Note: this article is about the main being focused on in the mythos. For the unrelated being based on him from MarbleHornets, see The Operator
Art by jimmygibbsjr
The Slender Man (also known as Slenderman) is a supernatural creature with nebulously defined characteristics and abilities. Slender Man was first mentioned in Something Awful Forum's "Create Paranormal Images". He generally appears (in modern times) as a tall humanoid creature in a black or grey suit, red or black tie, and white shirt. His face is totally white, completely devoid of facial features. He has no hair, and generally has normal-looking bare hands, albeit with fingers longer and bonier than a typical human. Slender Man has been depicted in imagery and literature at anywhere between 6 and 15 feet tall, depending on the situation, though in video he is usually only around 6-7 feet tall. Because of his inexact nature, and differences between accounts, no one has yet determined what, exactly, the Slender Man is. Currently, there are two leading theories as to what the Slender Man may be: the Tulpa Effect and Quantum Theory.
The internet popularity of Slender Man has spawned a massive number of interconnected ARGs, collectively known as the Slender Man Mythos.
In almost every description of the Slender Man, his attributes will vary, sometimes greatly. However, his basic appearance and traits are relatively consistent across different accounts. His appearance has changed over the years, but the most common image – and the most well known in media– is that of an abnormally tall human with long arms and a totally blank face. He is usually portrayed as wearing a business suit, which may be either real cloth, or some form of skin molded to take on the appearance of cloth. If the former, this would imply an intelligent being attempting to try to blend in. If it is the latter, it suggests an extremely adaptive being that evolves to match its environment.
He behaves in what might be seen as a passive-aggressive manner, often stalking targets for years at a time before ever attacking. It’s understood that he tends to torture his targets mentally, over long periods of time, using fear and paranoia to drive them to insanity. No one has ever satisfactorily explained the reasoning behind his tactics or the way he chooses his victims, and his purposes and/or motivations have yet to be fully ascertained. He is rarely, if ever, portrayed in a good or benign light and is generally understood to be a malevolent force.
Slender Man is a mystery. He looks like a human being, but doesn’t act like one. It is uncertain if he is a social creature, understands human languages or behaviors, or even why humans appear to be his primary targets. It sometimes seems as if he is capable of possessing his targets in some cases. Slender Man's mere appearance provokes fear. This is partially due to his towering height and overall unnerving appearance, and partially due to his behavior, which is almost completely alien. Humans also find it extremely hard to describe The Slender Man: a description in words can be given, but often lack the ability the fully describe the creature. It is believed that Slender Man is from/exists on a fourth dimensional plane, which would account for some of his apparent abilities.
There are two main descriptions of the The Slender Man’s behavior. Originally, he was portrayed as being not only malevolent, but also extremely dangerous. He would stalk its targets, impale them on trees, and remove their organs. In comparison, contemporary depictions have turned him into a more passive-aggressive creature. Instead of an active chase, he is more likely to let his prey devolve slowly into madness until they are unable to cope with their situation, often watching from afar as this takes place. If angered, it will charge the aggressor and vanish with its victim to an unknown location. Modern interpretations also show that The Slender Man interacts oddly with electronic equipment and causes massive interference with audio and visual recording devices. Sometimes an individual can determine if The Slender Man is near simply by how certain electronics act. Radios, televisions, and cameras are especially susceptible. How powerful this effect is seems to vary, which could be due either to The Slender Man's state of aggression, or other outside factors that he may or may not be controlling (eg: weather, cell phone signals, etc.)
In almost every contemporary description, The Slender Man is associated with stalking, often for extremely long periods. It is not unusual for a person to be trailed by The Slender Man for hours, days, months, or even years. However, he usually appears when least expected and where the victim is alone and the most comfortable (home, school, work, outdoors, along trusted roads, etc), and often times he also strikes when the target's defenses are down, sometimes to the point where they simply have no will to fight him off any further, making for an easier kill.
One of the most common features of The Slender Man, generally accepted among both fans of the mythos and victims, is that he will target those who reach a certain level of understanding about it. These accounts vary from person to person, but it seems that being a victim of The Slender Man is almost contagious or memetic. One can become his prey by encountering someone he is already chasing. Basic research and even collecting images doesn’t appear to incur its notice, someone has to delve into the mythos in an almost obsessive way. A theory sprouts from this, discussing how he could be able to track several victims at once, due to the apparent number of people invested in the mythos. This theory states that he is a sort of omnipresent being.
