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Ah, the classic -- everyone gathered around a campfire telling stories just in order to see who can freak everyone out the most. Usually, in fiction, the stories will be made up on the spot and even have to do with the location the campers are staying in. Whenever this happens, it often turns into a ghost hunt when someone's fevered imagination takes the story a little too seriously. Whether or not the location actually is haunted varies, but even in cases where there's a rational explanation for the strange occurrences the campers experience, it's common to leave the story with a somewhat jokey MaybeMagicMaybeMundane ending.

A common variation is for a parent who may also happen to be a NightmareFuelStationAttendant, or perhaps simply has no sense of what would be HarmfulToMinors attempt to tell their children a bedtime story like this right before bed, leading to [[NightmareFuel either nightmares]] on the kids' part, or overactive imaginations leading to a hunt for the ghosts like in the main version. Though sometimes, the justification is that it's used to scare a misbehaving child into behaving.

See GhostlyGoals for the frequent motivations of the ghosts in the stories and OurGhostsAreDifferent for the various ghost story-writing conventions.

Probably the source of the {{Horror}} genre and a lot of UrbanLegends. For that reason, most actual literature that is this genre should probably go on one of those pages, rather than this one, which will restrict its examples to usage as a plot device.

Note that this doesn't have to take place on a camping trip. Any fiction that has the characters trying to scare each other with stories counts.

Not to be confused with [[Literature/GhostStory book 13]] of ''Literature/TheDresdenFiles'', the Creator/PeterStraub [[Literature/GhostStoryStraub novel]], or the anime called ''Anime/GhostStories''.



[[folder: Anime and Manga ]]

* One episode of ''Manga/AskDrRin'' has Shinagawa tell everyone the story of a volleyball player who died in an accident and now haunts their school. Cue the soccer coach becoming injured in a freak volleyball accident after school. It turns out that [[spoiler:The "accident" was most likely intentional, but not due to spirits. Rather, it was Eddy's way to get to Meirin. All the characters find is a bird with a very strong round-things-obsession]].
* Both ''Manga/CardcaptorSakura'' and ''Manga/XXXHolic'' have episodes with ghost stories that are actually true.
* In the special episode of ''Anime/TheTowerOfDruaga'', Utu proposes that his group of Climbers tell scary stories to entertain themselves. He proceeds to tell a story about a curse doll. He continues to suggest "Let's tell scary stories!" during tense or dangerous moments throughout in the series, and in the second season, the Curse Doll itself makes a brief appearance in the "House of Eternal Spring."
* ''Manga/SgtFrog'' has a chapter in which self-proclaimed "Cosmic [[Creator/JunjiIto Junji]]" Keroro challenges his Earthling hosts to a scary story contest. Angol Mois causes much embarrassment when she gets ''kuaidan'' (Japanese for "ghost story") and ''waidan'' (Japanese for "dirty story") confused, and Fuyuki manages to tell a story scary enough to spook [[CuteGhostGirl an actual ghost]]. The anime throws in Koyuki and Dororo as contestants; Koyuki tells the legend of the ''yuki-onna'' (which is more sad than scary) and Dororo tells a MundaneGhostStory implying that as kids, Keroro made a prank long-distance call on Dororo's family's phone line that left them with a "frighteningly high" phone bill.
* ''LightNovel/AriaTheScarletAmmo'' has an {{OVA}} which, aside from being a HotSpringsEpisode, is also essentially a ghost story. [[spoiler:And as with classic ghost stories, there is no real resolution]].
* One episode of ''Manga/LuckyStar'' had Konata tell a ghost story of a bus driver who, when no one was looking around... [[spoiler: would suddenly burst into a rendition of "DANZEN! [[Anime/FutariWaPrettyCure Futari wa *** Cure]]".]]
* ''Anime/IrresponsibleCaptainTylor''. "The Day the Soyokaze Vanished". The marines are telling a ghost story about the previous captain who killed himself out of guilt after his vessel was ReassignedToAntarctica (just like them) and several members of his crew jumped out the airlock, who haunts the ship WhenTheClockStrikesTwelve (the time he killed himself). At midnight the Soyokaze passes through a NegativeSpaceWedgie and a ghost starts haunting the ship in an attempt to kill the captain and first officer, but gives up in disgust over their constant bickering.
* Two are shared in episode 3 of ''Manga/IsTheOrderARabbit''. The first by Chino, but for Rize and Cocoa, it's obvious she's referring to Tippy. Chiya shares one too, but the scene cuts from the beginning of it to the very end, and we only see the ThousandYardStare some of the girls display.
* Some seagoing Vultures in ''Anime/AfterWarGundamX'' tell stories of the Sea of Lorelei, a place haunted by the singing ghost of a woman. Garrod buys it immediately, and Dr. Farzenberg recites a poem about the [[https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Lorelei river hazard]] it was named for, which manages to spook the other crew members. It turns out the location is the resting place of a Newtype woman who was put in stasis and then lost during the war, Lucille Lilliant.


