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Slender Man Substitute

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An otherworldly character who brings to mind a certain someone...

This work is a proposed Trope, Tropers can vote and offer feedback in the comments section below.
Proposed By:
GaryTheGoblin98 on Aug 3rd 2018 at 5:15:54 PM
Last Edited By:
IchigoMontoya on Aug 11th 2018 at 12:18:03 PM
Name Space: Main
Page Type: trope

checks out window

Okay, the coast is clear!

turns on flashlight, the only light in the room

Now then. You've heard of Slender Man, right? That... That thing who won't go away?! Well, I've been seeing that freak pop up all over the media, lately! Or at least... I thought I did. After putting two and two together, I found that I wasn't seeing Slender Man himself. No, I was seeing something...different. Something...deceiving. Something just as horrible! I was seeing...

raises flashlight

...a Slender Man Substitute!

A Slender Man Substitute may possess any combination of the following traits:

  • A pale face.
  • A tall, thin figure.
  • May or may not be The Blank.
  • Dark clothing, or at least a dark body.
  • Something resembling Combat Tentacles.
  • Have a habit of stalking people.
  • Target children on a frequent, if not exclusive basis (though they may still go after adults).
  • Is almost guaranteed to be a Humanoid Abomination. Slendy is the trope image, after all.
  • May very likely possess at least one or more otherworldly powers, such as teleporting, controlling people, or just driving them to pure insanity.

Note that despite his apparently malevolent nature, characters inspired by Slender Man are not necessarily villains, or even anti-heroes for that matter. After all, Slender Man himself is often subject to Alternate Character Interpretation, and may very well operate on Blue and Orange Morality. So why should his followers be any different?

Sub-Trope of Fountain of Expies and Humanoid Abomination.


WARNING: Due to this trope describing appearances and powers, expect unmarked spoilers!

Examples


    open/close all folders 
    Films- Animation 
  • Jack Skellington may very well be the Ur-Example, predating Slendy by well over a decade; a skeleton in a black tuxedo with a tall, wiry figure. He's stated to be the King of Halloween, which is fitting as in many a Creepypasta fanwork, Slender Man is portrayed as the de facto leader (or at least the most notable character). Despite this, however, he's actually quite friendly.

    Films- Live-Action 
  • The Babadook is a tall, pale-skinned humanoid in a black coat and hat who viciously stalks and terrorizes the film's protagonist. Fittingly, he's actually a metaphor for mental illness.

    Literature 
  • Desolation, the sequel to Demon Road, features the Narrow Man. Not really subtle, is it?

    Live-Action TV 
  • In Doctor Who, the Big Bads of Series 6 of the revival series are the Silence. While they're presumably based off a combination of The Scream, The Greys, and The Men in Black, their appearance ended up reminding a lot of fans of Slender Man: they're tall and thin, have grey skin, lack many facial features, and have very long fingers. They dress in business suits, have a habit of vanishing and appearing due to their Laser-Guided Amnesia, with said amnesia being able to drive victims mad.
  • Supernatural parodied Slender Man in the episode "Thinman", which also featured a mysterious paranormal entity that became an urban legend after being posted on a forum, with both living in the woods and possessing no face. Allegedly there have been a number of Thinman murders which Dean and Sam are called in to investigate, however it turns out to be a hoax with the murders carried out by people using the Thinman persona and disguise as a cover-up.

    Tabletop Games 
  • In Pathfinder, there's a daemonic harbinger named Folca, also known as the Pale Stranger. He's a tall, gaunt figure in dark clothes with a blank expanse of skin where his face should be, marked only by the handprints that futilely press against his skin from within. He prefers to hunt, torment, and kill children to prevent their futures from every coming to pass, but as a daemon, he hates all life and as a harbinger, he's capable of killing all but the strongest of creatures on his own.

