TV Tropes Needs Your Help
View Kickstarter Project
Big things are happening on TV Tropes! New admins, new designs, fewer ads, mobile versions, beta testing opportunities, thematic discovery engine, fun trope tools and toys, and much more - Learn how to help here
and discuss here
Things That Go Bump in the Night
The bogeyman in your closet. The monster lurking in the shadows under your bed. The guy who starts scratching his long, razor-sharp
, nails on your windowpane the instant you draw the curtains and turn out the lights. These are the Things that Go Bump in the Night. They are very
real when you are six or seven years old, and even after you supposedly grow up and move far away, they're still back there, somewhere.
There may be someone you can call
, but if not, just stay under the covers.
Frequently found in concert with an Ironic Nursery Tune
. Not to be confused
with being kept awake by neighbors having nightly fun. Or The Thing That Goes Doink
See also Never Sleep Again
open/close all folders
- Subverted in Supernatural Law; the monster under the bed is inoffensive and the kid is a horrible brat who took a baseball bat to it.
Films — Animated
- The opening sequence in the movie The Nightmare Before Christmas features a monster under a bed and another one under the stairs:
I am the one hiding under your bed
Teeth ground sharp and eyes glowing red
I am the one hiding under your stairs
Fingers like snakes and spiders in my hair
- The film Monsters, Inc.. depicts this general situation from the monsters' point of view. (In their world, they get their utilities via engines fueled by screams of fear, thus requiring them to scare children.)
- Pitch aka the Bogey Man in Rise of the Guardians is upset that this is all he is now when he used to be a powerful fear entity.
Films — Live-Action
- The movie Monster in the Closet is a comedic riff on this idea, in which it is revealed that the indestructible eponymous entity needs closets to survive, and the only way to kill it is to destroy every closet in the world.
- Briefly shows up in The Monster Squad, when the Mummy is hiding in one kid's closet.
- One, two, Freddy's coming for you...
- Cesare from The Cabinet of Dr. Caligari has some aspects of this. He's certainly very boogiemanish.
- The movie Darkness Falls transforms the otherwise innocuous childhood mythological figure of the Toothfairy into one town's bogeyman, and one man's life-long nightmare.
- Tooth Fairies are given a similiar treatment in Hellboy II. As Prince Nuada puts it: "I will show you why you once feared the dark."
- And again in Supernatural.
- Speaking of Hellboy, there's a quote from the first film:
There are things that go bump in the night, Agent Myers. And we are the ones who bump back.
- Michael Myers, in the original Halloween (1978), is repeatedly compared to the boogeyman, apparently unkillable, and deeply enigmatic. He also seems to particularly target teenagers who are transgressive against social norms. In a subversion of this particular trope, he doesn't show much if any interest in actual children.
- The Boogeyman series of films.
- "Mr. Boogens" from The Summer of Massacre segment Son of the Boogyman is a fat, deformed and seemingly supernatural man who raped and impregnated a teenage girl, and has been stalking her ever since. Because, as he puts it, he's always wanted a son who he could "scare the living Hell out of!"
- Little Monsters is based on this trope, though the monsters from the under-the-bed dimension are thrive more on mean-spirited pranks than scaring people. They're also apparently all children that followed a monster under the bed and stayed there for over a day. There's also some aspect of losing morality contributing to becoming a monster.
- Many bogeymen appear or are referenced in Stephen King's stories:
- In the short story called The Bogeyman (published in the collection Night Shift), a grown-up tells his psychologist about the closet-dwelling entity which killed his children, one by one. (Or rather what he thinks is his psychologist...) This trope is also visited in a subplot in King's novel Cujo.
- It also makes an appearance in The Langoliers, where the titular monsters begin as a boogieman story but turn out to be very real.
- Ditto with The Tommyknockers, although they're rather different from the legends.
- Also appears in 'Salem's Lot, where the master vampire takes the appearance of one of the characters' childhood bogeyman.
- Duma Key features Charley, created by the nanny to tease the children and who later takes on a life of his own, and the "Big Boy" a much more literal and dangerous one, created by Perse to keep the Eastlakes on the island.
- In several of King's works, the term "allamagoosalum" is applied to these types of creatures.
