We’re going to be looking at an interesting question here today: How intelligent is Slender Man? The easy answer is, “As smart as the author needs him to be”, but the easy way isn’t fun. And we’re all about having fun times at this blog, right? Remember that one time when that one guy was mind raped and then impaled on a tree? Yeah, that was barrels of fun there!
There’s always been a variance in how intelligent Slender Man acts. A lot of this is determined by the author’s writing skill, but in other cases, it becomes a part of the plot. The amount of intellect can run from base animal instinct all the way to borderline omniscient. With this post I intend to quickly run through the different levels which he has been shown to have; a lot of the terms will be very broad, but that’s because we have a broad selection to choose from. Intellect has never been one of Slendy’s agreed on attributes, so each writer brings their own take on just how smart this tall guy is.
This is the idea that Slender Man has little cognitive ability. He responds to external stimuli, and has very basic reasoning skills, but little higher thought ability. This concept was created by M, who was the first person I’ve known to call Slender Man “stupid”, and mean it as a descriptor instead of an insult. With this level of intelligence, Slender Man isn’t acting out of motive, but out of instinct. Dogs chase cats, Slender Man kills people. The role he has been put into defines how he acts, and he follows that role without needing to think about it.
What this means for the runner is that Slender Man can be outsmarted, so long as you know how he acts. This is the secret behind M’s survival in Tutorial; he’s figured out Slendy’s rules, and takes advantage of them. This idea isn’t used that often anymore, since nowadays Slender Man is more often put in the evil mastermind role, which leads us to….
A lot of writers use this, though it doesn’t seem to always be intentional on their part. The reason seems to be that it’s hard to write a character that’s smarter than you are, or who thinks in a way alien to you (it wouldn’t be alien if you could understand it, would it?). As a result, we get a lot of Slendy’s acting like a person would. He communicates with proxies in an intelligent manner, makes plans, and reacts to events around him as a person would. It’s the easiest level of intelligence which can be attributed to Slendy; an average human is writing him, so he thinks like an average human.
Above Human/Genius Intelligence
Here’s the idea that Slender Man isn’t just sentient; he’s also very, very smart. If the writer has Slendy pulling of Xanatos Gambits, or shows him consistently outthinking the protagonist, it’s likely they’re going for this. We’ve had some instances of a very intelligent Slender Man; in Seeking Truth, much of the plot was part of a plan he had to ensnare Zeke. In another instance, A outright stated that Slendy was highly intelligent, although we never got a chance to see that genius intelligence in action in that ARG.
If Slender Man can go to any point in time and space, what’s to stop him from seeing and learning everything? This has been talked about before, although I don’t believe we’ve seen any stories use it. Zeke mentioned it, but the Slender Man in Seeking Truth acted in a way which implied he wasn’t omniscient, albeit highly intelligent. Still, the idea is out there, for anyone who wants to use it.
The always fun “there’s no way our puny human minds can understand this creature” option which gets tacked onto everything. What if we say Slender Man cannot be defined by any human intelligence? That his process of thought is so completely alien to ours that we could not ever hope to follow it? Such an idea is a trait often ascribed to eldritch abominations, especially those of the Lovecraft sort, so it’s an interesting thin got consider with our tall pale guy.