Shadow People

Sometime in the 90’s a new phenomena started to occur in the world of the paranormal.  A figure often seen dashing out of the corner of your eye or you see this figure in your peripheral vision, when you turn to look at it, it is already gone.  This phenomenon has been dubbed floaters by optometrist Shadow People.

So what are the characteristics of this “other worldly being”?  According to Paranormal Researcher, Rosemary Ellen Guiley:

There are different types of Shadow People.  The core, dominant experience is the nighttime bedroom visitor: a tall silhouette of a man, often dressed in a coat or cape, and a brimmed hat.  The figure is blacker than black and 3-D, obstructing light and blocking the view of objects.  There are no facial features or eyes (sometimes red eyes are reported), but the experiencer knows he is being observed with great intensity.  The figures do not communicate, but often radiate a malevolent, trickster, or evil intent

In the typical experience, a person wakes up from sleep and sees a Shadow Person in the bedroom.  It stands right at the bedside, in a corner or in the doorway.  It may emerge from a closet or slide out from under the bed.  Some of them come through the walls.
The experiencer is usually terrified and screams.  A reaction often makes the Shadow Person disappear, either by vanishing into thin air, zipping down a hallway, or melting through a wall or ceiling (or back under the bed!).  People may feel paralyzed to do anything but shut their eyes, hoping that the figure will be gone when they open them.  Sometimes it is – and sometimes it isn’t.

Some people feel threatened by the Shadow Person.  It sits on the bed, or presses on them, making them feel as though they will suffocate or choke.  The experience ends before actual physical harm occurs, however. –

First I want to mention, Rosemary just described a condition called sleep paralysis.  I mean she explained it 100%.  I myself suffer from sleep paralysis quite frequently and I understand how vivid and scary they can be.

Sleep paralysis is a feeling of being awake but unable to move. It occurs when a person passes between stages of wakefulness and sleep. During these transitions, you may be unable to move or speak for a few seconds up to a few minutes.  People having an episode of sleep paralysis may feel pressure or a sense of choking.  These episodes are not pleasant; people who suffer from sleep paralysis say they can feel an evil presence, often related to demons or shadow figures.  Bright lights and little people crowded around one’s bed is also trait of sleep paralysis, which can also explain alien abductions. 

These experiences can be so vivid; the person will actually feel like they are awake when in fact they are not.  It can be intensely scary and it often leads people to search for answers, leading them into the supernatural.  But as we can see, these experiences can be explained rationally.

But there is something else I wanted to talk about when dealing with these shadow people.  Another person by the name of Heidi Hollis claims to have coined the name Hatman, to describe a different “breed” of shadow people.  The description of Hatman is pretty much identical to shadow people, only a few differences:

The Hat Man’s gear consists of what can be described as him wearing a long-black trench coat, three-piece suit, white collared shirt, and a flat rimmed gaucho hat.  Some have even reported seeing a gold watch hanging on his side on a chain.  Some people describe seeing red eyes, others see solid black eyes if they see any eyes at all under the shadow of his hat. 

 He’s described as being pale, tall, thin and may or may not have a noticeable goatee and thin moustache.  He may grin, tip his hat, or stare undeniably at a person at length or briefly. 

 He appears in most any location, but most commonly is reported in people’s bedrooms as they sleep at night.  A feeling comes over the person where they wake up to find him watching them nearby.  –

 After a quick search on google images I was able to find drawings of what people claim Hatman look like.

I found something very odd though.  There is a children’s network called Boomerang that plays reruns of old cartoons from the 70’s.  I caught an episode of Dynomutt, an old childhood favorite of mine.  It was released in 1977 and the episode was titled Shadowman.  I had to take a picture of the villain, re read the description while looking at the picture, he fits them perfectly and his name is even shadownman.


Now I can’t sit here and say that this thing people are calling shadow people are the result of a cartoon, but perhaps some may be, I don’t know, I just thought it was cool. 

However there are people who will ask “what about the shadow person I saw while I was awake?” 