[[folder: Comics ]]

* Done a couple times in ''ComicStrip/CalvinAndHobbes'', like when Calvin tells one to Hobbes, only for both to freak out when their father comes out to see them, as they believe him to be the monster mentioned in the story.
* In ''ComicBook/{{Irredeemable}}'', the character Kwaidan has the ability to tell ghost stories...and then the ghosts from those stories appear and fight her enemies. It turns out this ability is quite a bit more powerful than she'd ever let herself realize.
* One issue of ''Comic/{{Lumberjanes}}'' features the girls telling each other ghost stories around the campfire, with an ArtShift accompanying each one. Jen's story ends up freaking the girls out the most, to the point when they hear someone approaching their campfire, their response is to run like hell. [[spoiler: It was the Bearwoman, who promptly helps herself to their snacks.]]


[[folder: Fan Fic ]]

* Calvin and Hobbes share these in Chapter 5 of ''Fanfic/CalvinAndHobbesTheMovie''.


[[folder: Film ]]

* In ''Film/JuRei'', a schoolteacher staying afterschool with a student waiting for his mother decides to pass the time by telling him one of these... [[spoiler:right before the ghost of the boy's mother shows up.]]
* ''Film/{{Meatballs}}''. Tripper Harrison (Bill Murray) is the head counselor at the Camp North Star summer camp. He tells a ghost story (the urban legend "[[http://www.snopes.com/horrors/madmen/hook.asp The Hook]]") to the children around a campfire. At the end he reveals that he is wearing a hook, causing the kids to run off screaming.
* ''Franchise/FridayThe13th''
** ''Film/FridayThe13thPartVIJasonLives'', one camp counselor scares the others with the story of Jason Voorhees, and then follows up with, "I can only think of one thing even more terrifying." That thing is a bus load of rowdy, bratty kids. "I think I'd rather deal with ol' Jason," [[TemptingFate replies]] another camp counselor.
** Used earlier in ''Film/FridayThe13thPart2'' when the characters are around the campfire and one of them tells about Camp Crystal Lake's bloody history. It is also used to give audience some sort of explanation of Jason's sudden presence.
* The whole plot of ''Film/{{Candyman}}'' is driven by a young woman investigating a local urban legend involving a Bloody Mary-like ghost.
* ''Film/TheFog'' opens with the old sea captain Mr. Machen telling a group of children these at a beach bonfire.
* ''Film/LemonTreePassage'': The Americans and the Australians are telling scary stories around a fire on the beach. Oscar then tells the story of Lemon Tree Passage Road, which inspires everyone to check it out to see if its real. Unfortunately for them, [[GoneHorriblyRight it is]].


[[folder: Literature ]]

* ''[[Literature/AuntDimity Aunt Dimity and the Deep Blue Sea]]'': The islanders on Erinskil have a local ghost story about Brother Cieran, the sole survivor of a Viking raid on a local monastery; he had gone to a small nearby island to meditate, so the Vikings didn't kill him, and after attending to the dead, he returned to island to die, pushing the boat away and haunting the place ever since (along with the cries of the murdered monks). Sir Percy tells this tale to Lori over dinner at [=DunDrillin=] Castle; predictably, the lights go out just after he recounts a creepy detail, and Sir Percy's face reappears in the gloom [[ScaryFlashlightFace illuminated from below by a lighted match]].


