Wraiths (魔獣 Majū, lit. magical beasts) are manifestations of grief in the new world recreated by Madoka Kaname. They replace the witches that magical girls must fight. They resemble tall statue-like men wearing robes with no visible limbs (though concept art shows them as having hands that shoot thin lasers to attack). Their faces are partially covered by digital polygon-like shapes that appear to glitch out randomly on or around their being.
Wraiths appear at the post-credits scene of Episode 12 after Madoka's wish erases all the witches, and Homura Akemi is seen fighting several of them afterwards. It is shown that in the new world, magical girls now fight wraiths instead, which are merely a different form of curses born from humanity.
They appear to travel in large groups and do not reside in barriers, mostly appearing at night, unable to be seen by normal people. It is implied by Kyubey that they give off miasma in the air, which supposedly points to how many are in a single area. When defeated, wraiths drop (possibly several) small, cubic fragments of their grief similar to witches' grief seeds that can be harvested by magical girls to clean their soul gems and combat entropy (though Kyubey points out that this comes at the expense of energy efficiency).
Wraiths are set to make an appearance in the manga spin-off Puella Magi Madoka Magica: Wraith Arc.
- Because Madoka's wish only erased witches, grief was not removed from the new world as Madoka didn't change human nature. As a result, the wraiths are distortions of Madoka's cause and effect of her wish, and give magical girls other means of obtaining grief seeds to clean their soul gems and combat entropy.
- Some fans speculate the wraiths to resemble "moirae" from Greek mythology, beings that personified the inescapable destiny of man.
- Wraith levels are named after Buddhist levels of enlightenment.
- [[wikipedia:Shugendō|Shugen] is a Buddhist term referring to a form of asceticism that involves becoming one with nature/kami/the Tao (the practice tends to be syncretic)
- Satori refers to spiritual awakening and is often translated as "enlightenment", but it's different from Buddhahood. It's more about understanding one's own nature, which is just a step towards complete enlightenment.
- Moksha means emancipation from earthly desires. It's nirvana but not quite, since a person undergoing moksha hasn't died yet.
- Early fansubs called wraiths "demons". Wraith comes from official translations.