Shadow Play is the third episode of the first season along with the episode Quack and the Very Big Rock which comes before it. Shadow Play was first aired on April 14th of 2004 and is written by Peter K. Hirsch with its storyboard by Stuart Shankly.
The title card depicts, on a patch of grass, the three protagonists observing their shadows cast in front of them. On a pale orange background, the words "Shadow Play" are seen at the top in large text with "Shadow" being in red text and "Play" in smaller blue text placed beneath and slanted to the right. Located beneath "Shadow Play", in the same slanted style but in small black text, is "Written by Peter K. Hirsch" over top of "Storyboard by Stuart Shankly".
Quack is banished from Nellie's yard after he is tricked by Tom into bathing in her water bowl and heads of angrily with Peep and Chirp following him. As the three walk, the sun comes from behind a cloud and gives many objects a shadow, thus leading the three to the discovery of their shadows. The three friends experiment with their shadows and later form an idea of how they can repay the mischievous cat. Bating Tom with the indication of Nellie about to scold Quack, the cat hurries over and is frightened away by what appears to be Nellie barking at him, but in actuality is the three birds imitating his shadow.
The episode starts by showing a close-up of a cloudy sky where a butterfly flutters across before the camera pans down to show Nellie sleeping in her doghouse. Told by the Narrator to be a warm and cloudy afternoon, Peep, Quack, and Chirp are shown playing with a berry. Quack tries to kick the berry but missteps which results in him bursting the berry and getting its juices over him. After complaining about the berry to Peep and Chirp, Quack stomps off angrily and later encounters Tom on nearby fence who points out his observation of the incident in a malicious tone emphasizing the unfair quality of the interaction. Tom suggests that Quack clean himself in Nellie's water bowl, which is located nearby, and at first the duck is reluctant but eventually does so. As Quack is enjoying himself in the water bowl, Tom slinks across the fence to where Nellie's house is and meows loudly before leaving. Nellie awakens and upon seeing Quack, questions him as to what he is doing and, after receiving his response, banishes him from her yard till he can behave properly. Quack heads off with Chirp and Peep chasing after him and suddenly the sun comes out giving many objects a shadow.
As the three are walking, Peep notices Quack's shadow, but does not know what it is, and upon telling Quack of it, causes the duck stops and observe it. Chirp points out the substance cannot be to the berry due to his colour and Quack frantically attempts to get rid of his shadow but is unable. Peep and Chirp laugh at Quack and the duck points out that they have shadows as well. Peep and Chirp observe them briefly before all three of them brake into a run and tumble into each other as they fall in the shade of a tree. The three birds encounter Tom who is in the branches of the tree and as the cat dismounts and subsequently walks off, he mentions in an unfriendly tone how they are scared of their shadows. The three realize that the substances they ran away from must have been their shadows and Peep notices that they have disappeared and thus goes to find them. As Peep moves towards the edge of the tree's shade, he finds his shadow projecting out of it and, as he discovers it only appears if he moves near the lit ground, he jumps out of the shade with Chirp and Quack joining him. Chirp talks to her shadow but it does not respond while Peep attempts to play a game with his and the berry but the shadow does not move. Quack later attempts to have the shadow dive with him but is unsuccessful while Chirp attempts to feed her's but experiences the same result.
The three birds later get together and tell of their disappointments with their shadows with Peep suggesting that they go show their shadows to Nellie. As the three are making their way to Nellie, a cloud covers the sun making their shadows disappear. At at Nellie's yard, the three friends show off their shadows, unaware that they have disappeared, which confuses Nellie. Peep, Quack, and Chirp soon realize that their shadows have disappeared and upon telling Nellie of them, she predicts when they will appear by looking at the sky. As the sun comes out, the shadows of the three birds reappear and Nellie explains how shadows come out whenever there is sun. Chirp watches her shadow on the fence as she holds up a small bundle of twigs and Peep observes that her shadow looks similar to Tom. Peep stands next to Chirp's shadow as she puts up her hands in imitation of ears which bears a result even more similar to Tom and the two birds get an idea from this interaction. Later in the day, Peep stands watch near a hole in Nellie's fence and runs back into the yard telling the animals of Tom coming near. Tom walks along somewhat disinterested but, upon hearing what appears to be Nellie about to scold Quack, hurries to Nellie's yard and sits in the hole in the fence. Tom sees on the fence in front of him the silhouette of a cat being growled at by Nellie and thus concludes she is growling at him and frantically flees. Peep, Chirp, and Quack are then revealed to be arranged to give the appearance of Tom's shadow and the episode ends with Tom fleeing up a hill.
- The episode's title is likely a reference to a form of theatrical entertainment called shadow play that uses the shadows of puppets to tell a story.