The 20 Scariest Urban Legends

Stories you won't dare tell in the dark

Scary urban legends are rarely factually true, but they do reveal important truths about our deepest, darkest fears. Embracing these fears by sharing them in a group is a way of confronting and coping with what we're afraid of.

So, on some dark night, maybe around a campfire, during a sleepover, or just a quiet evening with friends, try telling one of these tales of terror... if you dare!

Scary Clown
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An adolescent babysitter caring for two small children phoned their parents late in the evening to ask for permission to cover up the life-size clown statue in the corner of the family room. "It's not that I don't like it," she said. "It just kind of freaks me out. I can't watch TV with that thing in the room." Their reaction freaked her out even more.

The Dead Boyfriend
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A teenage couple is parked late at night on lovers' lane. The boy gets out of the car and heads for the bushes to go to the bathroom but doesn't return. After waiting what seems like an eternity, his girlfriend finally hears what she thinks is his footsteps approaching. Only it's not footsteps. It's something scraping back and forth across the roof of the vehicle.

Aren't You Glad You Didn't Turn on the Light
Hulton Archive/Getty Images

As if we needed proof that scary things happen in the dark, this unnerving tale about a murderous madman lurking unseen in a dark dormitory bedroom proves that sometimes what you don't know can hurt you — even if it chooses for the moment to hide and wait.

Vanishing Hitchhiker
M. Eric Honeycutt/Vetta/Getty Images

As darkness fell, the honeymooners came upon a female hitchhiker in a tattered white dress. She begged them to take her home. They obliged. Then a strange thing happened as they pulled into the driveway of the address she had given them. It was a moment they'd never forget.

Not long after the end of World War II, Russian researchers conducted an experiment in which five prison inmates were confined in a sealed chamber and exposed to a powerful stimulant gas to test the effects of long-term sleep deprivation on human subjects. The inmates had been promised their freedom if they could stay awake for 30 days straight. What could possibly go wrong?

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Bloody Mary
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Five young girls stood before the bathroom mirror in the dim glow of candlelight, chanting together: "Bloody Mary, Bloody Mary, Bloody Mary, Bloody Mary." The thirteenth time they said it something very odd and very frightening happened. Not all of the girls lived through it. And some of those who did wished they hadn't.

close-up of spider
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While vacationing in a tropical clime, a young woman went sunbathing on the beach and fell asleep. She woke up a short while later and noticed a stinging sensation on her cheek. At first, she attributed the irritated patch of skin to sunburn, then it began to swell and grew into an unsightly boil. Except it wasn't a boil.

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Hook For A Hand
David Emery

A teenage boy drives his date to a dark and deserted lovers' lane for a make-out session. He turns the radio on for mood music and leans for a kiss. Suddenly the music stops. An announcer's voice comes on, warning that a convicted murderer has just escaped from a nearby insane asylum.

Scared babysitter answering telephone
Nick Koudis/Photodisc/Getty Images

In this classic urban legend dating from the 1960s, a young babysitter calls the police after receiving prank phone calls from a creepy stranger who keeps asking if she's checked the children. While waiting for a patrol car to arrive, the babysitter receives more phone calls and has a terrifying realization.

dog with tongue out
Evan Kafka/Stone/Getty Images

Once upon a time, there was a beautiful young girl in a small town just south of Farmersburg. Her parents had to go out for the night, so they left her home alone, protected by the faithful family dog. They instructed her to lock all the doors and secure the house after they left. She did as she was told, nervous about being left alone, but confident that her faithful dog would protect her.

silhouette of killer in the Window
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A 15-year-old girl was babysitting her little sister while her parents were out at a party. It was a cold, dark, wintry night. She had just curled up on the couch to watch TV when she noticed a tall figure approaching the sliding glass door near where she was sitting. It was a wrinkled old man. He was staring at her. Then he pulled a shiny, metallic object out of his pocket.

coffin in grave
Dominic Dibbs/Photodisc/Getty Images

A long time ago, before adequate technology for detecting patients' critical life signs existed, an elderly woman was pronounced dead and scheduled for burial. On the day of the funeral, family members literally had to pry her dead body from the clutches of her husband, who insisted she wasn't really dead.

Mark Mattock/Taxi/Getty Images

A child who fell asleep while eating sweets in his bed began to complain of severe headaches and facial itching, so he was taken to a hospital. Upon examining him and taking X-rays of his skull, doctors discovered that ants had crawled through his ear canal into his head and infested his brain!

Man Looking Under the Bed
Ryan McVay / The Image Bank / Getty Images

Honeymooners notice a strange odor in their hotel suite and call the front desk to see if they can switch rooms. No, they're told, the hotel is full and they'll have to sleep at least one night in the smelly room. When housekeepers arrive the next day to clean the room, they make a grisly discovery that they would never forget.

Woman with Beehive Hair Style
H. Armstrong Roberts / Retrofile / Getty Images

A stylish high school girl who has grown tired of spending hours a day teasing and lacquering her hair to attain the "beehive" hairdo so popular in the 1960s decides instead to wash it in sugar water and let it harden into the preferred style. Before going to bed each night, she wrapped a towel around her sugared hair and slept on a special pillow. Then one morning she failed to come downstairs for breakfast.

Doberman dog

A family comes home to find their Doberman pinscher choking in the living room. They take the dog to an emergency veterinarian and return home, only to receive a frantic call from the vet, who tells them to get out of the house, and fast! Why? Well, it has to do with what the dog was choking on.

bride with bouquet walking out of church

After a lavish wedding in a stately mansion, members of the wedding party decide to play a game of hide-and-seek. It isn't long before everyone is found — everyone, that is, except for the bride. Twenty-four hours later, she's still missing. What happened to the bride?

Man With a Briefcase
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After consenting to give a ride to a good Samaritan who helped her fix a flat tire, a lone female driver suddenly remembers she has a very important appointment, apologizes, and races off without him. Later that day, she finds the man has left his briefcase in the back seat of her car. She opens it and receives the shock of her life.

doctor having serious conversation with woman patient
Science Photo Library/Getty Images

After anthropologist Susan McKinley came back home from an expedition in South America, she noticed a very strange rash on her left breast. Nobody knew what it was, and she quickly dismissed it believing that the unusual appearance would clear up in time. It didn't. When she was finally examined by a doctor, the diagnosis was more horrible than she could ever have imagined.

Michael Hipple/Moment/Getty Images

Have you heard of Bunny Man Bridge? It's a secluded overpass near Clifton, Virginia. Many years ago, a deranged escapee from the local insane asylum took refuge there. That's when the half-eaten carcasses of rabbits were found, and the mysterious "Bunny Man" killings began.