The vanishing hitchhiker (the ghostly hitchhiker, the disappearing hitchhiker, the phantom hitchhiker or the hitchhiker) story is an urban legend in which people traveling by vehicle meet with or are accompanied by a hitchhiker who subsequently vanishes without explanation, often from a moving vehicle. Vanishing hitchhikers have been reported for centuries and the story is found across the world, with many variants. The popularity and endurance of the legend has helped it spread into contemporary popular culture.
Public knowledge of the term expanded greatly with the 1981 publication of Jan Harold Brunvand's book The Vanishing Hitchhiker, which helped launch public awareness of urban legends.
The archetypal modern vanishing hitchhiker is a figure seen in the headlights of a car traveling by night with a single occupant. The figure adopts the stance of a hitchhiker. The motorist stops and offers the figure a lift. The journey proceeds, sometimes in total silence, and at some subsequent point, the passenger appears to vanish while the vehicle is in motion. In many cases, the hitchhiker vanishes when a (normally red) vehicle reaches the hitchhiker's destination.
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Famous quotes containing the word vanishing:
“Then, though I prize my friends, I cannot afford to talk with them and study their visions, lest I lose my own. It would indeed give me a certain household joy to quit this lofty seeking, this spiritual astronomy, or search of stars, and come down to warm sympathies with you; but then I know well I shall mourn always the vanishing of my mighty gods.”
—Ralph Waldo Emerson (18031882)