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Things That Go "Bump" in the Night
aka: Bogeyman

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"Bart! I don’t want to alarm you. But there may be a Boogeyman or Boogeymen in the house!"
Homer Simpson, The Simpsons

The monster in your closet. The creature 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, Mental Monster, Poorly Lit Pareidolia. Not to be confused with Monster Closet, a video game trope about hidden enemies.


    The Boogeyman 
The most infamous of these entities would be the one simply known as "the Boogeyman." (Also spelled "Bogeyman," "Boogieman," "Boogey Man,", etc.) Who or what this entity is varies wildly with time and culture. (See below under Mythology and Folklore) Sometimes there are several boogeymen, but usually, there's only one. He's also usually affiliated fear in general, and terrorizing children specifically. Sometimes, he's just another TTGBITN. Sometimes, he's the scariest of them all, and might be shown to be their leader. And sometimes, he may even be depicted as the physical incarnation of fear itself. So, when you're told not to be scared of the Boogeyman and that the only thing to fear is fear itself... You are almost really being told that you should fear him. His weaknesses also vary, though a common one is being repelled by light and/or needing to feed on the darkness in the farthest corners of your bedroom. He or his monster friends may be content to show up in some level of light, so long as said light is as dimly-lit as can be.

And of course, while often he doesn't care who's naughty or nice and goes after all kids, another common component of his legend is that he targets only the naughty ones, such as brats and bullies, as punishment. Sometimes, this makes him a benevolent force merely looking to rid the world of nasty kids. Other times, he is a self-righteous flavor of monster. If the former, then it tends to result in a none-too-subtle aesop on why being a good little boy or girl is so important. If the latter, then the "naughty" children may be depicted as champions of freedom.

What he does to the kids that he or his monsters "get" is also rather inconsistent, ranging from simply frightening them and then leaving hem be all the way up to eating them.

Even his basic physical appearance is never consistent. He can go from a green goblin man to a fuzzy pink beast to merely a pale man in black. He almost never looks the same, so if he has a true form, it's probably unknown, again, making him creepier. Even The Grim Reaper and Satan have stereotypical appearances: a robed skeleton wielding a scythe and a red-skinned humanoid demon king with horns, a pitchfork, and a spaded tail. But the Boogeyman? Nothing.

All of which perhaps makes him even scarier: how much mystery there is to this entity. With most legendary spectres, from Dracula to the Headless Horseman, their appearance, modus operandi, backstory and so forth are known. But so little about the Boogeyman is fixed that it can make his role as the embodiment of terror itself all the more effective. His moral alignment can shift from a vicious predator to a benign being or at least one who supplies the world with its fear in order to prevent something worse from happening. In the end, so little about him is known that he may be the most mysterious monster ever conjured up by the human imagination. Whatever the case, if you're a child about to go to bed at night, especially one that's been bad... Watch out.


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  • One PSA against child abuse uses this with a darker twist. A little boy looks under his bed and at his closet, seeing cartoon monsters. The narrator informs us that the real monsters aren't under the bed or in the closet. And then his father walks in.
  • A Progressive Insurance commercial has a little kid calls for his parents in the night because he's scared but they assure him that there's no monsters hiding under his bed or in the closest, and he says that they said "they're always watching" but they clarify that they were talking about 24/7 protection from Progressive and leave him in the dark. When they've left, Flo comes out of his closest and says she was just checking his wiring. And then a real monster comes out from under the bed, but apparently isn't there to scare him and observes that the kid must be stressed over something else.

    Audio Plays 
  • Big Finish Doctor Who: 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.

    Comic Books 
  • 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.
  • And Then Emily Was Gone has "Bonnie Shaw", a bogeyman who takes away children after their parents make deals with it.
  • Moon Knight hunts a monster like this in one issue, a Fair Folk who uses magic to crawl into our world from under children's beds. Particularly frightening, since it does so in order to literally eat children in their beds. And it looks like this. Yeah. Even worse it's a chosen avatar of Khonshu, just like Moon Knight. This makes it clear to Marc that Khonshu isn't quite the odd but benevolent being he thought it was and is instead a strange creature with twisted morality.
  • Courtney Crumrin and the Night Things: The titular Night Things are varied and diverse, ranging from goblins to The Fair Folk, but Tommy Rawhead and Bloody Bones is the absolute boogeyman (including his ability to hide in tiny dark places where he wouldn't normally fit).
  • Spook begins with the ghost Kurylenko attacking dignitaries from NATO with no one understanding why or what is happening to them. This attack kicks off the rest of the story which focuses on CIA officers searching for the boogeyman.

