Contest Winner Cameo: In 2018, Stine held an auction in which the highest bidder would get to name a character in an upcoming book. The winner ended up being Gates Warwas in It's Alive! It's Alive!.
In the late 90's, a few contests were held where the winner got their name to appear in a Series 2000 book and the winners ended up being Jack Archer in Invasion of the Body Squeezers and Audra Rusinas in Attack of the Graveyard Ghouls.
Creator's Favorite Episode: More "creator's favorite installment"; Stine states "Attack of the Mutant" to be his favorite installment in the series, and "The Haunted Mask" to be his best.
Defictionalization: They make real Slappy dummies, and there used to be actual Haunted Masks.
Franchise Zombie: The success of the original series led publisher Scholastic to bet everything they had on it and tell author R.L. Stine to keep going. He did, and the quality suffered. The books ended up Strictly Formula and became shorter. Their popularity dropped as a result. It's been rumored that Stine became so fed up with this that many of the later books were ghostwritten.note Stine denies this, but realistically at least some proportion of the original books must have been ghostwritten — they came out monthly between 1992 and 2000, and once you include spin-off series such as Give Yourself Goosebumps and Tales to Give You Goosebumps up to three books could be released in the same month, which is an unfeasibly high level of output for a single author
Full Moon Fever borrows most of its plot from Chicken Chicken — the protagonists, one boy and one girl, tick off an old lady and subsequently find themselves transformed into animals. It also resembles a short story, "Pumpkin Juice" (from Still More Tales to Give You Goosebumps), where the protagonists turn into hungry werewolves after ingesting a strange food. It also resembles the short story "Marshmellow Surprise" (from More & More & More Tales to Give You Goosebumps), where some kids are cursed by a treat given to a mean neighbor pretending to be nice. Troy Steele of Blogger Beware even calls it in his review Chicken Chicken + The Werewolf in the Living Room.
Cry of the Cat is an expanded version of the short story "The Cat's Tale" from More Tales to Give You Goosebumps. The same premise was again reused with the Hall of Horrors book Claws!. The concept was also used in a Fear Street book called Cat.
Taken to ridiculous lengths with the number of summer camp stories:
Welcome to Camp Nightmare (Original Series #9): A boy goes to a summer camp said to be haunted by a monster in the woods and his bunkmates keep getting injured and disappearing (Turns out the place is a Secret Test of Character for the protagonist and that he and his family are human-looking aliens ready to go on a vacation to Earth).
The Horror at Camp Jellyjam (Original Series #33): A brother and sister on a road trip crash their trailer into a sports camp where everyone is obsessed with competing and winning in sports so they can be slaves to a giant purple blob whose cronies are the Brainwashed and CrazyStepford Smiler counselors.
Ghost Camp (Original Series #45): Two brothers go to a summer camp where everyone is a ghost and the only way they can escape is to possess the body of a living being.
The Curse of Camp Cold Lake (Original Series #56): A girl at a water sports camp finds herself haunted by a murderous Yandere ghost girl who can't go to the afterlife unless she has a buddy.
Fright Camp (Series 2000 #8): A group of horror movie fans win a trip to a camp that is said to be home to a horror movie director's creations.
Return to Ghost Camp (Series 2000 #19): A boy switches places with another camper on his way to the ghost camp from the original series and enjoys living his life — until it's revealed that the boy the protagonist switched places with is prepped to be sacrificed to a monster in the woods.
Escape From Camp Run-For-Your-Life (Give Yourself Goosebumps #19): You (the reader) find yourself in a camp filled with zombie children.
Welcome to Camp Slither (HorrorLand #9): A brother and sister find themselves in a camp infested with snakes.
Creature Teacher: The Final Exam (Most Wanted #6): A sequel to Creature Teacher from Series 2000, where Mrs. Maargh now runs a summer camp that borrows its plot elements from The Horror at Camp Jellyjam as well as Creature Teacher.
Let's Get Invisible!, Mirror Mirror On The Wall, and The Ghost In The Mirror all involve beings that try to switch places with people by using mirrors. Mirror Mirror On The Wall is basically just Let's Get Invisible! without the invisibility angle added in.
Horrors Of The Black Ring is more or less The Haunted Mask without the symbol of love angle, since both are about cursed objects that cause the wearer to gradually turn twisted and evil. The same can be said for the short story Monster on the Ice.
Goosebumps Wanted: The Haunted Mask reuses The Haunted Mask's plot though with a few different details here and there.
As mentioned below, Stine reused the outline for the planned The Incredible Shrinking 5th Grader for his standalone kids book The Adventures of Shrinkman.
Revenge of the Lawn Gnomes is essentially a Night of the Living Dummy story, just with gnomes in places of dummies.
