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Creepypasta is a popular subgenre of copypasta which consists of short horror fictions and urban legends mainly distributed through word of mouth via online message boards or e-mail. In recent years, some authors have re-appropriated the genre into an effective pretext for bait-and-switch trolling.
While folklores have been an essential part of cultural traditions for many centuries, the term “urban legend” began appearing in print publications as early as 1968 and became widespread through a series of books written by English professor Jan Harold Brunvand in the early 1980s. Since then, the word has become closely associated with short horror or mystery stories set in modern day. Starting in the 1990s, chain letter e-mails quickly emerged as the primary medium for sharing such stories on the Internet.
There are many forms of chain email that threaten death or the taking of one’s soul by telling tales of other’s deaths, such as the Katu Lata Kulu chain email, stating that if it is not forwarded, the receivers of the message will be killed by the spirit. Another involved an email involving a homicidal Mickey Mouse, who will intrude the recipient’s domain to kill him or her unless sent to the number of recipients (25). Any lower they will suffer death, injury, paranoia, and bad luck.
The Internet slang term “creepypasta,” which is derived from copypasta, did not enter the 4chan community’s vernacular until mid-2007, with the earliest known archived thread dating back to July 6th.
A TV Tropes page for creepypasta was created on December 3rd, 2010. A New York Times article titled “Bored at Work? Try Creepypasta, or Web Scares” was published on November 12th, 2010. A Facebook fan page has 9,277 likes as of October 28th, 2011. Creepypasta archives can be found on various sites including Creepypasta.com, the Creepypasta Wiki, Tumblr, the SCP Foundation, and Microhorror.
Usage in Humor
Several creepypasta stories have gained notoriety for their poor quality, regardless of the author’s intent. Also referred to as “retarded creepypasta” or just “bad creepypasta”, they can be intentionally silly, anti-climatic or intellectually incoherent for comedic effect. Some of the more notable examples in this category includes “Then Who Was Phone?”, and “Skeleton Popped Out.”
A FEW YEARS AGO A MAN WAS WALING 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!
Several creepypasta stories have been adapted into short films or episodic web series, some of the most notable examples including Slender Man, Smile.jpg, The Grifter, Squidward’s Suicide, Ben Drowned and Suicidemouse.avi.
- Slender Man is a mythical creature often depicted as a tall, thin figure wearing a black suit and a blank face. According to the legend, he can stretch or shorten his arms at will and has tentacle-like appendages protruding from his back. Depending on the interpretations of the myth, the creature may cause memory loss, insomnia, paranoia, coughing fits (nicknamed “slendersickness”), photograph/video distortions and can teleport at will.
- Lavender Town Syndrome is a series of creepypasta stories and videos that detail a conspiracy to cover up mass child suicides. These suicides were allegedly caused by listening to the first version of the Lavender Town Theme in the Japanese version of the Pokemon Red and Green games.
- Pokémon Creepy Black is a creepypasta story about a bootleg Pokémon Red Gameboy game in which other trainers and Pokémon can be killed. The creepypasta predates the release of the Nintendo DS game Pokémon Black.
- Ben Drowned is an online legend about a haunted The Legend of Zelda: Majora’s Mask cartridge for the Nintendo 64 video game console. It is often associated with the phrase “You shouldn’t have done that” and is popular among users of 4chan’s /x/ paranormal board.
- Ted the Caver is a creepypasta story that originally appeared as a series of blog posts written by a spelunker named Ted recounting his experiences exploring “Mystery Cave.”
- Smile.jpg, also known as Smile.dog, is a creepypasta story about a haunted image that drives those who view it insane. The tale is often accompanied by a photoshopped picture of a sinister-looking Siberian Husky dog.
- Abandoned By Disney is a creepypasta detailing a tourist’s encounter with a deranged, photo-negative mutant of Mickey Mouse that supposedly dwells on Treasure Island, an abandoned Disney resort located in Baker’s Bay, the Bahamas.
- And Then a Skeleton Popped Out is a parody creepypasta and sarcastic expression used to mock creepypastas that are too predictable in outcome or troll pastas that are poorly written on purpose.
- Candle Cove refers to a creepypasta story about a fictional TV show of the same name. The story is about a group of people who are reminiscing on an online message board about a scary show they had watched as children before it was revealed that the show never existed.
- The Holders is a series of creepypasta stories about a quest to obtain a large number of magical items that will bring about the end of the world once they are brought together in one location. Those who wish to take part in recovering the objects are called “Seekers.”
- The Rake is a creepypasta story featuring a humanoid creature that stalks and attacks people in a manner similar to Slender Man. Since 2006, pictures, fan-art and video blogs have been made of the monster, including numerous allusions in the Slenderverse YouTube series EverymanHYBRID.
- The Grifter is an Internet an urban legend about a mysterious video clip allegedly containing footage that is so disturbing to the viewer it will traumatize the person.
- Gateway of the Mind is a creepypasta story that tells of a group of scientists’ attempt to speak with God by depriving a local man of his five senses.
- Squidward’s Suicide is a creepypasta story about the character Squidward from the Nickelodeon animated television show Spongebob Squarepants.
- The Smiling Man is an urban legend about a tall, silent man who allegedly stalks strangers with a manic smile. The creepypasta was first introduced by Redditor blue_tidal in an autobiographical account purportedly detailing his late night encounter with a deranged man while living in Seattle, Washington.
Jeff the Killer is a creepypasta story usually accompanied by an image of a pale, nose-less man grinning. The image is sometimes captioned with “GO TO SLEEP” written in red. In addition to the pasta, it is also popular as a pop-up image.
Search queries for “creepypasta” began to pick up in August of 2007, around the same time the earliest archived 4chan threads were posted.