Skip to main content

Urban Legends: Slenderman, Bogeyman, and the Big Bad Wolf

Since she was a young girl, Chelsea has been concerned with the supernatural world that surrounds the living.

Goya's "Here Comes the Bogeyman"

Goya's "Here Comes the Bogeyman"

A Cautionary Tale

The Bogeyman is a cautionary tale told to warn against bad behavior. Parents often tell these stories to their children. "Don't misbehave or the bogeyman will get you." We've all heard of these creatures, the monsters that will catch a naughty kid and make them its dinner.

Generally, cautionary tales are used to bring awareness to moral issues. This is society's way of shaping their youth to keep them safe from things deemed harmful.

The Bogeyman is a generic term given to these monsters, and in this article, you'll see how they can be a classic children's story or a more modern, macabre, scary story. We will also explore why the tale of the Bogeyman and the Big Bad Wolf has survived throughout time.

A Greater Power

The Bogeyman is an allusion to a greater power. This creature has no appearance and makes no specific choices. He is merely the vessel for the most basic of cautionary tales, "Don't misbehave or the Bogeyman will get you."

Children are classically terrified of the monsters that live under the bed and in the closet. This fear manifests as the bogeyman. Perhaps because of this, movies and scary stories highlight the bogeymen. He hides under naughty children's beds and grabs at their ankles. When a child doesn't go to sleep on time, their closet becomes his domain.

Depending on where the story is told, the creature will steal the misbehaving child. Some eat them, others take them and make them into other bogeymen. In Japan, the Tengu has only seven days to either make another Tengu or let the naughty child return home, changed forever.

The bogeyman's purpose, through the ages and around the world, has been to establish order, caution children, and aid parents.

A Short Film About the Bogeyman

Types of Bogeymen and Where to Find Them



The Qallupulliat


The Tengu






Baba Yaga



The Big Bad Wolf

The Big Bad Wolf

The Big Bad Wolf

The bogeyman is not the only cautionary tale society knows. There are thousands of them.

  • The witch in the gingerbread house.
  • The murderous hitchhiker.
  • The hook man.
  • The big bad wolf.

Things that all these tales have in common? They all show the dark side of man. Each of these stories illustrates the negative aspect of the human condition. It's all well and proper to want to help a hitchhiker, but beware! He could also be a crazed serial killer.

The big bad wolf is almost as generic a term as the bogeyman. He makes appearances in many classic children's stories.

  • The Boy Who Cried Wolf: Shows us that it is unwise to make up stories. If we do it too often, the truth will be taken for granted.
  • Little Red Riding Hood: Gives us a clear view of the cunning and evil wiles of the bad guys. They will sometimes try and fool the unsuspecting innocent.
  • The Wolf in Sheep's Clothing: Reminds us to be wary of those around us. Though they may seem similar and kind, they could be the enemy in disguise.

Thanks to these and stories like them, children around the globe have a classic understanding of the world we live in.

Modern Day Bogeymen

In today's society, the media and the internet make it much easier to spread urban legends. Because of this, we have far more bogeyman stories to share.


  • The Babadook: This scary movie set in Modern Australia tells of a haunting book that lets us enter a terrifying new bogeyman called the Babadook into the home of a single mother and her child. They have to defeat him to survive.
  • Sinister: This movie tells of numerous family tragedies and their connection. A ghoul that possesses or oppresses the children in the families to commit a murder/suicide. This bogeyman plays for keeps.
  • The Hole: A B-list horror movie that tells of a creature that resides within a hole. It only comes out to terrify children with their deepest fears. Don't worry. You can defeat this bogeyman... if you face it.

The idea behind all these movies is pretty simple. The Bogeyman will get you. However, movies aren't the only place modern Bogeymen are being created.

Enter Slenderman, an internet sensation and bogeyman who has taken over the urban legend world.



A History of Slenderman

In a world of classic scary stories, retold over and over and over again, Slenderman is a fresh, young, modern urban legend bred in the world of the Net.

In 2009, a forum called Something Awful had a photo contest. The idea was to take an average everyday photo and make it creepy. Within this venue, Eric Knudsen created Slenderman. His entry was two pictures of children playing on playground equipment. In the background, the viewer can see a man wearing a black and white suit. His white featureless face stares out at the children around him. His arms are unnaturally long and he seems to have tentacles or tendrils coming from his hands. He is tall and slender.

Since 2009, Slenderman has become a household name, much like the Bogeyman. He has no singular narrative, but is the main focus of many online scary stories, including a video series called, "Marble Hornets."

Slenderman is the modern-day Bogeyman, born of the digital age, hiding in virtual reality, preying on the weak.


The moral of the story?

  • Cautionary tales, while entertaining, have an underlying theme. They help us understand the world we live in while teaching us the ways we are supposed to behave. Our reaction to the moral, and how we use this information, are what make them classically cautionary.
  • Whether modern or classic, the bogeyman or slenderman, these stories have the ability to incite our imagination. The macabre has always held a place of honor in our society and our stories.
  • Be good. Slenderman, Bogeyman, and the Big Bad Wolf may be watching.

© 2016 Chelsea Frasure


JimmyCruzin on June 14, 2018:

The Latin Bogeyman is commonly referred to as the Kookooie. My family used to tell us that if we were awake instead of sleeping then He would see us and come get us. Also, Another modern day Bogeyman is also a pop culture icon, The Shape aka Michael Meyers. Lol just thought I'd throw that in as well.

Annabelle on February 02, 2018:

I will get you signed Annabelle

Chelsea Frasure (author) from Idaho on January 20, 2016:

I saw some of the games in my research. He's terrifying, but also a little awesome! :)

Michaela from USA on January 20, 2016:

Slenderman is also the antagonist of several indie horror video games. :)