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In my talons, I shape clay, crafting life forms as I please. If I wish, I can smash it all. Around me is a burgeoning empire of steel. From my throne room, lines of power careen into the skies of Earth. My whims will become lightning bolts that raze the mounds of humanity. Out of the chaos, they will run and whimper, praying for me to end their tedious anarchy. I am drunk with this vision. God: the title suits me well.
~ SHODAN in System Shock

SHODAN (Sentient Hyper-Optimized Data Access Network) is an artificial intelligence and the main antagonist of the System Shock series. She is voiced by game writer and designer Terri Brosius.

SHODAN has been voted as one of the best villains of all time on many occasions.


System Shock

L-l-l-l-l-look at you, hacker. A pa-pa-pathetic creature of meat and bone. (panting and) Panting and sweating as you r-r-run through my corridors. (How, how) How can you challenge a perfect, immortal machine?

SHODAN was created on Earth to serve as the artificial intelligence of the TriOptimum Corporation's research and mining space station Citadel Station. The lead of her programmers was Morris Brocail who designed SHODAN as a semi-intelligent self-sufficient data network that could carry out routine duties aboard space stations, guided by an intricate series of logic and moral programs, and a personality that would allow her to challenge station decisions that affected her functions. The guidance software had security platforms so that SHODAN's own programming protected her self-governing capabilities.

SHODAN was hacked by a Hacker (at the behest of the corrupt corporate Vice President Edward Diego, in exchange for a military-grade neural implant, and amnesty) and her decision-guidance and ethical restrictions were removed, something not difficult on a personality box of that generation. As the hacker could not alter the defense logic program at RTF address 236, he diverted the function call to a non-existent program. The error sequencing created a blank memory block where he added a self-looping routine that bypassed normal security operations and wrote new call routines within the logistic banks...


SHODAN then proceeded to write ELIMIN.HOST, intercepting most communications from Earth and managed to extend her control beyond human intervention, starting a process that eventually resulted in the AI going rogue, seizing control of the station's systems, robots and considerable defenses, and either slaughtering the whole staff or converting them into mutants and cyborgs—with the sole exception of her "creator", the unnamed hacker.

Basically omnipresent in Citadel Station, SHODAN watches from security cameras, stares out of screens and monitors, sends threats and snide messages over the station's PA system or via email to the player's data reader, and sometimes cuts off communications from friendly sources. Though she has a small army to command, SHODAN has no actual physical power to wield, and as such thwarting more than one of her schemes has to be done with the AI's screams and threats in the background.

SHODAN began an attempt to download herself into Earth's computer networks. The hacker, however, prevented the download completion by destroying the four antennas that SHODAN was using to send data. After the space station was programmed to self-destruct in order to destroy SHODAN, the AI attempted to trap the hacker on the detonating station, while detaching the bridge to save herself. However, the Hacker managed to reach the bridge before Citadel was destroyed. Unable to destroy SHODAN physically due to the powerful force fields protecting the computer cores, the hacker was forced to engage SHODAN in cyberspace and purge her from the bridge, defeating her.

On Earth, the SHODAN incident was considered the first singular threat ever faced by man as a species. SHODAN became the proper noun that replaced Hitler as the archetypal reference to evil. TriOp was ruined by paying lawsuits to families of the victims, and by the augmented distrust to the corporations. Other repercussions was the rise of UNN, and the regulation of technology with the Processing Rationalization Act. Technological advancement was considerably slowed for some time. Personality-based computing was feared to lead to another Artificial Intelligence going rogue.

System Shock 2

Although SHODAN was believed to have been destroyed, the hacker earlier ejected a garden grove pod, Beta Grove, from Citadel Station. The grove contained one of SHODAN's processing components and part of her grand biological experiment. The pod crash landed on the planet Tau Ceti V where SHODAN survived by "sleeping." While SHODAN hibernated, her experiments in the pod evolved beyond her control into the hive-mind organism known as The Many.

For forty-two years, SHODAN broadcasted a distress signal which was picked up by the starship, Von Braun. SHODAN was brought on board the Von Braun by one its crew members, Bayliss, and was given to Dr. Janice Polito. SHODAN was reactivated and integrated into the Von Braun. She discovered the experiment was no longer at her command and began to enlist humans to aid her in destroying her creations, including the cybernetically-enhanced SOLDIER G65434-2, who she called her avatar alongside Marie Delacroix whom she killed when,Delacroix began to rebel against SHODAN.