    Comic Strips 
  • Gary Larson often used this trope in The Far Side:
    • One strip pluggs a "Monster Snorkel", which lets you breathe under your bed-covers without exposing even an inch of skin to attack, demonstrated by a child using it to hide from a wolfman and a spiky dinosaur-thing. In the introduction to one of his strip collections, Larson notes that one of the monsters above the blanket (the wolf) is one of his own childhood boogeymen. He also tells how his older brother hid in his (Gary's) closet one night and slloooowllyy slid open the door...
    • Another strip features two boogeymen frightened by the possibility that there may be something lurking on top of the bed.
    • Another one invokes the trope in the title, and featured a boogeyman knocking his head on the top of the door frame while trying to sneak into the kid's room.
    • Parodied in one with a couple investigating a strange noise downstairs and finding a horrible towering monster... and being relieved, because it's "just Kevin" having a midnight snack.
    • One strip shows a monster eating breakfast with his wife and saying, "Dang! Look at the time! ... And I gotta be in little Billy Harrison's closet before nightfall!"
    • And one where the kid checks his closet, and it's empty for the moment.. except for the monster's chair, magazine, snacks, etc.
    • One nighttime monster is literally indescribable... because it's wearing a paper bag (with horn holes) over its head to make sure the kid it's scaring can't actually describe it to his mother.
  • Calvin of Calvin and Hobbes often has to battle under-the-bed monsters, never fully depicted but often shown as alien, tentacled... things; one of the comic's strip collections is even titled Something Under the Bed Is Drooling. Luckily, they're also not very smart; they'll leave Calvin alone if he leaves garbage under the bed for them to eat — much to his parents' chagrin — and their poor bluffing caused their ambushes to fail on two separate occasions. One of the large collections contains an original poem (with some fantastic, if terrifying, illustrations) called "A Nauseous Nocturne" about such a monster attacking Calvin at night, but then getting scared away by a sleeping Hobbes.
    Suddenly the monster knows I'm not alone! There's an animal in bed with me! An awful beast he did not see! The monster never would have come if he had known!
  • In Bloom County Binkley's Closet of Anxieties is full of monsters, the most visible one being the Giant Purple Snorklewhacker: as the strip goes on, this concept was expanded. Once Binkley is old enough to have Adult Fears, avatars of said fears show up in the closet with the monsters, sometimes scaring the monsters themselves. For instance, in one strip, the Snorklewhacker gives Binkley a choice between a convention of PM Magazine hosts, Jesse Helms explaining at length why Martin Luther King Jr. was a communist, or a huge Binkley-eating python. Binkly takes the python, saying, "Heck, I'm no glutton for punishment." Eventually the fear closets of other characters are also shown.
  • One Zits strip featured Jeremy's childhood boogeyman — a small, purple bogey with a rhino horn — having upgraded his scare tactics to cater to more "adult" fears. As an example, he pulls out an image of Jeremy's girlfriend Sara saying "Let's just be friends."
  • In one series of Peanuts strips, Snoopy started to develop a fear of the dark, driving Charlie Brown nuts:
    Charlie Brown: Don't tell me you're afraid of the things that go bump in the night?
    Snoopy: I'm not afraid of things that go "bump" in the night, what shakes me up are the things that go... ARRRGGHH!!! (Cue Jump Scare at Charlie Brown.)

    Films — Animated 
  • The opening sequence in the movie The Nightmare Before Christmas features a number of these among the inhabitants of Halloween Town:
    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.

    I am the "who" when you call, "Who's there?"
    I am the wind blowing through your hair.
    I am the shadow on the moon at night
    Filling your dreams to the brim with fright.
    • As well, the film's main antagonist, Oogie Boogie, is a sack man filled with terrible things, such as insects and snakes. He refers to himself as the Boogie Man once:
      Oh, the sound of rollin' dice
      To me is music in the air
      'Cause I'm a gamblin' Boogie Man
      Although I don't play fair.
  • The film Monsters, Inc.. depicts this general situation from the monsters' point of view. In their world, they get their power via engines fueled by screams of fear, thus requiring them to scare children; a major plot point is that there is a power shortage due to this generation's kids being desensitized and harder to scare.
  • The Boogeyman aka Pitch Black is the Big Bad of Rise of the Guardians. In his heyday, he wielded great power. Now, he is mad about being written off as just a bad dream and wants to restore his former glory and engulf the world in fear and darkness.

