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When it comes to fighting in some series, it's not enough to just simply land wounds on someone's body and restrain them using conventional means. No, sometimes you need to go one step farther than usual and show off how Badass you are, and what better way than to use a non-physical part of someone's body to pin them like a fly on a wall -- mainly, their shadow.

Almost always supernatural in nature, a Shadow Pin generally means that you're dealing with a very dangerous person, and it seems to be a common foray of Ninja, probably due to their inherent relationship with shadow and darkness. In some cases it can also be used to form a Mirror Routine between the controller and the controlled, and the entire process is often very humiliating for the one being controlled.

Examples of Shadow Pin include:

Anime and Manga

  • The defeated Big Bad of chapter 3 is held in place by (his)demonic babies that emerge from his shadow in Majin Devil
  • Yusuke's wannabe Evil Counterpart Asato Kido in Yu Yu Hakusho could paralyze people by stepping on their shadows, and managed to hand Yusuke an embarassing defeat by doing just that. He can also control his own shadow independently of the rest of his body.
  • Vampire Hunter D: Bloodlust had a Benge, who himself was some sort of shadow being, able to kill people by striking their shadow.
  • The Nara Clan in Naruto has this as their main shtick, and use it mostly to control someone puppet-style. Shikamaru has some other diverse shadow related abilities, including his shadow Sewing, Shadow Strangulation, and turning his chakra knives into the "pin-the-shadow" ability.
    • Jiraiya has a similar move where his body becomes flat and merges with someone's shadow, giving him control over them as long as he can hold his breath.
  • One of Akira's abilities in Mai-HiME is to do the same thing, and the manga greatly expands these abilities, including the ability to walk through the shadows to get to her target.
  • In the Tsukihime manga, Ciel's Black Keys are able to do this to Akiha and pin her in place after Ciel tosses up a flare.
  • In The Slayers, the Shadow Snap spell immobilizes someone by pinning their shadow to the ground with a knife.
  • One episode of the Zorro anime featured a ninja who did this. In the end it turned out to be a hypnosis-related technique.
  • Tsubasa Andou from Gakuen Alice has this as his power.
  • Seiichirou Tatsumi's power as a Shinigami is basically this.



  • Interesting alternative use: In Carpe Jugulum, in order to free King Verence of Vampyre mind control, the Nac Mac Feegles create a magic flash and then shoot his shadow, which ends up pinned to the wall and then dies, though presumably this is not his real shadow but the influence they put on him given physical form.
  • JRR Tolkien's macabre poem "Shadow-Bride" is about a man with no shadow who sits like a statue until a woman passes by. Then he wraps her shadow around them both and forces her to dance with him forever, casting a single shadow...
  • In A Night in the Lonesome October by Roger Zelazny, Owen used druidic magic to make Cheeter the squirrel into his familiar, by literally pinning his shadow to a wall. Snuff and Greymalk undo the magic by pulling the seven silver pins loose, then dragging the shadow over the squirrel's body, allowing it to re-bind itself to seven scratches on Cheeter's hide.

Video Games

  • Vamp from Metal Gear Solid 2 Sons of Liberty can immobilize you if he hits your shadow with a knife. You can stop him by shooting the overhead lights. Unlike most abilities in the series, this has no scientific explanation.
    • Otacon and Snake do offer an alternative explanation for Vamp's shadow-pinning power. They think it's some kind of hypnotism: "The power of suggestion augmented by his speech and movements, coupled with the manipulation of the light reflecting off the blade of his knife". Raiden only thinks he's been immobilized.
  • "Shadowbind" is a Ninja ability in Final Fantasy IV and XI, as well as in Final Fantasy Tactics Advance.
  • The Pokémon Wobbuffet has an ability called Shadow Tag which prevents opposing Pokemon from fleeing or switching out.
    • Baton Pass can bypass this effect, but the substitute takes the effect in turn. You cannot manually switch out until Wobbuffet is knocked out, and that might take a while. There are also moves that stop a Pokemon from leaving the battlefield as well, but the one that closest matches this trope is Shadow Hold.
  • Jack of Wild Arms 1 can learn the Shadow Bind technique, where he paralyzes enemies by throwing swords at their shadows.


  • Maxim of A Modest Destiny learns to control his shadow, and also learns that what his shadow does to another object or person's shadow also happens to that person. Thus, he can use his shadow to pick up another person via their shadow, or throw a stick through the eye of the The Dragon while immobilized.
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