The Curious Case of Smile.jpg


I first met in person with Mary E. in the summer of 2007. I had arranged with her husband of fifteen years, Terence, to see her for an interview. Mary had initially agreed, since I was not a newsman but rather an amateur writer gathering information for a few early college assignments and, if all went according to plan, some pieces of fiction. We scheduled the interview for a particular weekend when I was in Chicago on unrelated business, but at the last moment Mary changed her mind and locked herself in the couple’s bedroom, refusing to meet with me.

For half an hour, I sat with Terence as we camped outside the bedroom door, I listening and taking notes while he attempted fruitlessly to calm his wife. The things Mary said made little sense, but fit into the pattern I was expecting: though I could not see her, I could tell from her voice that she was crying, and more often than not her objections to speaking with me centered around an incoherent diatribe on her dreams – her nightmares.

Terence apologized profusely when we ceased the exercise, and I did my best to take it in stride; recall that I wasn’t a reporter in search of a story, but merely a curious young man in search of information. Besides, I thought at the time, I could perhaps find another, similar case if I put my mind and resources to it.

Mare E. was the sysop for a small Chicago-based Bulletin Board System in 1992 when she first encountered smile.jpg and her life changed forever. She and Terence had been married for only five months. Mary was one of an estimated 400 people who saw the image when it was posted as a hyperlink on the BBS, though she is the only one who has spoken openly about the experience. The rest have remained anonymous, or are perhaps dead.

In 2005, when I was only in tenth grade, smile.jpg was first brought to my attention by my burgeoning interest in web-based phenomena; Mary was the most often cited victim of what is sometimes referred to as “,” the being smile.jpg is reputed to display.

What caught my interest (other than the obvious macabre elements of the cyber-legend and my proclivity toward such things) was the sheer lack of information, usually to the point that people don’t believe it even exists other than as a rumor or hoax. It is unique because, though the entire phenomenon centers on a picture file, that file is no where to be found on the internet; certainly many photo-manipulated simulacra litter the web, showing up with the most frequency on sites such as the image-board 4chan, particularly the /x/-focused paranormal sub board.

It is suspected that these are fakes because they do not have the effect the true smile.jpg is believed to have, namely sudden onset temporal lobe epilepsy and acute anxiety. This purpoted reaction in the viewer is one of the reasons the phantom-like smile.jpg is regarded with such disdain, since it is patently absurd, though depending on whom you ask, the reluctance to acknowledge smile.jpg’s existence might be just as much out of fear as it is out of disbelief.

Neither smile.jpg nor is mentioned anywhere on Wikipedia, though the website features articles on such other, perhaps more scandalous shocksites such as gotse (hello.jpg) or 2girls1cup; any attempt to create a page pertaining to smile.jpg is summarily deleted by any of the encyclopedia’s many admins.

Encounters with smile.jpg are the stuff of internet legend. Mary E.’s story is not unique; there are unverified rumors of smile.jpg showing up in the early days of usenet and even one persistent tale that in 2002 a hacker flooded the forums of humor and satire website Something Awful with a deluge of pictures, rendering almost of the forum’s users at the time epileptic. It is also said that in the mid-to-late 90s that smile.jpg circulated on Usenet and as an attachment of a chain email with the subject like “SMILE!! GOD LOVES YOU!”

Yet despite the huge exposure these stunts would generate, there are very few people who admit to having experienced any of them and no trace of the file or any link has ever been discovered. Those who claim to have seen smile.jpg often weakly joke that they were far too busy to save a copy of the picture to their hard drive.

However, all alleged victims offer the same description of the photo: a dog-like creature (usually described as appearing similar to a Siberian Husky), illuminated by the flash of the camera, sits in a dim room, the only background detail visible being a human hand extending from the darkness near the left side of the frame. The hand is empty, but is usually described as “beckoning.” Of course, most attention is given to the dog (or dog-creature, as some victims are more certain than others about what they claim to have seen). The muzzle of the beast is reputedly split in a wide grin, revealing two rows of very white, very straight, very sharp, and very human-looking teeth. This is, of course, not a description given immediately after viewing the picture, but rather a recollection of the victims, who claim to have seen the picture endlessly repeated in their mind’s eye during the time they are, in reality, having epileptic fits.

