Parents, I have no idea how y'all do it. Kids say some spooky, terrifying things that would have me immediately packing up my things and "noping" the heck out of that house.
Personally, I think one of the creepiest things kids talk about is their imaginary friends. Whether you believe they're rooted in something paranormal or it's simply all in their heads, I think it's safe to say hearing a kid tell you there's a shadowy man with glowing eyes in their room is at least a little unnerving.
Because it's spooky season, I asked members of the BuzzFeed Community to share their wildest imaginary friend stories — whether it was their own or their kid's. They really didn't disappoint on the "spooky" side, y'all. Here are 18 of the best, creepiest ones:
Note: Submissions have also been sourced from this similar Reddit thread.
1. "When my son was about 3 years old, we were living with my mom in an older apartment. I had always gotten a weird vibe from it — the atmosphere felt heavy and a little oppressive, but I assumed it was just because of the age. However, my son started waking up in the middle of the night and would talk to his 'friend,' who he described as the ‘Hat Man.’ He would always wake up and tell Hat Man that he didn’t want to go play with him because he was supposed to be asleep, and that he’d see him tomorrow. This was always followed by him waking me up and asking for a glass of water."
"I knew it wasn’t just an imaginary friend when, one night, I heard him talking, and when he said he’d see him tomorrow, the door to his room closed on its own. This stopped completely once we moved out."
2. "One day, my daughter came home from preschool and told me she had a new friend that joined her classroom named ‘Soosha.’ I didn’t think much about it. My daughter would say things like that she wanted a colorful backpack like Soosha’s, or hair ribbons like hers. One day, my husband asked the teacher to point out which girl on the playground was Soosha, and the teacher told him there was no such girl."
"After that, my husband insisted this was an imaginary friend and discouraged my daughter from mentioning her.
"It was several months before she brought Soosha up again. We went on a trip to Argentina (from California), and as we were riding up a glass elevator in the Buenos Aires airport, my daughter suddenly pointed down into the crowd and said, 'Look, there’s Soosha! She followed us here. Even though Dad told her to go away.' Neither myself or my husband saw a child where she was pointing."
3. "My sister and I had the same exact imaginary friend when she was 6 and I was 5. Her name was Narni. It would freak our older brother and parents out that we both would talk to her and knew exactly where she would be. They would wonder how we both would interact with her at the same time and that our descriptions of her matched. We would even talk about how she would get angry or jealous. Our parents thought for sure that it was the spirit of a child that had passed."
4. "When I was little, I claimed to have an imaginary friend who had light brown hair, wore a nightgown, and had stars for eyes. Well, my niece was living at my old childhood home and told me that she has a 'friend' who misses me and asked why I went away. When I asked her who it was, she described my old imaginary friend. It was super spooky."
5. "My youngest sister, who was 4 years old at the time, had an imaginary friend named Paris Jaris. My dad had built her a small playhouse in our backyard where my mom could see and hear her while she was in the kitchen. My sister would have tea parties and such with her imaginary friend. One day, my mom heard her say, 'Don’t worry, as long as I’m alive, they won’t hurt you.' She paused and said, 'Well if you do that, then I can’t help you. It’s not nice to kill people.'"
"When my mom asked her what that was about, my sister responded, 'Sometimes, I have to tell Paris to be a nice person or he can’t visit anymore.' We moved not too long afterwards, and she didn’t get a new playhouse."
6. "When I was 6 years old, we lived in an old farmhouse that was at the very edge of a small village in the Midwest. My bedroom was on the second floor, and the closet had a very heavy wooden door. The latch was old and rusted, which my mom didn't think was safe, so we didn't use that closet for anything. Well, I started sitting in the closet at night with the light on, talking to a nice old man who hung out in there. He wore a blue uniform, had salt and pepper hair, and a mustache. I had a name for him and everything: Maypo."
"I talked to this nice old man about my life, my family, my friends, school, everything. This went on for about a year. My mom found out about it, forbade me from going back into the closet, and told me to knock it off with the imaginary friend because it was freaking my little brother out.
"Fast-forward several years. There was a town meeting to elect a new mayor for the village, and everyone was supposed to attend. My mom brought my brothers and I with her because she couldn't find a babysitter.
"At the little town hall, which I'd never stepped foot in before that night, there was a photo memorial plaque on the wall for a mailman who had been hit and killed by a truck delivering mail to the end of the road I lived on. His name was Ralph Maypo. He looked exactly the same as my imaginary friend, blue uniform and all."
7. "A kid once told me that he didn't want to go to church because his 'invisible friend said he can't follow [him] in there.'"
8. "When I was around 3 or 4, my mom would drive around with me in the backseat, and I'd usually just talk and talk. When my mom used to answer my questions, I’d always tell her that I wasn’t talking to her, but I wouldn't tell her who I was talking to when she'd ask. We pulled into the driveway one afternoon, and I said goodbye to my 'friend' named 'Pappy.' My mother told my father some years later, and discovered that 'Pappy' was what my father used to call his father when he was little. My grandfather passed away a while before I was born, and my father never shared that name with anyone."
9. "When my son was first learning to talk, he would tell us about something called 'Purple Mommy.' He described purple mommy as all purple with long hair and bright, all-white eyes. At the time, he was mixing up purple with black a lot, so he could have meant she was all black and shadowy. Purple Mommy would pick him up at night and turn off the lights. This creeped me out, as we would often find my son out of his crib in the morning, which would mean him crawling over the railing and to the ground at a time when he was barely walking. I definitely found the lights in his room off a few times, too, even though he's terrified of the dark. He also explained that Purple Mommy needed bandages, because she had blood everywhere. Purple Mommy could take her head off. And, finally, Purple Mommy really didn't like daddy."
