“I was a loner as a child. I had an imaginary friend—I didn't bother with him.”—George Carlin.
Many adults had imaginary friends as children. At their best, these make-believe buddies were cute, helpful, and whimsical respites from the scary “real world.” But for reformed dreamers, like the adults below, not every fake friend was so innocent. Imaginary friends sometimes took shape in scary animals, derivative cartoons, slightly “off” other kids, and even amorphous shapes from the great beyond. In other words, kids are weird and so are their friends.
Reddit asked adults to detail the creepiest and outright terrifying highlights of their ex-imaginary buddies. From the doctors without medical licenses to the pocket pals and brutal feuds, we’ll be happy to report that these friends are all imaginary (at least we hope…). Travel to Dreamland for these 42 startling stories about the creepiest imaginary friends in history.
1. Unhappy Happenstance
I had one when I was like four. He was Charlie. My parents always asked what he looked like, and I always said a little man. He went everywhere with me (single child at the time). It was to the point that I would cry if my mom sat on Charlie while we were eating lunch.
When we moved away Charlie didn't come with us. My Mom asked where he was, and I told her that he was going to be a mannequin at Sears. Years later we found out that a little person had taken his own life in our house before we moved in...
2. No Imagination Without Inspiration
I had characters from cartoons. Sometimes when I was playing I would pretend I was in a cool cartoon, because everyone in the cartoon were such good friends and I didn't really have any.
3. Nothing Like Self-Improvement
There was another me but the other me went by Crystal instead of my real name. I started calling myself Crystal because I liked the other me more.
4. My Literally Little Friends
I had a series of small friends, who were kids like me but small enough to fit in my hand. I don't know why I never imagined them regular human size, they just always seemed weird and stretched out when I did that.
Sometimes my parents would give me old junk mail and I would use it to be a teacher to my small friends. Penna was my most well-known small friend. She was a very interesting character and I talked to her a lot, but she was also very mean and rude.
Treeland was my other well-known small friend. She was nicer than Penna, and she wasn't afraid to speak up against Penna's injustices, so I liked her a lot better.
One day, Penna got run over by an imaginary bicycle in the flowerbed of my backyard. I felt OK about it. During a particularly hard hour on the toilet, I tried to reinvent her to be more friendly and stylish, but it never really stuck as well as good old mean original Penna.
5. Nothing Cures Your Constipation Like A Good Friend
When I was little, maybe four or five, I had an imaginary friend called Mary. She lived in the bathroom. The only time I ever talked to her was when I was pooping. My parents would hear me chatting away to "Mary" while on the toilet.
6. Don’t Go There
Not imaginary, per se. I used to break into houses as a little kid. I lived in a really run-down part of town with a huge amount of foreclosed and empty houses. So, I would pry off the window screens and if the windows were unlocked, I would crawl inside them. I was maybe like five or six.
Well, in one abandoned house there was always this young Hispanic girl hanging out in the upstairs bathroom. I would go up there, and she would talk to me and we'd play tag and hide-and-go seek and truth or dare. I'd always invite her home for dinner, but she said she couldn't leave because she had to wait for her mom to come home. I guess it made sense to me at the time, but when I think back, there was nothing in that house. Not even silverware in the kitchen drawers. The carpets were all mildewed, and it was seriously empty. I don't think she could have really been there.
Her name was Sarah. (I don't think she ever told me her last name). She always wore these cut-off tank-top shirts and always these pastel-orange spandex shorts. She had a bobbed hair-cut where the hair was shorter in the back than the front. She was missing a couple of teeth in the front of her mouth. She was a little chubby, especially in the stomach.
7. The Bojo Diet
Bojo (pronounced BA-zhjo). He lived in a crack in my stairs and ate "mush" from my sandbox.
8. Playfully Possessive
When I was little I didn't have many friends. In fact, everyone hated me. I made up a friend I called Angel, which is my middle name. We did everything together. But as time goes on, even losers make friends. Angel didn't like that.
Sometimes he would take over, do things to ruin relationships, things I would have to make up stories in order to explain. I've lost a lot of friends because of him, and I have no idea how to get rid of him.
9. Business Quack
I had an imaginary friend named Business Duck. That's right. I can still picture him in my head. He was the back half of a tugboat and the front half of Donald Duck (if he was doing his duck thing in the water, not standing upright). He would do absolutely nothing except occupy seats that other people wanted to sit in. An aunt or uncle would go to sit down, and I would tell them they couldn't sit there because Business Duck was sitting there, and they had to find another seat.