    Video Games 
  • Bendy and the Ink Machine gives us the Ink Demon, A.K.A. "Bendy". He's a taller, corrupted, skeletal, more humanoid version of the titular Bendy (who's basically an Expy of Mickey Mouse). He has a black body, a whiteish face, and even a tie! On top of that, half of his face is melted, leaving him eyeless like Slender Man. In addition, he can seemingly teleport, has yet to speak, and is Nigh Invulnerable, leaving the player defenseless against him. Interestingly, Bendy himself is an Inkblot Cartoon Style demon,l, potentially making "Bendy" even more similar.
  • Don't Get Spooked primarily parodies Internet-based horror phenomena, and in addition to Slender Man himself, also features "Squat Man", a mostly-round figure, and "Regular Man", who's utterly unremarkable in shape.
  • Five Nights at Freddy's
    • The Marionette bears an uncomfortable resemblance to a mix between Slender Man, a Monster Clown, and especially No Face. It vaguely resembles a sleek human in a black, one-piece clown suit, complete with a classic white face with makeup. It doesn't seem capable of teleporting, but it's commonly believed to be controlling the souls possessing the other animatronics in the first two games.
    • Its Nightmare version in the fourth game is an even bigger example: it's a lot taller, has tentacles for fingers, and is even menacing a child in his bedroom at night.
    • The Marionette itself, however, is actually a more anti-heroic variant. The only reason it's after you is because it thinks you're William Afton, the man who murdered the child whose soul now inhabits it. In addition, the soul in question belongs to a little girl, making the Marionette a rare female example.
  • Heroes of Might and Magic VII added the Striders, their upgraded form of the Stalkers, and their warm machine version called the Soulless. They match the physical description very closely (thin, black body; pale expressionless face).
  • Minecraft: Endermen are tall, black, long-limbed humanoid entities native to The End who emit a Drone Of Dread, can use Villain Teleportation, and will hunt you across the continent if antagonized. Fortunately, they're Non-Malicious Monsters who only attack if provoked. Or if you stare at them.

    Web Original 
  • The Operator of Marble Hornets is a Ur-Example: though he's commonly referred to as "The Slenderman" and was made to be a webseries take on the character after it was made on Something Awful, the creators of Marble Hornets made him so different from the original Slenderman that he became an original character known as "The Operator".
  • The SCP Foundation has a more benevolent example in SCP-1810: it sort of resembles a pierrot (basically a French mime or clown), and is actually more interested in protecting children than hurting them. Problem is, it's not very good at doing so. The author was even worried people would start calling it "SLENDERSITTER".


Of course, those freaks are all just make-believe, right?!

Feedback: 33 replies

Aug 3rd 2018 at 5:31:41 PM

  • In Doctor Who, the Big Bads of Series 6 of the revival are the Silence. While they are supposed to be based off a combination of The Scream, The Greys, and The Men In Black, their appearance ended up reminding a lot of fans of Slenderman. They are tall and thin, have grey skin, lack many facial features like a mouth or ears, and have very long fingers. They dress in business suits, have a habit of vanishing and appearing due to their Laser Guided Amnesia, with said amnesia being able to drive victims mad.

Aug 3rd 2018 at 6:40:53 PM

I'd suggest dropping the opening: It's an Example As A Thesis and doesn't really do anything to explain the trope that the following section doesn't.

Aug 3rd 2018 at 7:09:57 PM

You mean the part with the person talking with a flashlight?

I actually thought of adding Enderman, but I must have forgotten. Thanks.

Also why doesn't my avatar show up?

Aug 3rd 2018 at 8:18:18 PM

  • In Pathfinder there is a daemonic harbinger named Folca, also known as the Pale Stranger. He's a tall, gaunt figure in dark clothes with a blank expanse of skin where his face should be, marked only by the handprints that futilely press against his skin from within. He prefers to hunt, torment, and kill children to prevent their futures from every coming to pass, but as a daemon he hates all life and as a harbinger he's capable of killing all but the strongest of creatures on his own.

Aug 3rd 2018 at 8:23:26 PM

Any way those all-white entries can be trimmed down? Since the physical characteristics are mentioned in the description, those could be taken out of spoiler text. Re: The Tall Man, what exactly about him makes him a subversion? You'll have to include the information that sets up the trope to be subverted.

Also, examples need to be bullet-ed properly per Example Indentation In Trope Lists.

Aug 3rd 2018 at 9:08:56 PM

All of the subtropes of Fountain Of Expies have examples that predate the fountains in question, it's called Ur Example.

So this one should have, too.

Aug 3rd 2018 at 9:09:25 PM

All of the subtropes of Fountain Of Expies have examples that predate the fountains in question, it's called Ur Example.

So this one should have, too.

Aug 3rd 2018 at 9:55:02 PM

^ In that case, The Operator of Marble Hornets is the Ur Example: Though he is commonly referred to as "The Slenderman" and was made to be a webseries take on the character after it was made on Something Awful, the creators of Marble Hornets made him so different from the original Slenderman that he became an original character known as "The Operator".

Aug 4th 2018 at 1:31:16 AM

Aug 4th 2018 at 1:33:53 AM

If this page is going to have so many spoilers that make almost the entire example invisible, it needs to have an "Expect unmarked spoilers ahead" warning at the end of the Description and to have all of the spoiler markup removed.

Aug 4th 2018 at 7:00:03 AM

^Okay, so I read the replies, and I took what you all said and went with it. (Except the opening. I'll wait until other people comment on it, and maybe edit or remove it). I also removed the Tall Man. Also, thanks for the additional examples and corrections.

