We used data to reveal the most popular urban legends of all time. Grab your popcorn and a pillow to hide behind as our data analysis reveal the top 10.
From psychopaths and serial killers to aliens and sea monsters – urban legends are the creepy tales we love, passed down through generations and begrudgingly engraved into every listener's mind forever.
What is an urban legend, exactly?
An urban legend, also known as an urban myth, is usually horror or humorous story passed through generations with claims that it’s true. Like broken telephone, the story can alter from person to person, with each narrator claiming to have known a friend of a friend or a family member who has lived through the tale.
Hope we haven’t scared you off yet — carry on scrolling (at your own risk) to discover the most infamous urban legends of all time!
The Top 10 Urban Legends
1. Gateway to Hell
There are plenty of graveyards worldwide, but none like the Stull Cemetery in Kansas. Graveyards often come with the label of being haunted, entering the realm of being diabolical, but this graveyard has been labelled the ‘Gateway to Hell’ for a reason! Ask the locals and they’ll whisper, the Devil himself holds court with his worshippers here and hosts regular rituals at this site.
Large, hairy and human-like – that’s what they all say about Bigfoot! Legend has it the beast was seen on the north-western side of the US and western sides of Canada. Ranging from 6 to a towering 15 feet tall, rumour has it that Bigfoot emits an awful smell and an eerie high-pitched cry.
3. Area 51
If you believe in extra-terrestrial life forms, you might already be familiar with the near-mythical desert base of Area 51. Located in the desert towns of Nevada and off-limits to the public, many people believe the area is a hotspot for UFO landings and aliens.
4. The Spider Bite
You may have heard this urban tale about a child who was bitten by a spider while exploring. Maybe you know someone who knows someone who has a coworker that experienced the same thing! As his mother gave him a hot bath, the bite began oozing, but this was no ordinary bite! The site was 'hatching', releasing thousands of spider's eggs from the boy’s skin as his horrified mum looked on.
5. Sewer Alligator
Since the 1930s, people have allegedly seen an alligator roaming the sewers of New York City. The reptilian monstrosity is approximately eight feet long and, some say it has white scaly skin and red eyes. Is this an albino alligator hiding from the light in the sewers, or a hungry beast looking for its next bite to eat? We’ll never know!
6. Well to Hell
This creepy legend originates from Serbia, where tales are told about a crew of Russian scientists who drilled too deep into the earth and discovered an unknown cavity. Fascinated by their discovery, they lowered a microphone to test plate movement, and the noise they heard turned them ghostly white. Ask anyone you know, and they’ll tell you what they heard – the wails of millions of lost souls trapped in Hell!
7. Bloody Mary
This may be the most famous urban legend in the UK! Storytellers say if you look in the mirror and say “Bloody Mary! Bloody Mary! Bloody Mary”, something might happen — although what exactly changes with each retelling. Over the years, the legend has changed, as people once believed that if an unmarried woman said the three words, she would either see the face of her future husband or, if she saw a skull, she would die single!
Believers linked Mary Tudor (Mary I of England) with ‘Bloody Mary’ for the number of Protestants she put to death for heresy.
8. Skunk Ape
Beware of the Skunk Ape if traveling in Florida. It was the autumn of 1974 when the Skunk Ape was first seen in Dade County. Some witnesses say it resembles an orangutan; others argue the creature is just a black bear who roams around town rummaging through the rubbish. However, this legend has even caught the ear of the United States National Park Services, who consider the Skunk Ape a hoax.
The Chupacabra originates from Puerto Rico and is a goat-like monster who acts like a vampire. Its name comes from two Spanish words – chupar (to suck) and cabra (goat), in which people claim the monster drinks the blood of livestock animals.
Over time and with many different sightings, the description of the Chupacabra has changed. Some say it’s the same size as a small bear with spikes along its back, while some say it hops like a kangaroo and has long fangs.
This urban legend originates from Native American lore, in which storytellers describe the creature as a demonic beast that resides along the Atlantic coast of the US and Canada. The Wendigo is a supernatural character with great spiritual power who enjoys hunting humans. Tell all your hiking friends!
How close do you live to the scariest urban legends? It’s time to find out…
We mapped the scariest urban legends that have over 930,000 people screaming in fear as readers watch their every move.
*Based on data collected using Reddit and Buzzsumo, into a points system to determine best to worst.
Where are the most superstitious countries in the world?
Hundreds of spooky stories have come from around the world, with the most urban legends originating from the USA, at 21. Europe follows this with 9 spine-tingling tales, then the UK with 8. Our data reveals that 1 in 5 people in the UK find urban legends gripping, reacting in shock as they read the scariest urban legends of all time, with Hollywood Vampire ranking number one for the total number of screams in online reactions.
The Hollywood Vampire, also known as the Richmond Vampire, is an urban legend about a vampire who lurked in the shadows of Hollywood Cemetery during the 1920s. The mythical creature was described by locals as a horrifying creature covered in dripping blood and flesh, and sleeps in the tombs of the haunted site.
What to read more stories of the uncanny, blood-curdling, and supernatural variety?
- Top Conspiracy Theories Around the World
- Most Haunted Places UK | Haunted Houses, Castles & Churches
Data analysts collected the data using Buzzsumo reactions, Reddit forums and online search data to determine the top 10 urban legends of all time and the top scariest urban legends. The data was collected and weighted accurately to choose each urban legend's ranking.