Our Ghosts Are Different, and they look like refugees from the linens aisle.
If ghosts in Western media aren't dressed as the deceased did in life, then chances are they're dressed as the deceased did in death. Originally, this meant grave clothes and a long, white, flowing burial shroud. If the same reasoning were applied to modern burial customs, it would mean that most ghosts would dress in their Sunday best, but the trope is seen as too cheesy in the present day to be updated in such a logical manner.
Like many images common to modern culture, the Bed Sheet Ghost began as a theatrical convention that has long lost its context. In Shakespeare's day, it was common to portray ghosts in armor on stage (for example, Hamlet's father is often depicted in a full suit of armor in historical depictions.) In Elizabethan England, armor was no longer worn in combat, and the costuming convention at the time was to dress characters in contemporary (Renaissance) clothing. So, by dressing a character in armor, the character was given an out of date look, and recognized as a ghost. However, as special effects became more elaborate, it became common to lower the actor playing the ghost onto stage with a pulley. Of course, the heavy armor clanked loudly, and by the 19th century, the sight of an armored ghost on stage was more likely to bring laughter than fear.
Because of this, by the 1800s, theatres realized they had to create a new, recognizable look for ghost characters, one that would allow the actor to enter and leave silently. Perhaps inspired by traditional burial shrouds or depictions of ghosts as ethereal, misty creatures (both attributes predating the Bed Sheet Ghost), actors began to appear draped in white cloth to portray ghosts.
Over time, as the shroud became emblematic of the ghost, ghosts were depicted as less corporeal by showing the shroud without a body underneath it. Some stories even go one step further by showing the ghost as a wispy blob of ectoplasm, vaguely shroud-like in appearance, à la Casper the Friendly Ghost.
As a result, the white sheet has become pop culture's visual shorthand for spirits of the dead, and a bedsheet with eye holes is the standard costume for fictional characters trying to dress like ghosts. This idea dates back at least to the Post-U.S. Civil War period—the white robes and hoods of the Ku Klux Klan were intended to look ghostly. (This Klan connection, in turn, is why the pointy-headed Bedsheet Ghost is no longer a popular design.)
The Klan aside, dressing up as a Bedsheet Ghost is usually indicative of an ill-conceived or apathetic scare attempt, because on their own, a person in a white sheet really isn't that scary to anyone over 6 years old. Like the armored ghost before it, the Bedsheet Ghost has long lost its fright appeal, and is mostly comical today. This in turn has led to a common subversion: The characters see what seems to be a person in a white sheet and laugh at the obvious costume. Then they lift the sheet and see there's no one underneath it. Cue running and screaming. However some have managed to make it somewhat less funny looking and more intimidating, such as putting red paint on the sheet to make it look bloody.
While the Bedsheet Ghost is rarely played straight as an attempt to scare the audience, he can still work as a mournful, sympathetic figure, and his close cousin, the robed ghost, can still work as a frightening character.
Sub-trope of Stock Costume Traits. Compare Jacob Marley Apparel. The Stringy-Haired Ghost Girl is the rather violent Japanese parallel. Not to be confused with a scene wherein a ghost crawls up from underneath the bedsheet and gets you while you lie on the bed.
- A filler episode of Mermaid Melody Pichi Pichi Pitch had Yuuri setting up shop in a haunted house. In the end, the mermaids scare her out with bedsheet ghosts.
- Kaworu Nagisa starts out as one of these in Petit Eva.
- Used in an episode of Kirby: Right Back at Ya!. Dedede actually falls for it and thinks it's a real ghost.
- Featured in some Pokémon episodes:
- One episode in the "Advanced Generation" series, has Ash and the gang explore an abandoned mine where Ash gets the idea to have his Corphish go through a test of courage. May and Max wear a white cloth over themselves to scare Corphish which works. Corphish freaked out, hits the "ghost" causing the cloth to come off and have May and Max fall into a nearby mine cart. Upon seeing that it was them, Corphish becomes pissed and tackles the minecart as its sent flying off, while Corphish who is still angry, heads off in another direction.
- One episode set during the early seasons has Ash and his friends explore a ghost ship. Two ghost pokemon, Haunter and Gastly appeared wearing sheets until they were taken off.
- Another episode set in the early seasons features Ash and the others flying in a blimp that is supposedly haunted. A Jigglypuff gets caught underneath a table cloth and starts to wander around with it on. When Team Rocket encounters it, they believe it is a real ghost and they run away from it.
- Some are featured in the short, "Pikachu's Ghost Carnival".
- In a episode of Tenchi Universe, Sasami and her friend Mirei who is an actual ghost, do this to scare her friends as a prank.
- Near the end of a episode of Suzy's Zoo: Daisuki! Witzy, Witzy and his friends are shown playing around as Bedsheet Ghosts.
- Makoto in Kanon tries this on Yuichi. It fails, and Yuichi chastises her for taking down a curtain to do so.
- In Di Gi Charat Nyo!, one of Dejiko's friends is allergic to the sun and has to wear a protective suit to go outside. Said protective suit looks like a ghost costume
- One episode of Little Lulu and Her Little Friends does this. In the episode Lulu babysits Tubby and he plays various tricks to get her to leave. One of these tricks is dressing up as a ghost and scaring her away. However Lulu does the same thing to him and succeeds in scaring him. Tubby becomes annoyed as she scared him using his own trick.
- In Non Non Biyori, Koma is given one to wear as the scarer for a Test Of Courage. Only Natsumi forgot to cut the eyes out and just drew them on with marker.
- In a episode of Shin Koihime Musou has the main characters disguise themselves as ghosts in order to scare a rich person into giving money to the poor.
- Digimon Adventure has the Digimon "Bakumon" which resembles this type of ghost. In one episode, Sora's partner Biyomon and her mother disguise themselves as Bakumon in order to rescue her.
- One episode in Peter Pan no Bouken has the gang tell scary stories to each other. When its Wendy's turn to tell a story, She asks Michael to dress up as a ghost and scare Peter as she tells her story. However something bursts into the room in a glowing sheet. It turns out to be Tinkerbell playing a trick on them.
- Onegai! Samia-don: The kids do this to scare a real ghost and Psammead. They succeed in scaring the ghost but Psammead isn't fooled.