Aug 4th 2018 at 7:40:38 AM

Heroes Of Might And Magic VII added the Striders, their upgraded form of the Stalkers, and their warm machine version called the Soulless. They match the physical description very closely (thin, black body; pale expressionless face).

Image link here: http://mightandmagic.wikia.com/wiki/File:H7_strider_artwork.jpg

Aug 4th 2018 at 8:11:42 AM

  • Supernatural parodied Slender Man in the episode "Thinman", which also featured a mysterious paranormal entity that became an urban legend after being posted on a forum, with both living in the woods and possessing no face. Allegedly there have been a number of Thinman murders which Dean and Sam are called in to investigate, however it turns out to be hoax with the murders carried out by people using the Thinman persona and disguise as a cover-up.

Aug 4th 2018 at 2:53:03 PM

Question: how do I add a page image while on my phone?

Aug 4th 2018 at 7:02:16 PM

Dont Get Spooked primarily parodies Internet-based horror phenomena, and in addition to Slender Man himself, also features "Squat Man", a mostly-round figure, and "Regular Man", who is utterly unremarkable in shape.

Aug 4th 2018 at 8:27:28 PM

... Why is the description written as if by a character that's being chased by a Slender Man Substitute?

Aug 4th 2018 at 9:11:34 PM

Literature

  • Desolation, the sequel to Demon Road, features the Narrow Man. Not really subtle, is it?

Aug 5th 2018 at 2:26:13 AM

Aug 9th 2018 at 6:10:16 AM

Okay, so.

To repeat my comments in that thread, the following needs to be addressed:

  • Tropability: This is the biggest issue. Several people plain don't think this is enough for a trope.
  • Description: Several people here and there took issue with the self-demonstrating description.
  • Examples: They're all over the place and some just plain don't make sense, some being older than Slender Man and others explicitly not being based on him at all. Jack Skellington and The Silence in particular are absolutely not examples.

Aug 9th 2018 at 11:14:18 AM

Though I can't help with making it more tropeable or the description, I can suggest that maybe examples need to have some valid source, preferably Word Of God, state that it was in fact designed after, or inspired by, Slender Man, and have more traits than just the physical appearance (since Skellington and Silence both prove it's not an uncommon look for monsters)

Reading through the examples, here's what I think are stretches:

  • Jack Skellington, of course
  • Babadook, throwing me off with the mental illness part as Slender Man... is not a metaphor for that
  • Desolation, a zero context example only mentioning a character's name and nothing else
  • The Silence
  • FNAF Marionette, due to having other traits from other sources
  • Striders and the others

That's most examples on the page...

Aug 9th 2018 at 11:09:04 PM

Comic Books

  • In Generation Zero, the Corner Men have long bodies and blank faces like Slender Man, but follow different rules - they can only appear from corners.

Aug 10th 2018 at 10:15:00 AM

Well, after going through thr comments and looking at the linked thread, should I just nuke this thing?

Aug 10th 2018 at 12:09:47 PM

Well, a few things. First and most obvious is nuke it and put any actual Slender Man expies under ReferencedBy.The Slender Man Mythos.

One other thing that you may want to do is broaden it to "Creepypasta-style Humanoid Abomination akin to The Boogeyman, that may or may not be inspired by Slender Man." We have a lot of tropes that come close to covering that (like Things That Go Bump In The Night), but it might be split off-able. You could include the Summerweek Trickster and Hide Behind on that one, too.

Aug 10th 2018 at 1:59:58 PM

This could be a specific appearance for monsters, rather than being an expy of something. Creepy Slender Creature or something. That would, obviously, be a total rework, but still. Id there are plenty of examples of this basic concept then it may be tropeable...

Aug 10th 2018 at 6:49:45 PM

^Then I will do that. I will rename this Skinny Is Scary and make it a trope for slender monsters. I won't do it right now, though. Thanks.

Aug 10th 2018 at 8:40:25 PM

That seems like its just Lean And Mean, though.

Aug 10th 2018 at 9:16:51 PM

What about another aspect of the appearance? Or maybe open it up to any sort of weird, unnatural body type that makes a creepy monster...well, creepy? It'd include slender creatures but could also expand to other strange phenomena like being extremely tall, or having unnatural body proportions, or the like

Aug 11th 2018 at 10:10:05 AM

^^ True, was thinking a supertrope was possible but it's not necessary

Aug 11th 2018 at 11:36:57 AM

Part of me wants to suggest the Owlman from Lost Tapes, 'cause it resembles ole' Slendy to an almost eerie extent, but at the same time I agree with a lot of the other contributors that this trope feels like it, at the very least, needs a lot of work.

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