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Literature / The Nightmare Room

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When the lights fade and the moon rises, anything can happen. The world becomes a carnival of shocks and chills. A whirling merry-go-round that never stops, spinning faster and faster, taking you on a frightening ride. I'm R. L. Stine, don't fall asleep... or you might find yourself in The Nightmare Room.

The Nightmare Room is a series of YA horror books written by R. L. Stine in the early 2000s. Much like Goosebumps, it is a horror Genre Anthology series featuring a different short story filled with young kids facing off against ghosts, monsters, and other supernatural beings. Unlike Goosebumps, the stories are much darker and the kid heroes don't always win in the end.

It mostly pools from from The Twilight Zone with its title, and its storytelling style.

It was adapted for television series in 2001 as part of the Kids' WB line-up. Sadly, the show only lasted for 13 episodes.


Tropes that apply to both the books and the show include

  • Abusive Parents: The Thrillogy books have Kathryn. She didn't want her own daughter, so she allowed her to take the fall for the evil she brought to the town. Even when Deborah managed to trap Kathryn on an island, she cursed her to have bad things happen that she got blamed and then hung for.
    • Micheal Moon's parents in Full Moon Halloween stage a cruel prank through their Halloween parties where they tell their guests that one of them is a werewolf and locks them in, pretending to do cruel things to them to expose the supposed wolf. They ignore Micheal's protests to stop doing this.
  • Accidental Truth: At the end of "Full Moon Halloween".
  • A Crack in the Ice: This is how Ian dies in The Howler
  • Alien Among Us: A whole unit of alien invaders disguise themselves as humans in the book Visitors and the episode Four Eyes
  • Alternate Universe: Liar Liar has Ross entering one after telling so many lies. It only has slight differences but just being there causes him to destroy most things he touches.
  • Arch-Enemy: In Shadow Girl Selena's cousin turns out to be a supervillain who is forced to be this to Selena and resents her because she wanted to be a superhero.
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  • An Aesop: Locker 13 has one about how you should try to get ahead in life through hard work instead of relying on luck.
  • Anti-Villain: Dr. Carpenter in They Call Me Creature, who has been killing and experimenting on animals, but it's to find a cure for her son who has become a pig creature.
  • Annoying Younger Sibling: Peter in Don't Forget Me!. Although in this case it's because he has a more upbeat personality compared to Danielle.
  • Bloodier and Gorier: Some of the books can get a tad more violent than Goosebumps but They Call Me Creature gets a special mention for featuring many scenes with gruesome descriptions of dead animals, as well as a scene where a bat explodes, spewing its guts everywhere.
  • Burn the Witch!: The villagers in the Thrillogy believe Deborah is behind all the strange happenings in the village, so they want to hang her. It was actually her mother who did all of it but Deborah is eventually hung anyway.
  • Calling Card: Shadow Girl has a robber going around who leaves a card with a blue weasel on it at every place he robs. It turns out to be Stan, a friend of Jade and Selena's.
  • Carcass Sleeping Bag: Technically, it's to hide from mysterious men but either way, Laura in They Call Me Creature has to use one, out of a deer.
  • Covers Always Lie: The cover for Camp Nowhere has a bunch of kid heads, some of which have glowing eyes. This has exactly nothing to do with the book.
    • What Scares You the Most? has April in her home next to a boy as a witch watches over them. This boy is nowhere to seen, as she has no siblings or major male friends back at home.