- An episode of Princess Sarah has Lavinia and her friends do this to Lottie, scaring the crap out of her.
- Parodied in a comic strip (title unknown). In it, a girl tries scaring off her brother by using the old Bedsheet Ghost trick but fails as the brother replies, "What's so scary about a bedsheet on your head?" Then she walks out from the room. Next thing you know, she finally gets to scare her brother... by putting a pillow over her head.
- Brazilian character Penadinho/Bug-a-booo and other ghosts from Monica's Gang (though they just look like white humanoids).
- In the graphic novel Odd Is on Our Side (a tie-in to the Odd Thomas novels) a young girl killed by poisoned candy appears to Odd still wearing her bedsheet Halloween costume.
- The Dark Horse character Ghost has a cape/hood ensemble for her costume that evokes shades of this.
- German detective Nick Knatterton once disguised himself as one — but there are also real ones looking like this!
- In Tintin in the Land of the Soviets, Tintin disguises himself and Snowy as these to scare off the villains. Unfortunately, he can't see where he's going after that and falls into a manhole.
- In Destination Moon, Captain Haddock dresses as one in one of several unsuccessful attempts to frighten Calculus out of his amnesia. He ends up tripping over the bedsheet.
- This was Dave's halloween costume one year in Knights of the Dinner Table, continuing his run of putting almost no thought or effort into his costume.
- In the first issue of Excalibur, Shadowcat dons a sheet to scare some thieves holding people hostage. They believe she is a real ghost beacause their bullets go through her due to her intangible powers.
- One of Sergio Aragonés Drawn Out Dramas in Mad Magazine had a Halloween party where, amongst all the costumes someone in a Bedsheet Ghost costume was hanging out. One woman in the crowd was just noticing said costume had no legs beneath it.
- In issue 52 of the Adventure Time comic, Jake (stranded in the land of the dead with Finn's Finn-sword but without his stretching powers) disguises himself as a ghost by draping a tapestry over his head.
- Moon Knight's first cloak was the sheet draped over the Khonshu statue where he came Back from the Dead.
- In the Holiday Special of Pokémon Reset Bloodlines, Flint attempts to disguise himself as one with his Infernape and pretend to be the Ghost of Christmas Past to try and snap Volkner out of his holiday funk. It doesn't work, because Volkner sees through the disguise easily and also Flint tries to pull this every year.
- This was lampshaded in the film version of Beetlejuice. The Maitlands actually are ghosts, and have the ability to manipulate their appearance into grotesque forms, and manipulate material objects as well. However, they're completely invisible to everyone except Lydia, so in an attempt to scare the Deetzes out of their old house, they put on bedsheets so they would be visible. This does not turn out to be as scary as they'd hoped. It doesn't help that they use floral-patterned designer sheets of the Deetzes.
Adam: Aren't you scared?
Lydia: I'm not scared of sheets.
Barbara: If I'd seen a ghost your age, I would have been scared out of my wits.
- Dark Shadows: Double Subverted. The first time Victoria sees a "ghost", it's very obviously David trying to scare her. The second time, when she thinks it's David again... there is a very real specter underneath the sheets. She's neither surprised nor scared though, since she's known this ghost since her childhood.
- In the original Halloween (1978) and its remake, Michael Myers briefly dresses as a bedsheet ghost while toying with one of his victims. Over top of the sheet, he's wearing the glasses of the victim's boyfriend (whom he just knifed), causing her to think it's her boyfriend.
- Played for drama in The Sixth Sense. When Cole is sitting in his bedsheet fort and the ghost of a vomiting girl suddenly appears and frightens him, he runs away, inadvertently covering her with the bedsheet. It's only when he gathers the courage to go back and pull the sheet off, that he realizes that the ghost is not scary at all, but just a poor, sick little girl who needs his help.
- A surprisingly scary scene in Scream 3 features this. When the killer attacks Sidney in the set recreating her Mother's death, under a sheet covered in blood no less!
- In Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, a child Willie Wonka goes dressed as a bedsheet ghost for Halloween. When his sheet is lifted, we find he probably picked this costume because his headgear wouldn't fit in any other costume.
- The Muppet Christmas Carol's version of The Ghost of Christmas Past, which also somewhat resembles a Will-o'-the-Wisp.
- In E.T. the Extra-Terrestrial, when Eliot has to take his little sister out for trick-or-treating, he dresses ET up as this.
- In a rare completely traditional, completely straight example of this trope in modern film, Paranormal Activity 3 features a Bedsheet Ghost scene. It manages to be one of the more disturbing scenes in the entire film series.
- In The Innkeepers, Claire dresses like this in Luke's "re-enactment" of her discovery of the ghost in the lobby. Since she can't see where she's going, she trips over the furniture. But then, an actual ghost appears with a bedsheet. And then we see what's under the bedsheet...
- In An American Ghost Story there is another straight (and frightening) example. Unusual in that the character interacts with the thing for an entire nervewracking scene and it remains scary without ever revealing anything under the sheet (though at one point nothing is revealed under the sheet in an unusual way).
- Done for scares in The Conjuring when a bedsheet is blown off of a clothesline, only to be briefly caught on a human figure.
- The attorney's little daughters in the 1966 farce Hotel Paradiso discuss the rumors they've heard that the hotel is haunted. Remembering a Halloween play, they put on sheets, circle around and sing. Hysteria ensues.
- Subverted in Ghostbusters (2016), when the characters order the main villainous ghost to appear as something "small and friendly". He turns into a cute copy of the Bedsheet Ghost from the franchise's logo... and then swells up into a Kaiju and starts smashing the city.
- In A Ghost Story, the male lead dies early on, and thereafter appears as a silent figure in the background draped in a bedsheet with eye holes.
- Eugene's disguise in Housebound.
- In the 1999 equivalent of The Haunting, there is a ghost of a child in a sheet formed by/from it rather than wearing it.
- XX: After a Potty Failure ruins Lucy's first costume in "The Birthday Party", Mary creates her a new costume as a bedsheet ghost.
- Oscar Wilde's The Canterville Ghost originally popularized this trope.
- It's Older Than Feudalism: Julius Caesar: "The graves stood tenantless and the sheeted dead Did squeak and gibber in the Roman streets."