"He told us all of this stuff for maybe a year or a little more. If we ever asked where she was, he'd always point to the same spot — a corner of the room behind his open closet door. He woke up crying almost every night during this time. Once, during a really rough night, my wife went to ask him what's wrong, and his answer was 'Purple Mommy wont let me sleep.'"
10. "When my daughter was a toddler, she randomly started talking about a man named Don. She always described him the same way and didn’t seem scared at all, despite bringing him up every day. She didn’t go to daycare, and we didn’t know anyone named Don, so I had no idea who it could've been. Then one day, she got completely freaked out, wouldn't sleep in her room, and wouldn’t walk around the house alone in case she ran into Don. She started talking about how she hated him because he said mean words to her all the time. About a year into 'mean Don,' we bought a new house. Once we moved, she never spoke of him again."
11. "My son, then about 2 or 3 years old, used to tell us about his imaginary friend, Johnny, who wore all green, including a green hat. Once, we were driving by the cemetery, and my son pointed out the window and exclaimed, 'That’s where Johnny lives.' He was very little and didn’t know what a cemetery was, so we explained to him that no one lives there and that it’s a place for people who died. That’s when he told us that 'Johnny lived there because he was a soldier who died in a place called Nam.'"
12. "I had an imaginary friend named Derek who was a carbon copy of me. We were completely identical. I played with Derek for years, longer than what normal kids do. But he would always look at my mom and older sister with a sense of sadness. Eventually, he went away."
"23 years later, I was digging through my mom's safe to grab some paperwork she'd kept for me, and I found a stillborn death certificate for a boy named Derek who shared my birthday. It was only then that I discovered I was actually a twin, and my brother, Derek, died during birth."
13. "When my son was 3 years old, one day he asked me what happened to the little boy he used to play with. I asked him who he was talking about, thinking he was referring to his cousins or friends from daycare. This happened in 2020, and those were basically the only kids he saw that year, so it had to be one of them. He said, 'No, the little boy I play tag with in the backyard.' Well, there had never been a little boy over in our yard at that time. I asked if he was thinking about a dream he had, and he was very adamant that there was, in fact, a boy he had played with multiple times in our yard."
"I was a little wigged out, but also was thinking, he's 3, so who knows. About a year later, we were driving to preschool, and he said quietly to me from the back of our minivan, 'Mom, sometimes I see people who aren't there. That other people don't see.' I asked what he meant and tried to get him to elaborate, but he went mum and didn't seem to want to talk about it anymore. He's now 6 and hasn't mentioned any of these 'friends' again."
14. "My sister Ashley used to get visited at night by a dead girl with long, dark hair and spider hands. Yes, this pre-dated The Ring, and yes, I'm old AF. Anyway, she moved out the second she turned 18 and never looked back. Twenty-odd years later, our half-brother Trevor moved into her old room. It wasn't long after that Trev started sleeping on the sofa or with the lights on, and told us about his new 'friend' that he didn't like. She was a dead girl who had long, dark hair, an old nightgown, and spider hands. Needless to say, none of us offered to trade rooms with him."
15. "One night, I was reading a story to our 3-year-old, and he started laughing. He was looking over my shoulder, so I asked him what he was laughing at, and he answered, 'The little girl by the door is being silly!' I looked back, terrified of what I might see, and as I did, he stated, 'Oh! She ran away!' Needless to say, I called my husband at work and told him I would not be sleeping a minute that night!"
16. "My eldest daughter had an imaginary friend when she was 4 years old. His name was Jack, and he lived under our back porch. She said he liked to shove sticks down people's throats. I discouraged playtime with Jack."
17. "My 5-year-old daughter was sick one night, so she slept with me whilst her dad slept downstairs. She couldn't fall asleep and was talking the nonsense that only a 5-year-old can talk. She abruptly stopped, snapped her head to look the opposite direction, and said, in a very stern voice, 'No, I can't play ball right now. I'm busy.' Then, she turned to me and said, 'What? It's just my spirits,' before continuing her prior babbling like nothing had happened."
"Needless to say, I did not sleep a wink that night, especially because we have never used the term 'spirits' around her! My husband was grateful he got the sofa shift after I relayed this tale to him the next morning."
18. And finally, "Let's start with some backstory here. One of my uncles (let's call him Steve) lost a childhood friend when he was about 7 years old. Steve and his friend (let’s call him Jack) were having a playdate one afternoon and got a bit dirty in some mud. So, Steve’s mother gave Jack a pair of Steve’s shoes to borrow. When Jack’s father came to pick him up after the playdate, he forgot to put his shoes back on, so he accidentally got into the car still wearing Steve's boots. Tragically, the father and Jack got into a terrible car crash on the way home, which killed 7-year-old Jack. The family had him buried in the shoes he had borrowed from Steve. "
"Fast-forward 30 years. It's 2010, and we were at a family gathering. My 6-year-old cousin Sara was alone, playing with toys in a quieter room of the house. My uncle Steve went up to her and asked her what she was playing. Sara responded, saying that she was playing with a friend. Holding back a smile, Steve asked who her imaginary friend was. She explained that she was playing with his friend Jack, adding, 'He's sorry he forgot to give your shoes back.' My uncle’s jaw nearly dropped. He had not talked about Jack in years, let alone told that story to a 6-year-old. No one had brought up Jack that day, nor at any family gathering recently. Every time I remember this incident, I get chills."