Top 10 Scariest Urban Legends That Turned Out To Be FAKE
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Top 10 Scariest Urban Legends That Turned Out To Be FAKE

VOICE OVER: Tom Aglio WRITTEN BY: Nathan Sharp
If you thought these urban legends were true, we're sorry to disappoint you. For this list, we'll be looking at the most popular urban legends with absolutely zero basis in recorded history. Our countdown includes Bloody Mary, Slender Man, The Killer In the Backseat, and more!
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Top 10 Most Well-Known Scary Urban Legends That Turned Out Not to Be True


Welcome to WatchMojo, and today we’re counting down our picks for the Top 10 most well known scary urban legends that turned out not to be true.

For this list, we’ll be looking at the most popular urban legends with absolutely zero basis in recorded history.

Which of these stories do you find the scariest? Let us know in the comments below!

#10: Bloody Mary

As any ten year old can tell you, Bloody Mary doesn’t actually appear when you chant her name in a mirror. However, there is a fascinating history and some scientific explanations concerning the urban legend. The ritual comes from an old practice in which young women walked backwards up a flight of stairs with a hand mirror. If they saw the face of the Grim Reaper, it was said that they would die before marrying. And those who absolutely swear that they saw Bloody Mary that one time were just hallucinating. A dark space can actually cause people to hallucinate, which may result in seeing another face next to yours. So, yes, Bloody Mary does exist - but only in our heads.

#9: The Clown Statue

A babysitter gets on the phone with the parents and asks them if she can throw a blanket over their clown statue. It’s giving her the creeps, and she’d rather not look at it. The parents gasp and tell her to get out of the house, because they don’t have a clown statue! Dun dun dun! It’s an admittedly creepy story, but it’s only a variation on another, more popular urban legend. For one thing, the story doesn’t make any sense. Why would the killer A) dress themselves up like a clown, and B) stand in the corner for hours? There are also no historical records of something like this ever happening. So sleep soundly.

#8: The Vanishing Hitchhiker

There are a ton of variations on this popular story, but the general gist is as follows. A person is driving along a dark and deserted road when they come across a hitchhiker. Feeling benevolent, they decide to give them a ride. They talk, or maybe the passenger just sits there, acting all creepy. It’s not until they reach their destination that the driver looks away from the road and realizes - there is no passenger! But, no, this has never actually happened. Yes, there are written personal accounts of people experiencing this phenomenon, but there is no hard evidence that it has ever occurred. It’s nothing but a popular piece of folklore, possibly exaggerated by hallucinations and/or delusions.

#7: Slender Man

It’s amazing to see how quickly a new urban legend can percolate through society. The legend of Slender Man was created in June of 2009, and he quickly became an icon of 21st century pop culture. Slender Man can be seen as a modern piece of folklore. Everyone knows the story, there are firsthand eyewitness accounts that change with each telling, etc etc. In fact, some academics have examined the Slender Man mythology to study how folktales are formed and spread. Of course, we all know that Slender Man isn’t real. He was created by Eric Knudsen, who was participating in a photoshop contest on the forum Something Awful. The post was well received, it spread through the internet, and the rest is history.

#6: The Babysitter & The Man Upstairs

Remember that clown story from earlier? That’s essentially this, but with a twist. This is an incredibly popular urban legend, and its basic storyline has been adapted into numerous films, including “Black Christmas” and “When a Stranger Calls.” Basically, a babysitter is taunted by threatening phone calls, they’re eventually traced, and they’re coming from inside the house! But, like the similar clown story, there is no historical basis of this ever happening. The main inspiration for the story is the unsolved death of Janett Christman, who was killed babysitting a child in 1950. However, this case does not feature a killer hiding upstairs, threatening phone calls, or the police telling her that the calls were coming from inside the house.

#5: The Killer In the Backseat

This urban legend still has us checking our backseats. The story goes that a woman is driving late at night when she is accosted by another driver. It’s not until later that she realizes there was someone in the backseat of her car, and the driver had been attempting to warn her. This legend certainly has some roots in reality. There have been cases of criminals hiding in backseats, and one case in 1964 saw a police officer shooting someone who had been hiding in their personal vehicle. It’s likely that the urban legend stemmed from these stories and grew in exaggeration as it was spread. There are no recorded instances of an event playing out exactly as it occurs in the legend.

#4: HIV Needles

If you believed everything you read on the internet, you’d think the world was full of sociopaths. Luckily, that is not the case. In the early years of the internet, a scary urban legend was spread through chain emails and silly articles. Apparently, people were jabbing random strangers with needles infected with HIV. Either that, or the needles were found in discrete locations that a stranger might touch. There are some true stories of people sitting on needles that had been left behind as a malicious prank, but none of them have been infected with HIV. In fact, there are only a few documented cases of an intentional HIV needle attack, but none of them involved random assaults on the street.

#3: The Hanging Boyfriend

A couple are stranded on the side of the road. The girlfriend tells her boyfriend to go get gas, so he does. While waiting, she hears a mysterious sound on the roof of the car. Police then approach the car and tell the woman to exit the vehicle without looking back. But she can’t help herself, and she sees the body of her boyfriend hanging from a tree, his fingers scraping against the roof. Like all the other urban legends, this has never actually happened. It’s very likely that this story was influenced by a real lovers’ lane killing, but the specifics were exaggerated and warped through the countless retellings. It’s a game of Telephone run amok.

#2: Bugs In Brains

This story plays on two fears. One is the fear of nasty insects. The other is the fear of invasion, or more specifically, the fear of something unnatural being inside our bodies. There are countless urban legends involving an insect crawling into someone’s ear to eat their brain or lay some eggs. Yes, small insects can in fact crawl into our ears. And yes, there are recorded instances of them doing so. However, none go in to lay eggs, and they certainly don’t eat brains. In fact, it’s physically impossible for a bug to go any farther than the eardrum. Most of the time they simply wander in, freak out, and make their way back out without causing any damage.

#1: The Hook

This is perhaps the most famous urban legend of the 20th century. Another lovers’ lane story, this one involves a couple hearing on the radio that a killer has escaped from a local institution or prison. The killer, for the purposes of dramatic storytelling, has a hook. They talk about how freaky that is, and later, they discover a hook hanging from the car’s door handle! Many people have tried tracing the roots of this story, with some placing its origins in the 1950s and others in Victorian Europe. Either way, it’s completely made up. It’s a good story and nothing more, and it was probably spread to scare promiscuous young couples in lovers’ lanes across the country.
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