- Bear in mind that coffins hadn't caught on yet; Bedsheet Ghosts were in their burial shrouds.
- The Montague Rhodes James story "Oh Whistle and I'll Come to You My Lad" has... something that manifests itself in the sheets of the unused bed in the hero's hotel room. It's implied that the thing has next to no physical form of its own.
- The TV adaptation plays it straight and makes it work.
- There's something darkly comical about it all. The hero, Parkins, is a po-faced academic who has very definite views on ghosts, so it's deliciously ironic that the thing that terrorizes him chooses to manifest itself in a bedsheet. Not that it makes the story any less terrifying.
- The TV adaptation plays it straight and makes it work.
- Gus the Ghost in the Thayer Gus series is a basic bedsheet ghost. Most people barely notice him, nor get scared if they do.
- Clive Barker's "Confessions of a (Pornographer's) Shroud" uses this as an intentionally ridiculous core premise for what can either be read as a fairly serious horror story or a black comedy. The main character manages to come back as a ghost by transferring his spirit from his body to the shroud used to cover him at the morgue.
- In Clifford D. Simak's The Goblin Reservation, the character of Ghost (yes, that's how he's called) is depicted this way.
- One of the solve-it-yourself mysteries of the Clue books features Mr. Boddy's six guests all dressing up as ghosts to try to scare each other, which makes them all feel a little silly— until they notice there are seven ghosts in the room, and one of them doesn't have feet.
- This is Johnny's costume for the Halloween party in Johnny and the Dead. Unfortunately, the only sheet his mum would let him cut eyeholes in is a pink floral one, leading to inevitable comments like "What are you, a gay ghost?"
- In Wyrd Sisters, Lord Felmet has finally suffered enough Sanity Slippage throughout the events of the novel to go completely mad, and believes he is a ghost. He dons a sheet and goes on about how he plans to rattle chains and frighten people...while Death stands there and politely insists he is not dead. Felmet ends up slipping off a parapet and falling to his death. His actual ghost, still wearing the sheet, is now allowed to haunt the place for real.
- In the book Franklin's Halloween and the associated television story from Franklin, it's said that Franklin and his friends know that Bear always wears this as his Halloween costume, so when Franklin gets to the Halloween party, he doesn't have to worry about trying to figure out who Bear is, even underneath all the disguises. He and his friends get tricked, however, because while there is one of these at the party, it's not Bear, who is home sick with a cold. It turns to be their teacher, Mr. Owl, who heard that Bear was at home and decided to play a trick on all of them.
- In the Star Wars picture book, Are You Scared, Darth Vader? by Adam Rex, this is one of the many things that a kid tries and fails to scare Darth Vader with. Vader just wonders if it's the ghost of Obi-Wan Kenobi or Yoda, not that he'd be scared even if it was, and declares "Next!" when told that it's just a ghost.
- In the Father Ted series 3 episode "The Mainland", Father Noel Furlong wears a bedsheet when he confronts Father Ted and Dougal in the caves.
Father Noel (in bed sheet): Ooooo! Oooooo!
Ted and Dougal: *scream*
Father Noel (throws off bed sheet): Ted!
Ted and Dougal: *scream louder*
- In the British kids' show The Ghosts Of Motley Hall, the ghosts want to scare off some people who've been hanging around their house, but the problem is they're invisible to most humans. Solution: One of the ghosts covers himself with an old bedsheet. In other words, a ghost dressing up as a ghost.
- In Buffy the Vampire Slayer, Willow was originally going to go out on Halloween in a sexy outfit that she and Buffy made. She chickened out and, mostly to cover up, went as a Bedsheet Ghost instead. Then all of their costumes were enchanted to turn them into the things they were dressed as. Cue scantily clad ghost Willow.
Willow: I'm a ghost!
Giles: Yes. Um... the ghost of what, exactly?
- On one episode of Gilligan's Island, a foreign spy arrived on the island and took this up to try and scare the castaways off the island. They later decide to fight back doing the same thing.
- In Big Bad Beetleborgs, Jo turned invisible in one episode, she tried convincing someone she was a ghost by donning one of these and watching them laugh at her... till it was pulled off and there was no one underneath.
- Referenced in the Mystery Science Theater 3000 episode Cave Dwellers: when The Hero is fighting an invisible enemy, he tosses his cloak over the foe to reveal his location. Cue Crow: "Ah! Now they're really scary! Booga booga booga!"
- Subverted in Pushing Daisies where in a flashback, young Ned is shown on Halloween in a sheet with fire engines on it.
- However, Chuck shows up in a white sheet later that episode.
- The Janitor on Scrubs dresses up as one of these to haunt pediatrics.
- As the Ghost who hates spills! Woooooohooooooo!
Carla: You're a monster.Janitor: Hey! Do you know how messy kids can be? This place has been spotless since the ghost showed up.
- Also, in-line skates.
- As the Ghost who hates spills! Woooooohooooooo!
- Subverted in Malcolm in the Middle: Dewey appears to be dressed up as a bedsheet ghost, but he claims to actually be a marshmallow.
- Ace Lightning plays this trope absolutely straight in one episode - and the bad guys are terrified by a kid stuck under a bedsheet.
- Low-budget sci-fi serial Rocky Jones, Space Ranger brings us one of the stupidest examples. A Fat, Sweaty Southerner in a White Suit IN SPACE! is trying to steal the land rights to some sort of space gold-mine, and is thwarted not by the Space Rangers, but by a couple of kids throwing a sheet over their remote-control airplane so he thinks it's a ghost. Keep in mind, this is hundreds of years in the future, in a civilization on par with Star Trek...
- One turns up in The Two Ronnies serial "Stop! You're killing me!", haunting the graveyard at dead of night. Charley's response is to build a device to blow the bedsheet off it from below. The first person to trigger it is a young woman in a short skirt, the second is the local vicar, and the third is their landlord in a nightshirt.
- Seen in the Special Edition Title of "Changing Channels" when the Winchesters are Trapped in TV Land, including a sitcom version of Supernatural showing Sam frightened by a bedsheet ghost he finds in a cupboard.
