|“||You don't know everything I've done, Tessie.||”|
–Nate's last words, Clockwork Prince
Nathaniel "Nate" Gray was the biological son of Harriet Moore and her late fiancé, and the adoptive son of Elizabeth Gray and Richard Gray. He was also the adoptive brother of Tessa Gray, whom he ultimately betrayed while working for the Magister.
Nate was born out of wedlock to Harriet Moore in England. His father died before his parents could marry, so Harriet's sister, Elizabeth, and her husband adopted him to save Harriet from the shame. When he was around three years old, he and his family left London for New York, where he spent the rest of his childhood. He grew up with Tessa, who was born a few years after him, and was led to believe that they were siblings.
As a child, Nate held an interest in sketching. Despite his evident talent, he was short-tempered and easily frustrated, and became angry and aggressive whenever he practiced and failed to depict what he wanted to in his drawings. Tessa and Harriet were both relieved when he eventually gave up the hobby.
Because Harriet constantly felt guilty about never telling him the truth about being his biological mother, she spoiled him and let him get away with everything. As he got older, he began drinking, gambling and losing money, which Harriet worked hard to pay back.
At some point, Nate acquired some gambling debts and decided to look for jewelry to pawn in Elizabeth's old jewelry box. Instead, he found pages of her diary. Through this, Nate learned that his "Aunt Harriet" was actually his biological mother, which seeded his feelings of loathing and spite towards her, which soon grew into hatred.
Through these diary pages, Nate also learned of the Grays' connection to the rich and mysterious businessman Axel Mortmain, as well as his parents' introduction to the Pandemonium Club before they left London for America. He tried to use the information found in the letters, particularly the information regarding Mortmain's occult practices, to blackmail Mortmain, hoping to gain something from him, such as money or employment.
However, Mortmain was unfazed by his threats. Even still, Mortmain arranged to have Nate brought to London anyway, as he was unsure if Nate was the child that Elizabeth had conceived with the demon he had sent to impersonate her husband. When Mortmain found out about Tessa's existence, he was pleased, and, deciding that he could use and exploit Nate's anger and connection to Tessa to his advantage, offered Nate a job with his company. Nate accepted and was soon introduced to the Pandemonium Club. Nate became entranced by the supernatural dealings of the club and soon became loyal to Mortmain, even after learning of his true nature. Ambitious as he was, Nate hoped to remain the disciple of "the Magister" and to serve as his right hand man when he ruled the British Empire.
After Nate had been working for him for some time, Mortmain soon revealed to Nate the extent of his plans. Together, they plotted to bring Tessa to London, during which Nate lost much of his compassion toward his sister as his own personal ambitions and hopes for success replaced it. Long ago accepting that Tessa was not his true sister, and even looking down on her for her demon heritage, Nate helped Mortmain accomplish his plans by deceiving her in his communications with his family. Nate sent poisoned chocolate to them in New York, knowing Tessa, who does not like chocolate, would not eat them and instead give them to their Aunt Harriet, who died shortly after consuming them. Then, knowing Tessa had nowhere else to go, he sent her a letter with a steamship ticket enclosed, asking her to follow him to London and live with him there.
Upon Tessa's arrival to England, the Dark Sisters picked her up at the docks, claiming to have been sent by Nate. When they finally brought her back to their home, they began torturing Tessa and training her to use her abilities to Change into anyone. It was then that they admitted that Nate was being held prisoner; in order to force Tessa into cooperating with them, they showed her Richard's ring, which Nate had inherited and worn, as proof of his capture, and threatened to kill him should she not comply. In reality, Nate was not being held against his will, and was not only fully aware of what was being done to her, but he had also agreed to Tessa's kidnapping. However, when Tessa escaped from the Dark House, Nate was given to the vampire Alexei de Quincey in punishment for his sister's insubordination.
