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CJ 09 September Tessa
“It felt so real, so utterly real—”

This article depicts a subject within the Shadowhunters television series, and as such, it either does not play a role within or differs largely from the established continuity and canon of the books of The Shadowhunter Chronicles.

Alec Lightwood
Portrayed by Matthew Daddario
TMI101 Alec01
Biographical Information
Full name:

Alexander Lightwood

Age: Around 20[1]
Status: Alive
  • Alec
  • Big Bro/Brother (by Isabelle)
  • Alexander (by Magnus)



Head of the New York Institute


New York Institute

Known relatives:
Parabatai: Jace Herondale
Significant other(s):
Physical Description
Gender: Male
Hair color: Brown
Eye color:


You know, it's like, you have this plan for your life, and you know what you need to do and what your responsibilities are. And you think, you know, if you follow the rules, everything's gonna be fine. Then somebody comes along and... pushes you off that path.

–Alec relating his own situation to Jace's, Malec

Alec Lightwood is the brother of Isabelle and Max Lightwood, and the parabatai of Jace Wayland. Alec is responsible and a leader who cares for the well-being of his people. He has had aspirations to be the head of the New York Institute since childhood, which he now is.


Early life

Alec is the eldest child of Maryse and Robert Lightwood. He is the older brother of Isabelle and Max, and is the parabatai of Jace, whom his family took in when they were young.

Raised by a distant mother who placed a lot of expectations on her children, Alec grew up with a strong desire to prove himself worthy, to make his parents proud and bring honor to his family, and to follow rules and orders to the letter.[2] As a child, Alec used to sit at his father's desk and write memos in crayon, pretending to be the head of the Institute.[3]

An experience from when he was ten years old stuck with him through adulthood. He trained with another Shadowhunter, Preston, but kept losing at kendo training despite his perfect form. Maryse pointed out that in his attempts to perfect his techniques, he became predictable, and thus needed to step outside of the rules and break form to surprise his opponent. Alec listened and broke the other child's nose. When chided by the boy's mother, he simply took it, knowing it would make his mother proud to see him accept consequences for his actions.[2]

At one point in his life, Alec lied to his sister about being involved with a girl named Jessica Hawkblue.[4]

Helping Clary

During a routine demon-hunting mission—one not sanctioned by the Clave, much to Alec's disapproval—the group encountered a girl at the Pandemonium Club. The girl was later revealed to be a Shadowhunter unaware of the Shadow World. After the girl's mother was kidnapped, Jace rescued her and took her back to the Institute—another decision Alec highly disapproved of. He saw her as a threat and a potential danger, and he thought of her as a bad distraction for Jace.[5] He became even more livid when Clary insisted on taking her mundane best friend with them.

In order to help Clary, they had to help her regain her memory. Their first attempt was by taking her to the Silent Brothers at the City of Bones. Alec grew more impatient with the number of unsanctioned outings and contact with Downworlders they were having. While exiting the City of Bones, Clary's mundane friend was kidnapped by vampires, further frustrating Alec with the situation.[6]

Alec continued to call out Jace for his recent impulsive decisions regarding Clary. He demanded that they contact the Clave for help in rescuing the kidnapped Simon, but was easily swayed when Jace insisted that they could take care of it on their own, though Alec was still skeptical. They ended up having to sneak out of the Institute without weapons and instead gathered them from a cache in a cemetery. When they found that the cache had no bow and arrows, Alec returned to the Institute to get his and was contacted by Izzy, who sent him the location of the entrance into the hotel. Together, they killed some of Camille Belcourt's vampires before regrouping with Jace and Clary and, finally, saving Simon.[7]

TMI104 Summoning02

The group summoning Valak, moments before Alec broke the bond.

Their next attempt to help Clary regain her memory involved reaching out to the High Warlock of Brooklyn, Magnus Bane. The connection between the pair since their first meeting was undeniable, and Alec was both pleased and baffled by the flirtatious comments Magnus kept sending in his direction. Alec pointedly did not respond to any of them, as not only was he still conflicted over his own feelings, particularly over Jace, but he was also not used to the attention and was still convinced that he should remain in the closet. When they summoned the demon Valak and were forced to relinquish a memory of the one they loved most, the memory that was ripped from him was one of Jace. Alec claimed he had been tricked, struggling at the thought of having been outed, and, in a panic, broke from the summoning circle, inadvertently releasing the demon.[8]


After his mother returned from Idris to tell Isabelle and Alec that the unsanctioned missions at the Institute had shamed the Lightwood name, Alec felt that it was partly his fault for allowing Jace to pursue Clary, knowing it would break several rules. Maryse wanted to arrange a wedding with a strong Shadowhunter family to help restore their name, and thought Alec would adapt and do as he was asked. Isabelle was against the idea, and insisted Alec tell their parents he would refuse.[2]

