In the 1990s, R.L. Stine had an idea, "Why not write scary books for children?"It was through this simple idea that one of the most successful and controversial pre-Harry Potter-era book series began.The original Goosebumps series lasted for all of 62 books, including such famous titles as The Haunted Mask (which was also the first episode of the TV adaptation, shown as an hour-long special episode), Welcome to Camp Nightmare, the Night of the Living Dummy series (there were three in the original series, but the other spin-offs and successor series have had at least one story with Slappy as the antagonist), and the Monster Blood series note the fourth and last of which was the final book in the original series. It was The Twilight Zone for preadolescents, with a twist at the end of every book (sometimes cruel, sometimes not. Sometimes, there was no twist, which is a twist in and of itself given the series). Stine cites the horror comics published by EC Comics as a source of inspiration.If there wasn't such a thing as Harry Potter, then this would be the high water mark of scary, post-Roald Dahl children's writing. Growing up as a child in the '90s, these books were a must-have (along with Animorphs, The Babysitters Club, and the Sweet Valley High series and all its spin-offs and prequels).In the later editions of the series, it became somewhat infamous for the "You Can't Judge a Book By Its Cover", idiom. Deep Trouble, for instance, had a picture of a giant shark going after a boy swimming in the ocean, when really the story was about a boy finding a mermaid who was being targeted by scientists who wanted to experiment on rare sea life. Egg Monsters from Mars featured the monsters as horrible threats on the cover, but the egg monsters are actually a benevolent force captured by (you guessed it) a Mad Scientist.Later incarnations of the series included the rather more obscure Goosebumps 2000 (a Darker and EdgierGoosebumps series that ran for 25 books), and Choose Your Own Adventure series Give Yourself Goosebumps. It's currently being revived in a twelve-book crossover, Goosebumps HorrorLand... which has itself been given a sixteen-book extension, as well as the PC game Escape from Horrorland. There was also a PC game called Attack Of The Mutant, but with a different plot than the television episode or book with the same name.The television series is currently in repeats on The Hub. The show first aired on FOX during the 1990s and then reran for two years on Cartoon Network (usually around Halloween time, but it lasted a bit longer in 2007 due to the Writers' Guild going on strike and producers scrambling for filler programming until the strike ended), and an unsuccessful stage show that closed after only a few months.
This series provides (usually multiple) examples of:
Emory Banyon from Scream School qualifies as one of the worst parents in the series. He insists that he's pals with his son Jake and is constantly needling him to admit that his movies have scared him, saying "it's healthy to admit you're scared" in a patronizing way. It's blatantly clear Emory is an egotistical ass who just wants the satisfaction of his own son flat out admitting he is scared by the movies Emory makes, cementing him as "the King of Horror." He gets his comeuppance in the end when Jake successfully scares him twice in a row.
Aaron Freidus' father in The Werewolf In The Living Room drags his son to a small European country to hunt a werewolf. He drags a preteen to go after a bloodthirsty monster.
The Ace / Always Someone Better / The Rival: Wilson in How I Learned To Fly. In fact, a lot of the Goosebumps stories usually have the antagonist as someone who is better than the protagonist at almost everything (cf. Judith in "Be Careful What You Wish For" and Courtney in "You Can't Scare Me!")
Adam Westing: The Trope Namer himself as the Galloping Gazelle in the TV episode and video game of Attack of the Mutant.
The TV series, in certain cases (mostly due to the source story being too thin). One notable example is "The Perfect School," a ten-page short story expanded into a two-part TV episode.
The Haunted Mask II. The book was simply about Steve, one of the kids Carly Beth scared in the first book, finding an old man mask that gradually began turning him into an old man (pretty much the first Haunted Mask book, only with a supporting character, also from the first book). The TV episode is the same thing, only there's an added subplot about the mask Carly Beth wore in the first book returning from the dead to take revenge on her.
Welcome to Dead House features the earlier reveal about the gas leak in Dark Falls via an old newspaper, but Amanda's family don't learn what it really did to the town until later. Also, we learn that the reason Amanda heard voices in her room and the source of the draft she felt came from a hole in her closet. There's also an added subplot about a tacky dried flower wreath Mrs. Benson thinks is a good luck charm but might actually be the cause of the strange occurrences in the house. It's not, but it actually was protecting Amanda's family until they were tricked into destroying it.
The stage magician in the TV version of "Bad Hare Day", while he was a jerkass in the book.
Greg Banks and Shari Walker in the TV version of "Say Cheese and Die!" come off a bit more likeable and heroic than their book counterparts, Greg particularly. For example, in the book he takes the camera back to the abandoned house he found it, all but dragging his friend Shari with him, whereas in the television version he initially goes by himself, believing wrongly that Spidey is holding Shari prisoner there in exchange for the camera, and gets joined by Shari who voluntarily accompanies him. Also, Greg gets to fight back more enthusiastically in the tv version than his counterpart, while Shari snaps Spidey's picture on purpose instead of by accident.
In "Monster Blood IV", Andy thinks the blue Monster Blood creature is cute and pets it. The creature ends up multiplying when it drinks water and soon the town is overrun with blue Monster Blood creatures.
Subverted In The Werewolf of Fever Swamp, Grady adopts a stray dog and names it Wolf. After some strange howls and disasters in the swamp, he wonders if Wolf is a werewolf. He isn't.
The Horror at Camp Jellyjam. Imagine being a parent who has sent their kid to a seemingly legit, if not oddly named, sports camp (though Wendy and Elliott — the main characters — actually crash-landed at the camp because the trailer attached to their car fell off and their parents didn't realize they were missing until later). Then you've lost contact with the camp. Then you learn that your children have been exploited for slave labor at the behest of a gigantic purple monstrosity that ate any kid that stopped working!
I Live in your Basement definitely plays on people's fears of madness and obsession.
