Part of a series on Cryptid. [View Related Entries]
[View Related Sub-entries]
PROTIP: Press 'i' to view the image gallery, 'v' to view the video gallery, or 'r' to view a random entry.
Skinwalker is a shape-shifting mythological creature in Navajo culture. Sometimes referred to as a witch, a skin-walker has the ability to transform into and/or possess an animal. In internet culture, skinwalkers have been a widespread subject of greentexts on 4chan's /x/ and /k/ boards, gaining additional presence in memes in early 2020. In October 2021, memes about skinwalkers achieved major popularization online, primarily on TikTok and iFunny.
While the origins of skinwalkers are unknown, the myths and stories surrounding them have existed within the Navajo culture for hundreds of years. In 2011, the blog Rocky Mountain Legends described the most cited story of skinwalkers. They wrote:
The most prominent history of the Skinwalker tells of a particular form of Navajo witch, or an ’ánt’įįhnii, called ayee naaldlooshii, translated to mean “with it, he goes on all fours.” The yee naaldlooshii is usually a medicine man or high-ranking priest who has obtained supernatural powers through breaking a cultural taboo, including murder, seduction, or the corrupting of a family member.
On April 1st, 1994, the American science fiction television series The X-Files aired the episode "Shapes." In the episode, the characters Mulder and Scully investigate a murder on a Native American reservation and uncover a skinwalker (clip below, left). On December 10th, 2010, YouTuber JC Johnson uploaded a video entitled "Chief Dan Talks About Skin Walkers & The Furry Ones." Within eight years, the video (shown below, left) received more than 399,000 views.
Three years later, on May 5th, 2013, Redditor launched the /r/skinwalkers subreddit. The community board serves as a place to share stories and encounters with skin-walkers. As of August 2018, the subreddit had more than 20,000 subscribers, reaching over 100,000 subscribers as of November 2021.
Later that year, on September 14th, Markiplier posted a Let's Play of the Skinwalker video game. The post (shown below, center) received more than 2.2 million views in four years. On February 23rd, 2014, YouTuber GabeHashTV uploaded the video "STRANGE CREATURE (SKINWALKER) IN NEW MEXICO FEBRUARY 23, 2014 (EXPLAINED)." The post (shown below, right) has received more than 5 million views in four years.
During the 2010s, encounters with skinwalkers were a popular subject of greentext stories on 4chan, particularly on its /x/ and /k/ boards. Starting as early as 2016, humorous greentexts about skinwalkers started to appear, being spread through reposts on Reddit and other sites (examples shown below). For example, on August 20th, 2016, Redditor ghostberg reposted one such greentext to the /r/4chan subreddit, where it gained over 460 upvotes in six months (shown below, left).
Additionally, a number of popular greentext stories about skinwalkers were narrated and posted to YouTube. For example, a story titled "The Ranch," narrated by YouTuber Punished Creepswork and uploaded on September 19th, 2017, received over 363,100 views in four years (shown below, left). Another greentext, narrated by YouTuber Chass and uploaded on April 3rd, 2020, gained over 107,000 views in one year.
2020 iFunny Popularity
Starting in early 2020, memes about skinwalkers achieved popularity on iFunny. On February 3rd, 2020, user Tezeta posted one of the earliest notable memes about skinwalkers, a take on There Are Federal Agents Outside My House format that gained over 2,100 smiles in two years (shown below, left). On August 7th, 2020, iFunny user TheMooseBoss posted a Me and the Boys video caption meme that gained over 4,600 smiles in one year (shown below, right).
Following viral popularity on iFunny, in the second half of 2020, skinwalkers became a subject of moderate interest on TikTok, with several videos about the creatures going viral. For example, videos posted by TikTokers @dannytumia and @that1cowboy on September 24th and October 3rd, 2020, received over 722,000 and 1.6 million likes in one year, respectively (shown below, left and center; warning: jumpscare).
On January 12th, 2021, TikTok user @vindickleson posted the earliest humorous TikTok about skinwalkers to go viral, with the video gaining over 2.1 million views and 498,600 likes (shown below, right). A January 15th, 2021, reupload of the video by iFunny user Sickzophrenic received over 46,300 smiles.
https://www.tiktok.com/embed/v2/6876205147610041606 https://www.tiktok.com/embed/v2/6879582956076207366 https://www.tiktok.com/embed/v2/6916989110959770885
More TikToks about skinwalkers were posted to the app in 2021, with videos, usually made with special effect and audio editing, showing alleged encounters with skinwalkers in the wild (examples shown below). As of November 5th, 2021, hashtags #skinwalker and #skinwalkerstories had over 689.2 million and 64.2 million views on the app, respectively.
https://www.tiktok.com/embed/v2/6972386877852716294 https://www.tiktok.com/embed/v2/6985242538479291654 https://www.tiktok.com/embed/v2/6990457824098667782
On October 11th, 2021, iFunny user Heretias posted a Staring Animals meme using an image of Patrick Bateman and captioned "Me with a rifle on my lap watching the skinwalker disguised as a sonic employee walk over to my car." The post received over 65,700 smiles in one month (shown below, left).
The post inspired a major influx of skinwalker memes based on the format on the app. For example, on October 14th, iFunny user EatBees made a Schizopost that received over 43,900 smiles in in three weeks (shown below, center). A meme referencing Immortal Snail posted by user Beef_Strkokin_Off on October 20th received over 65,100 smiles in two weeks (shown below, right).
Starting in mid-October 2021, memes about Skinwalkers, many copying the Staring Animals format, gained popularity on TikTok. For example, on October 19th, 2021, TikTok user attackedbysnakes posted a version that gained over 2.4 million views and nearly 500,000 likes in three weeks (shown below, left). On October 20th, TikTok user thehoodsaver posted a meme that gained over 997,000 views and 183,000 likes in the same period (shown below, right).
Memes about skinwalkers maintained prominence in late October and early November 2021, spreading to Twitter and other platforms.
https://www.tiktok.com/embed/v2/7021700476886404358 https://www.tiktok.com/embed/v2/7022002951572983042 https://www.tiktok.com/embed/v2/7022685774067944709
 Rocky Mountain Legends – Skinwalkers
 Reddit – /r/skinwalkers
 Reddit – Anon's Friend Is a Skinwalker
 Reddit – /k/ommando gets hunted by a skinwalker
 Reddit – Anon is a skinwalker.
 YouTube – 4chan Stories: The Ranch
 YouTube – 4chan greentext – /x/ – The 'Skinwalker'
 iFunny – TheMooseBoss
 TikTok – @dannytumia
 TikTok – @that1cowboy
 TikTok – @vindickleson
 TikTok – #skinwalker
 TikTok – #skinwalkerstories
 iFunny – Beef_Strokin_Off
 TikTok – @attackedbysnakes
 TikTok – @thehoodsaver
Aug 05, 2018 at 04:43PM EDT
Nov 05, 2021 at 06:25PM EDT
+ Add a Comment
Add a Comment