4 Ghosts That Need To Star In Your Next Scary Story

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We may be in the last month of summer, but there are still many bonfires to light before the season is over — and these gatherings call for spooky stories.
When it comes to telling a ghostly tale, it always helps if you can draw from a personal experience of dealing with a real haunting or hearing a creepy sound in the basement. But, if you've never seen a spirit yourself, don't worry. There's a longstanding tradition of ghost tropes from which you can draw for inspiration.
Over generations of people describing their encounters with the other side, a few "types" of ghosts have emerged. These entities have specific appearances, behaviors, and motivations for their hauntings. They've been sighted across the country, playing a recurring role in American imagination — and our nightmares.
Ahead, meet four of the most common (and downright scariest) types of spirits to appear in American legends and urban myths. We cannot be held responsible if you spot one lurking outside your tent.
If you prefer to keep your ghost stories local, check out our roundup of the most haunted places in the U.S. and the ghosts that made them famous.
The White Lady
This woman was said to have been jilted by a lover before her murder or death by drowning. Other stories of the White Lady suggest she is a grieving mother who was somehow responsible for her own children's deaths and, in turn, took her own life. Either way, she now passes the nights wandering alone, crying out for the loved ones she lost, waving down cars on the side of the road, or even appearing people's dreams.
The Black-Eyed Children
These spirits are most commonly seen hanging around abandoned buildings or trying to enter someone's home. Their eyes (the irises, whites, and pupils) are completely black. Those who have encountered Black Eyed Children report catching their eyes and feeling an unplaceable sense of unease and fear. It's hard to say what these entities want from the living, but they've been said to chase people tirelessly and even attempt to control their minds.
The Hat Man
The Hat Man is usually summoned to this plane in times of distress or dysfunction, first appearing to only one person then slowly making himself known to others in a group. He wears a wide-brimmed hat and is very tall, usually preferring to loom large in the shadows rather than interact directly with anyone. Unlike the White Lady or the Black Eyed Children, the Hat Man doesn't rapidly appear and disappear — some people describe seeing him all their lives.
The Shadow People
Much like the Hat Man, Shadow People like to stay in the background and follows one or a very few people for a long time. For some Shadow People, that's all they may do, but there are others that are said to be flat-out evil. These have been seen sporting glowing, red eyes and exerting malevolent influence over their mortal target's life. They might materialize out of nowhere one day, or prey on you while you sleep, hovering just over your body.
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