- Robert Sheckley's scifi short Ghost V is about two troubleshooters hired to investigate the bizarre events on a far-off planet; they belatedly realize that the planet brings your subconscious imaginings to life, and so they have to spend the entire return trip to Earth battling the bogeymen of their shared childhood. They finally survive by, yes, hiding under the blankets on their bunks.
- A Donald Duck story featured pretty much exactly the same plot, except it didn't take place in space but on an island where Scrooge McDuck wanted to build a vacation center.
- Boggarts in the Harry Potter books like to hide under beds, closets, and cupboards.
- In the Discworld novels, bogeymen are a species of creature which like to hide behind doors or under beds, and can be defeated with the knowledge that they don't know anything under a blanket exists. INCLUDING THEMSELVES.
'Existential uncertainty,' Angua said. 'He doesn't know whether he exists or not. It's cruel, I know, but it's the only thing we've found that works against bogeymen. Blue fluffy blanket, for preference. ' She noted Cheery's blank expression. 'Look, bogeymen go away if you put your head under the blankets. Everyone knows that, don't they? So if you put their
head under a blanket...'
- A fireplace poker also works, in a pinch.
- This trope also manifests itself in Hogfather, when the Tooth Fairy's tower defends itself with things that scared the robbers when they were kids. Makes sense, since the original Tooth Fairy started life as the original Bogeyman.
- Grendel, from Beowulf. He sneaks into the feasthall at night and eats people in their sleep. Because he lives in the swamp and hates music and dancing, he's associated with darkness, the primal, and the subhuman, making him a classic boogieman.
- Spike Milligan's poem:
Things That Go Bump In The Night
Should really not give one a fright.
It's the hole in each ear
That lets in the fear
That, and the absence of light.
- Candyman from the eponymous movie and the Clive Barker novella which inspired it; he's actually summoned the same way as Bloody Mary. At first, anyway...
- In The Dresden Files, many things go bump in the night. Fortunately, the titular wizard detective goes fwoosh right back.
- In Dr. Seuss' There's A Wocket In My Pocket, there is the Vug under the rug, pictured only as a shadowy lump beneath the aforementioned carpet.
- HP Lovecraft: The original Arabic title for The Necronomicon was Al Azif. Roughly translated, it simply means "weird noise", but Lovecraft styled it to mean "that nocturnal sound (made by insects) supposed to be the howling of demons." Basically, Al Azif is the sound Things make when they Go Bump In The Night.
- Played with in the Grimm Brothers' fairy tale "The Story of a Boy Who Went Forth to Learn Fear" (aka "The Youth who Could Not Shudder"). The titular youth had never figured out the concept of fear, so when he ends up spending three nights in a haunted castle full of things that really did go bump in the night, he was completely unfazed by them; because of this, he breaks a long-standing curse, and gets a happy ending (including finally figuring out what all this fear stuff was about).
- Former humans who get sent to Limbo turn into these in Pact, feeding off fear and being incredibly difficult to deal with. Including the main character.
- The '80s Twilight Zone revival did an episode with a "Shadow Man" who lived under a kid's bed when he wasn't out terrorizing the neighborhood. The kid's attempt to use this fact to his advantage ended very very badly.
- An episode from The Outer Limits (1995) featured not-Mulder and not-Scully investigating missing children for this reason.
- A very young Seth Green starred in an episode of Tales from the Darkside where he has to battle a bunch of monsters in his room: a closet-ogre, an under-the-bed tentacle, even a living saw blade. In the end, the monsters are all terrified of him.
- He also appeared in an Amazing Stories episode wherein his Voodoo Babysitter called up similar beasties ( a Jumbie) to ensure good behavior from him and his brother.
- A skit on Saturday Night Live once featured a kid (played by Gilda Radner) being tormented by her parent's insistence on bringing every last childhood bogeyman to life: letting a band of child-stealing gypsies live under her bed, keeping an Ax-Crazy killer in the closet, etc. etc.
- A few critters on Supernatural use this trope, such as Bloody Mary. Well illustrated in this quote:
Sam: "Yeah? When I told dad when I was scared of the thing in my closet he gave me a .45."
Dean: "Well what was he supposed to do?"
