The Hat Man: A Shared Shadow Phenomenon

Have you seen the “Hat Man?”

Given the widespread nature of this phenomenon, it’s not unlikely that you have.

Perhaps belonging to the often mystifying “Shadow People,” the so-called Hat Man is a phantom who appears for just an instant, a tall shade wearing old-fashioned clothing and a top hat.

Many say they feel no fear when he materializes, but others think he is the devil himself.

Like the Old Hag, the Hat Man appears to be a global phenomenon, an experience shared by thousands of people around the world.

Many don’t even realize just how widespread this phenomenon is until they’re driven to research it themselves.

What they inevitably find are tales of strange sightings, reports of a tall man, six feet or more, wearing his trademark top or bowler hat. He’ll appear when you least expect him — a quick glance while walking down a hallway, or a shocking reflection in a bathroom mirror. Standing motionless, watching you with a devilish grin on his face, and eyes that glow with some dark light.

When you turn around, he’s gone.

Sightings often occur in the bedroom, while an individual is just getting ready to go to sleep, or just after they’ve woken up. But the Hat Man can and will appear anywhere, in broad daylight and in the presence of others.

Is he a demon? A mischevous spirit? We simply do not know.

Shared Suffering

A shadow walks in the distance
Image: David Werbrouck/Unsplash

The Hat Man. The Old Hag.

What are these entities that seem so pervasive throughout the world? Could they be a type of shared psychological phenomenon, something within the human mind that causes us to interpret these strange experiences in a similar way?

I’m reminded of the fMRI images highlighted in the post Brain Scans Reveal What You See (Sort Of), in which scans of the human mind were used to recreate videos that test subjects had seen.

Many of the figures and people in those images seemed to be place-holders, familiar representations of more complex images. Perhaps this is a way for the brain to handle such complicated information, by comparing them to something familiar they’d seen in the past.

For whatever reason, could a man wearing a top hat have some kind of familiar connotation within our paranormal psyches? Could the vision of an ordinary man in old-fashioned clothing be our mind’s way of “coping with” and interpreting something that we would otherwise be unable to perceive?

Or is there something more nefarious at work, here? Is this “Hat Man” an actual spirit, or some other form of supernatural entity, stalking and visiting individuals around the world for reasons unknown?

I’ve personally never been visited by the Hat Man, but whatever he — or it — is, many people have come to face him, and undoubtedly more will follow.

Update: When I wrote this post eight years ago, I mentioned that the term ‘Hat Man’ may have originated on an episode of Coast to Coast AM. In fact, Coast’s page on the author/shadow person expert Heidi Hollis states that she coined the term, along with ‘Shadow People,’ in her two books on the topic. However, some have contested this. The original page I linked to for this claim no longer exists, but an archive may be found here.


Rob Schwarz

Rob Schwarz is a writer, blogger, and part-time peddler of mysterious tales. Editor-in-chief of Stranger Dimensions.


  1. I think everyone has, at one time or another, seen a shadow out of the corner of their eye-then on second glance, found nothing there. Very interesting……….

    1. I’ve seen him. I was taking a shower and he appeared in front of me and when I blinked he was gone. When I close my eyes I can always see his devilish grin

  2. The hat man I saw and many others also wears a long trench coat and a wide brimmed hat..the top hat and tuxedo describes Baron samedi..a whole different entity..

    1. I have also seen the shadow people a group of them trying to get to me . I was with 2 people who knew them they were wearing long black coats and tall hats like Amish hats they had the road blocked my friend saw them all over out side we ran around and got in the house she told me I had something spiritual gift they wanted it. So I really didn’t know what to think , still today I feel like someone is watching me .