How I Learned To Fly teaches readers that sometimes fear isn't found with ghosts, monsters, vampires, aliens from other planets, or freaky creatures. It can be found in people who want to exploit others' talents, obsessed fans who hound celebrities, and government agents who want people for scientific study.
"An Old Story" from Still More Stories to Give You Goosebumps presents readers with the premise of an elderly witch disguised as a loving, yet eccentric spinster aunt who physically ages her two young nephews with prunes to pimp them out to her equally elderly female friends for marriage.
The Night of the Living Dummy series. As several people, along with the blogger himself, pointed out on the snarky Goosebumps blog, the Night of the Living Dummy series may be creepy as a child, but as an adult, a completely different layer of creepy reveals itself. The living dummy in question is obsessed with making preteen girls (and it's always girls, never boys in these books) into his slaves. When they refuse, he punches and slaps them - a rare act of physical violence for this series - and knocks one girl unconscious. In Bride of the Living Dummy, he goes further, demanding a 12 year old girl as his bride (instead of the female dummy), and calling his violence against her a "love tap". From adult eyes, it takes on a whole new meaning that flew over our heads when we were kids, with some really disturbing subtext... In the TV adaptation of Night of the Living Dummy III, it is shown that Slappy has demonically possessed or at least is using his powers on a young pre-teen boy. The effect is no less creepy than it was with the girls.
Piano Lessons Can Be Murder: This one is likely to be scarier for adults than for kids, not for the final third act, which generally those over the age of 8 would find cheesy. But for any person age 15 or older, especially if you or a friend/sibling is a parent, the fear of leaving your child or in the hands of a seemingly nice man who looks like Santa Claus but wants to hurt him (in which the third can be interpreted as an allegory for "never the same again") makes this in some ways scarier than horror books written for adults. Especially in light of the Jerry Sandusky scandal.
Adults Are Useless: Either that, or in on the conspiracy (as seen in such stories as "My Hairiest Adventure," "Welcome to Camp Nightmare," and "The Horror at Camp Jellyjam").
Affectionate Parody: The Gooflumps books by R.U. Slime, two unauthorized and unofficial parody books that lampoon the vastness of the series (the covers read "Buy two, that's it!"), the cover art by Tim Jacobus, and the story structure of the Goosebumps books.
Stay Out Of The Bathroom, which is labeled as Book 2 1/2, is a parody of Stay Out Of The Basement concerning aliens switching people through highly advanced toilet bowls.
Eat Cheese And Barf!, which is labeled as Book 4 1/2, is a parody of both Say Cheese And Die! and Monster Blood, concerning a cottage cheese monster and vast amounts of Toilet Humour.
Zigzagged in the TV ending to Awesome Ants. The protagonist's experience turns suspiciously nightmarish as the town is suddenly abandoned, there is a storm outside, and the ants are growing to ever-bigger proportions. Just before he gets killed by one, he wakes up at home and all seems fine. Then he gradually remembers the reality of the situation: in the real world ants are actually mountain-sized, and keep humans secluded in the human equivalent of ant farms and force them to survive on small pellets of blue food. In the book the ants just grew that big rather than always having been so.
There's also I Live In Your Basement!. The ending reveals that the character who had been dreaming ever since he was hit in the head with a bat was actually Keith the monster boy, not Marco. Keith dreamed that he was Marco.
Alpha Bitch: Courtney in You Can't Scare Me!, Tasha in Calling All Creeps!, and Judith in Be Careful What You Wish For.
Alien Blood: Dr. Brewer's plant clone from Stay Out Of The Basement, which leads to his downfall.
In The Werewolf of Fever Swamp, the werewolf bites the hero, passing the curse onto him.
Calling All Creeps. Some reptilian monsters that can turn into human form come to think that the protagonist, a boy bullied by most of his school, is one of them. They have plotted how to transform everyone in school, and then on town, country and world, in Creeps like them and the hero is trying to stop them from feeding everyone the transforming goo. In the last moment, when he is mocked one more time while trying to stop everyone from eating goo-filled muffins, he is told that he will be the ruler of all Creeps and no longer a target for bullies. The protagonist does a quick Face-Heel Turn, treats everyone to eat the muffins, and eats one himself, becoming the real Creep leader.
Animorphism: The Barking Ghost,Chicken Chicken, and the Goosebumps 2000 books Cry of the Cat and Full Moon Fever base entire plots around this. Other books deal with it in passing (Don't Go to Sleep, for example).
And I Must Scream: In Let's get Invisiblethose who use the invisibility mirror too much are phased into another dimension forever while their counterparts take over their life.
Asshole Victim: Many, not just limited to the protagonists. Examples include the three kids in The House of No Return, Steve Boswell in The Haunted Mask 2, Alexander in Deep Trouble, Todd in Go Eat Worms, and Brandon from Headless Halloween. And in the TV adaptations, there's Mr. McCall from Revenge Of The Lawn Gnomes, Ritter from Deep Trouble, Judith in Be Careful What You Wish For, and Mr. Wright from A Shocker On Shock Street.
Badass Adorable: Any protagonist who learns to fight back will be this to some degree. Special mention goes to the two Billies from Welcome To Camp Nightmare and Deep Trouble, Margaret from Stay Out Of The Basement, Hannah from Ghost Next Door and Mark from How I Got My Shrunken Head.
The Bad Guy Wins: Calling All Creeps! ends with the protagonist performing a Face-Heel Turn to become the villains' overlord and leading the lizard monsters to victory. Considering the nature of their human victims, though, this might not be a bad thing.
Baleful Polymorph: More than a few Goosebumps books had this as a problem the kid-protagonist had to face, caused either through magic or technology.
