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The Peek-a-Boogieman is one level more harmless than the Harmless Villain. He's (almost always) a cartoon monster who is more of a jerk than "evil." He takes advantage of the frightening image for which other more industrious of his kind have labored, and uses his existence to frighten people.

"Boo!" And then he laughs when they run away. This is all he does. Sometimes it's his designated job. He probably wouldn't know what to do if someone wasn't frightened of him, which is often An Aesop.

Characters should be careful about what genre they are in, because true horror movie ghosts often pretend to be this to lull their so-called "Genre Savvy" prey into a false sense of security. Alternately, all it takes is one good scare to trigger a Fright Deathtrap.

Often the foil of the Reluctant Monster. Compare to the Noble Demon, who is a more serious version of this. Shouldn't be confused with the real Bogeyman. Not to be confused with the actually scary Peek-a-Boo Corpse.

Examples of Peek-a-Boogieman include:

Advertising[edit | hide | hide all]

  • The Hamburglar in the McDonald's commercials once fit the Harmless Villain Trope, but sometime around the mid-80s they made him cuter, funnier, and friendlier, placing him in this Trope. The Goblins (later renamed the Fry Guys) were the same.

Comic Books[edit | hide]

  • A decidedly adult spin is put on this trope in the XXXenophile story "The Monster Under the Bed".

Film[edit | hide]

  • Stuart, Cyrus, and Judge in The Frighteners.
  • This is what the Harvesters used to be, with a side order of Physical God -- Emotion Eaters by nature, they instilled fear of themselves in humanity so they'd always have a ready supply of food. By the film's beginning, they've mostly abandoned this (having discovered the addictiveness of the fear humans feel in the moments before death), but Gray is still at it, keeping his conscience pure.

Literature[edit | hide]

  • Schleppel the bogeyman in Reaper Man.
    • Actually, Schleppel doesn't even do that. Other bogeymen hide under beds or in wardrobes and then leap out to scare people. Schleppel just stays there... at first.

Video Games[edit | hide]

  • The normal species of ghosts that hang from the ceiling in Luigi's Mansion. All they do is drop down to scare Luigi, and then vanish. (However, there is a subspecies that attacks with bombs.)
    • Blue ghosts also act like this; they pop out to scare Luigi, then run.
    • In the sequel, Gold Greenies are like the Blue ghosts in the first game. (Except the two that come out of the hockey goal in the fourth mansion, which do attack.)
  • Tatara Kogasa from Touhou. She's a karakasa that eats surprise.
  • The Lurking Tempest from the Vortex Pinnacle dungeon in World of Warcraft. It pretends to be dead when you're facing it, then pops up and flings lightning bolts when you're not.
  • Spend too long in the Krypt in Mortal Kombat 9, and the Krypt Monster will appear; he's an ugly looking fellah, but all he does is scare the player and run away. He sometimes even leaves a few Koins.

Web Comics[edit | hide]

  • Squidge the Bogey from Tales of the Questor. It's implied that his people have an entire culture/economy based around scaring children and extorting food and trinkets out of them.

Western Animation[edit | hide]

Real Life[edit | hide]

  • A Real Life example would be any dressed-up worker at a haunted house, mostly because of the fact that they aren't allowed to touch people, for obvious reasons.