The origin of the name: the duck part is obvious, but the "Business" part came from my mom answering the phone when I was little. I would ask who it was, and she would say it was business, meaning a business call. I concluded business was a person's name.
10. Run, Boy, Run
My daughter had an imaginary friend named Boy for years. I had to intervene in their arguments many times. She spoke for him in a deep gravelly voice that scared the snot out of me. Red-rum.
11. Name a More Iconic Duo
When I was a kid, young, maybe between five and eight years old, I had an imaginary friend that was a skeleton dog. It would race everywhere, and always be beside me when I reached my destination. The animals in the woods around me were afraid of it, of course.
Also, I had a sweet long-sleeve shirt that was yellow, with blue and red racing stripes down each arm. There was a G.I. Joe-sized superhero guy who could totally fly and would run down either arm (situation dependent), launch into the air, and fight evil.
Because, you know, there's evil out there.
12. Here, Kitty Kitty
Not imaginary friend but imaginary species. They were called Chin-chin. They were tiger-like creatures who were as big as the Earth, but only I could see them. We'd mess stuff up.
13. Stick It To The Man
I don't remember it but my Mom likes to remind me how she thought I was possessed when I was two or three. She came into my room once to find a giant mess and asked why I did that. I apparently responded by dropping my voice to a freakishly low level for a two-year-old girl and responded, "I didn't do it. The man did it."
I blamed the man for a lot of things I did.
14. No Shirt, No Shoes, No Sleep
When I was between three and six I had three imaginary friends, two who were the usual little kid stuff. They were invisible and friendly and I only heard them in my head.
My third friend, she was not invisible, I could see her. I called her “Bra-and-underpants girl” because that's all she had on. I can still see her in my mind clear as day, she looked almost black and white, like black lacy underwear contrast with pale skin and what I always thought was dirt around her frazzled blonde hair. I can't even wrap my head around how I had even been able to come up with a friend like that at three.
While my other two friends were nice, she wasn't; she wasn't mean, just really sad, constantly. If asked where she lived, and she'd say, “Those woods” (points to forest behind my house.) I'd tell her she could stay in my house, but she'd just say, “I can't.”
It wasn't a big deal when I stopped seeing her either. Do you think it was something more?
15. What Little Girls Are Made Of
I had loads of imaginary friends when I was a kid, most of which were just personifications of my dolls and my favorite characters from books and TV, but I remember one with a completely unique personality from when I was about nine and living in Virginia. She was called Christine or something similar and as much as I can remember she lived in the house before we moved in, had long pigtails and was close to my age.
I didn't think much of this until really recently when my parents and I were talking about when we used to live in that house. My mum told me that she used to hear footsteps and a child's voice coming from the upstairs while I was at school, and my dad told me he once found an old photo of a little girl at the bottom of one of the closets while he was cleaning it. Unfortunately, he couldn't tell me if the girl had pigtails.
16. Having a Big Black Ball
When my sister and I were young, we both had imaginary friends, but we could both sense hers. It was like a black ball of energy.
My sister claimed her imaginary friend told her its—her—name. We played with her outside, and my sister talked our mom into setting a place for her at the table a few times.
Eventually, our parents were uncomfortable with how convinced we both were of this imaginary friend and forbade all mention of her.
Some years later we learned there had been a small group of Native Americans living in that area who had been wiped out about a hundred years before. The name of the group was that which my sister's imaginary friend had said was hers so long ago.
17. Friend vs. Friend
When I was a kid, I had several imaginary friends. My first one was an exact copy of myself, who would follow me around.
My second ''friend' was actually a race of thumb-sized mutant children with rainbow-colored hair, and superpowers. They had to leave their home planet because at age ten if they were weak, they were slaughtered. So they went to earth, and I started to raise them in secret. The two main ones that started this whole elaborate story now teach at a camp made for the survivors, and there is a constant battle feuding now.
18. Hop Along
I had a flock of flying rabbits. They were different colors, but beyond that, I don't recall anything much about them. My mum assures me that they were quite a big and continuing thing with me for some time though.
19. Doggone It
I remember that I was always excited and would rush to get to bed, something that a kid never does. I would ask to go to bed early, so I could see them. My bedroom was set out in a sort of U-shape. My bed was in the middle and everything was set around facing me. I didn't have a TV in my room and only had the basics.
