He comes and goes like the wind, swearing allegiance to no one. Hidden behind his wintry gaze lies a face known to none who live...Game description
Shadow is a playable character in Final Fantasy VI. He is a wandering mercenary and assassin who travels the world with his only companion, his dog Interceptor. Shadow's only allegiance is to himself, and he will work for anyone for the right price and then will depart when he feels like it.
Shadow wears a black ninja outfit consisting of spiked shoulderpads, a sash on his waist, and a cowl that conceals his face but for his eyes, which appear blue in his SNES sprite and red in his iOS sprite and his concept arts. He wears an armored band around his cowl with a crest above his eyes, and two spikes emerge from the sides. Some details of Shadow's outfit, such as the color of his shoulderpads and headcrest, are colored differently depending on the source; he has brown details in his SNES sprites, purple details in his iOS sprites, and blue details in his concept arts. Some concept art depict Shadow with blue robes on his torso and yellow or white pants, but this design has never been used in-game.
In his past as "Clyde", Shadow wore a light brown cloak with folds around his shoulders, a blue tunic, and boots. His eyes in his sprites are dark brown.
That's Shadow... He's an assassin. He'd kill his own best friend for the right price...
Shadow is regarded by others as a cold-blooded mercenary who would kill anyone if he was paid. He typically only shows kindness to his dog Interceptor. Shadow cares for Interceptor greatly and is often seen attending to him, and on other occasions feeds him by hand and expresses concern for his safety. In Thamasa, Shadow rescues the party from a burning house, though he claims it was only to retrieve Interceptor who was with them. When he joins the party he rarely speaks or gets involved in their affairs, but does develop a kinship with them over time, first when advising Terra about "people who have killed their emotions", encouraging her not to do the same. By the end of the game, he acknowledges them as friends, and fights alongside them to save the world from Kefka.
Connection to Relm
Throughout Final Fantasy VI, there are hints of a connection between Shadow and Relm. Such hints include: Shadow's dreams reveal he found his way to Thamasa and fathered a daughter before leaving to keep his past from catching up with his family; an NPC in the town mentions a rumor that Relm isn't really Strago's granddaughter, just a friend's daughter; Relm is the only person other than Shadow that Interceptor is friendly with; Shadow is the only other person able to use Relm's Memento Ring which grants a "departed mother's love"; at the end of the game, Shadow gives his reasons for living as "friends... and family."
While not explicitly stated in any version of Final Fantasy VI, it was confirmed in an interview with the developers that Shadow is Relm's father.
Shadow is an archetypal Ninja, focusing on striking enemies rapidly and evading attacks. His ability in Final Fantasy VI is Throw, which he can use to throw weapons at enemies for heavy damage that ignores defense. Shadow has specialized Skeans that deal magical elemental damage to enemies, and give himself the Vanish and Blink statuses to evade enemy attacks. He further benefits from naturally high Evasion and the support of his dog Interceptor, who can block attacks on Shadow and counterattack with the abilities Takedown and Wild Fang.
Spin-off appearances specialize Shadow in evading enemy attacks and incorporate Interceptor into his moveset. Final Fantasy Record Keeper gives Shadow Soul Breaks that give him the Blink status and cause his attacks to be followed up with additional attacks, often with statuses and attacks themed on the idea of Interceptor, such as "Shadowhound Mode". Dissidia Final Fantasy Opera Omnia focuses Shadow on raising his evasion and commanding Interceptor to do follow-up attacks, and his Interceptor attacks will trigger when Shadow evades an attack, reflecting Interceptor's mechanics in Final Fantasy VI. In Final Fantasy Brave Exvius, Shadow has abilities to evade attacks and deal heavy damage to single targets, using Interceptor's Takedown and Wild Fang as his Limit Bursts.
Shadow's Desperation Attack is Shadow Fang, where Shadow leaps towards his target and claws them. It deals heavy magic damage and inflicts Sap. Shadow Fang serves as Shadow's EX Ability in Opera Omnia and is a Super Soul Break in Record Keeper, and "Ultimate Shadow Fang" is his True Arcane Soul Break in Record Keeper.
More than ten years ago, Shadow went by the name "Clyde" and worked with his partner Baram as a pair of train robbers. After a job where the two made away with more than a million gil, Baram deemed they deserved a name for themselves for such a feat, and they began calling themselves "The Shadow Bandits". The authorities came after them and Baram was injured. Afraid of what would happen to him if he were caught, Baram begged Clyde to end his life, but Clyde was unable to do it and ran away, leaving Baram behind.
Clyde found his way to the village of Thamasa, where he married a woman and fathered a baby girl. Afraid his past would find a way to catch up with him, Shadow eventually left town, taking the family dog with him. He took on the alias "Shadow" from his days with Baram, and became a mercenary assassin.
While Terra, Locke and Edgar passed through South Figaro, they witnessed Shadow arrive and head to the pub. He refused to answer when approached, offending Locke, but Edgar recognized him by reputation and advised they leave him alone.