De Quincey was an old vampire who was well-known for throwing large parties where mundanes were drained of blood and killed as entertainment for the vampires. During one of de Quincey's parties for vampires and other Downworlders, Nate was the mundane prisoner that de Quincey had chosen to be drained of blood as the main event, where he was presented by de Quincey to his audience as a traitor who betrayed their kind.
Unbeknownst to de Quincey or Nate, the Shadowhunters of London were alerted to de Quincey's actions by Camille Belcourt before the party was held. With the advance notice, the London Enclave had prepared to catch de Quincey in the act of breaking the Law by sending in a Shadowhunter and two allies of the Clave to witness de Quincey breaking the Accords by killing mundanes; the infiltrating group included Tessa, who had Changed into Camille to gain them access to the party, the Shadowhunter Will Herondale, and the warlock Magnus Bane. When Tessa/Camille saw that the prisoner was Nate, she screamed for Will to activate the Phosphor to summon the Clave for backup.
After a chaotic battle against a significant number of the London vampire clan's members, Nate was rescued by the Shadowhunters and subsequently brought to the London Institute where he was allowed to rest and recover. Nate, realizing his fortunate position in the heart of the London Enclave could be used as a second chance to prove himself to the Magister, quickly devised a plan to win back his favor. Nate recounted the story he had concocted to Charlotte Branwell and the rest of the Institute's residents, and backed up Mortmain's false claims that de Quincey was the Magister. While Nate was recovering, he met Jessamine Lovelace, who was smitten by him, and who showered him with attention and affection in the hope that Nate would fall in love with her and marry her so she could finally leave the Shadowhunter life for good.
Soon after he arrived at the Institute, Nate secretly contacted Mortmain and informed him of the plan he had devised: give the Shadowhunters information that would send them on a false lead to where de Quincey was hiding, and create a ruse to get the remaining Shadowhunters out of the Institute, leaving it (and Tessa) unguarded and defenseless.
After the majority of the adult Shadowhunters went after de Quincey, Mortmain arrived and lied to Jem and Will that Mrs. Dark and her sister were about to finally bind the automatons to demon energies, which caused the two boys to leave at once to investigate. After Nate aided Mortmain into entering the Institute, he was sent to steal the Institute's Pyxis. Unfortunately for Nate, Tessa ultimately faked her own death by quickly Changing into a woman who had been killed by a gunshot, and Mortmain, fearing retribution from the Shadowhunters when they returned, fled with Nate and the stolen Pyxis.
After the infiltration of the Institute, Nate began sending Jessamine secret love letters, in which he promised to marry and run away with her, just as she had always wanted, so she could escape the Shadowhunter world. He then led her to believe that he was only working with Mortmain until he had the money for them to live comfortably, and convinced her to help him by spying on the Shadowhunters of the Institute and reporting back to him and Mortmain about what she had learned about Charlotte's plans. Due to Jessamine's desperation to leave the Shadowhunter world and her dislike for Shadowhunters in general, Jessamine complied with his every request, and informed him of everything she knew: that Tessa was not actually dead, the leads Charlotte was following to track Mortmain down, and information about Shadowhunters in general.
Eventually, Nate set up a mundane wedding so he could marry Jessamine. The couple often met secretly at night, for which Jessamine dressed as a man so she could walk the streets without any suspicion. Unfortunately, two residents of the Institute, Sophie and Tessa, became suspicious of her upon each of them catching her sneaking out late at night on several occasions.
Eventually, Jessamine's betrayal was discovered when Sophie found an invitation Nate sent her for a masquerade ball at Benedict Lightwood's manor. Sophie reflexively knocked out the enraged Jessamine and immediately confided what she had learned to Tessa and Will. The three of them decided that Will, in a simple mask, and Tessa, Changed into Jessamine, would attend the ball so they could figure out what Jessamine had been doing behind their backs.
