The Smiling Man: A Terrifying Urban Legend from Seattle

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Written By Razvan Radu

Adventurer. Storyteller. Paranormal investigator. Cryptozoology enthusiast.

Have you ever heard the story of The Smiling Man? It’s a horror urban legend that first gained popularity on April 6, 2012, when a Redditor named blue_tidal shared his eerie experience on the /r/LetsNotMeet subreddit.

The tale describes a man who encountered a bizarre, smiling figure (The Smiling Man) while walking alone at night in the suburbs of a major U.S. city (which many believe to be Seattle, Washington).

But is that all there is to it? Some say there’s more to the legend than meets the eye. Others claim to have seen The Smiling Man themselves, lurking in the shadows, watching, stalking.

So, what do you think about The Smiling Man? Could there be any truth behind this unsettling urban legend, or is it just a spine-tingling story?

An empty suburban street at night with flickering streetlights and long shadows

A Too Quiet Nighttime Stroll

“Finally! Some peace and quiet after the chaos of the day.”

He always looked forward to his nightly walks. It was his little escape and daily ritual that always helped him clear his mind from all the craziness at home and work.

Nevertheless, he was a man of habit. He always walked the same path, every night, without exception. Why? Because years ago, he discovered it was the most efficient route through his neighborhood.

“Oh, they don’t know what they are missing. They don’t know how to appreciate this suburban life. But I love it.”

Of course, he was living in a close-gate community. The kind of place where kids could leave their bikes on lawns and porch lights glowed warmly in the evening.

But something was different that night. The neighborhood was cloaked in an unsettling silence. It wasn’t even 11:00 p.m., and everything seemed dead—just profound stillness.

Some distant streetlights flickered, casting long, distorted shadows across the deserted sidewalks. The only sound breaking the quiet was a slight breeze’s faint rustle of leaves.

“Why does it feel so weird tonight? It’s never been this quiet before. Maybe it’s just my imagination, but something seems off. Maybe everyone just turned in early. Yeah, that’s probably it. But still… why do I feel like I’m being watched? Come on, get a grip. It’s just a normal walk. Just like every other night.”

The houses stood dark and silent. Empty porches, rocking chairs swaying gently in the breeze, and garden gnomes seemed to take on a sinister life under the dim light.

Cat crossing a dark suburban street at night

He heard something. He turned around and tried to figure out where it came from. Just a stray cat running across the road. It stopped for a moment, and its eyes flashed briefly before it vanished into the shadows.

“It’s chilly.”

The air was cool and crisp. But he enjoyed the cold. He wasn’t really a “summer guy.” So the cold was just perfect for him to feel the stress of the day slowly ebbing away.

“Yet, something’s not right.”

He feels like he is being watched. An unexplained tension that made the hairs on the back of his neck stand up.

“I must be paranoid.

But the feeling persisted, stirring up memories he thought were long buried. Flashbacks. A strange night from his childhood, waking up to the sound of creaking floorboards, convinced someone was in the house.

He was just a child, but he still remembers the fear, the heart-pounding terror, as he hid under the covers until morning.

“Get a grip,” he muttered to himself. “It’s just a normal walk. Just like every other night.”

Yet, his eyes kept darting to the shadows, and his pace quickened despite his efforts to stay calm. The comforting routine of his nightly stroll felt shattered, replaced by a creeping dread he couldn’t shake.

The Smiling Man under a flickering streetlight

The Smiling Man

At one point, he noticed a stranger about a hundred feet away. At first, he thought nothing of it. Just a drunk. But the man’s movements made him stop and observe more closely.

The stranger moved with an unsettling grace, almost as if he were gliding rather than walking. Each step was deliberate, precise, and eerily fluid, like a professional ballerina performing a dark, twisted dance.

“What’s this guy up to?”

The man leaped from one foot to the other, executing complex pirouettes with effortless precision.

His limbs flowed with an unnatural elegance, bending and twisting in mesmerizing and horrifying ways. The more he watched this bizarre figure, the more he felt an inexplicable sense of dread.

“Why do I feel so uneasy?” he thought, his pulse quickening. “This isn’t normal. Should I keep watching or just get out of here?”

As the stranger drew closer, his peculiar traits became more apparent.

“He’s way too tall.”

Yes. The man was unusually tall—almost grotesquely elongated—with a gaunt, skeletal frame that made him look like a twisted shadow. His old, weathered suit hung loosely on his bony shoulders, and his shoes were scuffed and worn.

