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Web Original / The Smiling Man

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The Smiling Man is a short Creepypasta written by L.S. Riley, originally published by him on Reddit's LetsNotMeet forum in April 2012 under the username blue_tidal.

An unnamed man has trouble sleeping. So as not to disturb his roommate by staying up in their apartment, he takes long walks in the city in the middle of the night. On one walk, he turns onto a side street and encounters a strange man who can't seem to stop smiling.

One of the most famous examples of Creepypasta, it has been imitated, adapted and parodied numerous times. Read it here. Alternatively, watch a short film based on it here, an animation based on it here, or listen to The Nosleep Podcast's adaption here.


The Smiling Man provides examples of:

  • The Adjectival Man
  • Based on a True Story: Allegedly. Briefly, there was even a Reddit sub dedicated to people supposedly spotting him in their cities.
  • Deer in the Headlights: Seeing the Smiling Man and his strange dance leaves the narrator frozen with fear.
  • Maybe Magic, Maybe Mundane: Just who was the Smiling Man? A ghost? A demon? Just an insane person? Or did he even exist at all?
  • No Name Given: The narrator and The Smiling Man are both left without names.
  • Nothing Is Scarier: The Smiling Man's strange dances and movements are never explained as well as who he was or what he was doing out in the street.
  • Sanity Slippage: One of the possible interpretations of the story is that the narrator's insomnia and exhaustion due to lack of sleep caused him to imagine the whole encounter.
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  • Slasher Smile: Well, duh.
  • Surreal Horror: The Smiling Man's dancing comes across as this.


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