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History of 'Goosebumps'

Let the history of 'Goosebumps' give you a scare—if you dare.

By Geeks StaffPublished 8 years ago 4 min read

In the world of children’s horror fiction, American author R. L. Stine created a series of stories that follow young children who always seem to find their way into scary situations. Beginning in 1992, Scholastic began releasing these soon-to-be trendy tales of young characters. By 1997, the publishing house put out 62 Goosebumps books and sold over 350 million copies in 32 languages.

Several books in the series made it to bestseller lists, including the New York Times bestseller list for children’s books. As the years went on and the fanbase grew, the Goosebumps franchise expanded into a multimedia cultural phenomenon.

Welcome to Dead House

In 1992, the Goosebumps book series was born with the first installment, Welcome to Dead House. The primary characters in each book are middle-class children isolated from typical social cliques. Some books feature boarding schools or campsites, while others deal with suburban neighborhoods and foreign villages. Usually the main characters are the newbies in town, or they've been sent away by their relatives. While plot structure is consistent throughout the series, each book has its own twist and tale.

Image via The Huffington Post


The inspiration for the Goosebumps theme and characters came from various books and movies. Take Slappy the Dummy, for exampleSlappy was a character originally featured in The Adventures of Pinocchio. Some of the author’s ideas for the series also came from real life scenarios. In the case of The Haunted Mask, Stine’s son wore a Halloween mask that he had trouble removing. In addition to everyday situations, Stine often used his own fears from childhood to further develop Goosebumps; no wonder the installments focus on kids triumphing over dangerously eerie situations through wit.


Protocol Entertainment partnered with Scholastic Productions to create the first Goosebumps television series in 1995. FOX Network offered Scholastic Productions a TV deal after CEO Margaret Loesch noticed how much her son adored the book titled Say Cheese and Die.

The show was produced in Canada and premiered on FOX on October 27, 1995. The series ran until 1998 while featuring plot lines based on the novels. Among the stories that made it to the silver screen were The Haunted Mask and Cuckoo Clock of Doom.

Goosebumps aired in over 100 different countries, and it was rated the number one children's program for three years in the US.


Tim Burton attempted to helm the first Goosebumps film in the late 90s, but production never began thanks to problems with several scripts. Screenwriters and production folks unsuccessfully debated which storylines, characters, and fearful elements to blend into a single film.

In 2008, Columbia Pictures acquired the rights to produce a Goosebumps film alongside Deborah Forte, who developed the TV series. Neal H. Moritz was also brought onto the project.

The screenwriters for the 2008 production were Larry Karaszewski and Scott Alexander. To remedy the issues of multiple storylines and short books, Karaszewski and Alexander created a fake biographical piece on Stine in which his monsters come to life.

Image via The Huffington Post

Big Time Bumps

In 2012, it was announced that a new version of the screenplay written by Darren Lemke would be put into production. By September 2013, fans learned that Jack Black would play R. L. Stine, “whose scary characters literally leap off the page, forcing him to hide from his own creepy creations." Rob Letterman directed the film, who had previously worked with Black on Shark Tale.

By February 2014, Dylan Minnette was selected to play the role of Zach Cooper while Odeya Rush would play Stine’s fictional daughter, Hannah. In the film released in October 2015, the characters are forced to come together once Stine's creation escape from their storybook universe.

Image via The Huffington Post

Even More Goosies

In addition to the novels, TV series, and film adaptions, four video games have also been released as part of the Goosebumps franchise. Two of the games were made for PC by DreamWorks Interactive. Escape from HorrorLand, an interactive sequel to Stine's One Day at HorrorLand, was released in 1996. Attack of the Mutant became a video game adaption of Stine's 25th book in the series.

Scholastic released another game named Goosebumps HorrorLand in 2008. Goosebumps: The Game entered the market as a prequel to the movie starring Jack Black. The Goosebumps franchise is one that has offered a variety of media to the public in addition to more traditional merchandise. During the 90s and early 2000s, it was common to see fans wearing t-shirts, buying board games and puzzles, and playing with Goosebumps dolls. The creatures from this creepy universe will forever be a classic part of the fictional horror world.

Recommended Reading

Whether you're new to the Goosebumps books or want to relive your childhood, it's always best to start at the beginning. Delve into the terrifying world of R. L. Stine with Welcome to Dead House.

See where it all began with the first ever Goosebumps book. R. L. Stine's child-friendly masterpieces of terror started here. The story revolves around 11-year-old Josh and twelve-year-old Amanda, who have just moved into the oldest and weirdest house on the block—a house that the two siblings think might even be haunted!


About the Creator

Geeks Staff

The biggest bunch of geeks gathered in one 12,000 sqft warehouse in Northern New Jersey who spend their whole day just being geeks.

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