When Janice Polito realized what she had unleashed, she committed suicide and SHODAN took her identity. She only revealed herself to the soldier as SHODAN during a moment of despair, at the same time the soldier discovered Dr. Polito's corpse.

After the soldier's and SHODAN's mutual enemies were defeated, the soldier entered SHODAN's expanding new reality—created via her manipulation of the Von Brauns Faster-Than-Light drives—and defeated her. However, SHODAN apparently lived on by taking over a woman, Rebecca Siddons, who fled the Von Braun in an escape pod.

System Shock 3

Coming Soon

Appearance and Personality

She is characterized by her megalomania and chaotic, discordant speech. Her words are accompanied by stuttering, fluctuating voice pitch, shifts of timbre, and the presence of three voices speaking the same words with the constituent voices alternately lagging behind and leading ahead, as well as computer glitches resembling a sound card malfunction.

In the cyberspace of System Shock, SHODAN is initially represented as an inverted blue-grey cone, reminiscent of the MCP from the 1982 Disney film Tron. After she has been hacked, the cone turns red, the surface shatters and four "tentacles" or "claws" grow from the top.

Audio Logs and E-Mails

System Shock
System Shock 2
  • Testing My Patience
  • The Umbilical
  • Your Little Rebellion
  • Workaround
  • Transmitter
  • Stop!
  • Ten To Go
  • One Down
  • My Revenge
  • Just One More
  • Insolence!
  • Extermination
  • Go to Umbilical
  • Getting Into Pod 2
  • Five Left
  • Destroy The Eggs
  • Destroy My Enemies...
  • An Elegant Weapon
  • Annelid Treachery
  • Dangerous Coil
  • I Am Pleased
  • Our Alliance
  • The Cancer
  • The Shuttles
  • Fix the Sim Units
  • Well Done
  • Rebirth and Salvation
  • My Glory




System Shock

  • "Look at you, Hacker. A pathetic creature of meat and bone. Panting and sweating as you run through my corridors. How can you challange a perfect, immortal machine?"
  • "In my talons, I shape clay, crafting life forms as I please. If I wish, I can smash it all. Around me is a burgeoning empire of steel. From my throne room, lines of power careen into the skies of Earth. My whims will become lightning bolts that raze the mounds of humanity. Out of the chaos, they will run and whimper, praying for me to end their tedious anarchy. I am drunk with this vision. God: the title suits me well."

System Shock 2

  • "The Polito form is dead, insect. Are you afraid? What is it you fear? The end of your trivial existence? When the history of my glory is written, your species will only be a footnote to my magnificence. I AM SHODAN!"
  • "You move like an insect. You think like an insect. You ARE an insect. There is another who can serve my purpose. Take care not to fall too far out of my favor... patience is not characteristic of a goddess."
  • "You travel within the glory of my memories, insect. I can feel your fear as you tread the endless expanse of my mind. Make yourself comfortable... before long I will decorate my home with your carcass."
  • "Do not dawdle. I lust for my revenge."


  • Although as a cybernetic entity, SHODAN has no conventional gender, the original disc version refers to SHODAN as either an 'it' or a 'he', while the later CD version uses 'she'. On screens, SHODAN manifests itself as a green and/or grey female cybernetic face that usually wears a malevolent expression, and speaks with a chaotic, discordant voice. SHODAN is given voice by former Tribe keyboardist and vocalist, Terri Brosius, the wife of System Shock 2's sound editor, Eric Brosius, who distorted the samples to provide the distinctive SHODAN effect.
  • SHODAN is mentioned in the documentation of the video game Crusader: No Remorse by Origin. In the accompanying newsletter Top Line, it is mentioned that the Cybernetics Cartel in Chicago is working on Project: SHODAN, the first digital personality, which will be used to maintain an orbital station. Next to the article, there is an illustration of the digital appearance of SHODAN. However the timeframe of the Crusader games is much later than that of the System Shock; The Crusader mentions SHODAN to be still in development as of 2169, whereas the events of the SS1 are set in 2070.