[[folder: Live Action TV ]]

* ''Series/{{Dexter}}''. Dexter starts telling a story about the Trinity Killer to Cody's Little Sailors' group. The other "dad" there cuts him off when it starts sounding a little too disturbing for the kids.
* ''Series/KenanAndKel'':
-->'''Kel''': ''When the bread popped out of the toaster, no one knew what to put on it jelly, margarine, cinnamon-sugar. I suggested butter, crumbs were everywhere...''
-->'''Kenan''': ''Man! He said let's tell ghost stories, not toast stories.''
* Creator/{{Nickelodeon}} show ''Series/AreYouAfraidOfTheDark''. A teenagers' club called the Midnight Society met around a campfire in the woods once a week to tell ghost stories.
* ''Series/TheAndyGriffithShow''; Andy tells the "Where's My Golden Arm" story around the campfire.
* In the ''Series/RoyalPains'' episode "Astraphobia," we first meet Ranger Pete at a campfire telling a group of scouts a singularly weak story about a "rule zombie," to lukewarm reception. After he gets struck by lightning, causing a personality change, we see him telling another story--it's still nominally about rule zombies, but his delivery is more animated and the campers actually seem scared.
* ''Series/StarTrekVoyager''. Neelix tells a scary story to the Borg children about a MonsterOfTheWeek, which was naturally a noncorporeal lifeform.
* It took five seasons but ''Series/BuffyTheVampireSlayer'' has the monster himself telling the story: Buffy hunts down Dawn in Spike's crypt, rapt with attention of how he murdered a whole family, and then heard the faint sound a child's gasp in a pitch-dark coal bin. Buffy's MamaBear instincts immediately go to red alert and she intimidates Spike into changing the ending.
* ''Series/{{Community}}'' - on a HalloweenEpisode, Britta finds from psychology test scores that one of the group is a potential homicidal maniac and tries to determine who it is by getting each of them to tell a spooky story.
* ''Series/CodeBlack:'' the episode "Corporeal Form" is one, complete with a MaybeMagicMaybeMundane ending.

[[folder: Manhwa ]]
* In ''Manhwa/{{Redrum 327}}'', a horror story, when the group of friends arrive at the house, Hyeri demands they begin telling ghost stories. Woony tells one, scaring everybody else and makes Gahui feel sick.

[[folder: Music ]]

* "The Beaches of Cheyenne" by Music/GarthBrooks.
* "Camoflage" by Steve Ridgeway is about a lost PFC in 'Nam who is escorted to safety by the ghost of TheBigGuy, whose callsign was "Camoflage" and whose DyingWish was to run a rescue operation.
* "Swamp Witch" by Jim Stafford.


[[folder: Stand Up Comedy ]]

* Creator/BillCosby had a routine called "Chicken Heart" about listening to the radio show ''Lights Out!'' and having basically the same reaction as from a campfire ghost story.


[[folder: Video Games ]]

* In ''VideoGame/TalesOfSymphonia'', [[HandsomeLech Zelos]] tells [[IdiotHero Lloyd]] and [[TeenGenius Genis]] a ghost story about the [[TheLostWoods Gaoracchia Forest]]. After they run off screaming, he cracks up and confirms to the audience that he [[ItAmusedMe made the entire thing up]].
* ''VisualNovel/DaCapoII'' includes an event which is a TestOfCourage in the school, where they collect tokens hidden on the locations for TheSevenMysteries of the school. Each location is presented with a ghost story before the event begins.
* ''Webcomic/KingdomOfLoathing'': Ghost stories are a tradition of recurring holiday Yuletide. Most of these are parodies of urban legends and films, but some are retellings of in-game events in ''[[FauxHorrific spooooky]]'' ways.
* ''VideoGame/{{Wick}}'''s plot is driven by an in-game one of these. Five children haunt the woods at night. Turns out it's true.

[[folder: Web Comics ]]

* Elie and Rikter in the ''GiftsOfWanderingIce'' use scary bedtime story to test their new dreamcatcher (to see whether it really can catch nightmares).
* In ''Webcomic/NoRestForTheWicked'',
** [[http://www.forthewicked.net/archive/01-16.html November says that the stories of a witch sound like they were made up to frighten children]]
** [[http://www.forthewicked.net/archive/05-06.html September frightens November with a story about how a mother once wished her daughter into a raven.]]


[[folder: Web Original ]]

* In ''WebVideo/MarbleHornets'' we hear a story about the old forest describing how during the pilgrim-times, villagers would kill criminals by tying them to trees that grow constantly and quickly for unknown reasons, [[BodyHorror tearing the victim apart]]. They continued this [[CruelAndUnusualDeath brutal practice]] until one day they discovered the corpse of a [[WouldHarmAChild ''child'']] strung up in one of the trees. It's heavily implied that the Operator is somehow linked to this old legend and the forsaken forest described in it.