    Films — Live-Action 
  • Speaking of Hellboy, there's a quote from the first film:
    Professor Broom: There are things that go bump in the night, Agent Myers. And we are the ones who bump back.
  • Jeepers Creepers has the Creeper. A supernatural, cunning, and nigh unkillable predator. While it can operate in daylight easily enough it still has a lot of boogeyman like aspects to it, including a preference for children and teens.
  • 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. (This changes in some of the later films in the franchise, with his targeting of his niece Jamie Lloyd.)
  • "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.
  • Don't be Afraid of the Dark (Guillermo del Toro seems fond of the trope) has its little horrors entirely too interested in young children sleeping in the mansion they call home.
  • The Babylonian deity Bughuul in Sinister that would kill entire families and steal their children to feed on their souls, as the name implies is the origin of the boogieman myth.
  • In the Disney Channel film Don't Look Under the Bed, boogeymen are what Imaginary Friends become when their children stop believing in them. The main character is tormented by a boogeyman, who turns out to be her forgotten imaginary friend from her childhood, seeking revenge for being abandoned.
  • The Field Guide to Evil: In "The Sinful Women of Höllfall", the Trud is monster that is attracted to sin. After Kathi's sexual liasion with Valerie, the Trud appears in her bedroom.

  • When the Boogeyman goes to sleep at night, he checks his closet for Chuck Norris. When Chuck Norris goes to sleep, he checks for Christopher Walken (or in some tellings, Willem Dafoe).

  • Many bogeymen appear or are referenced in Stephen King's stories:
    • In the short story called "The Boogeyman" (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 boogeyman story but, well... okay, they're not real, but there are real monsters that get named after them.
    • 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.
  • Boggarts in the Harry Potter books like to hide under beds, closets, and cupboards, and take on the appearance of the victim's deepest, darkest fear.
  • Discworld:
    • Bogeymen are a species of creature which like to hide behind doors or under beds or in cellars, and, due to Clap Your Hands If You Believe being in full power on the Discworld, exist explicitly because children think that they do — if a child is convinced firmly enough that monsters might lurk in dark corners, then the big hairy things from their imagination will indeed be present in the dark, scary places of their house. They 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..."
      • They're occasionally not-seen on the streets, hiding behind their door. They're entirely capable of lifting one off its hinges and walking off with it.
      • A fireplace poker also works, in a pinch — beating bogeymen senseless with a stout length of iron happens to be Susan sto Helit's preferred method of dealing with child-scaring bogey.
    • 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, the Anthropomorphic Personification of the fear of the unknown, of the darkness inside caves and of the beasts out in the night that haunted the dreams of proto-humans.
  • 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 boogeyman.
  • 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 Skin Game Little Maggie proudly tells her father that there had once been a monster under her bed but she and Mouse "slayerized" it. Given the setting maybe he should take her literally.
    • The short story "Zoo Day" confirms that she wasn't kidding.
  • In the horror novel Jago, a town is afflicted with a force that causes people's fears and obsessions to come to life. Jeremy is afraid of an Evil Dwarf that he believes hides in his room and comes out after the light is switched off, and will try to suck his brain out of his skull if he doesn't hide under the covers. When it manifests, he actually doesn't have too much trouble defeating it, because it's actually a bit ridiculous when it appears in clearly visible physical form instead of as a vague possibility lurking in the dark — and also because by then he's had several experiences that were far more terrifying.
  • 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.
  • H. P. 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.
  • Fungus The Bogeyman: Bogeys are green-skinned, orc-like creatures that love filth and decay and view scaring humans as just a job. Their culture also has Bad is Good and Good is Bad and Bizarro Universe elements.

