10 Most Scary Urban Myths and Legends Around the World

Urban legends are usually fairly extreme stories told as supposedly true (although they never happen to anyone personally known to the storyteller) and are usually just plausible enough to be believed … All around the world, there are lots of urban legends that had been told most of which are centuries old but are still as popular as ever today. The scary nature of these urban myths and legends fuel the drive making these stories to live long enough to last through decades while impacting on individuals and characters including geographic locations mentioned in such legends. If you love legends and are even more fascinated in retelling them, this article provides a selection of ten of the most scary urban legends from across the globe to frighten your friends with!

10. The Backseat Killer

Backseat killer  Image Credit: Mikkel Sørensen

This is one of the most fascinating but scary urban myths and legends which started around the 1960’s and still circulating now in the usual many variations, this story tells of a woman out late at night in the middle of nowhere whose car is running low on fuel. She finally finds a little gas station and the attendant agrees to fill up the tank, although she feels he is acting a little strange. When she offers her card to pay, the attendant says she has to come inside to sign – and once inside, blocks the door so she can’t leave.

Thoroughly afraid now, she tries to scream, but the attendant hushes her and says, “A man has climbed into the backseat of your car and is hiding there, I didn’t want him to know I’d seen him”. They call the police and the man turns out to be a serial killer who’d intended to make her his next victim. Although the story itself is an urban legend, it’s an object lesson in always remembering to lock your car, and to check your backseat before getting in!

9. The Hitchhiker Killer

The Hitchhiker Killer

On a similar subject, in this story a woman is getting some gas and tells the attendant she’s on her way to pick up her daughter from class and where that is, then a man approaches her, saying his rental car has died and would she give him a lift to an urgent appointment, near where her daughter’s class is being held. When she agrees, he places his briefcase on the back seat and says he’s just going to the men’s room, but when the attendant is finished she pays, sees she’s going to be late and, forgetting she’s waiting for the man to come back, quickly drives off to get her daughter. It’s only when they reach home she notices the briefcase and remembers – so she opens the case, looking for some ID to contact him. And finds nothing inside but a roll of duct tape and a knife.

8. The Babysitter and the Madman

Babysitter and Madman Killer

 Photo Credit: Meeka-Mays

A teenage girl is babysitting young children in a large, somewhat isolated house and with the children upstairs in bed she settles down to watch TV. Suddenly the phone rings, making her jump – then when she answers, a strange man’s voice tells her he is ‘coming to get her’ and she slams the phone down in fright. She sits down again, and fifteen minutes later the phone rings again – this time he laughs and says he is ‘getting closer!’ and, now thoroughly terrified, the girl calls the police.

They say it’s probably just a prank call but if he rings again they’ll try to trace the call, so keep him on the line as long as you can. Sure enough, it rings again and she does her best, but when he breathes heavily down the line and says he’s ‘coming for her’, and it’s ‘only a matter of time’, she panics and slams the phone down anyway. She decides to get the children and leave – but just then the phone rings again. It’s the police: “GET OUT OF THE HOUSE NOW – HE’S INSIDE THE HOUSE AND CALLING FROM THE UPSTAIRS EXTENSION!” She runs from the house, and when the police arrive they find the children dead and a bloody axe on the floor, but the madman has escaped to do it again.

7. Buried Alive

Buried Alive legend

A very old woman who had been ill for some time finally passed away, leaving her husband of more than 60 years devastated. He couldn’t believe that she was actually dead and had to be prised away from her so she could be prepared for her funeral. She was buried in a simple coffin in the family burial plot at the bottom of the backyard – and all the time the husband was protesting so much he had to be sedated.

That night he had a nightmare that his wife was hysterically trying to scratch her way out of the coffin, so he phoned the doctor and begged to have his wife exhumed – and this happened, again and again, every night for a week. Finally, the doctor gave in and the coffin was retrieved and opened – and to everyone’s horror, the hands of the wife were battered and bloody, with bent, broken nails, and there were obvious scratches on the inside of the coffin lid.

6. The Cursed Videotape

Cursed Videotape

If you are looking for one of the scariest urban myths and legends, then you should read this: Four girls go to a video rental store to rent a movie, but can’t decide on which one to watch. While deliberating on the movie to rent, the girls see an unlabelled tape on the counter and decide to pinch it, just to see what’s on it. When they get home they watch the movie, then put in the filched tape. As soon as they press play the power goes out in the house, but the TV is still on and the recording plays. It is of a black witch being burned to death, and just as she is about to be consumed, she cries out that all who saw her die will be cursed to meet their own deaths within forty-eight hours.