- The Halloween Episode of Duck Dynasty features Uncle Si dressing up as one (complete with his hunting cap and blue Tupperware tea cup) and acting like he's a ghost when the Duck Commander crew is busy turning the warehouse into a "haunted house" attraction for the kids. However, he ends up breaking character (and the sheet gets pulled off) once Jep, who earlier in the episode considered Ghost to be the scariest film of all time, brings up that film again.
- In one episode of Chelmsford 123, Wolfbane attempts to persuade Aulus to pardon Badvoc by using this trope in combination with a Jacob Marley Warning; needless to say it doesn't work.
- Played with in the Yet Another Christmas Carol episode of Roseanne. One of the ghosts is a Bedsheet Ghost. When Roseanne says he must be someone dressed up, he tells her to lift the sheet. All that's underneath is a beating heart.
- The Doctor Who story "Listen" features an extremely scary one. A mysterious presence in a child's bedroom only becomes visible when it gets onto the child's bed and hides under the sheets, creating an approximately-human-shaped bedsheet-draped figure. What (if anything) it really looks like under the sheets is never shown.
- In one episode of El Chavo del ocho, Chavo and Chilindrina attempt to scare Quico donning these. It backfires on Chavo when Don Ramón snatches the bedsheet and plays ghost on him. In another, Señor Barriga tries to scare Chavo out of revenge for always hitting him by playing dead and pretending to return as a ghost.
- The Transformation Trinket of Kamen Rider Ghost is stylized after this, naturally.
- In the Halloween Episode of Power Rangers Dino Charge, the Rangers all go to a party dressed as this. This is actually important to the plot; Sledge's minions kidnap one of the Rangers in costume, one of them uses their powers to replicate the Ranger's memories and another turns the first monster into a clone of the Ranger. The fake, still in costume, returns to the base along with the real Rangers, and Kendall has to Bluff the Impostor.
- In Studio100's Kabouter Plop series, Klus is seen scaring the other gnomes while wearing a bedsheet and scaring the other gnomes thinking him as a ghost.
- Midsomer Murders: In "The Silent Land", a prankster dresses up as a bedsheet ghost in order to disrupt a ghost walk. However, the killer takes advantage of the distraction to murder the second Victim of the Week.
- Goosebumps: In the episode, "Let's Get Invisible", after becoming invisible Noah covers himself in a sheet to tease his brother.
- The protagonist of Deadmau5's music video "Ghosts n' Stuff" takes on this form during an Out-of-Body Experience. He can't go through walls, but he can get tattoos and dance.
- Ghost Gang was a One-Single dance music project from 1999 whose members were all about this aesthetic, except that the lone female member still had holes in her "costume" to show her cleavage and midriff. Hilariously enough, for those who look at them in 2015 and beyond, the DJ ghost with the headphones on bears a certain resemblance with Napstablook (see the "Video Game" folder below).
- Peter does this in FoxTrot and gets an appropriately horrified reaction from his mother, but only because he has cut holes in her new Ralph Lauren sheets.
- Peanuts - Charlie Brown's ghost costume in the cartoon special made its debut in the comic strip some years earlier - he explains "I had a little trouble with the scissors."
- Garfield: Featured in these two comics.
- The page image comes from a Calvin and Hobbes Sunday strip where the duo is having an argument over who should get more bed sheets. Hobbes steals all of them after Calvin says that he, as an animal, should be sleeping on the floor, and when Calvin goes to retrieve them Hobbes pounces on him with the covers over his head.
- Most of the ghosts in America's Most Haunted are cartoonish Bedsheet Ghosts.
- Our Miss Brooks: Walter Denton dresses up as a ghost in the episode Halloween Party.
- In his stand-up days, Woody Allen told a story about how he attempted to go to a costume party dressed as a bedsheet ghost... in the Deep South. Four guys in "ghost costumes" drive up to him and tell him to get in. Hilarity Ensues.
- An Eddie Izzard sketch involves the Holy Ghost as a Bedsheet Ghost:
"Holy Ghost, this is not an episode of Scooby Doo!"
"I'd have got away with it if it wasn't for those God and Jesus fellas."
- One Improv Everywhere sketch, as also mentioned in Web Original, had a bunch of Bedsheet Ghosts mull around the New York Public Library- reading books, using laptops, that kinda thing. And then the Ghostbusters show up...
- Dungeons & Dragons:
- As mentioned in the Head Injury Theater quote on the quotes page, the Sheet Phantom is an actual Bedsheet Ghost. As with some of the other actual Bedsheet Ghosts, the explanation given is that the being's spirit is imbued into his bedclothes as he dies.
- Undead cloakers from the Ravenloft setting somewhat resemble this trope, although they were never human, but ghosts of creatures that resemble flying manta rays.
- The demon lord Pale Night looks like this trope, being a seductive female figure wrapped in a white veil blowing on a spectral wind that occasionally shifts enough to almost reveal what's underneath it. But though she is incorporeal, she's an eons-old obyrith, not an undead, and the sheet is suspected to be a sort of cosmic sensor to protect existence from the horror of her true form. One of her special abilities is to briefly reveal the truth beyond that veil, which is a "save or die" attack.
- In Warhammer, some of the oldest pewter models to represent Undead Spirit Hosts depicted traditional bedsheet ghosts. Other players figured out that it was cheaper to buy plastic models and paint them ghostly gray and white, especially if those models came from a rival's army range.
- In Jacob Marley's Christmas Carol, Marley's initial idea on how to scare Scrooge is as a bedsheet ghost. The Bogle snidely comments he's pretty scary as-is.
- LEGO has ghosts that look like this. A shroud piece slips over the head. Their first version was a smiling ghost with a rounded head, and their second was a frowning/moaning ghost with more of a sheet detail, with a folded tip on the head.
- Playmobil also had shrouds for their figures, with only eye holes for the figure to see through. The child-size shround has a pointed head, but the adult shrouds are rounded. While they have the traditional white ghost, a black ghost with a glowing yellow face has also been made. A new figure piece that lights up was also introduced, with flowier "robes", but no standard figure inside.
- The spectres of OFF often take this form.
- In the second Painkiller, the enemies in the wonderfully creepy orphanage level include children playing as bedsheet ghosts. Do not let them to get close to you.