    2. I have seen a man wearing a pilgrim like hat, but he was wearing this old looking flannel shirt, he was typically dressed like a man from the 1990’s. If there is anyone who has seen the same thing please email me. My email address is

  3. The Hat Man I encountered had a laugh like a blast furnace; his Hat–which seemed a leathery ebony breathing skin–held more Hat Men within it; with a slow bow he doffed that rippling top hat, and like Russian nesting dolls the other Hat Men oozed out and repeated the bizarre formality of their introduction process until they surrounded me…

  4. i saw him, but he didnt disappear, he just stood there looking at me, walked up to me after about 20 or 30 seconds,(i was too mesmerized to move) then he walked up to me, swept off his top hat, and introduced himself as “Ebenero”, i dont know how to actually spell the name or pronuonce really, it sounded like: Ebb-in-ear-oh, but anyway, he shook my hand(he had to reach down and pull it up because i wasnt responding) and just vanished. This happened 2 days ago

    1. I sometimes see Shadows that would move along the wall and they can see me I’ve had a lot of bad experiences psychically I hate dead people and what is really scary my kids see it too at first I thought when my daughter told me Mommy make it go away I thought how could she see something from imagination but now my grandkids see things to and tonight we all saw the white cat it was just weird I haven’t seen anything in a long time before this and I was glad

  5. I saw this dark shadow hat man with a big overcoat 2 times in 1982. Super scary!! I prayed to God that I would NEVER see it again and I haven’t. I really never told anyone until recently and then decided to look up on the web to see if anyone else had this experience. CRAZY…so many have. I don’t feel so alone, but doesn’t make it less scary.

    1. That’s how I seen him! He doesnt look like the picture posted. I’ve only seen him twice when I was little. Once when I was about 4, cause i remember i was still just in daycare, woke up in the middle of the night for no reason. I slept with my mom, but I didn’t go to the bathroom, I just had this way of how i got out of bed when i was small that i just slid down the side of the bed under the blankets still to the floor on my hands and knees. Well I didn’t need to use the bathroom and I didnt say anything to my mom, just rolled out… So i crawl just like 5 feet. Her bed was by the exit of the bedroom which lead directly into livingroom. So I was just staring at the figure sitting on the couch in front of the window with legs somewhat crossed, his foot over his knee. I thought it was just my god brother, sitting in the dark for some reason. I was going to stand up to turn the swith on, but I really just didn’t want to stand and felt it was in my best interest not to. I just kinda shoulder shruge and without a word I just turn around and crawled back in bed and went straight to sleep. The second time my family and I moved in a new home from the last visit. I was 12 and taking a bath, with bathroom door wide open. I glance to me left and in the hall he was walking by at that same exact moment. He walks real slow but has a superfast appearance at the same time. Like the control of time is in his control, but he looks cool. That’s the moment I realized that all those years before, I wasnt looking at my god brother on the couch. It was him! When he revisits you’ll know if ever does. He was solid, more than a shadow. I never saw through him either time, alough when I saw him in light he was a shadow color but still I noticed I didnt see the wall or door through him. I saw him twice too. But only as a child. I dont know what it means when adults see him. I wish he were here now. He made me feel lie i could be at ease no matter what. His composure is tranquil, strong and powerful. I am now bothered at this moment by at least 5 of them and they arent big I dont think. But I am so scared. Bibles, holy water, prayers do nothing to it.

      1. Hello, Your comment is the only one that has mentioned that you caught him on camera. I have also I have 3 as a matter of fact. I’m just researching this and happy to know I’m not crazy and it’s not my Grandfather that pasted away when my mother was only 6 months old…she has a picture she sent with him
        In a hat trench coat and boots walking down a side walk..

  6. Im 33 now, but when i was younger maybe 11 -12 i used to be terrified of the dark and didnt sleep. One night i woke to see a silhouette of a man standing in my door way wearing a suit and a bowler hat carrying a suitcase, i hid under the blankets and eventually fell back to sleep. After that night i found i felt more comfortable sleeping in my room and sometimes i would wake with terrors and i would see him in the corner of my room and i would calm , strangest feeling. About 3 years later we moved house and on the 3rd night in the new place i woke up to see him in my doorway again but with his back to me and ive never seen him again

    1. Maybe he felt offended that you moved XD (note: I’m not making fun of you or anybody, it was a joke and should not be taken seriously, please don’t be angry at me)

  7. I also seen the “Hat Man” i was sleeping with at the time my 4yr old who had woken me up saying mommy im scared, I asked why and he said because of that man at the end of the bed and as i turned to look sure enough he was there. I couldnt believe my eyes, I yelled at him Go Away! Leave us Alone! And i turned back to my son and asked him if he still could see him and he said no that he was gone. I assured him he couldn’t hurt us and we began to pray n went back to sleep. Ive seen many spirits in humam form but never confirmed what i was seeing with someone else also seeing the same thing as me. In that home many others have shared to see this man as well.

