Follow TV Tropes


YMMV / Goosebumps

Go To

    open/close all folders 


  • Audience-Alienating Premise: The book series was adapted as a stage play titled Screams in the Night; mere months after its premiere it was put on indefinite hiatus and never performed again. In addition to rather poor writing, the fact that Goosebumps appealed to young fans of horror and not adults who appreciate theatre didn't help it gain an audience. It doesn't help that the tie-in novel was only printed in limited quantities,note  which ensures that only hardcore Goosebumps fans are even aware of the show's existence.
  • Complete Monster: See here.
  • Spiritual Adaptation: The series is The Twilight Zone or Tales from the Crypt for kids.

    The books — in general 

  • Accidental Innuendo: The books are so rife with these that Blogger Beware made pointing them out a Running Gag (with its own title for the trope: "Out Of Context Alert"). For just one example, Chuck and Steve "love making Carly Beth scream" because she's "the best screamer" in the school in The Haunted Mask.
  • Adorkable: Most of (if not all) the protagonists fall into this trope but the biggest examples have got to be Carly Beth Caldwell, Samantha Byrd, Gary Lutz, Michael Webster and Matt Amsterdam.
  • Ass Pull: Some of the Twist Endings come across this way, the worst is probably My Best Friend is Invisible where it turns out the characters are all aliens and Brent is a human whose parents made him invisible to hide him. But there are several problems with this twist: A. There's no foreshadowing that even remotely hints at this besides the characters' lack of any physical descriptions (which is not all that unusual) and a throwaway joke about the main character growing a tail, B. From what little description of the aliens we get, they aren't at all humanoid (apparently they have two heads and really long tentacle-like arms), yet their everyday life seems to work the same as if they were humans, and C. There are a couple things from modern-day Earth mentioned (such as Corn Pops), which aliens would not reasonably have. All in all, it seems likely the author just made up the Twist Ending right when he got to the end of the book and didn't think it out ahead of time.
  • Alternative Character Interpretation:
    • Whether or not Slappy has a bit of an inferiority complex to Mr Wood, the latter is shockingly considered even more violent and sadistic than his more famous counterpart, being all too willing to try to murder people and animals and Slappy's escalating aggression is him trying to constantly "up the ante", so to speak.
    • There's a common fan theory that Slappy and Mr. Wood are pedophiles, as they seem obsessed with making little girls their "slaves". In later books — especially in the SlappyWorld series — many of his attempted slaves are boys. Also, in Night of the Living Dummy III he attempts to enslave the brother of the main character as well.
  • And You Thought It Would Fail: Scholastic only commissioned Stine to write a few at the start, thinking the series wouldn't catch on. Needless to say, they were wrong.
  • Awesome Art: Tim Jacobus's iconic, creepy book covers. They straddled the Uncanny Valley in just the right way, making the mundane eerie, and the supernatural truly atmospheric. Even the Goosebumps wordmark was textured so that it seemed to have Goosebumps itself.
  • Base-Breaking Character: Depending on who you ask, Slappy is either an amusing and surprisingly menacing villain who perfectly encapsulates the fear and humor factor of the franchise, or an obnoxious prick whose creepiness is just cringe-worthy and has long overstayed his welcome with how formulaic his stories can be.
  • Broken Base: As is the case with a long running series like this with multiple spin-offs, there's fierce debate wherever it stopped or started being good in the first place or whether or not Seasonal Rot kicked in at some point.
    • The tone of the books noticeably changed as the series went on, and there can be a bit of a debate over which style fit the books better: the more grounded, moodier, methodically paced and character-driven early entries or the more flamboyant, high-concept, Denser and Wackier meta-horror with a heavier emphasis on black-comic irony that started cropping up around One Day at HorrorLand (with some notable exceptions).
    • There's also debate over the worthiness of the spinoffs.
      • Goosebumps 2000: a welcome attempt at Darker and Edgier storylines that were a bit more grown-up in nature or just second-rate leftovers from a past-its-prime original anthology?
      • The Goosebumps HorrorLand revival: a fun way to play with the Goosebumps mythology, or just a blatant nostalgic cash-in that still doesn't really capture the spirit or appeal of the original series?
