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.For tropes relating to the Goosebumps television series look here.A film has been announced for release in the summer of 2015, starring Jack Black. Time will tell if this is wise or foolish.
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.
In Legend of the Lost Legend, Justin and Marissa's father is an explorer forever dragging his children on dangerous expeditions.
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!")
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").
In Welcome to Dead House, the antagonists are friendly with the main characters except that they have to invite them over, especially Karen Somerset, who says she wants to be a nice person but everyone needs fresh blood to survive. Same with the TV version of Karen, who would actually be an Affably EvilAnti-Villain since she actually seemed reluctant to engage in the "feeding" that everyone in the town had to do to survive, repeatedly saying she wanted to be friends with Amanda and Josh.
In the Slappy series, outside of the fact that he wants to make preteen girls into slaves, he seems like a fun guy. He just likes to play pranks and tell mean (but true) jokes, allowing the audience to forget how dangerous he really is.
The creatures from The Beast Of The East just see it as an elaborate game and outside of that are quite friendly.
Della from The Curse Of Camp Cold Lake half the time was a normal kid outside of being a bloodthirsty ghost.
The plant clone father from Stay Out Of The Basement (more in the book than in the TV adaption) tried to be a good father even though he was ultimately out to turn everyone into plant clones, even comforting the kids when they worried about things.
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.
Andrew Craw, the titular headless ghost, is described as a despicable brat in his backstory. His punishment, however, is completely disproportionate, and when the children uncover his head, he actually thanks them before departing to the afterlife.
The ghost kids in Ghost Beach, who only qualified as evil because they killed several dogs to protect their secret and tried to force their living cousins to join them. They end up sealed away forever in a cave.
All Just a Dream: 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.
Always Chaotic Evil: The HorrorLand monsters, who run a deadly amusement park to kill families for fun. They may act welcoming and friendly at times, but don't let this fool you — it's an act. They'd serve you up for lunch as soon as amuse you. And their idea of "amusing people" is to scare them to death or put them in lethal traps.
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).
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.
"How I Won my Bat" (short story): The narrator wins the eponymous baseball bat, but is transformed, fully conscious, into a store display mannequin of a batter.
"The Haunted School": An entire class has been teleported to a strange black and white world where they never age. When the protagonists arrive here years later, most of the students have devolved into insane,bloodthirsty savages, and want to keep them there forever.
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.
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 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.
Stay Out Of The Basement has Doctor Brewer growing a series of horrific human/plant hybrids from his own blood, which are described as being in constant agony. They range from tomatoes with human faces to near perfect duplicates of the doctor. The main hybrid looks exactly like his creator, only with leaves growing from his scalp and chlorophyll for blood.
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.
The Bus Came Back: Priestess Nila, Count Nightwing, Sarabeth, and probably a dozen other forgotten villains will return in the film.
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.
Cat Scare: A rat scare in the adaptation of "The Phantom of the Auditorium"
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."
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 book's 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.
Crapsack World: The series as a whole qualifies if you believe it's set in one universe. Apathetic adults, over the top bullies, murderous madmen, dangerous monsters...one wonders how these kids are going to grow up, if they survive their childhood.
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.
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.
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.
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.
In The Barking Ghost the two human protagonists return the two former-dogs that stole their bodies into the log that swapped their minds, only to get their bodies swapped with squirrels instead. The TV version has a happier ending where they do get their bodies back, and it's the Big Brother Bully character who becomes a squirrel instead.
This tradition continues in the Horrorland books. For example, My Friends Call Me Monster ends with the protagonist and his family eating a cake baked with eggs made to turn them into monsters... but since the story has to continue into Horrorland, it is later, almost casually explained how they undid it. Given the two-story format of the series, this happens a lot.
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.
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.
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).
Easily Thwarted Alien Invasion: It's somewhat hard to take the antagonists from My Friends Call Me Monster seriously when they are defeated by being dropped into a giant egg. Which one of them was hatching.
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.
In The Ghost Next Door, the shadow that is stalking Hannah claims to be the future ghost of her neighbor.
