Creepypasta is a fiction subgenre that consists of mini-horror stories passed along online and through the years. From chain emails to TikToks, it’s grown to encompass both the chilling and the satirical.
Creepypasta derives from another fiction genre called “copypasta,” which refers to a “copy and paste” format of a block of text meant to be shared over and over online.
Know Your Meme reports that the term “creepypasta” first appeared on the 4chan community in 2007. Creepypasta can be told through text or video and can consist of a single story or even a series, such as the popular TikTok show, “Not Your Normal Kids Show.”
Slenderman and Jeff the Killer are popular examples of creepypasta figures. Jeff the Killer is also an example of the startle subgenre, as sudden text or flashing lights often accompany his figure in an effort to startle the viewer.
Many creepypasta characters have their own histories, which can differ depending on who’s telling the story. Jeff the Killer, for instance, has a backstory as a 12- or 13-year-old boy who was bullied so badly he ended up in the hospital disfigured from his injuries — and when he woke up, he took on a new, cursed persona intent on seeking out revenge.
Creepypasta was extremely popular in the early 2010s, with some of the movement cooling in 2015 after stories reportedly influenced two separate crimes. In Wisconsin in 2014, two preteen girls allegedly stabbed their classmate 14 times and claimed to police that the attempted murder was to appease Slenderman. The following year, in Indiana, a 12-year-old girl claimed that the creepypasta character “Laughing Jack” told her to stab her stepmother.
Today, the genre has evolved to include less frightening stories that retain their original “scary” framework with an intentional humorous component.
For example, some people share creepypasta videos with content that doesn’t quite match, such as telling a scary story while cutting up a whole cantaloupe in a parked car.
For some people, creepypasta is also a form of nostalgia, as the figures and stories that once haunted them in their younger days become fond memories of fears they once had.
“He’s still my crush 5 years later,” joked @gracie_sl4ys in a comment.
Some creepypastas are satirical to mock some of the predictable themes used in horror stories, such as the “And Then a Skeleton Popped Out” trope.
A 2023 Reddit thread also discussed the evolution of creepypasta. The thread commented that part of its initial apparel was that it felt very real, while many creepypasta stories today have abandoned that aspect.
“I think, in contrast to old creepypastas that most of the new ones lack elements that make it actually creepy or scary,” Redditor Fair_Jelly wrote. “I believe the key aspect of a good creepypasta is the intrusive thought of it being real and it having actual reasons to be feared. It’s pretty obvious that all creepypastas are fake, however triggering second thoughts in the read is what made so many top creepypastas what they are.”
However, with the popularity of newer creepypasta stories and characters, such as the popular YouTube series Skibidi Toilet that Gen Alpha is said to be devouring in droves, it might just be true that creepypasta, like all good Internet lore, will live on.
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