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1001 Stories Collection

Granny on the Roofrack

1001 Granny On The Roofrack Andreas M
Added on 28th August 2020

Oral tradition Story from North America/Western Europe

A macabre (yet amusing) urban legend about a family on holiday.


In most versions of this popular urban legend, a particularly nasty family on a road trip are delighted to find that their wealthy grandmother has died, and load her wrapped up body onto their roof-rack. But it’s what happens when they leave the car to stop for lunch that truly shocks!

Why we chose it

Many people know this tale as something that happened to a “friend of a friend”, showing how oral stories continue to blur the line between and truth and fiction even into the modern day.

Where it came from

Like most urban legends, no-one can say exactly where or when the story of the granny on the roof-rack originated (although we do know that it never really happened!). The earliest recorded versions date back to the early 1940s, making this one the most enduring stories of its kind.

Where it went next

Over the years the macabre appeal of this story has charmed people all over the world, earning it a place in popular culture as one of our most popular urban myths. It has been included in numerous books of modern folklore, notably Jan Harold Brunvand’s famous collections of urban legends.

Associated stories

Modern folklore has many similar tales of the cruel, greedy, or simply foolish being punished by fate. The Dead Cat in the Package tells of a burglar who gets a nasty surprise after stealing an elderly woman’s shopping bag, while the gruesome story of The Beehive sees a young woman meet a horrible fate after refusing to ruin her expensive hairdo. These stories, and many more, have been collected countless times, but the books by Jan Harold Brunvand remain some of the best ways to read them.

Added on 28th August 2020

Oral tradition Story from North America/Western Europe