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SPOILER WARNING: Plot details follow. Caution is advised!

You think that I am ashamed of you, but I am ashamed of myself. I look at you, and I see the mirror of my own unkindness to someone who never deserved it. We find in our children our own selves again, who might be made better than we are. Alec, you are so much a better man than I ever was, or will be.

–Robert, City of Heavenly Fire

Robert Lightwood was the patriarch of the Lightwood family, the former husband of Maryse Lightwood and the father of Alec, Isabelle, and Max Lightwood, as well as the adoptive father of Jace Herondale. Before he was appointed as Inquisitor, Robert ran the New York Institute with his wife, Maryse, after they were exiled to New York as punishment for their involvement with Valentine's Circle.


Early life

Robert Lightwood was born to Andrew Lightwood and his wife, Phoebe Gladstone, in 1965.[2]

When he was twelve, Robert received his first Mark, and for some unknown reason, Robert's body reacted negatively to the rune and he fell into a fever, a state of agony and suffering that went on for weeks. While Robert could have died from the reaction, his parents chose to wait instead of ensuring his survival by cutting the Mark—a step that would make Robert a mundane. Around a month after the fever started, Robert finally woke up, but his life was never the same. A year after the incident, Robert met and became best friends with Michael Wayland. Robert was fourteen when he decided to try and Mark himself again, and they were fifteen when they underwent their parabatai ritual.

Robert and Michael then attended the Shadowhunter Academy—Robert being a year or so late because of his condition. Robert had been a misfit until Valentine brought him, among others, under his wing, with whom he formed the Circle.[3] It was also during this time that Robert met, began dating Maryse, and eventually married—according to Luke, together, they were almost as bad as Valentine.[4]

Maryse gave birth to their first son, Alec, shortly before the failed Uprising. While the more loyal followers of Valentine fled and went into hiding, others stayed behind and cooperated with the Clave. Because of their connections with some of the highest families in the Clave and Council members, including the Penhallows, they were granted leniency.

After being tried, Robert, Maryse, and Alec were banished from Idris and sent to New York to run the local Institute, which was ironically formerly ran by the Whitelaws whom Robert had a hand in killing during a Circle raid in 1989.[5] The fact that they were building a family and had a newborn child made their punishment less severe compared to others like Hodge—whereas they were still allowed to return to Idris for short periods of time when on official business, Hodge was cursed so that he could never leave the New York Institute.

Robert and Maryse's relationship had since then become strained. Robert partly blamed her for their banishment and would have left if not for Alec, and Isabelle whom Maryse was already carrying.

During their period of shock and adjustment, Robert found comfort in reading aloud to Alec and Isabelle, spending hours reading anything from classic novels to history books and Clave documents to them.[6]

Approximately eight years after their exile, when Alec was about nine, Robert had an affair with Annamarie Highsmith and loved her enough to decide to leave Maryse for her. However, when he found out that Maryse was pregnant with their third child, he decided to end his affair with Annamarie to stay with this family.[7]

Unbeknownst to them, some time after their exile, Robert's parabatai Michael perished in a fire caused by Valentine.[8] However, since their bond was broken upon his exile, he never realized it. About a decade after their exile, they were charged with the upbringing of Jonathan Wayland, whom everyone believed to be the orphaned son of Michael, who was thought to have died just recently.[4]

Valentine's return

When Clary Fray was brought to the Institute, Robert, Maryse, and Max were in Alicante for Clave matters relating to the upcoming signing of the Accords.

While Maryse and Max returned to New York some weeks later, Robert was the last to return as he apparently still had business to attend to. Robert was first seen by Clary at Luke's home, when he arrived with Maryse and Inquisitor Herondale.[9] Because of a newly applied Fearless rune, Alec almost admitted his relationship with the High Warlock of New York, Magnus Bane, to them. While the Inquisitor continued her investigation into Jace, Robert defended his daughter Isabelle when the Inquisitor accused her of being complicit. Reasoning that they were merely children, the Inquisitor retorted that they were also children when they joined the Circle.