When Sabin washed ashore alone near a western home, Shadow happened to be nearby. Sabin asked for aid in reaching Narshe, and Shadow advised that the only path led south past Doma Castle, but the Gestahlian Empire had set up a camp in the region to lay siege to the kingdom. Shadow offered his aid in getting past the warlines, but warned he would leave any time it suited him.
At the Imperial base, Sabin and Shadow overheard Kefka planning to poison the castle's water supply to wipe out the inhabitants. Sabin and Shadow tried to intervene and stop him, but were delayed by Imperial soldiers and Kefka dumped the poison. The lone survivor of Doma, Cyan Garamonde, stormed the camp in grief, and Sabin and Shadow joined forces with him to fight back the Imperials and escaped the camp. The three continued south to the Phantom Forest and accidentally boarded the Phantom Train, a supernatural vehicle that carries the departed to the afterlife. The three defeated the sapient engine and it allowed them to alight at its next stop.
At Baren Falls, Sabin and Cyan leapt off the falls to reach the Veldt and escape the Empire. Shadow decided his agreement with Sabin had been fulfilled and left, Sabin thanking him for his help before departing.
When the party journeyed west to find Terra, they found Shadow in Kohlingen's pub. He offered his services for 3,000 gil promising to stay as he felt like it, but inevitably left after the group found Terra in Zozo and they began making plans to visit the southern continent.
When Terra and Locke were to accompany General Leo to Thamasa to look for espers in the area, Leo hired Shadow to aid them. During the expedition, Terra went out on the deck of their ship at night and spoke to Leo about her hesitations over her inability to feel love. Unknown to the two, Shadow had been about to come up on deck as well, and waited until Leo left before revealing himself to Terra. She approached Shadow momentarily, but he refused her, telling her she had to find answers on her own. However, he warned that some people in the world have chosen to "kill their own emotions".
At Thamasa the group sought help from Strago whose "granddaughter" Relm interrupted the conversation. She and Interceptor took an immediate shine and the dog followed her into her room when she was dismissed, disturbing Shadow. The group left Strago's home and Shadow called Interceptor back to him. They stayed at the inn, and in the middle of the night Strago rushed in to beg for their help; Relm had been at a neighbor's house that had caught on fire. Locke and Terra went with him, but Shadow stayed in bed when Locke called to him. However, he got out of bed when he noticed Interceptor was gone.
In the burning house, Terra, Locke and Strago found Interceptor with Relm. When the house began to collapse and the three fell unconscious Interceptor defended them from living flames. Shadow dropped in and dispatched the flames, then used a smoke bomb to get everyone to safety. At Strago's home, Shadow listened in as Strago told the group the village inhabitants were descended from the Magi, humans with magical powers that fought in the War of the Magi. As the three made plans to search the western caves for the espers, Shadow stepped outside. Strago thanked him for saving Relm, but Shadow insisted he only came to get Interceptor back, and he would look for the espers on his own. He left, calling Interceptor to him when the dog hesitated parting with Relm.
Shadow returned to work for the Empire. At some point after they raised the Floating Continent, the Empire decided Shadow was of no further service and attempted to kill him, but he survived on the outskirts of the floating landmass. The party convinced him to come with them as they explored the continent, but after defeating the Ultima Weapon he left, feeling he had no right to fight with them after selling himself to the Empire.
At the pinnacle of the Floating Continent, Kefka killed Emperor Gestahl and took control of the Warring Triad, the gods of magic. Kefka began to move the Triad out of their careful alignment, which would cause their powers to run wild, but Shadow intervened and began to push them back into position, trapping Kefka between them. Shadow bade the party flee and assured he would find a way out. A burst of magic from the Triad knocked them aside, leaving them no choice but to escape. As their airship, the Blackjack, hovered below, the party waited until Shadow arrived and they escaped together. With the balance of the Warring Triad disrupted, magical energy surged from them and reshaped the face of the world.
The party again separated, Shadow traveled the world and frequented Dragon's Neck Coliseum, seeking a weapon called the Ichigeki. Apparently following a lead on the weapon, he came to the Cave on the Veldt and was badly wounded. When the party entered the cave, Interceptor, who had been standing guard over Shadow, ran to the cave entrance and barked for them to follow him. The party defended Shadow from the Behemoth King and then used their new airship, the Falcon, to take him to Thamasa to recover.
When Shadow was recovered, he returned to Dragon's Neck Coliseum. The party entered the Coliseum and bet the Ichigeki, which they had found in the Cave on the Veldt, and faced Shadow as their challenger. After the fight, Shadow claimed he was there to do the only thing he knew how to do—fight. The party invited him to come with them, and Shadow agreed, seeing it as putting his skills to "the ultimate test".
After Kefka has been felled, his tower begins to collapse and the party flees. As they near the exit, Shadow stops and goes off alone. When Interceptor follows him, Shadow shoos him away and wishes him well, then runs and kneels among the rubble. He calls out to Baram to "come and find him" and stays there as the tower shakes around him.
Shadow is an Assassin. His main ability is Throw, which allows him to throw weapons. This can be used to throw weapons no longer required, but is primarily used to throw specific offensive throwing items (either shuriken for pure physical damage or scrolls for elemental damage). Shadow's dog Interceptor joins the fray randomly, intercepting attacks on Shadow and retaliating with physical attacks on the enemy.