On a similar token, the back tagline for the first Bonechillers book declares it's so scary it'll give you goosebumps.
Sequel Gap: There have been some notable gaps between the release of the sequels in the series:
Return to Horrorland: 5 years. Then there was the nine year gap between that and the Horrorland series.
Creature Teacher: The Final Exam: 16 years.
Monster Blood has two big ones. First was the 11 year gap between Monster Blood IV and Monster Blood for Breakfast, than there is the 13 year gap between that and Monster Blood is Back.
Troubled Production: The Goosebumps Wiki details some of the legal disputes Stine and his wife Jane's company, Parachute Press, had with Scholastic over the course of the original series.
To summarize, Scholastic set very specific guidelines in their contracts with Stine about which aspects of marketing and promotion were handled by Scholastic, and which by Parachute. When Parachute began holding promotional and marketing events without consulting Scholastic, the parent company sued the Stines, who in turn counter-sued Scholastic, claiming they violating their end of the contract by withholding revenue from the Stines. The first suits were filed in 1996, at the height of Goosebumps' popularity, and dragged through the courts until 2003.
The longstanding accusations that Stine used ghostwriters for Goosebumps originate from one of these lawsuits. Scholastic accused Stine of hiring freelance writers to send him manuscripts, which he then submitted to Scholastic as his own work with only minor revisions, in breach of contract. Scholastic would also blame this for the series' declining sales through the late '90s. Stine denied it at the time, and still does today (the matter was never resolved in court or elsewhere), though he's admitted that books for Ghosts of Fear Street were ghostwritten. A few of the Tales to Give You Goosebumps stories have also revealed to have been ghostwritten, although it's unknown if all of them were or only a few.
These difficulties came to a head with Series 2000. Scholastic's demands to make the books Darker and Edgier than Stine felt comfortable with increased the acrimony between them, and resulted in increased Executive Meddling.note Stine claims that Scholastic started rejecting his manuscripts and demanded extensive rewrites, which they rarely had up to that point. Meanwhile, lower sales of Goosebumps and Scholastic's declining stock generally convinced them that the legal issues with Stine and Parachute were now more trouble than they were worth. In 2000 Scholastic ended their contract with Stine; Series 2000, originally planned to be 40 books long, abruptly ended at 25, while the planned Goosebumps Gold series and other spinoffs (including a third Triple Header story collection) were canceled. note However, Gold was supposed to be published under a different publisher, the same one that was publishing his Nightmare Room series.Eventually a deal was reached giving Scholastic sole publishing rights to the series, allowing them to reprint the original books starting in 2003. Stine, however, refused their offers to renew Goosebumps until the Horrorland books began in 2008.
Tuckerization: Stine says he would often take his characters name from his son's school yearbook.
Many of the books have technology (or lack thereof) on display that solidifies them as taking place in The '90s.
Combined with Values Dissonance: the books were written in The '90s, when bullying wasn't taken as seriously. As such the protagonists are often bullied severely (including physical beatings) with no one to help them, often resulting in them having to resort to the paranormal thing/character of the month to help them fight back. Nowadays they could probably just tell a teacher or the like as bullying is (fortunately) taken much more seriously now. As noted under Bowdlerize on the main page, some of original books also feature moments that can be seen as a awkward to women and minority groups which probably wouldn't have raised too many eyebrows in the '90s but that, to Stine and/or Scholastic's credit, have been revised in reissues, and are less prevalent in the post revival books.
Because it deals with Time Travel, The Cuckoo Clock of Doom is perhaps the most dated book in the series and has the dates mentioned inside updated whenever it's reprinted. In particular, Tara's birth year has changed from 1988 (the 1995 original printing) to 1996 (the 2003 reprint) to 2008 (the 2015 reprint) to 2013 (the 2020 reprint). The year the dial on the clock stops at and the year the shopkeeper thinks the world is going to end are updated as well.
Goosebumps Gold was a twelve-book series planned after 2000, with three titles, The Haunted Mask Lives!, Happy Holidays From Dead House, and Slappy New Year, announced. Cover artwork for the first two can be found on Tim Jacobus's website, and certain websites stock some of the books for sale. The plot for The Haunted Mask Lives! would've been about Carly Beth being targeted by the novelty shop owner who initially made the masks. Stine later used the title Slappy New Year! for the second arc of the Goosebumps Horrorland series, but it had a brand new plot.
Goosebumps 2000 was supposed to have a book called "The Incredible Shrinking Fifth Grader", but the series ended before it could be published. R.L. Stine later revealed the plot had been repurposed for his horror novel The Adventures of Shrinkman, and Tim Jacobus shared the unused but completed cover art for the Goosebumps wiki. A similar plot was also used in the third arc of the Goosebumps Horrorland series under the title Night of the Giant Everything.