    Live-Action TV 
  • The Woogyman (mispronounced as such due to young Phoebe's buck teeth) from Charmed.
  • 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" features 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.
    • The Clock Punk robot under Reinette's bed in "The Girl in the Fireplace". Which led to this Badass Boast from the Doctor:
      Reinette: What do monsters have nightmares about?
      The Doctor: Me!
    • 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 representing her (dead) abusive father.
    • "Silence in the Library"/"Forest of the Dead": The Vashta Nerada. They're beings made of pure shadow (or, at least, manifest themselves that way), and are, according to the Doctor, the reason most intelligent species have a few of the dark.
    • 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.
    • 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.
  • Game of Thrones: People on the mainland whisper tales of the ironborn to frighten their children.
  • Grimm plays this straight and has a notable subversion. Wesen (fairy tale creatures) are indeed the things that go bump in the night, but they in turn grow up with cautionary tales about Grimms, who will come to kill them if they eat too many people.
  • 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!
  • 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.
  • A straight example from Lost Tapes: an episode starts off with a kid worried about sounds he's hearing in the walls in the fixer-upper house his parents just bought, and he sees the door to his closest open all by itself—when he's gone, it closes by itself, too. At night, something comes out of the closet and frightens him, stealing his teddy bear in the process. Much later, when he walks down into the basement to find a missing exterminator, he and his parents come under direct attack by ferocious vampires.
  • The Outer Limits (1995): "Under the Bed" featured not-Mulder and not-Scully investigating missing children for this reason.
  • The enemies of 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"!
  • 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 Axe-Crazy killer in the closet, etc. etc. Though the killer in the closet was what she'd found after her parents had yelled at her to stop bugging them — she never actually tells them about that one.
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • NBC had a pilot for a series called Things That Go Bump, a Police Procedural about the New Orleans Police Department's paranormal division.
  • The Twilight Zone (1985):
    • In "The Shadow Man", the murderous titular entity takes up residence under Danny Hayes' bed and offers him immunity to his/its attacks. Only it turns out there's more than one of them... Maybe...
    • In "The Road Less Traveled", Megan McDowell tells her parents Jeff and Denise that there was a strange man in her room. When Jeff goes to investigate, he tells her that she just saw a pile of clothes on a chair and there is nothing to worry about. It turns out that Megan saw a version of Jeff from an Alternate Universe whose life was ruined after fighting in Vietnam and wanted to see the daughter that he never had.

  • 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 the first line of her chorus in 'The 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 of 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 features such creatures frequently.
    • "Mommy's Little Monsters" is about bloodthirsty creatures hiding inside the closet, in the walls, behind the curtains, in the basement, in the attic, everywhere.
    • "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
    • "American Gothic" is about foul things lurking unseen in the darkness.
    • "Lights Out".
      By day they hide and cower in the shadows
      Waiting for the darkness to come
      By night they shamble through the dark empty world
      Yearning for a single drop of blood
    • "The Creeps" asks if these things are real or just in your head.
      Growing in the dead of night
      Giving you the creeps
      Darkness, figures in the darkness
      Wandering just out of sight
  • "Hush, Hush, Hush, Here Comes the Boogeyman" by Henry Hall presents a much less intimidating version along with a bouncy tune. "Uncle Henry" tells the listener that while the Boogeyman certainly wants to get you, he's also a gullible coward who any child can easily scare off in many ways.
  • 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.
  • Die Ärzte has a song called "Schlaflied" ("Lullaby"). Starting in the style of a typical lullaby, the first verse is very innocently telling the child to go to sleep. The second verse mentions the monster in the closet. The remainder of the song goes on in graphic detail about how that monster will kill and eat the child. The song also uses the Boléro Effect, as distorted guitars and creepy sound effects are added to the initial music box theme. The last verse goes back to the original instruments and tells the child to fall asleep quickly, or else the monster can't come in.
  • A Pale Horse Named Death has the song "Devil in the Closet", where the Devil lives inside of a child's closet, and threatens to take his soul every night.
  • ''Tili Tili Bom'', an Ironic Nursery Rhyme from a Russian Slasher Movie, tells about someone or something that sneaks into a house to snatch a child that won't sleep. The lyrics is rather ambiguous: maybe it's a boogeyman, maybe it's some mundane Serial Killer.
  • Tarot has a song "Things That Crawl At Night" from the perspective of one.
    The frost grows on your window at the touch of my icy fingertips
    I come to give you a kiss to suck the warmth from your lips
    And I just slip away
    As the night turns into a new day
    Leaving you to lie cold and still in your bed
  • "Monster in My Closet" by Myrath uses this trope as a metaphor for losing one's sanity.
  • Insane Clown Posse's "Boogie Woogie Wu" is an Ironic Nursery Tune about the Boogeyman.
  • "They Only Come Out At Night" by Lordi is about things that lurk in the shadows, only come out at night and disappear at sunrise.
  • Rammstein's song "Mein Herz Brennt" is about "demons, ghosts and black fairies" who come out at night to torment children in their sleep and feast on their tears.
  • "Sit Down by the Fire" by The Pogues is about the intersection between this trope and The Fair Folk.
    It isn't the mice in the wall
    It isn't the wind in the well
    Every night they march out of that hole in the wall
    Passing through on their way out of hell
  • Blind Guardian's video for their cover of "Mister Sandman" is about a kid confronted with some very threatening Monster Clowns coming out of his closet at night.

