This article is documented from relevant sources
All information presented in this article is carefully documented from reliable sources. The Ancient Theory team is constantly striving to improve and update the content offered to our readers.

The Chilling Tale of Slender Man: What Is the Origin of the Internet’s Most Feared Monster?

Ancient Theory

Author: Ancient Theory

Published: March 3, 2023 / Updated: March 3, 2023

Slender Man, a menacing paranormal entity, is often depicted as a towering figure, standing 8 to 10 feet tall, with thin, elongated arms hanging eerily near its knees.

This page may contain links to products/services. Ancient Theory may earn a commission on sales made through these links.

The Chilling Tale of Slender Man: What Is the Origin of the Internet’s Most Feared Monster?

This ghastly creature, also known as Slender Man (or Slendeman), first emerged as a fictional character in 2009, garnering widespread attention as an internet phenomenon. 

Slender Man is characterized by a featureless face and dons a black suit, with published accounts describing its ability to extend its arms like snakes and, in later iterations, to have multiple tentacles.

One of Slender Man’s most sinister qualities is its supernatural powers, with accounts suggesting that it can teleport or move with lightning-fast speed. 

Merely being in the presence of this terrifying creature can induce in its potential victims severe insomnia, temporary memory loss, paranoia, or uncontrollable coughing fits.

The Origin of the Slender Man Urban Legend

The Slender Man’s myth originated on the Something Awful forum in 2009 after administrators partnered with similar websites, such as the well-known Creepypasta, to host a unique competition. 

The challenge was to digitally manipulate ordinary photographs into disturbing images. These images had to be accompanied by short horror stories. 

Thousands of horror enthusiasts participated in the competition, with the most attention drawn to two particular photographs.

Slenderman - fotografie Eric Knudsen (Victor Surge)
Slenderman – fotografie Eric Knudsen (Victor Surge)

On June 10, 2009, a user known as “Victor Surge,” whose real name is Erik Knudsen, uploaded two black-and-white photos of children playing in a park. 

Upon closer inspection, forum users noticed a strange figure lurking in the background, seemingly stalking the children. 

One of the photographs was accompanied by a chilling description:

One of the two photographs recovered from Stirling City Library. The pictures were taken on the day 14 children disappeared without a trace and show this strange silhouette that investigators have dubbed ‘Slender Man.’ The deformities were cataloged as defects of the film. Stirling City Library was destroyed by a devastating fire a week later. The actual pictures were confiscated by authorities – 1986. 

Photographer: Mary Thomas, disappeared on June 13, 1986.

The images posted by Erik Knudsen rapidly went viral, with the mysterious figure in the background evoking an almost primal fear among viewers. 

Despite the crude editing, the photos sparked widespread fear, with some forum users asserting that they were more than mere graphic processing and should be removed from the competition.

Other users disseminated the images on various websites and forums, contributing to the proliferation of the Slender Man myth. 

Erik Knudsen later clarified that the two photographs had been edited using Photoshop and that the enigmatic entity was, in fact, an image of the “Tall Man” played by Angus Scrimm in the 1979 horror film “Phantasm.”

The Story Takes a Strange Turn

Despite Erik Knudsen’s explanations, only some were convinced. 

Conspiracy theorists strongly believed that there were actual events behind the story. They launched their own investigation to discover the truth behind the myth.

Surprisingly, amateur investigators obtained some evidence proving the myth’s veracity and the creature’s existence. 

According to the investigators, Knudsen was inspired by an ancient legend that dates back thousands of years.

The first images referring to a creature similar to the one described by Knudsen were cave paintings discovered in the Serra da Capivara National Park in Brazil, believed to date back to 9,000 BC. 

The paintings depict a sinister figure with extended arms leading a child by the hand.

Another possible reference comes from Egypt, where a painting depicting a humanoid creature with six arms was discovered in a tomb in 2000. 

Archaeologists and egyptologists who studied the hieroglyphs on the tomb walls concluded that the drawing represented a creature from the “other side” who “led the sick children to the gods.”

A third piece of evidence presented by paranormal enthusiasts is the work of a famous German sculptor, Hans Freckenberg. 

In the mid-16th century, he is said to have created a sculpture depicting the character Der Ritter (“The Knight”). 

While Freckenberg was renowned for his realistic depictions of human anatomy, this sculpture appeared to depict a skeleton with multiple arms. 

However, this evidence was immediately contested and proven false, as the initial engraving showed the skeleton with only two arms.

Der Grosmann - Medieval Images
Der Grosmann – Medieval Images

Der Grossman

The Black Forest in Germany is the birthplace of many German myths, including the legend of Der Grossman (The Tall Man). 

