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 "Reader beware -- you're in for a scare..."

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 ones as The Haunted Mask, Welcome to Camp Nightmare, A Night in Terror Tower, the Night of the Living Dummy series, and the Monster Blood series [1]. It was The Twilight Zone for preadolescents, with a twist at the end of every book. Stine cites the horror comics published by EC Comics as a source of inspiration.

The book series also spawned a successful TV series, which ran for four seasons on the Fox Kids programming block and reran for two years on Cartoon Network (usually around Halloween time, but it lasted a bit longer in 2007 due to the Writers' Guild going on strike and producers scrambling for filler programming until the strike ended), and an unsuccessful stage show that closed after only a few months.

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.

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 Edgier Goosebumps 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 seven twelve sixteen-book extension, as well as the PC game Escape from Horrorland.

The television series is currently in repeats on The Hub.


This series provides (usually multiple) examples of:

  • 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!")
  • All Just a Dream: Played with in the TV ending to Awesome Ants. The protagonist’s experience turns suspiciously nightmarish as the town is suddenly abandoned, there is a storm outside, and the ants are growing to ever-bigger proportions. Just before he gets killed by one, he wakes up at home and all seems fine. Then he gradually remembers the reality of the situation: in the real world ants are actually mountain-sized, and keep humans secluded in the human equivalent of ant farms and force them to survive on small pellets of blue food. In the book the ants just grew that big rather than always having been so.
  • Adam Westing: Adam West as the Galloping Gazelle in the TV episode and video game of Attack of the Mutant.
  • Adaptation Distillation: The Haunted House Game was originally a short story about four kids playing a reality warping board game called Haunted House. The TV episode is about two kids who get sucked into a cursed board game in the style of Jumanji and have to play their way to get out. The four kids in the short story turn out to be Dead All Along, the two kids in the TV episode manage to escape the game, only for two other kids to be supposedly tricked into finding the game.
  • Adaptation Expansion: The TV series, in certain cases (mostly due to the source story being too thin).
  • Adult Fear:
    • Fridge Logic-cum-Fridge Horror (as pointed out in a Goosebumps review blog) makes the Night of the Living Dummy books horrifying in a way that was probably never intended, as the foul-mouthed, abusive dummy smacks around and emotionally abuses his hapless owners who are, invariably, young girls in every single book. Given that there are almost a dozen books featuring this character and given the use of language like "love tap" to describe being smacked upside the head, this starts to feel pretty scummy pretty fast.
    • I Live in your Basement definitely plays on people's fears of madness and obsession.
    • How I Learned To Fly teaches us that fear isn't found in monsters, ghosts, vampires, aliens, or legendary creatures: it's often found in greedy people and being a celebrity.
    • 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 aunt who physically ages her two young nephews to sell them to her equally elderly female friends for marriage.
  • 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").
  • Affably Evil:
    • Della in The Curse of Camp Cold Lake, a lonely ghost who just wants a friend and is rather friendly apart from constantly trying to kill Sarah.
    • Mr. Mortman in The Girl Who Cried Monster, who's perfectly nice and friendly in his human form and only tries to kill Lucy when she keeps trying to expose his secret.
    • The titular werewolf in The Werewolf of Fever Swamp, Will, who makes friends with Grady and can't control turning into a vicious werewolf.
  • Aliens and Monsters
  • All There in the Manual:
    • Many of the new HorrorLand books can't be fully understood without reading the reissues being published alongside... and even then, some things refer to books that weren't reissued at all!
    • The Goosebumps "Official Collector's Caps Books," released with a kind of Pog-like game, contained some interesting trivia about the books such as the backstory of the shopkeeper in The Haunted Mask (specifically why he makes the masks) and the fact the Dark family in The Girl Who Cried Monster are from Romania and fled to the US because of persecution due the fact they're monsters.
  • Alpha Bitch: Courtney in You Can't Scare Me! and Judith in Be Careful What You Wish For...
  • Amusement Park of Doom: HorrorLand.
  • 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).
  • Annoying Younger Sibling: Noah in The Haunted Mask, Lefty in Let's Get Invisible!, Ginny in Bad Hare Day, Jed in Night of the Living Dummy II and Joe in Revenge of the Lawn Gnomes (the last one is a rare example of a protagonist who's an annoying younger sibling). But by far the worst is Tara in The Cuckoo Clock of Doom.