    Mythology and Folklore 
  • As discussed above, most folkloric traditions have some version of this in the form of some ghost, spook or creature traditionally used to explain unnerving nocturnal occurrences and/or frighten children into behaving.
    • English folklore has traditionally used a variety of nondescript creatures given names such as "bogey", "bogeyman" or "bugbear", all generally derived from the word bugge, "scary thing" (incidentally, bugge is also where "bug" comes from). While these rarely have specific natures, origins or appearances coming with them, they consistently tend to lurk in shadowy places and prohibited areas — closets, basements, attics, the woods — hiding in the shadows and waiting for a naughty child to snap up.
    • Italian folklore has a figure called the Uomo Nero, the "Black Man" or "Dark Man", roughly equivalent to the boogeyman, whose main defining feature is coming in the middle of the night to look for children who aren't asleep and taking them away — as such, the threat of giving a naughty child away to the Uomo Nero was commonly used by Italian parents to admonish children in a similar way as threats of the Bogey Man were used by English-speaking parents. The Uomo Nero can, however, be kept away by keeping a light on.
    • French children are taught to fear the Croque-mitaine ("Mitten-biter"), with a bewildering number of regional variations.
    • The Bulgarian boogeyman is called Torbalan ("Bag-man"), who'd snatch kids who refuse to sleep in his bag.
    • Russia folklore usually has the legendary witch Baba Yaga fulfilling this role; she likes to kidnap children... and eat them.
    • In Spanish-speaking communities, they fear El Coco. They tell their children, "Duérmete niño, duérmete ya... Que viene el Coco y te comerá." In English, it loosely means, "Sleep child, sleep now... Or else el Coco will come and eat you."
  • The phrase itself comes from a traditional Scottish poem/prayer:
    From ghoulies and ghosties,
    And long-legged beasties,
    And things that go bump in the night,
    Good Lord, deliver us!

    Professional Wrestling 

    Tabletop Games 
  • Boogeymen are detailed as evil fey visible only to children in the 3E Ravenloft supplement Dark Tales & Disturbing Legends.
  • "The Thing Under The Bed" is an actual monster detailed in the Deadlands role-playing game. As is the Bogeyman, which specifically targets children in that they alone can see it, and it delights in letting them watch as it makes mischief that results in people being maimed or killed, but it's naturally shielded from being seen by adults, so nobody believes them.
  • Thoroughly subverted in Monsters and Other Childish Things. The monsters are Bond Creatures that attach themselves to children and are their Best Friend. But that doesn't make them human, as their usual solution to random annoying adults is to turn them into lunch. Generally averted with parents/relatives/other kids. Generally.
  • The Magic: The Gathering card Bump in the Night exemplifies this trope.
    It's not just the wind. It's not all in your head. And it's definitely something to worry about.
  • Pathfinder:
    • Nalmungder is the Daemon Harbinger of basements, closets and delusions of security.
    • Bugbears as reimagined for the setting absolutely love acting as such, getting off on the fear of their future victims and being very, very good at sneaking about and hiding in places a burly, hairy 6-7-foot-tall murder machine has no business being able to...
    • Then there is the powerful, evil fey type who is literally called bogeyman.
  • In Dungeons & Dragons 4th Edition, the banderhobbs are toad-like monsters used in-universe by parents to frighten their children, although real ones don't limit their targets to young ones.
  • The Sluagh Kith from Changeling: The Dreaming are the embodiment of these, and once upon a time were summoned by parents to punish exceptionally unruly children.
  • One of many, many varieties of creature that players can be asked to take on in the monster-hunting game Chill is actual monsters in the closet.

