Viewers beware, you're in for a different kind of scare with the new Goosebumps show

Goosebumps TV cast scream as they look off screen at something in still
(Image credit: Disney+)

While the upcoming live-action Goosebumps series, set to premiere on October 13 on both Disney Plus and Hulu, is by no means the first adaptation of author R.L. Stine's long-running book series, series co-creators and executive producers Rob Letterman and Nicholas Stoller weren't looking to simply lean on what came before.

"We're always looking to do something fresh and new to justify what we're doing," Letterman tells GamesRadar+. "We needed a kind of a fresh take on this thing."

In fact, Letterman needed an even fresher take of sorts given he directed the 2015 Goosebumps movie starring Jack Black as a fictional version of Stine. While he didn't return as director for 2018's Goosebumps 2: Haunted Halloween, that's still a relatively short amount of time between different adaptations in different mediums with different goals.

And the new show does break new ground for the franchise; the previous television series from the '90s was more of an anthology, and the new series is absolutely not that. According to the official description of the new Goosebumps series, it "follows a group of five high schoolers as they embark on a shadowy and twisted journey to investigate the tragic passing three decades earlier of a teen named Harold Biddle – while also unearthing dark secrets from their parents’ past”.

Stoller says that while "anthology series are great," he personally prefers serialized shows. He's been rewatching Breaking Bad, and to see the relationship grow and change between Walter, Jesse, Skyler, and all the rest is "just more fun" for him.

"I'm too lazy to hit the restart button," adds Stoller. "I want to, like, not learn a bunch of new names and I want to stay invested in those characters. And so from the get-go, we were like, 'We want this to be serialized. We want this to be soapy. We want you to really feel invested in these kids and their parents.'"

Goosebumps key art

(Image credit: Disney+)

That doesn't mean the show has abandoned its roots, of course. Far from it, in fact. Nearly all of the episodes take their names from classic Goosebumps stories or books – the pilot is "Say Cheese and Die!" – and the show builds its serial narrative out of connective tissue between them.

"We did love building out a mythology," says Letterman. "There's something very tantalizing about taking all this stuff that exists in the Goosebumps world and trying to connect the dots and build a mythology around it, and maybe even explain some of the things that went into these stories, and what those backstories might have been."

It's clear that both Letterman and Stoller aren't looking to completely redefine what Goosebumps means, but any adaptation worth anything needs to take some license the moment it shifts mediums. According to Letterman, the most important thing with any adaptation is, first and foremost, making sure you own the rights, but after that it's having the original creator's blessing and staying true to the spirit of the underlying material. But anyone in charge of an adaptation has to find their own way into it.

Goosebumps still featuring kids on a couch with black eyes

(Image credit: Disney+)

"The books are beloved [...] They're just all these amazing stories that R.L. Stine crafted back in the '90s – and they continue to this day," says Letterman. "They just get to the heart of universal themes of fear, and what it's like to grow up, and careful what you wish for, and they never pander to their reader – which is kind of an amazing thing."

Given all of that, it should come as little surprise that the new Goosebumps series does, in fact, have Stine's blessing. According to Letterman, the two "had a shorthand from the movie," so it was a bit unusual in that there was already trust built.

"It was really easy," recalls Letterman. "Gave him the heads up, talked him through what the concept was, and he just gave us his blessing to do the show. And he watched it, and we got some great feedback. It feels good to make that guy happy."

Goosebumps still featuring a young woman with a bat covered in goo

(Image credit: Disney+)

If you're somehow unfamiliar with the franchise, one of the core conceits of Goosebumps is a mix of comedy and horror. A single book can be equal parts goofy and terrifying, and the new show leans into both aspects. While Stoller and Letterman kept the mixing of the two in mind, it really came down to simply presenting life as… life.

"When something's deadly serious, like a TV show or movie, I'm always a little bit calling bullshit on it in my head," says Stoller. "That's not the way life is. Life is funny. Even the darkest parts of life, funny stuff happens, you know? I think that that is just… I don't know, I never separate it out in my head. It's always part of the same kind of conversation."

"Our teenagers, they're so sarcastic now," adds Letterman. "Because they're dealing with such serious stuff all the time, man. It's like the world is so serious, and they just have to have an outlet. So, we definitely embrace that vibe in the show."

Goosebumps is set to premiere five episodes on Disney Plus and Hulu on October 13 with additional episodes releasing weekly for a total of 10. It stars Justin Long as Mr. Bratt, Rachael Harris as Nora, Zack Morris as Isaiah, Isa Briones as Margot, Miles McKenna as James, Ana Yi Puig as Isabella, and Will Price as Lucas. 

If you can't wait for Goosebumps, you can always check out the best shows on Disney Plus to watch right now

Rollin Bishop
US Managing Editor

Rollin is the US Managing Editor at GamesRadar+. With over 16 years of online journalism experience, Rollin has helped provide coverage of gaming and entertainment for brands like IGN, Inverse,, and more. While he has approximate knowledge of many things, his work often has a focus on RPGs and animation in addition to franchises like Pokemon and Dragon Age. In his spare time, Rollin likes to import Valkyria Chronicles merch and watch anime.