- A certain variety of mook in the Donkey Kong 64 world "Creepy Castle". The game doesn't even pretend that they're really ghosts; they're officially called "Kritters-in-a-sheet."
- The ghosts from Pac-Man are even further abstracted. They look like jellyfish with eyeballs. The second and third cutscenes in the original game demonstrate this: in the second, Blinky chases Pac only to catch his ghost suit on a nail, and in the third, he chases Pac again, but his crappy repair job didn't stay. In both instances, we see part of the creature under the costume.
- The boy who controls Spectre in Twisted Metal: Small Brawl appears dressed as this.
- In Geist, this strategy actually works on someone, scaring her enough to allow you to possess her. It's a bit scarier than usual, although the accountant literally sees the sheet rise up off the bed. Raimi-as-a-bedsheet-ghost has an empty dark hood and dives after her, after all.
- You actually get to play as one of these in the Self Explanatory Adventure Game Ghost in the Sheet. Justified in that his "boss" tells him that if the sheet's taken off, what's left of him will scatter away and be lost forever (He died under an incoming bus, which was "very messy"). Actually, the "boss" put the sheet on his definitely-not-fragmented body in order to prevent him from phasing through objects and getting too much information. It doesn't work, of course, as he still manages to get said info...
- Many games feature an approximately spherical version, such as the Boos from Super Mario Bros..
- The series also has literal Bedsheet Ghosts in Yoshi's Island.
- One thing that's never made clear about Boos is whether they're actual ghosts who are the remaining spirits of people who are dead, or just a species of ghostlike spirit-beings. Which may or may not be relevant to this trope, but it's worth thinking about; does it count as a bedsheet ghost if it's not actually a ghost?
- Special mention to the Duplighosts in Paper Mario, who are literal bedsheet ghosts who can transform into dopplegangers of your partners. In the sequel Paper Mario: The Thousand-Year Door, there's a unique one known as Doopliss, who transforms the citizens of Twilight Town into pigs. He is more humorous than scary, but he's a lot more dangerous than he seems.
- The Phantom, one of the optional bosses in Kingdom Hearts I takes on this look.
- One of the puzzles from Indiana Jones and the Fate of Atlantis had Indy dressing up as a bedsheet ghost to try to scare another character. It didn't work very well until the bed sheet was supplemented with some other items.
- In Sonic and Knuckles, Sandopolis Zone Act II featured bedsheet ghosts that appeared as the torches burned down. To start with would be one small one, floating at the top of the screen in a less-than-threatening manner. Then a second one appears and they grow in size and their eyes gain an angry look. When the torches go out completely a third one appears, and all three get bigger and grow horns. If the torches are left off for too long they start swooping down and menacing Sonic. Since the level contains a section where it's very easy to get stuck in a loop and remain stuck well after you've realized you're IN a loop (or even if you were prepared for the loop), these guys can get a little distressing.
- The Sega Genesis version of Ghostbusters (1990) uses this in the form of white tablecloth ghosts. As in: the tablecloth floats off the table, comes toward you, and "ties you up" if you don't eliminate it.
- Wario Land:
- The True Final Boss of Aero Fighters 2 is a tablecloth ghost.
- RuneScape does this twice. Once with a green bedsheet (to fit in with green ghosts) and once with regular bedsheets for a Christmas Carol parody.
- Uninvited specifically invokes this, with a ghost who, according to the narration, "looks like the classic spectre" that comes out of the sky and kills you.
- A sort of one-time deal so far: Kirby can get a "Ghost" ability in Kirby: Squeak Squad (it has to be unlocked though). He basically takes on this kind of appearance and can possess enemies. It looks silly on him but also cute.
- In Jumper Three, a ghost bedsheet is one of the buyable clothes for Ogmo in stage 2-5.
- One of the minigames in Rhythm Tengoku has you shooting at bedsheet ghosts with a bow and arrow. The DS sequel has them playing in a rock band.
- Zepheniah Mann of Team Fortress 2 haunts the map Harvest in this form, with a jaunty little ghostly...er, Ghastly Gibus on his incorporeal head. As part of a Running Gag (Valve's attempts at injecting horror into TF2 are all Stylistic Suck), the player characters are absolutely terrified of him, screaming and dropping their weapons for five seconds if he gets too close.
- In the 2013 Halloween Event, all players have the potential to become bedsheet ghosts (who can only move around and moan "Boo!") should they die in Helltower once Redmond or Blutarch reaches the end of the payload race and open the portal to the afterlife.
- The pet sites Celestial Vale and Valley of Unicorns have a unicorn in a bedsheet ghost costume as a limited-edition pet.
- Most depictions of the Poe enemy in the The Legend of Zelda consist of a Bedsheet Ghost with glowing eyes and spindly arms carrying a lantern.
- In Captain Morgane and the Golden Turtle, the "ghost" which Morgane arranges for Dinsdale and Mitchell to see looks like this, because a bedsheet is exactly what it is. It contrasts sharply with the real ghost which Morgane stumbles on immediately after her trick, which looks more ghoulish.
- Napstablook from Undertale resembles this kind of ghost. He enjoys recorded music in the "spooky" genre.
- Wizard 101 has these as enemies throughout the game, and they come in a variety of colors. Most notably, this is the model used by the lost souls, famous for being the weakest monsters in the game.
- Konami's MSX game Pippols has bedsheet-looking ghosts among the enemies. They can freely move through walls.
- The ghosts in Megaman Sprite Game resemble these, complete with the webcomic's Stylistic Suck facial design.
- Pokémon Sun and Moon plays with this in the form of Mimikyu, a Ghost/Fairy type. While it's alive as any other Pokemon, a Mimikyu is hurt by sunlight, and so perpetually wears a sheet to protect itself. The play comes from the fact that their sheets are old Pikachu merchandise; Mimikyu want the same popularity among humans, and so they try to get others' attention via the impersonation. It figures into their special ability, Disguise: other Pokémon mistake the Mimikyu's stuffed Pikachu head for a real head and so miss an attack (the actual Mimikyu, as evidenced by eyes in the "chest", is a few inches shorter than the disguise). Taking a peek under Mimikyu's sheet causes the viewer such shock that he/she might die from it.
