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Creepy Backstories and Versions of the Hook Man Legend

Updated September 5, 2019 273.1k views11 items

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. 

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  • 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.

  • The Story Was Invented to Scare Teenagers Into Chastity

    In the classic version of the story, the implication is that if the teenagers had stayed in the parked car and continued to make out, they would have been murdered by the Hook Man. The story was designed to scare young people out of sexual activity. (Of course, what's particularly misogynistic about this story is that it's the girl's responsibility to say no to her boyfriend.)

  • The Severed Hook Represents Castration

    A Freudian interpretation of the story holds that the hook found on the door handle, severed from the killer's hand, represents castration. The boyfriend is trying to have sex when a voice on the radio (representing the voice of authority, or his own conscience) interrupts him. Then his girlfriend stops him and says she wants to go home. At the same time that the story is supposed to warn against having sex, it illuminates men's fears about being emasculated when they can't get laid.