[[folder: Western Animation ]]

* One episode of ''WesternAnimation/{{Rugrats}}'' involves a hunt for the [[BigfootSasquatchAndYeti "Satchmo"]] after listening to one of Grandpa Lou's stories.
** Not to mention there's an episode called, you guessed it: "Ghost Story".
* In the ''WesternAnimation/{{Futurama}}'' episode "Where the Buggalo Roam", the gang are telling ghost stories over the campfire, and Fry starts blurting out the endings before they even begin.
* ''WesternAnimation/MyLittlePonyFriendshipIsMagic''
** In "Look Before You Sleep", one of the sleepover activities on Twilight Sparkle's checklist is scary stores. After some [[MundaneGhostStory Mundane Ghost Stories]] from Rarity and Applejack, Twilight goes on to tell an actual ghost story, The Legend of the Headless Horse, which is successfully scary.
** In "Sleepless in Ponyville," the Cutie Mark Crusaders go camping with Applejack, Rainbow Dash, and Rarity. Rainbow Dash tells some scary stories; the episode deals with Scootaloo's fear of them, but also how she wants to hide her fear in order to impress Rainbow Dash.
* The episode of ''WesternAnimation/{{Freakazoid}}!'' about JustForFun/CandleJack starts with a bunch of campers telling these stories to each other. Wood is a common theme. Freakazoid is the clear winnner, terrifying everyone with the MundaneGhostStory of Sinbad getting another sitcom.
* In the ''WesternAnimation/SpongeBobSquarePants'' episode "Graveyard Shift", Squidward scares [=SpongeBob=] with the story of the Hash Slinging Slasher. Then he starts freaking out when the story appears to be coming true.
* On ''WesternAnimation/TheMightyB'', the Honeybee Scouts are camping and Penny tells the story of a mean girl no one liked who gets lost in the woods, speaking in a deep, creepy voice. The story freaks Portia (and her mom) so much she runs away into the woods.
* ''WesternAnimation/TheSimpsons'' used this as a FramingDevice in their early "[[HalloweenEpisode Treehouse Of Horror]]" episodes
* ''WesternAnimation/TinyToonAdventures'' used the bedtime story version at one point.
* ''WesternAnimation/HeyArnold'' has several of these, usually Gerald being the storyteller, but grandpa as well. The episodes are also very successful with creeping out the viewer with tales such as the headless cabbie, four-eyed Jack, the ghost bride and the haunted train.
* ''WesternAnimation/KickButtowski''s older brother Brad tries to tell a ghost story to Kick, Gunther, Pantsy and Horace successfully scaring everyone but Kick (and making Gunther throw up).
* In ''[[WesternAnimation/TheSmurfsTheLegendOfSmurfyHollow The Smurfs: The Legend Of Smurfy Hollow]]'', the 3D CGI parts are used as a FramingDevice for the 2D animation sequence that tells the ghost story.
* ''WesternAnimation/{{Daria}}'':
** In the episode, "The Teachings of Don Jake", the Morgendorffers go on a camping trip and try telling ghost stories the first night. Jake's is just a retelling of his traumatic childhood where his dad took him camping and subsequently got drunk. Helen tries telling an erotic vampire story and quickly censors herself when it gets too racy. Quinn simply does a version of ''Literature/{{Cinderella}}'' where the horror part comes in Cindy's fashion faux paus. Daria settles on a ''very'' gory version of ''Literature/HanselAndGretel''.
** The episode "Legends of the Mall" followed this trope more accurately in the form of an anthology story centered around Lawndale urban legends. The last story, ''The House of Bad Grades'', was about a home haunted by a vengeful ghost who died when she was sealed inside a bomb shelter while trying to work on her college applications. The ghost focuses on destroying the academic futures of any child living in her old house, because if she can't leave Lawndale, no one will.
* In the ''WesternAnimation/DuckTales1987'' episode "[[Recap/DuckTalesS1E45Superdoo Superdoo]]", Launchpad is telling a spooky story at the end of the episode.
* One scene from ''WesternAnimation/TheScoobyDooProject'' has Velma trying to tell the gang a ghost story that Shaggy recognizes as one of their past adventures.

[[folder: Real Life ]]

* Mary Shelley's ''Literature/{{Frankenstein}}'' was the result of a contest between friends to see who could write the scariest ghost story. Creator/LordByron was also present, and contributed a fragment which inspired John Polidori to write his genre-codifying short story "Literature/TheVampyre."