Main page: Abilities of the Slender Man
The Slender Man's original abilities included:
- selective invisibility (say, to adults or anyone without a camera)
- the ability to change height and body shape
- the ability to shape its arms into tentacles
- and/or the ability to sprout tentacle-like appendages from its back and shoulders to be used as additional arms or legs (or simply to instill fear)
Many stories seem to indicate that The Slender Man can control a person's mind, which became the basis for the Proxies in the video ARG, a trend that later spread to Slenderblogs. The Slender Man also originally had stronger connections to children, and many of the original stories revolved around disappearing children or featured Slender Man sightings in photos with children. This was often attributed to the innocence and morbid curiosity of children, which could lead them down the path of discovering the creature.
As more stories came forth, however, the use of tentacles and tentacle-like appendages became less common, and the invisibility was limited or eliminated depending on the storyteller. (On the other hand, some stories took the invisibility even further and claimed it was entirely invisible without the use of electronic devices.)
EMH, TT, ML, and DH all contain some sort of video and/or audio distortion, indicating that The Slender Man has an effect on modern digital instruments. This does not appear in any of the original accounts, but these also mainly make use of photographs and lower-tech video. EMH has suggested that this distortion is the effect of Sigma Radiation, a radiation said to be given off by Slender Man and the Rake. Sigma Radiation is also contagious, as it entered Evan's blood-stream when his arm was brutally maimed by The Rake.
EMH and ML also describe the phenomenon known as "Slender Walking." Slender Walking is a term created to describe Slender Man's apparent teleportation and space-time warping/teleportation between locations. These abilities were seen in early Slender Man accounts, and is one of the most recognizable elements of the mythos. Slender Man’s ability to appear – seemingly from nowhere – in a place where he wasn’t mere seconds before is one of his most terrifying traits, and EMH mentions the effect of this on a person's mental health.
Certain contemporary views see his movement as either extremely limited or impaired, as if he is incapable of moving his body properly. It is rarely seen to actually move, and goes from standing still to rapidly teleporting within the blink of an eye. There is no apparent coherency to his movements or position, and he is capable of teleporting several dozen times to various locations in a few seconds. He does not flee, and can be just as dangerous standing still as when obviously teleporting. He is capable of – and often will – stay within several dozen feet of his target, no matter how they try to escape. It seems to be part of his psychological attack to stay just within visual range without actually attacking – the fact that he is there, no matter what, is often described as worse than actually being attacked, the psychological effects often deteriorating the mind of the victim as a result.
He appears to be able to follow any and all targets regardless of where they go, or where and how they hide. It isn't certain how he does this, but he seems able to keep a perfect trace on its targets, often speculated to be a part of his supposed existence as a potentially omnipresent being.
Canon History and Information
See page: Slender Man in Mythology and Culture
For any Non canon abilities and descriptions, please see Unconfirmed Slenderman Assumptions
The Slender Man has no specifically confirmed history, but contributors to the mythos have placed early sightings of Slender Man-like beings in Germany in the early 1600s and before. Historically, the entity often took on the appearance of a knight or a noble figure. Germanic myths and fairy tales have been cited as containing Slender Man-like creatures as cautionary tales for children.
Photographs from the early 1900s are the first confirmed reports, where images of the Slender Man can be found in old photographs. Reports from this time indicate sightings in America, the UK, and Russia, usually connected to reports of child disappearances.
In the mid-1900s, several run-ins occurred in the war zones in Germany, which is theorized to be The Slender Man's native land. Soldiers were the primary targets here. In America and Canada, there were reports of missing skiers and children, mainly coming from forested and unoccupied areas. He is also held responsible for several strings of buildings burning with no apparent cause, and multiple related deaths. The few survivors of Slender Man attacks, along with accounts left by victims, show the following historic traits:
- If the victim was a child, he would often approach them in a friendly fashion at first and attempt to gain their trust.