At the ball, Nate was initially fooled by Tessa's disguise, and, while dancing with her, he confessed some of Mortmain's plans for Tessa and the Shadowhunters. Nate suspected nothing up until Will had a clockwork servant pass Nate a note with a false message from Mortmain which instructed Nate to meet him at Vauxhall. Eager to meet with his master, he left the party, giving Will and Tessa an opportunity to talk about what they had learned from Nate and slip away undetected.
When Nate realized that Jessamine arriving at the party was a sham, however, he also realized that Jessamine had been compromised by the Nephilim. He decided to use this knowledge to his advantage, and, shortly afterward, when he received another message from Jessamine (who had reluctantly written the letter in exchange for leniency from the Clave for her betrayal), Nate agreed to meet with "Jessamine" at an abandoned tea warehouse. Knowing that a group of Shadowhunters would come, Nate came prepared with a large and vicious prototype automaton for protection. He kept up the act and was about to kiss Tessa/Jessamine until his automatons arrived, having captured Charlotte, who was unconscious at the time.
Then, once Nate confessed that he knew it was a set-up, he explained to Tessa the entire truth of his alliance with the Magister, as well as their true relationship—he and Tessa were not biological siblings, but in fact cousins, though he did not elaborate further than the fact that their "Aunt" Harriet was his mother, and that he had orchestrated her death.
Intending to take Tessa prisoner and deliver her to Mortmain, he sent his automatons to kill the Shadowhunters, but Tessa eventually turned the tides in the battle when she Changed into Nate, and, with his voice, managed to command the automaton to capture Nate instead. It obeyed her, and, while Nate was in its grasp, the clockwork creature ultimately short-circuited after being stuck with one of Henry's inventions.
In the explosion, Nate was struck with a large piece of sharp metal from the automaton. At the verge of death, Nate asked Tessa not to try to save him, fearing retribution from the Magister. Nate repented ever so slightly by promising Tessa that he was going to surrender her because he knew Mortmain wasn't going to hurt her, and even attempted to tell here where Mortmain was hiding, though by then, he was too weak. He acknowledged that Tessa was always the good child, and that he would burn in Hell for his actions. With his last bit of energy, he reminded her to always wear the clockwork angel, implying his awareness of the necklace's function—her protection. Nate died shortly after in Tessa's arms. Despite the circumstances, the others assured Tessa that it was alright for her to mourn for him.
Nate was incredibly ambitious and deceitful. Before Nate left for London, Tessa thought of him as innocent, naive, and too trusting for his own good, not to mention weak-willed, childish, and easy to take advantage of, especially due to his affinity for drinking and gambling. Nate was spoiled growing up, as a result of his mother's guilt over her deceit, and because of this, he was always shielded by his mother and Tessa as to keep him protected from his weaknesses. He also had many girls who had adored him over the span of his life, but according to Tessa, Nate "had the attention span of a butterfly," and never stayed with any one girl for too long.
However, once Tessa was brought to London and finally reunited with Nate, he began to show his true nature: he was self-obsessed, aggressively ambitious, and preoccupied with the idea of making more money and gaining more power. He continually lied to the residents of the London Institute about the real identity of the Magister and his involvement with Mortmain and the Pandemonium Club. Nate was willing to do anything in order to achieve his goals, even if that meant betraying his adopted sister or pretending to be in love with Jessamine so he could manipulate her into helping him betray the Nephilim. When it came to those with power and wealth, such as Axel Mortmain, Nate was eager to please, and was always looking for opportunities to gain more favor. However, he only cared for people as much as they could help him in his quest to be rich and powerful.
Nate and Tessa grew up together and were led to believe that they were siblings. Though Nate was the older of the two, Tessa was always the one who protected him, especially when he got older and got into drinking and gambling. The two were very close until Nate left to go get a job in London, up until Nate became employed by Mortmain and learned about the Shadow World. Their relationship changed for the worse after Nate learned about his true parentage, as well as Tessa's, and he realized that he could leverage Tessa to Mortmain for more power and money. He tricked Tessa into moving to London, where she was apprehended by the Dark Sisters and taken captive, where they tortured her and forced her to Change for them under threat for Nate's life, though Nate was never in any danger.
