With prominent media outlets praising Shadowhunters for their writing of Magnus’ character and fans seeing themselves in and finding themselves through Magnus, his powerful impact is undeniable.
From his heart of gold to his endless kindness and unyielding strength, join us as we take a look at some of his most inspiring moments below.
1x06: Offering Alec the key to his heart
All it took was a skilfully aimed arrow and a heartwarming smile for the first crack in Magnus’ walls to appear. “For almost a century, I’ve closed myself off to feeling anything for anyone – man or woman,” he tells Alec over their drinks after Alec asks him why he asked for him specifically to help save Luke. “You’ve unlocked something in me.” Despite his past experience with both Shadowhunters and heartache, Magnus’s walls begin to crumble, slowly but surely. He opens up – to Alec, to feeling things again – after so long of shying away from it all. We’re sure it wasn’t easy, but most things worth having rarely ever are.
2x15: Baring his heart and soul
When dealing with it alone becomes too much, Magnus finally opens up to Alec, telling him things about himself that no one knew. “I never wanted you to see this terrible, ugly side of me. Of my past,” Magnus says after telling Alec about killing his stepfather. In doing so, he bares his heart and soul to Alec, showing the sides of himself he’d always been too afraid to reveal, even though he feared Alec’s reaction.
“There is nothing ugly about you,” is Alec’s reply, pulling Magnus into a bone crushing embrace, his unconditional love and support helping mend wounds no person should ever have to deal with alone.
2x18/2x07: Showing his cat eyes
Turning back to Alec, he reveals his cat eyes with bated breath. Alec’s open, loving reaction and Magnus baring his Warlock mark show just how far they have come. Magnus went from being guarded and not letting anyone in, to welcoming both Alec and his family into his heart and his life, sharing even the parts of himself that he had tried to keep hidden for the past century or so.
2x18: Revealing his fears
“The key to having no fear is having nothing to lose,” he says. “I guess that’s why I haven’t opened my heart up for almost a hundred years. Then I met you.”
I’m scared to lose you are the words that are left unspoken, a powerful reveal in a tender moment. Magnus’ words are no easy feat, having spent so many decades guarded and closed off. It is yet another testament to the strength his admissions and his open heart require, showing that the High Warlock of Brooklyn is powerful in more ways than one.
2x06 & 2x20: Trusting even after being hurt
In 2×06, Magnus, despite having been hurt countless of times in the past by people who were never willing to give themselves to him completely and especially didn’t want all of him with all he entails, once again shows his open-heartedness. “I’m all for effort,” he tells Alec after their date and Alec’s “I hear relationships take effort”. He opens up to the potential of a relationship between them, despite not knowing where it might take them.
When Magnus and Alec reunite in 2×20, Magnus echoes Alec’s words back at him, signalling a pivotal moment in their relationship. In doing so, he not only crosses the distance between them, but also shows Alec he is willing to trust him again even after the hurt that had caused the rift between them. Trust, and especially trusting after having been hurt, requires both an open heart and a tremendous amount of strength – something Magnus proves yet again he has in endless amounts.
His kindness and acceptance
2x02 & 2x04: Adopting his Downworlder family
When Simon is trying to find a way to summon Camille for Raphael’s sake, Magnus takes him in. “When I was a boy and discovering my powers, I had no one. I had to figure out the Downworld all on my own. It was awful,” he tells Simon after their trip to India. “So I vowed to myself that if I ever found someone in a similar situation, I’d try to make sure they didn’t have to go at it alone.”
Magnus’ parental feelings toward his Downworlders protégés are once again shown when he is fighting an internal battle over whether or not to put Camille’s fate into the hands of the Clave in order to save Raphael. “As a Warlock, I can have [no children]. The Downworlders I take under my wing, they are my children. My family,” he tells Camille. These instances show Magnus’ nature, his acceptance and his kindness, in embracing Downworlders as his own family when so few would, making him a ray of light in a world that sometimes can seem so very dark.
S1 & S2: His open nature
When Magnus first meets Madzie and sees how Valentine had used her for her abilities, his top priority becomes getting her to safety, not just from the battle going on that night but permanently. “I want to help you. For real,” he tells her, showing her his Warlock mark to prove that they’re the same and that he can be trusted. Despite having just met her, he connects to her and sees himself in her since – much like him in the past – Madzie had been used by Shadowhunters for their own gain. Risking his life to keep her safe, he once again shows us his unprejudiced self and never ending kindness.
1x06 & 2x02: His belief in others
“Back then, there wasn’t a day I didn’t draw. It was like breathing. Now, I look at this blank page and I barely even know what to do,” Clary tells Magnus in episode 1×06, feeling as if she’s lost herself when she was thrown into the Shadow World. “Your art, everything you are… they’re all still here,” Magnus reassures her. “You’re the woman your mother always knew you could be.”
Magnus’ belief in others doesn’t just extend to his precious biscuit. In 2×02 when Simon is worrying about finding Camille, Magnus not only gives him his help in portalling him to India, but also offers some word of advice.