  • Naturally, the Broadway production of The Addams Family has an inversion. Pugsley can't sleep because the monster under his bed isn't there. (It shows up after Morticia gives him some motherly comfort.)
  • Some versions of Punch and Judy have a Bogeyman character taking the Devil's role.
  • El Coco, the Mexican Boogie Man, appears in Universal Studios' Halloween Horror Nights in 2013.

  • Monster High features Twyla, the daughter of the Boogeyman. She's partially made of shadows and has glowing eyes, all of her outfits feature variations on the nightmare-bedroom motif, and her pet is a bunny made out of dust from under the bed to the effect that he looks like a worn-out plush toy.
  • Living Dead Dolls: Series 31 is dubbed "Don't Turn Out The Lights", and includes Umbral, a shadowy being, the Dark, who embodies the concept, Bea Neath, who hides under the bed, Kreek, who hides in the corner, and Thump, who makes loud noises and eats souls.

    Video Games 
  • 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.
  • The final monster in the Infocom Interactive Fiction game The Lurking Horror is described in these terms.
  • The main premise of Scratches, a writer moves into an old Victorian mansion, but every night he hears strange unnerving scratching noises and becomes determined to solve the mystery.
  • In Adventurer Mode of Dwarf Fortress, this is the general role of the broad 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 — literally, they spawn continuously when the sun is down. Peasants warn you about not traveling at night or sleeping somewhere outside civilization, lest the bogeymen get you, and the boogiemen 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.
    • 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, hissing and cackling. 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.
  • Pokémon:
    • Gengar, a Ghost-type that hides in people's shadows to steal the life from them and delights in casting curses on people, said to prey on those who get lost in the mountains. There are a couple of ways to detect its presence — a Gengar in your shadow can be spotted by the sudden chill its life-draining causes, or by seeing your shadow overtake you in the middle of the night. Sometimes, you can just flat-out spot its leer floating in the darkness. Its Pokedex entry from Pokemon Sun is particularly chilling.
      Should you feel yourself attacked by a sudden chill, it is evidence of an approaching Gengar. There is no escaping it. Give up.
    • 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.
  • This is the theme of Five Nights at Freddy's 4, where instead of playing a security guard at a Suck E. Cheese's, you're a little kid who is deathly afraid of its animatronics and dreading your upcoming birthday party there. So you stay up all night, scampering around your room with a flashlight, peeking down the hallways to stop Bonnie or Chica from sneaking up on you, checking to make sure Foxy isn't crouched in your closet, looking over your shoulder in case Freddy's sitting on your bed...
  • The Elder Scrolls series tends to use vampires for this as being immortal, stealthy, nocturnal predators with a preference for sleeping mortals is their entire hat. Notably, in most titles you can become one yourself.
  • With the release of the "Kids Room Stuff" DLC pack for The Sims 4, Child Sims who sleep in a child-sized bed will occasionally get a visit from a many-tentacled "Monster Under the Bed" in their sleep. The child Sim will then refuse to sleep in any bed for a few hours until an adult Sim sprays it away. Spraying the bed just before the child Sim goes to sleep often prevents the Monster from showing up in the first place.
  • Both The Secret World and its spin-off The Park features a bogeyman haunting the abandoned Atlantic Island Park, feeding off the fear and terror of unsuspecting visitors. Text messages from faction contacts reveal that the Bogeymen are a Dying Race, having once been found in every closet and under every bed up until Secret Worlders started rooting them out; however, at first it's not certain how this particular Bogeyman decided to take up residence at the park. It turns out that he's actually Nathaniel Winter, the millionaire behind the park's construction; having discovered a Place of Power which he could use to imbue himself with magical powers and immortality, he built the park there as part of a bizarre scheme to unlock the power by harnessing the joy of park guests; it worked... but the power he unlocked transformed him into a Bogeyman.
  • The Hidden in Diablo are describes as "the boogeymen that haunt our dreams and live in the nightmares of children." Since they're servants of the Lord of Terror, they're one of the few monsters in the original game that match the theme of the Demon Lord they're assigned to. In practice, they're bug-eyed humanoid monsters that stay invisible until they're right next to you, which can be pretty scary.
  • The Big Sisters of Bioshock 2 serve as this both in Rapture and on the surface. In There's Something In The Sea, they've become legendary for stealing children from all along the coastlines of the Atlantic, breaking into houses in the middle of the night and leaving behind only a vague glimpse of an unusually skinny figure haloed with a glowing red light retreating into the distance. In Rapture, they're actively feared by the inhabitants as brutal enforcers of Lamb's rule, targeting any who dare interfere with the Little Sisters. For good measure, Henry Hall's "Here Comes The Boogeyman" can be heard playing around Rapture from time to time...
  • The Boogeyman games have you play as a child alone in their room, with only a flashlight to keep the titular monster at bay.
  • In What Remains of Edith Finch Molly herself becomes one of these and crawls under her own bed to eat her. Or she just imagined it in her hallucinations after eating toothpaste and holly berries.

