The tracking control of tendon-driven manipulators has recently become a hot topic. However, the flexible elastic tendon introduces greater residual vibration, making it more difficult to control the trajectory tracking of the manipulator. In this paper, a dynamics model of the elastic tendon-driven manipulator (ETDM) that considers motion coupling is established. A hierarchical sliding mode control (HSMC) method is proposed to realize the trajectory tracking control of the ETDM. On the basis of the Lyapunov design method, the actuator subsliding manifold is defined as the first sliding manifold. The first sliding manifold is then used to construct the joint side subsliding manifold. Furthermore, the total sliding manifold is established based on the joint side sliding manifold and the actuator's sliding manifold. The stability of the proposed HSMC is proved using the Lyapunov stability theory. Finally, simulations and experiments are performed on a two-degree-of-freedom ETDM tracking desired trajectories to demonstrate the effectiveness of the proposed HSMC method. The proposed HSMC exhibits higher tracking accuracy compared with proportional–integral–derivative, and adaptive second-order fast nonsingular terminal sliding mode (SOFNTSM) controls in the simulations. The introduction of different disturbances reveals that HSMC has better robustness than proportional–integral–derivative control. Experimental results show that the maximum error of trajectory tracking is less than 0.025 rad.