The Most Popular Tall Tale, Ranked

Choose the tall tale you think is the most popular!

Author: Gregor Krambs
Updated on May 26, 2024 07:17
Tall tales have always served as a fascinating lens through which we view the cultural and societal values of a community. They are not merely stories, but rather a vibrant tapestry of exaggerated feats and larger-than-life characters that resonate with humor and awe. By ranking these tales, we gain insight into what excites and entertains, reflecting shared values and common aspirations among diverse groups. On this site, your votes help to actively shape the rankings of these beloved tales, ensuring that the list remains current and reflective of popular opinion. This dynamic ranking system not only celebrates the stories that have charmed generations but also encourages a community interaction that enriches the experience. Your participation makes you a part of this ongoing tradition of storytelling, helping to highlight those tales that truly capture the imagination and spirit of people around the world.

What Is the Most Popular Tall Tale?

  1. 1

    Paul Bunyan

    A giant lumberjack of American folklore, often accompanied by his blue ox, Babe.
    • Origin: North American
    • Companion: Babe the Blue Ox
  2. 2

    John Henry

    An African American folk hero known for his strength and prowess as a steel-driving man.
    • Profession: Steel-driver
    • Symbolism: Human vs. Machine
  3. 3

    Pecos Bill

    A cowboy hero with superhuman abilities who tamed the Wild West.
    • Loved: Slue-Foot Sue
    • Rode: A tornado
  4. 4

    Davy Crockett

    An American folk hero, frontiersman, soldier, and politician, remembered for his adventures and eventual death at the Alamo.
    • Nickname: King of the Wild Frontier
    • Death: Battle of the Alamo
  5. 5

    Johnny Appleseed

    An American pioneer nurseryman who introduced apple trees to large parts of the United States.
    • Real Name: John Chapman
    • Legacy: Environmental conservation
  6. 6

    Mike Fink

    Known as the king of the keelboaters, he was a legendary brawler and riverman who epitomized the rough and tough spirit of the American frontier.
    • Profession: Keelboatman
    • Reputation: Toughest fighter on the river
  7. 7


    A legendary sea captain known for his immense size and the fantastical adventures of his ship, the Courser.
    • Ship: The Courser
    • Size: Giant
  8. 8

    Casey Jones

    An American railroader remembered for his bravery and the folklore surrounding his life and work.
    • Profession: Railroad engineer
    • Legacy: Heroism
  9. 9

    Sally Ann Thunder Ann Whirlwind

    A character from American folklore known for her incredible strength, speed, and bravery.
    • Spouse: Davy Crockett
    • Traits: Strength and speed

Missing your favorite tall tale?

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About this ranking

This is a community-based ranking of the most popular tall tale. We do our best to provide fair voting, but it is not intended to be exhaustive. So if you notice something or story is missing, feel free to help improve the ranking!


  • 172 votes
  • 10 ranked items

Voting Rules

A participant may cast an up or down vote for each story once every 24 hours. The rank of each story is then calculated from the weighted sum of all up and down votes.


Additional Information

More about the Most Popular Tall Tale

Paul Bunyan
Rank #1 for the most popular tall tale: Paul Bunyan (Source)
Tall tales have always captured the human imagination. These stories, often passed down through generations, blend humor, exaggeration, and larger-than-life characters. They reflect the culture and values of the people who tell them.

A tall tale typically features a hero who performs incredible feats. This hero is often based on a real person but with exaggerated qualities. The hero's strength, courage, or cleverness knows no bounds. These traits make the hero seem almost superhuman.

The setting of a tall tale is usually a familiar place. It could be a small town, a vast forest, or the open plains. These settings are often depicted in a way that feels both real and magical. The ordinary becomes extraordinary, and the mundane becomes remarkable.

The plot of a tall tale is simple yet engaging. It often starts with a problem or challenge. The hero, using their extraordinary abilities, faces this challenge head-on. The solution is always unexpected and often humorous. The hero's actions are so exaggerated that they become almost impossible to believe. This is the charm of a tall tale.

Dialogue in tall tales is lively and colorful. Characters speak in a way that reflects their personality and background. The language used is often informal, making the story feel more personal and relatable. This conversational tone helps draw listeners in and keeps them engaged.

Tall tales serve several purposes. They entertain, of course, but they also teach lessons. These stories often highlight the importance of traits like bravery, cleverness, and perseverance. They show that even the most daunting challenges can be overcome with the right attitude and a bit of creativity.

These stories also help to build a sense of community. Sharing a tall tale brings people together. It creates a shared experience and fosters a sense of belonging. The exaggerated elements of the story make it memorable and easy to retell. This ensures that the tale will continue to be passed down through the years.

Tall tales evolve over time. As they are retold, details may change. Each storyteller adds their own twist, making the story unique. This evolution keeps the tale fresh and relevant for new audiences. It also allows the story to adapt to changing times and values.

In the modern world, tall tales continue to thrive. They can be found in books, movies, and even on the internet. While the medium may change, the essence of the tall tale remains the same. It is a story that entertains, teaches, and brings people together.

The enduring appeal of tall tales lies in their ability to stretch the imagination. They remind us that the world is full of possibilities. They encourage us to think big and dream even bigger. In a tall tale, anything can happen, and that is what makes them so captivating.

So, the next time you hear a story that seems too incredible to be true, remember the tradition of the tall tale. Embrace the exaggeration, enjoy the humor, and let your imagination soar.

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