  • Asshole Victim: Alexander in Deep Trouble, Robbie, Lori and Nathan in The House of No Return, the Beymer twins in the first Monster Blood and Andrew in The Headless Ghost. Even some protagonists qualify, such as Brandon in Headless Halloween and Todd in Go Eat Worms!
  • Attack of the 50 Foot Whatever: What usually results from someone or something consuming Monster Blood.
  • Attack of the Killer Whatever: Attack of the Mutant (about a comic book geek whose favorite villain comes to life)
  • Awesomeness By Analysis: The protagonist of a car-themed Goosebumps 2000 story can tell the difference between models of car by the sound of their engine, a skill he gained from reading so many car magazines.
  • Badass Longcoat: Spidey in "Say Cheese and Die!"
  • Be Careful What You Wish For: The actual, verbatim title of the 12th book of the series
    • The trope also applies to #52, "How I Learned to Fly", where Jack and Wilson are stuck with the burden of being celebrities following a flying race at school.
  • Becoming the Costume: In The Haunted Mask and The Haunted Mask II.
  • Berserk Button: From "Weirdo Halloween", NEVER make Bim feel happy....just don't.
  • Big Brother Bully: Ron in Be Careful What You Wish For..., Greg and Pam in Don't Go to Sleep!, Kevin in You Can't Scare Me!, Brandon in Headless Halloween, Mickey in The Barking Ghost and Lucy in The Girl Who Cried Monster (a rare example of her being the protagonist). But the worst is Wade's brother Micah in Revenge R Us.
  • Bitch in Sheep's Clothing: From Attack of the Mutant, Libby, who is the Big Bad disguised as a harmless schoolgirl.
  • 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.
  • Blind Idiot Translation: How I Got My Shrunken Head was translated in French as "Comment ma tête a rétréci" which means "How my head shrunk", even though the protagonist's head does not shrink: the title refers to a shrunken head from South America he gets in the beginning of the story.
  • Blob Monster: The titular blob monsters of the Monster Blood series, The Blob That Ate Everyone (duh) and The Horror at Camp Jellyjam (King Jellyjam).
  • Bloodier and Gorier: The 2000 series added violence and a little bit of blood and gore to the mix. And a lot more vomit, in almost every book in the whole series.
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • The Bully: Conan "the Barbarian" Barber from the Monster Blood series, Judith from Be Careful What You Wish For, and to a lesser extent, Steve from the The Haunted Mask series.
  • 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 from the always-controversial (at least on Blogger Beware) Chicken Chicken, and Evan from the Monster Blood series.
  • Calvin Ball: "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.
  • Canon Dis Continuity: The new Horrorland books seem to be ignoring all of the previous sequel books.
  • Card-Carrying Villain: The Masked Mutant.
  • Cassandra Truth
  • Cat Scare: The first chapter of every. Single. Book. This got so well known that MAD (the magazine, not the two sketch shows that were adapted from it) lampshaded it in its inevitable parody.
  • Celebrity Is Overrated: The moral of How I Learned to Fly
  • Chekhov's Gift: The shrunken head.
  • Chekhov's Gun: Gabe's mummy hand in The Curse of the Mummy's Tomb.
    • The Masked Mutant cannot turn into anything liquid or he'll die. Skipper tricks him into turning into acid, Colossal Boy's only weakness.
  • Child-Hater: Several books have these, including The Ghost Next Door and The Blob That Ate Everyone.
  • Christmas Episode: More & More & More Tales To Give You Goosebumps, the last short story collection, centered around Christmas and winter.
  • Clingy MacGuffin: The Haunted Mask, It Came From Beneath the Sink
  • Cool Teacher: The only time this trope has ever been played straight, wherein the teacher is not a colossal idiot or useless, 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.
  • Covers Always Lie:
    • 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 generally mundane.
    • Deep Trouble shows a threatening shark on the cover which would suggest a Jaws-inspired story, but has a story about friendly mermaids instead.
      • To be fair, there is a scene like that, but it doesn't figure into the mermaid story.
    • Sometimes, people anticipating that the cover is fake works in the books favor. In the TV version of Attack of the Jack-O'-Lanterns, the main bad guys aren't the beings with the Pumpkin heads on the cover... which is expected. However, the aliens who save the kids from the monsters were the Pumpkin-headed beings.