“What are you so afraid of?” he asks. “You’re a vampire, Simon. You’re tougher than you think,” he continues, once again showing his people – and us – his belief in others, even (and especially) when they don’t have faith in themselves. Can we have a Magnus Bane of our own, please?
His strength and how he overcomes his hardships
1x12: Fighting for his love
“And when that love comes back to you, you must do everything in your power to fight for it.” And fight he does. Giving Alec one last chance, and himself one last try at this shot at happiness, Magnus shows up at Alec’s wedding, dressed to the nines with a particular detail – his heart on his sleeve.
This not only gives us the beginning of one of the healthiest LGBTQ+ relationships on television, but it also shows us the power of resilience and the importance of not giving up even when carrying on seems impossible.
2x04: His struggles with mental health
“When I was living in London, early 1870s, I was in a bad place,” he says. “No matter how hard I tried – I couldn’t see my way out. And on one particular stormy night… I got as far as the ledge of Blackfriars Bridge. If it wasn’t for Camille… I wouldn’t be here right now.” Simon is stunned by this. Magnus says it’s rare that he is in such a bad place, but that “in my moments of weakness, I have my rock”.
Magnus’ issues are a very real depiction of how many people struggle with their mental health – there are both good days and bad days, and sometimes we need something, or someone, to anchor us to make it through the bad ones. Seeing Magnus deal with his own issues is inspiring because it shows that there is a way out of the seemingly inescapable dark bubble that sometimes surrounds us, and that there are always better days and brightness ahead.
2x05: The only way out is through
Speaking of losing his own mother, he says: “It was a long time ago. And over time, it got easier. Never easy, but easier.” After offering Clary one of his memories of her and Jocelyn, he continues: “Losing your mom… it’s not something you make better with magic. You just head straight into it and cry your eyes out.”
The final sentence is particularly significant as it speaks for not just this moment, but who he is. In all instances, Magnus deals with his issues the only way he knows how to: knowing that the only way out is through. He endures the unbearable, and he bears it. Fighting his battles and facing his struggles every single day, is what formed Magnus into the strong, unwavering person he is today.
S2: Dealing with the body swap and its aftermath
The loss of Magnus’ mother taught him how to deal with the specific pain that only loss can bring. Magnus spent centuries dealing with it, the pain fading into the background but never quite disappearing.
The body swap with Valentine in 2×12, however, brings all that back to the surface with the Clave using the agony rune on him, thinking they were torturing the Circle leader. This rune made him relive his worst recollection – over and over again. “That agony rune… It made me relive memories I’ve spent centuries trying to forget,” he tells Alec after having returned to his own body.
In the aftermath of Azazel swapping Magnus’ and Valentine’s bodies, Magnus not only had to deal with Valentine’s intrusion of his body. He also had to deal with the loss of his mother all over again after having spent centuries trying to work through it. This is yet another thing that shows just how strong he truly is. Even though he was brought back to square one of “easier, but never easy” he fights through it, leaving us in constant awe of the strength he possesses.
1x11: “Neither of you deserve it”
After Isabelle’s trial, Magnus and Alec step away from the others to settle Magnus’ payment, which leads to them talking about Lydia – not for the first time. “You don’t have to marry her,” he tells Alec. “You’ll be lonely all your life, and so will she. Neither of you deserve it. And I don’t either.”
While Magnus’ hurt is obvious, he puts Alec (and Lydia) first. It’s for Alec’s own sake Magnus wishes he wouldn’t go through with the wedding. All he wants is for Alec to follow his heart – sure, he hopes that doing so might lead Alec to him – but more than anything he doesn’t want Alec to go through what he has. He knows how it feels to turn your back on love, or even the chance at it. It’s what he did for the past century until he met Alec, and he doesn’t want Alec to do that to himself.
He knows the pain and emptiness that closing oneself off to happiness causes. His only goal in this scene is to make Alec see that for his own sake and Lydia’s, he shouldn’t go through with the wedding and he knows just how to do it – not only addressing Alec’s awaiting misery, but his own and Lydia’s as well, knowing that Alec is always more concerned about those he holds dear and how his actions might affect them than himself. Even though Magnus’ own hurt was palpable, Alec was his main concern. This is a scene that not just hurts our Malec hearts, but moves us because of Magnus’ stunning selflessness.
2x20: Risking his life for Shadowhunters
This throwback is another reminder of what agreeing to help Clary ended up entailing, and more importantly of how far Magnus has come since then. It is hard to believe that the person in 1×02 is the same person who, in episode 2×20, put the Shadowhunters’ lives before his own. “Magnus, you need to get to safety,” Alec tells him when they realize that Valentine has succeeded in raising the angel Raziel. Magnus, though, doesn’t even hesitate before declaring “We need to find Jace and Clary.”
Valentine’s mission to vanquish all Downworlders from the world came dangerously close to succeeding. And despite not knowing that Clary has killed him, Magnus’ own safety doesn’t even come to his mind when he, Alec, and Isabelle arrive in Idris. He knows what Jace and Clary mean to them – what they mean to him – and is determined to stop at nothing to save them, even if it would mean risking his own life in the process.