  8. Saw this thing after waking up in the middle of the night, feeling watched, when I was a child. Tried to scream but no sound came out. It had a bowler hat. Was all black – as if it was a shadow – very tall and wide.
    What differentiates my story, is that it was holding a blue orb in one hand, and a red orb in the other hand.

    I strongly believe that the house I was raised in was/had a portal or something – when I talk about it with my siblings (5 of us now, 1 passed away), we never run out of encounters/happenings/stories to tell each other…We’ve all been through our own Hell in that house. It didn’t surprise me one bit when I was told (after we demolished and used it for a bonfire) that the house was once the house the villagers used to expose the dead, like a funeral home.

    I wonder what the orbs the Hat man was holding could have meant?

    1. Are you sure that wasn’t a sleep paralysis scenario? I’ve had sleep paralysis once before and it seemed like this. (Just asking out of curiosity)

  9. yo vi al hombre del sombr hace ya casi 8 años en octubre del 2010, para ser exacto, yo hiba caminando hacia la casa de mi hermana, pero para cortar el camino me meti a un acantilado donde pasaba un arroyo, serian las 6 de la mañana cuando pase el estaba ahi parado en medio camino, era un hombre alto, como de 2 metros de altura,traia un sombrero negro una capa negra y unas gafas oscuras, cuando estuve frente a el sentido un miedo espantoso como nunca lo habia sentido, se puse a temblar enfrente de el, el no me dijo nada ni me agredio solo se me quedaba mirando, yo me fui y no regrese a ver para atras, pero de ahi a sido como un infierno cai de nueva cuenta en el alcohol y las drogas y se me volvio a presentar un año despues, y ahi si me quiso llevar fue la ultima vez que lo vi, si alguien sabe mas a fondo de esta entidad quisiera me pudiera ayudar por que aunque no lo eh vuelto a ver yo se que el influye en mis emociones, ya no tengo amigos, ni familia, me encuentro practicamente solo, cuando tomo me transformo no soy yo, es algo diabolico que siento que esta manipulandome.

  10. i saw him in 2011 one morning during my sleep paralysis, somehow i could see him even though i was faced the other way, then right when i came out of the sleep paralysis i quickly turned around to look at him and he was gone, i know that he is an evil spirit but there are many of them, i used to think it was only one that was tormenting me. either way they all fear the name of THE LORD JESUS CHRIST!!!!!!!

  11. i have seen him too, like you other guys i woke up middle of night to feeling that someone is watching me.

    i turned around and stared right into his red eyes, i remember that i wasn’t “scared” or “shocked” i remember that i asked him questions.. like “who are you” “what are you doing in my room” and every time i asked question he used to turn his head like a dog and asked me same questions that i asked him.

    i was like 5-8yrs old when i first saw him, i’m now almost 25 and have seen him couple times.

    he definetly is searching something special.

  12. I have seen him too. I was standing in the dark outside my shed while my fiance was inside the shed doing something. I looked up and saw “hat man” silhouette walk from the middle of my house, acrossed my Lawson, and into the next person’s house. Poof he was gone. I think he had a cane but am not sure. It was atmround 2010. I remember the feeling of blood draining from my face, a very weird feeling iver came me, and I looked over at my fiance expecting that he saw it but he said what’s wrong you look like you saw a ghost and I asked him if he saw it nd he saud saw what?!…and then responded no and I freaked out and ran into the house!

  13. I had a dream about him the 1st time when i was 5yrs old. Me and family was at a friends house in Oak Ca,4bed house with an upstairs room, i was upstairs napping. 8am i woke up,but just a little before i woke up this figure with a red hat on and long red trench coat was just standing thier looking at me,i couldnt see his face and he stood only where i can see his side going down the stairs very slowly and could here his footseps like he got on boots.

