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The babysitter and the man upstairs — also known as the babysitter or the sitter — is an urban legend that dates back to the 1960s about a teenage girl babysitting children who receives telephone calls from a stalker who continually asks her to "check the children" The basic story line has been adapted a number of times in movies.
A teenage girl is babysitting at night. The children have been put to bed upstairs and the babysitter is downstairs, watching television. The phone rings; the caller tells her to "Check the children." The adolescent dismisses the call and goes back to watching television. The anonymous caller dials back several times. Eventually the babysitter calls the police, who inform her they will trace the next call. After the stranger calls again, the police return her call, advising her to leave immediately. She evacuates the home and the police meet her. They explain that the calls were coming from inside the house, and that the unidentified prowler was calling her after massacring the children upstairs.
Some variants of the story have one or more of these details:
- The caller turns out to be either one of the children or an elder sibling who decided to scare the babysitter as a prank. But they get told off by the police.
- The babysitter is also killed.
- The babysitter manages to rescue the children and the prowler gets arrested by the police.
- While being taken away by the police, the prowler whispers or says out loud "see you soon!" to the babysitter.
- In some versions, when the prowler calls the babysitter, he just makes scary noises like giggling or heavy breathing. Also in this version, when the operator says that the calls have been coming from the same house, the phone goes quiet. And when the operator asks if the babysitter is still there, all they get is the same scary noises, meaning that the babysitter has already been killed.
- The children are with the babysitter while watching the television. Then the prowler starts phoning them, saying that he'll be with them in a certain amount of time. Then after they get the news that the calls are coming from inside the house, they hear a door upstairs opening and then the sound of footsteps heading towards the room where they are. This version can be found in the Scary Stories to Tell in the Dark books.
- Years later, the babysitter is now an adult and has a family of her own. One evening, she and her husband go to have dinner out while a babysitter looks after the children. The evening is going well until a waiter approaches their table and says that there is a phone call for her. She then answers the phone and hears "Did you check the children!". This is an ending that appears in some of the movie versions.
- In some Creepypasta versions, the babysitter is increasingly unnerved by what she assumes is a hideous, life-sized statue of a clown in the room. When the parents call to check on the children, the babysitter complains about the statue and asks if she can cover it up with a sheet, or move it from the room. The confused parents reply that they do not have a clown statue. The babysitter is then attacked by the clown, which turns out to be a murderer in disguise.
Use in film
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- Foster's Release (1971)
- Black Christmas (1974)
- O Anjo da Noite (1974)
- The Sitter (1977)
- When a Stranger Calls (1979).
- When a Stranger Calls Back (1993)
- When a Stranger Calls (2006)
- Amusement (2008)
- Forman-Brunell, Miriam (2009). Babysitter: An American History. New York University Press. p. 133. ISBN 0-8147-2759-X.
- Danielson, Larry (1996), "Folklore and Film: Some Thoughts on Baughman Z500-599", in Bennett, Gillian; Smith, Paul (eds.), Contemporary Legend: A Reader, New York, London: Garland, pp. 55–68
- Brunvand, Jan Harold (1981). The Vanishing Hitchhiker: American Urban Legends & Their Meanings. New York: W. W. Norton & Company, Inc. pp. 53–57. ISBN 0-393-01473-8.
- The babysitter and the man upstairs at Snopes