- The adults he stalked have one common trait: they had all been through a terrible tragedy in their life. Interestingly, in many cases the tragedy was originally caused by Slender Man as well.
- If the victim was an adult, Slender Man would stalk the victim for long periods of time. This caused an illness that became known as "Slender sickness.” Symptoms include massive paranoia, nausea, nose bleeds, nightmares, and hallucinations.
- Eventually, The Slender Man would abduct the victim, usually into nearby forest, where they would be killed.
- In 'messy' cases, Slender Man may remove evidence of its existence by burning the victim’s home, place of work, or school, often causing the death of others in the line of destruction, generally those close to the initial victim.
Originally, Slender Man killed its victims by impaling them on the branches of very tall trees and allowing them to bleed to death. The victim’s organs would be individually removed and placed in plastic bags, which were then returned to their original positions in the body. The victims' corpses did not show any sign of a struggle. However, as time has gone on, it would seem that Slender Man has abandoned this practice.
In the late 1990s, the more and more common use of cameras and camcorders allowed technology to shed more light on the creature, and The Slender Man was recorded and photographed stalking potential victims many times. In the late 2000s to early 2010s, several individuals recorded ongoing stalking and attack scenarios with themselves and friends. These video accounts are codenamed Marble Hornets, EverymanHYBRID, DarkHarvest00, MLAndersen0, and TribeTwelve, as well as certain Rivn videos.
New accounts of The Slender Man's powers, abilities, and attacks show some drastic differences from his original behaviors. Gone is the original desire to impale targets on trees, his overtly aggressive attitude, and the tendency to target mainly children. He now appears to target people who encountered him as children, often stalking them for years. It does so in such a way that the target is often unaware of his presence for months, years, or even decades. Typically, the victim won't be aware of its attention until far too late. Because of the somewhat contagious nature of Slender Man’s attacks, an initial victim may not even be aware that they are causing others to be targeted, since they may not know that he is stalking them.
The Slender Man’s stalking behavior is remarkably passive. He torments an individual by repeatedly appearing and vanishing – usually without harming the victim in any physical way. He invades the mental safety of his prey by appearing inside their house, outside their home, on roads they travel, at their place of work when they are alone or ensuring only the victim can see him, or while the target is sleeping. The sporadic and unexpected nature of these manifestations causes fear and unease, which eventually can grow into incredible paranoia. This period of stalking can last anywhere from several minutes to decades. The longer Slender Man stalks a victim, the greater strain on their mental health, which may be one of his goals.
Prolonged stalking causes what has been named “Slender Sickness,” which is both a mental and physical ailment and can cause paranoia, nightmares, coughing and difficulty swallowing, convulsions, exhaustion, vomiting, hallucinations, etc. The physical symptoms naturally affect an individual’s mental health, but it is believed that Slender Man exerts a direct effect on the mind as well. However, this phenomenon and Slender Man’s control over it have yet to be fully explained.
As mentioned, the behavior of taking organs out or impaling targets appears to have been abandoned. If reports of Slender Man’s new modus operandi are to be believed, it now vanishes with his targets, leaving no traces behind. Victims are usually alone when they vanish, leaving no witnesses. What little camera footage has been found is incredibly distorted and it is nearly impossible to even theorize as to what they depict. The victims are almost never found, dead or alive, and it has been speculated that perhaps he does not kill victims immediately.
One of the most powerful new traits Slender Man exhibits is some form of memory inhibition. Like Slender Sickness, this effect can be caused simply by proximity, although it seems to vary as to exactly how powerful. In some cases individuals will forget the past few minutes, but extended contact has led to people awakening in locations they are unfamiliar with, with no memory of how they got there. In some cases, it is believed Slender Man itself will deposit a victim in an unknown location and leave them to awaken after an attack (possibly to continue stalking them further.)
Victims who are stalked by The Slender Man for extended periods show excessive damage to their social life, physical health, and even their careers. Typically individuals will show massive moods swings and constant irritation, lose track of large periods of time, and have difficulty maintain communication with friends or holding down steady work. Memory losses can be as long as several weeks or months, and often an individual awakens and attempts to return to their life only to find it ruined.
