Creepypastas are horror-related legends or images that have been copy-and-pasted around the Internet. These Internet entries are often brief, user-generated, paranormal stories intended to scare readers. They include gruesome tales of murder, suicide, and otherworldly occurrences. According to Time magazine, the genre had its peak audience in 2010 when it was covered by The New York Times.
In the mainstream media, creepypastas relating to the fictitious Slender Man character came to public attention after the 2014 “Slender Man stabbing”, in which a twelve-year-old girl from Waukesha, Wisconsin, was stabbed by two of her friends; the perpetrators claimed they “wanted to prove the [Slender Man] skeptics” wrong. After the murder attempt, some creepypasta website administrators made statements reminding readers of the “line between fiction and reality”.
Other notable creepypasta characters and stories include Jeff the Killer, Ted the Caver, and Psychosis. In May 2015, Machinima Inc. announced plans for a live action web series curated by Clive Barker, titled Clive Barker’s Creepy Pasta.
The term is a portmanteau of the words “creepy” and “copypasta”, a word used on 4chan in 2006 to describe viral copy-and-pasted text.
Slender Man is a thin, tall man with no distinguishable facial features that wears a black suit, and is said to stalk, and traumatize people. The character originated in a 2009 SomethingAwful Photoshop competition, and creepypastas were written shortly afterward. According to most stories, he targets children. The legend also caused a controversy with the Slender Man stabbing in 2014.
Jeff the Killer
Jeff the Killer is a story accompanied by an image of the character. The story says that a teenager named Jeff was severely injured in an incident of bullying that caused his face to become bleached. Following the incident and having his bandages removed, Jeff realized he liked to harm people, went insane, and cut a smile into his cheeks and burned off his eyelids after returning home from the hospital. After murdering his parents and brother, he is now a serial killer who sneaks into houses at night and whispers “go to sleep” before murdering his victims. In 2013, posters at the imageboard website 4chan stated that the Jeff the Killer image was an extensively edited picture of a girl who committed suicide in the fall of 2008. A different version exists on the creepypasta wiki.
Ted the Caver
Ted the Caver began as an Angelfire website in early 2001 that documented the adventures of a man and his friends as they explored a local cave. The story is in the format of a series of blog posts. As the explorers move further into the cave, strange hieroglyphs and winds are encountered. In a final blog post, Ted writes that he and his companions would be bringing a gun into the cave after experiencing a series of nightmares and hallucinations. The blog has not been updated since the final post. In 2005, the author of Ted the Caver revealed that it was an original work of fiction partially inspired by true events.
In 2013, an independent film adaptation of the story was released, called Living Dark: the Story of Ted the Cave