Manuel was born in Madrid and grew up in the Institute there. After the reopening of the Scholomance at the end of the Dark War, Manuel was one of the Shadowhunters who attended the school and became a Centurion.
At some point, Manuel became a part of Zara Dearborn's inner circle of friends and joined the Cohort, a group led by her father, Horace Dearborn. He actively helped Zara with her plans, in exchange for something that was promised to him upon the Cohort’s fruition.
In 2012, he was part of the team sent by the Scholomance to Los Angeles to search for Malcolm Fade's body and the Black Volume of the Dead. He stayed at the Los Angeles Institute for the duration of their assignment along with Zara, Diego, and several other Centurions.
Shortly after, at the Council meeting where Annabel Blackthorn was to testify, Manuel tried to convince Emma Carstairs to join the Cohort, but she gave him a low kick in response and called him a fascist. In the aftermath of Annabel's chaos, Manuel was present at the emergency meeting in which Horace Dearborn was appointed the new Inquisitor. He attended the public funeral rites for Livvy Blackthorn and their late Inquisitor Robert Lightwood with his friends and was seen acting disrespectfully. He then attended the following meetings in the Council Hall at Horace's side, along with Zara.
When he briefly returned to the Scholomance, Manuel was among the group of Cohort members that brought the faerie prince Kieran to the Hollow Place with the intention of throwing Kieran into the enchanted pool as a form of torture.
He suggested to Dearborn a plan to have the Unseelie Prince Oban replace the current King to more easily sway them towards their plans. Dearborn agreed with it and sent Manuel to Faerie to see it through and to intercept and kill Julian and Emma once they'd gotten hold of the Black Volume of the Dead. Once in the Lands, Dane Larkspear stole his time slippage medallion in an attempt to find the pair and take the glory of their deaths himself, causing Manuel to lose a few human days while in Faerie.
Manuel continued to work with Oban and came across Kieran and Mark Blackthorn. He captured them and convinced the prince to deliver the two to the King in order to fall in his good graces. After a battle in the throne room that resulted in the King's death and Oban wrongfully claiming the throne for himself, he was under the impression that Clary Fairchild and Jace Herondale had gone through the Portal to Thule and were as good as dead, which he relayed to Dearborn upon returning to Alicante.
Parley and ultimatum
When the Cohort were given an Eidolon demon, Manuel suggested that the demon later appear looking exactly like Annabel Blackthorn, down to the clothes she wore in the tragic Council meeting, to inspire fear among the Shadowhunters and further upset the Blackthorns.
Shortly after, upon finding out that Clary and Jace were alive, Manuel led a group of Cohort members to the campsite set up in Brocelind Forest to kill the two of them. However, they were ambushed and caught by the Shadowhunters and Downworlders at the camp and taken to the Imperishable Fields. They interrupted the Cohort's parley and Julian had Manuel hold the new Mortal Sword, exposing the Cohort's lies and plots to every Shadowhunter watching. A battle broke out and Manuel fought alongside the Cohort and the Unseelie faeries. When Julian turned into a gigantic true Nephilim and killed Horace, Manuel hid under his corpse for protection.
The Cohort lost the battle and all the members who took part in the fight were taken prisoner at the Gard and tested by the Mortal Sword. During the meeting that followed in the Council Hall for their trial, Manuel and the rest were still entitled the right to vote for the Clave's new Consul. When Alec Lightwood was elected, he and his comrades refused to accept his authority and threatened to commit suicide if the non-supporters of the Cohort didn't leave their homeland permanently. They watched as Amelia stabbed herself to prove to them how serious they were and when Alec chose to submit to their terms, he stayed with the others in Alicante, apparently condemning themselves to a life trapped in Idris.
Less than half a year after their self-imposed isolation in Idris, their group was still deciding on what they would be called and mostly acted on their goals by spying on the outside world. Living on basic rations and annoyed at having to watch their enemies happily live their lives, Manuel grew bored of their confinement and wished to move forward. One day, he and Zara were ordered to check on the wards when Livvy's ghost ended up wandering to just outside the wards and overheard their argument.
Manuel is cruel and deceitful, able to pretend to be favorable to gain someone's trust. He is also sadistic and enjoys chaos and torturing others. Despite not being a believer in the Cohort's cause, Manuel's hunger for power led him to join the group, for he felt it was the side whose victory he personally could benefit the most from. Nevertheless, he was loyal to them and carried out all their plans and missions dutifully.
Manuel is a young man with light brown hair and an easy, sideways smile.
- Manuel's native language is Spanish and he has a Spanish accent when speaking English.
- He has a wolf on the back of his Centurions jacket, presumably his family crest.
- His apellido materno (maternal last name) Villalobos means "town of wolves" in Spanish, derived from the Spanish words villa ("town") and lobos ("wolves").