Things That Go Bump in the Night

Everything About Fiction You Never Wanted to Know.
"From ghoulies and ghosties and long-leggety beasties and things that go bump in the night, good Lord, deliver us!"
Scottish Prayer

The bogeyman in your closet. The monster 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 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.

(If you're very very lucky, they may merely end up being a Peek a Bogey Man, but don't count on it...)

Frequently found in concert with an Ironic Nursery Tune. Not to be confused with being kept awake by neighbors having nightly fun.

See also Never Sleep Again.

Examples of Things That Go Bump in the Night include:

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.
  • Phil Foglio's XXXenophile had a couple of adult twin sisters find out there really is a monster under their bed listening to their fun—and then have a threesome with it.


  • The movie Monster in the Closet is a comedic riff on this idea, in which it is revealed that the indestructible titular entity needs closets to survive, and the only way to kill it is to destroy every closet in the world.
  • The (comedic) film Little Monsters is about a young boy getting dragged into the monster-filled world under his bed.
  • Briefly shows up in The Monster Squad, when the Mummy is hiding in one kid's closet.
  • One, two, Freddy's coming for you...
  • Cesare from The Cabinet of Dr. Caligari has some aspects of this. He's certainly very boogiemanish.
  • The movie Darkness Falls transforms the otherwise innocuous childhood mythological figure of the Toothfairy into one town's bogeyman, and one man's life-long nightmare.
    • Tooth Fairies are given a similiar treatment in Hellboy II. As Prince Nuada puts it: "I will show you why you once feared the dark."
    • And again in Supernatural.
  • 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"

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

  • The film Monsters, Inc.. depicts this general situation from the monsters' point of view.


  • Stephen King did a short story called The Bogeyman (published in the collection Night Shift) about a grown-up who 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.
    • King seems to really like this trope; it also makes an appearance in The Langoliers, where the titular monsters begin as a boogieman story but turn out to be very real.
    • 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.
    • 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.
    • A Donald Duck story featured pretty much exactly the same plot, except it didn't take place in space but on an island where Scrooge McDuck wanted to build a vacation center.
  • Boggarts in the Harry Potter books like to hide under beds, closets, and cupboards.
  • In the Discworld novels, bogeymen are a species of creature which like to hide behind doors or under beds, and 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...'

    • A fireplace poker also works, in a pinch.
    • 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.
  • Older Than Print: 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 boogieman.
  • 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 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.

Live Action TV

  • The '80s Twilight Zone revival did an episode with a "Shadow Man" who lived under a kid's bed when he wasn't out terrorizing the neighborhood. The kid's attempt to use this fact to his advantage ended very very badly.
  • An episode from the '90s version of The Outer Limits featured not-Mulder and not-Scully investigating missing children for this reason.
  • 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, a closet Witch, 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.
  • 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 Ax Crazy killer in the closet, etc. etc.
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • The enemies of the Samurai Sentai Shinkenger, the Gedoushu, are these. They can even crawl out of crevices literally everywhere on Earth.
  • Sci Fi's Sanctuary is promoted lampshading this: "Even things that go bump in the night need protection"!
  • The Woogyman (mispronounced as such due to young Phoebe's buck teeth) from Charmed.


  • 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.
  • 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

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

  • 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

Newspaper Comics

  • Gary Larson often used this trope in The Far Side; one strip plugged a "Monster Snorkel", which let you breathe under your bed-covers without exposing even an inch of skin to attack. In the introduction to one of his strip collections, he tells how his older brother hid in his (Gary's) closet one night and slloooowllyy slid open the door...
    • In the same collection, he notes that one of the monsters above the blanket (the wolf one) is one of his own childhood boogiemen.
    • Another one featured two boogiemen frightened by the possibility that there may be something lurking on top of the bed.
  • Calvin of Calvin and Hobbes often had to battle under-the-bed monsters; one of the comic's strip-collections was even titled Something Under the Bed Is Drooling. Another book contained 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.

Tabletop Games

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. Indeed, in the prequel Birth By Sleep, the Heartless were well nigh absent in most areas (with the less deadly Unversed being the main enemies). Unfortunately, by the time the games take place, they've eaten their way out from the shadows and infest almost all outdoor areas, leaving the untrained protagonist Sora dumped into hostile environments with Things That Go Bump in the Night constantly homing in on him.
  • The final monster in the Infocom Interactive Fiction game The Lurking Horror is described in these terms.
  • The main premise of videogame Scratches.
  • In Adventurer Mode of Dwarf Fortress, peasants warn you about not traveling at night or sleeping somewhere outside civilization, lest the bogeymen get you. Bogeymen are quite real; infinitely spawning little blighters that will One-Hit Kill you if you're asleep, and dissolve in the sunlight.
  • 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 and hissing.
    • 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.
  • The Pokémon 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.
  • 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.

Web Comics

Web Original

  • 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.

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.

  • 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)

  • 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 Atheists in regards to the existence of the Boogeyman.
  • The first Martin Mystery episode has a boogeyman as the Monster of the Week. He kidnaps naughty children and takes them to his storybook bog world.
  • 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 had as the main protagonist a small green monster that lived under a young boy's bed who ate socks and dust-bunnies, called Mr Bumpy. His best friend was a blue slime-monster that lived in the house's bathroom (who was a bit of a neat-freak.) Neither of them were scary, and Mr Bumpy acted more like a traditional boggart (trickster) than scary. There was, however, a scary Closet Monster made up of dirty clothes, with coat-hanger claws and a washing-basket shell like a turtle.
  • The rather obscure 80's cartoon show 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.
  • Referenced in Tiny Toon Adventures; Buster and Babs were scaring each other so they could introduce the show. At one point, Babs comes out of a closet wearing a Varley type vampire costume behind Buster, and says "Bump."
  • 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.

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.
  • 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.