In The Defenders, when Madame Gao and the rest of the Hand reveal their use of

dragon bones

to maintain their immortality, Danny says that

they “desecrate Shou-Lao.”

What does he mean?

  • Shou-Lao was alive when Danny did his trial and received the Fist.
  • He was in K’un-Lun, not buried under New York for centuries.
  • He’s called “the Undying,” so one presumes he doesn’t die easily.
  • 1
    Perhaps he's "Undying" the same way that Iron Fist is "Immortal".
    – Paulie_D
    Aug 19, 2017 at 10:22
  • @Paulie_D - That’s fair…but one still has to explain how he went from a living dragon in K’un-L’un a decade or two prior, to a skeleton under New York in the present.
    – Adamant
    Aug 19, 2017 at 18:26
  • 2
    Leaving aside a writer's goof (not unlikely or a Finn Jones error) then my interpretation is that they desecrate the the memory/spirit/whatever of Shau-Lao.
    – Paulie_D
    Aug 19, 2017 at 18:29
  • In the comics (and so perhaps no relevant here), Shou-Lao has died before
    – Paulie_D
    Aug 19, 2017 at 18:32

1 Answer 1


It's basically impossible to even discuss this question without sizeable spoilers, so if you're sensitive to that sort of thing, turn back now. You've been warned.

In an interview with Entertainment Weekly, showrunner Marco Ramirez unequivocally stated that the dragon under New York was not Shou-Lao:

That dragon skeleton — that wasn't Shou-Lao the Undying's, is it? It's just a pile of bones implying that there had been dragons all over the world and one wound up buried under New York?

Yeah, it's the second one.

Knowing that, we have to presume that Danny is using the word "desecrate" in a less literal sense. Without more information about K'un-Lun and Shou-Lao (which we don't currently have), it's hard to be totally certain of the intended meaning, but it's likely that he meant it in the sense of "to treat disrespectfully"; the other definition doesn't seem to make sense, for the reasons laid out in the question. And really, "disrespectful" is the least you could say about ingesting the remains of one of Shou-Lao's relatives.

The use of "desecrate" is a little bit odd, but it's not much stranger than anything else Danny says, and does seem to communicate just how reprehensible he finds their actions.

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