  • Creepy Basement: Stay Out Of The Basement, Vampire Breath, I Live In Your Basement.
  • 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).
  • Cruel Twist Ending: Used every so often:
    • Awesome Ants: Ants rule the earth, not humans, and the size difference between the two is inverted.
    • How To Kill A Monster: The kids have killed the monster by sheer luck, and flee the house. After a few hours' travel they're all alone in the middle of the swamp at nightfall, and it turns out that there are hundreds more monsters resting there, and these ones aren't allergic to human flesh.
    • Werewolf Skin: The hero's (platonic) girlfriend is also a werewolf.
    • Ghost Beach: The kids' uncle and aunt are ghosts too.
    • A Night In Terror Tower: The high executioner has obtained one of the magic stones, and followed the protagonists back into the future again. (Though this is only in the TV episode, the book has a happy ending)
    • Attack Of The Jack-O'-Lanters: The protagonists' two friends are man-eating aliens, responsible for the recent dissapearances, and leave Earth in their spaceship until they’ll come back next year to feast again. They even warn the kids that they might well devour them next time if they don't keep off the candy enough.
    • My Best Friend is Invisible: The invisible boy was a scared human child that his parents tried to save by making him invisible, and all the "humans" seen so far are actually a species of world-conquering aliens who have take over the Earth and exterminated all the humans.
    • Stay Out Of The Basement: Many more plants have become sentient, and/or the girl's father really isn't her actual father either.
    • The Perfect School: The protagonist’s friend was a mole, and he'll be replaced with a clone/robot, and locked up forever.
    • Legend of the Lost Legend....the list goes on and on...
  • Cryptid Episode: The Abominable Snowman of Pasadena.
  • Darker and Edgier: The Goosebumps 2000 series
  • Dead All Along: The Ghost Next Door, Ghost Beach, and The Haunted House Game.
  • Defanged Horrors: The series can be scary, but is overall fine for children.
    • Literal in the case of Count Nightwing in Vampire Breath; the elderly vampire has lost his fangs!
  • Defictionalization: They make real Slappy dummies
  • Demonic Dummy: Quite a few throughout the Night of the Living Dummy books.
  • Deus Ex Scuse Me: Several. In "The Haunted Mask," it happens twice-- once with the mask shop owner, and once with Carly-Beth's mom.
  • Died Happily Ever After: The Ghost Next Door
  • Disproportionate Retribution:
    • Vanessa, a Wicked Witch in Chicken Chicken, among other things, 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.
    • Sarah's bunkmates Jan, Meg and Briana in The Curse of Camp Cold Lake seriously overreact to Sarah's annoying, but minor mistakes and team up to relentlessly bully her. At one point, Jan even tips the canoe she and Sarah are in over, knowing Sarah's a bad swimmer, and then tells the counsellor that Sarah did it just to get back at her for accidentally revealing she has asthma.
  • Distinguishing Mark: My Hairiest Adventure
  • The Dog Bites Back: Todd's worms and his sister in Go Eat Worms!
  • Downer Ending: Surprisingly common for a kids' series.
    • "Let's Turn Invisible!" ended with The main character's brother trapped in the mirror world, seemingly forever.
    • Played With in The Blob That Ate Everyone. It seems like it's a happy (if a bit anticlimactic) ending...and then it's revealed that everything we've read so far is just a writer showing his latest novel to a friend, who likes it for the most part, but feels the ending was too sad. The writer agrees and changes it to what from their standpoint is a much happier ending: the blob monster eating the children. This is because the writer and his friend are blob monsters, not humans.
    • The House Of No Return, although the three kids in that story probably counted as Asshole Victims.
  • Dream Sequence: Too many to count.
    • Creep from the Deep's cover depicts a dream sequence that lasts approximately one paragraph in the book.
    • Most of Attack of the Jack-O-Lanterns was either a dream or a flashback. And let's not get started on the Mind Screw known as "I Live in Your Basement".
  • Dueling Shows: With Are You Afraid of the Dark? and Eerie Indiana.
  • Early Installment Weirdness: The first few books are much darker than the goofiness the series quickly developed. Welcome to Dead House has disturbingly detailed descriptions of disintegrating zombies, and Stay Out Of The Basement has a graphic axe murder. On what turns out to be a plant monster, but still...
  • Enfant Terrible: Tara Webster from The Cuckoo Clock of Doom and Hannah from Strained Peas.