- The Ghost robe is one of the robes for Clerics in Miitopia can wear, and it makes them look like a bedsheet ghost.
- Family House centers around fixing up an old house that was once a stately mansion, centuries ago. It is hosted by the bedsheet ghost who, when he was alive, was the head butler there.
- Aughosto from Alchademy is a little ghost with a white robe and hood.
- You find some of these in the third level of The Simpsons arcade game. Of course, you'll quickly notice they "float" from a rather visible rope coming out of a tree. Once you knock them down, they'll be revealed as your standard mook.
- This is an enemy added to the Endless mode of Spooky's Jump Scare Mansion. Named "Spooper", he looks like a guy in pretty bad bedsheet costume, with normal looking legs poking out and who just blocks the door to the next room. And the only way to get him out of the way you have to hit him with your axe. But then you'll find him in the next room, his disguise slightly torn and bloodied. You must do the same. And as you keep going and his disguise falls appart, you'll discover than he's less human than he appears...
- A vehicular example in Re-Volt : The secret Mystery car, which is just a sheet with some question marks written on it. Flipping it over reveals that there isn't actually a car underneath the sheet.
- In Homestar Runner, Strong Mad once dressed up as this for Halloween.
- The deadbeats from Mystery Skulls Animated look like purple pointy-headed bedsheet ghosts with glowing beating orange hearts, though their Game Face departs from the aesthetic somewhat due to their talon-like hands.
- In Bear Shark, both the bear and shark disguise themselves like this to escape from a real ghost.
- Improv Everywhere: (Rather affable) Bedsheet Ghosts haunt the New York Public Library. Then the Ghostbusters chase them away!
- In the Halloween Episode of LoadingReadyRun's commodoreHUSTLE, "Roll For Treats", Tally dresses up as a bedsheet ghost to go trick-or-treating with her boyfriend Jer, masquerading as his young son.
- One Italian cartoonist noticed a potential problem with this.
- Scorched by Glenn Jones is about the ghost bedsheet maintenance issues.
- The Ben Heck Show has The Ghost of Unfinished Projects which appears in the 2015 Halloween episode.
- Mort from Gunnerkrigg Court. He takes the form of whatever he thinks is likely to scare his latest victim, and uses the default translucent "bedsheet phantasm" appearance as a sort of indication that he's in "friendly ghost" mode ever since Antimony pointed out that no one's been scared of the linen apparition since they went from burial shrouds to bedsheets. A flashback episode to his death reveals that he chose the look because "If I'm a ghost, I suppose I better look the part. I dressed up as a ghost once. With a bedsheet and everything!"
- Paul (who is a ghost) from pictures for sad children. He actually has Jacob Marley Apparel (and he's oddly physical, to boot), but he wears a bedsheet over it because he "wanted to look ghosty". He is, after all, also a little kid.
- The Ghost Wizard from The Adventures of Dr. McNinja looks like this... with a white mustache and a wizard's cap.
- This strip of Chainsawsuit.
- Great-Aunt Pneuma from GastroPhobia shows up like this.
- The Non-Adventures of Wonderella: The ghost from "You Can't Always Get What You HAUNT".
Wonderella: Dude, you're a sheet with some holes in it! Were you Hasidic or something?
- In Bob and George, Roll goes for the classic Halloween costume.
- In Squid Row, Randie did several portraits of herself as a bedsheet ghost with a blond wig.
- Felix the Cat has encountered a few of these over the years;
- In a classic-era short, Felix the Ghost Breaker, Felix is haunted by a ghost that looks like this, and then has to save a farmer from it. It turns out to just be a "Scooby-Doo" Hoax, as the ghost is just a travelling salesman in disguise.
- In the Joe Oriolo era episode "Ghostly Concert", Felix is trapped on a haunted ship, where its revealed Professor is commanding a legion of these kind of ghosts to go after him.
- In another Oriolo-era episode, "Redbeard the Pirate", Professor and Rock Bottom dress up as one to scare Felix away from Redbeard the Pirate's gold. Felix quickly catches on to the disguise when he realizes the "ghost" has two heads and four legs. Later on, they open the treasure chest, which releases the real Redbeard's Ghost (who also looks like a bedsheet ghost), who scares Professor and Rock Bottom away.
- Peanuts: This is Charlie Brown's favorite Halloween costume in It's the Great Pumpkin, Charlie Brown. Of course, being Charlie Brown, he naturally botches said costume with too many eye holes, as Linus did in the actual comic strip.
- Oddly enough, these holes are all rendered as black dots of ghostly nothingness rather than simply showing whatever part of him or his regular clothes that's underneath. Presumably because this was easier to animate.
- Most of the other kids' costumes are also bedsheet ghosts, with the exception of a few who wear masks on top of bedsheet-ghost outfits.
- One of Vlad's bad clones of Danny Phantom looks like a Bedsheet Ghost... because the sheet covers up its horrifying mutations (like the fact that it has no legs, muscle, or skin).
Danny: Seriously, a bedsheet? [Reaches out for the bedsheet.] What do you got under there? [Removes bedsheet to reveal a ghost that only has the upper portion of a skeleton.]
- Also, Danny tried pulling off the Bedsheet Ghost look during Fright Night. It didn't work out.
Tucker: Nice costume, dude! Are those flaming bedsheets?Fright Knight: Flaming bedsheets of death!
- The same episode gave us this nice exchange:
- Also, Danny tried pulling off the Bedsheet Ghost look during Fright Night. It didn't work out.
- American Dragon: Jake Long has the episode "Halloween Bash", a For Halloween, I Am Going as Myself episode with a Muggle/Magical Being party. Two Normals show up, dressed as Bedsheet Ghosts, and are annoyed to see how many of the other "costumes" are so much better than theirs. Even after the Dragon Council removed Jake's "costume", they were still regarded as the lamest ones.
- In the South Park episode "Here Comes the Neighborhood", the townsfolk wish to drive the rich people (who just happen to all be black) out of town, so they figure what scares rich people? Ghosts. They then dress up as bedsheet ghosts and wind up looking like The Klan. There was some kind of message in that but I really don't know what it was.