The TV series implies that it's actually R.L. Stine himself who's behind everything in all the stories (in a meta sense he is, of course) and the ultimate evil of the series, even though he doesn't appear in any of them. In the intro, a man in black walks up to a town, and his briefcase (clearly marked with his name) flies open. The papers fly out and morph into the Goosebumps logo, which proceeds to spread misery around the town until it reaches a creepy mansion, which then shows clips of some of the stories.
In The Werewolf of Fever Swamp the titular werewolf is the main villain. The swamp itself however, comes off as this.
The Blank: Broken Dolls features a creepy old woman who crafts dolls, but doesn't include facial features on her creations. It is later revealed that she uses a type of magical gel (referred to as "dolly jelly" by the protagonist's younger brother) which not only robs the unfortunate victims of their faces, which then end up on the specific doll, but their souls apparently become trapped in the dolls, too.
Body Horror: Why I'm Afraid of Bees, Attack of the Mutant, Egg Monsters from Mars, Chicken, Chicken, and My Hairiest Adventure all feature this in varying degrees of horror, with Chicken Chicken as probably the most graphic and My Hairiest Adventure and Why I'm Afraid of Bees tied for the least.
Breakout Character: Slappy was a minor character in the first Night of the Living Dummy book (a different dummy was the villain), but in the sequels was brought back as the primary villain. Slappy was even the main character of a book of his own.
Broke Your Arm Punching Out Cthulhu / Too Spicy for Yog Sothoth: How To Kill A Monster ends with the heroes captured by the monster, even after their attempts at killing it by making it fall through the stairs and poisoning it. Said monster is allergic to humans, and keels over dead after merely licking one. Unfortunately, the monster's friends are pissed off after this and may or may not be allergic to humans.
Butt Monkey: Many Goosebumps protagonists have lives miserable enough to qualify them as this. Special mentions go to Gary from Why I'm Afraid of Bees, Ricky from Calling All Creeps!, Crystal and Cole Chicken Chicken, and Evan from the Monster Blood series.
Calling the Old Man Out: Scream School is one of the few books, if not the only one, where a protagonist finally gets to call their parent out on being a useless jackass. Jake Banyon stages an elaborate prank to scare his father, horror movie director Emory Banyon, witless, after Banyon has spent every day scaring Jake and recently ruined Jake's birthday with a needlessly elaborate prank. And for added measure, Jake set up another prank while setting up the first one.
Calvinball: "Beast From the East" features a very warped version of "Hide and Seek" in which the rules are either made up as they go along, or so incredibly stupid that it just seems that way.
The Horrorland series continues the stories of Carly Beth, the Haunted Mask, and the Deep Siblings, but the events of the sequels are never mentioned, and the characters are the same age as they were in the originals.
The evil camera from Say Cheese and Die! only returns, and not Greg or Shari. In fact, the camera's backstory is rewritten so that it was originally created specifically for a movie called "Say Cheese and Die Screaming" that was scrapped because of unexplained accidents that kept occurring on set.
Monster Blood is the only exception to this since it focuses on the substance and not Evan.
Catapult Nightmare: In both the book and TV episode of "Attack of the Jack-O-Lanterns", Drew wakes up from a nightmare where her friends and herself are taken prisoner by a crazy old man and woman who "collect" trick-or-treaters with what they consider good costumes and lock them up in their attic.
Close Enough Timeline: In The Cuckoo Clock of Doom, the main character is cursed by his family's cuckoo clock to be repeatedly sent mentally back in time into his own body at younger and younger stages of his life until he might be erased from existence. He alters the timeline so that it never happens, but his annoying and malicious sibling is erased from existence due to the clock's "defect" mentioned earlier in the book (the clock's year dial skips the sister's birth year, something that he caused when fixing the backwards time flow). He promises he should probably go back and try to fix it. Maybe. Eventually. "One of these days."
Content Warnings: The Fox Kids run coincided with the rise of the American TV rating system, so many episodes started with a warning that "Goosebumps is rated TV-Y7, because it may be too spooky for kids under seven." Originally, it had their own rating called "GB-7," but when the FCC imposed the content ratings on all TV shows (except for news shows and sports), they had to conform to that.
Cool Teacher: The only time this trope has ever been played straight, wherein the teacher is not an idiot, a loser, or evil, is in Headless Halloween. Mr. Benson, the science teacher, is regarded as cool by most of his students, save for Brandon, the Jerkass protagonist who is always being lectured and punished by Benson for how cruel he acts towards his cousin and other students.
Court Mage: Morgred in A Night in Terror Tower. He served the previous king, and cast a spell on Prince and Princess Eddie/Edward and Sue/Susannah of York to protect them from their wicked uncle, the usurper. It fails because the High Executioner interrupted his ritual and stole one of Morgred's magic orbs to chase the children into the future, causing the new memories Morgred gave them to be incomplete.
As mentioned above, this could be a big problem, particularly for the revived HorrorLand series.
"How I Learned to Fly" (book number 52 in the original series) also applies. The back cover blurb summary heavily implies that the magic mixture the protagonist, Jack, uses to make himself fly was cursed or had some sort of supernatural consequence, but the problems he really faces are more based in reality.
Deep Trouble shows a threatening shark on the cover which would suggest a Jaws-inspired story, but has a story about friendly mermaids instead.
Sometimes, people anticipating that the cover is fake works in the books favor. In the TV version of Attack of the Jack-O'-Lanterns, the main bad guys aren't the beings with the Pumpkin heads on the cover... which is expected. However, the aliens who save the kids from the monsters were the Pumpkin-headed beings.
The Horrorland books do this fairly consistently. The cover to Monster Blood for breakfast for example features (presumably) the protagonist engulfed in the titular Blob Monster, while the main section of the book actually deals with Body Horror. Who's Your Mummy features a mummy ringing a doorbell; the only stereotypical mummies in the book are immobile.
Creepy Basement: Stay Out Of The Basement, Vampire Breath, I Live In Your Basement.
