WHERE THIS EVIL HAILS FROM: “Hush”, a fourth season episode of Buffy the Vampire Slayer also known as the Silent Episode
WHY THIS EVIL MADE ME FILLE THE FEAR: From the moment I first laid eyes on these guys, their pale skin, sunken eyes and macabre grins, I felt as though my quick-beating heart had been ripped straight out of my chest. And then of course I learned that these guys actually do just that, stealing people’s chest-level love machines after stealing their voices and–get this–making it impossible for them to scream for help. They clearly take pleasure out of this sadistic killing technique too, their disgustingly smug smiles never fading until–SPOILER ALERT!–their big plan to wipe out Sunnydale gets foiled.
I’ll admit that there’s actually one other Buffy villain that might have scared me more than the Gentlemen and that’s Season 2’s Der Kindestod, who was essentially a non-punny, totally terrifying version of Freddy Krueger. I even remember coming to school the day after his episode (“Killed by Death”) aired and talking to a best friend about how I could barely finish the episode. But the Gentlemen have more overall staying power. And not in a good way.
HOW THIS EVIL STILL DOES: Even if you’re not watching “Hush” again as part of your ongoing Buffy binges, you’re likely to see these guys pop up elsewhere in pop culture. Mega case in point right now: the Slender Man trend.
Sure, there are quite a few young people and believers who think Slender Man to be a creature of folklore, a generation-spanning lanky creeper who influences young people to do dastardly things, but the truth is, that character we reference today came into actual being in 2009, nearly 10 years after “Hush” had aired. And quite frankly, the physical similarities between this Slender Man and the Gentlemen are uncanny.