Later, Lydia Branwell arrived at the Institute as the Clave's envoy. Although Alec did not trust her at first he began to understand her better after learning about the circumstances surrounding her late fiancé. Torn between duty to his family and his own budding feelings for Magnus, he told the warlock about his parents' decision to marry him off. Magnus encouraged Alec to do what was in his heart and to be himself. Alec, after running the Institute with Lydia, knew that a marriage between the Lightwood and Branwell names would not only restore faith in his family in the eyes of the Clave—and therefore provide Isabelle and Max a safer future—but it would also allow them both to run the Institute together.

At the same time, Alec discovered that his parents were members of the Circle years before and had kept that information from them. Angry at being lied to and realizing that his family's honor had in fact been tarnished by his parents in the first place, he took matters into his own hands and set off to fix what his parents had broken himself. Alec therefore proposed to Lydia, and she accepted.[9]

TMI112 Kiss01

On the day of his wedding, Alec, despite knowing he had feelings for Magnus, continued with the ceremony, thinking it was the right thing even after a last-minute confrontation between him and Magnus. However, Alec finally acknowledged that marrying Lydia when he would never love her was not the right thing for either of them, and faced his feelings for Magnus by kissing Magnus in front of his family, friends and envoys from the Clave, effectively calling off the wedding.[10]

After the halted ceremony, the Mortal Cup was stolen by Hodge. Alec and Jace teamed up to find him, but was too late as their trainer had already handed the Cup over to Valentine. When they found him, Alec stopped Jace from killing him. While expressing his concern to Luke about Jace's state of mind since his discovery of his parentage, Jace escaped with Hodge, intent on going after Valentine.

Meanwhile, Isabelle and the others made an arrangement with Camille to get the Book of the White to wake Clary's mother. When Alec and Isabelle went to Magnus' loft to meet with the others, they walked in just as Camille kissed Magnus. Camille teased them about Alec's mortality in an evident attempt to drive a wedge between them. After getting the draft of the Writ of Transmutation, Camille led the group to her apartment for the book.

Just as the group found the book, Valentine and his followers arrived, and Alec and the others were quickly surrounded and disarmed. Alec and Isabelle were held by one of Valentine's men as Jace was given an ultimatum from Valentine: fight and watch his friends die, or join him and his friends live. Jace left with Valentine through a Portal, and when Clary rushed after him in hopes of stopping Jace, Alec grabbed her before she could risk killing herself by stepping through a Portal with no idea of its destination.

The group went back to the Institute in preparation to wake Clary's mother. While Alec had previously dismissed Camille's comments about his budding relationship with Magnus, he made it known that the thought stuck with him, bringing up in a conversation with Magnus that he felt that Camille was right and that Magnus would watch those he loved grow old and die.[11]

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CJ Jem 06
“I cannot be sure, though I think it has something to do with
the clarity of them.”

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Finding Jace

Hours after Jace had left with Valentine, Alec was back at the Institute working with Magnus, Isabelle, and Lydia to find him. Not being able to feel him through their parabatai bond, Alec grew increasingly frustrated and angry, and lashed out at everyone around him. When Magnus later reached out to Alec, Alec suggested using his parabatai rune to track Jace, but Magnus refused, reminding Alec that it almost killed him the last time he did so. Alec stormed off once again.

The next day, Alec was leaving the Institute for Magnus', wanting to do something to find Jace, when he was confronted by his mother. Maryse insisted Alec forget about Jace, as the new Head of the Institute, Victor Aldertree, had deemed him a traitor to the Clave. Alec persisted and left after telling Maryse her rejection of Jace was only to protect herself, and that he would not give up on someone even if they are a hard choice. Once at Magnus' loft, he apologized for how he acted towards him before, and the two prepared to locate Jace together. Right before they began, Alec felt Jace, as he was suddenly on land again.  Alec returned to the Institute, and he and Isabelle insisted on going out to find him, however Aldertree prevented them from going by having guards hold them back, stating they were too close to the situation. Jocelyn, however, tracked Jace to his location and was prepared to kill him before Clary intervened and stopped her.[12]

Clary approached Alec about her mother almost killing Jace, but he pushed her away because he believed everything that had happened recently was her fault. Since Clary's arrival in his life, he lost his birth right, his family name was tarnished further, and he was now losing his parabatai. He later refused to accept her presence on his mission Isabelle to locate different fight clubs Valentine had been abducting mundanes from. When they failed to capture a Circle member, Alec continued to grow restless over their lack of progress. He suggested they get a boat and simply look for him out on the water directly.

