Over the years, Goosebumps has represented one of the most prolific franchises for those who love horror & teenage stories, both for the book industry and the productions on screen. There were huge expectations about the TV series produced in 2023 for Disney+ and Hulu, and the plot has definitely satisfied fans’ hunger for new inputs. The show spins around the mystery of Harold Biddle, a teenager who died years before. While the show goes on, the questions keep arising: who is Harold Biddle? Is he present in Goosebumps books? What happened to him, and why is he looking for Slappy? In this article, we will collect the information you need to better understand the series without spoiling the pleasure of viewing it with your own eyes.
You can watch the official trailer for the 2023 TV series Goosebumps here on Youtube.
Goosebumps (2023): who is Harold Biddle & what happened with Slappy?
The 2023 TV series Goosebumps, produced for Disney+ and Hulu, is the new transposition of the children’s book series by R. L. Stine. It comes after the iconic 90s TV series aired between 1995 and 1998, two Goosebumps movies released in 2015 and 2018. and the 90s movie franchise Night of the Living Dummy.
The 2023 series Goosebumps is mainly based on five books from R. L. Stine’s book series: Say Cheese and Die (1992), Night of the Living Dummy (1993), The Haunted Mask (1993), Go Eat Worms (1994), and The Cuckoo Clock of Doom (1995). Six TV series episodes are titled after the books above, making the connection explicit.
The Hulu/Disney+ series is founded on the mysterious death of Harold Biddle, a teenager who died in a fire years before the timeline presented in the show: Biddle’s ghost comes back as a ghost and is looking for Slappy, the famous villain of the franchise. Every episode reveals some new details about what happened to Harold Biddle: the fire that killed him in his house resulted from a prank his friends made, and that’s why all the mothers in the present have a secret they don’t want to discuss. As we discover in Episode 5, they were partially responsible for Harold Biddle’s death and never revealed what happened to avoid trouble.
What’s the complete story, though? What really happened to Harold Biddle years ago, and why is he obsessively looking for Slappy? It’s crucial to notice that Harold Biddle is not present in the book series: the backstory presented in the 2023 TV series shows him in his basement, with the haunted camera, the mysterious mask, and his passion for worms, but each of those elements come from different books in R. L. Stine’s series. Harold Biddle is the character introduced by the 2023 series creators to connect different books from the series in a unique story.
Therefore, the answer about who Harold Biddle is in Goosebumps and what happened between him and Slappy must come from the TV series, as the teenager is not a character in the books. This is explained by Goosebumps Episode 6: Mr. Bratt, possessed by the spirit of Harold Biddle, invites the kids into the house and tells them the story of how his grandfather found Slappy. He was a magician, and Slappy became his most famous trick: Slappy was a doll who could really talk, activated by a magic spell, and with “him,” the magician was no longer a loser. But, as we learn in the story, Slappy had an evil plan and wanted something from the magician. Something he didn’t obtain: Harold Biddle’s grandfather didn’t do what Slappy wanted from him and hid it inside the case, behind the wall of his home, forever.
That’s where teenager Harold Biddle will find it years later. And once again, with Slappy, Harold Biddle discovers he’s not really a loser: in Goosebumps, we see him getting popular among his new friends. But it’s clear that Slappy is manipulating Harold Biddle against everybody. When Biddle’s parents attempt to burn Slappy, Biddle catches them and pronounces the magic spell that turns them into dolls. Harold Biddle was the one who killed his parents, with magic.
Harold’s friends decide to steal the doll after realizing his evil nature. When they break into his house, Harold shuts his basement door and accidentally sets the fire that will kill him. Feeling responsible for what happened, the friends promise each other they will never talk about what happened that night again. They bury Slappy in a place known only to them.
That’s where the plot of the 2023 series Goosebumps takes shape today. In the present, the children of Harold Biddle’s parents are haunted by a ghost coming from years before. The ghost of Harold Biddle is looking for Slappy, and now we know the relationship between Harold and Slappy: Harold saw in Slappy a secret friend who made him “cool,” and the two shared an evil plan they wanted to complete. Harold’s death prevented that from happening, and now, in the present, his ghost is back to complete the job.