These fits are reported to continue indeterminably, often while the victims sleep, resulting in very vivid and disturbing nightmares. These may be treated with medication, though in some cases it is more effective than others. Mary E., I assumed, was not on effective medication.

That was why, after my visit to her apartment in 2007, I sent out feelers to several folklore- and urban legend-orientated newsgroups, websites, and mailing lists, hoping to find the name of a supposed victim of smile.jpg who felt more interested in talking about his experiences. For a time, nothing happened and at length I forgot completely about my pursuits, since I had begun my freshman year of college and was quite busy. Mary contacted me via email, however, near the beginning of March 2008.

To: jml@****.com
From marye@****.net
Subj: Last summer’s interview

Dear Mr. L.,

I am incredibly sorry about my behavior last summer when you came to interview me. I hope you understand that it was no fault of yours, but rather my own problems that led me to act out as I did. I realized that I could have handled the situation more decorously; however, I hope you will forgive me. At the time, I was afraid.

You see, for fifteen years I have been haunted by smile.jpg. comes to me in my sleep every night. I know that sounds silly, but it is true. There is an ineffable quality about my dreams, my nightmares, that makes them completely unlike any real dreams I have ever had. I do not move and do not speak. I simply look ahead, and the only thing ahead of me is the scene from that horrible picture. I see the beckoning hand, and I see It talks to me.

I thought for a long time about my options. I could show it to a stranger, a coworker… I could even show it to Terence, as much as the idea disgusted me. And what would happen then? Well, if kept its word, I could sleep. Yet, if it lied, what would I do? And who was to say something worse would not come for me if I did as the creature asked?

So, I did nothing for fifteen years, though I kept the diskette hidden amongst my things. Every night for fifteen years has come to me in my sleep and demanded that I spread the word. For fifteen years I have stood strong, though there have been hard times. Many of my fellow victims on the BBS board where I first encountered smile.jpg stopped posting; I heard some of them committed suicide. Others remained completely silent, simply disappearing off the face of the web. They are the ones I worry about the most. I sincerely hope you will forgive me, Mr. L., but last summer when you contacted me and my husband about an interview I was near the breaking point. I did not care if was lying or not; I wanted it to end. You were a stranger, someone I had no connection with, and i thought I would not feel sorrow when you took the diskette as part of your research and sealed your fate. Before you arrived, I realized what I was doing: I was plotting to ruin your life.

I could not stand the thought, and in fact I still cannot. I am ashamed, Mr. L., and I hope that this warning will dissuade you from further investigation of smile.jpg. You may in time encounter someone who is, if not weaker than I, then wholly more depraved, someone who will not hesitate to follow’s orders. Stop while you are still whole.

Mary E.

Terence contacted me later that month with the news that his wife had killed herself. While cleaning up the various things she’d left behind, closing email accounts and the like, he happened upon the above message. He was a man in shambles; he wept as he told me to listen to his wife’s advice. He’d found the diskette, he revealed, and burned it until it was nothing but a stinking pile of blackened plastic. The part that most disturbed him, however, was how the diskette had hissed as it melted. Like some sort of animal, he said.

I will admit that I was a little uncertain about how to respond to this. At first, I thought, perhaps it was a joke, with the couple belatedly playing with the situation in order to get a rise out of me, but a quick check of several Chicago newspapers’ online obituaries, however, proved that Mary E. was indeed dead. There was, of course, no mention of suicide in the article.

I decided that, for at least a time, I would not further pursue the subject of smile.jpg, especially since I had finals coming up at the end of May. But the world has odd ways of testing up. Almost a full year after I’d returned from my disastrous interview with Mary E., I received another email:

To: jml@****.com
From: elzahir82@****.com
Subj: smile

I found your e-mail address thru a mailing list your profile said you are interested in smiledog. I have saw it it is not as bad as every one says I have sent it to you here. Just spreading the word.


