List of urban legends

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This is a list of urban legends. An urban legend, myth, or tale' is a modern genre of folklore. It usually consists of fictional stories associated with the macabre, superstitions, cryptids, creepypasta, and other fear generating narrative elements. Urban legends are often rooted in local history and popular culture.


  • 999 phone charging myth is an urban legend which claims that calling the emergency services then hanging up charges mobile phone batteries.


  • Ariel water bomber picking up scuba diver: about a water bomber, or a helicopter with a dangling water bucket, scooping up a scuba diver and dumping him or her on a wildfire site. Urban legend debunking site reports there are no proven cases of this happening in reality.
  • A black dog is the name given to a being found primarily in the folklores of Britain and Ireland. The black dog is essentially a nocturnal apparition, often said to be associated with the devil or a hellhound. Its appearance was regarded as a portent of death. It is generally supposed to be larger than a normal dog, and often has large, glowing eyes. It is often associated with electrical storms (such as Black Shuck's appearance at Bungay, Suffolk), and also with crossroads, places of execution and ancient pathways.
  • Baby Train is an urban legend which claims that a small town had an unusually high birth rate because a train would pass through the town at 5:00 am and blow its whistle, waking up all the residents. Since it was too late to go back to sleep and too early to get up, couples would find other ways to amuse themselves in bed. This resulted in the mini-baby boom.[1][2]
  • Black-eyed children (or black-eyed kids) are an urban legend of supposed paranormal creatures that resemble children between the ages of 6 and 16, with pale skin and black eyes, who are reportedly seen hitchhiking or panhandling, or are encountered on doorsteps of residential homes. Tales of black-eyed children have appeared in pop culture since the late 1990s.
  • Black Shuck, Old Shuck, Old Shock, or simply Shuck is the name given to a ghostly black dog which is said to roam the coastline and countryside of East Anglia. Accounts of the animal form part of the folklore of Norfolk, Suffolk, the Cambridgeshire fens and Essex.
  • Black Volga refers to a black Volga limousine that was allegedly used to abduct people, especially children.
  • The Blue star tattoo legend refers to a modern legend that LSD tabs are being distributed as lick-and-stick temporary tattoos to children.
  • Bloody Mary is a folklore legend consisting of a ghost or spirit conjured to reveal the future. She is said to appear in a mirror when her name is called multiple times. The Bloody Mary apparition may be benign or malevolent, depending on historic variations of the legend. The Bloody Mary appearances are mostly "witnessed" in group participation games.
  • Bunny Man is an urban legend that probably originated from two incidents in Fairfax County, Virginia, in 1970, but has been spread throughout the Washington D.C. area. There are many variations to the legend, but most involve a man wearing a rabbit costume ("bunny suit") who attacks people with an axe.
  • The chupacabra (Spanish pronunciation: [tʃupaˈkaβɾa], from chupar "to suck" and cabra "goat", literally "goat sucker") is a legendary cryptid rumored to inhabit parts of the Americas, with the first sightings reported in Puerto Rico. The name comes from the animal's reported habit of attacking and drinking the blood of livestock, especially goats.
  • Cow tipping purported activity of sneaking up on any unsuspecting or sleeping upright cow and pushing it over for entertainment.
  • Creepypastas are horror-related legends or images that have been copy-and-pasted around the Internet. These Internet entries are often brief, user-generated, paranormal stories intended to scare readers. They include gruesome tales of murder, suicide, and otherworldly occurrences. People often falsely believe them to be true.
  • The Curse of the Bambino was a superstition evolving from the failure of the Boston Red Sox baseball team to win the World Series in the 86-year period from 1918 to 2004. While some fans took the curse seriously, most used the expression in a tongue-in-cheek manner.


  • Hippo Eats Dwarf. An internet-spread urban legend about a circus performer being accidentally swallowed by a hippopotamus.[3]
  • The Hook, also called Hookman, is a classic example of an urban legend. Originating in post-war America, it recounts a story of a murderer with a hook prosthesis in place of a hand.
  • JATO Rocket Car started as a Darwin Award winner where a driver strapped a pair of Jet Assisted Take Off JATO units to the rear of his car and ended up smashing into the side of a hill in Arizona. No police agency in Arizona took a report of this type of accident. The Arizona Department of Public Safety even issued a press release on their website debunking the report.
  • Killer in the backseat (also known as High Beams) is a common car-crime urban legend well known mostly in the United States and United Kingdom. The legend involves a woman who is driving and being followed by a strange car or truck. The mysterious pursuer flashes his high beams, tailgates her and sometimes even rams her vehicle. When she finally makes it home, she realizes that the driver was trying to warn her that there was a man (a murderer, rapist, or escaped mental patient) hiding in her back seat. Each time the man sat up to attack her, the driver behind had used his high beams to scare the killer, in which he ducks down.[4]
  • The Licked Hand, known sometimes as the Doggy Lick or Humans Can Lick Too, is an urban legend popular among teenagers. The story describes a killer who secretly spends the night under a girl's bed, licking her hand when offered, which she takes to be her dog.


