19 Urban Legends From Your Childhood That Are Still Scary As Hell
The kinds of stories that scar you for life.
1. The watchful paintings.
"This has creeped me out ever since I heard it: One night there was a man walking alone in the woods. He noticed that it was getting dark outside and he needed to find a place to sleep. Eventually he came across a cabin and decided it would suffice. When he went in, he noticed that the walls were covered with paintings of people and their eyes seemed to be following him. It freaked him out a little, but since it was late he decided to ignore it and go to sleep. When he woke up in the morning, he noticed that the paintings were gone and there were only windows..." —Emily Benjamin, Facebook
2. Lights out.
"There’s the one where the girl comes back to her college dorm late at night, and she doesn’t turn the lights on because she doesn’t want to wake her roommate. When she wakes up in the morning, she sees her roommate dead in a pool of blood on her bed, and written in blood on the wall is, 'Aren’t you glad you didn’t turn on the lights?' Still scares the shit out of me to this day." —ckluvsthebeatles
3. The tapping.
"In Hawaii there is a place called Morgan’s Corner on Oahu. Legend says that a young couple were getting hot and heavy in the car and heard tapping on the roof. The girl was getting nervous and asked her boyfriend if they could leave, but then the car wouldn't start. Since this was the time before cell phones, the boyfriend had to go out to find some help, leaving his girlfriend to wait. Eventually she heard tapping on the roof again, so she left the car to find her boyfriend. When she looked back, he was hanging from the vines of the tree above the car, with his fingertips brushing the roof as his body swung back and forth." —loriannek
4. Humans can lick too.
"When I was younger a story that used to creep me out was one involving a dog. It was about this girl who was so close to her dog that every night it would sleep under her bed, and whenever she was scared or lonely she would put her hand under the bed and the dog would lick it.
One night she kept on hearing a dripping sound. She found it a bit unsettling, so she put her hand under the bed and felt reassured by the hand-licking. The dripping kept on going, so she finally got up to see what it was. She walked into the bathroom and looked in horror. Her dog was hanging from the shower head with its blood drip, drip, dripping and on the wall written in her beloved dog's blood was: ‘Dogs aren’t the only ones who can lick…’" —ismayk
5. The clown statue.
"A family hires a babysitter to watch the children for the evening while the parents go out to dinner. Mid-way through the meal, one of the parents rings the sitter to check in. The sitter lets the parent know that everything is fine and the children are now in bed. She asks the parent if it's OK to watch a show in the parents' bedroom and they say it's fine. The sitter then asks if it's OK if she throws a blanket over the statue of the clown in the bedroom, as she is a bit scared of clowns. The parent replies, "grab the kids and get out of the house now. We do not have a statue of a clown in our room." —Connie Winner, Facebook
6. The killer in the backseat.
"It's an old cliche, but it gets me to this day. If I'm driving alone at night, I will occasionally freak myself out into turning on the light and looking in the backseat. If, for some reason, you've never heard it, here's the shorthand:
A girl is leaving a party or dance late at night and she notices a truck following her closely, occasionally flashing its high beams at her. She slows down to let him pass but he stays right on her tail, flashing the high beams. She speeds up, he speeds up, she takes an unexpected turn, he does the same, and so on. When she gets home she runs out of the car screaming at her parents that there's a psycho following her, but the guy in the truck calmly gets out and explains he saw a creepy guy crawl into her back seat just before she left, and every time he popped his head up, the truck driver flashed his high beams in order to scare him. They look and see a creepy-looking guy with a knife curled up on the floor of the car." —Matt Michaud, Facebook
7. The bell.
"I can’t even remember who told me this, but I heard that during the plague lots of people were buried alive because they appeared dead. The graves used to have bells on a string in them so the 'dead' could ring from their coffins if they awoke. A man would stay in the graveyard to listen out for the bells. One day a bell rang, so the bell listener walked over to the grave that was ringing. He heard a man shouting 'help, I’m not dead'. The bell listener looks at the man's grave stone and said, 'but you’ve been buried for 20 years.'" —brionypeachr
8. The call from inside the house.
"I was 13 years old and had just landed my very first solo babysitting job, from 7-9 at night. I made the mistake of reading the story of the babysitter who was sitting in the living room while the kids slept upstairs, when the phone rang. When she picked it up, a creepy voice asked her if she had 'checked the children.' This happened again, so she called the police, who put a trace on the line. When the man called again, the police were able to trace the call from the house itself. Long story short, there was a serial killer in the house. The babysitter ran upstairs to find the children dead and gutted, with a message written on the wall, in blood: 'I TOLD YOU TO CHECK THE CHILDREN!'
As a babysitter, I locked every door, turned on every light, and sat on the couch with a knife. And yes, I checked the kids every two minutes." —Chana Lerner, Facebook
9. The green ribbon.
"The one that's always stuck with me is about the girl who always wore a green ribbon around her neck. One day her sweetheart asked her to marry him, and she said, "yes, but only if you never ask me to take my green ribbon off." He agreed to those terms, but on their wedding day he asked her to take it off and she said "no, I told you never to ask me that". On their first anniversary he asked again and she said "no" again. The same thing happened year after year and she always said no. Then finally, when she was old and on her deathbed, he asked her one last time, and she said, "ok, you can remove my ribbon." And so he did and HER HEAD FELL OFF. I've only just realised it's probably a great analogy for consent." —Ali G, Facebook
10. La Llorona.
"The legend is that after her husband left her for another woman, she drowned the children they had together in the river. After realising what she had done, she drowned herself as well. She was denied entrance into the gates of Heaven, and was sent back as a ghost to search for her children’s bodies. They say that you can hear her weeping late at night, and children are told not to be outside too late or La Llorona may mistake them for her children and take them away!" —poisonivy1990
11. The counting doll.
"So there was this girl named Rebecca, and her mom gave her some money one day to buy lunch after school. On the way, she passed a store that had this doll in the window that was holding up one finger. Rebecca thought the doll was really cool, so she bought it instead of buying food. When she got home with the doll, she left it downstairs and went upstairs to do her homework.