Then the tape splutters and stops. Of course, the girls are a bit shocked, but they don’t really think anything of it and sneak the tape back when they return the movie. Two days later the police find their car, apparently driven off the road and into a tree, and all four girls are dead. However, although the considerable damage to the car showed there was another vehicle involved and it must also be badly damaged, the other car was never found.

5. Ghost Tracks

San Antonio Rail Road Crossing

In San Antonio, Texas, there is a rail crossing that is haunted. Legend has it that back around the 1930s/40s a school bus stalled on the tracks and was hit by a train, killing all the passengers instantly. Now if you stop fifty yards from the tracks and put your car into neutral, it will start rolling forward – uphill – and will not stop until the car is clear of the tracks on the other side. Also, if the car is dusty (or you deliberately sprinkle it with powder) you will see handprints on the back of the car – ostensibly this is because the ghosts of the children will push the cars away from the tracks to stop anyone else from suffering the same fate they did.

4. The Hook

The Hook Man

Two young teenagers are making out in a car when an announcement on the radio says a murderer has escaped from the prison and he is armed and dangerous. The mood broken, the frightened girl insists her boyfriend take her home and he finally agrees but says he has to ‘take a leak’ first, and she is to lock the doors after he leaves and only open them when he gets back. After quite a while he hasn’t returned and it becomes obvious something has happened – she decides to drive the car to look for him, but the keys are missing. Then she starts hearing scraping noises outside and huddles in the middle of the back seat, terrified until finally it gets light and she decides to make a run for the highway. She gets out and sprints up to the main road, then looks back – and sees the body of her boyfriend hanging from a tree over the car, swinging slightly in the breeze, his feet just scraping along the roof.

3. The Kidney Theft

Kidney Theft Legend
image source

A businessman is staying at a hotel for a couple of night and decides to have a couple of drinks in the bar before going to bed. In the bar a young woman sits down next to him and they get chatting; she buys him another drink and he remembers nothing more of the evening. The next morning he wakes up in the bathtub, up to his neck in ice, with a tube protruding from a very neat incision in his lower back – and a note propped up beside the bath that says “you need urgent medical assistance – call 911”. As soon as he describes the situation to the operator she says “is there a tube sticking out of your lower back?” and when he says yes, she says “okay, don’t move, the ambulance is on its way. I’m afraid you’ve become a victim of a criminal ring that steals human organs to sell – they’ve taken one of your kidneys.”

2. The Roommate

Roommate Legend

The Roommate is one of the most scary urban myths and legends that had been popularized. According to the legend, late one evening, a young college girl decided to collect her books from her room ready for the next day so she could spend the night at her boyfriend’s dorm. Knowing her roommate would be sleeping she didn’t turn on the light, but stumbled around for several minutes as she collected what she needed and left. The next day she came home after classes to find the police outside her room and crime scene tape all around. When she said she lived there, the policeman looked at her a bit strangely and asked if she had been there last night, but without turning on the light? Confused, she said yes, how did you know? The policeman led her into the room; there was no sign of her roommate, but on the wall was a message, written in blood: “Aren’t you glad you didn’t turn on the light?”

1. Knock, Knock

knock knock Legend

Two youngsters were left alone in the house for a short time late at night while their parents popped out, telling them not to answer the door under any circumstances and that their neighbours knew they were going to be gone for a while so if there were any problems they could go next door. The kids watched TV for a while then went to bed, but a bit later they were jolted awake by a knocking on the door – knock, knock, knock … They did as they’d been told and ignored it, but the knocking came again and finally the sister got up to go down and see who it was. The brother waited a while longer but his sister didn’t come back and he heard nothing more.

Becoming uneasy, he decided to go next door and in his pajamas, padded down to the door in the dark and slipped out. The neighbours were still up and greeted him with the news that a murderer had killed someone only a few blocks away earlier in the evening. When they realised the sister was unaccounted for, they told him to stay there while they went back to the house with a gun – as they got there, they found the sister’s body on the floor, and a discarded knife on her brother’s empty bed.

Emeka Chigozie
Emeka Chigozie
Emeka has a keen interest in tech, entertainment, and politics. He likes to stay up to date with global news when he is not thinking about future trends in tech.


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