I remember laying in bed, it being pitch black with only some light coming in from my curtains when two kids would come out—I don't know where from. They seemed to step out of the darkness and would sit on my bed and talk to me about my day, calling me a "Silly Billy." My dog Sophie would often come rushing into my room to jump on the bed. I would calm her down, kissing and petting her but upon looking up, the girls were always gone.
I think my room was being decorated with new wallpaper and I stayed in my parents' bed for a few nights. They put me to bed with some warm milk, cookies and a Disney film on their TV. The two girls would come out from my room and sit on my parents' bed and watch the film with me. I remember grabbing some cookies and my glass of milk and offering it to them and one of them looking really happy, shocked and the older girl shaking her head saying, “We can't.”
They both had white nightdresses on and their hair was in a bun. They never had any shoes on and they would come and see me almost every night up until I was seven. I honestly can't remember their names, this was over 20 years ago. They always seemed terrified when my dog would run into their rooms and vanish.
My mum later found out that 15 years before, two young girls got mauled by a neighbor's dog in our yard and died.
20. You'll Float Too
At four my parents divorced. My dad, with not many resources, moved into the attic of this comically pink house in the bad side of town. One day, he hung a tire swing from a tree in the backyard. I had a lot of fun with that, and I remember this guy living in the basement of the house would hold conversations with me out of the basement window while I played.
His name was Tim, he had a yellow jacket and a bright pink helmet every time I saw him, which was every time I went outside. Once in a while, he would ask me to climb in the window, but I always said, “I don't think so Tim!” because I thought it was funny that he'd act really angry and mad. I asked my dad recently about Tim, and he said that nobody lived in the basement and it was used for storage. I don't know if Tim was real or not, but I'm glad I didn't go into the basement.
21. The Whole Gang Is Here
When I was about five I had a pair of “imaginary” friends, a brother and a sister, both about seven who only I could see. I lived on a bend in a river half-a-mile down a dirt road, in a wooded area. When I got older, I found out the land we lived on used to be a trading post back in pioneer days.
They only showed up when I went outside to play and I remember they wouldn't play on the swing set with me, just play with sticks and rocks in the dirt next to it while I swung, then when I got off the swing set, they would follow me around our yard, but they never traveled outside the yard (we lived on a 160 acre farm).
22. Hog Heaven
I didn't have any siblings, so I was often lonely at home, especially before I started going to school. I had imaginary friends though. Dozens of them. Most of them were pigs from the planet Zion (my parents are atheists, they have no idea where I came up with this).
Off the top of my head I remember Good Piggy, Naughty Piggy, and Peter, but Peter wasn't around much because he always had to go to church (again, no idea where these ideas came from—not my parents). There was also a pink bird named Sweety.
I knew they weren't actually real, but at the same time, I couldn't “control” them. They did whatever they wanted. Especially Naughty Piggy. Once I started going to school and making real friends, they slowly stopped coming by. I assume they all went back to live on Zion.
23. Me in the Attic
I had an imaginary evil twin named June who lived in the attic. Whenever I did anything wrong I blamed her, so my parents would make "her" write apology letters. I'm right-handed, so I used my left hand to write them, thinking this would fool them.
Twenty years later, I'm playing poker and a dude at the table called me June. I honestly did a double take until I realized he just had forgotten my actual name.
24. Pirates of the Caribbean
I had a few that I truly believed in. Apparently, I used to talk to them, invite them places, etc. My “best” imaginary friend was Jessica the Pirate.
She would get me in trouble all the time. I don't remember most of the things she did because I was quite young, but I vividly remember one trip to Florida. She pushed me into the nasty stagnant water at a mini golf place, and I got in trouble for it.
...I wish I were joking.
25. Private Time is Fun Time
I wouldn't say I had one specific imaginary friend, but rather just spoke to many different characters about stuff. I remember three ghosts that lived in my bathroom that I'd talk to (not out loud though) and I think there was a little dog-like character I'd imagine from time to time, though I don't remember him well.
26. Illegally Blonde
We stayed with my grandparents when I was three for a few months while my family was between houses. I had an imaginary friend, a little blonde girl.
Years later, though, I wondered about her. I first saw her when she was skipping down my grandmother's hallway. I was trying to nap on my grandmother's bed. She stopped outside the bedroom door.
The little girl stopped skipping and said, "Oh, you can see me!”
