20 Most Terrifying Urban Legends That Are Actually True

Whether they’re the stories parents tell children to keep them in line or the horrors teenagers tell each other to cause a fright, you’d be shocked to discover that quite a few common, terrifying and horrific urban legends are actually based on true events.

Here are 20 such legends.

RELATED: 10 Unsolved Crimes That Are Straight Out Of A Horror Movie

20. Rats Climbing Into Your Toilet From The Sewers

Rats Climbing Into Your Toilet From The Sewers pinterest
Paranoid about using the toilet in the middle of the night? Refuse to take a seat in the dark without checking first? Well, you've made the right choice. All kinds of creatures can crawl up through your sewer pipes, including rats, snakes and cockroaches.

Paranoid about using the toilet in the middle of the night? Refuse to take a seat in the dark without checking first? Well, you've made the right choice. All kinds of creatures can crawl up through your sewer pipes, including rats, snakes and cockroaches.

19. The Human Doll Collector

The Human Doll Collector pinterest
The story of a creepy man keeping human bodies around the house is an old one, but it came true in Russia. Anatoly Moskvin was a Russian historian who would steal bodies from the local cemetery, dress them up in women's clothing and pose them around his house. At least he wasn't actually making the bodies by killing people?

The story of a creepy man keeping human bodies around the house is an old one, but it came true in Russia. Anatoly Moskvin was a Russian historian who would steal bodies from the local cemetery, dress them up in women's clothing and pose them around his house. At least he wasn't actually making the bodies by killing people?

18. 'Weekend At Bernie's' In Real Life

'Weekend At Bernie's' In Real Life imgur
'Weekend at Bernie's' is purely fictional, right? Nobody could be that stupid, you naively think to yourself. Never underestimate human stupidity. Two men in Denver found their buddy dead in his apartment. They claim they thought he was alive and took him out on the town. On his tab, of course. Their friend was charged for the drinks and they were charged with criminal impersonation, identity theft and abusing a corpse.

'Weekend at Bernie's' is purely fictional, right? Nobody could be that stupid, you naively think to yourself. Never underestimate human stupidity. Two men in Denver found their buddy dead in his apartment. They claim they thought he was alive and took him out on the town. On his tab, of course. Their friend was charged for the drinks and they were charged with criminal impersonation, identity theft and abusing a corpse.

17. A Real Life Slender Man

A Real Life Slender Man Wikimedia Commons
Slender Man is a recent urban legend of a faceless man stalking the innocent at night in the woods. Well, a real life version existed in Western Pennsylvania. Charlie No-Face or the Green Man, Raymond Robinson was left faceless and missing an arm after being injured by an electrical line as a child. Afraid of causing a scene, he only went out in the dead of night for walks, and became something of an urban legend.

Slender Man is a recent urban legend of a faceless man stalking the innocent at night in the woods. Well, a real life version existed in Western Pennsylvania. Charlie No-Face or the Green Man, Raymond Robinson was left faceless and missing an arm after being injured by an electrical line as a child. Afraid of causing a scene, he only went out in the dead of night for walks, and became something of an urban legend.

16. Fat-Sucking Pishtaco Vampires

Fat-Sucking Pishtaco Vampires YouTube
A Pishtaco is a South American version of a vampire that sucks fat instead of blood. This urban legend came to life when a gang of men were arrested in Peru, and Coca Cola bottles filled with human fat were found, along with other human remains. They had been rendering the fat out of their victims, and selling it on the black market.

A Pishtaco is a South American version of a vampire that sucks fat instead of blood. This urban legend came to life when a gang of men were arrested in Peru, and Coca Cola bottles filled with human fat were found, along with other human remains. They had been rendering the fat out of their victims, and selling it on the black market.