2x18: Protecting his people
Magnus putting his people above himself is one of season two’s most heartbreaking scenes. His love for Alec is evident in every spoken word and yearning look in this moment, and yet he makes the decision to walk away from him because he feels like he can’t be a good leader and be with Alec at the same time. It’s a scene that not only tugs at our heartstrings, but also shows us another aspect of Magnus’ character and his selflessness. This moment takes our breaths away, both because of Harry Shum Jr.’s acting and the complex beauty of everything Magnus is.
His unconditional support for those he cares about
2x05: Putting his own suffering aside to help Alec
No matter the pain Magnus is in himself, he puts his own sorrow aside to be there for Alec because he knows that in the aftermath of Jocelyn’s death, his state of mind is most likely even worse. If Alec will burn up the very ground he stands on to make something right, Magnus will do so to support his loved ones.
2x15: Standing by his man
Although Magnus is going through one of the most difficult times of his centuries long life, he recognizes the difficult decision that Alec is facing and offers his endless support in whatever his decision will be. Doing so shows yet another inspirational part of him – how he is always there for his people.
S1 & S2: Literally every time he helps Shadowhunters
His wisdom and offering advice
2x06: His wise words in times of war
Magnus’ words are true in any situation, not only in times of war. No matter how hectic our schedules are, or how much is on our plate, we need the moments in between to help us recharge. In fact, they can be just as important as everything else because they help us finish our tasks, achieve our goals and chase our dreams. And if we ever doubt it, we can thankfully look to a certain Warlock to remind us.
2x06: Showing us the good in being different
Magnus’ words showcase the importance of being different, and celebrating individuality. He is right that there is no one else like Alec, and not anyone who is like him either. In assuring Alec, he inspires all of us to highlight our uniqueness, and to face the world as nothing but ourselves.
1x04: Choices and their defining quality
With this pearl of wisdom, he not only prevents Clary from belittling her actions, but he also reminds us that we always have a choice, no matter the situation we find ourselves in, and that our past or our surroundings don’t define who we are, but our choices do.
1x04: Battling the weight of guilt
In this, Magnus shows Alec that this is not a battle that he has to fight alone, offering to help him tackle some of the heavy weight of the guilt Alec is feeling. He reaches a metaphorical hand out to him, accompanied by wise words that we are sure not only helped Alec, but fans all over the world struggling with themselves.
1x12: Highlighting the importance of truth
Magnus’ words in this scene are yet another example of the wisdom he has gathered in his years of living. He shows not only Alec but also us how important it is to not live by someone else’s expectations, but to be true to ourselves – and to live that truth to the fullest.
His unapologetic way of being himself
2x06: His self acceptance
While this is certainly applicable to their relationship, it also speaks of who Magnus is as a person. Despite the struggles he’s had and the prejudice he’s constantly facing, Magnus is always one hundred percent unapologetically himself. No matter what he is doing, he does it in a way that is uniquely his and no one else’s, owning who he is and inspiring all of us to do the same.
S1 & S2: How he doesn’t let his humor fade
Whether it’s after dealing with a memory demon – “Does he normally just lay like that without moving?” – or (once again) questioning the Clave – “Hm. The Clave being unhelpful. Who’s surprised? Show of hands?”, everything he does, is with his trademark Magnus Bane wit, and we couldn’t love him more for it if we tried.
S1 & S2: Living in joy and in the present
After the body swap and his fight with Alec about the Clave’s DNA tests, Magnus brings out his whisky and his old records, dancing away the memories, if only momentarily. While it is certainly both a distraction technique and a coping mechanism, it is also Magnus resorting to some of his joys in life in order to deal with the present.
Which undoubtedly brings us to our next point. Magnus has more than enough memories from the last four hundred or so years – both good and bad ones. Regardless of that, he always manages to live in the present. Even when his most painful memories are brought back to the surface, he battles through them and fights to remain in the present. This, combined with his joy of living, is definitely something a lot of us could learn a thing or two from.
2x06: Owning his sexuality
“I’ve been with men, women, Seelies, Warlocks, Vampires… A djinn or two,” he says when he and Alec inevitably breach the topic of past lovers.
In the face of prejudice, Magnus has never backed down. His sexuality is a part of him that he’s never hidden away or let others make him feel ashamed about, flaunting his sexuality with pride. Seeing him so open and unabashed about who he is not only fills us with strength and inspires us, but makes us long for a world where that would be a possibility for everyone.
S1 & S2: His soulfulness and his spirit
The qualities Magnus possesses and how he lives his life, unapologetically himself – doing everything he does with infinite strength, wisdom, and love, living every day defiantly and unabashedly – are all puzzle pieces that help to make up who he is. Magnus might have powerful magic at the tips of his fingers, but there is also nothing short of magical about everything he is and the powerful inspiration that he is through that – magic that we wouldn’t mind seeing more of in the world.
24-year-old freelance editor and translator with a bachelor’s degree in English and currently studying administration. When I’m not writing novels disguised as articles or modifying text pieces here and there, I can most likely be found laughing at puns and dad jokes, lost in a TV show or a book, or reorganizing one thing or the other, all the while clad in black. I joined the team to extend my love of writing into more aspects of my life. As part of ShumDario News, I compose articles for the website and proofread content.