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The phrase was first used by an anonymous 4chan user in response to an /x/ (paranormal) board post re-telling the “who was phone?” story, an often-reposted creeypasta originally posted in 2008 that is well-known for its comedic element:
“A FEW YEARS AGO A MAN WAS WALKING DOWN A ROAD BECAUSE HIS CAR BROKE DOWN AND HE SAW A CAR COMING UP BEHIND HIM SO HE STUCK OUT HIS THUMB TO HITCH HIKE AND THE CAR STOPPED AHEAD OF HIM. HE RAN UP TO THE PASSENGER SIDE AND OPENED THE DOOR. WHEN HE OPENED THE DOOR A SKELETON POPPED OUT”
The story is often accompanied by a clip art of a skeleton (shown below), in a similar vein to its usage in 2spooky.
Due to the rampant growth of copypasta trolling on 4chan’s /x/ board, the story soon became used as a staple response to criticize creepypastas that are all too predictable in outcome. On January 1st, 2010, a Facebook fan page for the phrase “And Then a Skeleton Popped Out” was created. On May 7th, 2010, Urban Dictionary user LeJesseRawrs submitted an entry for the phrase, defining it as a phrase “used at the end of a story to spice it up, make it interesting, or to just keep someone’s attention.” On August 19th, 2010, an article about the troll pasta was submitted to Creepypasta Wikia.