Graveyard Shift

What's Really Behind Scary Urban Legends

Unless you’re a total square, you’ve spent at least one night sitting around with your friends trying to freak each other out with secondhand stories about the guy hiding in the backseat of the girl’s car , or the man in the bunny suit who carries an axe. Urban legends are usually stories that are meant to teach you a lesson while giving you the heebie jeebies - they’re kind of like Aesop’s fables if Aesop were Edward Gorey.

But where do urban legends come from? There are multiple cases of similar stories popping up across the country in the pre-Internet age, so that means they must have a kernel of truth. Maybe. Most of the meanings behind urban legends are very simple: don’t do illicit substances, don’t hook up in public, and don’t put spiders in your hair. But rather than simply say those things, urban legends say something extreme as a way to hammer home a truth you can apply to your life.

If all urban legends are meant to teach people a lesson, then what do urban legends mean? What are people supposed to take away from stories about alligators stalking the sewers? Don’t buy an exotic pet? Some urban legends stories are rooted in truth , some of them are incredibly scary , and at least one of them is going to keep you from going into your bathroom for a couple of weeks.