Hello there! Are you looking for a reason not to sleep tonight or ever again? Cool-cool-cool same, so let's join spooky hands and run through 17 of the scariest urban legends ever. Let's see...we have a wailing ghost who wanders rivers trying to doom people, a cryptid that feasts on goat blood, an axe murderer who spends his time dressed as a bunny (nope, do not want), and Slender Man—an urban legend so very legendary that people have tried to kill in his name.
Ready? Yeah me neither, but here we go I guess. Also, a word of warning: after reading this list, you will likely assume that every friendly dog who tries to lick your hand is secretly a serial killer trying to murder you. Enjoy the nightmares!
Let's kick things off with this total classic, involving a deranged dude with a hook for a hand who goes around attacking couples trying to make out in their cars. Usually, said couples are listening to the radio, and find out that a serial killer has escaped a mental institution RIGHT before getting slashed to death. Oh, and our dude almost always leaves his hook hanging ominously in the car door.
Naale Baa is an Indian urban legend involving a malevolent spirit dressed as a bride who manipulates people into letting her inside their homes. But once you open the door? You're toast. The only way to deter Naale Baa is to write her name on your door, so excuse me while I go do that real quick, thanks.
The legend of Teke Teke hails from Japan, and involves the spirit of a young woman who was tragically cut in half during a train accident. Apparently, the top half of Teke Teke's body can be found wandering stations in the evenings—and legend says she'll cut you in half if you run into her. So yeah, something else to worry about next time you're taking the train home!
Despite the name, Rat King is not a cute rodent reigning over his whiskered subjects. Rat King is the horrifying name for a phenomenon where rats become tangled together and form a giant super rat. The worst part is, this is a thing that actually happens—so it's less of an urban legend and more of a terrifying glimpse at what's probably going down in the New York City subways.
^ The only rat king I currently recognize.
This is one of those stories that gets passed around from friend to friend and is likely very untrue, but here's the deal. Once upon a time, a college student comes home after a party and sees her roommate lying in bed. No bigs / ordinary, so she goes to sleep. But uh, when she wakes up the next morning, she sees that her roommate's throat has been slit and the words "aren’t you glad you didn’t turn on the light?” are drawn on the wall in blood. Thanks, I hate it!
The Vanishing Hitchhiker
This one has been around FOREVER thanks to multiple people telling the same story: they pick up a hitchhiker, everything's normal, and then poof! Said hitchhiker vanishes from the car. Guess the consensus is that ghosts are trolling us? Kinda here for it.
The Spider Bite
I honestly don't even know how to describe this one, so I'll just go ahead and say it: The Spider Bite is an urban legend about a, duh, spider bite which swells up and bursts, revealing millions of tiny baby spiders in the wound. I'll give you a moment to collect yourself and/or vomit.
Yours truly grew up with this particular folktale, which originates in Mexico and is about a mother named Maria (aka La Llorona) who threw her children into a river upon realizing that her husband was unfaithful. She immediately regretted the impulsive act, and so legend says that if you lurk around rivers or arroyos after dark, you might come across her wailing spirit. La Llorona wears a highly haunting all-white lace outfit, and laying eyes on her will bring you death and doom so RUN THE HELL AWAY.
Hands up if you've ever walked into the bathroom, turned the lights on and off, and chanted "Bloody Mary, Bloody Mary, Bloody Mary" in front of the mirror. Because apparently this is how you summon ya girl Mary! And the good news is that sometimes Mary's nice. The bad news is she often appears as a corpse covered in blood. So yeah.
P.S. If you've ever played Bloody Mary and truly thought you saw her, don't worry—you were most likely hallucinating, which apparently can happen when you stare into a mirror for too long. The alternative is you're just seeing the spirit of a dead girl. Either way!
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Ah yes, the Chupacabra! 'Tis a legendary cryptid rumored to meander around the Southwest and Puerto Rico. This deranged-looking furry friend is said to drink the blood of goats and other unlucky livestock, and there's no way you want to be caught near one. Apparently, the Chupacabra has been doing his thing since the '90s, when eight sheep were found drained of blood in Puerto Rico. A few months later, a whole SLEW of farm animals were killed, and after that, people all over the world started citing reports of their livestock having two puncture wounds and zero bodily fluids.
There's been a ton of legitimate research about whether or not the Chupacabra is real, and the answer is no-ish. IRL sightings are probably just coyotes with mange, but still. Watch your goats. Especially this goat:
The Goatman of Maryland
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Oh, you don't know of the Goatman? The half-human and half-goat hybrid monster who trolls around Maryland? TIME TO GET ACQUAINTED because this dude is frightening as f*ck. According to urban legend, the ax-wielding Goatman used to be a scientist, until an experiment involving goats turned him into a goat and he started murdering everyone with his ax.
Kinda like Goatman, but with MOTHS. Most people are somewhat familiar with this buggy buddy thanks to the legendary Richard Gere movie, but if you need a reminder, Mothman is a man who is also a moth. He lives in West Virginia, and first showed up during the '60s, when several folks claimed to see him. So, is Mothman real? Who knows, but look: if you want to believe there's a giant moth person roaming around the South, godspeed.
This is a personal favorite due to how completely messed up it is. Here's the story: a girl and her dog are home alone, so she has her dog sleep under her bed because she's scared. In the middle of the night, the girl wakes up to the sound of creepy dripping coming from the bathroom, so she puts her hand underneath her bed for comfort, and is reassured when her beloved dog licks it. But the next morning, she walks into the bathroom only to find her dog slaughtered and strung up from the shower rod, his blood dripping onto the floor. On the wall, someone has scrawled the message, "HUMANS CAN LICK TOO."
If you thought Goatman was bad, meet Bunny Man! He's a dude from Virginia who dresses up as a rabbit and murders people with an ax! There's even an entire BRIDGE named after him. Some say Bunny Man is an escaped convict who goes around Virginia skinning rabbits and hanging them on Bunny Man bridge, and rabbit carcasses are said to show up around Halloween, so feel free to visit this October.
The Black-Eyed Children
Reports of black-eyed children panhandling their way around the country have been around since the '90s (which, judging from this list, was the creepiest decade ever). Verdict's still out on whether they're vampires or monsters, but the first person who saw them was a man named Brian Bethel, who claims they showed up in Texas. In conclusion: Never going to Texas again.
You can go deeeep into the legend of Slender Man right this way, but here's the TL;DR version: He's a scary man with super long floppy arms who lives in the woods and preys on children. Slender Man is 100 percent not real (he was invented on the internet in 2009 by Eric Knudsen), but this fake story made its way into urban legend so fast and furiously that kids started believing he was real. In fact, there have been multiple crimes attributed to Slender Man—including the high-profile case of two girls who were accused of stabbing their classmate in his name.
Killer in the Backseat/High Beams
Saved the worst for last! You've heard some version of this story before if your childhood was as WTF as mine, but here we go: a woman is driving home alone at night. Suddenly, the car behind her starts driving erratically and flashing its high beams. Understandably, she assumes she's being stalked and rushes home—getting her car safely into the garage so that the car behind her can't follow her in. Annnnnd it turns out that there's been a man crouching in her backseat wielding a knife the whole time, and the driver behind her had only been flashing his lights to try and deter him from attacking. (Psst: 1998's Urban Legend movie starts with this story.)
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