10 R.L. Stine Stories That Traumatized Us As Kids

Before watching horror movies and scary videos on the internet, there was R.L. Stine, ready and willing to give goosebumps to us all.

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Reader beware! You’re in for a scare! If you grew up in the 90s-mid 2000s, this tagline is sure to make you fearful once again. For what would Halloween be without the master of children’s horror stories, R.L. Stine? Whether you read the books or got your chills and thrills on TV, the Goosebumps series lives in infamy. With 62 books in the original series, and plenty more spin-offs, there are enough scares to go around.

As a kid who watched the series while it aired, some stories have still stuck with me into adulthood. Should I have been watching the show as a 7-year-old? Probably not. But the damage has already been done. Even just thinking of the intro music gives me the creeps, especially with that dog and its glowing eyes. But there’s one thing for sure, R.L. Stine knew how to scare the crap out of us as kids. Let’s dive back into our childhoods, and look at 10 stories that for sure traumatized us.

1. One Day At HorrorLand

R.L. Stine Stories that traumatized us as kids. Welcome to HorrorLand with a monster looking over the welcome sign.

To showcase just how scary this story was, the TV specials made this into a two-parter. Double the thrills and scares. This popular book had me nervous to go to an amusement park, in fear that I’d be trapped there forever. 

The Morris family was hoping for a fun outing, but after getting dreadfully lost, the group stumbles across an amusement park called, HorrorLand. Nightmares come to life at this thrilling attraction. Trying to make light of the situation, the kids explore haunting rides like The Coffin Cruise. But after nearly getting trapped in one of the coffins, the kids beg their parents to leave. Before they can make a run for it, monsters around the park gather to make the Morris’s forever visitors. Will they escape the madness of HorrorLand, or will they live the rest of their days in a true horror show?

2. Werewolf Skin

R.L. Stine stories that traumatized us as kids. Werewolf Skin with a box of fur and a werewolf head.

I vividly remember watching this special on TV when I was younger, and let’s just say, I made sure my windows were locked afterward. Even thinking about people ripping off their hairy skin and hiding it gives me the creeps, so I guess Mr. Stine did his job. 

Alex Hunter just moved to Wolf Creek and lives with his Uncle Colin and Aunt Marta. Everything seems normal, except his guardians have two odd requests. Never go out into the woods at night, and stay far away from the abandoned house next to them. But as a beginning photographer, Alex can’t help himself but discover the eerie secrets hidden just next door. Unfortunately, Alex bit off more than he could chew, and now he faces the full consequences of trying to solve this strange mystery in the glow of the full moon.

3. Night of the Living Dummy

R.L. Stine Stories that traumatized us as kids. Night of the Living Dummy with a creepy picture of a dummy and his mouth is wide open.

I think I can speak for everyone in the world when I say, dummies are probably the creepiest things ever made, and so of course, R.L. Stein had to dedicate not just one, but three books to the frightening figurine. The jokes on him though, I was so scared, I could barely make it through the first book. 

Looking for some fun, twins Lindy and Kris find an abandoned ventriloquist doll in the dumpster one day. Not wanting to leave it behind to rot, Lindy decides to take it home. She becomes the star of the house, showing off the new doll she’s now named, Slappy. While their parents give Lindy all the attention, Kris sets out to find a doll of her own. But Lindy isn’t the only one that becomes jealous. Strange and unexplainable things start to happen within their home, and it seems to be coming from Slappy. There can only be one doll in the house, and Slappy is going to make sure that he’s the last dummy standing. 

4. Stay Out of the Basement

R.L. Stine Stories that traumatized us as kids. Stay Out of the Basement. A green hand opening a door.

At one point or another, there’s been a room in the house that our parents have told us to stay out of. No matter what. But the mystery around it becomes too intriguing to leave the room as it is. However, there’s normally a good reason to leave these rooms alone, and that’s exactly what happens in the second book of the Goosebumps series. 

Dr. Brewer has been working day and night in the basement of their house. His children, Casey and Margaret, are concerned that he might be working himself to death. But whenever they try to go down and check on him, they are told to stay upstairs. Why would they be banished from the basement for just a simple plant project? The siblings soon discover that their father’s “garden” has grown out of control. How will they help their father weed out the problem? Or will he become another leafy green in his experiments?

5. The Scarecrow Walks at Midnight

R.L. Stine Stories that traumatized us as kids. The Scarecrow Walks At Midnight. A creepy scarecrow overlooks a field of corn.

Just like with dummies, I do not like the sight of scarecrows. After growing up in the midwest, I’ve seen my fair share of them, and let me tell you, they are not like the one from The Wizard of Oz. Standing eerily tall above the corn, they will for sure give you nightmares if you catch a glimpse of one in the wrong light. 