  • In Step Monster, this is a minimum wage, minimum respect job for monsters in this setting, effectively the monster version of the Burger Fool. Matilda used to be Mikey's assigned closet monster before necessity forced her to agree to a Promotion to Parent instead.
  • Hark! A Vagrant did a comic about "STRAW FEMINISTS IN THE CLOSET."
  • In Irrational Fears, the author discusses how we have an instinctive fear of monsters under the bed, but know that we are safe under a blanket. Her chupacabra ventures into the world under the bed to confront the monsters there.
  • In Sandra and Woo a monster that chose the wrong closet in which to hide gets its arm lopped off by Yuna. Regardless of whether this actually happened, it does manage to keep David awake the rest of the night staring at his closet, terrified of the monster coming back for revenge.
  • At midnight in Templars of the Shifting Verse, the world is visited by shadowy humanoid figures who talk nonsense and occasionally murder people.
  • Sluggy Freelance: In "Holiday Wars", Bun-bun gains control over the monsters of Halloween and leads them to battle against the turkey forces of Thanksgiving... (What? It Makes Sense in Context, sort of.) There's some talk about "deploying the MUBs," and sure enough, the turkeys' reserves, resting in the garrison, are all eaten by monsters under their beds.
  • Saturday Morning Breakfast Cereal has many parodies about parents' weird responses to kids complaining about monsters under their beds (eg. one monster comes out to complain about how the father started lecturing about the relativity of "under"), or the parents themselves pretending to be monsters that invade the kids' bedroom, etc.
  • In the NSFW webcomic The Monster Under the Bed, there's, well, a monster under the protagonist's bed. She's pretty cute. Her (all-female) clan has the ability to enter our world through the shadow under people's beds, and they're in a sort of friendly rivalry with the (all-male) clan who enter reality through children's closets. They collect fear energy, but love energy is way more powerful-but also more dangerous to collect.
  • Zigzagged in Pebble and Wren where monsters do hide in closets and under beds to scare children, but they often make friends with the children and some even work in human institutions (Wren's principal is a monster for instance).
  • Parodied in a Safely Endangered comic strip, which shows a boy calling for his father, saying that there's a monster under the bed and it's the most horrible thing he's ever seen. The Reveal? He's in a bunk bed and the "monster" is his younger sibling, who sadly asks, "Why do you hate me, brother?"