  • Contested Sequel: Series 2000 is one of the most divisive spin-offs in the franchise yet. Some fans liked the Darker and Edgier storylines that were a bit grown up, interesting storylines and villains the fans Love to Hate. Other fans, on the other hand, hated the series due to it's outlandish plots, more extreme violence, gross-out content, unlikable characters and increasingly frequent Gainax Endings. It doesn't help that 2000 was cancelled after just two years and twenty-five books (versus the original series' sixty two installments in six years).
  • Creator's Pet: It's quite easy to accuse Slappy of being this, as he gets the most exposure of any other character despite being one of the most unlikable and least interesting, with him being the focus of two movies and his own spinoff series. It gets worse when there are even endings where he ''wins''. Several have pointed out Slappy isn't anywhere near the threat Stine wants to portray him as. Stine has also admitted that Slappy is his favorite villain to write for.
  • Creepy Cute: Some of the monsters could be downright Moe-ish rather than scary, though not all were intended as the actual villains of the story. Egg Monsters from Mars seems to intentionally invoke this trope.
  • Cult Classic: A few of the books in the series aren't as popular as many of the other well-known books (such as The Haunted Mask or Night of the Living Dummy), but there are still plenty of these that has a devoted following in spite of their meager success and/or popularity.
    • How I Learned to Fly isn't about typical supernatural fear, but rather the fear of exploiting others' talents and being trapped in the burden of fame.
    • I Live in Your Basement revolves more around psychological fear through one acute Mind Screw
    • Werewolf Skin features refreshingly Genre Savvy characters for the series, an interesting spin on the werewolf legend, and a legitimately surprising Twist Ending.
    • The Beast from the East seems to be a favorite among the later books in the original series, due to the creatively surreal nature of the plot and memorable monsters who were only scary at first, but were actually beginners.
    • Series 2000 in general got some enjoying the Darker and Edgier nature of it, with entries such as Jekyll and Heidi receiving praise for feeling more mature than most entries in the series. Creature Teacher even got a follow-up in the Most Wanted series.
  • Diagnosed by the Audience: While not stated outright, some of the characters show signs of having some sort of disorder. Examples include Dana from Egg Monsters from Mars, Mindy from Revenge of the Lawn Gnomes and Nicole from The Abominable Snowman of Pasadena. A notable one is Peter in The Five Masks of Doctor Screem, as Monica states that "some kids take pills to slow down to normal speed" but their parents simply think he has "energy".
  • Draco in Leather Pants: Slappy has a lot of fangirls who usually ship him either with their Original Characters, or one of the girls from his books. Evidently, they didn't realize why Slappy is regarded as so creepy in the first place. One author attempted to deconstruct this formula with mixed results, ending in the Original Character committing suicide.
  • Ensemble Dark Horse: Slappy, who wasn't even the main villain in his first story, ended up becoming the series' mascot.
  • Esoteric Happy Ending: Can frequently come up when there is almost always a major twist ending for each outing, a recurring example though is the books that end with the main protagonist's up to eleven Annoying Younger Sibling (and sometimes outright tormenter) either being Ret-Gone-d from existence or replaced with a more congenial counterpart. A big debate whether that is a Surprisingly Happy Ending or Nightmare Fuel or, since in some situations the protagonist could go and rectify the situation but either shows apathy or an outright aversion towards doing so, a borderline Moral Event Horizon for them overall.
  • First Installment Wins: Many people consider the original 62-book series to be the best compared to its numerous spinoffs.
  • Fanon Discontinuity:
    • Some people just read the original 62-book series and completely ignore any other books released after that. This also applies to the sequels too.
  • Fandom Rivalry: A minor one with Scary Stories to Tell in the Dark. While neither stories are especially scary by regular horror standards due to being aimed at children, some prefer Scary Stories due to Stephen Gammell's illustrations being much more frightening than Tim Jacobus's cover art, while others find Goosebumps to be more entertaining due to how bizarre and fantastic they are.
  • Fandom-Specific Plot:
  • Friendly Fandoms:
    • It's not uncommon for Goosebumps fans to be fans of Gravity Falls due to both being HorrorComedyies about preteens finding themselves in tons of terrifying situations and both series being similar in terms of characters, plots, and humor. In particular, Dipper and Mabel are both often compared to the protagonists, many of the monsters the twins encounter are compared to the ones from Goosebumps and Bill Cipher is often compared to Slappy the Dummy.