  • Everything's Better with Penguins: The random ice hockey penguins in the Attack of the Mutant PC game
  • Evil Feels Good: Carly-Beth in The Haunted Mask
  • 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 and Deep Trouble II), since it was apparent that all the writer knew about the first one was the blurb on the back.
  • Fat Suit: Skinny Greg gets turned into a fat kid thanks to an evil camera in Say Cheese and Die - Again, To look the part the producers made young actor Patrick Thomas wear a fat suit and prosthetic makeup.
  • Fate Worse Than Death: Often the implication (overt or covert) of the Twist Ending. Examples include Let's Get Invisible, The Barking Ghost, Bad Hare Day, Ghost Camp, The Haunted School, The Cuckoo Clock of Doom.
  • Flashback with the Other Darrin: "Say Cheese and Die - Again!" has another young actress as Shari when she's had her picture taken.
  • Foolish Sibling, Responsible Sibling: Sarah and Aaron in The Curse of Camp Cold Lake, Billy and Sheena in Deep Trouble, Josh and Amanda in Welcome to Dead House, Luke and Lizzy in One Day at Horroland and Joe and Mindy in Revenge of the Lawn Gnomes, with the foolish and responsible respectively.
  • Foot Focus:
    • Halfway through the Goosebumps story "A Shocker on Shock Street", the two main kids take off their shoes and socks because they believe it will help them run away from the monsters faster. The rest of the story features frequent references to how their feet are bare. The barefoot angle would not be included in the story's television adaptation.
    • The cover of "The Werewolf in the Living Room" shows the titular creature's three-toed soles in full and prominent view.
    • "Deep Trouble" Takes place on a boat and features 2 frequently barefoot characters. The Mermaid they befriend likes to tug Billy's toes, as they apparently amuse her.
  • Franchise Zombie
  • Gender Blender Name: Far too many to count, perhaps to assist with the Purely Aesthetic Gender. Notable examples are:
    • Andy from the Monster Blood series. Her real name is Andrea, which she hates being called.
    • Dana, the male protagonist of Egg Monsters from Mars.
    • The female Drew from Attack of the Jack-O-Lanterns
    • Revenge R Us's female protagonist, Wade.
  • Genre Anthology: The "Tales to Give You Goosebumps" short-story books, the "Triple Header" novellas, and the Goosebumps TV show.
  • Genre Savvy and No Fourth Wall: In one of the Give Yourself Goosebumps books, one of the choices has you deciding whether or not to eat some blue eggs. If you choose to eat them, you will suddenly stop, remember that you are in a Goosebumps book (where eating weird-colored food is usually a bad idea), and spit the eggs out. It turns out that the eggs cause you to become an obedient slave of the aliens running the camp.
  • Handwaved: 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 eleven year old kid would need parental consent to be the subject of a strange medical experiment like that. Not to mention why there's apparently no money involved.
  • Haunted House Historian
  • 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".
  • Hoist by His Own Petard: Skipper tricks the Masked Mutant into turning into acid, his supposed weakness.
    • King Jellyjam suffocates from his own stench after the campers stop washing him.
  • Human Aliens: This is rarely used, but it's a Twist Ending in Attack of the Jack-O'-Lanterns, My Best Friend is Invisible, and Welcome to Camp Nightmare.
  • Idiot Ball: Frequent, often overlapping with Adults Are Useless, but the kids can be equally as moronic if the plot demands.
  • Invisibility: Let's Get Invisible
  • I'm a Humanitarian-- 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 people who were missing according to a local news story.
  • Insufferable Genius: Nicole in The Abominable Snowman of Pasadena
  • It Got Worse: Happens quite frequently. Special mentions go to A Night in Terror Tower and Attack of the Mutant, among others.
  • Jerkass: Brandon, the protagonist of Headless Halloween. From the very first page Brandon talks about how much he loves to scare people, from his little sister, his cousin, to the two little kids he sometimes babysits. His narration describes how he loves to make the two kids cry in particular and enjoys watching them squirm. On Halloween he and his best friend decide to mess with the so-called "mean" science teacher who gave Brandon detention for messing with his cousin in school. He falls to his death by trying to jump the ravine behind the teacher's house in order to escape from the dogs Mr. Benson keeps. Brandon is told he has to earn his life back by helping three scared people, only to learn that this was in fact a trick and he can't come back to life ever. So he decides to spend the reminder of Halloween scaring other people as a ghost, along with the ghosts of all the other kids who died trying to jump the ravine.