Well usually the people I talk to, they don’t want a logical answer they usually want a supernatural explanation.  However what I think shadow people are is simply one’s brain making a pattern out of the low image quality of peripheral vision.  Another possible explanation could be floaters in the eye.  Or the one I think may be the most common is simply misidentification, seeing a shadow cast from an object and labeling it paranormal.  We have to understand, the human brain can be easily fooled.


About Bobby the Paranormal Skeptic
Bobby Nelson is a skeptic, writer, and co-host of Strange Frequencies Radio. His personal blog can be found online at At one time, Bobby was what could be called a "true believer" in paranormal phenomenon. Having been an active investigator of the paranormal for 12 years with several different Toledo based teams, he has examined countless claims of activity. But years worth of research and investigation proved to him that the evidence for these claims are generally lacking and, furthermore, the vast majority of so-called scientific paranormal investigators were using improper methodologies which caused them to draw both false and misleading conclusions.

11 Responses to Shadow People

  1. Rachel says:

    I always get a kick out of when you tell a believer they just described the symptoms of sleep paralysis and they get so defensive. Hell, if it was a shadow person doing that, I would in a sense feel more relieved. It’s scary to know your own body can freak you out so bad, and so unpredictably.

    And I bet if you dig deeper, you’ll find out Hollis didn’t coin the term Hatman. Same as how Jeff Belanger didn’t coin the term Legend Tripping but how he’s using it to market his own brand of ill-researched woo.

  2. Shadow of a doubt says:

    Like I was saying, the shadow man is the poor man’s simulacrum. It’s such an ambiguous shape. Not to mention the fact that nearly every report starts out ” I was in bed…” that’s a red flag if I’ve ever heard one!

  3. Lou says:

    I’ll say the same thing I said when I first heard about “hatman”. I claim BULLSHIT !! People now seem to make-up new para mysteries to join the original host of characters (ghosts,Bigfoot, UFO, alien,etc) from 30 years ago. Now we have more f’ng creatures than to know what to do with. Agh.

  4. Pam says:

    I experienced a shadow person standing above me while I was in bed about ten years ago before my father’s death. I did not know the term “shadow person”, what they were, what they looked like but only did research after the fact. It did scare the heck out of me and I can see why people are skeptical if they have never experienced it first hand. Luckily I am a credible person, a teacher, do not drink, smoke or do drugs so it was not a hallucination and I am not an attention-seeker by any means. In fact, I do not tell people I do not know well because of the perception. My daughter would tease me about it through the years, but then she had the same thing happen to her in her bedroom one year ago. We know we cannot convince anyone who has not seen it, so hopefully it will happen to you sometime in your lifetime! It’s scary but cool……..

    • Bobby the Paranormal Skeptic says:

      Thank you for your comment. The one red flag I see with your experience is that you were in bed. I don’t doubt what you saw, but I don’t think it was supernatural in origin. You most likely had a hypnagogic experience. I don’t doubt that you are creditable person; however that doesn’t make you infallible to misinterpretation. I mean police officers are creditable; however I would never say, you the evidence you provided is authentic just because they are the Chicago “Paranormal Cops” (which is a team of paranormal investigators by night, cops by day). As a teacher you sure do make a lot of assumptions. I have had many “night terrors,” about 3 a month. I have experienced, shadow people, little gremlins, random featureless people sitting in my room, my house on fire and people breaking into my house where I cannot warm my wife when these occurrences happen because I can’t move. However I know that my experiences are due to sleep paralysis and they are not paranormal in nature, though they seem very real. I would guess this is what happened to you or you had some type of hypnagogic hallucination.