    • Pick a Stephen King book. Any Stephen King book. If someone reads a Stephen King book, chances are they're also a fan of Goosebumps. No surprise, considering that both King and Goosebumps follow the horror genre to a perfect T.
  • Growing the Beard:
    • For the original series, generally considered with Let's Get Invisible! for successfully introducing a more mysterious Greater-Scope Villain, as well as being the first genuine Ensemble Piece that had its main adolescent character's actions be noticeably influenced by a more grounded social dynamic — which made the consequences of the story despite all its supernatural elements feel much more human and believable than ever before.
    • Some say the series truly started hitting its creative peak around the last few books of the series that continued into Series 2000.
  • Hype Backlash: The series started garnering this reception due to the book series' massive popularity. However, this is only a Vocal Minority.
  • Launcher of a Thousand Ships: Slappy. Yes, most are firmly in the No Yay category.
  • Love to Hate: Several villains, such as Slappy, the Horrors, the Masked Mutant, Mr. Toggle, the Beasts, the Haunted Masks and the Creeps. While monstrous both literally and figuratively, they're often popular among readers just for how insanely campy and weird, yet genuinely frightening they can be for kid's books.
  • Moe:
  • Narm: The way the books get edited to make them suitable for kids are so ridiculous, that it comes off as laughable most of the time. For example, the Tagline for Deep Trouble is "Just when you thought it was safe..." What is the 2003 reprint's tagline?
    —"Swimming lessons won't help you now".
  • Narm Charm: What the books are often fondly remembered for.
  • Nightmare Retardant: Often the complaints of the later books in the series, as the settings got more and more outlandish and the final twists more often that not feeling like total Ass Pulls.
  • Realism-Induced Horror:
    • There are multiple books where the protagonist has a sibling who bullies or otherwise abuses them, oftentimes causing them more suffering than the scary/supernatural thing in the book, with The Cuckoo Clock of Doom being the most extreme example. Disturbingly, it often seems like the parents are aware of this but don't do anything to stop it.
    • Deep Trouble has a scene where the protagonist, Billy, is attacked by a hammerhead shark. Not a Sea Monsternote , a shark! While not as dangerous as fiction makes them out to be, sharks attacking people at the beach is still a very real occurrence. The cover depicting this scene only adds to it, especially when compared to most other book covers in the series, which usually feature more paranormal creatures or elements. It says something when the most unrealistic thing about this scene is Billy being rescued by a mermaid.
  • Replacement Scrappy: Dr. Maniac to The Masked Mutant. While the Mutant was apparently popular enough to get his own video game, he never reappeared. Dr. Maniac, whose story is an obvious Spiritual Successor, not only got a sequel, but a recurring role throughout the HorrorLand books. The only villain to show up as much as him is Slappy.
  • Ron the Death Eater: Downplayed with the parents of the protagonists. While, yes, they do follow the Adults Are Useless trope to a perfect T and their parenting can come off as a little bit questionable at times, they're never shown nor mentioned to be physically, mentally or emotionally abusing their children. Pretty much every fanfiction centered around the parents has them either hit their kids or yell and scream at them for minor incidents at some point.
  • Rooting for the Empire: If the book's protagonist is too whiny, annoying, or just keeps doing stupid things, chances are the reader will start hoping the book's villain will do something really horrible to them. Case in point, The Curse of Camp Cold Lake , the Monster Blood books and Say Cheese and Die — Again! due to how unlikable Sarah Maas, Evan Ross and Greg Banks are.
  • The Scrappy:
  • Self-Fanservice: Most of the protagonists receive this from time-to-time. Girls who aren't busty and curvy will often be given large breasts and Hartman Hips and boys who are scrawny and weak will often be given more muscles in fanart. Thankfully, unlike most examples of this trope, this is often in aged-up fanart and fanworks.
  • Sequelitis:
    • The 2000 and HorrorLand series aren't as well-remembered as the originals.
    • Also applies to specific books' sequels within the series, which are generally considered inferior to the first book (Return to Ghost Camp, which is only connected to the first one by the title), non-sensical and full of retcons (Say Cheese and Die — Again!), or both (Monster Blood II-IV). Even the "Living Dummy" series (the only sub-series that's careful to maintain continuity) is criticized for every book having the same basic plot with little variation.