  14. I’ve seen him twice. Once during sleep paralysis (he was standing over me and ripped the sheets off my bed) another time I saw him standing in the corner when I woke up. I have a sun roof and was able to see this extremely tall man with a top hat, I actually thought it was a friend of mine at first. I felt no fear either time. He was slightly bending his legs and swaying back and forth, an image that still haunts me. I suspect he comes when people are involved in anything New Age related, or some type of witchcraft. I told a friend’s father about it, and he told me to say “in Jesus name, you must leave this place”. I did, and never saw him again. There is no other way to get rid of him. He is absolutely terrified of the name of Jesus. No need to be afraid!

  15. I was about 8 or so. I was in Alabama for a miranda sings show. It was me, my mom, my grandma, my aunt, and my two cousins all in one room. We were at a hotel but i cant remeber because it wasnt a normal hotel like holiday in. It was Alabama hotel. We checked in and had a day or until the show. So the grown ups went to dinner and the bar while me and my cousins were in the hotel hanging out and talking. They come back and we all go bed around 9. At exactly 1:46 am i woke up feeling like somebody was watching me. I was facing my mom (away from the door) and rolled over towards the door. I look over to see a tall black figure wearing a fedora and a black trench coat. He was all black. No face. But he was super tall and skinny with super long arms and legs. He stood by the door for a good 3 mins. in that time my cousin went to the bathroom..and walked right by him. but she didnt say anything and ive asked her about it and she said she said she never saw it/him.
    then after she went back to bed it walked over to my foot of the bed. i was sharing a bed with my mom. it slowly dragged the covers off of us and my mom pulled the back up. and thats how i knew i wasnt dreaming and i was wide awake. he then came up next to me. right next to my face. caressed my cheek and disintegrated and i havent seen him since. im 15 now

  16. I have been haunted by him for years in my dreams. Not within the past few years but consistently before that. They mostly turned into night terrors with me waking up shouting. They were very scary and I am glad they stopped!

  17. Oh my God my mum has experience the same thing as well like 10 years ago when we used to live inala in Queensland Australia she has seen the same thing but only a little bit different this man has came to our house as we we’re all sleeping and he is a tall man
    black figure that is dressed in all black clothing leather jacket and black cow boy hat that has no face she couldn’t see his face but he was looking around the place and my mum reckons he was looking for someone or something but cut the long story short my mum was actually dreaming of what was happening in our home and then she woke up from this bad dream and was in shock because that man was standing in front of her and it was more scary that my little brother was only a newborn baby at the time but anyways my mum was screaming out who are you looking for what do you want but he never answered her back he just walked out of the front door which had bars on it and when he was walking passed the lounge room where all of us children were sleep because we had a movie night and my cousins were there to and they was scared as because they have never experienced that kind of thing before in lifes but anyways he must of pushed my mums three big wall unit’s over which all fallen all over the place and it was scary as hell because the wall unit’s nearly killed my newborn baby brother but if it wasn’t for the table stopping the wall unit for falling on to my brother and the freaky thing about it is that the wall unit inside of had all of mums bible stories that she collected and that they have all fallen around him in a circle but a miracle that happened that night because he was a tiny baby that didn’t weigh as much as bag of sugar and if it wasn’t for the table who stop it all my brother would of been crushed to death but like they say the LORD ALL MIGHTY does work in mysterious ways because we see it as a sign like i said before how at the end all the bible stories all falling around him in a Circle so there must of been something watching over him and my mum that night but anyways we have experience a lot of things but yea that man who dresses all in black with a leather black jacket and a cow boy hat he has travelled all around Australia to alot Aboriginal communities or home’s but i really like to know who is he and what is he?? 😱😱🀄🀄

  18. I was 7 and my little brother was 5. We both remember this day vividly even as young as we were and still gives us and my mother the chills thinking or talking about this experience. My brother and I were playing in the back yard in a turtle kiddie pool, my mum was in the kitchen she could see us right below the window. The road from the area we were was about 20yards. So we were playing in the water then I felt this ominous feeling like something was right behind me. Basically fear washed fall over me. My brother felt the same, we both looked at each other and up at the road, there was the hat man…no features..just a hat long coat completely black with what it looked to us was a cat on his shoulder? Couldn’t see through him or make a single detail of anything that was on him. You know as kids you were taught stranger danger In the 90s. He raised his hand and that was it we booked it banged on the back door which was right there by my mum. DOOR WAS LOCKED!!!! WHICH MY MOTHER NEVER WOULD HAVE DONE TO HER CHILDREN PLAYING RIGHT OUT THE DOOR! We didn’t stay there long we ran to the other door in our driveway and she runs to the door asking why is wrong why we didn’t use the back door. We were children so we weren’t very good at explaining what happened. She called the cops. The sherif came and asked us details. We kept saying he was all black! Then my mum slowly realized what we were saying wasn’t making total sense. Asked us to explain better. I said “if you can think of a shadow walking but more black” the sherif thought we were talking about an African American. My mum knew that something wasn’t right and when the sherif left she asked more questions and came to realization that what we saw and happened was paranormal of some kind.

