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While Charles Lee Ray and the legend of Chucky are pure fiction, there are plenty of haunted dolls out in the world to lose sleep over. Some have sparked their own film franchises; others are stored carefully in museums all over the world. And still others are available for purchase online (at your own risk).
With Season 2 of USA Network and SYFY’s “Chucky” stalking closer every day, we here at USA Insider are thinking a lot about haunted dolls. Chucky’s fictional, yes, but what makes him so terrifying, in part, is how many supposedly haunted dolls exist in real life. This ain’t no “Toy Story” situation: Chucky and some of his fellow haunted dolls definitely do not want to be your friend.
Your friend ‘til the end? Absolutely. Just expect that end to come very, very soon. Here are four real-life dolls with their own creepy backstories.
No, not the porcelain doll in the frilly white dress who’s been haunting our nightmares since she first appeared in “The Conjuring” (2013) and has since racked up her own horrifying film franchise. We’re talking about the real-life doll that inspired the onscreen version.
The real Annabelle — which is a Raggedy Ann doll and decidedly less menacing at first glance — is said to have a demon trapped behind all that yarn hair and button eyes. (The story goes relatively similarly to the film, for those who are familiar.) She was first gifted to a nursing student named Donna, and when Donna brought the doll home with her in 1968, she and her roommate immediately started noticing strange occurrences around the doll. A medium determined a little girl named Annabelle’s spirit was attached to the object, but when they attempted to commune with Annabelle, things got nasty. You see, Annabelle wanted to possess Donna.
That’s where famed supernatural experts — and stars of the “Conjuring” franchise — Ed and Lorraine Warren (a demonologist and trance medium, respectively) came into the picture. Per the couple’s website, “Ed and Lorraine Warren were called and pronounced the doll demonically possessed. They removed the doll from the house and encased it in a glass box to contain the evil spirited entity.” She resides in that box to this day.
As someone who appreciates a good possession, we’re not sure if Annabelle would truly scare Chucky or if he’d admire her for the chaos she and her demon have caused over the years. However, a voodoo spell is one thing … and a whole-a** demon is another. Careful, Chucky!
For those interested in the spirit realm side of the supernatural, you’re probably familiar with Travel Channel’s long-running series “Ghost Adventures” and its host, Zak Bagans. In 2021, Bagans posted the latest update on “Lily,” a doll that belongs to his ever-growing haunted museum.
“My haunted doll ‘Lily.’ She has real human hair and has caused many nightmares. Her disturbing story was told to me when I found her in a small antique shop in Oregon. The woman working there that day was so happy to see her go and was badly affected by removing her from her case which was interesting to witness. We have captured a child-like figure behind ‘Lily’ on full-spectrum photo at The Haunted Museum. Her eyes are dark and cold but I find her energy to be comforting. But that’s just me,” he wrote in an Instagram post.
While Bagans might find something comforting in a “child-like figure” being attached to a doll, we can’t say it’s not terrifying. Chucky’s had several child nemesis, but none have been ghosts.
Robert the Doll
While it’s been suggested that Chucky was inspired by Robert the Doll (false), Robert is an entity all his own. Created in the early 1900s, Robert was the constant companion of a boy named Robert Eugene Otto (aka Gene). The legend goes that little Gene put so much of his emotional energy into the doll as a child that “stories of the doll’s strange behavior became commonplace with those who encountered him after Gene’s death in 1974,” per the Key West Art & Historical Society.
Sure, there’s nothing inherently negative about Robert, but what we think Chucky would find horrifying is the idea that it wasn’t a voodoo spell that created this haunted doll but rather a child’s love. Because if there are two things Chucky can’t stand, it’s children and love.
Gotta say, with all due respect, Ruby is simply disturbing to look at. It’s not just how she looks though. No, this doll reportedly has a negative emotional effect on anyone who comes into contact with her. And now, as a guest at the Traveling Museum of the Paranormal & Occult, Ruby has a bit more face time than she has in years past.
“Passed down from generation to generation, Ruby spent decades in attics and basements, her owners too uncomfortable to keep the doll on display,” per the museum’s website. “Not only did she have a talent for moving from room to room by herself, but whenever picked up, her touch seemed to induce feelings of intense sadness, and in some cases, nausea. The previous owners believe that Ruby still belongs to their ancestor, a young girl who allegedly passed away while holding her favorite doll.
“Ruby was eventually donated to the care of the museum, where hundreds of visitors have held her, only to experience the overwhelming sadness which emanates from the doll.”
Chucky’s certainly managed to make plenty of unsuspecting victims feel plenty of ways over the years: fearful, vengeful … dead. And while he’s caused grief, the ability to make others feel sorrow simply by holding him is definitely a skill he’d like to possess. Or, perhaps, fear — and with good reason.
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