- Same thing happened in "Pink Eye" from the first season, when Principal Victoria sees Cartman dressed as Hitler and thinks a Bedsheet Ghost would be a less controversial costume. Er, not so much.
Cartman: Wow, Chef must be really scared of ghosts!
- Same thing happened in "Pink Eye" from the first season, when Principal Victoria sees Cartman dressed as Hitler and thinks a Bedsheet Ghost would be a less controversial costume. Er, not so much.
- In the episode "Scaredy Pants", SpongeBob SquarePants tries to go as the Flying Dutchman and scare everybody, but his costume consists of a sheet and wooden clogs. Because of his square shape, everyone called him a "haunted mattress", so he asks Patrick to shave his head down to a round shape. He goes to the Halloween party and almost gets away with scaring all his friends, but he is found out eventually. Just then the real Flying Dutchman arrives and, insulted by such a pathetic impersonation, unmasks him. He takes one look at him and runs screaming into the night, followed by everyone else, and eventually Patrick. Seems SpongeBob has been sheared down until there was nothing left but his brain.
"It grows back!"
- In "Pranks a Lot", Spogebob and Patrick trick Sandy into thinking they're ghosts. They wear white bed sheets to make her think it's a cheap costume, but when she pulls them off there's nothing there. She freaks out and jumps into an escape pod to run back to Texas.
- The Garfield and Friends Halloween special featured the "laugh at the bedsheet ghost, oh no there's nothing under the sheet!" scenario, as well as a few variations where other monsters dressed up as bedsheet ghosts.
- Bulkhead from Transformers Animated had this as a Halloween costume, but, being a giant robot, the only "bedsheet" that fit turned out to be a fumigation tent.
- In Chuck Jones' Looney Tunes short "Claws for Alarm", Sylvester is frightened by a bunch of mice in a Totem Pole Trench disguised as one of these.
- Another Merrie Melodies short, "Ghost Wanted", has the little ghost apparently wearing a full "onesie" suit with a trap-door flap, one he can take off and change if necessary; which he does, leaving him fully invisible for a few seconds.
- In the made-for-TV movie Yogi's Great Escape, Yogi dresses up as a Bedsheet Ghost to scare away the trapper who's after him. The trapper even lampshades this: "Here comes some uninvited laundry!" Later on, a real bedsheet-like ghost shows up, and of course gets Mistaken for an Imposter. The trapper pulls off the "bedsheet" to see who's underneath... and there is nothing there, except for a small point of light which vanishes, at which point the trapper is attacked by the now-invisible ghost which then proceeds to re-materialize another bedsheet around itself.
- An episode of Jimmy Two-Shoes had Beezy being haunted by one. Its sheet is eventually removed, revealing a body of pizza crusts.
- High-Five Ghost and his family in Regular Show. Then it gets...odd when Mordecai and Rigby are turned into ghosts, and they just look like themselves, with a ghostly squiggle instead of legs.
- In the Thunder Cats 2011 episode "The Forest of Magi Oar", the Thunderkittens tease Cheetara when she reports feeling the presence of spirits, by playing at being ghosts under a tent canvas. While stumbling under it, they knock their heads together.
- In Scooby-Doo, Where Are You!!, one of the projections used to scare the gang is one of a Bedsheet Ghost.
- Duckman has a surprise cameo from the last person you would expect pulling this. Homer Simpson.
- A few examples from Rugrats...
- In the first Halloween Episode "Candy Bar Creep Show," when the babies are hiding in Stu and Drew's makeshift haunted house among hearing Angelica and other trick-or-treaters about to enter, a sheet section of the tent falls onto Tommy, and the nearby electric fan that was blowing paper bats around gives the sheet-covered Tommy a more ghostly appearance. This manages to scare Angelica AND Grandpa Lou.
- In "Toys in the Attic," Grandpa Boris is trying to find Tommy and Angelica wandering their attic, which they think is haunted. The wind blows the attic window open and sends a white sheet flying onto Grandpa Boris. Naturally, Tommy and Angelica think he is a ghost, and Boris blindly trying to get around with the sheet over him doesn't help much either.
- Spoofed in the "Chanukah" special; as an attempt to try and defeat the "Meany of Chanukah," Phil suggests taking Tommy's white pillowcase and wearing it over his head to disguise as a ghost. It doesn't work, and Phil only ends up walking into a table leg.
- In one episode of Alvin and the Chipmunks has the chipmunks do this to a person claiming to be their uncle but was really using them to make money and pay off a debt.
- Then in an episode of The Alvin Show, J.P. Lester is an actual bedsheet ghost haunting Chesley Estate.
- In the Season 4 finale of The Venture Bros., Dean Venture attempts to dress as one of these as a "spooky" costume, because he's unable to find Goth clothing to impress Triana. The following events actually cause him to be confused for a Klan member.
- Used in Albert the Fifth Musketeer episode "Ghost You Said?"
- Maggie and the Ferocious Beast: "Three Little Ghosts".
- The New Adventures of Madeline featured an episode where Madeline and her sisters entered a haunted castle where some of the girls dress up as ghosts for a Halloween party.
- In The Archie Show episode "Groovy Ghosts", Archie and his friends want to use an old abandoned house as a clubhouse, but Reggie tries to scare them away by making them think the house is haunted. Instead of wearing a sheet, Reggie attaches strings to a sheet to make it move around like a puppet. Archie plays it straight when he scares Reggie.
- The titular characters of The Spooks of Bottle Bay.
- An episode of Sabrina: The Animated Series featured a Yet Another Christmas Carol episode where Aunt Zelda as the ghost of Christmas present was dressed as one of these. Unfortunately for her the only sheet she could find was a blue coloured one with a pink flower pattern on it and according to Gem it belongs to her mother.
- In one episode of Dexter's Laboratory, Dexter's goldfish dies and comes back as a ghost to haunt him. When trying to hunt the ghost using ghost equipment, Dee Dee appears wearing a sheet, causing Dexter to mistake her for a ghost and attack her. When he asks her what she is doing, Dee Dee says she wanted to scare the ghost by dressing up as a ghost.
- A Halloween Episode of Atomic Betty features Betty wearing a ghost costume while trying to film a movie.