  • Chekhov's Gun: Early on in Don't Forget Me!, Danielle shows off a photo of Peter's teddy bear as an example of how his cuteness can annoy her. She later uses it to jog her parents' memory.
  • Clashing Cousins: Selena and Jade in Shadow Girl.
  • Cruel Twist Ending:
    • "Full Moon Halloween": It turns out that Tristan and Rosa are werewolves, and they corner the other kids.
    • "Dear Diary, I'm Dead": After Tess took the diary from Alex, he takes it back and reads the last entry revealing that Tess is going to die. Alex tries to save her, but they both soon realize that the diary entry changes depending on who's reading it and the entry was actually meant for Alex who ends up dying. Then the story ends at the beginning, revealing that Alex has no future because he's trapped in a time warp where he is forced to relive every moment in the diary and he has no idea about it.
  • Dark Is Evil: The Fatemaster in "Locker 13" is a scary cloaked figure with power over the universe.
  • Dark Is Not Evil: The titular Shadow Girl is a superhero.
  • Darker and Edgier: The series follows in the steps of Goosebumps Series 2000 in being darker, from having more gore to a more somber and serious tone in books like The Howlwer and They Call Me Creature.
  • Death of a Child: The Howler and No Survivors have the deaths of Ian and Deobrah respectively.
  • Downer Beginning: The plot of The Howler is kicked off by the death of Ian.
  • Dramatic Irony: In "Shadow Girl," Selena's cousin Jada has a big collection of comics and comments on how girls aren't supposed to like comic books, even though every comic she has is about a different female superhero and Selena and Jada come from a legacy of superheroines.
  • Everyone Laughs Ending: Visitors ends this way.
  • Foreshadowing: In Shadow Girl, it's noted that Stan's family is rather poor, so it seems odd that it's mentioned he has gotten a new CD player and computer. This is what makes Jade realize he is The Blue Weasel who has been robbing places, as there's no way he could afford those otherwise.
    • In They Call Me Creature, Dr. Carpenter says she has been spending more time in the research lab, and the work she is doing there is important. It turns out she is the one experimenting on animals, and that is the work she is doing in there.
  • Friend to All Living Things: Laura in They Call Me Creature loves animals and they generally love her back. This is why she's so put off when they start acting strangely thanks to the presence of the titular creature.
  • "Groundhog Day" Loop: At the end of "Dear Diary, I'm Dead", it's revealed that the diary knew what was going to happen to Alex because he is trapped in a time warp forced to relive every moment in the diary.
  • Good Luck Charm: The skull toy in Locker 13 starts out as one before becoming a bad one.
  • Halloween Episode: "Full Moon Halloween"
  • Here We Go Again!: A few of the twists play out like this, such as Scare School, where the protagonist gets rid of the imp terrorizing his school, only for a troll to come out of hiding
    • Don't Forget Me: Addie calls Danielle and Peter by different names, implying her memories of them have been replaced.
    • "The Howler": Spencer gives the device to his brother and tells him to have fun.
    • "Dear Diary, I'm Dead": Alex Sanders is cursed to relive the day of his death over and over again since he's permanently stuck in a time loop.
  • Indian Burial Ground: Camp Nowhere features a camp that was built on ancient Native-American ground. Their spirits had stayed to protect the land so when it was intruded on, they planned to murder the campers. But a deal was made so that the camp would simply vanish for most the year, and the campers could return as ghosts for two days every year.
  • Informed Deformity: The prologue of They Call Me Creature has Joe going on about he's such an ugly creature, but eventually it is revealed that he just has two pig ears. Hardly a creature.