When the Inquisitor was tricked by Valentine, Robert, realizing that they have no time to call on the Clave, moved that the Conclave attack Valentine's ship immediately, surprising Alec, as Robert, whose time had been taken up with administrative tasks and running the Conclave, has apparently not seen battle in a long time. Robert, feeling proud of his son, let Alec use his guisarme. During the battle, Robert was gravely injured by demon poison and needed constant nursing to recover from his wounds.

The Mortal War

Robert and the rest of the Lightwoods were called to Idris shortly after the confrontation on the ship, along with other active Clave members for a Council meeting regarding Valentine.[8] While his and Maryse' main purpose for going is the meeting, their children, along with Clary, search for the cure that would awaken Jocelyn Fray. While in Alicante, the family stayed with the Penhallows.

Unbeknownst to them, the new Inquisitor, Aldertree, was desperate for someone to blame for the recent tragedies and intended to use the Lightwoods' past connections with Valentine in favor of it.

On the night Valentine's demons swarm into Alicante, Robert and most other adults were at the meeting and arrived late for the battle. When they returned to the Penhallows' home to fetch Izzy and Max, Max had already been killed by the boy who they believed to be "Sebastian". They brought Max to the Hall Of Accords, to be tallied among the dead at the Angel Plaza, and grieved with the family. The next day, a small funeral was held for Max and was attended by Robert and his family, other than Izzy, who blamed herself for his death.

Robert was devastated by Max's death. When they realized that "Sebastian" was in fact allied with Valentine, Maryse became furious at the Penhallows, Jia and Patrick, and partly blamed them for Max's death. The Lightwoods pulled some strings and moved to a new house, whose inhabitants left for the country, fearing for their life after the wards went down.

At the meeting when the Clave was to decide whether they will surrender to Valentine or work with Downworlders, Senhora Monteverde implied that the old members of the Circle might return to him, Robert retorted that it would never happen, especially since Valentine had his son murdered. A while after they decide to take a stand against Valentine and partner themselves with Downworlders, Robert and Maryse found out that Alec was gay and seeing Magnus, when Alec kissed him, after Marking him, in public.

They all participate in the battle of Brocelind Plain and, because of the partnership with Downworlders, defeated Valentine's demons.[8] Also, when it was discovered that "Sebastian" was, in fact, an imposter, they mended their relationship with the Penhallows who visited them after the battle.

Despite the grief, Robert and Maryse attended the victory celebration, where, Alec introduced them to Magnus as his boyfriend. With their friends and family, they watched the fireworks at the square.

New Inquisitor

While his family went back to New York, Robert stayed in Idris.[7] Max's death caused even more tension in his already strained marriage with Maryse.

In late 2007, Robert put his name in for the Inquisitor position, which Isabelle only found out through Aline Penhallow.[10] When he returned to the Institute, they had assumed that it was "for good" and that Robert did not go through with it. It is later revealed that he did get the position.

Also, according to Alec, Robert, unlike Maryse, has not yet accepted the fact that he is gay. Robert had apparently even asked him what he thought turned him gay.

Dark War

Robert, along with his family, went to Idris for the Clave meeting to discuss Sebastian Morgenstern and his Endarkened.[11] Robert and Consul Jia interrogated Julian Blackthorn along with his siblings; Tiberius, Livia and Drusilla and also Emma Carstairs with the Mortal Sword about the events that happened when the Los Angeles Institute was attacked. Robert had an awkward conversation with Clary Fray when she came to talk to his children about what happened after the Council meeting. Robert along with Jia and the other Shadowhunters were at the Gard sending the Shadowhunters through a Portal to the Adamant Citadel to face the Endarkened. Robert refused to let Jace and Clary go through the Portal, however, they went regardless without Robert and Jia's permission. Robert was stunned when Isabelle confessed to him, Maryse and Alec about the knowledge of his affair with Annamarie Highsmith. Robert and Maryse ran over to Alec and were worried when he collapsed onto his knees because Jace was hurt.

