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Creepypasta, the Internet's Answer to Urban Legends

Updated on October 9, 2019
Dean Traylor profile image

Dean Traylor is a freelance writer and teacher who writes about various subjects including education and creative writing.

From the video game
From the video game | Source

What is Creepypasta?

At first glance, a series of photos posted on a blog seem mundane. Some show children playing in a park, others capture a family posing in front of a house, while another set of images are filled with trees, landscapes, and buildings.

But, there’s something insidious about them. A closer look reveals the reason. Someone -- or something eerie -- is present, “hiding” in plain view in the background: a tall faceless being dressed in black that’s better known as Slender Man.

YouTube is not immune, Slender Man and Suicide Mouse (a doppelganger of Mickey Mouse) have made their presence known there, too. So have horrific, alternate versions of popular cartoon characters such as a suicidal Sponge Bob Square Pants and Bart Simpson (better known as Dead Bart).

And if that was not enough, there are rumors circulating throughout Internet chat rooms that Slender Man and the stories behind the other characters are real! At least, that’s according to a “friend of a friend of a friend.”

But, before one starts believing what’s posted on the Internet, one must realize that Slender Man, Suicide Mouse, and Dead Bart are merely members of an Internet urban legend universe. Welcome to the world of Creepypasta.

Creepypastas are short horror stories, films or fakelores created anonymously and posted to various chat-rooms and blogs. Most are written in the same style as an urban legend while others are short gimmicky video clips with surprise endings.

Lately, the most popular medium for creepypastas are blogs that collect and post the stories and YouTube.

In the tradition of urban legends and folklore, creepypasta stories are often told and re-told by word-of-mouth. Unlike the other formats, creepypasta relies on the Internet. As a result, many retelling have very few variations from the original.

Also, there are other influences on these stories. Fan fiction plays a critical role; especially for iconic characters such as Sponge Bob Square Pants, Bart or Pokémon. Fan fiction writers tends to take popular or minor literary, TV, comic, and movie characters and formulate stories around them. In many respects, they are crude, amateur versions of TV spinoff of minor characters from popular shows.

Lately, the most popular medium for creepypastas are blogs that collect and post the stories and YouTube. These videos belong to a sub genre of creepypasta sometimes known as web scares. The goals of these extremely short films are to frighten the viewers with surprise endings. Among the most notables are entitled: “The Scariest Picture on the Internet (REAL)” and the bizarre “Suicide Mouse.”

Suicide Mouse

A Brief History

There are some debates about the origin of creepypasta. Wikipedia states that the name came from a blog that posted these stories. Another site claims the stories were originally posted to a popular (some say infamous) forum site called 4chan.

According to a November 2010 New York Times article, creepypasta is a play on a common Internet vernacular.

“Like other food-based techie terms, it has its own geek etymology,” wrote Austin Considine of the New York Time. “Mike Rugnetta, who is a researcher for, a Manhattan-based project devoted to tracking [memes], explained that creepypasta derives from a term called copypasta.”

The article explains that copypasta described “any piece of text that was endlessly ‘copy-pasted’ across the Internet (Considine, 2010).” In other words, ‘creepy’ was put in place to ‘copy’ to describe the type of stories that were spreading throughout the Internet.

While the origin varies, most of the tales began to emerge in 2007. Immediately, creepypasta spread across numerous message boards, chat-rooms, and newsgroups.

It wasn’t long before blogs -- such as one aptly named -- started showcasing many of these stories on its site. Also, it didn’t take long for some of these stories to reach mainstream audiences in different media.

Since his inception, anonymous writers have expanded on the mythology behind Slender Man.

Slender Man

Of all the creepypasta legends to emerge, Slender Man has been the most prominent. His first appearance can be traced to several digitally manipulated photos posted on the forum site “Something Awful” in 2009.

Unlike many these legends, Slender Man has a known source; a person going by the name of Victor Surge (whether this is a real name or a screen alias is still uncertain). Also, there was an apparent reason for his “birth”. Members of the site were trying to create “the scariest paranormal photo” on the Internet.

Since his inception, anonymous writers have expanded on the mythology behind Slender Man. Photos and illustration purported to be the faceless have been “unearthed”, indicating that he had been around since medieval times, showing up and sometimes appearing in the background of major historical events.

Lately, Slender Man has stepped out the Internet and onto other forms of mass media. A Low budget movie was recently produced about him. Also, he became a character in a video game.


Its Legacy

Creepypasta is a reflection of the times. It is a high-tech version of an age old tradition of storytelling. In many respects, it reflects people’s growing dependence on technology as well their ever-growing paranoia about its dominance in our lives.

It also attacks, in some respect our fascination with iconic characters. Many of the well known creepypasta legends are actually known characters from TV, movies and other mediums.