  • Laser-Guided Amnesia: The house in Don't Forget Me! is an interesting example, as it effects other people rather than the people inside. It does cause Peter to start forgetting things but later it's more about how everyone else forgets about him, than later Danielle.
  • Last of His Kind: Ben Shipley in Visitors.
  • Mad Scientist: Laura's Dad in They Call Me Creature is suspected to be doing dangerous experiments on animals when it's actually his old boss, Dr. Carpenter
  • Nature Lover: Laura in They Call Me Creature, who greatly prefers living close to the woods because she loves the outdoors. Infact, after her parents divorced, she chose to live with dad because he lived near the woods.
  • Never Trust a Title: Based on the title of What Scares You The Most?, the 2nd book in the "Thrillogy", you'd think the protagonists would be forced to face their worst fears. That doesn't actually happen and is not what the book is about.
  • Out-of-Genre Experience: While most of the books are horror stories, Shadow Girl is a superhero story that serves as a deconstruction that explores what would happen if neither the hero or villain wanted to fill those roles.
  • Parental Neglect: Maggie's parents in My Name is Evil are divorced and her dad barely calls, and she says he has missed her last ten birthdays. She even assumes he only calls her by nicknames because he genuinely forgot it.
  • Parental Substitute: Laura in They Call Me Creature finds herself being closer to Dr. Carpenter than her actual mom, and she felt this way even before her parents got divorced. They make the reveal of Dr. Carpenter being the villain rather awkward.
  • Police Are Useless: Played with in Full Moon Halloween, as they actually are called over to arrest Micheal's parents for their cruel prank ... but they mistake Tristan and Rosa's werewolf forms for costumes and don't believe the Moon's claims that they are real werewolves.
  • Screw Destiny: "Locker 13" ends with Luke Greene literally taking on the Fatemaster with a Batman Gambit to defy his god-like manipulations over reality.
    • This also happens in Shadow Girl when Selena has to "kill" Jade aka Red Raven so that she can be the superhero she wants to be, and Selena can stop being Shadow Girl.
  • Screw Destiny: This happens Shadow Girl when Selena has to "kill" Jade aka Red Raven so that she can be the superhero she wants to be, and Selena can stop being Shadow Girl.
  • Summer Campy: Camp Nowhere
  • Superhero Episode: Shadow Girl
  • 13 Is Unlucky: In "Locker 13," take a wild guess on what the number of the locker is, that the main character has to use.
  • Title Drop:
    • "Danielle, Don't Forget Me!
    • "They Call Me Creature. But I'm not. I'm a human being"
    • While the book version averts this by having Alex's final entry simply read "DEAD", the episode has it read "Dear Diary, I'm Dead"
  • Tomato in the Mirror: The protagonist of Visitors finds out that he's an alien from a planet that was taken over by another alien race.
  • Tomato Surprise: Tristan and Rosa in Full Moon Halloween turn out to be the werewolves that were assumed to be just part of a prank.. In the TV Episode, it's just one of the kids, Alexis.
  • Two-Timer Date: Lampshaded in Liar Liar, where Ross gets himself caught in one and comments that this feels like a "bad sitcom".
  • Unreliable Narrator: Used as an Establishing Character Moment in Liar Liar, where Ross tells the reader his eye color, only to reveal he was actually lying about it.
  • Wicked Witch: Appears as the main villain of the Fear Games trilogy.
  • With Friends Like These...:
    • The Howler has Scott, who frequently mocks Spencer for his ghost obsession and wasn't even that much kinder before the events of the book.
    • Maggie's three friends are a bit better than most examples but Jackie in particular has the tendency to be mean to Maggie and plays a few cruel pranks, such one as on Glen. It turns out he's evil and he was doing all the cruel things to the friends as revenge.