Robert later confronted a drunk Simon Lewis that night after the latter appeared at his house, prompted by his intoxication to declare his love to Isabelle. Robert, along with Clary, Alec, Aline Penhallow and Helen Blackthorn heard him speaking, and despite Isabelle's reassurances, Robert did to an extent find out how close the two were. He refused to speak to Simon, seeing him as nobody of significance despite Raphael sending him as his personal messenger. Robert told Simon that he would talk to him at the Council meeting if he sobered up. Robert and his family and the other Shadowhunters attended the Council meeting when the Downworld representatives, including Jocelyn, were kidnapped by Sebastian. Matthias Gonzales, former head of Buenos Aires Institute and Endarkened, threatened Jia's life and told them to surrender Clary and Jace up to Sebastian. Robert's son, Alec saved Jia's life from Matthias. Robert and his family including Clary, Simon, Jia, Patrick, Brother Enoch and Zachariah discussed Clary and Jace's fate and the decision of whether or not to deliver them to Sebastian.

Robert, Maryse, Jia, Aline, Helen, Brother Enoch, and Zachariah attended the funeral for the Shadowhunters who died at the Citadel battle. Robert and Maryse were frantic and furious when Alec, Jace and Isabelle along with Clary and Simon fled Idris, unaware that they went to the demon realm, Edom, to rescue Jocelyn, Luke, and Magnus. The pair later told Jia and Patrick. Robert and Maryse were in Alec and Isabelle's dreams when they entered the demon realm. Robert, Maryse along with Jia and Patrick, Kadir Safar, Diana Wrayburn, Tomas Rosales and Zachariah held a meeting about the Fair Folk's betrayal and their alliance with Sebastian and fighting against them. Robert and the rest of the adult Shadowhunters fought against Sebastian's Endarkened and their faerie warriors when they attacked Alicante.

Robert and Maryse were grateful and happy when Alec, Jace, and Isabelle returned safely from the demon realms. During the Council meeting after the Dark War, the Clave had the faeries sign an embarrassing agreement due to their betrayal which the latter only begrudgingly accepted. Helen and Mark Blackthorn, because of their faerie blood, also got caught up in the Clave's punishment of the Fair Folk; Helen got exiled to Wrangel Island while her brother, Mark, will be left indefinitely with the Wild Hunt. Robert stayed in Alicante while Maryse and their children returned to New York.

Robert, along with Maryse and their children and the other Shadowhunters and Downworlders, attended Jocelyn and Luke's wedding at Luke's Farm. Robert and Maryse ended their marriage, however, they still care about and love one another. Robert told Alec about how his former parabatai, Michael Wayland, was in love with him. Robert told Alec that he was stunned and he treated Michael harshly and their relationship was never as it was before. Robert told Alec that he has always been proud of him and that he is a better man than he was. Robert slowly begins to accept Alec's sexuality and his relationship with Magnus Bane.[11]

Cold Peace

Being the Inquisitor, Robert had to enforce the Cold Peace after the Dark War. Though Robert made efforts to change and become more accepting of Downworlders, in hopes of reconnecting with his children and Alec's new adoptive sons, Max and Rafael.[12][13]

By early 2012, Robert had begun thinking about retirement and who he would like to see replace him as Inquisitor. He had started mentioning it to other members of the Clave and several seemed to agree that Alec would be a great candidate. After Alec took care of some trouble at the Buenos Aires Institute, he tried suggesting it to him. Alec was surprised but happy to know his father believed in him and wanted this for him. He then told his father that he did in fact want this but that he planned to make a lot of changes so he had to be positive he wanted to give it to him. They then agreed to discuss it more over dinner some night.[14]

Robert attended Simon and Isabelle's engagement party in August 2012. Magnus told him about a flare of necromantic magic seen on their map and they alerted the new heads of the New York Institute, Jace and Clary. The four of the Portaled to the Los Angeles Institute.