Creepy Cockroach: In Headless Halloween, Brandon is forced to bob for apples in a tub filled with cockroaches, and isn't allowed to stop playing unless he catches one with his teeth.
Crisis Crossover: The new HorrorLand books, which are bringing together classic Goosebumps villains (and the odd protagonist) into a single storyline for the first time (the stage show doesn't count).
Awesome Ants: Ants rule the earth, not humans, and the size difference between the two is inverted.
How To Kill A Monster: The kids have killed the monster by sheer luck, and flee the house. After a few hours' travel they're all alone in the middle of the swamp at nightfall, and it turns out that there are hundreds more monsters resting there, and these ones aren't allergic to human flesh.
Werewolf Skin: The hero's (platonic) girlfriend is also a werewolf.
Ghost Beach: The kids' uncle and aunt are ghosts too.
A Night In Terror Tower: The high executioner has obtained one of the magic stones, and followed the protagonists back into the future again. (Though this is only in the TV episode, the book has a happy ending)
Attack Of The Jack-O'-Lanters: The protagonists' two friends are man-eating aliens, responsible for the recent dissapearances, and leave Earth in their spaceship until they’ll come back next year to feast again. They even warn the kids that they might well devour them next time if they don't keep off the candy enough.
My Best Friend is Invisible: The invisible boy was a scared human child that his parents tried to save by making him invisible, and all the "humans" seen so far are actually a species of world-conquering aliens who have take over the Earth and exterminated all the humans.
Stay Out Of The Basement: Many more plants have become sentient, and/or the girl's father really isn't her actual father either.
The Perfect School: The protagonist’s friend was a mole, and he'll be replaced with a clone/robot, and locked up forever. In the book, he manages to escape, but is forced to pretend to be a robot for the rest of his life or at least until he's old enough to leave his parents.
Legend of the Lost Legend: Everyone's lost in a mystical forest until the end of time.
Welcome to Camp Nightmare: The protagonist is revealed to be a Human AlienChild Soldier who just passed his test, and received the mission of infiltrating a planet called... Earth. Though, he is quite good natured and kind, and his home planet isn't much different from this earth.
Double Dip Horror: The protagonist has just left her identical twin sister alone on a ski slope with a ghost that murders identical twins.
In Don't Make Me Laugh! the two bullies learn why the aliens have forgotten to laugh: it hurts. The two are promptly ordered to be disintegrated.
In the book of Be Careful What You Wish For, the protagonist who got rid of the clumsy genie is screwed by her anyway as the new master, the Alpha Bitch, ordering her to "fly away" ends turning her into a crow. The episode is a laser-guidedKarmic Twist Ending instead, as the new master asks to be admired by everyone and becomes a statue.
Cryptid Episode: The Abominable Snowman of Pasadena, which is about a yeti, and Deep Trouble, which is about mermaids.
Cloning Blues: In Stay out Of the Basement, this motivates Doctor Brewer's clone to turn against his creator.
The Swamp Hermit in The Werewolf of Fever Swamp lives in the book, but in the episode he makes a Heroic Sacrifice to save Grady.
In the TV version of One Day at Horrorland, the Morris family wins a car after surviving Horrorland - and then are shown to drive over a cliff and probably die. We then see the Horrors watching the end of the show. The ending of the book had a slightly less cruel twist where after escaping from Horrorland in a stolen bus, they discover one of the Horrors has followed them and offers them tickets back to the park. There's also a sequel.
The TV adaptation of Revenge of the Lawn Gnomes ends with Major McCall, who is just Mr. McCall in the books, being turned into a lawn ornament by the gnomes.
A Wicked Witch in "Chicken Chicken" transformed kids into literal chickens because they knocked over her groceries in the street and then ran away without apologizing. (One kid who stammered out an apology for running off was apparently forgiven.)
"Full Moon Fever" provides an equally extreme example. The protagonists are turned into wolf-like monsters by Mrs. Eakins, their grouchy neighbor. Their crime? Kicking a soccer ball through her living room window.
Mr. Grimsley in The Chalk Closet sends failing/misbehaving students into a room where they'll spend the rest of eternity listening to the screech of chalk on a board, even after they've died.
In "The Curse of Camp Cold Lake", Sarahreveals to everyone that Jane has asthma, and it was honest accident. Later Jane tips the canoe as revenge, and tells the Counselor that Sarah did.
In the TV adaptation of Revenge of the Lawn Gnomes, Mr. McCall is renamed to Major McCall and is a mean ex-army officer.
Uncle Al of Welcome to Camp Nightmare as well, although most of it's an act.
Early-Installment Weirdness: The first 20 or so novels feel very subdued compared with later entries. There are scares and supernatural elements, but Stine typically spends a good amount of time establishing character and atmosphere before moving on to the horror. Because of this, some of the early books (notably The Curse of the Mummy's Tomb and Welcome to Camp Nightmare) are uncharacteristically long (130+ pages, as opposed to the average of 110-120).
Eccentric Exterminator: Mr. Lance in Awesome Ants is way too into his work, hunting bugs with steely determination and gleeful enjoyment, admiring the ants for their craftiness. He calls the protagonist a liar for claiming the ants from his ant farm grew to 3 inches, larger than any real life ants. Subverted at the end when everything turns out to be a dream, and giant ants rule the Earth. Mr. Lance reflects how things might have been different for humans, and warns the protagonist not to let the ants know that he dreamed that it was Mr. Lance's job to kill them.
The Ending Changes Everything: A Shocker on Shock Street plays like a typical children's horror novel, with the protagonists surviving one hazard after another. However, the last chapter implies the possibility that the entire plot may very well have been the result of the Erin robot's programming going haywire.
Endless Corridor: In the live-action version of "Haunted House Game", the protagonists have to escape the haunted house itself to win the game with their lives. The corridor to the front door stretches out into infity before them, requiring them to pull it towards them with a fishing rod.