15. The Bunny Man

The Bunny Man tumblr
Creepy, ax-wielding men dressed in weird animal suits, stalking people in the night has to be entirely fictional, right? If only. A man dressed in a full bunny costume wielding an ax terrorized a couple folks back in 1970 for trespassing. In one instance, he just stood still on the porch of an empty house, and when confronted, began chopping away at the woodwork, screaming about trespassing.

Creepy, ax-wielding men dressed in weird animal suits, stalking people in the night has to be entirely fictional, right? If only. A man dressed in a full bunny costume wielding an ax terrorized a couple folks back in 1970 for trespassing. In one instance, he just stood still on the porch of an empty house, and when confronted, began chopping away at the woodwork, screaming about trespassing.

14. The Chef Who Cooked His Wife

The Chef Who Cooked His Wife Getty Images
The image of an angry chef using his culinary skills to attack somebody is an old idea, but cook David Viens gave new meaning to the term 'Kitchen Nightmares' when he killed his wife, took her body to work, put her in the slow cooker and turned it on. There, she cooked for four days before he said, "I let her cool, I strained it out." There's no word on whether he tried his grisly meal.

The image of an angry chef using his culinary skills to attack somebody is an old idea, but cook David Viens gave new meaning to the term 'Kitchen Nightmares' when he killed his wife, took her body to work, put her in the slow cooker and turned it on. There, she cooked for four days before he said, "I let her cool, I strained it out." There's no word on whether he tried his grisly meal.

13. The Murderer Dressed Like A Cop

The Murderer Dressed Like A Cop pinterest
Many folks are wary of police for a number of reasons, but the idea of a man disguising himself as a cop to gain his victims trust is not a new one. Unfortunately, it's based on truth. Numerous killers, including the infamous Ted Bundy used this technique. Thankfully, Bundy's intended victim managed to escape.

Many folks are wary of police for a number of reasons, but the idea of a man disguising himself as a cop to gain his victims trust is not a new one. Unfortunately, it's based on truth. Numerous killers, including the infamous Ted Bundy used this technique. Thankfully, Bundy's intended victim managed to escape.

12. Murderous Escalators

Murderous Escalators Getty Images
"Tie your shoe or the escalator will get you," parents tell their frightened children at malls. Well, it turns out there's truth to this old wives' tale. Many folks of all ages have faced horrific disfigurement after the murderous teeth of escalators got a hold of their loose articles of clothing. One man was even strangled to death after his hood was inexplicably caught in the machine's mechanism.

"Tie your shoe or the escalator will get you," parents tell their frightened children at malls. Well, it turns out there's truth to this old wives' tale. Many folks of all ages have faced horrific disfigurement after the murderous teeth of escalators got a hold of their loose articles of clothing. One man was even strangled to death after his hood was inexplicably caught in the machine's mechanism.

11. Sent To The Morgue Still Alive

Sent To The Morgue Still Alive Getty Images
Being buried alive or prematurely presumed dead is a common fear for many folks, and it's another one that has some basis in truth. One octogenarian was thought to be dead, zipped in a body bag and sent to the morgue. After her body was found on the floor, covered in self-inflicted wounds, it was discovered that she wasn't dead before. Sadly, the freezer finished the job.

Being buried alive or prematurely presumed dead is a common fear for many folks, and it's another one that has some basis in truth. One octogenarian was thought to be dead, zipped in a body bag and sent to the morgue. After her body was found on the floor, covered in self-inflicted wounds, it was discovered that she wasn't dead before. Sadly, the freezer finished the job.

10. Frozen Alive And Surviving

Frozen Alive And Surviving YouTube
Conversely, we have the story of Jean Hilliard, a woman who was found literally frozen solid in the snow. She was brought into the hospital where she was thawed out, and miraculously came back to life just fine. The doctors who worked on her had no idea how she managed to survive without at least frostbite or brain damage.

Conversely, we have the story of Jean Hilliard, a woman who was found literally frozen solid in the snow. She was brought into the hospital where she was thawed out, and miraculously came back to life just fine. The doctors who worked on her had no idea how she managed to survive without at least frostbite or brain damage.

