A specific type of undead (sometimes a ghost, sometimes a physical revenant), the Headless Horseman is a headless rider who haunts roadways, often the one where he lost his head, in search of victims. Sometimes a Headless Horseman jut seeks to scare, other times he will try to take others heads. Sometimes, the Horseman will carry a jack-o-lantern in place of his lost head.
Tales of headless riders have existed in folklore for centuries, but the Trope Codifier
is Washington Irving
's The Legend of Sleepy Hollow
, although it is also a slight subversion as it is strongly implied that the Headless Hessian that pursues Ichabod Crane is actually local bully Brom Bones playing a prank on the schoolmaster
- Sleepy Hollow, only very loosely based on the Washington Irving.
- The Hollow is a 2004 teen horror movie. It tells the story of Ian Cranston, a high school teen who just found out he's the descendant of Ichabod Crane. With the help of his girlfriend, Karen, a local bully named Brody, and the old cemetery caretaker, Claus Van Ripper, Ian now must stop the newly resurrected Headless Horseman.
Live Action TV
- The Legend of Sleepy Hollow, the Trope Codifier.
- The Headless Horseman an 1865 novel by Mayne Reid.
- The Headless Hunt from Harry Potter. They denied Nearly Headless Nick's application to join because many of their games require one's head to be truly detachable, or so they claim.
Myth And Legend
- The Kolchak The Night Stalker episode "Chopper" featires a headless biker bent on revenge.
- In the Are You Afraid Of The Dark? episode "The Tale of the Midnight Ride" serves as a sequel to the classic story. In this episode a boy moves to Sleepy Hollow where he develops a crush on a girl. One night after the Halloween dance, they see the ghost of Ichabod Crane and send him over the bridge that the Headless Horseman cannot cross, prompting the Headless Horseman to then come after them.
- "The Legend of Sleepy Halliwell" was an episode of Charmed. A headless horseman murders the teachers at Magic School by beheading them.
- The Andy Griffith Show had Andy trying to read The Legend Of Sleepy Hollow to Opie when he kept getting interrupted. (By the way, "Sleepy Hollow" as a bedtime story? Talk about Nightmare Fuel...)
- The Dullahan is an Irish faerie (Unseelie court) that carries his head under his arm, and rides a black horse. Getting a bucket of blood thrown on you by one is apparently a bad omen. No gates and doors can bar their passage, but gold scares them.
- A Headless Horseman acts as a minor domain lord in the Ravenloft campaign setting.
- Headless Horsemen are a monster in Deadlands
- The Dullahan Bonus Boss (and spell) in Golden Sun 2 is apparently based on a Celtic headless ghost.
- Dullahan also shows up as a boss in some of the Castlevania games.
- Ghost Master, a PC-game where you control a cadre of ghostly apparitions, with a goal of scarring the wits out of all the NPC's. One of the most powerful ghosts you could recruit was a Headless Horseman called the Dragoon. Extremely powerful, but could only be 'bound' outdoors to roads or paths.
- Headless Horseman appears in a seasonal event in World Of Warcraft (during Halloween). He flies around setting starting towns on fire and can be fought as a boss. According to the background material, he used to be a paladin of the Scarlet Crusade went insane after his family was killed, died and got risen as an undead by the dreadlord Balnazzar.
- The Adventures of Dr McNinja has a storyline in which Dracula, from his moon base, hatches a plot to turn the clone of Benjamin Franklin into a headless horseman in order to find out more about the afterlife. Seriously. The headless horseman was chosen because it retains its physical form. Turns out they can also travel through space.
- The original series of Scooby Doo had one of these kinds of characters as a villain. It was all a hoax of course.
- The Real Ghostbusters featured an episode with a descendant of Ichabod Crane cursed by a headless apparition on a motorcycle who chases her.
- Don't forget the Disney animated The Legend of Sleepy Hollow, which is of course an adaptation of Irving's story.
- There was an episode of Hey Arnold about this sort of rumor. Actually executed both humorously and creepily at the same time.