    • Kate says:

      I have seen multiple shadow people. I was never in bed, nor had I just woken up. The first time, I was probably about 8 or 9, and my brothers bedroom was at the end of the hall. He slept in a bunkbed that was pushed up against the wall facing the hallway. My little brother had always been well behaved due to our parents strict rules, although lately he had begun to pull some mischief ie knocking over vases, pulling our dog’s fur etc. After being given a proper spanking he would cry and tell my mother ‘Billy told me to’. He was frequently in his room talking to ‘Billy’. One day as I was leaving my room I turned to look down our very well lit hallway as it was the middle of the day, to see a small shadow sitting upright on my brothers bed. When I cautiously called my brothers name. When I told my mother what I saw, she paled. She is mostly Cherokee and Mohawk indian and told me what I had seen was a shadow spirit. She cleansed the house via incense and scripture. That night my little brother told us without any prompting that Billy had left.

  5. bb says:

    When I was 13 I saw him. I know being a 13 year old doesn’t seem to be too credible, however we experienced a lot of paranormal activity in our apartments due to the land it was built on. We also learned the tennants prior to us performed seyonces in our same apartment AND my mother used to do tarot readings. We later found that she didn’t start doing readings the proper way, and if you read up on tarot you’ll find that you can open many doors that shouldn’t be opened if not practiced/learned the right way. I didn’t know all of this at the time as my mother tried to shield me from any harm or fear. I saw many things, but the shadow man stuck out the most due to the intense feeling of terror I felt. I’ve done my research on sleep there are 5 stages, These five stages may repeat themselves several times in one sleep cycle and during these stages you may experience levels of consciousness, you may wake up, and you may experience sleep paralysis which is common. Then you have REM (stage 5) sleep where you dream, then you may wake up and see things residual from your current dream and consciousness sets in more and more where you may continue to wake or you may simply roll over and go back to sleep. I’ve done this before, there may be some similarities but the shadow man experience was a completely different feeling. Much different from a night mare/terror.
    I was sleeping like normal and all of a sudden something made me feel like I needed to wake. I was facing the wall of my room so I rolled over and opened my eyes and gazed at the doorway. We always kept the hallway light on at night and as I looked there was what I thought to be a figure. To convince myself I was only dreaming I forced myself to look more intensely and wake up. As I did this, sure enought there was a figure looking dead straight back at me with such an intense stare that I couldn’t even scream. He looked a lot like the images above (most like the top picture). After that experience I couldn’t go back to sleep until I was exhausted. I discovered I wasn’t the only one who saw this figure. Talking to neighbors they had experienced some of the paranormal activity we did and had described the shadow man to us not knowing we had saw him too. I felt such a feeling of relief to know I wasn’t imagining things and it wasn’t just a dream.
    I understand being sceptical and trying to apply some logic to the situation, but until you experience it for yourself then you can tell me it was just a dream. How do you explain an adolescent who has never even imagined a shadow figure before and several people with the exact experience around the world? If it were a dream, how would all of these people have the same exact dream with the same exact situation and sensations? You can dream for example of a tornado but your dream of a tornado is going to differ significantly from someone else’s dream. The tornado isn’t going to destroy the same exact tree in everyone’s dream.
    If anyone has any good theories or common experiences let me know.

  6. jim says:

    I have recently started looking at this phenomena. I lost my grandmother many years ago. Visiting her she oftentimes mentioned a man in a hat that was going to take her away. Some times she would insist he was there during visits. At the time I dismissed it as old age her mind is going. Some years after her death my wife’s grandmother become ill with cancer. After treatment and accepting the fact death was certain she was under constant care. During visits with her she reported a very similar visitor. In fact too similar. I was wondering and looking for anyone else who may have gone threw this with a loved one.

  7. sylvia says:

    I have seen the shadow man 2 times . the first time it was when i was young and it wasnt my periphale vesion. i was going to run away from home i got my backpack put my toys in it and my dad said to go so i opend the door and there he was. i remeber seeing nothing but black he had a long balck coat and like the article it had a black hat i got so scared i closed the door and jumped on top of my dad. he said to let him in so i slowly opend the door and he was gone. i will alWays remeber that day because it was a dark and rainy night

  8. sandor139 says:

    I don’t think I saw a Shadow Person, but yesterday (16 November 2012) at 3:00am when I was laying in bed I saw an arm of a ghost who go through the door frame. That was his left arm.

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