  • Seasonal Rot: With some notable exceptions, the later books in the original series and much of the spinoffs are criticized for relying heavily on Recycled Plots and overly self-referential storylines, as well as going for intentionally cheesy Black Comedy at the expense of actual horror. It certainly isn't helped by the fact that the original series ends with what is often considered the worst book of the original series, Monster Blood IV.
  • So Okay, It's Average: The general response to the later books. While they're good books in their own right, with interesting storylines, likable main characters, good villains and surprisingly mature despite the demographic it's supposed to be aimed at but they're nothing compared to the earlier grounded, moodier and character-driven books.
  • Spiritual Successor: Within the line itself, 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 is arguably this trope, and includes Return to Ghost Camp (which has nothing in common with Ghost Camp, except for the fact that the campers and counselors are ghosts and forever trapped in the summer camp), and Who's Your Mummy?
  • Squick: A lot of the Body Horror and disgusting descriptions of the monsters definitely qualify as this. Justified, considering that it's a horror book series.
  • Too Bleak, Stopped Caring: In a series often full of Straw Loser/The Unfavorite protagonists who frequently receive Disproportionate Retribution for minor misdeeds and/or are often the victims of Cruel Twist Endings, the Goosebumps universe can often seem like a rather crapsack world to be a part of. A good example is Dr. Maniac Will See You Now. Every single character aside from the protagonist is unlikable in some form. Ernie is a brat, the parents are constantly arguing and putting Richard Dreezer, and Bree is an Alpha Bitch. Even the actual villains look better. After a while, it's hard to really care that much about what's going on.
  • They Wasted a Perfectly Good Character:
    • Mr. Wood finally returns in I Am Slappy's Evil Twin ...only to appear in a couple pages and not take any part of the story.
      • Mr. Wood in general. He's shown to be arguably more threatening and evil than Slappy, yet he dies in his first book and much of Slappy's antics are watered down compared to him.
  • Toy Ship: Even in stories primarily about Middle-School aged adolescents in a series that cared little for romance there was still a good amount of Shipping happening in the fanbase, with Steve/Carly Beth and Amanda/Ray (or Amanda/Karen) and the more borderline-canon ship-teased pairings of Erin/Max and Evan/Andy proving to be among the most enduring Fan-Preferred Couples.
  • Unintentional Period Piece:
    • 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.
  • Unpopular Popular Character: Slappy himself. Despite being one of (if not the) most iconic monsters in the franchise, he is widely despised by everyone he encounters, albeit with good reason. The guy lives to make others miserable, relishes being as rude, callous and vulgar as you can get in a kid's book, and probably has to pull himself together a lot from being smashed by fed up owners. It gets to the point where even his fellow dummies will inevitably turn on and pummel him, and one of his owners actually puts a curse on him just to make him behave. None of this seems to phase Slappy in the slightest, and if anything, just emboldens him with how many people he pisses off.
  • Values Dissonance:
    • So much that Blogger Beware talks about it. Many books have Free-Range Children in play, which causes most of the problems in the book. In some cases, the kids are allowed to go on exotic trips to pyramids or jungles, and their parents somehow signed off on it without doing routine phone calls.
    • The Running Gag about how every camp in the series lacks a working phone, and letters aren't sent out to concerned parents. Any camp with normal counselors would be facing several violations.
  • Wangst: There's quite a bit, considering it's an adult writing through the viewpoint of twelve-year-olds, but Sarah from The Curse of Camp Cold Lake really stands out.
  • What Do You Mean, It's for Kids?: Some of the books could have a rather dark, menacing, almost adult tone to them despite their still somewhat cheesy YA-friendly style, the earliest books especially could be at times outright violent and gory with Welcome to Dead House, Stay Out of the Basement, Welcome to Camp Nightmare and Piano Lessons Can Be Murder among the chief offenders. The series 2000 books take this even further with actual bloody violence and darker horror imagery and elements making it only safe for older children to read without parental guidance.

