Urban Legends: Exploring the Creepy Stories That Freak Us Out
All this October, we've been examining urban legends and other shared tales that get passed around as if they're factual, generally to inspire dread and provide salacious entertainment. We hoping to learn more about how and why troubling, seemingly ludicrous stories like these proliferate, and why we can't get enough of them.
So we're diving into the ways that regional sensibilities morph collective nightmares and stoke conspiracy theories. We how childhood institutions like slumber parties help spread these disturbing tales. We'll look at how the internet became a bastion for myth-telling, whether it's a string-boarded fan theory with scant plausibility or a story about a time-traveling future-dweller who returned with a mission of posting his musings on early 2000s message boards. We'll also bust open some of our most societally entrenched legends and conspiracy theories -- and, yes, that includes the Illuminati.
One piece of advice? Do not, under any circumstance, let the Black-Eyed Children into your home.
By Thrillist Features
Every locale spins its own tall tales, believable or not, that get passed down through generations. We hunted down the spookiest urban legend in every single state.
Inside the strange obsession with a non-existent Disney theme park.
By Drew Taylor
The internet keeps fueling an unsubstantiated rumor about a Disney theme park dedicated to its animated villains. This is how the concept gained momentum and why its unlikely future only ensures the chatter won't end.
How the Life cereal kid survived a rumor that won't die.
By Natalie O'Neill
Eating a pack of Pop Rocks and drinking a six-pack of Coca-Cola didn't kill John Gilchrist, even though everyone thinks it did. In fact, he's totally fine (and we talked to him). The only victim of the legend that wouldn't go away? Pop Rocks.
Why the same scary stories get told everywhere.
By Kelsey McKinney
Folklorists have been tracking the spread of "The Licked Hand" and other spooky stories for as long as we've been telling them. Here's how these tales proliferate.
How the official state demon of New Jersey was defanged by commercialization.
By Molly Fitzpatrick
It all began so perfectly for the Jersey Devil: a terrifying beast haunting the Pine Barrens in the 18th century. Now he's a mascot pumping people up at hockey games. What happened?
The twisted, true story of the man who came from the future to save the internet.
By K. Thor Jensen
He arrived from the year 2036 to post messages on Web 1.0 message boards circa 1998. His message: unclear. His legacy: untold, until now. This is the story of John Titor, internet time-traveler.
Inside the factions vying to own the Devil's message.
by Jennifer Swann
In this corner, the Satanic Temple. In another, the Church of Satan. And don't forget about athiests and imposters. For Satanists, it's hell out there.
The internet's favorite nightmare has a surprising origin story.
by Lindsey Romain
Ouija boards, Led Zeppelin and Slender Man, oh my. Everything you ever wanted to know about your not-so-friendly virtual-neighborhood demon.
What it's like to be an urban legend.
by Wil Fulton
Everyone in western Pennsylvania has heard the stories. Many want to catch a glimpse of him. But he was just a man named Ray Robinson. This is his story.
How the Denver travel hub became an icon of the Illuminati.
by Colin St. John
Ever since opening in 1995, the Denver airport has been the subject of rumors linking it to government cover-ups and the world's elite. Also: a giant demon horse waiting to suck the souls from unworthy travelers.
Copy Editors: James Chrisman and Will Robinson
Production Assistants: Eliza Dumais and Amy Schulman
Designer: Daniel Fishel
Animation: Evan Lockhart
Writers: Janelle Albukhari, Sylvie Borschel, Molly Fitzpatrick, Wil Fulton, K. Thor Jensen, Andy Kryza, Matt Lynch, Kelsey McKinney, Natalie O'Neill, Dustin Nelson, Alex Robinson, Lindsey Romain, Tanner Saunders, Colin St. John, Jennifer Swann, and Drew Taylor