  • "Paul is dead" is an urban legend suggesting that Paul McCartney of the English rock band The Beatles died in 1966 and was secretly replaced by a look-alike.
  • Phantom P-40 Airplane/pilot" In its original form the pilot is a survivor of the 1941 Battle in the Philippines who wages a one man war against the Japanese until he is shot down by the Flying Tigers over China[5]; a modern variation is that after flying from the Philippines to Pearl Harbor- he again is shot down![6]
  • Sewer alligator is an urban legend based upon reports of alligator sightings in rather unorthodox locations, in particular New York City.
  • Skeleton in a tree is an urban legend alleging that years after the defeat of St. Clair in 1791 at Fort Recovery, Mercer County, Ohio, the skeleton of a Captain Roger Vanderberg was found in Miami County, Ohio inside a tree, along with a diary; in fact no one of this name was a casualty of the 1791 battle, the story originated in 1864 from a Scottish novel.[7]
  • Slender Man (also known as Slenderman) is a fictional character that originated as an Internet meme created by Something Awful forums user Victor Surge in 2009. It is depicted as resembling a thin, unnaturally tall man with a blank and usually featureless face and wearing a black suit. The Slender Man is commonly said to stalk, abduct, or traumatize people, particularly children. The Slender Man is not tied to any particular story, but appears in many disparate works of fiction, mostly composed online.[8]


  • The Spider Bite or The Red Spot is a modern urban legend that emerged in Europe during the 1970s. It features a young woman who is bitten on the cheek by a spider. The bite swells into a large boil and soon bursts open to reveal hundreds of tiny spiders escaping from her cheek.
  • "Vanishing Lady" aka "Vanishing Hotel Room": during an international exposition in Paris, a daughter leaves her ill mother in a hotel room; when she comes back her mother is gone and the hotel staff claim to have no knowledge of the missing woman. It is later revealed that the mother was dying of a plague and, fearing for the negative impact on the hotel's public image, the staff just disposed of the mother, redecorated the room and pretended like nothing had happened. Inspiration for the movie So Long at the Fair. Based upon a turn-of-the-century Philadelphia newspaper story.[9]
  • The Vanishing hitchhiker (or variations such as the ghostly hitchhiker, the disappearing hitchhiker, the phantom hitchhiker or simply the hitchhiker) story is an urban legend in which people traveling by vehicle meet with or are accompanied by a hitchhiker who subsequently vanishes without explanation, often from a moving vehicle. Vanishing hitchhikers have been reported for centuries and the story is found across the world with many variants. The popularity and endurance of the legend has helped it spread into popular culture.

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Nicolaisen, W.F.H. (1997). "The Baby Train and Other Lusty Urban Legends by Jan Harold Brunvand". Folklore. Taylor & Francis, Ltd. on behalf of Folklore Enterprises, Ltd. 108: 134–135. JSTOR 1260739.
  2. ^ "The Baby Train". Snopes. Retrieved 31 March 2018.
  3. ^ Boese, Alex (5 February 2010). Hippo Eats Dwarf. Pan Macmillan. ISBN 978-0-330-52130-7.
  4. ^ Bronner, Simon J. (1988). American Children's Folklore. Little Rock: August House Publishers. p. 149. ISBN 978-08748-306-8-2. ... Suddenly, I realized what was happening and did the first thing I could think of. I flashed my brights to warn her. I saw the figure quickly disappear. I followed the car home and flashed my brights each time I saw the figure. After she ran in the house, I told her to call the police...
  5. ^ Myth of the Phantom P-40
  6. ^ Dunning, Brian (November 29, 2016). "Skeptoid #547: The Ghost Fighter Plane of Pearl Harbor". Skeptoid.
  7. ^ "Proposed Work at Fort Recovery May Solve Some of its Mysteries see letter in Comments by James L Murphy dated 7 January 2010 citing the story "Lost Sir Massingberd"". Ohio Historical Society Archaeology Blog. 2010-01-06. Retrieved 2018-02-24.
  8. ^ Curlew, Kyle (2017). "The legend of the Slender Man: The boogieman of surveillance culture". First Monday. 22 (6). doi:10.5210/fm.v22i6.6901.
  9. ^ O’Toole, Garson (14 September 2010). "Legend: The Vanishing Lady and the Vanishing Hotel Room – Quote Investigator". Quote Investigator. Retrieved 23 October 2018.