The 13th Floor

Some People Who Watched This Smiley GIF Aren’t Smiling Anymore — They’re Dead

Today’s report dates back to the early days of 4chan, and like most lore involving allegedly haunted content, it revolves around an image file — which, according to most accounts, is dangerous or even deadly to anyone who opens it.

In this particular case, the file is an animated GIF, which is said to evolve over several seconds from silly to surreal to seriously creepy… and finally turns straight-up frightening.

Much like the elusive “Smile Dog,” the original image, reportedly labeled IM_HAPPY.gif, has not been shared online (as far as our research has found), due to its supposedly damaging effects on both computers and their users — effects which range from hard-drive crashes to severe hallucinations and migraines. More than a few deaths have also been linked to the distribution of the IM_HAPPY file — including two reports of violent murder, in which the victims were found skinned, the walls of their homes adorned with grisly happy-faces painted in their own blood.

While the original file continues to evade the grasp of web-savvy sleuths (who are probably better off not finding it), numerous “copies” have circulated over the past decade, most likely representing artists’ interpretations of what the supposedly deadly GIF might look like.

While there are many variations on the theme, the most consistent factor among these “copies” is a bizarre twist on the classic yellow “smiley face” image, in which the simple lines of the smiley are replaced with more human-like features.

From here, it’s claimed that the image suddenly morphs into an angry, screaming visage, followed either by flash-frames of gruesome scenes (many involving violent death, bloody animal corpses and other nightmare imagery) or surreal and indescribable subliminal messages. According to some accounts, it’s a combination of both.

The animation then concludes with the flashing grammatically incorrect text “HAVE NICE DAY.” It’s this point where most of the aforementioned horrific and/or fatal outcome is said to begin for some viewers.

Since 2011, a few of the more recently-distributed “fakes” have nevertheless been reported to have adverse effects on the computers and/or minds of those who have watched them. In several cases, the reproduction of the GIF had little or no effect on one viewer, while causing panic, headaches and nausea in another.

One such copy, uploaded to Reddit by user colden_age87, can be viewed below.

Note that I personally experienced no ill-effects from watching this animation, but three separate attempts to upload it to a video host server resulted in an error that I couldn’t identify. I finally managed to upload it the following day, but when I previewed it before embedding, I noticed subtle changes between the colden_age87 animation and my own copy.

Given these odd anomalies, combined with flash-frame sequences that could be potential seizure triggers for those with epilepsy [I’m being serious here], I would advise you proceed with caution before watching the animation yourself…