TMI202promo Alec01

When Jocelyn approached the Lightwood siblings with a way of tracking Jace by using an Adamas stone, Alec initially refused, not trusting Jocelyn after her attempt on Jace's life. However, he let himself be convinced out of desperation and eventually agreed in spite of the risk of tracking Jace with this method. When they began the process, Alec seized, and fell into a comatose state.[13]

Despite performing magic on him, Magnus was unable to wake him, only keep him stable temporarily as Alec began to slip away. Aldertree attempted to get Magnus to leave the institute, stating he had done enough, but Magnus refused as he was the only one keeping Alec alive. Magnus believed only Jace could cure Alec, as it seemed part of his soul had gotten lost as he attempted to track him, and Jace's return would bring it back. Jace contacted them just as Isabelle was heading out to find him. Isabelle and Magnus plan together to get Alec transferred to his loft in order to avoid Jace being caught and arrested. After narrowly escaping the wolves from the New York werewolf pack with Isabelle's help, Jace was taken to Magnus' loft and was able to wake Alec. However, just as Alec was waking, Aldertree and other Shadowhunters arrived to arrest Jace, leaving a barely recovered Alec confused and upset.[14]

Demon attack

Alec, Isabelle, and Clary are working on locating a demon that possesses mundanes, targets negative brain activity, and uses it to make the mundanes attack others and punch right through victims' hearts. It is later discovered that the demon is in the Institute, having hidden inside the body of a dead victim that Isabelle brought back to study. They learn that the demon had enhanced cloaking ability, which they assume is due to Valentine's experiments. The group splits up to search the Institute for the demon.

Later, Alec is found by Clary, noticing his hands were covered in blood and he has no recollection of what happened. Following bloody footsteps into a room, Clary finds her mother, now dead. Surveillance footage shows Alec was possessed by the demon, who then had him attack and kill Jocelyn.[15]

Days after, Alec is still ridden with guilt over what happened, knowing that Jocelyn was also Jace's mother. After going to Magnus to get away from the Institute for a while, he approaches Clary and is determined to make it up to her. Having visited the warlock Iris Rouse earlier, Clary believes she can bring her mother back from the dead and Alec goes with her, though they are later separated by Iris, who claimed she could not work around his negative energy.

While waiting for Clary downstairs, he encounters Madzie. When a newborn baby begins crying upstairs, Madzie leaves and Alec shortly follows her. He finds Leigh, the woman who answered the door for he and Clary, and asks where she is. The woman shows no signs of knowing who Clary is, although Alec insists to her that she met her earlier. Leigh reveals to Alec that sometimes she loses fragments of her memory, and leads him to Iris' work room, where Clary and Iris are nowhere to be found. Sensing that something is wrong, he goes in search of her and encounters Iris, who uses her magic to attack him. She is promptly stopped by Madzie. The two escape through a portal just as Isabelle arrives to help. The two then regroup with Jace and Clary, and later attend the Rite of Mourning for the fallen Shadowhunters and Silent Brothers.[16]

Budding relationship

After Alec's cancelled wedding and before the demon attack on the Institute, Magnus and Alec had spoken about going on their first date. A few weeks later, Magnus sent Alec a fire message about an emergency, although revealed to Alec that there was no real emergency, and he simply wanted to see him. He told Alec that they should go on their first date, insisting that making time for things he cares about will remind him of what he was fighting for in times of war and conflict. Alec agreed and the two go to the Hunter's Moon.

TMI206promo Malec04

Their night began smoothly, with Magnus ordering them drinks and the two of them getting competitive playing pool. However, things soon took a turn. Magnus discovered that Alec had never been in a relationship before, which Alec was reluctant to admit as he did not want Magnus to treat him differently due to his lack of experience. Having been in the closet his whole life until recently, Alec firmly believed he could never have what he wanted, until Magnus came along. Alec asked how many people Magnus had been with, and was shocked to hear Magnus had been with 17,000 people. Self-conscious, Alec grew quiet and thoughtful, thinking all the way back to Magnus' loft after their date. Alec expressed doubt about their relationship, wondering if they were too different to really make it work. Just as Alec was beginning to leave, he stopped and reconsidered, deciding that he didn't care about their differences. He kissed Magnus and the two decide they want to put in effort for their relationship to be a good one.[17]