The final line chilled me to the bone. According to my email client there was one file attachment called, naturally, smile.jpg. I considered downloading it for some time. It was most likely a fake, I imagined, and even if it weren’t I was never wholly convinced of smile.jpg’s peculiar powers. Mary E.’s account had shaken me, yes, but she was probably mentally unbalanced anyway. After all, how could a single image do what smile.jpg was said to accomplish? What sort of creature was it that could break one’s mind with only the power of the eye?

And if such things were patently absurd, then why did the legend exist at all? If I downloaded the image, if I looked at it, and if Mary turned out to be correct, if came to me in my dreams demanding I spread the word, what would I do? Would I live my life as Mary had, fighting against the urge to give in until I died? Or would I simply spread the word, eager to be put to rest? And if I chose the latter route, how could I do it? Whom would I burden in turn? If I went through with my earlier intention to write a short article about smile.jpg, I decided, I could attach it as evidence, and anyone who read the article, anyone who took interest, would be affected. And, even assuming the smile.jpg attached to the email was genuine, would I be capricious enough to save myself in that manner?
Original Author: Unknown

66 Comments on 'The Curious Case of Smile.jpg'

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  • Commented on May 21, 2013 at 6:22 pm


  • Commented on May 30, 2013 at 9:19 pm

    This post needs to be proof read and corrected as there are a few typos and mistakes.
    The picture however is seriously creepy.
    Good pasta!

  • Commented on June 1, 2013 at 11:01 pm

    My friend read this. The next day at school she said she was having dreams about smile.jpg. I believe this is the real image.

  • Commented on July 8, 2013 at 6:19 pm

    I avoided looking at the picture for 10 minutes 😀 great pasta!

  • Commented on July 23, 2013 at 4:05 pm

    Good Pasta, but no bad dreams though lol

  • Commented on August 30, 2013 at 1:08 pm

    Never had the dreams but every time I see that pic I get so paranoid it ain’t funny.

  • Commented on November 13, 2013 at 7:12 am

    I had to close my eyes to scroll to the comments, seriously creepy!

  • Commented on December 16, 2013 at 10:45 pm

    Good pasta tasted amazing. No dreams, but rely creepy.

  • Commented on March 3, 2014 at 3:09 am


  • rokk
    Commented on January 19, 2015 at 5:53 pm

    Great pasta. The picture doesn’t really creep me out. No dreams, yet.

  • Commented on January 22, 2015 at 12:48 pm

    i like how that photo is probably genuine as you can see the beckoning hand!
    Scared now 🙁

  • Commented on February 26, 2015 at 5:36 pm

    I have no dreams about it but when I see the pic it makes me paranoid! Good pasta, 4-5 stars

  • alveolate
    Commented on March 31, 2015 at 3:47 pm

    it’s a bit overlong, no? and as another user commented, quite a few grammatical errors / awkward phrasings. also, that picture is just grainy and blurry… why is it creepy?

  • mary j
    Commented on April 24, 2015 at 3:03 pm

    so scary

  • Commented on April 28, 2015 at 5:27 pm

    bloddy hand in the corner BLOODY HAND IN THE CORNER 5/5 ;-;

  • Commented on May 15, 2015 at 10:41 pm

    That dogs eyes freak me out more then they smile…I don’t know why. Good story, it made me paranoid enough to not want to look at the picture.

  • Commented on May 20, 2015 at 4:24 pm

    MY PUPPY!!!!

  • Commented on June 9, 2015 at 7:31 pm

    I don’t know if it’s the quality of my phone or what but I don’t see the hand. The dog looks like just a creepy husky. Granted the story did make me paranoid about looking at the picture but when I actually look close it really is not that creepy.