Sam: "I was 9 years old! He was supposed to say 'Don't be afraid of the dark.'"
Dean: "Don't be afraid of the dark? What are you kidding me, of course you should be afraid of the dark! You know what's out there!"
- Subverted in the episode "Home", in which the monster in the closet turns out to be a benevolent spirit that's protecting a child from a much nastier ghost.
- In the '90s sketch comedy show The State, one cold opening sketch had a kid calling to his mom to check under his bed for monsters. When she looks, she's dragged under and eaten, then a monstrous hand comes out holding a dollar bill, which the kid takes, then calls for his dad.
- The enemies of the Samurai Sentai Shinkenger, the Gedoushu, are these. They can even crawl out of crevices literally everywhere on Earth.
- SyFy's Sanctuary is promoted lampshading this: "Even things that go bump in the night need protection"!
- The Woogyman (mispronounced as such due to young Phoebe's buck teeth) from Charmed.
- Molly Walker of "Heroes" has two of these: In volume 1, she calls Sylar (who killed her family) "The Boogeyman and in volume 2, there's Maury Parkman: The Nightmare Man.
- Hannibal gives us a completely non-supernatural version: Georgia Madchen, a girl suffering from complete face-blindness, the persistent belief that she is dead, powerful violent impulses, and a skin disease so severe that all the skin on her right forearm sloughs off in the main character's hand during an encounter. She's also in the habit of hiding under beds. Sleep well, Fannibals!
- Doctor Who has the Doctor fighting a few of these guys. Primarily in the new series, this being a Creator Thumbprint of Steven Moffat, but there are some Classic examples too:
- "Fury From the Deep" involves a sickly adult woman stuck in her bedroom, becoming obsessed with a mesmerising knocking sound coming from her wall that appears to be causing the sickness. No-one believes her about the knocking and she's accused of being hysterical.
- "Terror of the Autons", about a being that can make plastic objects come to life and kill you, which mercilessly exploits a child's fears of their cheap plastic toys moving around when the lights are off.
- Zagreus, a figure from Gallifreyan nursery rhymes, is this sort of thing:
Zagreus lives among the dead
Zagreus lives inside your head
Zagreus sees you in your bed
And eats you when you're sleeping.
- The Clock Punk robot under Reinette's bed in "The Girl in the Fireplace".
- The little girl in "Fear Her" has a horrible, booming-voiced thing in her wardrobe that she's terrified of. He turns out to be a drawing representation of her abusive father.
- The shapeshifting alien criminal behind the crack in Amy's wall in "The Eleventh Hour".
- "Night Terrors" is based entirely around an odd twist on this trope, as the Things Going Bump are the result of an omniphobic kid unknowingly being a very powerful Reality Warper."
- This exchange:
What do monsters have nightmares about? The Doctor: Me!
- In "Listen," the Doctor conjectures that there is a species perfectly evolved to hide from view, and that all your fears of the dark, your dreams of something under the bed, your tendency to talk out loud when you know you're alone, come from your peripheral sense of these creatures that are around you all the time. He claims that this is why everyone has the 'same dream' of something grabbing you from under your bed. He's wrong. Or maybe he's right.
- This is the theme of the allStars song Things Go Bump In The Night.
- Radiohead's song "Climbing Up the Walls" is this trope crossed with Properly Paranoid. If the lyrics don't get to you, it's probably going to be the loud guitars, screeching strings, electronic noises and Thom Yorke's hair-raising Careful With That Axe moment at the end.
- Rihanna presents a much more hopeful version with first line of her song 'Monster'. But the second line may imply that she is crazy and simply imagining stuff.
I´m friends with the monster that´s under my bed.'
Get along with the voices inside my head.
- Metallica's "Enter Sandman," especially the bridge:
Hush little baby, don't say a word
And never mind that noise you heard
It's just the beasts under your bed
In your closet, in your head
- The spiderman is having you for dinner tonight....
- Creature Feature, to nobody's surprise, has several songs sung about this trope, such as "Mommy's Little Monsters" and "The Unearthly Ones".
Beware the bumps in the night
The shadows on your wall
The nightmares of your youth
Believe in the bogeyman
Hiding beneath your bed
Just waiting to break loose
- SPF 1000's Horror Show
It's killed another kid.
