Doppelgängers are TikTok's latest horrifying trend

Doppelgängers are TikTok's latest horrifying trend

"If you see another person who looks identical to you, run away and hide," is the TikTok sound framing the latest spooky trend - the Doppelgänger.

The root inspiration of the trend is easy to pick up on. Lynchian vibes, 90s/80s filming aesthetics, creepy public announcements and the true horror of the black mirror. It starts with that routine - getting changed, finishing a shower, settling down with a drink - before the sound plays.

Then, the grainy noise draws in, and the person locks eyes with their double. It's too late!

Of course, most of the inspiration is drawn from existing media - it's not completely original. The Mandela Catalogue is the source. Tied together with a long-standing legend, crossed-over with the 'skinwalker' myth, and with a pre-existing creepypasta webseries, it's perfect fodder for TikTok creators.

There are some bleak mentions in this article as we pick apart the trend - including real-life circumstances where suicide attempts are referenced - so be warned.

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The Mandela Catalogue Vol. 1www.youtube.com

The Mandela Catalogue is a horror series created by Alex Kister and consisting of 13 episodes that spin a yarn of VHS-based horror documenting the United States' 'temporal phenomena department' dealing with the threat 'alternates' - including Doppelgängers - and their psychological warfare on victims. The alternates pose suicide as the only escape from their torment.

Death, horror, and the Doppelgänger are bedfellows, though.

'Alternates' are a constant feature in mythology, from the Ka of Egypt depicting the physical representation of one's soul, to the Vardøger of Norse legend - the reflection of the self has existed throughout time. Formalised within the German language and embedded into our vocabularies, the Doppelgänger remains.

The Doppelgänger also features heavily in fantasy storytelling. The kind-hearted (usually) Dopplers of the Witcher series, the Faceless Men in A Song of Ice and Fire and a twist on them features in Harry Potter, where the shape-shifting Boggart transfigures its appearance based on the worst fears of the person it is facing. Sometimes, it is one's self.

Interestingly, there are some real-life circumstances that ground the Doppelgänger legend. A BBC Future study described the horrific effects of a hallucination in which a person was confronted with their exact self. It drove them to attempt suicide.

"Soon, fear and confusion took hold: Who was he? Was he the man standing up or the man lying in bed? Unable to stand seeing his double any longer, he jumped out of the window."

Author Percy Shelley relayed to Mary Shelley that he had been questioned about his happiness by his own body. He died shortly afterward.

In the present, the legend continues thanks to the Mandela Catalogue and some very creative people over on TikTok. The trend has existed since early 2022 but is picking up steam just over a year later with more takes uploaded each day.

Here's some of our favourites from the app- be warned though; they aren't very nice.


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