  • jbgdjbhma
    Commented on June 10, 2015 at 5:03 pm

    not scary like wtf
    try some one actually DYING
    or smile dog needs LAWTS OF BLOOD

  • Commented on June 23, 2015 at 2:50 am

    To put to rest people who are afraid this is the real pic of Smile Dog, there is no real pic of him. It’s been photoshopped so many times that the actual one was lost in the Internet. 10/1 breads for the story.

  • Commented on July 10, 2015 at 7:36 am

    I read this in the dark with my too dogs lying next to me. I dreaded looking at the pic. Gave it a quick glance. Scary stuff.

  • KaylaCautio
    Commented on September 10, 2015 at 10:42 pm

    I’ve seen this picture before, but this is the first time I’ve noticed the hand. Good Pasta, very creepy. Love it.

  • Commented on September 16, 2015 at 2:22 pm

    Ok so I was thinking about smile dog when I was in my bed and everyone in my house was sleeping! So when I was thinking about it I heard knocking on my door! O.O

  • rory
    Commented on October 1, 2015 at 1:09 am

    i saw the pick felt a somebody’s watching you itch on the back of my neck scared to go to sleep now. i need to get off this sight now before i make myself go crazy and my biography ends up on this sight and the verify humanity thingy below um first grade math. but the picture i got stuck for five minutes starring at the pic did any one notice the dog kinda has a derp face

  • Commented on November 12, 2015 at 12:55 pm

    Good creepy pasta! Very scary i’ll see if i get the dreams if i never visit this site again, he has got me…

  • Commented on November 12, 2015 at 6:34 pm

    Good Pasta but the story kind of got ruined at the end. You said that the people who looked at the picture got epilepsy. I didn’t have a spasm attack. I guess that’s okay since you don’t want the readers to die but you get the point. Still it was really good.

  • Commented on November 16, 2015 at 12:51 am

    Who else said ‘ Time to fuck with myself’ and typed in Smile.jpg? Cause that’s what I did

  • Commented on November 24, 2015 at 12:26 pm

    When I looked at the picture I could see the more demonic version of Smile Dog.

  • Smileyy.Doge
    Commented on December 8, 2015 at 5:50 pm


  • Commented on December 19, 2015 at 10:07 pm

    Now that I think about it, I’ve been having dizzy spells a lot more often ever since I saw the pic of Smile Dog at the bottom of this pasta. Seriously creeped out now, thanks a lot IAmBread. P.S. I wonder who posted Smile Dog the first time it ever showed up.

  • ellie
    Commented on January 17, 2016 at 8:55 pm

    uh duz any1 else see the skeletal face in the lower fingerprint???

  • Commented on February 5, 2016 at 1:47 am

    That image… Oh God! Creepy D:

  • Commented on February 12, 2016 at 8:48 am

    Epic. How does one get the picture in a pasta? I’d love to include one with a story I’m writing…

  • Commented on March 1, 2016 at 7:17 pm

    Wow! AMAZING CREEPYPASTA. Especially the picture of the dog. Was I the only one who saw bloody fingerprints on the picture?

  • Commented on May 19, 2016 at 3:14 am

    Help every time I close my eyes I see smile.jpg
    Alao I didnt know you could put pics in your creepypastas

  • Commented on May 19, 2016 at 3:15 am

    Wait did anyone see the letters in the window

  • Commented on May 27, 2016 at 4:11 pm

    Oh my God. There actually are letters in the window. Holy crap.

  • Commented on May 27, 2016 at 4:12 pm

    Oh my God. There actually are letters in the window. Holy crap. This is really creepy.

  • Commented on June 4, 2016 at 8:46 pm

    Apparently I’m more sensitive than I thought, that pic is freaky, I rate this pasta 8/10

  • Commented on September 18, 2016 at 11:08 pm

    lol I love this pasta

  • Commented on October 30, 2016 at 6:42 pm

    I’m so not freaked out…

    Actually, yeah, I am.

  • Commented on January 4, 2017 at 5:58 pm

    This is a classic pasta
    well made and that image will haunt me.