As the Inquisitor, Robert had the right and responsibility to interrogate the Blackthorns about the flare. He first asked the Institute's head, Arthur, the man seemed clueless, confusing Robert. Though he did not plan on accepting testimony from Emma Carstairs and the younger Blackthorns, he was eventually forced to when Julian told him that they kept certain parts of the the Guardian's case from Arthur and would have to be the one to explain. The Centurion Diego Rosales backed Julian's initial explanation and defended their decisions, particularly the reason why they did not contact the Clave—that it would have taken too much time and the life of their youngest was already on the line—and Robert reluctantly agreed to listen to Julian.

Julian told Robert about the Guardian's activities and their dealings with the faeries. To excuse Arthur's seeming absence from the investigation and events, Julian led them to believe that he had been working on an entirely different case of dark magic activity: Anselm Nightshade and his addictive pizza, falsely implicating Nightshade. Robert and the others then arrested Nightshade.[15]

When a blight appeared in Idris a few weeks later, Robert investigated along with Patrick Penhallow and Manuel Villalobos. He returned to Jia to report his findings and interrupted a meeting between her and Diana Wrayburn. He reported that the blight was truly there, about a mile from Herondale manor, and explained that Patrick had sent samples to the Silent Brothers. Before leaving, he stated that he thought a Council meeting regarding the issue of the Cohort would be useful.

Julian and Emma, upon Magnus's prompting, approached Robert after deciding on a plan to avoid the parabatai curse. They told him about their feelings for each other and asked for exile for Emma, to his surprise. Robert confirmed the validity of their issue and explained what exile would entail; Emma would lose some of her Nephilim powers, seraph blades wouldn't light for her, and the parabatai bond would be weakened. The two agreed to this and left Robert's office after thanking him, which confused him.

Robert, being Inquisitor, was present at the Council Hall meeting for Annabel Blackthorn's testimony. While interrogating Annabel with the Mortal Sword, she became agitated due to running comments by members of the Cohort and went temporarily mad. Robert tried to calm her but forgot that she was holding the Sword, and she stabbed him through the chest with it, killing him.[16]

Robert's funeral was held the following day. His body was burned alongside Livvy Blackthorn who had also died in the Council meeting. The Clave and other residents of Alicante had hung banners in the city and many came out to pay their respects as he was a well loved Inquisitor. His old parabatai Michael Wayland even made an appearance as a ghost.[17]

Physical description

Robert was described as a tall and burly man with olive skin, dark hair and dark blue eyes, so dark it could be mistaken for black. He also had a neatly trimmed beard.

Skills and abilities

  • Nephilim physiology: Being Nephilim, Robert possessed a variety of enhanced physical and mental abilities granted to him by the blood of Raziel in his veins and also by the angelic Marks of the Gray Book, as well as the power to perform tasks unavailable to other species, such as using seraph blades. This includes enhanced strength, agility, stamina, and coordination, which only improved over time and practice.
  • Runic magic: Due to the Angel Raziel's 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.



Robert met Maryse while they were still students in Alicante, during which both were friends with Valentine, and the two married immediately after they left the Academy. Maryse was completely in love with Robert, though he had his doubts about their future. However, the marriage continued, and eventually, the couple had children. while their relationship has lasted through their exile together, their marriage was strained, and their daughter, Izzy, thinks that was due to Robert blaming Maryse for their banishment.

The two almost ended the marriage when Maryse was pregnant with Isabelle, but Robert decided to stay for their children. When Maryse was pregnant with Max, she discovered that Robert was having an affair with Annamarie Highsmith.