- Adventure Time:
- In "Too Young", Finn and Princess Bubblegum stage a 'prank' on Earl Lemongrab by dressing up as bedsheet ghosts, running up to Lemongrab and punching him in the stomach.
- The episode "Heat Signatures" features three stereotypical cartoon Bedsheet Ghosts who, in contrast to the usual portrayal, are genuinely evil and dangerous.
- What About Mimi: In "Our Little Einstein", Mimi, along with her older brother Jason, does this to scare her little brother Bradley into going to a private school for gifted kids. This fails, however, due to the fact that Jason can't see where he is going while carrying Mimi, causing him to trip and make the sheet that they were wearing to fall off.
- The Looney Tunes Show: Bugs disguises himself as a bedsheet ghost in an attempt to scare Sam out of his house in "Fish and Visitors".
- Popples: In "Backyard Adventure", it is one of the Popples trying to scare the others.
- In "Poppin' Pillow Talk", Bonnie wears a ghost costume to scare her brother for scaring her earlier.
- A Halloween Episode of Timmy Time has Timmy's friends do this to scare him.
- The Wuzzles:
- In "What's Up, Stox?" when they fail to raise enough money to buy real costumes, they settle for this.
- In "Ghostrustlers", Croc's Mooks disguise themselves as a ghost to scare the wuzzles away. It didn't fool Bumblelion. Later on when real ghosts start to appear, Hoppopotamus covers herself in a sheet to lure a ghost into a trap. However she gets caught in the trap herself.
- In one episode of The Amazing Adrenalini Brothers, both Adi and Enk dress up like this to scare Xan. They get help from actual ghosts.
- Used in various episodes of The Little Lulu Show. Either by Lulu or Tubby and his friends.
- A Halloween episode in King of the Hill when the church outlaws Trick or Treating and Hank and his neighbors rally up to bring Halloween back. Bill comes as a ghost, but he accidentally tore his sheet, but it instantly becomes a toga.
- Bloo from Foster's Home for Imaginary Friends is not a ghost, he's an imaginary friend, but his body shape definitely makes him look like this trope. This was pointed out on two occasions: in the pilot he ended up having the place of the ghost in a Pac-Man homage while the first season finale has him go pale white from a cold and be mistaken for a ghost.
- The PAW Patrol episode "Pups Save a Ghost" featured a mysterious canine ghost dressed in a bed sheet prowling about the Lookout, doing things like taking treats, digging holes, and leaving Pup Pup Boogie on. Rocky devises a trap to catch the ghost, baited with a cookie and set up to drop a sheet on the ghost when he fell for it. Unfortunately, the trap gets triggered, and Ryder is covered in the sheet, making the pups briefly think he's the ghost, then a victim of the ghost. The "ghost" is then revealed to be Marshall sleepwalking around under a bedsheet, which is foreshadowed by the ghost having Marshall's shape.
- The My Little Pony: Friendship is Magic episode "Look Before You Sleep". Twilight tells a Ghost Story about a headless horse and finishes by putting a white bedsheet over her head. Despite the sheet not covering the rest of her body, Rarity and Applejack are immediately fooled.
- In the Scare Master episode, A trio of such ghosts pursue the ponies (and Spike) inside the corn maze. It's later revealed those were Fluttershy's bird friends in disguise.
- The Teen Titans Go! Halloween Episode has Starfire wearing a white bedsheet ghost costume after being turned into a little kid. Near the end, when she and the other Titans turn back to normal, the costume that she wears only covers her head.
- When Pac-Man chomps the ghosts in Hanna-Barbera's Animated Adaptation, they get new ghost suits in the appropriate colors out of Mezmaron's closet.
- In the Van Beuren Studios Tom & Jerry cartoon "Wot a Night", a group of them briefly pop up to scare Tom and Jerry, but they quickly fall through a trapdoor—just to wind up with a group of skeletons instead.
- In one episode of the animated version of Fraggle Rock, Wimbley suffers from an illness that can only be cured by scaring him. The rest of the family wear ghost costumes to try and scare him but it doesn't work.
- Kipper the Dog has a ghost visit him that looks like this. Kipper would cover himself in a bedsheet in order to teach him how to be scary.
- A french animated show called Les Malheurs de Sophie (The Trouble with Sophie) has a episode where a boy disguised as a ghost tries to steal vegetables from a garden. Later Sophie and her friends wear bedsheets over their heads while chasing each other around.
- One episode of Hi Hi Puffy AmiYumi has the girls trying to visit their managers in a hospital but the nurse won't let them through due to being past visiting hours. The girls proceed to sneak in anyways and are chased by the nurse. They lure her into a laundry room and proceed to scare her away doing this trope.
- Wabbit: A Looney Tunes Production has "Raising Your Spirits" which features Bugs being haunted by an invisible ghost. It makes itself visible by wearing one of Bug's blankets.
- On Little Princess, this is the King's costume in "I Want to Dress Up." The Queen grumble that she hopes it's not one of the good bedsheets.
- Although the show was famous for its often creative and surreal depiction of ghosts, bedsheet ghosts do appear in two episodes of The Real Ghostbusters: "The Old College Spirit" and "The Haunting of Heck House", and are very creepy as usual.
- The ghosts in Eek! The Cat's Halloween Episode are of this variety. Although the ghost that Eek befriends is more like a party balloon.
- In "Save the Black Kitten" from Wonder Pets, the "ghost" that scares the black kitten (and Tuck and Ming-Ming) is just a puppy that is this.
- In "Frisky, Fluttery Ghost" from Mouse and Mole, Mole misinterprets Mouse's comment that there is "crispy, buttery toast" waiting for him as "frisky, fluttery ghost," then gets scared by thinking that a sheet which Mouse is hanging on a clothesline is one of these.
- Star vs. the Forces of Evil: In "Hungry Larry", Star and Janna summon the eponymous spirit, who at first appears to be a shrimpy little bedsheet ghost with stubby arms and legs. He turns out to be much more dangerous than he appears, however.
- There is a floating bedsheet ghost who is a teacher in Monster High: Haunted.
- In a Halloween Episode of Creepschool, this is Victoria's Halloween costume. Unlike other examples featured on this page, Becoming the Costume is in effect causing her to gain the abilities of a ghost such as flying and intangibility.