The Man in the Moon

"There liveth none under the sunne, that knows what to make of the man in the moone."
Endymion, John Lyly.

The sister trope to The Face of the Sun, the Man in the Moon is that old conception of the Moon as possessing a face, most often a male one. The moon is often an aged but benevolent figure who stands over the Earth, granting it natural bounty or serving as the destination for young adventurers. This trope, while at least Older Than Feudalism, is nowadays mostly only seen in quirky video games and animated children's media.

This conception, incidentally, is primarily Western. East Asian cultures, such as that of Japan, tend to see the Moon as having a rabbit on its face, rather than possessing human features.

Also, as the Moon appears to be flipped in the Southern Hemisphere (because people in the Southern Hemisphere are effectively standing upside down relative to the Northern Hemisphere), the traditional Man in the Moon is upside down and quite hard to discern.

Bears little to no relation to Weird Moon. See Moon Rabbit for the version more popular in East Asian cultures. Men on the Moon may be Lunarians.

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Western Examples

  • A man with a crescent moon for a head wearing Cool Shades, known as "Mac Tonight" was once part of the side characters for McDonalds.
  • In an older commercial, the Man in the Moon (shaped like a crescent moon) noticed Ronald McDonald and his friends having a picnic, and said he'd never had a cheeseburger, so Ronald used his Magic Pogo Stick to bring him one. When he landed back on Earth, the Man had become a full moon.
  • The Man in the Moon logo for Proctor and Gamble made them the target of Satanic Panic.

     British Comics  
  • A 1940s text story from The Beano was titled "The Boy who bossed the Man in the Moon".

    Films — Animated 

    Films — Live-Action 
  • The Moon from A Trip to the Moon, providing the Ur-Example in film.
  • Appears during the 'Your Song' sequence in Moulin Rouge! and sings with the voice of Placido Domingo.
  • A female example in Im Juli. Daniel has a short hallucination sequence after drinking the drugged beverage served by Luna. In this sequence his bus travels across the night sky while the full moon shows Luna's face watching the bus passing by.

  • Medieval Christian tradition holds that the man in the Moon is Cain, who was forever doomed to circle the Earth. This is referenced in Dante Alighieri's Inferno and Paradiso.
  • Similarly, a Talmudic tradition holds that the face of Jacob is engraved upon the Moon.

  • From an old Nursery Rhyme:
    The man in the moon
    Came down too soon
    To ask his way to Norwich.
    He went by the south
    And burnt his mouth
    While eating cold plum porridge
  • J. R. R. Tolkien based one of his poems on the Nursery Rhyme listed above. He also put the Man In The Moon in his poem based on "Hey diddle-diddle, the cat and the fiddle." In Middle-earth the moon-ship is steered by a male Maia.
    • As a whole, the Man in the Moon seems to be a prevalent motif in Tolkien's work, dating first to his early writtings in which he invisioned an elf living in a hut in the Moon.
  • The Man in the Moon serves as the Big Good of The Guardians of Childhood. The moon is the broken down remains of the family spaceship after it was attacked by Pitch. The Moon's brightness in the night sky is the result of the Man in the Moon moving some of the glowing dreamsand to the side facing Earth and he created a face on the moon in the process.

     Live Action TV  
  • The Moon, complete with face, is a character in The Mighty Boosh.
  • Dorothy Jane in The Torkelsons often sat on her windowsill and talked to the Man in the Moon.
  • Luna from Bear in the Big Blue House. Bear and Luna often meet on Bear's balcony and Bear tells her what he has done during the day and they sing the "Goodbye Song".

  • Referenced in the Shinedown song "Second Chance":
    I just saw Hayley's comet she waved
    Said why you always running in place
    Even the man in the moon disappeared
    Somewhere in the stratosphere
  • The Erasure song "Man In The Moon" portrays him as a benevolent, smiling figure.
  • The video for The Smashing Pumpkins' song "Tonight, Tonight", largely an homage to A Trip to the Moon, of course features a face in the moon.
  • A stanza of Well Done Liar or Martin Said To His Man, one of a whole genre's worth of British nonsense songs describing a man telling tall tales to his friends while drunk, includes the words:
    I saw the man in the moon
    Clothed in St Peter's Shoon...
  • Ada Jones' If The Man In The Moon Were A Coon from 1907.

     Mythology and Religion 
  • In Polish legends, a wizard Twardowski (pronounced Tvardovsky) is said to have got stranded on the moon after his last ditch attempt to get out of a literal Deal with the Devil .
  • As a whole, stories of the Moon Man are thought to be relics of the germanic/anglo-saxonic/norse god Máni. Particularly, they may be derived of a myth in which he rescued two children, Hjúki and Bilnote  from their abusive father, which send them outside at night get water from a well. Since they have accompanied him ever since, and many actually reffer to lunar cratters/phases, they're the children in the Moon.

     Newspaper Comics  
  • Referenced in Calvin and Hobbes -
    Calvin: "I saw the man in the moon tonight."
    Calvin's Dad:(not paying attention) "Mmm."
    Calvin: "I didn't know the moon made faces."
    Calvin's Dad:(still not paying attention) "That's phases."
  • Happens in the Scamp newspaper strip. It even says hi to the dogs, but rather than seeing the face everyone else sees, Tramp sees Lady's face and realizes he's been away from home far too late.

     Tabletop Games  
  • In Warhammer one of the moons sometimes really has a face, especially when full. Justified since it is made entirely of Green Rocks.


     Western Animation  
  • Futurama had Craterface, the mascot of Luna Park, to whom Bender shoves a beer bottle in his eye in a reference to the A Trip to the Moon ur-example.
  • Family Guy 's episode "The Griffin Family History" had Peter in the role of an ancestor working in Hollywood in the 1920's, and in one film, he looks through the telescope at the Man In The Moon.
  • Inspector Gadget consistently had a happy face on the moon, and one episode's plot revolved around MAD changing it to their logo.
  • Ruby Gloom's seemingly ever-present moon has a vaguely feminine face. Apart from singing the opening theme, it rarely does more than sit in the sky and look cheerful and somewhat out-of-place.
  • The Moon in The Amazing Worldof Gumball has a face, and like everything else it talks.
  • My Little Pony: Friendship Is Magic featured the Mare in the Moon; this one is more Sealed Evil in a Can.
  • The Man in the Moon is an actual (non-appearing?) character in the Rise of the Guardians.
  • The Man in the Moon appears as an actual character in The Smurfs episode of the same name.
  • The Man in the Moon in the Tom Terrific story arc "Moon Over Manfred" controls the moon phases which manipulates earth's tides. Only here he's quitting his job because he's always being buzzed by satellites.

Other Examples

     Anime And Manga  

     Mythology and Religion 
  • In the mythology of the Haida in northwest America, the Man in the Moon is a boy gathering wood taken up into space as a punishment for disrespect.
  • The Chinese have a Man. Either he used to live on the sun, but switched places with his two sisters when they got tired of men on Earth admiring their beauty every night; or he's stuck up there chopping trees for all eternity because he somehow offended the gods — accounts differ. Then there's a Rabbit pounding elixirs, and a Lady (she ate the pills of immortality meant for both her and her husband to prevent him from becoming an immortal tyrant) in the Moon, all from separate folktales.
  • In yet another Chinese myth, the Sun is a lovestruck (but ugly) male chasing after the Moon, a beautiful but haughty female.
  • One foolish old Maori woman got angry at the moon and called it a "cooked head," a grave insult (that may refer to cannibalism?). The moon abducted her and now she's stuck up there forever.

     Video Games  

     Web Comics  

Alternative Title(s): Stylized Moon