Tropes that apply only to the show include

  • Adam Westing: Tippi Hedren in the TV episode of Fear Games, as well as Sting in Tangled Web
  • Adaptation Amalgamation: The episode Fear Games is titled after the first book in a "Thrillogy" series but takes elements from the other books in the trilogy as well.
  • Adaptation Distillation: Much like Goosebumps, the episodes trim down the plots of the books to fit them into 22 minutes.
  • Adaptational Backstory Change: The mysterious man in Don't Forget Me goes from just being a curious guy warning Danielle about the house to being one of the kids that was trapped and forgotten in the house.
  • Adaptational Jerkass:
    • Spencer from The Howler is a nice kid in the book, but in the episode he's a big prankster.
    • Peter from Don't Forget Me!'s annoying-ness comes from just having a more outgoing personality compared Danielle, but in the episode he's more of a prankster type,
    • The bully in Locker 13 actually softened up a bit over the course of the story in the book, but in the episode he stays a jerk and has a smaller role to boot.
    • Marlin in Fear Games was a cheerful guy and encouraged the others, while in the episode he's a Jerkass to everyone.
  • Adaptational Nice Guy:
    • Played with in Dear Diary, I'm Dead. In the book, Tasha was an Alpha Bitch who eventually became nicer near the end, but in the episode, she's friends with the group from the start and her teasing is generally more friendly, but becomes more of a jerk by the end.
    • Maggie's friends in My Name is Evil had jerk tendencies, as noted below, but their TV equivalents are overall nicer.
  • Adaptational Villainy: Maggie in My Name is Evil doesn't give in to her new evil nature. Morgan in the TV episode however does so although he only goes after those who deserve it.
  • Adapted Out: This happens every so often but one notable example is the omission of Ian from The Howler
  • The Bad Guy Wins: Approximately 90% of the episodes have the villain win or get away.
  • Black Dude Dies First: The episodes "School Spirit" and "Full Moon Halloween" feature the same cast of characters and in both of them, the character of Freddie Goal suffers some type of horrible fate.
    • "School Spirit": He's the first person to be taken by the ghost.
    • "Full Moon Halloween": He is attacked by a werewolf at the end.
  • Blatant Lies: Josh, the protagonist of "Tangled Web" dishes these out frequently. He stops after learning a valuable lesson.
  • Bolivian Army Ending: Subverted in "Tangled Web", where the protagonist somehow survived his, with the whole episode actually being him as a teacher telling the story to a lying student. Though it's clear he didn't make it out without a few mental and physical scars, it's also implied he somehow gained the power to do to the student what happened to him all those years ago.
  • Bottle Episode: Full Moon Halloween is almost entirely set in a house that a Halloween party is being held in. Additionally, the episode's main cast was recycled from School Spirit.
  • Butt-Monkey: Dylan from "Scareful What You Wish For'' and Jeremy from "Four Eyes" are trying to stop supernatural evil forces and suffer a lot because of it. They both end up in a Fate Worse than Death.
  • Cassandra Truth: Dylan in "Scareful What You Wish For".
  • Consummate Liar: Josh from "Tangled Web" seriously cannot go a single scene without lying. He even tells his friends that he's best friends with pro-wrestler Sting Borden.
  • Creepy Doll: Buddy in "Scareful What You Wish For".
  • Compressed Adaptation: The entire Thrillogy was compressed into just one TV episode. It mostly loosely takes after Fear Games but as mentioned above, takes a few elements from the other two books as well.
Cruel Twist Ending:
  • "Scareful What You Wish For": It's revealed that Dylan's doll was brought to life by the party magician when he was a kid and he made the doll to be Dylan's best friend forever and the doll turned Dylan into a doll so he can do just that.
  • "The Howler": After the kids stop the three spirits from possessing them and destroys the machine that can communicate with the spirits, the machine repairs itself. A security guard finds the machine and turns it on, which causes one of the spirits to possess the security guard. The possessed security guard takes the machine and plans to find two more victims for his friends to possess.
  • "Full Moon Halloween": It turns out Freddie's lie that he thought he made up about one of his classmates being a werewolf is true and he gets attacked by them.
  • "Four Eyes": Jeremy's new glasses reveals that he can see monsters which are really aliens living among the humans and they plan to take over the world by replacing the humans as aliens. When they find out about him, they try to capture him. When his friend Cindy and her mom save him, they reveal that they were aliens the whole time and Cindy is actually the leader.
  • Demonic Possession: The plot of "The Howler" involves ghosts possessing people and trying to kill the heroes standing in their way.
  • Dull Surprise: The stranger from "Don't Forget Me" speaks in a dry monotone even when coming face to face with the ghosts of numerous dead families.
  • Earn Your Happy Ending: While the main characters and their friends and family make it out okay (for the most part), the problems they had are shifted to someone else. ("Don't Forget Me", "The Howler", "Tangled Web", "School Spirit", "Locker 13", "My Name is Evil"
  • Expy: The ghost living in "Locker 13" is obviously a ghost version of the Emperor.
