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Urban Legends: The Classics


Urban legends first won mainstream popularity with the publishing of folklorist Jan Harold Brunvand's series of books on the subject, beginning with "The Vanishing Hitchhiker" in 1981. Thanks to him, many of these familiar FOAF ("friend-of-a-friend") tales are now recognized as "classics" in the genre.
  1. Did You Hear the One About...?
  2. Tales of Fear and Loathing

Did You Hear the One About...?

Alligators in the Sewers

Here's a sampler of some of the best-known urban legends of the past quarter-century. Some may have begun as "campfire tales," others as over-the-back-fence gossip, still others as idle street chatter or high-school whisper campaigns. These days they're liable to turn up anywhere -- in an email, on the TV news, on someone's blog, or even in a text message. How many do you recognize?

Tales of Fear and Loathing

Murdering Madman

One way an urban legend persists over time is by provoking a strong emotional response in the listener (or reader), which stimulates a desire to share the experience by passing it along to others. Fear and loathing work especially well in this regard. No wonder so much of urban folklore explores the darker side of human life -- we are fascinated by what horrifies and repels us.

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