Headless Horseman (Legend of Sleepy Hollow)

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The Headless Horseman Pursuing Ichabod Crane (1858) by John Quidor.

The Headless Horseman is a fictional character from the short story "The Legend of Sleepy Hollow" by American author Washington Irving. The story, from Irving's collection of short stories entitled The Sketch Book of Geoffrey Crayon, Gent., has worked itself into known American folklore/legend through literature and film.

Popular culture[edit]

Street signs in Sleepy Hollow, New York feature a Headless Horseman logo
  • The Headless Horseman mascot for Sleepy Hollow High School, in Westchester County, New York, has been referred to as "America's scariest high school mascot".[1]
  • The Headless Horseman appears in the "Legend of Sleepy Hollow" segment of The Adventures of Ichabod and Mr. Toad. Just like the story, the Headless Horseman pursues Ichabod Crane which ends with the Headless Horseman throwing his pumpkin head at him. While it was mentioned what happened to Ichabod after his encounter with the Headless Horseman, it was mentioned that he has married a wealthy widow in a distant county. This rendition of the Headless Horseman was also featured as one of the villain characters in Disney's House of Mouse.[2]
  • A third-season episode of Nickelodeon's Are You Afraid of the Dark? depicts the Horseman as a real ghost, unlike the original novel.[3]
  • In the 1999 Tim Burton film Sleepy Hollow, the Headless Horseman is the ghost of a murderous Hessian mercenary (portrayed by Christopher Walken) summoned by Katrina Van Tassel's stepmother Lady Van Tassel to eliminate her enemies. After Ichabod Crane returns his skull, the Horseman returns to Hell, taking Lady Van Tassel with him.

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Spiewak, Stephen (October 31, 2013). "Sleepy Hollow's Headless Horseman: America's scariest high school mascot". MaxPreps.com. CBS Broadcasting Inc. Archived from the original on 1 February 2018. Retrieved 6 August 2018.
  2. ^ Gabler, Neal (2006). Walt Disney: The Triumph of American Imagination. New York City: Knopf Publishers. p. 851. ISBN 9780679438229.
  3. ^ Sadako (7 September 2009). "Are You Afraid of the Dark?: The Tale of the Midnight Ride". Get a Pencil and Your Casebook. Blogspot. Retrieved 6 August 2018.


  • Battle, Kemp P. Great American Folklore. New York: Doubleday & Company, Inc., 1986.
  • Crooke, William, Popular Religion and Folk-Lore of Northern India (Dehli: Munshiram Manoharlal, 1896 [1893]), Vol. I, p. 258.
  • Hallenbeck, Cleve and J.H. William. Legends of the Spanish Southwest. Glendale, CA: Arthur H. Clark Company, 1938.
  • Irving, Washington, "The Legend of Sleepy Hollow", in The Sketch Book of Geoffrey Crayon, Gent. (New York: Signet Classics, 1981 [1820]), pp. 330–331.
  • Leach, M. The Rainbow Book of American Folk Tales and Legends. New York: The World Publishing Co., 1958
  • The Legend of Sleepy Hollow(1820);(Marvel) Uncanny Tales #22, July 1954.
  • Winkle, Michael D. Here Comes a Chopper to Chop Off Your Head
  • Hayday, Andria; William Connors, Bruce Nesmith, James Lowder (1991). Darklords. TSR. ISBN 1-56076-137-7.

External links[edit]