After Tessa escaped the Dark House, Nate began resenting Tessa, because he lost favor with Mortmain and was ultimately given to de Quincey as punishment. He continued to lie and manipulate Tessa and the other members of the Institute, while he gave Mortmain information that would gain him entry to the London Institute. Once Tessa learned of his betrayal, she hated him, and helped the London Enclave in their efforts to find him and Mortmain so that he would be properly punished. She did not realize that he had been corresponding with (and manipulating) Jessamine until it was too late, and this continued scheming against the Nephilim only served to make her hate Nate more. Nate, on the other hand, refused to admit that he was related to Tessa, and looked down on her for her demon heritage. Once he learned her true identity, her only worth to him was only how he could continue to use her to earn favor with Mortmain. He once went so far as to orchestrate a meeting with Tessa (as Jessamine), knowing her Shadowhunter friends would accompany her; there, he attempted to kidnap Tessa for Mortmain and kill the Shadowhunters who came with her, not expecting Tessa to fight back with her powers. She ended up Changing into Nate so she could call off his automaton, which ultimately killed him. Before he died, he showed some remorse for his actions, though he made no excuses for why he did what he did. While Tessa hated him, she also loved him, and mourned him after his death.
Axel Mortmain was a powerful businessman in London, and offered Nate the opportunity to clear his gambling debts. Knowing Nate was close to his "sister" Tessa, Mortmain could use him to get to her. Nate was more than happy to oblige after learning Tessa's demonic origin and that they were not blood-siblings. Mortmain was manipulative; Nate was infatuated with pleasing Mortmain's requests, growing more greedy for power, and was compelled to do anything for him.
It is clear that Nate does fear Mortmain and is terrified of the consequences of failing him. Mortmain handed Nate over to de Quincey to torture and kill when he heard that Tessa had escaped, but this doesn't stop Nate returning his role beside Mortmain. When he is pursued by the Shadowhunters, he reveals he would rather die than face his punishment from Mortmain—and he does.
When Nate was brought to the Institute in an ill state, Jessamine took an instant liking to him. She spent a lot of time by his bedside, insisting on nursing him back to health and effectively flirting with him. Jessie was keen to marry him so that she could leave her life as a Shadowhunter behind and pursue the normal mundane life she had always longed for. After it was revealed that Nate was in alliance with Mortmain, Jessie was so smitten by him that she refused to believe it, and even stood up for him. She was rather heartbroken when Nate fled with Mortmain, and still pined for him, despite the fact that Nate had shown no mercy towards her when she was knocked unconscious during Mortmain's first attack on the Institute.
Nate used Jessamine's affections to his advantage, sending her secret love letters and arranging to meet up with her. He proposed to her, and they proceeded a mundane marriage in secret.
After Nate's death, Jessie was mournful. Whilst imprisoned in the Silent City, Jessamine engraved her initials "JG" on the wall with the diamond ring Nate had given her; when the diamond shattered, she realized that it was as fake as Nate's love for her.
Harriet Moore posed as Nate's aunt, hiding the fact that she was actually his biological mother, afraid that she would be shunned for bearing a child out of wedlock. She spoiled Nate in guilt of never telling him the truth. Nate was angry having discovered this in his supposed mother Elizabeth Gray's diary, and went on to deeply resent his adoptive aunt. When he was in London, and under the power of Mortmain, Nate sent Tessa a box of poisoned chocolates, knowing that she disliked it and would give them to her aunt. Harriet as a result became very ill and died. The motive was partly out of revenge and also to force Tessa to leave New York for London.
- Clockwork Angel (first appearance)
- Clockwork Prince
- Clockwork Princess (mentioned only)
- Clockwork Princess: Manga (mentioned only)
- A History of Notable Shadowhunters & Denizens of the Downworld