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Who is Bloody Mary and the 5 Scariest Real Life Stories

by Ana Lopez
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Bloody Mary is an enduring figure as the monster steeped in oral history is built to last forever. She changes and changes with the times, but retains her core creepiness. It helps that firsthand and analogue horror stories are filled with stories about her or inspired by her. Every child has heard a version of her story and almost everyone has tried to summon her in a darkened room. The murderous woman to whom Candyman himself owes his predatory first appearance is a nightmare we should all avoid, and yet, like a moth on a flame, we tremble in front of mirrors and whisper her name. Who is Bloody Mary? Was she ever a real person? Is she real? Here’s everything you need to know about the eternal monster.

What do you call Bloody Mary?

There are more variations of this ritual than can be counted. They all require someone to stand in a darkened room, usually a bathroom, and stare into the mirror while reciting her name several times. In some stories it is three times; other times it is as many as thirteen. At one point a female figure appears in the mirror, sometimes holding a baby. If you’re lucky, you’ll only see or hear Bloody Mary, but a few unlucky people get scratched or pulled into the mirror and never seen again.

Who is Bloody Mary based on and was she a real person?

There are several real people who Bloody Mary may be based on. The first is Queen Mary I. Mary Tudor got the unfortunate nickname because of her penchant for burning Protestants. After claiming the throne, she tried to frighten her citizens by restoring heretic burning. She initially hoped it would only take a few kills, but three years and nearly 300 people later, she was still battling people of different faiths.

The Bloody Mary stories linking a baby to the creepy woman also make sense. Shortly after marrying Phillip, she announced she was pregnant. Her due date came and went without a baby. Reports from the castle claim she gave birth to what is described as a piece of flesh. She may have had a miscarriage or given birth to a malformed stillborn baby. We will never know. This was her only pregnancy; she died five years after becoming queen. Her Protestant half-sister Elizabeth became queen and began murdering Catholics. The victors make history and Mary got her nickname despite her sister and father killing thousands more than ever before.

The next possible person Bloody Mary could be based on is Mary Worth. Her story is what many country witch tales, including the Bell Witch and the Blair Witch, are based on. She is believed to have kidnapped and murdered children in her village until she was caught and burned alive. As she was dying, she cursed the town and promised to haunt them if they ever said her name while looking in the mirror. Her crimes against children and supernatural powers would work in the context of the story.

Other reports are that she was a slave smuggler who tricked poor souls into coming with her where she sold them into slavery. Those who dared to defy or escape Mary were hunted down and tortured until she killed them. In both accounts, she is labeled a witch. In the child abduction story, she killed the children to bathe in their blood and stay young. In the slave trade story, she did it as part of a witch ceremony and because she loved the almighty dollar.

The last option is the Hungarian noblewoman Elizabeth Bathory. She is said to have killed between 80 and 650 young women. In addition, she allegedly did unspeakable things to her victims, including sewing their lips shut, burning them, and cutting off parts of their bodies. All this before she drained their blood to bathe in it like a macabre fountain of youth. However, there is a possibility that she herself was a victim of a king who was in considerable debt to her late husband and who was conducting a libelous campaign.

The scariest Bloody Mary real-life accounts on YouTube and Reddit that may be true

Almost everyone has tried to summon Bloody Mary, but with little success. We could all say we’ve seen her, but very few slumber parties end up with scratched arms or missing children. Often we convince ourselves and others that we have seen or felt something that cannot be explained, and so the legend continues. Some accounts have a hint of truth to them. A seed of fear and plausibility that, no matter how great a skeptic, defies explanation.

There’s a strange thread on Reddit called r/ThreeKings that deals with philosophy, meditation, bizarre rituals, and lucid dreaming. It’s the kind of place that’s perfect for Bloody Mary recipes. After reading countless ways to summon Mary or any other entity, you may want to venture into the paranormal to hear real stories. Buried in comments on another’s story is a short out u/1975ari. In this user’s experience, at the age of nine, she called Mary and nothing happened. Later that night, however, she was found crying in front of the mirror. At first she had no memory of the event, but she later remembers waking up feeling like an elderly woman grieving the loss of someone.

It’s not the most dangerous or violent of the stories out there, but it does feel the most real because sleepwalking and night terrors are terrifying things that plague people every day, sometimes with disastrous results. Some people with spouses or family members who suffer from these sleep ailments report wandering off or even attacking others. It’s all very scary stuff.

The next humble story of u/ilostmemarbles poignant for the sincere call for answers. This user isn’t trying to shock or scare, but for help, and her cat story is something anyone with pets can relate to. Those of us with cats are especially familiar with their peculiar habit of staring at nothing for long moments or meowing for no reason. It can be distressing and in this case it can be a sign that they need to sell that house and get out.

Another Reddit user, u/JustBrowsingFR tells a story that produced not a tearful woman but an ominous shadow. There’s something eerie and relatable about a story subtle enough to be plausible, yet creepy enough to give you goosebumps. Anyone who has ever been to a real haunted house knows that unpleasant feeling of being watched or followed. It’s disturbing and not something you ever forget.

YouTube is a hotbed of Bloody Mary encounters. Compilation videos detailing the scariest Bloody Mary stories are everywhere. Since few of those show actual footage of said events, it’s hard to say how “real” they really are. One of the most compelling is a simple on-camera explanation of something sent to YouTuber @HaileyReese. There’s no actual footage and the story doesn’t end with someone dying, but Hailey’s honest approach makes it feel more real than most obvious offerings.

This TikTok from @kelsiidaviess is scary because she actually believes something happened, and her fear is because of the video. Some inexplicable changes in lighting and camera focus can be nothing but proof that there is something about the urban legend after all.

The truth probably lies somewhere more clinical and less supernatural. I think therefore I am. The more videos we watch, the more we delve into these stories, the more scared we become. It’s human nature, and if you’re prone to suggestion, as most of us are to some degree, you start looking over your shoulder and staring in the mirror pensively. Hoping to see something and yet desperately wanting nothing to be there. I always think twice about these things. Having stayed at one of the most haunted places in America, The Elms Hotel And Spa in Excelsior Springs, Missouri, I can tell you that I am a believer. There are things in this world that cannot be explained and are better left alone. Is Bloody Mary one of them?

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