Evil Is Hammy: The Masked Mutant and Slappy come to mind, especially in the TV show.
Evil Uncle: The brother of the King in A Night in Terror Tower usurped the throne by killing the rightful King and Queen, and arranging to execute their children, Edward and Susannah of York, Eddie and Sue's real identities.
Exact Words: In Santa's Helpers, a pair of older siblings enjoy telling their little sister she isn't related to them because she doesn't resemble them or their parents. When the siblings are mistaken for a pair of Santa's elves (they're short, have red hair, and were wearing red-and-green clothes that could easily let someone mistake them for elves) and taken to the North Pole, they try to get their sister to vouch for them. And she says "but you always told me I wasn't really your sister. You always said I wasn't related to you at all." The siblings are dragged away as their sister asks for them to make sure Santa doesn't forget her.
Extruded Book Product: After a while, the series turned into this; according to rumor, to keep up with the demand for more and more new Goosebumps books, R.L. Stine started working with ghostwriters to keep the new releases coming. Considering that a new title was published monthly and that Stine pumped out several other book series as well, this was almost inevitable. In a few of the sequels this was especially obvious (particularly Return of the Mummy), since it was apparent that all the writer knew about the first one was the blurb on the back.
Fate Worse than Death: Often the implication (overt or covert) of the Twist Ending. Examples include Let's Get Invisible (phased into a mirror dimension forever), The Barking Ghost (trapped in the body of a squirrel), Bad Hare Day (transformed into a magician's rabbit), Ghost Camp(Possessed by one of the ghostly campers), The Haunted School (trapped in an alternate dimension with no color, where you never age), The Cuckoo Clock of Doom (Wiped out of existence itself).
Face Death with Dignity: Billy in the comic adaptation of Deep Trouble when he's thrown overboard to drown. Rather than scream and cry, he simply bows his head and sighs, acknowledging the situation's futility.
Face-Heel Turn: In Calling All Creeps, the whole story ends on this note. After seeing how futile opposing the Creeps is, and wanting revenge against his bullying classmates, the boy who was trying to stop the Creeps decides in the end to become a Creep himself, because he would be their leader.
Fluffy the Terrible: One book revolves around aliens that hug people, literally called Body Squeezers. Harmless, right? Except that this is how they reproduce... oh, and they grow sharp claws to stab into the backs of their victims, it's really more like an angry bearhug tackle if they can't trick you into a hug, and they're hell-bent on murder and world domination.
For Science!: In Deep Trouble, this is Dr. Deep's only justification for kidnapping a mermaid.
For the Evulz: Karl from the TV-only story Chillogy, the ruler of a miniature toy town aptly called Karlsville. He's never given a back story but when asked why he's bothering to turn one of the main characters into a plastic slave, Karl simply states "Everyone needs a hobby." His hobby is to turn kids into his slaves.
Halloween Episode: All The Haunted Mask books, Attack of the Jack-O'-Lanterns, Headless Halloween, Full Moon Fever, Weirdo Halloween, The Five Masks of Dr. Screem, The Halloween Game, The Headless Ghost, and Werewolf Skin.
Hand Waved: Frequent, usually because having pre-adolescent heroes means often ignoring basic common sense provisions so that they can get into the required dangerous situations. Great example being Why I'm Afraid of Bees; you'd think an 11 year old kid would need parental consent to be the subject of a strange medical experiment like that. Also why there's apparently no money involved.
Here We Go Again: A great many of the twist endings, notably "Say Cheese and Die", "The Haunted Mask", and "Revenge of the Lawn Gnomes". "Invasion of the Body Squeezers" sees the invasion averted... only for the protagonist to see red aliens arrive on meteorites similar to the Body Squeezers.
I Am Not Weasel: The blue variant of Monster Blood in Monster Blood IV actually turns out to be a genetics experiment Gone Horribly Wrong which the creator dumped inside an empty Monster Blood can when he couldn't find a proper container.
Insufferable Genius: Courtney in You Can't Scare Me! and Nicole in The Abominable Snowman of Pasadena.
Jerk Jock: Conan "the Barbarian" Barber in the Monster Blood series.
Brandon in Headless Halloween. At first he's horrified when he realizes he fell to his death and begs for a second chance at life. When told the only way to save himself is by helping three scared people, he does exactly that, only to learn it was just a joke. He's then perfectly happy to go back to scaring people with the other dead kids. Kind of debatable, though, since it's unlikely Norband will let him out of the otherworld.
A Shocker On Shock Street: The TV ending at least; the book ends on a Cruel Twist Ending, as the two protagonists find out they're robots and are deactivated by the girl's "father" to be reprogrammed. In the TV episode, the two wake up again and decide to kill their creator after putting them through so much torment and trying to replace them with new versions.
Click: The protagonist has abused the universal remote to suit his own ends. When he's confronted about this he tries to use the device against the accuser but it doesn’t work properly, so he presses the "off" button in frustration, and the entire world vanishes as he finds himself in a black void. Then the battery runs out.
Killed Off for Real: A rare example in The Horror At Camp Jellyjam, where the protagonist is told that three unnamed campers were eaten by the camp's disgusting mascot.
The Girl who Cried Monster: Lucy's parents, who are revealed as monsters, gruesomely devour the villain, much to their children's delight.
Egg Monsters From Mars: The eponymous aliens tackle and smother their evil captor, partially to help their human friend, and also to protect the offspring he's carrying.
Deep Trouble: A gang of thugs kidnap a mermaid to sell for profit. Similar to the above example, the supposedly cute and harmless mermaids show a darker side when they assault the crooks' boat. These guys are never seen or mentioned again.
Shocker On Shock Street: The TV adaptation ends with the protagonists, revealed as robots, preparing to exact brutal revenge on their "father" for trying to discard them.