A little while later, the doll began walking up the stairs saying 'one step Rebecca', 'two steps Rebecca' and so on in a sing-song voice, all the way up to 10 stairs. After that he said, 'I’m here Rebecca.”
Later on, Rebecca’s mom came home, made dinner, and called Rebecca downstairs. When Rebecca didn’t come she said, 'Rebecca, don’t make me go up there!' Rebecca still didn’t come, so her mom went upstairs to get her and when she got to Rebecca’s room, Rebecca was dead on her bed, with blood everywhere, and the doll was standing on her dresser, now holding up two fingers. The fingers were the number of people he’d killed." —chloeg4747e2b95
12. The hotel room.
"There was this man who stayed at a hotel for a business trip. He was given a keycard for his room and went up to his floor. On the way to his room, he noticed one of the doors still had a keyhole and had not been converted to a card reader. 'Interesting,' he thought and headed to his room.
He couldn’t stop thinking of that one door all night and wondered why it hadn’t been changed. The next morning, curiosity got the best of him and he peeked in the keyhole on his way out. He saw a lady with long white hair standing in the corner, facing away from him. He shrugged and went about his day.
He returned to the hotel later that night, exhausted and eager to get back to his room, but he saw the door again. He figured it wouldn’t hurt to look and when he did, it had been blocked. Something bright red seemed to have been put in front of the keyhole.
'They must have noticed me looking in earlier,' he thought, embarrassed. He went on his way to bed. The next morning he asked the hotel employee checking him out about the room. The lady said, 'Oh, last time someone stayed in that room, it was a bride waiting for her wedding to start. Her groom never showed up, and she suddenly passed away in that very room the next night. Nobody has touched it since. She’s very hard to forget. She had long white hair and bright red eyes.'”—Denminas01
13. Vampire bats.
"When I was probably in like the first grade, an older friend of mine told me an interesting tidbit about vampire bats. He said that if a regular bat bit you and drew blood, then it would become a vampire bat. Then, because it had tasted your blood before, it would track you down and suck you dry. Plus, every time it drank someone’s blood it would supposedly get larger." —sofijaimes1
14. Flickering lights.
"When I was in elementary school, I stayed the night at a friend’s house. I don’t know why, but I went over to the light switch in her bedroom and turned it on and off several times quickly. She ran to me and told me to stop. She looked panicked. I asked why and she said there was a cult that drove around at night looking for lights to go on and off in a house, and those were the houses they chose. They waited until everyone was asleep and killed whoever was in the room where the lights went on and off. To this day, I get freaked out if lights go on and off several times." —jonnahowden
15. The liver.
"My mom's favourite pastime was scaring the living shit out of her children. ‘Johnny I want my liver back’ was her best. It was about this boy whose family sent him to the store to buy some liver, but instead he took the money to buy candy and stole a liver from a dead man. His family went to the movies but he stayed home. The dead man appeared and slowly made his way into Johnny’s bedroom, all the while chanting stuff like 'Johnny I’m outside', 'Johnny I’m at your front door', 'JOHNNY I’m at the stairs', 'JOHNNY I’M IN YOUR ROOM', 'JOHNNY I WANT MY LIVER BACK!!!' That story was the worst." —verrisw
16. Joker mouth.
"It was a story about this lady whose mouth got cut on both sides, giving her the Joker look. Legend had it that she would walk up to children and ask if she looked beautiful. If the child said yes, she would cut the kid's mouth to look like hers, claiming that if she looked beautiful, the kid could too. However, if the kid said no, then she would still cut their mouth, saying if she looked ugly then the kid could too. To this day it still terrifies me." —shamatthews
17. The hook.
"My dad told me one about this young couple driving on a road in the middle of nowhere. They heard on the radio that a killer had escaped from a local prison. The description said the convict had a hook for a hand. When they went to get gas, the guy went inside and the woman stayed in the car. She heard scraping on the side of the car but couldn’t see anything. They guy came back and she told him, and he said he didn’t see anyone and that it must have been the wind. They kept driving and heard it again, so they pulled over to the side of the road... and discovered the hook was stuck in her passenger door handle." —taylorm4429da491
18. The bunny man bridge.
"My friends told me this story in fifth grade. It's about a patient from an asylum that escaped into the woods one night and murdered four people. He then skinned rabbits to make a bunny suit. In that suit, he would kill young lovers walking in the woods and eat them. He was one day pursued by the police, but before they could catch them he hung himself on a bridge. He's said to haunt the bridge and kill anyone who walks under it. I still shiver just thinking about it." —Sofia Alva, Facebook
19. And Bloody Mary.
"At one of the first sleepovers I had at my house when I was a kid, someone told the story about how if you say 'Bloody Mary' three times in a dark bathroom with a flashlight, she’ll appear in the mirror… I haven’t been able to walk into a bathroom without turning the light on ever since. Seriously, I stick my arm in to find the light switch." —calico55
Submissions have been lightly edited for length/clarity.