Norband in Headless Halloween is some sort of alternate version of Brandon, though he claims he "dressed up" as Brandon that year.
Enfant Terrible: Tara Webster from The Cuckoo Clock of Doom. Also, Hannah from Strained Peas.
Etiquette Nazi: In the book Chicken Chicken, the witch Vanessa turns the heroes into chickens for not apologizing after knocking her over. She only changes them back after they write her an apology note.
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. He then arranges 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.
Greyand Gray Morality: Surprisingly. Quite a few of the protagonists(Evan,Sarah,etc.) can be insufferably selfish assholes, while some of the monsters and antagonists have sympathetic motivations for their evil.
Hall of Mirrors: In the book "One Day At Horrorland", there is Hall of Mirrors with the slogan "Reflect Before You Enter. No-one May Ever See You Again". The Hall of Mirrors traps the three kids in separate rooms and the walls move in to crush them. At the last second, the floor opens and the kids slide out safely. Oddly enough, mirrors are banned at Horrorland in the spin-off series because they are portals to Panic Park.
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.
This is actually defied for once at the end of Broken Dolls. Someone sends Tamara a doll that resembles the creepy doll maker, but instead of ending the story there, Tamara decides to goad her brother into breaking the doll before anything can happen.
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.
Judith, the Alpha Bitch in Be Careful What You Wish For escapes all consequences and dooms Samantha with a spiteful wish to become a bird. The TV episode is better about this, with Judith turned into a statue for her arrogance.
Vanessa from Chicken Chicken however, is the most infuriating example in the entire series.
The human-eating aliens in Attack of the Jack 'O Lanterns leave unimpeded in their spaceship at the end, assuring that they'll return for the buffet next year.
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 he put them through so much torment and tried 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.
Weirdly played with in The Haunted Mask II, where Jerkass Steve is punished by being made manager of a first grade soccer team. All the kids on the team treat Steve like crap, so much so that, even after the old man mask bonds to his face, he still plans on scaring them as badly as he can. But the kids think Steve actually is an old man and instead of being grossed out or acting mean, they try to be as legitimately helpful and kind as they can be.
Lack of Empathy: Many of the parents and adults, but special nods go towards Tara Webster, Brandon Plush, Mr. Saur, Conan, the counselors at Camp Nightmoon, and the Horrorland Horrors.
Latex Perfection: The Haunted Mask series. Though as it turns out, the masks aren't made of latex...
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 (in the book, they all become sick. In the TV show, they become klutzy just like her), her wish for everyone to leave her alone has her (and the wish-granting witch) to be the last people on Earthnote in the TV show, the wish was for everyone to "buzz off" and they all turn into flies, except for Samantha and the wish-granting witch, 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 (which, according to Sam, is actually the best wish that ever came true for her, because now she doesn't have to deal with being an awkward preteen girl).
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; Margaret and Casey's dad (and the clones he made) in "Stay Out of the Basement," Evan's cousin Kermit in "Monster Blood III," Larry's "doctor"note who turns out to be a scientist who tried to make a serum that turns dogs into kids, only to find that it's a failure in "My Hairiest Adventure," Sam's parents in "My Best Friend is Invisible," and Erin's father/creator in "A Shocker on Shock Street." Often the mad scientist (or some sort of researcher who, if not specifically "Mad", is at least a jerk who does his job due to promises of money and prestige) 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 (parts one and two and the TV version that had part two's plot and part one's title), and Egg Monsters from Mars.
Say Cheese and Die and its sequels are about a camera which causes tragedy to befall any person photographed with it.
The Haunted School has a camera that acts as a portal to another dimension.
Magic Feather: The pen and the typewriter in The Blob That Ate Everyone
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 — though the TV version has him as a more sinister man who doesn't wear a mask. 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.
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 to eat him alive. They also did this because too many monsters at one place endangers The Masquerade to humans.
The giant worm in Go Eat Worms that attacks Todd for his experiments with her babies.