There was going to be one more Give Yourself Goosebumps book, but it got scrapped when the line ended. Artist Craig White shared the cover artwork with the Goosebumps wiki and, while the plot's still unknown, the cover featured some malevolent looking penguins in an arctic setting.
While Shop Till You Drop...Dead! from the Give Yourself Goosebumps series was the first to be illustrated by Craig White, there exists sketches by original series cover artist Mark Nagata, which were never used. These canbeseenhere. His notes also seem to imply that the book's original title was The Bizarre Bazar.
The Triple Header monster was originally designed to look like a teen monster with three separate heads instead of the extra two growing out of the monster's shoulders. Extra artwork from Tim Jacobus implies a third novella collection was planned as well. Stine also once stated he was working on a third entry.
A couple of early plot summaries from the "Goosebumps Horrorland" books are different from what was ultimately released, such as Robby Schwartz's brother Sam being older and the creator of the Dr. Maniac webcomic instead of Robby himself, and a few of the Very Special Guests having younger siblings along on their trip to Horrorland.
An early summary for The Lizard of Oz stated that the book would be about the protagonist ordering a lizard egg off the internet, while in the final book, she gets it from Australia, and it's her parents' idea.
An early summary for It's Alive! It's Alive! described Livvy and her brother Jayden building a robot using dangerous AI equipment that their mother, a scientist, warned them not to use. In the final book, Jayden is replaced with Livvy's friend Gates and they build the robot themselves, unable to understand why it's malfunctioning (although Livvy's mother is still a scientist and this is significant to the plot.)
An early summary for The Dummy Meets the Mummy! implied would be the focus ala Slappy's Nightmare and that he would be brought back to life by a girl on a class trip. In the final book, he is already alive when he is sent there and the girl is the focus instead of the a minor aspect like the summary implied.
Word of Dante: Before 2015, "You and I are one now" as the English translation of "Karru Marri Odonna Loma Molonu Karrano" — given how widely this was accepted as fact, it's hard to believe this was purely a popular fan interpretation of a line from the TV series that didn't reach canonical status until 19 years later.
The Curse of Camp Cold Lake: The Ghost of Camp Cold Lake
Werewolf Skin: I Want To Be A Werewolf for Halloween
Earth Geeks Must Go!: Earth Geeks Must Die!
Shop Til You Drop...Dead!: The Bizarre Bizzar
Ship of Ghouls: Deadly Cruise
Escape From Horror House: 'They're After You''
Attack of the Jack: Jack Attack
Write What You Know: Stine says in his autobiography that he grew up poor but lived in a rich neighborhood and felt out of place with everyone else. The protagonists of Diary of a Dummy are in a very similar situation.
Trivia for the TV show
Banned Episode: When the series was aired in the UK by the BBC in the late nineties and early noughties, nine episodes were not shown, almost certainly due to concerns over content, including the "Haunted Mask" series, the "Night of the Living Dummy" series, and "Strained Peas".
California Doubling: The TV series presumably took place in the States (explicitly stated in a few episodes), but was mostly filmed in Canada.
Just like the books, R.L. Stine's favorite episode was The Haunted Mask
Director Ron Oliver's favorite episodes were The Perfect School and Cry of the Cat.
Dueling Shows: With Are You Afraid of the Dark?. Incidentally, both were filmed in Canada, although in different areas. While both are remembered for being good scary shows for children of the 1990s, Are You Afraid of the Dark? had better writing and acting than the TV adaptation of Goosebumps.
Funnily enough, there were quite a few actors who popped up on both shows.
Fake American: Most of the cast members were local talent from Canada.
The Other Darrin: For the series, effects artist Ron Stefanuik voiced Slappy for the adaptation of Night of the Living Dummy II, only to be replaced by Cal Dodd for the Night of the Living Dummy III two-parter, then returned to the role for Bride of the Living Dummy.
The main cast of Say Cheese and Die was replaced for the sequel episode.
Kristen Bone, who is known for playing somewhat naive but generally supportive characters, such as Maggie, Snail, and Zoey, portrays Tara Webster in the adaptation of Cuckoo Clock of Doom, who happens to be one of the most sadistic and manipulative characters in the entire series (who isn't a monster anyway).
Production Posse: Many child voice actors from The Magic School Bus TV series were featured in this show. Most notable are Amos Crawley (Arnold in the first season), Erica Luttrell (Keesha), Daniel De Santo (Carlos), Stuart Stone (Ralphie) and Renessa Blitz (Janet.) Both The Magic School Bus and Goosebumps are properties of Scholastic Inc.
Shoot the Money: Attack of the Mutant features an elaborate set and miniatures to depict the Masked Mutant's headquarters. We end up getting an great look at all of them.
