Demon Shane Madej
|Tropes and genres
|Demons in Fanworks, Demon AU
|Shane Madej, BuzzFeed Unsolved
|Related articles on Fanlore.
The Demon!Shane trope has existed since 2017; the first known fic on AO3 to feature the trope was posted in June of that year. A YouTube comment from user M.A Wy is credited as the starting point for the trope.
The trope would gain more attention as the fandom grew, eventually becoming one of the most popular tropes in the fandom. The trope has been used in gen, slash (most prominently Ryan Bergara/Shane Madej), and het fics, and as of March 2021, over 450 works on AO3 are tagged with "Demon Shane Madej".
Demon!Shane is especially ubiquitous in fanart, with countless pieces featuring a Shane with horns, black eyes, and/or bat-like wings.
The popularity of the trope has waned in recent times. The trope was built off of the Ryan-and-Shane dynamic found in Unsolved, where Shane was the strange, unflappable funny man to Ryan's relatable, nervous straight man. After the pair created Watcher, other facets of their personalities took center stage, revealing that Shane was not as unflappable as he first appeared and that Ryan was no less of a "weirdo" than Shane. As such, the Demon!Shane trope became less appealing, and new types of fics rushed in to fill the void. (One could also argue that simple trope fatigue had something to do with it; as the trope became so ubiquitous that people could easily become sick of it.) Still, the Demon!Shane trope is far from dead, and new works featuring the trope are being created and posted to this day.
It is important to note that Demon!Shane is, in addition to being a trope, a headcanon/theory; some viewers interpret canon moments from the show as "evidence" for the headcanon/theory. Whether these viewers are being tongue-in-cheek or genuine about their belief in the theory is at times hard to tell. This has led to the line between fanon and canon getting slightly more blurry than usual in the case of Demon!Shane.
Demon!Shane and the Fourth Wall
While most of the fannish tropes within the Unsolved fandom have stayed firmly behind the fourth wall, Demon!Shane is a notable exception. The creators of Unsolved have acknowledged Demon!Shane before.
During a Reddit AMA, a fan asked about the theory; Ryan Bergara responded with "I love it. It may be true". During a panel at Vidcon London in 2020, a fan asked Shane to his face if he was a demon; Shane acted offended and refused to comment, Ryan lauded the fan, and Steven Lim laughed uncontrollably. In April of that year, the subject of Demon!Shane was brought up by Shane himself during a Watcher Weekly episode, in which he finally denied being a demon.
There are a handful of different approaches that authors and artists take to the Demon!Shane trope. They include:
- Shane is and always has been a demon; his body is his own.
- Shane possessed the body of either a deceased or very young human, and has been using it since at least before he met Ryan.
- Shane is human, but is being possessed by a separate character who is a demon.
The lore surrounding demons and the powers and features they have varies from author to author, meaning that no two interpretations of Demon!Shane are exactly the same.
Common Subtropes and Plot Elements
- Ryan being a human who is unaware of Shane's true nature
- Shane scaring away other supernatural beings (and thus being the reason why he and Ryan never find concrete evidence at haunted locations)
- Shane being protective of Ryan
- Ryan discovering Shane's secret by means of various anti-demon tools that have appeared in the show (salt circles, holy water pistols, etc.)
- If Ryan is nonhuman, he is often an angel, creating an angel/demon dynamic to match the actual show's skeptic/believer dynamic
- In fanart, Demon!Shane is often paired with Ricky Goldsworth, Ryan's ambiguously evil alter ego
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- i will fear no evil by Impala_Chick
- A Series of Potentially Friendship-Ruining Secrets by monstermasks
- something a demon would say by EAST (WESTAGE)
- Hey there boys, it’s me, ya demon by thecartooncryptid
- rude o(o･`з･´o)ﾉ!!! by cirilee
- unsolved boys by juno0v
- A very serious study by a definitely not fake demon expert, Dr. Bergara by greseadraws
- when you gotta tear open the fabric of the universe for a sec but your bro barges in by ghostpajamas-art
- hey there humans by gaybandaids
- Fun demons? Maybe. by softcrytids
- there’s a devil in this town, by q-unsolved
- Unsolved: The Possession of Demon Shane (Animation) by lr31o