But it was the man’s face that truly unnerved him.

The strange man’s head was tilted to a side, and his hollow eyes were fixed unblinkingly on the night sky.


A bizarre grin stretched across his face, unnaturally wide, as if his mouth had been cut ear to ear. His skin was pale, almost translucent, giving him a ghostly appearance, and his lips were thin and bloodless.

All his instincts screamed at him to run… to get as far away from this nightmarish figure as possible.

“Get out of here, now!”

He bolted across the street, far enough to avoid any contact with the Smiling Man.

As he looked back, the creepy man vanished into the shadows. Or at least that’s what he thought.

“What the hell was that?”

Man stumbling and falling on a dark street at night

A Desperate Escape

It clearly wasn’t the best night for a walk. So he decided to get back home, picking up the pace. The street was darker here, the shadows more profound and more menacing.

Suddenly, he heard a faint sound behind him—a soft, almost rhythmic tapping, like dancing shoes tapping on the sidewalk. Tap. Tap-tap. Tap. He glanced back but saw nothing.

“What is that?” he thought, panic rising. “Is someone following me?”

The tapping continued, growing louder and more insistent: Tap-tap. Tap-tap. Tap-tap.

He turned around, and his heart nearly stopped. The Smiling Man was right there, just a few feet away.

“What the hell? How did it got there?”

Every instinct was telling him to run, to escape this nightmare.

But he couldn’t. There was something mesmerizing about the Smiling Man. His movements were smooth. Relentless. Precise. A twirl of strange pirouettes.

Suddenly, the creature lunged forward at incredible speed. The skinny figure sprinted with unnatural swiftness, his body hunched forward, and his long arms flailing like they were caught in a gust of wind.


He finally convinced his feet to listen, and he bolted. His heart was pounding so hard he thought it might burst.

He stumbled several times, hitting the pavement hard. His hands were scraped raw, blood seeping from the torn skin. His knees were bruised and battered, the fabric of his pants shredded. The sharp pain shot through his body.

But he couldn’t stop. The sound of his own ragged breathing filled his ears, mingling with the sinister rustle of the creature’s approach.

“Get up! You have to keep moving!” he urged himself, fueled by a primal survival instinct. He got up again and again, driven by a force that seemed determined to save his life.

“Just run. Don’t look back!”

He could feel the creature’s heavy breath right behind him. The Smiling Man was so close, emanating a putrid, suffocating stench that reeked of decay and death. The overwhelming stench of a bloodthirsty walking… corpse.

Dark and menacing figure seen through the front door's peephole at night

The Final Confrontation

Completely drained of energy and bleeding, he finally reached his house. There it was. Home sweet home. A glimmer of hope.

He struggled over the wooden fence, his muscles screaming in protest. With his last bit of strength, he opened the door and stumbled inside, slamming it shut behind him. Safety. The familiar surroundings of his home offered a fragile sense of security.

But this sense of safety was short-lived.

Suddenly, a thunderous crash shook the door, and the entire house seemed to tremble. The creature slammed into the front door, nearly knocking it off its hinges.

He could hear the guttural growls and hisses from the other side, each more inhuman than the last. All he could do was press his back against the door, his eyes wide with terror as he tried to brace it with his weight.

“Stay out, stay out!”

Then, after what felt like an eternity, the pounding stopped. Instead, the Smiling Man made a few guttural sounds, like a low, menacing growl.

“What is it doing? I have to see it.”

He peeked through a small crack in the door.

The cheerful, grotesque smile twisted into a horrible, decayed sneer. The smooth, pale skin now appeared cracked and rotten, revealing patches of raw, dead flesh beneath. Once wide and gleeful, its eyes were now hollow and lifeless, glowing with a malevolent light.

The creature stood there for a few moments and then slowly moved away from the door, its body convulsing and twisting with each step.

It slunk behind the large tree in the front yard. But he could still see it. He could still see those haunting, glowing eyes watching him from behind the tree, under the darkness’s cover.

“Is it waiting for me to go out?”

Suddenly, the same Smiling Man emerged with his pale skin and ballet-like movements. He danced away, leaping gracefully from one leg to the other.

Smiling, he faded into the darkness of the unlit streets.

Was it looking for another victim? The young man couldn’t shake the feeling that this wasn’t over.