It’s an undisputed fact that in the mid-to-late 90’s, R.L. Stine’s Goosebumps series was pretty much the height of literary greatness. The books were deliciously easy to read, there’d be a new one out each month, and the covers were garishly and horrifyingly bright enough to make your eyes sting (see number 6 on this list for the most terrifying front cover of any book in the world, ever, for instance).
Despite their fear-inducing, bed-wetting awesomeness, though, there was one (arguable) weakness in the series – the twist endings. The gloriously ridiculous, oh-wait-it-was-actually-all-a-dream-and-the-main-character’s-really-dead-plus-his-brother-is-an-alien style twist endings.
Below are 13 of the best. To make it easier to see at a glance just how bizarrely ridiculous they all are, each twist has been rated from 1 to 5 on the ‘Ridicul-O-Meter’:
1 = A bit ridiculous
2 = Fairly ridiculous
3 = Completely ridiculous
4 = Mind-bogglingly ridiculous
5 = Career-riskingly ridiculous
Let the stupidity commence…
1. The Girl Who Cried Monster (Book #8)
Twist: It turns out she (and her parents) are also monsters. The book ends with them inviting the programme leader round to dinner and eating him. Dark stuff.
2. Welcome to Camp Nightmare (Book #9)
Twist: The camp is actually a hoax set up by the boy’s parents to see if he’s ready to accompany them on an exploratory mission to a place called ‘Earth’. Um.
Ridicul-O-Meter Score: 3
3. The Ghost Next Door (Book #10)
Twist: This one’s a bit vanilla by Stine standards. It’s revealed before the end that the main character is actually the ghost, not her neighbour, and that she was killed along with her family in a house fire that happened five years before.
4. Piano Lessons Can Be Murder (Book #13)
Twist: Dr Shreek isn’t a psychotic murderer; he is, in fact, a robot, made by the music school’s maintenance man (who definitely is a psychotic murderer).
5. The Barking Ghost (Book #32)
Twist: The dogs turn out to be humans that have been transformed into dogs, so they transform Cooper and Fergie into dogs and take over their identities, then Cooper and Fergie transform them back but they accidently get transformed into squirrels in the process. Or something.
6. The Horror at Camp Jellyjam (Book #33)
Twist: The clue is in the book’s title with this one. It turns out the camp’s disappeared children are forced to work as slaves, cleaning a giant monster made of jelly. Obviously.
7. A Shocker on Shock Street (Book #35)
Twist: If the book’s incredibly naff title isn’t enough of a clue that Stine may have been running low on ideas by this point, the twist – that the two main characters are actually robots – is clear proof.
Ridicul-O-Meter Score: 3
8. Attack of the Jack O’Lanterns (Book #48)
Twist: The Jack O’Lantern monsters are actually the main characters’ two friends in disguise – but they’re also shape-shifting aliens who eat human flesh. Take that, reader.
9. Vampire Breath (Book #49)
Twist: The vampire is actually the main character’s Grandad. He’s also a vampire, but hasn’t grown his fangs yet. (A bit ridiculous by the standards of most other books in the world, but positively tame by Stine standards.)
10. Beware, the Snowman (Book #51)
Twist: The snowman is actually a scaled monster, trapped in snowman form by magic. The weird man living in the hut on the mountain is Jaclyn’s father (although for one wild moment in the book you actually think the snowman is Jaclyn’s father – something that would have resulted in at least a 6 on the Ridicule-O-Meter, and possibly the end of Stine’s career).
11. The Blob that Ate Everyone (Book #55)
Twist: Stine really outdoes himself with this one. It turns out the whole story was actually written by the blob monster, and the book ends with the blob monster discussing the story with his blob friends. Wow.
12. My Best Friend is Invisible (Book #57)
Twist: The ghost is actually an invisible human, who reveals his Mum made him invisible because he’s so hideous looking. It turns out the main characters all have tentacles and multiple eyes, and – in the universe in which the book is set – humans are actually an endangered species. Madness.
13. I Live in Your Basement! (Book #61)
Twist: The entire book is a dream that Keith, who is actually a monster, is having. Utter madness.