Following the death of their son, Max, Robert stayed in Idris without her and even applied for the Inquisitor position, which he received. After the Dark War, Maryse and Robert separated. Although the two did not have the best relationship, and did not speak to each other often after the separation, they still cared for one another.[11]

Alec is Robert's eldest son. As a child, Alec saw his father as the biggest, strongest and most terrifying man that he could have imagined, thoughts that were brought back when he saw Robert in gear, but at the same time looked up to him. Alec strived to make his father proud of him, not realizing that Robert already was, though he was never fully vocal about it.

Their relationship, and Alec's respect for his father, was tainted when Alec felt that Robert could not accept his sexuality and his relationship with Magnus, and when he found out that Robert had previously cheated on Maryse and almost left them for his mistress. After a heart-to-heart following the events of the Dark War, Robert tried to apologize for his shortcomings and revealed that he was unsure about how to approach or react to the revelation that Alec was gay, because he felt guilty about the way he treated his own parabatai who'd fallen in love with him. He told Alec that he had always been proud of him and that he was a much better man than him. Alec, with Magnus's urging, decided to make amends with him and try and work towards someday completely forgiving his father, and Robert has continued to make an effort to be a part of his life, getting to know Magnus and their adoptive children.

Moving forward from the Dark War, Robert also made an effort to be more vocal about his love for his son and how proud he was of him. He had made a tapestry of Alec that he hanged in his Inquisitor's office and took care to mention his name often, both out of love and out of wanting to help the possibility of Alec becoming Inquisitor once the time comes for Robert to retire.

Isabelle is Robert's only daughter. Isabelle was given her electrum whip as a gift from her father for her twelfth birthday.

As a teen, Izzy held some deep-seated resentment towards her father due to his extramarital affair, that she had found up about at an early age through her mother, and his general distance, particularly when it came to Alec. This came to a blow during the Dark War, when Isabelle confronted him about it in the heat of an argument and finally told him about her knowledge of his affair.[11]

After the Dark War, Robert tried to take steps to make amends and fix their relationship until, finally, he tried to sincerely tell Isabelle how much he loved her and her siblings and hoped to make it up to them. Moving forward, both made efforts to work on their relationship.

Max is Robert's youngest child. Robert seemed to have a good relationship with Max and was grief-stricken when he died, as was the rest of his family.[8]

Jace is Robert's adoptive son. Robert, like everyone, initially believed that Jace was the son of his parabatai, Michael Wayland. When he arrived at the New York Institute, they adopted him and raised him as their own.[4] Much like with everyone, Robert cared for Jace but did not show it, as shown when Jace's life was threatened during Inquisitor Herondale's stay at the Institute. While recovering from his wounds, Robert asked to see him, not knowing that Jace intended to leave before being dissuaded by Maryse, who reminded him that they truly were his family.[9]


Young Robert and Michael

Michael Wayland was Robert's parabatai, before their bond was broken due to his exile.[11]

Michael befriended Robert when the two were thirteen, making him the first friend Robert had since he'd been ostracized by the other children their age due to his body's reaction to receiving his first Mark at the age of twelve. They had soon become the closest of friends, and when Robert decided to try and Mark himself again the day he turned fourteen, Michael was the only one he had told, and his steady gaze was what gave Robert the courage to bear it down. When they were fifteen, they became parabatai.

Shortly after, the pair attended the Shadowhunter Academy, where they later joined Valentine's Circle together. By their last year at the Academy, Michael had already fallen in love with Robert, but when he confessed his feelings to him, Robert took the news harshly and the pair became estranged.[3]

Robert later regretted his actions towards Michael but by that time it was too late as Michael had passed. He tried to make up for it in other ways, especially with his own son and even asked Alec to have his son's middle name be Michael in honor of him.[18] Despite their relationship, Michael chose to appear as a ghost at Robert's funeral.[17]

Robert had an affair with Annamarie Highsmith and loved her enough to want to leave Maryse, although he ultimately did not when Maryse became pregnant with their third child.[7][10]



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  • Robert owned a guisarme which he lent Alec in 2007.[9] Robert's favorite weapon was the broadsword.[6]