While on a date in Japan and Prague, Alec bought Magnus an omamori, a Japanese amulet said to give luck and protection to the wearer, and gave it to him when they were back in his apartment. As they were about to kiss, the moment was ruined when they hear Jace, who recently moved in with Magnus, upstairs with a seelie named Kaelie. They turn on some music and escape to the balcony, but are interrupted again when Alec is called back to the Institute. When he found Isabelle, Alec asked for advice on how to know when the right time is, referring to having sex with Magnus. Her advice was that they care for each other, and if it felt right, he should go for it. Alec then returned to Magnus' loft, asking if Jace was there, before grabbing him and kissing him when Magnus answered in the negative. Magnus is amused by Alec's sudden boldness, and Alec clarified that he would like to take the next step in their relationship, meaning the sex step. Magnus revealed that he feared losing Alec if they rush into things, but Alec reassured Magnus and the two kissed again and went into Magnus' bedroom.[4]

Maryse and Max soon return to the Institute to plan Max's rune ceremony since he was finished his last trial. Robert was unable to attend, which meant that as the oldest male in the family, Alec had to plan the ceremonial party. Alec approached Magnus about the party, thinking that if they host the party together, it would show his mother that their relationship was not going to go away, and give them an opportunity to meet properly. During the party, a spell was cast among Alec, Clary, and Jace that played with their fears and insecurities. Alec's guilt over Jocelyn's death still weighed down on him, and the spell made him hear Clary blaming him for it, which she hadn't done before. It drove him to let himself fall from the roof of Magnus' apartment, however Magnus quickly arrived to save him and undo the spell.[18]

The Soul-Sword

After Magnus has sent Iris to the Clave, and Jace and Clary reveal what Valentine's plan with the Soul-Sword is, Alec shows signs of worrying for Magnus and the other Downworlders that live in New York. He is also worrying about Isabelle, and goes to Aldertree, confronting him about how she hasn't been acting the same since the mission to the Iron Sisters. Through Magnus, he learns that Isabelle has been seeing Raphael for vampire venom, and gets angry at him for not letting him know about the yin fen, although Magnus himself had let himself trust Isabelle that she was not partaking in it. He tries to get Isabelle to leave with him, however she refuses.[19]

TMI209promo Alec & Isabelle 02

When he is back at the Institute, the wards have been breached. Alec is one of the two dozen Shadowhunters still in the Institute, the others being on missions to contain rogue Downworlders throughout New York, which were released by Valentine. As Alec and his team approach the entrance to the Institute, he finds Madzie, who was taken by Valentine and controlling her, surrounded by dead Shadowhunters. Before using her gills, her warlock mark, to suck the oxygen out of the air and killing the Shadowhunters, she knocks Alec into a nearby elevator and closes the door.

Alec and Aldertree work together to get to the Institute's roof, where they would be able to manually shut off the Institute's lightning power core. Alec accuses Aldertree of not caring if the Downworlders were destroyed. Aldertree tells Alec about a werewolf he was in love with when he was back in Idris and how she attacked him out of grief after a demon attack. He was forced to kill her before she could kill him, and believes that because of their demon nature, a Downworlder and a Shadowhunter could never be together. While Aldertree continues to work on the Institute's system, four Circle members arrive, however, Isabelle also arrives in time to kill them before they can hurt them.

After the Soul-Sword is activated and kills the werewolves, seelies, and vampires that teamed up in an attack against Valentine, Alec rushes to the location of destruction. Not seeing Magnus among the dead, he searches the entire Institute to find him. It isn't until morning that he runs outside in a last attempt to find him. He feels a hand on his shoulder and sees that it's Magnus, and embraces him tightly. While still breathing heavily, he confesses how scared he was not knowing if Magnus was alive, and tells him he loves him. When Magnus says he feels the same, they kiss.[20]

Relationship Problems

After switching bodies with Valentine due to Azazel's spell, and being tortured by the Inquisitor, Magnus begins to pull away from Alec. Although Alec realizes that Magnus is hiding something from him, at first, he dismisses advice from Isabelle to talk to Magnus, initially believing that he should have his space. [21]

Sequentially, after Magnus begins to pull away more, Alec decides to counsel Magnus, after he reveals his past. The two swear "total transparency" from that moment forward, and to never keep secrets from one another.

Although their relationship seems repaired, it soon spirals downhill after Alec hides the truth from Magnus. Initially, Alec had found out from his father that the Clave did not possess the Mortal Sword, they never recovered it from Valentine's attack on the Institute. Fearing a downworld uprising, Alec decided not to tell Magnus about the situation, nor did he let any member of the downworld know. Not even those on his council. After Magnus attends the Seelie Queen's meeting, Magnus and Alec have dinner at the institute, as he had missed their plans. Alec inquiries about the meeting but does not tell Magnus about the mortal sword.