Shadow is an optional recruit on the first two occasions he joins the party, and is only required in Albrook when the expedition to Thamasa begins, and on the Floating Continent. If the player escapes the Floating Continent without waiting for Shadow, he is presumably killed in its fall and is not available in the World of Ruin. When Shadow is recruited in the World of Ruin, he is a permanent addition to the party.
Sleeping in inns or other rest points with Shadow in the party lets the player view up to 5 dreams about his past. The first 4 dreams can be viewed at any time in either the World of Balance or World of Ruin, but trigger randomly; the player can rest repeatedly in the same spot with Shadow in their party to view all of them at once. Some free/cheap sleep locations do not work, such as Figaro Castle, or Thamasa.
Shadow's theme has a style reminiscent of spaghetti western soundtracks, such as ones by Ennio Morricone. When the player enters a location where Shadow is present, such as the South Figaro and Kohlingen pubs, the background music abruptly switches to his leitmotif, indicating his presence. His theme has an orchestral reprise in the "Ending Theme" between 09:16 and 10:04.
Shadow has made appearances in the following games in the Final Fantasy series:
- Final Fantasy VI: The Interactive CG Game as a playable character (demo).
- Dissidia Final Fantasy as a tutor in in-game manuals, alongside Interceptor.
- Dissidia Final Fantasy Opera Omnia as a playable character.
- Pictlogica Final Fantasy as a playable character.
- Final Fantasy Airborne Brigade as a summonable Legend.
- Final Fantasy Record Keeper as a playable character.
- Final Fantasy Brave Exvius as a summonable vision.
- Final Fantasy Trading Card Game as a series of cards.
Behind the scenes
After it was decided Final Fantasy VI would feature an ensemble cast with no clear main protagonist, everyone in the development team was encouraged to provide ideas for characters and their episodes. Shadow's character and story were colored by influence from Tetsuya Nomura. Shadow is based on an idea Nomura has for Final Fantasy V. He had had jobs in mind, such as a ninja with a dog, a gambler who fought with dice and cards, among others. These ideas were not used for Final Fantasy V, but when work started on Final Fantasy VI, they were used for Shadow and Setzer. Shadow's past as a thief may allude to the transition from Thief to Ninja in the original Final Fantasy.
Shadow and Relm's relationship was officially confirmed in developers' interviews in 1995. The developers considered having a scene in a bar (presumably in Thamasa) where Strago asks Shadow to reveal his identity. The dialogue was supposed to be as follows:
- Strago: I have one request... Show me your face. Even if you are him, I have no intention of wasting time trying to talk you into staying. I just want to know... for Relm's sake...
- Shadow: ...... (He takes off his mask and shows Strago his face. However, his back is turned so that the player can't see.)
- Strago: Thank you... Shadow. ...Come, let's have a drink.
Shadow's sprite has minor oddities compared to the other playable characters in the game. He has no animation for casting spells, he uses a static sprite (though two frames of the identical sprite exist in his sprite sheet). He has no "winking" animation, an oddity shared with Mog and Umaro (as well as characters with unseen eyes like the Imperial Trooper and Ghost). However, Shadow's "wink" animation does have a difference between the two frames, a single pixel that is colored differently on his breast, likely an error on the part of the sprite designer. This same pixel error occurs on his "blinking" animation, which does make Shadow's eyes disappear and reappear properly.
The game data contains lines and placement for Shadow on board the Blackjack, however, the player never gets to board the airship with Shadow in a normal playthrough. The lines can only be seen by hacking Shadow into the party or using the airship glitch.
In the SNES version, if the party chose to save Shadow on the Floating Continent, in the World of Ruin when he is found in the Cave on the Veldt instead of Relm, he will be called a "her". The PSX version changed this line to "him", ironically using the line for Relm as well. The GBA and subsequent versions avoid using gendered pronouns in the line.
In the Japanese version of the game, Shadow's line when he stays behind in Kefka's Tower is for Baram to "embrace [him] warmly", being more explicit in Shadow's intention to allow himself to die in the tower's collapse. However, it is still ambiguous if he did perish or not.
shadow is an area where direct light from a light source cannot reach due to obstruction by an object. It occupies all of the space behind an opaque object with light in front of it. A fitting name for an assassin.A
His real name may refer to the famous thief Clyde Barrow.
- Final Fantasy Ultimania Archive Volume 1, p.284
- Final Fantasy 25th Memorial Ultimania Vol.2, p.284
- Final Fantasy VI Settei Shiryō-hen, p.30
- V Jump issue (in Japanese) (dead) (Accessed: September 25, 2009) at Infoseek
- The Making Of: Final Fantasy VI (dead) (Accessed: February 21, 2015) at Edge Online
- How Final Fantasy V Was A Turning Point In Tetsuya Nomura’s Career (Accessed: January 12, 2019) at Siliconera
- Final Fantasy VI – 1994 Developer Interview (Accessed: December 09, 2018) at shmuplations