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 a doctor who wanted couples to have children, but the serum he injected them with wasn't stable enough to keep the dogs as kids forever.
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 who have taken over the Earth and have found the last human, who was seen as invisible so the aliens wouldn't spot him.
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.
My Master, Right or Wrong: The Lord High Executioner may or may not have been loyal to the former king and queen. But when the siblings' usurperous uncle ordered their death, the executioner intends to do so without question.
The Monster Blood books. The first book ends with the reveal that the Monster Blood was actually from a botched magic spell Evan's aunt's former roommate tried to use against her, 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.
Non-Malicious Monster: Most of the various ghosts in the stories turn out to be this. Also the egg monsters.
Ghost Camp. We're told the entirety of Camp Spirit Moon except for the Altmans are ghosts, killed untold years ago by a black fog. But it's never explained how the fog actually killed them nor why it happened in the first place. At least with Welcome To Dead House we know where the gas leak came from, but with Ghost Camp there were so many unanswered questions about what really happened to Camp Spirit Moon. Even worse, it's implied the fog contains trapped spirits that tried to leave the camp on their own, and we're never told how the other campers discovered this.
Sue and Eddie's Evil Uncle and Mr. Chameleon, judging by the impact of their actions, are two of the most horrific characters in the series. We never actually meet them. Special mention for Mr. Chameleon, since we don't even know who he is or why he's sending children to the Gray World.
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 somewhere between a true zombie and a vampire to form bloodsucking mutants that are harmed by sunlight.
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 his kid every day, including ruining his birthday (although he does feel a little bad with how that one prank turned out).
Platonic Boy Girl Heroes: Even when the boy and girl heroes aren't best friends, a boy and girl are often grouped together to enforce this trope. Sometimes the boy and girl don't get along that well.
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.
Monster Blood II features a giant killer hamster named Cuddles.
The Horrorland book ''Little Shop of Hamsters"
Ruritania: Brovania, the country the protagonist visits during Legend of the Lost Legend.
Sadist Teacher: A few examples, including Mr. Murphy from Monster Blood II (whose hamster devours the titular blood and grows to massive proportions) and Mr. Saur from Say Cheese and Die-Again!. To take it to the extreme, Mrs. Maaargh from Creature Teacher.
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.
Screw Politeness Im A Senior: Granny Deaver in Ghost Granny. She's not even the main character's actual grandmother. She was a friend of her great aunt's who came to visit one day and then just moved in for three years. She's totally disgusting and lazy, complains about everything, and intrudes in everyone's space. The only reason the parents don't kick her out is because she apparently has nowhere else to go and they pity her. When she actually dies, the family has a hard time concealing their joy now that they're finally free of her. And then she comes back as a ghost.
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).
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.
Stop Helping Me!: In-universe this is the case with Evan and his nasty little cousin Kermit, who frequently gets Evan into fights with Jerkass Conan Barber, though it's clear Kermit does this just so Evan will get beaten up. This also occurs in Are You Terrified Yet? with Craig and Amy. Amy constantly gets Craig stuck in wagers to prove how brave he really is, even though Craig just wants her to shut up. Even when Craig admits the truth about his bravery, Amy thinks he's just being modest. Craig gets to scare her at the end along with the other kids.
Strange Girl: Terri Sadler and Louisa from Ghost Beach. Fittingly enough, the comic adaptation is done by Ted Naifeh of the Courtney Crumrin series.
The Thing That Would Not Leave: Ghost Granny from Goosebumps Triple Header is about a selfish old woman who sponges off a family she's not even related to. Then she dies, but her ghost returns and causes even more trouble for the family.
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.
Uncanny Valley Makeup: In The Haunted School, Talia wears such heavy makeup that she looks completely unnatural and even creepy (she is only twelve years old), leading to bullying from her classmates. It turns out this is because she escaped from the colorless world and her skin is completely gray.
Undead Child: Just about every single ghost story has these.
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.
You Are What You Hate: Crystal and Cody hate chickens in Chicken Chicken. They get turned into... you guessed it.
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.