    Web Original 
  • The SCP Foundation contains a number of creatures seemingly inspired by various boogeyman legends from across the globe. One such example is SCP-5768 (the 'Voice-Taker'), a ghostly figure with a large mouth and a beard of flies who steals the voices of naughty children. Another is SCP-5294, a Humanoid Abomination known as 'Granny Rat Tail', who resembles an elderly lady possessing a rat's tail, with a large eyeball at its tip. During the early nineteenth century, she was known to visit the small town of Brownsborough Massachusetts, flying on an enchanted wooden spoon, and extend her eye-tail down house chimneys in order to find and steal young babies to cook and eat them.
  • Why, the Slender Man, of course! He's normally shown as appearing in the night, although he doesn't always go bump. Furthermore, the idea of this trope is the premise for the Tribe Twelve episode Night Recording.
  • Rocoulm, a.k.a. the Horrible Painting, who has lurked in Strong Mad's closet since the Brothers Strong were little.
    Rocoulm: Come on in heeeere...
  • The Shadowlurker meme, a.k.a Horrifying House Guest, Never Alone or Uninvited Guest, the advice animal version of this.
  • Vladimir Stane from The Wanderer's Library meets one, "The Ol' Biglio", which leads him into Hades.
  • A lot of Creepy Pastas star horrifying things crawling around the doomed protagonists' homes. Including, yes, hiding under the bed or in the closet.
  • One video from Daywalt Horror has a child asking her mother to check under the bed each night. After repeating for a few nights, the mother looks again... coming face to face with such a horror. She then comes back up, looks down at her daughter with a smile, and says "Nothing there. Goodnight!" and turns out the light.]
  • Jasper of Camp Camp is terrified of the terrible creatures that visit the mansion on Spooky Island on the new moon and bump in the night. The 'creatures' are actually adults who go to the abandoned island to have extremely kinky sex. Jasper is the ghost, and he's none too happy about the living adults who mess around in his (haunted) house.
    Jasper: And then the bumping in the night starts, and then they bump and they bump and...

    Western Animation 
  • 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.
  • The Boogeyman appeared as a recurring villain in The Grim Adventures of Billy & Mandy where he was The Grim Reaper's middle school bully and still has a bone or two to pick with him. Despite being a total Jerkass, the only person he's ever scared was Irwin.
  • 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".
  • 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."
    "I know." (eyes glow red)
    • In another sketch, a father gets tired of his son complaining there's a Boogeyman and asking for a glass of water, so he hides in the closet without the kid knowing to prove there is no Boogeyman. To his horror, he finds out the real reason his son needs a glass of water is because he plays very...naughty games with his teddy bear.
    (the father is heard crying in the closet)
  • 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 has as the main protagonist a small green monster called Mr. Bumpy that lives under a young boy's bed and eats socks and dust-bunnies. His best friend is a blue slime monster that lives in the house's bathroom (and is a bit of a neat-freak). Neither of them is scary, and Mr, Bumpy acts more like a traditional boggart (trickster) than anything else. There is, however, a scary closet monster made up of dirty clothes, with coat-hanger claws and a washing-basket shell like a turtle.
  • Tiny Toon Adventures:
    • Referenced in one episode where Buster and Babs were scaring each other so they could introduce the show. At one point, Buster comes out of a closet wearing a Classical Movie Vampire costume behind Babs, and says "Bump."
    • In another episode, monsters who scare kids consider having to do so to Sneezer one of the worst jobs, and the unlucky one who ends up doing it becomes scared of him. Afterwards, he starts to think about going to night school to learn how to be a tooth fairy or an Easter bunny or "some other imaginary creature".
  • 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 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.
  • One episode of Bat Pat dealt with the protagonists finding a monster named Melvin under Martins' bed. Althoug Melvin turns out to be very friendly, he is rather annoying because his loud snoring keeps Martin up all night. So the kids try to find him some other place to sleep.
  • The main antagonist of the Danger Mouse episode "Demons Aren't Dull" is a demon from the fourth dimension who is a fully paid-up member of the union of Diabolical, Delinquent, Dimensional Demons which is an affiliate of Gremlins, Ghouls, Ghosts and Things That Go "Whaaaaooooo!!" in the Dark.
  • Wishfart: In the episode "Clip, Clop, We Won't Stop", Dez's childhood baby shoes are brought to life by a wish and make him do a bunch of things from his childhood bucket list, with the last being to get rid of the monster living under his bed. However, the monster was always just a figment of Dez's imagination, so he can't complete it. When the shoes won't leave Dez alone about the last task though, Puffin wishes the monster was real, creating a tentacled Living Shadow that turns everything it touches into nothingness. It ultimately turns out to be a projection created by the shoes themselves, as the imagined monster had just been shadows projected by the young Dez placing his shoes in front of his night light with a fan turned on.

    Real Life 
  • 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.


Video Example(s):

Alternative Title(s): Monster Under The Bed, Bogeyman



Bug-A-Boo is a monster the hides under people's beds to scare them.

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Main / ThingsThatGoBumpInTheNight

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Main / ThingsThatGoBumpInTheNight