Kid Hero: Unfortunately, the protagonists don't always aspire to this. The closest examples are probably Hannah from The Ghost Next Door, Skipper from Attack of the Mutant, and both Billies from Welcome To Camp Nightmare and Deep Trouble.
Literal Genie: In Be Careful What You Wish For (which has also been adapted for TV), Samantha Bird is an especially genre-blind victim of a wish-granting witch, never realizing that her words are being taken literally. Her wish to be the strongest player on her basketball team (she's a big klutz) causes everyone else to be weaker, her wish for the Alpha Bitch to become her friend turns said girl into an insane stalker, then she wishes for the Alpha Bitch to have found the wish-granting crone instead. She ends up as a bird thanks to the other girl's wish.
Mad Artist: Piano Lessons can be Murder: Mr Toggle kills students and enslaves their hands...so he can get them to play perfect music.
Mad Scientist: Almost too many to count; "Stay Out of the Basement," "Monster Blood III," "My Hairiest Adventure," "My Best Friend is Invisible," and "A Shocker on Shock Street" etc. Often the mad scientist (or some sort of researcher who, if not specifically "Mad", is at least a Jerk Ass) will prove to the real villain of the story instead of the comparably harmless "monster". See: Curse of the Mummy's Tomb, How I Got My Shrunken Head, Deep Trouble, Egg Monsters from Mars.
Magic Mirror: Let's Get Invisible, The Ghost In The Mirror, and Mirror Mirror On The Wall. Goosebumps Horrorland made it a plot point that mirrors could be used as a gateway from Horrorland to Panic Park.
Malevolent Masked Men: Kind of inverted with The Lord High Executioner and The Masked Mutant. When the former shows up in Terror Tower, he instead appears as a quiet man in a black cape and hat. The latter spends most of his book in the form of a twelve year old girl. Neither show their masks until their true nature is revealed.
Mama Bear/Papa Wolf: After Lucy's parents actually know that Mr. Mortman is a monster who's trying to eat their daughter, their solution to the problem is...extreme.
Actually this was less about him trying to eat Lucy, what he might not have done if he had known she's a monster too, but about too many monsters at one place endangering The Masquerade
Mandatory Twist Ending: Author R. L. Stine did this to the point where the twist endings became played out after a while. Stine once said in an interview that he'd always write the ending first and then go back and think of twists later.
The most infamous one is My Hairiest Adventure, which ends with the revelation that most of the kids were actually dogs, who were transformed into humans by some company so that their employees could have children.
Welcome To Camp Nightmare, which takes place on an alien planet, mentioned in the last sentence.
Vampire Breath, in which Cara and Freddy find a bottle of "Werewolf Sweat".
My Best Friend is Invisible, in which every character except Brent is a multi-headed creature with more than two eyes and suction cups on their head.
Mind Screw: "I Live in Your Basement" is this...and then some.
Mirror Monster: Lets Get Invisible features a mirror that turns you invisible, but if you stay invisible too long, your reflection forces you to switch places with it.
My God, What Have I Done?: in The Blob That Ate Everyone Zach uses the typewriter to write that the Blob eats two police officers. When the Blob shows up and really 'does eat two police officers, Zach is appalled.
Mythology Gag: The TV episode of "Be Careful What You Wish For" ends with a crow perching on top of the statue of the Alpha Bitch. The book ends with the protagonist being turned into a crow by the Alpha Bitch's wish.
Mouth Cam: Used in the TV episode for The Blob That Ate Everyone before the blob eats Adam.
Negative Continuity: The Monster Blood books. The first book ends with the reveal that the Monster Blood was actually enchanted, but the later books imply that all cans of Monster Blood are in fact magical. There is also the ending of Monster Blood III where Evan ends up shrunken, only for the fourth book to open with him as normal size and no mention made towards what happened in the third book.
In the ending of Deep Trouble, Billy is attacked by a sea monster. In Deep Trouble 2 he's alive and well with no mention of what happened in the previous book.
Never Sleep Again: In Don't Go To Sleep!, the main character is shunted to a different alternate universe whenever he falls asleep.
Never Trust a Title: Often, the eponymous ghost/monster/whatever isn't the real enemy. Examples include Curse of the Mummy's Tomb and The Abominable Snowman of Pasadena.
No Historical Figures Were Harmed: In A Night in Terror Tower, Prince Edward and Princess Susannah of York are blatantly based on Edward V of England and Richard of Shrewsbury, first Duke of York— right down to being imprisoned in a tower by their Evil Uncle.
No Antagonist: My Hairiest Adventure:The kids' bizarre transformations aren't the result of evil forces, but the local doctor's well-intentioned experiments gone wrong.
Not-So-Imaginary Friend: My Best Friend is Invisible. Subverted with Good Friends. It turns out that the main character's best friend and bratty sister, who has an imaginary friend herself, are in fact imaginary themselves.
Oddly Named Sequel: Some of the new HorrorLand books serve as sequels to the classic books - but with extremely strange names. Monster Blood for Breakfast! is perhaps a notable example.
Our Vampires Are Different: In Vampire Breath, vampires don't survive on blood alone, they also drink the namesake. And it seems to be the source of most of their abilities.
Our Gnomes Are Weirder: Revenge Of The Lawn Gnomes tells us that lawn gnomes(and presumably other ornaments) are actually living creatures taken from a mystical forest and forced to pose as garden decorations.
In "Welcome To Dead House" the Dark Falls residents are neither true zombie or vampire, but rather bloodsucking mutants that are harmed by sunlight.
The TV adaptation of "How I Got My Shrunken Head" has the villain experimenting on his henchmen to activate the powers of Jungle Magic. Instead, they're possessed by an unknown energy that reduces them to mindless slaves.
Parental Bonus: In Bad Hare Day, the protagonist complains that his mom takes his sister's karate lessons more seriously than his magic hobby because "girls need to know how to defend themselves".