These patterns are possible indications that The Slender Man has at least some indication that he has knowledge and experience with how the human mind works and reacts to various stimuli. It is possible that he exploits this deliberately. Abandoning its more blunt tactics of impaling and gutting its victims, it is possible he has moved to more subtle forms of attack, such as invading their mind, surroundings, and thus eliminating any feeling of safety and driving them to insanity in a slow torment.
Relationship with Children
The Slender Man has always had some kind of odd connection to children. In the Original Mythos, its relationship with children is one of its most prominent traits, though no one is exactly sure why. Many theories exist as to why he targets children, including:
- He wins over the confidence of children, but adults are repulsed by fear. This theory is one of few that paints Slender Man as a benign element, suggesting that he actually seeks friendship of some kind, and can only find it in children, who – unlike adults – he can get to trust him.
- He chooses children because he can take longer to nurture their fear, stalking them for years before attacking them as adults.
- He brainwashes children, using them to further his own (unspecified) ends as Proxies.
- Children are simply easier for him to hunt.
There are literally dozens of ideas and variations on those ideas, but since no bodies have been found in contemporary tales, and classic tales don’t mention the fates of Slender Man’s child victims, his oft-portrayed targeting of children is unexplained.
The Slender Man is most commonly depicted as being found in deserted and derelict locations, often forested, where he can hunt without his victims being able to get help from other people or emergency services. It shows a preference for forests and dense woodlands, partly because he can easily blend with the trees, and partly because of how easy it is to confuse and terrify victims. He has also been encountered in graveyards, old houses, ghost towns and abandoned mansions, where he lies in wait behind walls and doors to ambush its victims.
Slender Man is associated with several groups, individuals, or creatures.
The least known of these is an unknown organization which tracks and observes and is also possibly involved with Slender Man. The Organization is officially unnamed, though it may be known as Optic Nerve, and appears only in early written accounts. It makes an (assumed) appearance in only one ARG, DarkHarvest00.
Slender Man has links to many Proxies, which are insane individuals under his control or influence. The nature of Proxies, their workings, etc, are unknown, but make appearances in EMH as HABIT, and TT as Observer. Slender Man has also spawned many philosophical and theoretical cults made up of uninfluenced but aware individuals, such as the Novus Ordo Europa in DarkHarvest00.
The Rake is the name given to another mystery creature that is somehow linked or associated with Slender Man. The Rake has a far shorter history, and the only real appearance of association with Slender Man or a Proxy is through the video accounts of EMH.
Out of universe
Trivia and Pop Culture
- The Enderman creatures introduced into the game Minecraft during the adventure update take some inspiration from the Slender Man, but act differently in that they move blocks around with its freakishly long arms and acts similar to the Weeping Angels from the Doctor Who television series. Endermens' actions may also be based off of SCP-173 of the SCP Foundation series, and their appearance is similar to SCP-096, which also has a slight resemblance to Slender Man. They also have the ability to teleport and will attack if seen by the player.
- Also in the Doctor Who television series, the Season 6 creatures known as The Silence are visually quite similar to Slender Man, with bald heads, pale skin, and suits, however their faces have distinguishable eyes and mouths where Slender Man’s face is entirely blank.
- Slender Man, by definition, violates the square-cube law as his volume does not necessarily increase in proportion to his body size, and his spatial occupation is very undetermined and variable.
- 'The Gentlemen' are demons in the fourth season of Buffy the Vampire Slayer. They are very similar to the Slender Man, with a tall, thin frame, suits, bald heads and pale skin.
- Slender Man is the focus of the game Slender. A common misconception is that the game inspired the mythos, but this is incorrect.
- It is interesting to note that Slender Man is portrayed as male, a stark contrast to a majority of folktales, legends, myths, and urban tales, which often either depict demonic entities as female, or as feral animals that are not be classified by gender. This is likely a cause of the traditionally masculine appearance of the creature in accounts.
The Slender Nation is a network of various places to discuss Slender Man, including a partly developed Wiki. They currently are most known for their interactions with people involved in Slender Man mythos, and in their development of Core Theory.
Unifiction is undoubtedly the largest discussion zone for the Slender Man mythos' video ARGs. Their Marble Hornets and Slender Man Mythos sections of their forums attract thousands of posts every week.