Creepy Backstories and Versions of the Hook Man Legend

The Hook Man urban legend tells the tale of a deranged murderer with a hook for a hand. He always escapes either from prison or from a mental institution, and on his murder sprees he targets young couples who are alone at night. This list recounts many different versions of the story of the Hook Man, as well as the origins of the Hook Man legend.

The Hook Man could have been inspired by real-life cases, or it could have been completely fabricated in order to scare teenagers into listening to their parents. Whatever its origins, though, the Hook Man has become a classic campfire scare story for generations of kids. 

  • The Lovers Escape Just in Time

    The most common version of the story has two teenagers making out in a parked car, when they hear a story on the radio about an escaped convict with a hook for a hand. The girlfriend hears a scratching outside the car and demands they leave. The boyfriend speeds off, frustrated because he isn't going to get any, and when he arrives at the girlfriend's house, the couple discover a hook on the door handle. The implication is that because the girlfriend insisted on leaving, the couple narrowly missed the Hook Man's attack.

  • The Lovers Don't Escape

    In another version of the story, the lovers are less lucky. They spot the Hook Man and try to escape, but the Hook Man holds onto the roof of the car and goes right along with them, eventually killing them.

  • The Boyfriend Gets Murdered

    In one variation of the story, the boyfriend gets out of the car to relieve himself, and while the girlfriend waits for him she hears the same radio broadcast. She then begins hearing a scratching noise on the roof of the car. When she gets out, she finds that her boyfriend has been hanged from a tree, and the noise was his feet scraping against the car roof.

  • The Boyfriend Is Hanged Upside Down

    A slightly different variation of the story has the boyfriend being hanged by his feet, and the scratching noise that the girlfriend heard was his fingernails scraping along the roof of the car.

  • The Boyfriend Gets His Head Cut Off

    The Boyfriend Gets His Head Cut Off
    Photo: megallypuff / flickr / CC-BY-ND 2.0

    In perhaps the most gruesome version of the story, the girlfriend stays inside the car and begins to hear a thumping sound. When she gets out of the car, she finds the Hook Man on the roof of her car, banging her boyfriend's severed head on it. In some versions, he uses his other hand to dangle the car keys.

  • The Hook Man Murders Sexually Active College Students

    Taking the moral of the story to the extreme, some variations of the Hook Man legend ditch the parked car and have him going straight into college dorms to murder sexually active students. The murder takes place while the victim's virgin roommate is asleep. In the morning she sees a message on the wall, "Aren't you glad you didn't turn on the light?" written in the victim's blood.