    • Other examples include Slappy the dummy, Amaz-O in Bad Hare Day, Mr. Andretti in Why I'm Afraid Of Bees, Tasha in Calling All Creeps, and Tara in The Cuckoo Clock Of Doom.
  • Jerk Jock: Conan the Barbarian from the Monster Blood series.
  • Karmic Twist Ending:
    • A Shocker On Shock Street: The TV ending at least; the book ends on a Cruel Twist Ending, as the two protagonists find out they're robots and are deactivated by the girl's "father" to be reprogrammed. In the TV episode, the two wake up again and decide to kill their creator after putting them through so much torment and trying to replace them with new versions.
    • Click: The protagonist has abused the universal remote to suit his own ends. When he's confronted about this he tries to use the device against the accuser but it doesn’t work properly, so he presses the "off" button in frustration, and the entire world vanishes as he finds himself in a black void. Then the battery runs out.
  • Kid Hero: The protagonists who come the closest to this are Hannah in The Ghost Next Door, Skipper in Attack of the Mutant (he actually becomes a comic book superhero), and both Billys in Deep Trouble and Welcome to Camp Nightmare
  • 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.
  • Latex Perfection: The Haunted Mask series. Though as it turns out, the masks aren't made of latex...
  • The Little Shop That Wasn't There Yesterday:
    • Again, The Haunted Mask.
    • Literally, in several endings in "The Little Comic Shop of Horrors"
  • Luke, I Am Your Father: Beware, The Snowman... yes, seriously.
  • Mad Scientist: Almost too many to count; Stay Out of the Basement, Monster Blood III, My Hairiest Adventure, My Best Friend is Invisible!, A Shocker on Shock Street, etc.
    • Often the mad scientist (or some sort of researcher who, if not specifically "Mad", is at least a Jerkass) will prove to the real villain of the story instead of the comparably harmless "monster". See: Curse of the Mummy's Tomb, How I Got My Shrunken Head, Deep Trouble, Egg Monsters from Mars.
  • Magical Camera: Say Cheese and Die and its sequels are about a camera which causes tragedy to befall any person phtographed with it.
  • Magic Feather: The Blob That Ate Everyone
  • Mama Bear/Papa Wolf: After Lucy's parents actually know that Mr. Mortman is a monster who's trying to eat their daughter, their solution to the problem is...extreme.
    • Actually this was less about him trying to eat Lucy, what he might not have done if he had known she's a monster too, but about too many monsters at one place endangering The Masquerade
  • The Man Behind the Man: Mr. Toggle, the "robotician" from Piano Lessons Can Be Murder.
  • Mandatory Twist Ending (Got a bit played out eventually)
    • Avoided in about 10% of the books. Some of the "twists" barely qualify as well; is it really all that shocking that the Monster Blood disappeared?[2]
  • Mental Time Travel: The Cuckoo Clock of Doom
  • Mind Control: The Give Yourself Goosebumps entry Zombie School. When reading it, make sure you have some kind of metal on your person. Don't ask why.
  • Mind Screw: "I Live in Your Basement" is...well, just read it.
  • Mismatched Eyes: Lily in My Hairiest Adventure has a blue eye and a green eye. This turns out to be crucial to the plot.
  • Misunderstood Loner with a Heart of Gold: Subverted with Spidey from Say Cheese And Die!, who really is the Big Bad of that story.
  • Most Writers Are Adults
  • Mummy: The Curse of the Mummy's Tomb and its sequel Return of the Mummy. There seems to be some kind of conservation of mummy at work in these books, which put off having the mummy reanimate for the longest time possible. In The Mummy Walks, the titular mummy never even appears in the novel, and it does not, in fact, walk until the final page of the book.
  • My Name Is Not Durwood: In the TV version of How to Kill a Monster, Gretchen's grandparents keep getting her stepbrother Clark's name wrong.
  • Nephewism: Very common for the protagonists to be sent to aunts/uncles for the duration of the story; the parents vanish and are never heard from again. In Werewolf Skin, Alex apparently has to live with his aunt and uncle for so long that he even starts going to the local school.
  • 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.
  • New House, New Problems: Practically every other book.
