And we finish this year’s Halloweek/Doll-O-Ween with one of the most iconic dolls in literature: R. L. Stine’s Slappy from the author’s insanely popular Goosebumps series.
First appearing as an ordinary ventriloquist’s dummy in 1993’s Night of the Living Dummy, Slappy was not the antagonist of that book. Another dummy, named Mr. Wood, took that honor with Slappy only coming to life at the end of the story. Over the course of two more books in the original Goosebumps line—1995’s Night of the Living Dummy II and 1996’s Night of the Living Dummy III—we see Slappy terrorizing various families and often drawing the ire (and vengeance) of his fellow dolls.
While he has a mind of his own, when left for a long stretch of time, he enters an inert state where he is indistinguishable from a regular ventriloquist’s dummy. That is, until someone speaks the magic words: Karru marri odonna loma molonu karrano. A phrase which multiple unwitting children manage to mutter over the course of twenty years and five more books across multiple Goosebumps series. That’s a lot of traveling for a fella with wooden legs.
1998 brought Bride of the Living Dummy in which our wooden troublemaker becomes enamored with a doll belonging to his new owner’s sisters. Stung by Cupid’s arrow, Slappy will stop at nothing to get the woman he loves. This book is also where we learn that Slappy was carved from the coffin of a dark sorcerer—and he wasn’t the only one as later books revealed.
Just a year later, a new book featuring the diabolical dummy hit the shelves. Titled Slappy’s Nightmare, this book presents a solution to dealing with the doll. After getting tired of Slappy’s antics, main character Jimmy O’James learns from his new doll (and Slappy’s coffin-brother) Wally, that if the boy can get Slappy to do three good deeds in a week, Jimmy will have control over him. Though, as the book title suggests, all this may not actually be true.
Slappy makes two appearances in the Goosebumps HorrorLand series. Author R. L. Stine calls Revenge of the Living Dummy one of his scariest stories. The HorrorLand series is notable for how it places its characters into horrifying situations and then brings them all together in the titular theme park as a Very Special Guest.
As the series continues, the characters from the different books have to come together to escape. Slappy makes another appearance in later HorrorLand volume, The Streets of Panic Park, but as an ally.
In 2013’s Son of Slappy, we learn that the dummy, like Chucky, has a kid. Forcing current owner Jackson Stander to deal with not one, but two, evil dolls.
Slappy has a long history full of interesting tidbits you can pull into your own Little Fears stories. I highly recommend the books though seeing Slappy in action on the TV show is pretty spectacular as well.