27. Wishy Washy
His name was Splashy.
In kindergarten, I told a girl she could most definitely not swing on the swing next to me because Splashy was swinging there and she could freaking wait her turn. Needless to say, the teacher had a talk with me about that.
I also used to make Splashy "soup" which consisted of everything I could get my hands on thrown in the food processor/blender and baked in the oven to a crisp puke like consistency.
Miss that guy.
28. Paranormal Babysitting
When I was just a toddler, between the age of one and two, my mom said I would sit in my crib and talk to someone. I vaguely remember an old lady who would tell me Mommy would be coming soon to help me.
Mom said out of the corner of her eye she would see the old lady from time to time, and that lights would shut off on their own sometimes. I think the house was haunted and I was talking to a ghost...
29. It Ain’t Easy Being Green
I'm 20 and when I was a younger child I did have an imaginary friend. It really scared my parents because his name was "the green man." He was overly tall wore a doctor's mask and had blood all over his scrubs.
I went to a psychiatrist during my teen years and we kind of figured out that because of my grandparents failing health while I was young, I spent a lot of time in hospitals. My parents think that "the green man" was a way for me to feel safe while I spent so much time alone in waiting rooms.
To sum up, I had an imaginary friend who was a creepy doctor with bloody scrubs. I'm normal.
30. Murder Most Foul
My sister had an imaginary friend named “Thoup” (yes, like "soup" with a lisp, which she did not have).
Thoup was a total jerk. She would go in my room and break my Lego forts and stuff.
One day when my sister was playing alone, I went up to her and told her that while she was playing I had gone into her room and killed Thoup.
She got very upset and no matter how much my mother tried to calm her down and tell her that Thoup was okay (“See? There she is playing outside, why don't you go see if she wants to play with you?”) my sister insisted that I had offed her friend.
I got grounded for what I remember being a really long time for offing Thoup. I remember arguing to my mom that it was dumb because I hadn't taken the life of a real person.
31. Fourth Wheel
I never understood the imaginary friend thing. My ex had a daughter who had one and she called him “Enchantin” and would freak us the heck out by saying stuff like “he's standing right behind you” and stuff.
32. Olean the Big Black Bird
I had an imaginary friend up until I was around 11 or 12, I think. (I'm 28 now, and I still miss her).
As a mostly-rational adult, it is hard for me to remember whether or not I actually saw her, or if she was just made up. But, I feel like I really saw her. On an eerie side note, I only had this imaginary friend when my family lived in this antebellum house on the Ohio River in Kentucky. Her name was Olean, and she was a GIGANTIC black raven.
I can remember having conversations with her, and my mom has said in the past the I used to hold long talks with Olean in front of her. I was the first child for my parents, so I imagine they were just crossing fingers their next child wouldn't turn out so odd!
As far as the "standing right beside you" stuff, I don't think I ever did that. I can't remember ever sitting a place at the table for Olean. I understood that she lived/ate somewhere else.
Regarding triggers, I don't have any memories of anything that would lead to me having a big black bird for an imaginary friend.
33. Welcome to My Web
I had a daddy long legs I used to talk to. I'm not sure how long it lasted, but I recall him crawling on my arms and hanging out on my shoulder. This may have been inspired by the children's novel, Charlotte's Web.
34. Summers of Never Happened
I met Michael on the beach in Pensacola, FL. I asked my mother if he could come home with us and she said he could. He rode next to me the entire way home and we talked in the back seat of the car. He was my imaginary friend from the time I was two until I started Kindergarten.
Michael was a kid, but was older than me, maybe six to eight but not older than ten. He had dark hair that was short. I think he wore red shorts. I remember that he came to me less frequently as I got older until he came to me one day to say goodbye completely. He said that he found his family and was going home.
I dreamed about him years later, playing on the beach in the sun, he turned and smiled and waved to me.
I don't know how common it is for people to remember their imaginary friends this vividly, or to dream about them later in life.
I saw a psychiatrist as a teen who assured me this experience was all very normal, still, something seems off about it to me
35. The Critter Crew
I had an imaginary black unicorn named Maria, and a puppy/seal named Bloo or something to that effect. My best friend had better imaginary friends than me, so we usually played with hers instead.
36. War Never Changes
Baty the Bat. He ate farmer Jon and then got beat up by Buster.
