Hook Man Legend

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Detail of Jacob Karns' silver hook.

Hook Man Legend

An urban legend that began circulating widely in the 1950s. There are many variations, but the basic story is the same. It begins when a teenage boy takes his unsuspecting date out to Lovers' Lane for a make-out session. While there, they hear a report of a murderer who has escaped form a nearby insane asylum; the newscaster says everyone should be on the look out for this crazy man, who has a hook in place of his right hand. The girl becomes frightened – especially when the couple hears a strange scratching sound coming from outside the car – but her date insists everything is fine and tries to continue making out. The girl resists, and eventually the boy relents and drives her home. When they arrive back at the girl's house, the girl exits the car and begins screaming hysterically. When her date exits the car as well, he sees a bloody detached hook embedded in the roof of the car – and realizes that the Hook Man would have scratched through to the interior if the car had they stayed at Lover's Lane any longer.

Pad of Definitions (1.07 Hook Man), Official Website

In 1.07 Hook Man, murders are committed by the spirit of Jacob Karns, a preacher who had killed prostitutes in 1862. Since then he has fed off the repressed emotions of clergy and their family. Dean salts and burns his corpse. However it turns out that the silver that made up Jacob's hook have been remolded into items in the church. Jacob is dispatched when all of these, the last being a silver chain Lori Sorenson wears, is melted.

What actually occurred on the show has more in common with an urban legend that folklorists call "The Boyfriend's Death" than with the Hook Man legend (known as "The Hook").

Some of the key features of The Hook are that there is a radio warning of an escaped convict or madman, that the couple survives, and that they find the hook embedded in the car door once they are safely home. It has been told in the U.S. since the 1950s and is one of the most widely-known (and frequently studied) urban legends in the world.

The Boyfriend's Death urban legend dates from the 1960s and has some similarities but many differences from The Hook. The Boyfriend's Death is also set on Lover's Lane, and occasionally interpolates the "radio warning" aspect of The Hook, but the most common similarity (in the U.S.) is that the killer is often said to be "the hookman." Significant differences between the Boyfriend's Death and The Hook include: the boy exits the car while the girl stays in the car all night, she hears scratching sounds on the roof of the car, and when she is rescued in the morning by the authorities she sees her dead boyfriend hanging upside-down from a tree. It is his fingernails that have been making the scratching sounds.

There are non-hookman versions of The Boyfriend's Death, including a Navajo version that attributes the death to a skinwalker. In Europe, particularly in the U.K., the boyfriend is usually decapitated by an Axe-Man, who sits on the roof of the car bouncing the head.

Additional info on Boyfriend Legend and Hookman

Encyclopedia of Urban Legends by Jan Harold Brunvand (2001).

See also