Parental Substitute: In A Night in Terror Tower, Morgred the sorceror is set to fill this role for Edward and Susannah when they finally escape into the future to live new lifes away from their evil uncle and the High Executioner. As the late, rightful King's court mage, he promised to protect them from harm.
Parents as People: In Scream School film director and self-proclaimed "King of Horror" Emory Banyon insists on being more than just a parent with his son Jake and insists that they are also buddies. Which is what entitles Emory to act like an asshole and scare Jake every day, including ruining his birthday (although he does feel a little bad with how that one prank turned out). Jake gets his revenge in the end.
Platonic Life Partners: The series features a many storylines where the main characters are a boy and girl who are best friends who are inseparable but have absolutely no romantic interest in each other. A few of them even use She's Not My Girlfriend and mean it. As most of the characters are children who aren't thinking about romance in the first place, this is justified. Completely averted in How I Learned To Fly.
Plant Person: Dr. Brewer's sinister hybrid clone in Stay out of the Basement.
The Power of Hate: In Panic Park there is a ride called "The Tunnel of Hate" which causes the people who travel inside it to turn into raving lunatics.
The Power of Love: The Haunted Mask can only be vanquished by a symbol of love. While it does come back time and again, a symbol of love is enough to keep it at bay for a while.
Product Placement: American Girl dolls are mentioned by name in Egg Monsters from Mars. Pepsi/Frito Lay did a merchandising tie-in with Goosebumps in the late '90s, leading to Pepsi products turning up in several books like Calling All Creeps.
Red Herring: A frequent occurrence as often the books' twist endings rendered what the characters had believed most of the time to be the cause of the strange events to be completely irrelevant. The best example is probably "My Hairiest Adventure" when for most of the book, Larry believes that the fur growing on his hands and body is from expired tanning lotion and could be behind the disappearances of his friends and why there are a lot of dogs in the neighborhood. Turns out the expired tanning lotion had nothing to do with it, and the fur, disappearing friends, and influx of dogs was from a local doctor's dog-to-human serum wearing off.
The Shopkeeper in The Haunted Mask could've revolutionized surgery and ended permanent disfigurement, if he improved on his "mask making" skills.
Dr. Brewer in Stay out of the Basement originally tries to splice different plant species together into bigger crops, thus solving world hunger. Then he accidentally gets his DNA mixed into the equation, and decides to continue from there.
Ret Gone: In The Cuckoo Clock of Doom, when Mike accidentally erases his bratty little sister from the universe. He keeps reminding himself he'll go back to get her. Someday. Maybe.
Rewriting Reality: The magic typewriter in The Blob That Ate Everyone allows Zach to do this, until it's revealed that Zach is a Reality Warper after being shocked by the typewriter. And then it's revealed that the whole thing is actually a story, and none of it was real.
Sanity Slippage: Most of the kids from the original class of Bell Valley Middle School went completely insane ever since they were trapped in Greyworld in The Haunted School. Also, this is the case regarding Erin and Marty in A Shocker on Shock Street as their programming gradually became unstable.
Shoot the Shaggy Dog: Disturbingly common in many of the later entries. Ironically, one of the biggest examples isn't regarding the protagonists. Fritz "Spidey" Fredericks from Say Cheese And Die spends much of the book trying to reclaim the cursed camera and prevent any more carnage. He's accidentally killed by Greg, and the camera lives on to cause more trouble.
A Shocker on Shock Street and Fright Camp focusing on kids who are fans of an extensive film series and a veteran horror director respectively, and elements from both types of films feature deeply into the book's plot.
Tune in Tomorrow and The Halloween Game end with the reveals that the former is about a girl watching a TV show called "Life with Elizabeth" and the latter is the prototype for a Halloween-themed video game.
Shrunken Head: In How I Got My Shrunken Head, the protagonist receives a shrunken head from his aunt, who's a scientist researching the island of Baladora. He later finds out that it glows because he possesses "Jungle Magic".
Smug Snake: Wilson in How I Learned To Fly, Courtney in You Can't Scare Me! and the beasts in The Beast From The East.
The Sociopath: Tara Webster, who has yet to show any signs of compassion or kindness. Considering her age and how long she's been vindictively tormenting her older brother, it's likely she's never going to develop a conscience. Then again, she is erased from existence at the end of the book.
How I Learned to Fly: Despite implications that the flying formula had supernatural powers from the back cover blurb, the story is scary in a real-world sense, showing that talent is often exploited by the greedy and how celebrities are "trapped" because of constant media attention and obsessed fans, and the government wanting to know the secrets of Applied Phlebotinum. It plays out more like a supernatural satire on how American kids are always pushed by society to be talented and successful.
Deep Trouble is another example. Most books before it dealt with clumsy, generic kids stumbling into adventures with gross monsters. The protagonist here is a dangerously overconfident kid who seeks out adventure and discovers a mermaid on a trip to the Caribbean. The real conflict comes from him debating whether to go along with his uncle's plans to sell her to a zoo, or do the right thing and return her home. Also, the villains, rather than being monsters or mad scientists, are greedy thieves looking to exploit the mermaid for their own intentions. And the shark on the cover doesn't appear until the end of the book, ruining any expectations of this book being like a kids' version of Jaws. There is a genuine monster, but its role is relatively small.
The Series 2000 books "Are You Terrified Yet?" and "Scream School" have no supernatural events at all (and the monsters are revealed to be people in elaborate costumes playing a prank on someone), and takes place in the "real" world.
Fright Camp is also another example of this, as it turns out all the supernatural elements are staged since it's set at a fantasy summer camp run by a famous horror movie director.