  • Commented on January 16, 2017 at 11:50 pm

    ur retarded lol

  • Commented on February 3, 2017 at 5:28 pm

    I smelled dog breath after this. But I also didn’t brush my teeth this morning. 9/10

  • Commented on February 12, 2017 at 12:03 pm

    Well written pasta! Although this picture is kinna funny

  • Commented on March 28, 2017 at 12:58 am

    Super grateful for my non-demonic kitties now…

  • Commented on April 5, 2017 at 6:34 pm

    amazing and well written 5/5

  • Commented on June 2, 2017 at 1:01 am

    I’ve Done Research On This, Many Websites Say That It’s True Which I Believe. smile.jpg Is A Creepypasta But I’ve Actually Met With Mary, Just Like The Pasta! I’m Am Super Paranoid And I Hope I Never See Smile Dog!

  • ITH
    Commented on August 10, 2017 at 7:46 am

    Who actually had the bravery to look straight at Smile Dog?

  • Commented on October 24, 2017 at 2:37 pm

    my heart started beating faster once the picture came into view!
    ha!! — i liked this a lot.. good suspense 😛 this really creeped me out

  • Commented on November 2, 2017 at 2:24 pm

    I honestly loved it but I honestly will look up smile.jpg just to either see of its real or go insane because I’m bored

  • Commented on November 2, 2017 at 2:25 pm

    I honestly loved it but I honestly will look up smile.jpg just out of curiosity

  • Catzy
    Commented on November 24, 2017 at 9:47 pm

    That pic is sorta scary but have you seen the other one? That’s the one the freaks me out. I actually have had nightmares and smile dog has sorta been in them but that’s only because it’s scary
    Like basing this on how scary it is I give the creepypasta a 9.5/10
    So scary but cool!
    At first that one other pic gave me like a panic attack tho tbh..

  • Commented on February 14, 2018 at 4:39 pm

    Amazing pasta one of the scariest ones I read, as soon as I saw the pic my heart kept out of my chest and and my courage said f that never have I been up a page so fast in my life 10 of 10

  • Commented on March 23, 2018 at 5:29 am

    The pic scares me wayyyyy more than it should tbh

  • izzy
    Commented on May 24, 2019 at 8:24 pm

    im shivering after seeing the pic ugggggggggggggg i believe its the

  • king
    Commented on July 10, 2019 at 9:15 am

    đây k phải ảnh gốc… t đã từng chịu đựng 1 tuần vs lời thì thầm god luv u

  • reeeee
    Commented on April 7, 2020 at 10:50 pm

    I had a panic attack after looking at this

  • Alyssa
    Commented on April 25, 2020 at 5:14 am

    The story is a 7/10 and the pic is a 5/10 because at first it scared me and not I can just look at it. The story’s a 7/10 bc I didn’t really get it but then it’s not to short and it was interesting

  • Alyssa
    Commented on April 25, 2020 at 5:14 am

    The story is a 7/10 and the pic is a 5/10 because at first it scared me and not I can just look at it. The story’s a 7/10 bc I didn’t really get it but then it’s not to short and it was interesting.

  • presley
    Commented on October 18, 2020 at 5:05 am

    if i see him i’ll let u guys know

  • Laeh
    Commented on February 26, 2021 at 8:00 pm


  • Jackolope
    Commented on September 13, 2021 at 2:51 am

    Story quite creepy 10/10
    Photo not so much 4/10

  • j
    Commented on October 28, 2021 at 8:51 pm


  • Melzya
    Commented on May 7, 2022 at 6:32 pm

    I’ve read this story quite a few different times over the years on different sites, none of them seem to be this weirdly unsettling to me as this one was. I actually have printed out a picture of the smile.jpg photo, it wasn’t a good idea. I look at it 24/7 and every time I look at it, the more anxious I get.
    Great pasta though!!

  • crow
    Commented on October 23, 2022 at 10:58 am

    good times, this is still one of my favourites

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