After finding out from Luke that the Clave did not possess the sword, the relationship between Alec and Magnus deteriorates as Magnus confronts Alec. Angry that he did not tell him about the sword given that they had sworn transparency. Magnus is especially angry that Alec did not trust him enough to tell him as he feared he would tell the downworld.[22]

Although still on bad terms with Magnus, Alec turned to Magnus for help when his little brother was attacked by Jonthan. Despite his best efforts, Magnus was, to Alec's dismay, unable to help Max. Following Magnus' failed attempts to help, the two proclaimed their love for each other, before Magnus ended their relationship to protect his people. [23]

Furthermore, Alec turned to Magnus for help sealing the rift to Edom that Jonathan had opened. Although, Magnus made it clear that he was not helping because Alec had asked, but to save lives. Later that night, Alec confessed to Magnus that he could not live without him, to which Magnus replied that he couldn't stop thinking about him.[24]


As the eldest of Lightwood siblings, Alec has a very serious, cautious, and by-the-book demeanor, answering to the Clave for reports and missions, following every law and every rule. He has a habit of being blunt and is extremely distrustful of newcomers, and Simon once referenced that his bedside manner is 'abysmal'.

Despite this, he is loyal to his friends and is fiercely protective of them, going along with his friends' missions to keep them safe even though he disapproves. Alec takes his duty extremely seriously and often steps in front of others to keep them safe, instinctively putting others ahead of himself and taking responsibility for and of others, regardless of whether he finds them agreeable or not.

Alec is gay but was in denial and reluctant to admit this to himself for years due to the pressure on him. Furthermore, his feelings for his parabatai and adoptive brother, Jace, gave him another reason to stay in the closet, as romantic relationships between parabatai are forbidden. This made him a deeply conflicted individual, torn between being himself and not bringing shame to his family. After meeting Magnus, Alec has chosen what would make him happy and is now proudly dating a man, and he has since grown more comfortable with himself.

While Alec can be harsh, he's also a deeply caring and affectionate person who won't hesitate to reach out to his family and be at their side when they need him. He's observant, and will often notice when someone he cares about is going through something, usually expressing concern when he does. Alec has a tendency to take responsibility for things and blame himself, especially in regards to people he loves being hurt or upset, even if he had little to do with the situation in the first place. When something is wrong, there's little he wouldn't do to put things right.

Skills and abilities

  • Nephilim physiology: Being Nephilim, Alec possesses a variety of enhanced physical and mental abilities granted to him by the angel blood of Raziel in his veins and also by the angelic Marks of the Gray Book. This includes enhanced strength, speed, agility, stamina, and coordination, which continue to improve over time and practice.
    • The Sight: As a Shadowhunter, Alec is naturally and easily able to see through most magical illusions and layers of glamour over reality.
    • Runic magic: Due to the angel blood in their veins, all Shadowhunters are able to apply runes on their skin without any real danger. These Marks, in turn, give varied effects that serve to benefit the wearer.
    • Use of heavenly weapons: As a Shadowhunter, Alec is also able to perform tasks unique to their species, such as the ability to use and call on the power of angels for their seraph blades, as well as to handle any heavenly weapons or objects with effect, which would normally not work for other species. In particular, these are tools made of adamas and forged by Iron Sisters.
  • Parabatai bond: Due to his parabatai bond with Jace Wayland, Alec is able to call on more strength in battle and is able to use certain runes or magic exclusive to parabatai. The runes drawn on him by, or shared with, Jace also give a considerably stronger effect.
  • Expert hand-to-hand combat: Alec is highly skilled in armed and unarmed combat.
  • Expert archer and marksman: Alec is highly skilled and proficient in marksmanship and archery.



Season One appearances: 13/13
The Mortal Cup:
The Descent Into Hell Isn't Easy:
Dead Man's Party:
Raising Hell:
Moo Shu to Go:
Of Men and Angels:
Major Arcana:
Bad Blood:
Rise Up:
This World Inverted:
Blood Calls To Blood:
Morning Star:
Season Two appearances: 20/20
This Guilty Blood:
A Door Into the Dark:
Parabatai Lost:
Day of Wrath:
Dust and Shadows:
Iron Sisters:
How Are Thou Fallen:
Love is a Devil:
Bound By Blood:
By the Light of Dawn:
Mea Maxima Culpa:
You Are Not Your Own:
Those of Demon Blood:
The Fair Folk:
A Problem of Memory:
Day of Atonement:
A Dark Reflection:
Awake, Arise, or...:
Hail and Farewell:
Beside Still Water:


See more here


  • Before Magnus, Alec had never been in a real relationship.

Behind the scenes


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