    1. Was his skin Caucasian Like not the face but his skin ? Also did u feel his facial expressions even though u could see them. Like he was in your mind telling u what to see but when I looked your mind couldn’t process the face.

  19. I saw the Hat Man in the mid 1990’s. He was in my dream. He came walking down a winding road towards me. All black, with a wide brimmed hat.
    No face. He had marijuana in his hands. He offered it to me. I had to decided if I wanted to smoke it, or sell it. I smoked it. It took me 20 Years to break the habit. I never saw him again. True story.

  20. When i was around the age of 12 to 13 i was asleep and woke up around 1:40 with this weird feeling. I called for my brother trying to wake him up but he didn’t wake up and my door slowly opened and this real tall figure slowly walked in and went to the corner of my room and watched… i remember he had no face and no features just pure darkness and he had a really tall hat on and it scared me so much i covered my head up with my cover. Next day i told my parents and they told me it was night terrors.. then i went and told my teacher and she said it was my imagination. But this being came every night for 2 to 3 months… always that tall hat on and total darkness..I’m turning 32 and its like it was just yesterday….

  21. This is crazy, I do believe in ghosts and spirits and witches and everything like that and so does my mum. Mr and my mum know of 2 ghosts in the house, one used to sit in her bedroom and he was protecting her, wasn’t a bad person at all however when I told her about a man that used to stand in my bedroom watching me I thought he wouldn’t believe me, she did, multiple times I had to get her to come and tell him to leave. The description of the hat man from my experience is pretty much the same however I only ever saw his face once, the rest of the time Its like when your in a dream and you know what someone looks like but they don’t have a face if that makes sense? Anyways I used to be terrified of him but one night he came and sat on the end of my bed and I told him to leave because he was scaring me and I swear, he said “sorry” as if he was upset to of scared me then he left my room. Haven’t seen him for months (I moved to the bedroom next door) and now he doesn’t come in however he hangs outside the bedroom door a lot. Thought I’d share my experience I’d love to hear if anyone else had a similar experience.

  22. June 23, 2004, is a night I will never forget. My sister just passed away and a bunch of us decided to go to a graveyard around one in the morning. What we saw that night still haunts me to this day. There were 5 of us in a car and right in front of us stood a man with a top hat a drench coat, I could not see his face he was faceless and shadow-like. We were all scared to death, He actually ran into the car and vanished sucking all the energy out of the car that we could start it. I thought I was seeing thing but all 5 of us saw him. I feel at times now 2019 that I’m being watched and I still can feel his presence. I wish and pray none of you ever see him. He leaves a overwhelming fear in me that he’ll make another appearance. I been sleeping with 2 lights on every night since I saw him for the second time 3 months ago. He haunts my dreams and my life hasn’t been the same since that day. He is very real and I wish he never showed himself but we had no right in the graveyard in the first place. I was only 17 at the time and I’m 34 now. All 5 of us still remembers ever detail until today. The only ghost I ever seen in my life.

  23. I’ve seen him in sleep paralysis once, and it was honestly a traumatic experience. I also saw him in my sister’s doorframe almost everyday as a young kid, and I thought he was my friend. He’d simply nod at me and I’d be on my way. I wasn’t afraid of his presence until I was 8 or 9 when I noticed him in other rooms of the house. I’ve always thought I was a tad bit crazy for believing in ghosts and seeing this guy.