Individual books:

    Original series 


    Goosebumps Series 2000 

    Spinoff series 

    Goosebumps: Most Wanted 

    Goosebumps SlappyWorld 

Spinoff media:

    The Series 

    Goosebumps: The Game 
See here, here, and here for Escape from Horrorland, Attack of the Mutant, and Goosebumps HorrorTown.

  • Awesome Music: The surprisingly melancholic rendition of the TV series' theme used for the main menu of Goosebumps: The Game.
  • Big-Lipped Alligator Moment: Meeting Mrs. Forster and Fifi near the beginning of the game. Unlike other monsters in the game, they don't require any specific items to get past and they're never seen again after the player's brief talk to Mrs. Forster.
  • Nightmare Fuel: At several points you can access an otherworldly room that resembles an Escher painting. You are given the option of trying to enter one of the many doors, but are met with this message.
  • Nightmare Retardant: Officer Murphy in the final level of Goosebumps: The Game might be scarier if he didn't avert Jump Scares note  and if he didn't have a narmy one-liner ready for you.

    The Comics 

  • Author's Saving Throw:
    • While many previous protagonists were portrayed as cowardly, bumbling Chew-toys, the main kids of these comics are much more brave and active in their stories, while also established as talented individuals in their own right rather than Straw Losers. There's also greater diversity among them in both ethnicity and gender-orientation.
    • The monsters in the live-action movies are mostly generic villains who exist to be Slappy's goons. The returning villains in these comics are shown to have their own agendas, as well as being written far closer to their original book counterparts, which helps them be more credible threats.
    • Veruca Curry, Sarabeth's Granddaughter, is a much more charismatic and fleshed out villain than her grandmother. While Sarabeth was a Generic Doomsday Villain who was forgotten after the first Monster Blood book, Veruca is a lot more lively and her true goal amounts to something beyond "evil for evil's sake."
  • Hilarious in Hindsight: The title "Monsters at Midnight" first appeared in the More Tales to Give You Goosebumps story Dr. Horror's House of Video, before becoming the title of the first comic arc.
  • They Wasted a Perfectly Good Plot:
    • The Creeps initiating a world takeover through social media is a solid idea that could easily support its own story. In "Download and Die", unfortunately, this is just another sub-plot for the evil phone that gets resolved as quickly as it starts, and the Creeps themselves later get beaten offscreen by Slappy and Curly of all people.
    • Despite "Secrets Of The Swamp" taking place in a modern day Fever Swamp with multiple werewolves, Will and Grady are nowhere to be seen and the story overall doesn't connect much with the original book, outside of Cassie and Mr. Tucker being mentioned. It would've been especially interesting to see how they'd interact with this new generation of werewolves.
  • Unexpected Character: Of all the monsters in the franchise, most people likely didn't expect Keith from I Live In Your Basement to appear in the comic series.