Freaky Friday: Herobrine
May 19, 2023
If you’ve played Minecraft or watched Minecraft let’s-play videos on YouTube, you’re probably familiar with Herobrine. Simply typing this name into Google yields hundreds of videos, dozens of methods for summoning him, and so much more. But who is this Herobrine? Why has the Minecraft community become so fascinated with him? And what, if anything, do the creators of Minecraft have to say?
Who (or what) is Herobrine?
Herobrine is a mysterious entity said to inhabit the worlds of Minecraft players. His appearance resembles the default “Steve” player skin but with one key difference: his eyes are completely white. His presence in the game is often accompanied by strange occurrences, such as leaves disappearing from trees and the appearance of strange structures. While Herobrine rarely directly attacks players, in some stories, he is known for stalking them from a distance and occasionally ensnaring them in deadly traps.
Where Did He Come From?
The first Herobrine sighting can be traced back to a 2010 4-Chan post detailing the encounter. The post’s original poster (OP) begins the tale by describing how they started a new world, gathered some wood, and built a crafting table. Due to having a low-powered PC, OP had to set their game to a low render distance, meaning far-away objects in-game would be engulfed in a thick fog. In this fog, they saw something moving. Assuming it was a cow, OP chased the thing, hoping to obtain some leather. Instead of a cow, they found what appeared to be another player staring back at them with empty, white eyes. This mysterious figure notably had no nametag. Confused because their game was set to single-player, OP double-checked the game settings. When they returned to the game, they saw the pseudo-player running off into the distance. Perplexed, but mostly unfazed, OP continued with the game as normal. As they explored the world, they noticed strange, man-made structures appearing throughout the map: small pyramids in the middle of the ocean, trees without leaves, and tunnels through mountains. As they traversed through the landscape, they also saw more glimpses of the mysterious player in the fog.
OP decided to save the world and go to the Minecraft forums to see if anyone else had an encounter like this by creating a new thread for discussions related to the matter. However, this thread was quickly deleted by the website’s moderators. Soon after the deletion, OP received a private message from a user by the name of Herobrine. The message contained a single word: “Stop.” Attempting to access the user’s profile brought up a 404 error page.
A quick internet search revealed Herobrine to be the username of the brother of Notch, the creator of Minecraft. OP set out to verify the claim by personally emailing Notch to ask if he even had a brother. Supposedly, he responded with, “Yes, but he is no longer with us.” This led the OP, and others who had encountered the strange pseudo-player, to believe that it was the vengeful spirit of Notch’s brother haunting the game’s code.
Though this post served as Herobrine’s origin story, it received little attention at first. The story only gained its notoriety after a streamer named Copeland used it as the basis for a hoax. After showing his followers some photoshopped Herobrine screenshots and receiving a wide range of reactions, he decided to stage an encounter during a live stream. Copeland retextured a painting to look like Herobrine and hid it in his base. During the stream, after running into Herobrine he ran away screaming, promptly ending the stream. In the aftermath, another streamer by the name of Patimus decided to stage his own Herobrine sighting, this time using a retextured door.
These streams, along with the original creepypasta, serve as the foundation for all Herobrine lore.
Shaped by a Fandom
Only the original 4-chan post and Copeland’s stream are considered canon, or what actually happened, to Herobrine lore, but the Minecraft community has expanded upon his characterization and abilities throughout the years.
While the original creepypasta depicted Herobrine as creepy but not dangerous, many modern interpretations of the character depict him as a sort of “King of the Monsters,” a being of evil who commands the zombies, skeletons, and creepers that torment the player. This version of Herobrine is a malicious force that will do everything he can to make the player’s life miserable: destroying builds, stealing valuable items, and just straight-up murdering them. Those who wish to summon this particular variation to wreak havoc on their friends’ worlds can try to do so by building a “Herobrine Totem” or “Herobrine Shrine” out of gold and netherrack blocks.
There have been countless YouTube videos created capitalizing on the mystery surrounding Herobrine. From videos of players accidentally summoning him to random music videos, the Minecraft community is obsessed with the computer ghost. With his popularity, it could even be speculated that Herobrine helped with the success of the popular computer game.
People have asked the developers of Minecraft if Herobrine is real or not. Notch has stated that he doesn’t have a brother (living or dead) and that Herobrine does not exist. The members of Mojang have made posts both denying the existence of Herobrine and joking about him being real. He has appeared in official Minecraft art, and for a brief period of time, changelogs, the records of changes done to a project, for the Java version of Minecraft mentioned “removing Herobrine” with every update. You can tell that they’re making fun of Herobrine in posts saying he’s real, but there’s always the possibility that Mojang is hiding something.
As popular as Minecraft is, it’s likely that Herobrine will forever be attached to the game. It is still a mystery if the developers truly inserted him into the game.
So, if you’re playing Minecraft and you see Steve, take a good look at his eyes. And if his eyes turn out to be blank or white, run the other way. You might end up being hunted by a ghost from inside the computer.