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Deface of the Moon!

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"There liveth none under the sunne, that knows what to make of the man in the moone."

Endymion, John Lyly.

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The sister trope to The Face of the Sun, The Man in the Moon is that old conception of the Moon as possessing a face, most often a male one. The moon is often an aged but benevolent figure who stands over the Earth, granting it natural bounty or serving as the destination for young adventurers. This trope, while at least Older Than Feudalism, is nowadays mostly only seen in quirky video games and animated children's media.

This conception, incidentally, is primarily Western. East Asian cultures, such as that of Japan, tend to see the Moon as having a rabbit on its face, rather than possessing human features.

Also, as the Moon appears to be flipped in the Southern Hemisphere (because people in the Southern Hemisphere are effectively standing upside down relative to the Northern Hemisphere), the traditional Man in the Moon is upside down and quite hard to discern.

Bears little to no relation to Weird Moon. See Moon Rabbit for the version more popular in East Asian cultures.

Examples of The Man in the Moon include:


Western Examples

Advertising

  • A man with a crescent moon for a head wearing Cool Shades was once part of the side characters for McDonald's.

British Comics

  • A 1940s text story from The Beano was titled The Boy who bossed the Man in the Moon.

Film

Folklore

  • Medieval Christian tradition holds that the man in the Moon is Cain, who was forever doomed to circle the Earth. This is referenced in Dante Alighieri's Inferno and Paradiso.
  • Similarly, a Talmudic tradition holds that the face of Jacob is engraved upon the Moon.

Literature

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The man in the moon
Came down too soon
To ask his way to Norwich.
He went by the south
And burnt his mouth
While eating cold plum porridge

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    • JRR Tolkien based one of his poems on this one. He also put the Man In The Moon in his poem based on "Hey diddle-diddle, the cat and the fiddle." In Middle-earth the moon-ship is steered by a male Maia.

Live-Action TV

  • The Moon, complete with face, is a character in The Mighty Boosh.
  • Dorothy Jane in The Torkelsons often sat on her windowsill and talked to the Man in the Moon.
  • Luna from Bear in the Big Blue House. Bear and Luna often meet on Bear's balcony and Bear tells her what he has done during the day and they sing the "Goodbye Song".

Music

  • Referenced in the Shinedown song "Second Chance":
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I just saw Hayley's comet she waved
Said why you always running in place
Even the man in the moon disappeared
Somewhere in the stratosphere

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  • The Erasure song "Man In The Moon" portrays him as a benevolent, smiling figure.
  • The video for The Smashing Pumpkins' song "Tonight, Tonight", largely an homage to A Trip to the Moon, of course features a face in the moon.
  • A stanza of Well Done Liar or Martin Said To His Man, one of a whole genre's worth of British nonsense songs describing a man telling tall tales to his friends while drunk, includes the words:
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I saw the man in the moon
Clothed in St Peter's Shoon...

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Myth and Legend

  • In Polish legends, a wizard Twardowski (pronounced Tvardovsky) is said to have got stranded on the moon after his last ditch attempt to get out of a literal Deal with the Devil .

Newspaper Comics

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Calvin: "I saw the man in the moon tonight."
Calvin's Dad:(not paying attention) "Mmm."
Calvin: "I didn't know the moon made faces."
Calvin's Dad:(still not paying attention) "That's phases."

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  • Happens in the Scamp newspaper strip. It even says hi to the dogs, but rather than seeing the face everyone else sees, Tramp sees Lady's face and realizes he's been away from home far too late.

Tabletop Games

  • In Warhammer one of the moons sometimes really has a face, especially when full. Justified since it is made entirely of Green Rocks.

Theater

Western Animation

Non-Western Examples

Anime and Manga

Myth and Legend

  • In the mythology of the Haida in northwest America, the Man in the Moon is a boy gathering wood taken up into space as a punishment for disrespect.
  • The Chinese have a Man. Either he used to live on the sun, but switched places with his two sisters when they got tired of men on Earth admiring their beauty every night; or he's stuck up there chopping trees for all eternity because he somehow offended the gods -- accounts differ. Then there's a Rabbit pounding elixirs, and a Lady (she ate the pills of immortality meant for both her and her husband to prevent him from becoming an immortal tyrant) in the Moon, all from separate folktales.
  • In yet another Chinese myth, the Sun is a lovestruck (but ugly) male chasing after the Moon, a beautiful but haughty female.
  • One foolish old Maori woman got angry at the moon and called it a "cooked head," a grave insult that may refer to cannibalism. The moon abducted her and now she's stuck up there forever.

Video Games

Webcomics

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