The producers of the new Disney+ Goosebumps series teased Slappy’s big role in the story.
There are a lot of iconic elements from the Goosebumps franchise, but nothing can quite match the sinister ventriloquist dummy that is Slappy.
The evil doll made his first appearance in Night of the Living Dummy, the seventh Goosebumps book, which was published in May 1993. Over the years, he would go on to star in dozens of R.L. Stine’s books, even getting his own spinoff series titled Slappyworld.
Slappy has been in both live-action adaptations of the franchise, appearing in three episodes of the classic television series and serving as the main antagonist in the latest two Goosebumps films.
Slappy's Big Role in Disney+'s Goosebumps
In an exclusive interview with The Direct’s Russ Milheim, Goosebumps executive producers Rob Letterman and Nicholas Stoller teased Slappy’s role in the series.
The iconic ventriloquist dummy is basically synonymous with anything under the Goosebumps umbrella. Letterman admitted that he thinks “people who are really familiar with the franchise will figure it out at least by Episode 4:”
“... I think people who are really familiar with 'Goosebumps' are going to figure it out at least by Episode 4. There's enough little plants [about] what's coming. And by the end of four, I think we state it.”
He revealed that the team actually “want[ed] to keep [Slappy] a secret,” something they “failed miserably at.”
Letterman also stated that the series will “dive deep into the mythology of Slappy:”
“Ironically, Nick and I want to keep [Slappy] a secret until people actually watch the show. And we've failed miserably. It's just like impossible. It's completely associated to 'Goosebumps'... but I think what fans will appreciate and people who don't know anything about 'Goosebumps,' we dive deep into the mythology of Slappy and what it is and where it comes from.”
The producer teased that the series finale will "deliver... on the Slappy front in a big way:"
“And we did our own kind of research into all the Goosebumps books and tried to tie some of those strings together. So, I don't want to give anything away for the finale. But the finale does deliver at least on the Slappy front in a big way.”
Stoller shared that he “love[s] origin stories” and how fun it was exploring Slappy’s history:
“... There's also getting into the background of Slappy too and where Slappy came from, and all of that just seemed-- I love origin stories and stuff in anything. So, to get to really delve into that was a fun exploration for us.”
One of the classic stories that the show tackles is The Haunted Mask. Ana Yi Puig’s Isabella is the character who has the privilege of finding the sinister mask, a story that plays out over the show's second episode.
But fans who have followed the marketing material for the series know that this interpretation of the mask looks far different than its original design. So what led to those changes?
Letterman assured that the new design choices “really came from character.”
He also promised that as Isabella’s story progresses, fans of the original book will be pleased where the episode goes with the iconic mask.
Isabella will be one of five key characters who get their own spooky story.
The upcoming series will take a unique approach where the first half sees different characters experiencing their own Goosebumps tale come to life. The following episodes then pull everything together as the narrative becomes a far bigger one and connected across its expansive cast.
But how exactly did the creative team behind Goosebumps decide which character got which classic story—such as Go Eat Worms!, Say Cheese and Die!, or The Haunted Mask?
Letterman shared that they “just talked about the characters first:”
“ ... I mean, we just talked about the characters first, and we were kind of like, got our characters in line. And then we started moving.”
Stoller noted that they “talked a lot about [their own] high school experiences:”
“We talked a lot about our [own] high school experiences, honestly, like because we just want it to be rooted, putting aside 'Goosebumps,' and all the stories and R.L. Stein's genius and all of that, we wanted it to be rooted in just real high school stuff. So, we kind of just had a long therapy session, the two of us.”
He explained how “those emotional truths” apply today just like they did for their high school years:
“We wanted it to be rooted in the reality of that... that's always where my writing starts. And I feel like Rob, too... Starting with our personal experiences because those emotional truths, even though they were a long time ago, are the same as they are now for kids now.”
When Will Audiences Get Time With Goosebumps' Slappy?
When Goosebumps launches on Disney+, it’ll be dropping the first five episodes at once; Slappy doesn’t play a role in the first half of the series.
But the aptly named sixth episode, "Night of the Living Dummy," suggests that Slappy’s introduction isn’t far off. The bigger question is: can this new show offer up something new for the character?
After all, he was just the big bad for two feature films in a row.
The producers’ quotes seem to suggest the series will dive into the character’s backstory in a way audiences haven’t seen before—which could distinguish this iteration.
Perhaps the show is looking to set up a much bigger story with Slappy, such as establishing him as a force behind even more evil in the world. Maybe fans will see something like Horrorland, a terrifying theme park that brings horror to life, become a reality.
If that’s the case, then it could easily open the doors to future episodes adapting even more classic Goosebumps scares.
Goosebumps starts streaming on Disney+ on Friday, October 13.