According to some experts, the myth originates in medieval villages and towns south of the Black Forest.

The legend of Der Grossman speaks of a strange creature that lived hidden in the depths of the forest at the foot of Feldberg Mountain. 

A journal from 1702 recounts:

My boy, Lars… he’s gone. He was taken from his own bed… gone without a trace. All I found in his room was a small piece of black fabric made of a material I was unfamiliar with. It is soft and pleasant to the touch, thicker than hemp. Lars came to me yesterday, screaming as loud as his lungs could take him that ‘The Man is outside!’ I asked him who he was referring to, and he began to tell me about ‘Der Grossman’ who was stalking him for being disobedient. Lars told me he first saw ‘Der Grossman’ at the forest’s edge a few days back. He said he saw him again yesterday, hidden in the barns. The animals were terribly scared. One of the cows vanished too. I didn’t pay him any mind… but now, Lars is gone. This morning I saw something strange at the edge of the forest. I feel like I’m being watched. I have to find Lars, and we have to leave this cursed place. I’m sorry, my boy… I should have listened to you. God forgive me and give me strength.

According to the tale, disobedient children who venture into the forest without their parents’ consent are cruelly pursued by Der Grossman. 

He stalks them and takes them from their beds, dragging them into the forest’s depths.

Those who manage to find their way back home are not spared from the curse of the Tall Man until they promise their parents that they will not repeat the mistake again.

Bloodthirsty Attacks Attributed to Slender Man

Bloodthirsty Attacks Attributed to Slender Man

News of ghastly crimes, terrorist attacks, and violence in seemingly peaceful communities is a dime a dozen. 

In recent years, however, more and more violence has been attributed to the myth of Slender Man. One example is the incident on May 31, 2014, in Waukesha, Wisconsin.

During what seemed like a simple game of hide-and-seek, two 12-year-old girls, Anissa Weier and Morgan Geyser attacked and stabbed their classmate, Payton Leutner, 19 times.

Anissa and Morgan used a 10-cm kitchen knife, stabbing Payton in the legs, hands, and back. Two slashes reached vital organs, and another pierced her heart, stopping just short of an artery.

After being left in the woods in a pool of blood, Payton was able to crawl to a narrow path, where she was found unconscious by a bicyclist who happened to pass by.

“If the blade had gone in a millimeter deeper, the victim wouldn’t have survived,” said Dr. John Keleman, the surgeon who operated on Payton.

During interrogation, the two suspects said they had committed the attack to “please Slender Man,” whom they believed was real and lived in an abandoned house at the forest’s edge.

In 2017, after an almost three-year trial, Anissa and Morgan pleaded “guilty” to all charges and were committed to a psychiatric hospital.

The gruesome incident in Waukesha was the subject of an HBO documentary titled “Beware the Slender Man.”

Another incident occurred on September 14, 2014, in Port Richey, Florida, where a 14-year-old teenager set her own home on fire while her mother and 9-year-old brother were inside. 

Police later discovered that the young girl was obsessed with the myth of Slender Man and actively participated in discussions on forums dedicated to the creature.

What Is the Truth?

Is Slender Man more than just another internet-created monster? Is there more to the story imagined by Erik Knudsen? 

Most fans of the terrifying creature would say, “yes, Slender Man has its roots in much older myths and legends.”

Tall man - Slenderman

This, however, has never been proven. Like many internet-created creatures, Slender Man is a simple story created to win an unusual contest.

The association between the urban legend of Slender Man and the old myths about the “Tall Man” has significantly contributed to Slender Man’s current popularity, especially in the online world.

“The Tall Man,” on the other hand, is encountered in one form or another in many myths and legends worldwide. 

The mysterious, very tall, gaunt man dressed in black, who always portends some dire event, has been and continues to be the subject of many horror stories.

At Ancient Theory we only use trusted sources to document our articles. Such relevant sources include authentic documents, newspaper and magazine articles, established authors, or reputable websites.

  • Slender Man - [Source]
  • Caitlin Dewey - The complete history of 'Slender Man,' the meme that compelled two girls to stab a friend. The Washington Post.
  • S.M. Walsh - Victor Surge, Slender Man Creator: 5 Fast Facts You Need to Know.
  • Create Paranormal Images - The Something Awful Forums.
  • The Evolution of Folklore - Talekeeper.
  • Mehera Bonner - The True Story of Slender Man Is So Much Creepier Than You Ever Realized.
  • What is Slender Man, and what does it have to do with the Wisc. stabbing? - NY Daily News.
  • Bryn Lovitt - Slender Man: From Horror Meme to Inspiration for Murder.