  • Face–Heel Turn: The protagonist in the "My Name is Evil" fully embraces his power to make others suffer.
  • Fate Worse than Death: In "Scareful What You Wish For", Dylan is turned into a doll so he'll be best friends with Buddy forever.
  • For the Evulz: The Alpha Bitch in the episode of "My Name is Evil" ruins the protagonist's friendships for her own amusement. However, he gets even with her.
  • Foreshadowing: In "Four Eyes", Dr. Young tells Jeremy that his new glasses are going to make him see the world like he has never seen it before. His glasses reveal that he can see aliens. Also, the fact that Jeremy never saw Cindy's face with his glasses on and her mom's face being obscured when Jeremy first meets her hinted of their true nature at the end.
  • Gender Flip: My Name is Evil changes the female protagonist from the book into a male, while the male antagonist is now female. The friend characters in Don't Forget Me! and Locker 13 are also changed to being male.
  • Heel–Face Turn: The protagonist in "Tangled Web" stops lying and becomes a better person after the nightmares he experienced in the episode.
  • Here We Go Again!: A few of the twists play out like this.
    • "The Howler": spoiler: A security guard finds the supernatural machine housing the trapped ghosts, but when he accidentally activates it, one of the ghosts possesses him, taking the Howler to find more victims to release his undead friends into the human world once more.]]
    • "Tangled Web": Adult Josh Ryan passes on the liar curse onto a new troublemaking student to learn the same harsh lessons he did about never fibbing.
  • The Hero Dies: The majority of the shows' episodes, have the hero fight an useless battle against evil, and end up dead.
  • Hope Spot: In "Four Eyes," just when Dylan escapes from pursuing alien invaders, he's picked up by his best friend, who turns out to be the alien leader.
  • In Name Only: The only thing the episode of The Howler retains from the book is the basic concept of a machine that lets you talk to ghosts.
  • Karma Houdini: This is a horror show. The Bad Guy Wins almost all the time.
  • Karmic Twist Ending: "Tangled Web" implies this with the protagonist, having grown up to become a teacher, possibly gaining the same ability to make people's lies come true, and is going to inflict it on one of his own bad students.
  • Kick the Dog: The Alpha Bitch in "My Name is Evil," coldly rejects the protagonist's attempts to date her, and ruins his life For the Evulz.
  • Kick the Son of a Bitch: The protagonist in the TV episode of "My Name is Evil" frames the Alpha Bitch, who's been breaking apart his friendships For the Evulz, as the true monster. Unfortunately, he pulls a Face–Heel Turn in the ending.
  • Killer Rabbit: The Ploggs the kids get in "Full Moon Halloween" are pretty adorable for ferocious demon spawn that will grow into giant, rabid beasts.
  • Made of Evil: The protagonist in ''My Name is Evil'
  • No Good Deed Goes Unpunished: Doing all he can to prevent aliens from conquering his hometown, Dylan is rewarded with an impending death, when captured by the alien leader, who was really his best friend.
  • Pay Evil unto Evil: The protagonist in "My Name is Evil," decides to use his powers to punish jerkasses only.
  • Race Lift: Ramos in Camp Nowhere is Native-American in the book but in the episode, he is white. Also, the African-American Marlin in Fear Games is white in the episode, while Kristen, who is implied to be white, is now black.
  • Real After All:
    • Buddy from "Scareful What You Wish For" is naturally exposed as a real living doll and not a hallucination inside Dylan's mind.
    • The witch from "Fear Games" was not a fictional legend like the other characters thought it was.
    • In "Full Moon Halloween", there really was a werewolf terrorizing the city.
  • Scars Are Forever: The end of "Tangeled Web" reveals that the substitute teacher telling the story of Reese has a burn mark on his palm, revealing that he was Reese the whole time. The ending narrations state that he still has both the physical and mental scars from this experience.
  • Screw Destiny: "Locker 13" ends with Luke Greene literally taking on the Fatemaster with a Batman Gambit to defy his god-like manipulations over reality.
  • Team Member in the Adaptation: Sort of. Tessa does join the protagonists' band but only later on, while in the episode, she's in the band from the beginning.
  • Together in Death: In the darkest example yet, Buddy turns Dylan into a doll, so they'll be best friends forever.
  • Ungrateful Bastard: Everyone in "Four Eyes" treats Jeremy like dirt, despite the fact that he's trying to save them from alien invaders.
  • Unusually Uninteresting Sight: In "Tangled Web", Sting, playing himself (and yes, that really is Sting), shows up and tries to kick Josh's ass for pranking him. While chasing Josh, a mummy shows up also trying to attack Josh. Sting doesn't even bat an eye at the mummy's presence and even stands side by side with it in chasing Josh.
  • Unwitting Instigator of Doom: The magician at Dylan' birthday party, casts a spell on his doll Buddy, so they'll be best friends forever. The doll becomes obsessed with Dylan, and eventually turns Dylan into a doll.
  • Villain Protagonist: The protagonist in the episode "My Name is Evil" is trying not to become this, but ends up accepting this fate anyway.
  • Yandere: Buddy in "Scareful What You Wish For".
  • Your Mind Makes It Real: "Tangled Web" has the protagonist's lies come true.


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