9. Receiving Phone Calls From The Dead

Receiving Phone Calls From The Dead reddit
Receiving phone calls from the dead is one of those old horror movie tropes that can still send shivers down the spine. After a horrific and fatal commuter train accident in California in 2008, relatives of Charles Peck began receiving phone calls from the man they knew to have been on the train. His phone inexplicably sent out 35 calls, and was used to find his body in the wreckage.

Receiving phone calls from the dead is one of those old horror movie tropes that can still send shivers down the spine. After a horrific and fatal commuter train accident in California in 2008, relatives of Charles Peck began receiving phone calls from the man they knew to have been on the train. His phone inexplicably sent out 35 calls, and was used to find his body in the wreckage.

8. Real Life 'Saw' Traps

Real Life 'Saw' Traps YouTube
One could call horror films modern urban legends, and the idea of the torture porn film series 'Saw' coming to life is as terrifying as it can get. And it did. Brian Wells, a pizza delivery guy, was forced to rob a bank for fear of the explosive collar strapped around his neck. He was apprehended by police who didn't believe his story about the collar, and it detonated, killing him. It was later discovered he was in on the plan, but thought the bomb would be fake. That's a picture of the actual collar, by the way.

One could call horror films modern urban legends, and the idea of the torture porn film series 'Saw' coming to life is as terrifying as it can get. And it did. Brian Wells, a pizza delivery guy, was forced to rob a bank for fear of the explosive collar strapped around his neck. He was apprehended by police who didn't believe his story about the collar, and it detonated, killing him. It was later discovered he was in on the plan, but thought the bomb would be fake. That's a picture of the actual collar, by the way.

7. Dead Body Hiding At The Bottom Of The Pool

Dead Body Hiding At The Bottom Of The Pool Getty Images
You have to be truly desperate to go swimming in a pool so cloudy you can't see the bottom, especially with all the urban legends of bodies and other creepy things hiding down there. There's some truth to these stories as the body of a missing woman was discovered floating in a pool. After three days of decomposing below the surface, unnoticed in the (open for business!) public pool, she finally floated to the surface, traumatizing the trespassing teenagers who found her in the middle of the night.

You have to be truly desperate to go swimming in a pool so cloudy you can't see the bottom, especially with all the urban legends of bodies and other creepy things hiding down there. There's some truth to these stories as the body of a missing woman was discovered floating in a pool. After three days of decomposing below the surface, unnoticed in the (open for business!) public pool, she finally floated to the surface, traumatizing the trespassing teenagers who found her in the middle of the night.

6. Death By Telephone

Death By Telephone Getty Images
Staying away from windows and not using the phone during thunderstorms is just an old, paranoid wives' tale, right? Wrong. People have actually died by electrocution when their house was hit by lightning, and the current traveled through the wires and into their ear.

Staying away from windows and not using the phone during thunderstorms is just an old, paranoid wives' tale, right? Wrong. People have actually died by electrocution when their house was hit by lightning, and the current traveled through the wires and into their ear.

5. PCP Caused Cannibalism

PCP Caused Cannibalism Wikimedia Commons
Out of the long list of drug side effects your health teacher rattled off to keep you away from using, "PCP makes you eat people" always sounded like an urban legend. Unfortunately, the unpredictable dissociative anesthetic has inspired cannibalism. Rapper Big Lurch ripped out the lungs of his roommate and took giant bites out of her flesh. He was found later wandering the streets in a daze, covered in blood and with human remains sitting in his stomach. Just say no!

Out of the long list of drug side effects your health teacher rattled off to keep you away from using, "PCP makes you eat people" always sounded like an urban legend. Unfortunately, the unpredictable dissociative anesthetic has inspired cannibalism. Rapper Big Lurch ripped out the lungs of his roommate and took giant bites out of her flesh. He was found later wandering the streets in a daze, covered in blood and with human remains sitting in his stomach. Just say no!