37. The Very Lonely Caterpillar
Not necessarily imaginary but I had this caterpillar in my backyard for a few days and I would have conversations with it.
Every year a caterpillar would come back and it would be the same kind, so I thought it was the same one and get super excited.
To this day, I can't kill caterpillars and get furious if anyone tries to.
38. The Friends They Forgot
Growing up I had an imaginary farm, even though we didn't live on a farm or anything to justify it. There was a sheep named "Slumpy-Lumpy,” a cow named "Cow-Co," and a chicken I called "Mrs. Hen."
I had a pretty good time with them according to my mom, until one day I said that the farm burned down and that was the last time I mentioned them. I don't remember anything about this except for the name "Slumpy-Lumpy."
39. It’s Those Whips, Isn’t It?
Had one when I was five or six years old. He was based on the lion tamer I'd seen at the circus. He followed me around and protected me, and ended up being the inspiration for some, er, darker fantasies when I hit puberty.
40. Tossed Away
My brother had an invisible friend named Alice. She was pretty tame, just needed to have a spot saved at the table, car, etc. then one day, he just got sick of her, and threw her out the car window as we were driving, saying, "Goodbye, Alice." Short, simple, disturbing.
41. Not So Fake After All
I was an imaginative kid & had several imaginary friends, but my first one was different then the rest. When I was two or three I had an imaginary friend named Karen. My whole family knew about her & I would insist she be treated like a real person, unlike my later fantasy folks.
My mom would hear me carrying on whole conversations with her alone & was always a little curious where I had come up with the whole thing, it seemed more complex then toddler pretend. Like I genuinely thought she was a person & that people were being inconsiderate to her by not acknowledging her. Sometimes to humor me my parents would out of the blue be like “Well, hello Karen!” & I'd glare replying “She's not here right now.”
We ended up moving & once we did, Karen wasn't mentioned anymore. Since I was young, I don't remember too much, just a warm feeling like an old friend. My mom asked me about it when I got older and told her I could confidently remember making up my other later imaginary friends (Howard the Duck & his girlfriend Chuck) but not Karen. She told me she always wondered if I was seeing something she wasn't, but no harm ever came of it, so she didn't worry.
Well I'm in my 30s now and was reading an article about a case that changed how soon you could report a missing person. As I read I realized it was sort of near where I used to live, and the girl was named Karen. I didn't think much of it, it was a city, crime happens. As I read further, I learned that Karen's murderer had buried her body in the town I had lived. At that point, not expecting much but rather curious, I texted my mom for the address of our old house. As it turns out, Karen was murdered then buried about a mile & a half from our old home.
Now, I'm not saying that I'm 100% sure this Karen was my Karen, and the whole thing had happened a little over decade before my parents had even bought the house. My mom had never even heard of the case and it was would have long been out of the headlines. I still haven't found a picture of the girl and sometimes wonder if I'd recognize her even though she passed on before I was even born. Regardless, the whole thing was a sad story and that young lady didn't deserve such an awful end. If she was my Karen, it's even sadder her spirit lingered and only had a toddler for a friend
42. Hey Becky
I had an imaginary friend when I was five or six. Her name was Becky Reeder, and she was maybe eight or nine, had curly brown hair, and was slightly pudgy. I had her as a friend for about three years. She and I would hang out in the downstairs of my house and color, play with dolls, and sometimes play outside. She would never come upstairs though, and I never found out why. She would just go away when I went upstairs.
One night she invited me to a party, and I was excited because she said I could meet her family. She had a mom and dad, grandparents, an older sister, and an aunt. She told me that the party was by the water (like a ten min drive from my house) and that it would be fun. I told her I couldn't leave, and she said we could sneak out. I started out the door when my mom heard and came to investigate. She asked what I was doing, and I told her that I was going with Becky to a party to meet her family. My mom told me I couldn't go, and I threw a fit because I really wanted to go.
My mom picked me up and went to take me to bed, but I couldn't stop crying so she brought me into her room to sleep in her bed. A while later I calmed down and was just laying there watching the ceiling when I heard the noise by the bedroom door. Becky was upstairs, and she was standing there. I waved at her and whispered, "I'm sorry." Becky said, "I hate you," and walked out of the room. I never saw her again after that.
I've tried Googling deaths in that area or asking around, but nobody knows anything, so it was interesting. I talked to my mom about it when I was older, and she said she was very alarmed because I was so adamant to go to this party, even though it wasn't real.
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