"The Mummy Walks" from the Goosebumps 2000 series is nothing like The Curse of the Mummy's Tomb or The Mummy Returns from the original Goosebumps series. Instead, it has more adventure and international intrigue (in the book, the main character, who thinks he's going to Florida on vacation, is actually the orphaned prince of a Middle Eastern country who needs to be sent back so he can retrieve a mummy and stop the country's current civil war).
Spidey gets killed by the camera in the book of Say Cheese And Die!. While in the TV episode, he becomes trapped in the camera and eventually released, but strangely doesn't appear in the TV episode of "Say Chese and Die - Again!" (except in flashback).
In Be Careful What You Wish For, heroine Samatha Byrd is turned into a bird at the end after the Alpha Bitch wishes her to "fly away!". In the TV ending, their fates are reversed, and the Alpha Bitch is turned into a statue after wishing she would be admired wherever she goes.
Spiritual Successor: The series has had direct sequels, sequels that share only the same villain, and sequels that have merely the same kind of villain. The latter are arguably spiritual sequels, and include Return to Ghost Camp (has nothing in common with Ghost Camp), and Who's Your Mummy?
Spoiled Brat: Tara in The Cuckoo Clock of Doom and Brandy in Egg Monsters From Mars.
Spotlight-Stealing Squad: Slappy in the Night of the Living Dummy books. He wasn't the antagonist of the first book in the series - that was another dummy named Mr. Wood - but he was the one pictured on the cover, the antagonist of the rest of the Dummy books, and even to an extent the series' mascot.
The Blob That Ate Everyone is revealed at the end to be a fictional story written by a monster. The writer's friend criticizes the Anticlimax ending, which to us would seem like a happy ending, since we're not monsters. It Makes Sense in Context.
Done again in Be Afraid—Be Very Afraid!. Twice.
The majority of Dr. Maniac Vs. Robby Schwartz is this.
A book in the series was called Be Careful What You Wish For and showcased the trope of this name. In the ending of the TV adaptation, which differed considerably from the book, a girl wishes that "wherever I go, people will come to admire me" - and instantly turns into a statue.
In the TV adaptation of "Revenge of the Lawn Gnomes," Major McCall (Mr McCall in the book) is turned into a lawn ornament at the end.
This Loser Is You: Goosebumps protagonists tended to be nonathletic, dorky, social outcast bully magnets. Very rarely, if ever, was the protagonist of a book tough or popular.
Three Wishes: Be Careful What You Wish For. First Samantha Byrd wishes that she would be the strongest member of the basketball team, but everyone else becomes weak. Then she wishes for Judith to stop bugging her, but everyone disappears. After Samantha resets the wishes, Judith accidentally wishes "Byrd, why don't you fly away?", turning her into a bird.
A Shocker On Shock Street: The protagonists are robots, and are deactivated by their creator.
The Ghost Next Door: The protagonist is a ghost. She saves a boy from dying a similar death, and is reunited with her family in the afterlife.
The Girl Who Cried Monster: Not only is the librarian a monster, so are the protagonist's parents, and so is she. This one manages to be awesome rather than horrific for the protagonist since her parents are fiercely protective of her and she learns that she is part of a powerful Masquerade.
Vampire Breath: The vampire is the protagonist's grandfather, meaning that he is a vampire himself.
My Hairiest Adventure: The protagonist is a dog who was turned into a human), and he reverts back to his real form.
A Night in Terror Tower: Eddie and Sue are Prince Edward and Princess Susannah of York, and they've been sent to the future from their original time by a wizard to protect them from their usurperous uncle.
Several other books also incorporate this as their Twist Ending or a portion thereof.
When cornered by the eponymous monster in How To Kill A Monster, the younger brother tries to fend it off by sticking his hand in its mouth. Luckily for him the monster's allergic to humans and promptly dies, otherwise the boy would have been lunch.
Luke in Return to Horrorland, who seems to have forgotten that Horrors tried to murder his family and friend the last time they were there, and is quite eager to try out new rides knowing full well there's a good chance they're actually lethal.
To Serve Man: The ending of Attack of the Jack-O'-Lanterns where Drew's friends Shane and Shana are revealed to be the aliens who ate the four fat adults who were missing according to a local news story.
Villain Ball: Sarabeth in Monster Blood. She was afraid Evan would find out that his aunt Kathryn is really Sarabeth's slave, so she had Kathryn enchant the Monster Blood. If Sarabeth had just left Evan alone, she could've avoided getting killed by the Monster Blood.
Slappy's Nightmare is written in the evil dummy Slappy's POV but it is about Slappy having to do three good deeds in order to stay animated.
Brandon Plush from Headless Halloween, big time. To wit, the first five or so chapters of Headless Halloween focus on how Brandon is an incorrigible sociopath who loves tormenting others, especially little kids, for sick pleasure. Even his dad is somewhat approving of this attitude.
The Walls Are Closing In: One Day At Horrorland features a house of mirrors that ends in a room where this happens. The floor drops out at the very last second.
Weight Woe: Say Cheese And Die - Again! has the cursed camera inflict both ends of this trope on Greg and Shari. Shari is gradually losing weight until she is almost reduced to a flesh-covered skeleton, while Greg becomes morbidly obese. Some extra Body Horror is added when Greg has his picture taken again and develops a horrible skin rash.
Who Writes This Crap?!: In Be Afraid - Be Very Afraid! when the protagonists comment twice on the cop out reveal that it's a story within a story ending with the words "You finish the story." This is done twice.
Worthy Opponent: The Masked Mutant considers Skipper this, because he knows everything about him and no other superheroes were able to defeat him.
Would Hurt a Child: By virtue of the protagonists always being kids or preteens, nearly all the villains are perfectly willing to harm children — some even make them their primary targets.
Zerg Rush: This is how Slappy gets defeated in Night of the Living Dummy III, when the spell used to bring him to life brings to life all the dummies owned by Trina's dad, who promptly rush after Slappy and kill him.