It snuck in, through the window.
Close your eyes, go to bed.
Maybe it won't find your bedroom.
- Daniel Glasser's "Close Your Eyes is a lullaby warning the child of the dangers of their bed.
Baby don't you cry
or the demons won't wait until you're asleep
before they eat you up
- Voltaire's "Good Night, Demon Slayer" is a ballad assuring the child that even if there are monsters, the child is too badass for the demons to eat.
- Gnarls Barkley, "The Boogie Monster."
- This is the most common interpretation of the Scherzo from Gustav Mahler's Symphony No. 7, which comes between two movements titled "Nachtmusik" (night music).
- The Eighties Matchbox B-Line Disaster's song "Puppy Dog Snails" is about an army of ogre-like creatures who eat children, but are repelled by the Kid Hero.
- The Heartless of Kingdom Hearts started out as these, according to the first game's Ansem Reports. They lurked in dark places like the rarely-visited sealed off dungeons under the rather gothic castle at Hollow Bastion. Indeed, in the prequel Birth by Sleep, the Heartless were well nigh absent in most areas (with the less deadly Unversed being the main enemies). Unfortunately, by the time the games take place, they've eaten their way out from the shadows and infest almost all outdoor areas, leaving the untrained protagonist Sora dumped into hostile environments with Things That Go Bump In The Night constantly homing in on him.
- The final monster in the Infocom Interactive Fiction game The Lurking Horror is described in these terms.
- The main premise of Scratches.
- In Adventurer Mode of Dwarf Fortress, peasants warn you about not traveling at night or sleeping somewhere outside civilization, lest the bogeymen get you. Bogeymen are quite real; incredibly hard to hit little blighters that will One-Hit Kill you if you're asleep, teleport in front of you when you try to run away, and dissolve in the sunlight.
- These are part of a broader class of "night creatures", hostile monsters that lurk in the dark of night or underground. Bogeymen are the best example of this trope in Adventurer Mode because they can leap out of the darkness anywhere, while the rest can be tracked down to their lairs. In Fortress Mode, ghosts, who can be disturbing at best and deadly at worst, and vampires, predators cunning enough to evade even the player's attention while leaving mysterious corpses, are the things that go bump.
- When the sun sets in the world of Minecraft, you'd better be inside behind a locked door or bury yourself in a cave with a nice bright torch because that's when all the monsters come out. While there isn't a lot of bumping, there is a great deal of groaning, rattling and hissing.
- And think twice before you sleep in a bed to skip ahead to sunrise — a glitch can give enemy mobs access to your house. Imagine waking up, crawling out from under the covers. 'Time for breakfast' you mumble to yourself as you open you eyes an- TSSSS BOOM.
- The Pokémon Darkrai could be considered as an inversion, as according to its Pokedex entry, it only creates nightmares if it is threatened.
- The Locust from Gears of War are the basis for Seran legends about these sorts of creatures. Unfortunately, Sera has very real things that go bump (and bite and eat): ravenous little nocturnal fliers called Kryll. Anyone caught alone in pitch darkness on Sera will not see the dawn.
- The flash game Toys Vs. Monsters was inspired by the head programmer's son having a nightmare and her telling him a story where his toys drive the monster from it away, and her have recently played Plants vs. Zombies. The enemies are evil fairy-tale creatures that charge from a child's closet, and if they get to his bed the child's mother chooses that exact moment to check in on him for the last time that night.
- In Left 4 Dead, as an essential part of gameplay. The various Special Infected have their own distinct noises to warn you when one of them is nearby. Nothing Is Scarier in Left 4 Dead 2's "Last Man On Earth" mode.
- The Attic, Basement and Beyond level of Nightmare Ned plays this trope as an embodiment of one of Ned's fears, in particular, his fear of the unknown.
- In Family Guy, the Evil Monkey living in Chris' closet is a parody of this.
- Gets a huge lampshade from the Animaniacs, when trying to "reassure" a King before he goes to sleep.
Hush little King, please don't cry.
We're going to sing you a lullaby.
A big scary monster man is coming for you.
He'll gobble you up like chunky beef stew.