  • No Historical Figures Were Harmed: In A Night in Terror Tower, Prince Edward and Princess Susannah of York are blatantly based on Edward V of England and Richard of Shrewsbury, first Duke of York-- right down to being imprisoned in a tower by their Evil Uncle.
  • No Social Skills: Sarah, the protagonist of The Curse of Camp Cold Lake. She is bad at talking to people and making friends, which is why her parents wanted her to join a summer camp to encourage her to be more social. Her awkwardness gets her off to a bad start with her bunkmates in the first chapters. It doesn't help that she hates swimming and sports and didn't want to be at camp in the first place.
  • Not Me This Time: Goosebumps: Horrorland. It turns out only one Horror was actually involve in the scheme the other villains took part in.
  • Not-So-Imaginary Friend: My Best Friend is Invisible!
  • Oddly-Named Sequel 2: Electric Boogaloo: Some of the new HorrorLand books serve as sequels to the classic books - but with extremely strange names. Monster Blood for Breakfast! is perhaps a notable example.
  • The Other Darrin: TV version of "Say Cheese and Die - Again!"
  • Our Monsters Are Weird: The series' outlandish supernatural entities are quite creative...and often silly. Lawn gnomes?
  • Our Vampires Are Different: In Vampire Breath, vampires don't survive on blood alone, they also drink the namesake. And it seems to be the source of most of their abilities.
  • Our Werewolves Are Different: Werewolf Skin, which is actually based on the Native American skinwalker myth.
    • And The Werewolf of Fever Swamp.
  • Planet of the Apes Ending
  • Please Keep Your Hat On: In You Can't Scare Me, Eddie wonders why "Hat" never removes his hat, and finally sneaks up on him and pulls it off. His hair is really gross because he doesn't wash it, and everyone agrees he should keep the hat on.
  • Pseudo Crisis: At the end of nearly every chapter.
  • Purely Aesthetic Gender: whether the protagonist is a boy or girl makes little difference in the books. The characters tend not to even have boy/girl-specific hobbies or interests. Being preteens, sexuality is almost never brought up. Occasionally one character will find another cute, but that's the extent of it.
    • There are usually multiple protagonists, at least one of each gender. It's just a matter of which one's the narrator.
    • Averted in How I Learned to Fly, where the main character's crush on a girl is a primary plot point.
  • Rear Window Witness
  • Recursive Canon:
    • In the TV episode of "Attack of the Mutant", an advertisement of the Goosebumps show appears on the bus Skipper was riding on.
    • In "It Came From Beneath the Sink!", Daniel and Carlos were seen watching "Welcome to Camp Nightmare".
  • 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 the characters believe the fur they are developing is from the expired, old bottle of "Insta-Tan" they found and rubbed over themselves. This turns out to have nothing to do with their problem.
  • Ret-Gone - In The Cuckoo Clock of Doom, when Mike accidentally erases his bratty little sister from the universe...then decides that it wasn't a bad thing. Also, one of the Give Yourself Goosebumps books was based around the reader trying to recover his/her brother from a time-travel experiment before he vanishes from existence forever.
  • Revival: The new HorrorLand books.
  • Rewriting Reality: Thought to be the case for much of The Blob That Ate Everyone, but it turned out that the main character was actually a Reality Warper.
  • Ridiculously-Human Robots: the ending of A Shocker On Shock Street.
    • Also, Piano Lessons Can Be Murderand the scam run by the school in The Perfect School to "fix" problem children.
  • Rodents of Unusual Size: Monster Blood II and Little Shop of Hamsters both feature giant killer hamsters. Yes.
  • Sadist Teacher: A few examples, including Mr. Murphy from Monster Blood II and Mr. Saur from Say Cheese and Die-Again!.
  • Scary Scarecrows: The Scarecrow Walks at Midnight
  • Schrodinger's Butterfly: I Live In Your Basement
  • Schrodinger's Gun: Constantly in the Give Yourself Goosebumps series, usually to coincide with The Many Deaths of You, occasionally for the reason other works usually use this trope:Railroading the reader.
  • Secret Test of Character: Welcome to Camp Nightmare's twist.
  • Shoot the Shaggy Dog: Not so much in the very first books, but later, whew. At least give Stine credit for completely ignoring the Sorting Algorithm of Mortality.
  • Shout-Out: In the TV version of "The Cuckoo Clock of Doom," the younger Michael's father reads him Clifford the Big Red Dog. Clifford, like Goosebumps, is publshed by Scholastic.
