed to her primal instincts by murdering Karl in public view.
While Eden is relatively playful and indifferent to her surroundings, most of the other Shadow Demons are far more pragmatic by comparison. They are willing to forgive others and accept their mistakes, as Dodge developed an affectionate rapport with Bode as "Gabe" and even Eden tried to return to Dodge at her cliffside residence after she left her stranded to punish her failure. Dodge was even willing to confront several of her intruders in her true form without any Identity Key magic as a sign of trust and only throttled Kinsey after Duncan perversely sent all of her friends on a frenzied suicide run. Additionally, she had previously apologized to Kinsey for deceiving her.
Once their trust is earned, the average Shadow Demon will prove him or herself as a very loyal ally who respects the wishes of those they work with; after Dodge introduced herself to Tyler, she let him do whatever he desired both outside and inside her van. She also appeared to be sympathetic towards Kinsey after learning that she had been manipulated by Bode into becoming his weapon against her; while she made few attempts to convince her or her older brother of this, she did not hold any grudge against her or Tyler for their previous hostility either.
Shadow Demons also have a tendency to use humor as a way to defuse tense situations, but due to many of them being entirely unaccustomed to human socialization, they can sometimes come off as awkward when asked about themselves or subjected to flirting, as Eden awkwardly joked about how recently she had found a host body. This was not always the case, however, as Dodge had no problem persuading Gilles to sleep with her or flirting with Tyler.
The Shadow Demons are seemingly invincible, possessing chaotic and nearly amorphous bodies that sustain damage with limited to no effect and enable them to twist in and out of unlikely places. Even without a host body, shadows are capable of inflicting significant damage to people such as Tyler Locke or objects such as kitchen components. One of them can phase into a decoy of a physical, human-like being such as Dodge. They generally communicate with snarls, roars, and shrieks yet also seem capable of easily learning English. They move at varying speeds, inflict damage to different degrees, and are affected by stimuli in different ways, reflecting the presence of individual characteristics and weaknesses despite overarching general similarities. They reside in a mysterious plane of the wider Multiverse that physically manifests as a galaxy-like dimension full of blue light and black smoke, often lingering near the Black Door, as it is a portal into the Earthly Plane.
There are three known ways for Shadow Demons to cross onto the Earthly Plane. First, they can manifest as Whispering Iron when in contact with oxygen, whizzing out of the portal as orange bullet-like whisps to embed themselves in anyone they can, successfully possessing Howe, Frederick Gideon, Lucas Caravaggio, and Eden Hawkins. Second, when the Shadow Key is used to unlock and harness the power of the Crown of Shadows, the shadow demons can be used as an army, losing their free will entirely in the process. One of their own, Dodge, used them as part of her coup against Ellie Whedon, attacking Keyhouse Manor outright as their new mistress intended to give the false impression that her sole objective that night was to burn the mansion to the ground. Third, they can also beam onto humans without physically crossing the distance from the Black Door when the Demon Key is used.
When possessing a host, typical features exhibited by their human vessel are green flesh, black eyes with pupils vanished, and sharp teeth. On another occasion, Eden exhibited solely sharp teeth when brutalizing Karl.
Notable Shadow Demons
- While it is very likely they are the Children of Leng brought to the screen, this is never confirmed.
- Ironically, Tyler presumed Dodge to be a demon in the ninth episode, yet he later made a paradoxical claim that "shadows are just shadows" as soon as she appeared at their block, looking and sounding more human than ever. Whether this is played comedically or a small plothole is unclear.
- To date, fiv e hosts have been possessed by brute force, one of their own free will, and one does not have enough information.