- In The Secret Saturdays, Zak says that he and his family are "the only thing standing between you and the things that go bump in the night."
- One short sketch on Robot Chicken has a kid hiding under his blankets from two monsters. The monsters sadistically pretend for a moment that this has worked, then laugh and start pounding on the blanket with baseball bats.
"Mommy, there's a monster in my room."
- The Real Ghostbusters, where we had the Boogeyman and something called "the Grundel". As if that's not enough, two Busters from different generations receive visits from them (Egon was tormented by the Boogeyman as a child, thus his impetus to study the paranormal; Kylie resisted the call of the Grundel, so he took her friend Jack instead.)
- Three of the Ghostbusters prove to be Flat Earth Atheist in regards to the existence of the Boogeyman.
- The Boogeyman was the first monster faced in Martin Mystery, and was depicted as an entity composed of swamp matter and maggots. It was sealed within an old book, and after being unintentionally released, it began whisking "naughty" children away to its pocket dimension, a bog where they were left to die.
- One of these showed up in a short of Jimmy Two-Shoes. Unfortunately for it, the bed he tries hiding under belongs to Heloise.
- The stop-motion animated series Bump in the Night had as the main protagonist a small green monster that lived under a young boy's bed who ate socks and dust-bunnies, called Mr Bumpy. His best friend was a blue slime-monster that lived in the house's bathroom (who was a bit of a neat-freak.) Neither of them were scary, and Mr Bumpy acted more like a traditional boggart (trickster) than scary. There was, however, a scary Closet Monster made up of dirty clothes, with coat-hanger claws and a washing-basket shell like a turtle.
- Referenced in Tiny Toon Adventures; Buster and Babs were scaring each other so they could introduce the show. At one point, Babs comes out of a closet wearing a Varley type vampire costume behind Buster, and says "Bump."
- Played with in The Simpsons. When Marge gets addicted to slot machines in $pringfield, Lisa's forced to turn to Homer when she has a dream about the boogeyman. Upon hearing the very word Homer freaks out, orders the windows and doors locked, grabs his shotgun, and holes up the rest of the family in his bedroom until Marge comes home. And by the time Marge gets home the door has a noticeable hole in it.
- In Mot, the monster in the closet doesn't actually live in the closet; he's a member of a secret race of beings who can turn any door in the world into a Portal Door connected to any other door, and he just happens to find Leo's bedroom closet door conveniently situated.
- The Boogeyman, or Boogie Man, as he's called (portrayed as a singular disco-loving entity and the ruler of a horde of lesser nocturnal horrors) was the villain in The Powerpuff Girls episode "Boogie Frights". Here he and his minions weren't content to be subtle any longer, and planned to plunge Townsville into eternal night and turn it into a "nightmare nightclub".
- The rather obscure 80's cartoon My Pet Monster had the titular monster being so bad at scaring kids, it made friends with one of them; of course, this doesn't sit well with the rest of his species, who are rather traditionalist when it comes to monster-kid interactions.
- In a 2000s revival of Little Lulu, Lulu meets the Boogeyman in one episode, but proves impossible for him to scare, forcing him to confess he doesn't even like scaring kids but with a name like his, it's all everyone expects. She helps him find his true calling in life; as the Boogie Man, a dancing star in his own monstrous world.
- The real world, grown-up version of these fears is the urban legend of the criminal who hides underneath your car in the mall parking lot and grabs or slashes your ankles, and then either drags you under there screaming or crawls out to finish the job. According to Snopes the exact intent of this bogeyman varies from simple assault and larceny to rape to murder to ritual mutilation (having to collect a female body part as part of a gang initiation rite). Paranoia and fear over this actually reached a point where adults had to be escorted to their cars by police like a child insisted on being escorted and tucked into bed by their parents.
- If you have been ambushed and mugged at night, you can never quite get over the feeling that somebody is ready to jump out of the shadows behind you.
- Hell, even if you haven't been through that kind of experience you can have that feeling all the time, especially when you're walking alone/in the dark.
- Basic operational security training for all military and DOD personnel overseas pretty much demands this mindset when you are somewhere an attacker could reach. Check the car's interior before entering, watch for areas someone could hide, etc.