    • In the same episode, when Michael saw he's six, his scream and facial expression is exactly the same as Macauly Culkin's scream in the Home Alone movies.
  • Silver Fox: Spidey in "Say Cheese and Die!".
  • Snowlems: Beware, The Snowman.
  • Spared by the Adaptation: Spidey gets killed by the camera in the book. While in the TV episode, he becomes trapped in the camera and eventually released, but strangely doesn't appear in the TV episode of "Say Chese and Die - Again!" (except in flashback) nor revealed what happened to the bullies Joey and Mickey.
  • Spiritual Successor: The series has had direct sequels, sequels that share only the same villain, and even 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, Brandy in Egg Monsters from Mars, and Kermit in the Monster Blood series.
  • Spooky Photographs: The Say Cheese and Die books.
  • Story Within a Story: pretty much the entirety of 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.
  • Super OCD: Joe's sister Mindy in Revenge of the Lawn Gnomes has this.
  • Swamps Are Evil: The Werewolf of Fever Swamp. Both in the usual method, and apparently literally.
    • Also How to Kill a Monster.
  • Taken for Granite: The TV adaptation of Be Careful What You Wish For.
  • That's No Moon: Ghost Camp has "WHY ARE YOU STANDING ON MY HEART?"
  • Through the Eyes of Madness: I Live In Your Basement!
  • Tomato in the Mirror: A Shocker On Shock Street, The Ghost Next Door, The Girl Who Cried Monster and My Hairiest Adventure.
    • Several other books also incorporate this as their Twist Ending or a portion thereof.
  • Tomato Surprise: My Best Friend Is Invisible, Attack Of The Mutant, The Ghost Next Door, and A Night in Terror Tower.
  • Tome of Eldritch Lore
  • Too Dumb to Live:
    • 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 be fair none of the rides in the original were actually dangerous, they were just very creepy. The dangerous part was that the family was chosen for the Horrors' game show
  • 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. Cue the High Octane Nightmare Fuel, as the book ends with the heroes alone, far away from town, and in a marsh filled with these hungry, soon to awaken creatures. Hopefully the other monsters are allergic to humans too.
  • To Serve Man: Turns out to be the reason behind the disappearances in Attack Of The Jack-O'-Lanters
  • Town with a Dark Secret: "Welcome to Dead House"
  • Treacherous Advisor
  • Tricking the Shapeshifter: Attack of the Mutant
  • Twist Ending: Usually on the last page, maybe even last paragraph, of almost every book.
  • Vomit Indiscretion Shot: The 2000 series LOVED this trope.
  • Villain Based Franchise: With Slappy, for instance.
  • Villain Protagonist: Slappy's Nightmare is written in Slappy's POV but it is about Slappy having to do three good deeds in order to stay animated.
    • Brandon Plush, the sociopathic and unlikable protagonist of Headless Halloween.
  • 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.
  • "What?" Cliffhanger: Practically every other chapter.
  • What Could Have Been: Goosebumps Gold was a series planned after 2000, with three titles, The Haunted Mask Lives!, Happy Holidays From Dead House, and Slappy New Year, established. 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. Slappy New Year was included in the Horrorland series.
    • Also, Goosebumps 2000 was supposed to have a book called "The Incredible Shrinking Fifth Grader," but the series ended before it could be published. "The Incredible Shrinking Fifth Grader" was also supposed to be part of the aborted Goosebumps Gold series, but eventually found its way to the Goosebumps Horrorland series under the name "Night of the Giant Everything."
  • Worthy Opponent: The Masked Mutant considers Skipper this, because he knows everything about him and no other superheroes were able to defeat him.
  • You Have to Believe Me: Frequent. "The Cuckoo Clock of Doom" is a good example. Even though Michael is traveling backwards in time and therefore has knowledge of things he theoretically shouldn't, he doesn't even try to convince anyone using this knowledge, but simply insists that everyone should believe him.
    • If that's not enough, he believes Tara disappeared and everyone's memories of her have been erased (and believes it'll happen to him to) rather than not being born yet.

    • One short story from "More Tales to Give You Goosebumps" actually uses the trope name as its title.

Notes

  1. the last of which was the final book in the original series
  2. So perhaps the lack of a Twist Ending is itself the Twist Ending?
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