10 Things to Know About Slender Man

Silhouette of a man in the woods
Lluis Real/Age Fotostock/Getty Images

He's one of the most talked-about online phenomena, and for good reasonn: Slender Man is one scary dude, a dread-inspiring boogeyman for the digital age. He has at least half a dozen nicknames, including "Slendy," "The Tall Man," Mr. Slim," "Daddy Longlegs," and "The Operator."

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The chatter about Slender Man began in 2009

In 2009, mysterious photos started going around showing a creepy, ghostly figure clothed in black stalking children in schoolyards and playgrounds. It was rumored that the people who took the photographs were never seen or heard from again. Their disappearances were blamed on Slender Man, as were those of many missing children, and even some adults, all over the world.

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He's 8 feet tall, has tentacles for arms, and no face at all

You'll know Slender Man when you see him. He's gaunt, stands eight to ten feet tall, and instead of arms and hands has multiple, writhing tentacles that come to razor-sharp points (the better to skewer his victims!). Creepiest of all, they say Slender Man doesn't have a face. In photographs and drawings his face is rendered either completely featureless and blank — a fuzzy, amorphous blob — or wrapped in gauze like a mummy.

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He can alter his shape, become invisible, and "teleport" from place to place

In case it wasn't obvious that we're dealing with a supernatural entity here, according to online sources Slender Man can change his appearance at will, move about invisibly, and "teleport" anywhere in the world by bending space and time. (If you're wondering why he's never been caught... well, duh!)

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Slender Man is a snappy dresser

Slendy's sartorial trademark is a black suit, and in some photographs he's even shown wearing a necktie! Apart from that single detail — the necktie — Slender Man's wardrobe rarely varies in physical depictions of him. To recap what you should be on the lookout for: an eight-to-ten-foot-tall faceless man with tentacles for arms, impeccably dressed in a neat black suit and tie. There's no mistaking him for anyone else!

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First he stalks you, then he makes you sick, then he kills you

No one knows how or why Slender Man chooses his victims, but once chosen, they will be stalked, taken to an isolated location (most often in the woods), and killed. Some say he befriends those he intends to kill, luring them to their deaths with offers of kindness and sympathy. Others say he stalks his victims invisibly, and the only palpable sign you have been targeted is a phenomenon called "Slender Sickness," the symptoms of which include nausea, nose bleeds, nightmares, hallucinations, and "massive paranoia." If you begin to experience any of these for no apparent reason, watch out — Slender Sickness is the prelude to your disappearance and grisly demise.

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...And EATS you!

There's some disagreement over the ultimate fate of Slender Man's victims, but a good many sources claim he simply eats them. One might well ask how he accomplishes that feat without a mouth, but remember — Slendy can change his shape at will, including, but not limited to, growing a mouth with razor-sharp teeth when the situation demands it.

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He's been terrorizing people for centuries

Slender Man sightings go all the way back to the 1500s, according to websites documenting the Slender Man "mythos." They cite 16th-century woodcut prints of a creature known in Germany as Der Großmann ("The Tall Man"), a skeletal figure with multiple legs and spear-like arms depicted in the act of impaling adults and/or stealing their children. Quoted sources describe Der Großmann as an "evil fairy" who lives in the Black Forest and hunts down "bad children" foolish enough to venture there alone.

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Slender Man recruits human "proxies" to do his evil bidding

"Slender Man has links to many Proxies, or insane individuals under its control or influence," reports the Slender Man Wiki, a repository of information about Slendy and his mythos (which includes various role-playing games). "It is suspected that Proxies do the actual, physical work for Slender Man, such as creating and manipulating objects, destroying and leaving evidence, creating videos and responding on Twitter, and influencing victims as needed."

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He was blamed for two real-life stabbings that occurred in 2014

In two separate incidents, adolescent girls were accused of knife attacks allegedly inspired by stories they read about Slender Man online. The first, on May 31, 2014, involved two 12-year-old girls who stabbed a classmate in Waukesha, Wisconsin. They told police the attack was meant to "impress" Slender Man so they could become his Proxies. A few weeks later,, a 13-year-old Ohio girl "obsessed with Slender Man" attacked her own mother with a knife, causing minor injuries. The girl in the second attack was described by her mother as having "mental health issues," and at least one of the perpetrators in the first attack was ruled mentally incompetent for trial.

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Slender Man does not exist

This bears repeating: Slender Man doesn't exist! He's an invented character, a fictional boogeyman in a crowdsourced horror story. Apart from the real-life stabbing incidents attributed to some kids' obsession with Slender Man lore, everything you've read about him was completely made up. The character was created from scratch by participants in an online Photoshop contest in 2009, and enthusiasts have been adding to the "mythos" ever since. Even Slender Man's supposed historical predecessor, Der Großmann, is a Photoshop creation (the "woodcuts" of him were created by altering original prints by famed 16th-century artist Hans Holbein).

Slender Man isn't real. He's an Internet urban legend. Don't let him scare you!