R.L. Stine Never Understood The Love For One Of His Iconic Characters

When action figures came to life in the "Toy Story" franchise, it marked a joyous development. A world where toys love us back? Give or take the occasional teddy bear dictator, those sentient toys were a delight! But harsh reality comes for us all. Eventually, we age out of the G-rated bliss of "Toy Story," and into the PG-rated horrors of R.L. Stine, aka the Stephen King of Kids' Lit, where the truth of talking toys reveals itself. 

And so begins the reign of Slappy the Dummy, introduced in Stine's novel "Night of the Living Dummy," where he'd teach billions of unsuspecting children that no, actually, it would not be fun if your toys came to life because they're probably evil. A couple of years later, said innocent children will enter their R-Rated era and have an even bigger rude awakening when they find out about the foul-mouthed homicidal Good Guy Doll, Chucky, but uh, that's a little too bleak. Let's just focus on Slappy.

The rise of Slappy

The breakout star of the Goosebumps world, Slappy has basically become the mascot of the franchise. Like the many famous dummies of the silver screen, he's a wooden companion that comes to life and wreaks havoc on whatever unsuspecting person (usually a child) made the mistake of bringing him home. But since this is Goosebumps and not an R-Rated horror flick, Slappy's M.O. is trying to turn people into his own personal slave — and if they refuse, he becomes dangerously mischievous. 

It's hard to say why people love chaotic sentient dolls so much but they've certainly made a name for themselves across literature, film, and TV. Chucky, Brahms, Jigsaw, and so many more have been causing terror for decades, and based on the overwhelming response to Slappy, that's not changing anytime soon. 

The haunted ventriloquist dummy currently has nine novels in the main "Goosebumps" franchise. His own spin-off series, "Goosebumps SlappyWorld," spans 17 books (with more to come). Yet R.L Stine says that he didn't intend for Slappy to inspire such a large fanbase or so many different stories — he hardly understands how it happened at all! During an interview with Yahoo, Stine was asked if he realized how important Slappy would become while writing "Night of the Living Dummy" and responded: "I had no idea!"

"I never really planned for him to be anything. I don't really get Slappy! I don't know why people think he's so scary. I like writing him because he's like an insult comic — he's so nasty to everyone."

Ultimately, Stine credits Slappy's rise in popularity to the success of the 2015 "Goosebumps" movie, saying, "I think he became more central because of the Goosebumps movies. People really liked him in the movies."

Slappy's successful Hollywood career

Slappy, a bonafide movie star, first made his way to the screen in four episodes of the "Goosebumps" TV series in the 1990s. He was the central antagonist of the "Goosebumps" movies (which starred Jack Black as a fictionalized version of Stine) and he even served as inspiration for the creepy Bensons dolls that appear in "Toy Story 4." Needless to say, this doll has become too popular to die. Trust me — R.L. Stine has tried. During his chat with Yahoo, Stine had the following exchange:

Arthur Conan Doyle came to resent Sherlock Holmes — would you say you resent Slappy?

I actually killed him in one book, and wrote about the ghost of Slappy! [Laughs] But like Doyle, I had to bring him back. I wish I had invented more good villains so I wouldn't have to write about him constantly. But it's fine!

You've got to give the audience what they want.

Yeah, that's all I do. [Laughs]

It seems that Slappy, the scoundrel, is holding R.L Stine hostage. No big surprise there — that's basically the plot of the "Goosebumps" movie. But instead of unleashing an army of Stine's own creations, Slappy is simply demanding more time in the spotlight. In the same interview, Stine revealed that his contract calls for "every other book" to "be about Slappy." And while he enjoys writing Slappy's clever insults, he joked, "Believe me, it's not getting any easier to come up with plots about a dummy who comes to life."

We don't know for sure when Slappy will next pop up on our screens, but given his immense popularity, there's a good chance he may have a role to play in the upcoming "Goosebumps" reboot for Disney+.