Still, its real legacy is to produce cheap thrills. After all, who doesn’t like a good scare from time to time? Especially when it is coming from a friend of a friend of a friend…

Update: The Dark Side of Creepypasta

Slender Man made the news in late May 2014. But it wasn’t for all the right reasons. Two Wisconsin girls were suspected in a horrific attack against a school-mate. The twelve-year-olds were obsessed fans of Slender Man. Reports indicate that they thought Slender Man was real, and chose a school-mate as a sacrifice to appease him.

The victim was lured to a wooded area during a sleepover and was stabbed 19 times. Fortunately, the victim survived her attack, but was in critical condition at the time of this writing.

Although such events are rare, and is more of an indictment of the mindset of the girls, Slender Man and its creator became the unfortunate focus of numerous news report that included one segment on CNN.

Slender was the product of a contest and was done for fun. Sites such as Creepypasta.Wiki merely gave a few creative people an outlet to create stories using urban legend characters such as Slender Man.

Still, it seems that a few derange people are taking it to a whole level. As this writing, another story of a teen killing her mother for the “sake” of Slender Man is circulating on social media sites such as Google+ and Facebook.

"Vintage" Slender Man

Lurking in the woods.
Lurking in the woods. | Source

© 2013 Dean Traylor


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    • Dean Traylor profile imageAUTHOR

      Dean Traylor 

      8 weeks ago from Southern California/Spokane, Washington (long story)

      "sima traylor

      I agree with you and I love your ideas"

      Thanks Mom.

    • Dean Traylor profile imageAUTHOR

      Dean Traylor 

      3 years ago from Southern California/Spokane, Washington (long story)

      To C.H. Wolf. Admittedly, I haven't paid a lot of attention to the website since writing this article. I'm not surprised to find out this happened. A lot of people are buying old sites and turning them into click-bait type sites. I guess that's where the easy money is at.

    • profile image

      C.H. Wolf 

      3 years ago was recently sold to a new owner. Unfortunately, he has a history of get-rich scams and has been attacking anyone who talks about it. I wouldn't suggest supporting this site.

    • Dean Traylor profile imageAUTHOR

      Dean Traylor 

      4 years ago from Southern California/Spokane, Washington (long story)

      Just letting you know, there was a documentary made on Slender Man. I mentioned in the article that two girls nearly killed a friend of theirs in order to satisfy this figure. It's a very disturbing documentary (it's on HBO). I think the title is Fear the Slender Man (?)

    • theraggededge profile image

      Bev G 

      4 years ago from Wales, UK

      My daughter would enjoy this article. Sending her the link.

    • profile image

      sima traylor 

      4 years ago

      I agree with you and I love your ideas .

    • Dean Traylor profile imageAUTHOR

      Dean Traylor 

      4 years ago from Southern California/Spokane, Washington (long story)

      Sometimes, these creepy pasta stuff can strike unexpectedly. I was watching a YouTube video on a topic I was researching for an article. It sounded legit until it took a horrific turn. Next thing I know the story was about a death video or something like that...believe it or not much of this started as a contest to scare people. Many are getting very sophisticated. It won't be long before a book or movie within the horror genre starts to capitalize. Scary, yes. But it will be interesting to see how this evolves over the years.

    • Mel Carriere profile image

      Mel Carriere 

      4 years ago from Snowbound and down in Northern Colorado

      This stuff gives me the creeps, which I guess is exactly what it is meant to do. I wouldn't even watch your video, because it would probably keep me up nights. Of course I doubt the validity of this stuff, it is simply a product of amazingly good Photo Shop, but it is a self-perpetuating part of modern folklore and is fascinating to read about. Great hub.

    • profile image


      6 years ago

      This is a wonderful discussion of creepypasta and the effect it has had on the internet community. I discovered creepypasta just over a year ago and I've never looked back, it's absolutely fascinating the stories people come up with and it really creates a source of stories and literature for the increasingly technology-driven generations. It definitely feels like urban legends or Tales from the Crypt and things like that. Great job on this mate.

    • profile image


      7 years ago

      Hi Dean,

      Love the hub and had a dream that all comic characters are equal in the sight of the internet and:

      A slender chef dressed in black rather than white

      Making Creepypasta a very Italian story

      I know, I know, Italian cooking is bland at best

      And you know you can’t insult the Mafia without consequences

      So you let a cartoon character do the job

      And have a laugh at the same time

      Sound like a super link to me

      Almost Mafia bashing

      How good can it get???

      Oh I forgot a mouse in the food and all

      Give it to boss man mafia

      And then let the rats have him…

    • Dean Traylor profile imageAUTHOR

      Dean Traylor 

      8 years ago from Southern California/Spokane, Washington (long story)

      Creepypasta is a fairly new term. I stumbled upon it when I was writing an article about Dead Bart. It's an example of how technology may change but the need for stories don't.

    • profile image


      8 years ago

      Never heard of creepypasta but I found this hub entertaining.


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