  24. Last year I was walking around my farm at 4:00am to see if my prego pig had piglets. On my way back I saw this dark silhouette of a dark, slender man with a top hat standing behind me. The moon was behind him so I couldn’t see if he had a face or not. It was a full moon that night and his eyes were white. I quickly turned away and ran. When I looked back he was gone. I cried a lot that night, as I was already pretty scared of the dark. I believe that the paranormal can’t harm you in man-made light. I don’t know if it works or not but that’s my theory. I didn’t know if anyone else had seen him other then in their dreams but thank god i found this comment section!

  25. I was around 9 or 10 years old when I saw him at school in rural Bay of Plenty, Aotearoa (New Zealand). He appeared from within a spiralling purple tinged, wispy wormhole like portal. First his shiny black shoes materialised then white socks and black pants, all the way up from bottom to top. I walked around the 2D portal and couldn’t figure how this was happening. I was the only one present in the hall outside the school office. Following his black dress pants his white gloves on outstretched fingers appeared. Black long sleeve dress jacket, white shirt with red waistcoat. His white, grey flecked, wig like hair and shiny black top hat followed. No skin appeared during the materialisation period, just articles of clothing floating in place as if they were being worn. I walked around to see one more time to attempt to figure out how this was happening. The portal wasn’t translucent, I couldn’t see through the back to the front. It was wispy, smoky, black with tinges of purple that silently spun (I can’t remember whether it was clockwise or anti-clockwise) the whole while. I inspected the newly appeared items from bottom to top one last time and when I reached the top half my eyes were met with the palest face and the most intensely piercing eyes I’d ever seen, he looked right deep down in to me. Then he opened his mouth to speak and the deepest, strangest voice I’d ever heard came out. I didn’t even wait to hear what he was saying the sound terrified me to the core. I ran as fast as my little legs could take me all the way home. I don’t remember what followed but my mother told me later in life as an adult that what I told her on arrival home shook her to the core because she had see the same man earlier in her life.

  26. Has anyone after seeing the hat man like the same day saw hands reaching out multiple under a door ? I remember it so clearly I was outside waiting for my mom when he appeared he walked from about 20 feet away until he was about 3 feet or so, he just looked at me but it was like idk, to this day I can’t really deceive what he looked like it’s hard to explain it wasn’t scary it was almost like he knew me, I was so young I should have been terrified but I wasn’t at all. I turned to look for my mom and he was gone. After that later on in the day I was walking to my room but the door was shut I went to open it and there was scratching on the other side like hard scratching banging and I look to the floor and there was hands multiple all hands that looked the same but to many to be one person and they where just reaching they wanted to get out. I ran to my mom and she looked at the door and sure enough nothing. I never saw anything like that again after that.l but never forgot it. I met someone once who experienced something similar except she was older than I was at the time And for her the hands where under her fridge.

      1. I was about 8 or 9 when this happened at this time I also used to have sleep paralysis where I felt as though I was trapped in my dreams my body was awake but my mind wasn’t and I’d have to squint my eyes and tell myself to wake up in order for it to stop. I woke up and he was staring through my door no face or any kind of features but just his shadow he also had a brief case next to him me being me and a kid I got up and walked towards it as I turned around it vanished, I almost forgot about this until I was 13 when I was walking out of my bedroom in broad sunny day light and a shadow with a top hat on walked up my stairs and disappeared when he was about to come to the top,at first I thought it was my step dad and said hi to him then realised he was at work and it all fake flooding back to me From when I was younger. I’ve been intrigued in this for a long time as I never knew what it was and only today I found out other people have seen him too, please if anyone knows can you get back to me I’ve been needing to know for a while now

  27. I use to have a very strong male force after I had my first daughter and got divorced. He was extremely dark, every light would be off in our house and as I came around the corner he would be there, darker than the darkness, as solid as a real person. All I ever saw was his torso neck and part of his hat. “Running into him” would always feel like hitting a brick wall and cause intense rage, like I’ve never felt. My bed would shake, ankles weren’t just grabbed but pulled. My roommate and I began sharing a bed with my 5month old daughter (we’ve been close friends for 20ish years). We watched door handles turn, doors open amd close themselves, mirrors and glass shattered, my daughter would play “patty cake” with the someone we couldn’t see, always in the same room looking up at the same corner of the ceiling. There was countless other circumstances with him, we referred to him (and still do) as The Dark Man.