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SPOILER WARNING: Plot details follow. Caution is advised!

I want you to be a better man than I was. Let no one else tell you who you are or should be. Love where you wish to. Believe as you wish to. Take freedom as your right.

–Stephen to his son, City of Lost Souls letter

Stephen Herondale was a Shadowhunter and Valentine's lieutenant in the Circle until his death. He is the son of Imogen and Marcus Herondale and was also at one point married to Luke's sister, Amatis. Through his second wife Céline, Stephen is the biological father of Jace Herondale.


Early life

Stephen was born to Marcus and Imogen Herondale. Since the Herondales ran the London Institute during that time, Stephen grew up and was trained in London.[1] While growing up, Stephen became familiar with mundane pop culture; he was very knowledgeable about their bands, books, songs, and movies.[2]

The Circle

He eventually moved to Alicante with his family.[1] Upon his arrival at the Academy, he was still attached to the pleasures of the mundane world.[2][3] He had posters of rock stars and bands on his room's walls and even dressed like them. Upon befriending Valentine Morgenstern, Stephen swore off his mundane interests and even destroyed his Sex Pistols poster in a sacrificial bonfire.[2] He soon joined the Circle despite his mother's pleas.[1]

Over the years, Stephen grew proud and frustrated and began seeing himself as better than Downworlders, the Clave, and his "suffocating" parents.[4] There was also some indication that Stephen was aware of his family's history and connection to Downworlders and greatly despised these rumors.[5]

At the Academy, Stephen fell in love with Amatis and eventually married her.[2][3] Because of their marriage, Stephen often saw Amatis' brother, Lucian. After Lucian's supposed death, Valentine appointed him as his new second-in-command. He had been so devoted to the Circle's cause and to Valentine that he turned his back on his Law-abiding family and his wife, whom Valentine saw as an unsuitable partner when Lucian was revealed to have been Turned into a werewolf.[1] Valentine instead set Stephen up with then eighteen-year-old Céline Montclaire, whom he agreed to marry, despite the fact that he had little romantic interest in her.[1][3] Though Stephen eventually grew to care for Céline in his own way, he never truly loved her like he loved Amatis, whom he kept in contact with even after they had divorced.[1]

In 1989, Stephen was present at the raid in New York during an altercation between the warlock Magnus Bane and the Whitelaw family and the Circle, the latter of whom were holding a werewolf pack hostage. A fight broke out between the groups, resulting in a large number of casualties, including the head of the New York Institute, Marian Whitelaw, as well as her husband and adopted daughter.[5]

Eventually, Stephen realized the error of his ways and quickly became disenchanted by Valentine's cause. He grew tired of the group's activities and soon began to doubt Valentine.[6] Knowing that Valentine could sense his doubt, he also suspected that Valentine would soon kill him.[4] Stephen then wrote his unborn son a letter and entrusted it to Amatis. In 1991, Stephen was killed during a raid on a vampire nest—an incident many correctly suspect as deliberately set by Valentine,[7] just as he set his former second-in-command, Luke, to be Turned or killed by a werewolf pack they'd raided.


After Stephen was killed, his father, Marcus, supposedly died of shock upon learning of his son's death. His mother, Imogen, accepted the position as Inquisitor in order to hunt down all of those responsible for Stephen's death, including punishing those who were former members of the Circle who surrendered to the Clave. Since Stephen's murder, his mother has held a grudge against Valentine, whom she believed was directly to blame for Stephen's death, if not for his actions while in the Circle, as well.

Stephen's wife, Céline, was eight months pregnant when news of Stephen's death reached her. This apparently pushed Céline to commit suicide. Stephen and Céline's unborn son was saved when Valentine, with the help of Hodge Starkweather, cut him from Céline's womb. Since Valentine had plans for the child even before he was born, Valentine then took the baby and raised him as his own, in hopes that the angel blood in his veins would produce a better, or equally powerful, soldier than his own son who had demon blood running through his veins.

In 2007, Amatis met Stephen's son, Jace, and gave him a box of Stephen's old things and letters to help him learn about his true family and identity.[8]


According to Luke Garroway, Stephen was everyone's golden boy. He was "good at everything" and "unfailingly nice without being boring," and though his charm and good looks incited some jealousy, he was said to be hard to hate.[1]

Physical description

According to Amatis, Jace looked exactly like Stephen, except around the eyes, as Stephen's were a deep, dark blue.[8] Magnus Bane also noted that Stephen resembled his ancestor, Edmund Herondale.[5] Stephen also had the star-shaped birthmark of the Herondale men.




  • His middle name "William" is a common Shadowhunter name and is shared with at least two of his ancestors, William and Will of the 1800s.
  • Stephen loved Latin and poetry.[4]
  • Stephen's grandmother Arabella taught Stephen how to quilt at a young age. Because his mother was jealous of their closeness, she mocked his hobby and Stephen made it seem like he quit after his grandmother's death. He continued in secret, however, and would do it to unwind after a long day; the habit did not go unnoticed by his first wife, Amatis.[9]
  • Stephen's favorite weapon was the longsword.[9]
  • Like many of the Herondales that came before, and after, him, Stephen had a fear of birds; unlike most of the others who feared or strongly disliked ducks, Stephen was scared of pigeons.[3]