Visiting the quaint farm that her grandparents own, Jodie tries to find fun within the fields of their farm. But something about this visit seems off. Her grandparents are more tired than usual. The fields have yet to grow any corn, and instead of the normal scarecrow that guards their crops, an evil-looking one stands in its place. Jodie is determined to solve this mystery, but will she end up seeing something that curses her forever?

6. Welcome to Dead House

R.L. Stine Stories that traumatized us as kids. Welcome to Dead House. A picture of a scary haunted house.

In the first book of the Goosebumps series, R.L. Stine delivers a startling story of moving into a haunted house. As a person who’s moved across the country more times than I can count, moving is a strenuous task. But coupled with some guests that just won’t leave adds a whole other layer of finding a forever home. 

Siblings Josh and Amanda have moved into the creepiest house on the street, and they are not here for it. The entire town of Dark Falls seems to have a weird vibe to it, but their parents assure them that everything is fine. “Go outside and make friends,” they say. But that’s easier said than done, especially when the occupants of the town aren’t very lively, to begin with. What happens when Josh and Amanda find out the truth about both the town and their new home? Or will they take this new information to their graves?

7. The Haunted Mask

R.L. Stine Stories that traumatized us as kids. The Haunted Mask. A kid holding a scary yellow mask with sharp teeth.

Halloween time calls for costumes of all different varieties, but you couldn’t pay me to wear this creepy mask. Even just the cover gives me the heebie-jeebies. While reading this novel was significantly spooky, nothing compared to when I eventually watched the TV adaptation of the book. Let’s just say, this mask still haunts some of my dreams. 

Carly Beth wants to have the perfect Halloween, and that means getting the scariest costume she can find. With some luck, Carly Beth stumbles upon a mask that frightens everyone she meets. Her brother, parents, and friends are all scared to death of her new accessory, and for good reason. With its yellow skin and sharp fangs, it’s able to startle anyone. After wearing it for so long, it begins to have an effect on Carly Beth. But when she goes to take it off, it’s almost as if it’s glued to her skin. How will she remove the costume, or will this old mask become her new face?

8. Don’t Go To Sleep

R.L. Stine Stories that traumatized us as kids. Don't Go To Sleep. A big furry hand reaches up into a child's bed.

There’ve been so many horror stories that revolve around your nightmares becoming reality, and R.L Stine really drives home the scare factor in this book. If I was trapped in all of my worst nightmares and couldn’t find a way out, I think I’d probably just succumb to the doom and gloom of my new world. 

Matt can’t stand his bedroom. It’s too small, cluttered, and just unfair compared to his other siblings, who have rooms of their own. Matt tries to reason with his mother, suggesting that he move his things into the guest room. But when his mother adamantly states that he’s not to sleep in that room, it only makes Matt more determined to test it out. He really should’ve listened to his parents. Now, Matt’s whole life has changed when he wakes up. With different parents, a different body, and a different life, he’s trapped in this nightmare cycle that he can’t seem to break. 

9. Welcome to Camp Nightmare

R.L. Stine Stories that traumatized us as kids. Welcome to Camp Nightmare. A tent glows as a monster creeps up on it.

Going to a summer camp within itself seems like a nightmare scenario. Between the bland food, muggy outdoors, and uncomfortable sleeping quarters, I couldn’t image myself staying for too long, especially when strange occurrences keep happening. I’d be on the first bus out of there. 

Billy never wanted to come to Camp Nightmoon. He hates the food, the activities, and most of all, the nighttime. Nothing seems right at this camp. There’s no nurse, the counselors are acting weird, and the camp director has a notorious reputation. Billy tries to put all of this past him as he makes friends with the other campers, but when they being to go missing in the middle of the night, Billy has to make a decision. Will he try and save them, or will he be the next one to disappear?

10. A Night In Terror Tower

R.L. Stine Stories that traumatized us as kids. A Night In Terror Tower. A masked figure walks down the stairs holding an axe.

Being left behind on a trip is even more terrifying than getting lost in a grocery store (I know this from experience.) With nowhere to go and nobody to turn to, finding safety is the only thing you can do. Just make sure you chose a building that’s not haunted. 

While visiting London, Sue and her brother Eddie lose track of their group and tour guide. The only thing they can do is stay safe inside the prison tower they just toured. What could possibly go wrong? They soon find out that while the tower is old, musky, and not so fun to stay the night in, there’s a bigger problem that lurks in the darkness. Sue and Eddie must face their worst fears, being trapped inside the tower with a former resident. 

R.L. Stine and his Goosebumps series will continue to traumatize children for years to come. And while we all might’ve gotten seriously spooked in our childhood, it truly wouldn’t be Halloween without a few goosebumps here and there. 

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