This is what happens when you stay up all night, when you're supposed to be asleep!... You'll never get up in the morning!
~ Old Man Try-By-Night

Old Man Try-By-Night is an antagonistic figure in the titular story by Monty Python member Terry Jones.


Old Man Try-By-Night prowls around the house after dark. He appears as a homeless man, wearing a tattered trench coat, and filthy boots. Old Man Try-By-Night loves banging on the doors and windows, deliberately making as much noise as possible. He will disturb anyone awake, keeping them up, or with sleepers he will make them jerk awake and cause panic. Old Man Try-By-Night is implied to be somewhat supernatural, he may be akin to a poltergeist.


He comes from the titular story by Monty Python member Terry Jones. In the story, he is shown rattling windows and thumping on doors of people's houses, but when he gets to a young boy's house, named Tom, he doesn't count on Tom's alertness. Tom knows of the legend of Old Man Try-By-Night and he foolishly resolves that the Old Man won't keep him up. Old Man Try-By-Night is stalking outside, and Tom suddenly hears him break open the front door, and sneak in. Tom realizes that the door wasn't locked.

Far from being scared, Tom gets furious, and sneaks down silently. He spies on Old Man Try-By-Night messing around in the kitchen. He takes some Nutella, dips a filthy broom in it, and eats the broom. This infuriates Tom so he breaks his silence and yells at Old Man Try-By-Night to stop it. The Old Man shrieks and tries to leave, but Tom locks the door.

The Old Man pleads with Tom to let him out and he says he wasn't doing anything bad. Tom reluctantly agrees to let the Old Man go, because the Old Man hates being seen in his filthy clothes, but the Old Man has to promise to clean up the mess he made. So, Tom realizes that the Old Man is actually leaving more filth than he made. So, Tom tries to clean the kitchen, but more and more dirt appears.

Tom gets sleepy, and the Old Man suddenly grabs Tom with his handkerchief, and mocks him, saying that its foolish to be up all night. The Old Man then puts his hand on Tom's face and he screams, but Tom wakes up in bed, with his father leaning over him.

The story ends with a final note saying Old Man Try-By-Night leaves dreams for the people inside houses after he thumps on their doors and plays havoc.