Many urban legends are framed as complete stories with plot and characters.
The compelling appeal of a typical urban legend is its elements of mystery, horror, fear or humor. Many urban legends are presented as warnings or cautionary tales, while others might be more aptly called “widely dispersed misinformation,” such as the erroneous belief that a college student will automatically pass all courses in a semester if one’s roommate commits suicide. While such “facts” may not have the narrative elements of traditional urban legend, they are nevertheless conveyed from person to person with the typical elements of horror, humor or caution.
Much like some folktales of old, there are urban legends dealing with unexplained phenomena such as phantom apparitions.
Few urban legends can be traced to their actual origins. Exceptions include the The Submarine, the Steam tunnel incident and the Hungarian suicide song “Gloomy Sunday.”