Troubled Production: Werewolf Skin had one. First off, it started production before the book was even finished so there wasn't a lot to go off off. Billy Brown and Dan angel's script for it was seen as "unfilmable" due to having a lot of locations and stunts, as well as scenes considered too dark such as a werewolf biting a deer. After many arguments with the network, Billy and Dan left the show and Ron Oliver was brought in to rewrite the script. Even after that, the network had Oliver trim down the scarier parts of his first cut.
Tuckerization: There's a fair few examples of locations and such named after crew members, a notable example being Billy Brown from The Perfect School, who is named after one of the writers/showrunners.
The series was almost animated but prouder Steve Levitan wanted it to be live action, which R.L. Stine was more up for.
Billy Brown & Dan Angel's script for Werewolf Skin was rejected by the network, which caused them to leave the show. Ron Oliver had to step in and re-write that episode. Even after that, the network had the scarier parts of Oliver's cut trimmed down.
The Perfect School was shot as a standard length episode, but the network liked what they had so much that they asked for extra footage to be filmed, making it a two parter.
Ascended Fanon: A promotional booklet released for the 2015 film (which mostly consists of Slappy taunting his new slave, the reader) was actually the first official material to confirm that "Karru Marri Odonna Loma Molonu Karrano" (the incantation that brings Slappy to life) translates to "You and I are one now" in English, which the fandom had been using for almost twenty years based on a popular interpretation of a line from the tv series' version of "Night of the Living Dummy II." This might be Jossed however, as The Ghost of Slappy reveals Slappy doesn't know what the words mean. This comes from an official entry while the booklet was merely for promotion and was not written by Stine.
California Doubling: Takes place in the Delaware town of Madison, but was shot in the Georgia city of Atlanta.
An alternate opening showing Stine moving from his previous home in the middle of the night. The scene was actually used as the prologue of the prequel video game.
Zack's first day of school, where he gets on a football player's bad side (the same player is the boyfriend of Champ's love interest and bails on her when encountering the werewolf) and meets Champ.
A brief confrontation between Zack and his mother after the police visit at Stine's home over moving to Madison.
Stine's visit to the police station, where he finds out Zack prank called him.
Aunt Lorraine finding out Zack has gone from his room before finding Fifi on the doorstep.
A brief exchange in the Wagoneer between Zack and Hannah about attending the dance, before Overprotective Dad Stine shoots it down (the scene also includes several ad-libbed versions of Stine's response).
After the Jerk Jock football player bails on his girlfriend, he receives a bout of Laser-Guided Karma in the form of the Abonimable Snowman of Pasadena.
An alternate ending. Instead of Hannah being rewritten into reality, a Replacement Goldfish named Anna asks Zack where her classroom is. After finding out she's not a monster, he goes to help her. The rest of the ending plays out as normal, only except when Stine passes the typewriter, the title typed is Slappy's Revenge. Slappy appears behind Stine as Stine screams into the camera.
Development Hell: The Goosebumps movie was hinted at waaay back in the year 1997 when the series was at the height of its popularity but apparently had trouble getting financial backing at the time (20th Century Fox was going through a turbulent time at the turn of the century; indeed, Fox Kids got shut down in 2002, but for mainly unrelated reasons). The movie wound up shelved when the TV series was cancelled and the waning of interest in the series. It wouldn't be until 17 years later that they finally got it off the ground.
Ink-Suit Actor: Slappy in the movie is designed to bear a closer resemblance to his voice actor Jack Black. This also plays into the fact that Slappy is portrayed as a Shadow Archetype for R.L. Stine (also played by Black).
I Knew It!: Anyone familiar with the Goosebumps probably saw The Reveal about Hannah coming a mile away, given that she shares her name with the protagonist of The Ghost Next Door.
Name's the Same: Hannah, the movie's deuteragonist, has the name of the titular protagonist from The Ghost Next Door. This turns out to be a subversion, and a very big clue as to Hannah's true nature — they're the same character.
The Other Darrin: The role for Slappy in the films went from Jack Black in the first to Mick Wingert in Haunted Halloween (and before then, it was reported that Avery Jones, the man who puppeteers Slappy, would also provide the voice for the sequel).
What Could Have Been: Back in the 1990s, George A. Romero wrote a script for a Goosebumps film that would have adapted Welcome to Dead House. The eponymous house would have been reimagined as a Sapient House that is possessed by Foster Devries, the factory owner who was responsible for the chemical leak that killed everyone in the company town of Dark Falls. He would have brought all of his workers back as undead slaves who he has bring him live victims to feed on and turn into new undead residents of Dark Falls.
Trivia for the comic book series
Tuckerization: The protagonists of Horrors of the Witch House attend Robert Lawrence Middle School.