4. Disarmed During Tug O' War

Disarmed During Tug O' War imgur
The story of a man who pulled so hard during a game of tug o' war that he ripped his arms clean off is an old one, but it actually happened twice! The worst case was during a massive game of tug o' war that took place in Taipei, China. Over 1,600 people played, and the rope snapped under the force of 800 people on each side pulling. The force of the snap amputated an arm of the men at the front of both sides. Luckily, they were reattached at the hospital. It happened on a smaller scale with two students at South El Monte High School. The rope snapped again, but this time, it only took off their fingers. Again, they were reattached, but that's enough to make anyone swear off the picnic game for life!

The story of a man who pulled so hard during a game of tug o' war that he ripped his arms clean off is an old one, but it actually happened twice! The worst case was during a massive game of tug o' war that took place in Taipei, China. Over 1,600 people played, and the rope snapped under the force of 800 people on each side pulling. The force of the snap amputated an arm of the men at the front of both sides. Luckily, they were reattached at the hospital. It happened on a smaller scale with two students at South El Monte High School. The rope snapped again, but this time, it only took off their fingers. Again, they were reattached, but that's enough to make anyone swear off the picnic game for life!

3. The Carnival Corpse

The Carnival Corpse pinterest
Everybody's heard stories of sideshow dummies that ended up being real bodies. The real life inspiration for this urban legend was Elmer McCurdy, a cowboy bandit who died after a robbery. The undertaker was so impressed with his work, he put the mummified body on display and charged people to look at it. A travelling circus got it off him, and McCurdy's body was used as a spooky prop until everyone forgot it was a real body. The grisly discovery was remade when some movers knocked off an arm to reveal human bone in the '70s. Afterwards, McCurdy was laid to rest.

Everybody's heard stories of sideshow dummies that ended up being real bodies. The real life inspiration for this urban legend was Elmer McCurdy, a cowboy bandit who died after a robbery. The undertaker was so impressed with his work, he put the mummified body on display and charged people to look at it. A travelling circus got it off him, and McCurdy's body was used as a spooky prop until everyone forgot it was a real body. The grisly discovery was remade when some movers knocked off an arm to reveal human bone in the '70s. Afterwards, McCurdy was laid to rest.

2. Bugs On The Brain

Bugs On The Brain Getty Images
Bugs nesting in your brain is one of those terrifying old tales you hope is false. Sorry folks, it happened. A British woman who had recently returned home from a trip to Peru started hearing scratching noises inside her head. She quite understandably became alarmed when a fly flew out of her ear. She went to the doctor where they discovered a nest of maggots living in her ear canal. I want to wear ear plugs forever now.

Bugs nesting in your brain is one of those terrifying old tales you hope is false. Sorry folks, it happened. A British woman who had recently returned home from a trip to Peru started hearing scratching noises inside her head. She quite understandably became alarmed when a fly flew out of her ear. She went to the doctor where they discovered a nest of maggots living in her ear canal. I want to wear ear plugs forever now.

1. The Sadistic Surgeon

The Sadistic Surgeon Miami New Times
The plot is enough for a horror film: a sadistic plastic surgeon uses his medical degree and access to patients to mutilate people. Well, Glen Tucker is the real life version. Working in Wisconsin, he mutilated a series of victims, including amputating a man's arm who was only having arm spasms and providing a woman with square breast implants and a series of scars. He faked his death and moved to Florida, where he later killed his wife, himself and his cat.

The plot is enough for a horror film: a sadistic plastic surgeon uses his medical degree and access to patients to mutilate people. Well, Glen Tucker is the real life version. Working in Wisconsin, he mutilated a series of victims, including amputating a man's arm who was only having arm spasms and providing a woman with square breast implants and a series of scars. He faked his death and moved to Florida, where he later killed his wife, himself and his cat.

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