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It's Only a Nightmare! is the thirty-second book in the Give Yourself Goosebumps series. It was published in 1998.

The cover illustration depicts a bed with gargoyle-like figures on the bedposts in front of a window with lightning flashing outside. A strange blue creature with the words "Sleep Master" embroidered on its night cap was in the bed under the quilt. The creature's left hand is slightly transparent, and gripping the quilt.



You know it's silly — but you're creeped out by the weird old inn where your family is staying. You're even afraid to go to sleep! Dumb, right?

Wrong. You should be afraid. Because in this place sleep is when the evil Sleep Master rules. And your nightmares become reality.

Like the one where you turn into a bat. Or the one where your parents become hideous aliens. Can you escape? And can you survive the ultimate showdown—with Lord Morphos the terrifying ruler of the Dream World?

The choice is yours in this scary GOOSEBUMPS adventure that's packed with over 20 super-spooky endings!


You are in a hallway being followed by something. Then you are suddenly on a roof, and you fall off trying to escape. When you suddenly wake up from this dream, you soon remember that you're staying in an inn with your parents, who are in the other room asleep. They like the inn, while you are finding it beyond creepy. As you start to try to relax and get back to sleep you hear a sound, and then turn to see an actual gargoyle in the room.

It turns out to instead have been a decoration on the headboard of your bed. You soon believe it was the decorations that caused you to have a nightmare. You sit up, trying to think about the nightmares you have had since you came to this inn. Many of which involve the same character called "The Sleep Master." Every time you've encountered him, he has said the same thing, "Wake up! Your whole life is a dream. What you call the dream world is reality. Wake up and live it!" Which leads you to wonder if you'll get any sleep while in this place and you decide to try to find a way to relax yourself...

Story A

You decide to go downstairs and spy an old bookcase in the nearby room and decide that maybe reading a book would help you sleep. While searching the bookcase you notice one of the books titled "Dr. Morphos' Sleep Remedies" and you decide to read it. You assume it is too old to be of any use but then decide to try it anyway. Soon you also notice a warning near the top of the page, but you decide to try it out despite the warning and soon you find yourself asleep...

You realize your in a dream as you fly around and soar around in the air! Things are going fine... until you eat a moth and realize you turned into a bat! You head to a cave while trying to figure out exactly why you lost control of your dream. The sleep master appears and you try to escape! Throughout this dream you alternate between various forms while trying to escape the dream master to escape to the real world.

Story B

You decide to stay in bed and to calm down you keep telling yourself that the gargoyles are not real. Only for one to insist it is real! At first your scared but then force yourself to speak to it anyway. They tell you that you are in a dream, which calms you down until realizing you would rather be awake instead, so that you may fall back to sleep and have a nicer dream. One of the gargoyles then stops you from trying to wake up and tells you that there is a secret to this bed that allows you to choose what you dream about, and it will come true.

It also warns you to be careful, for that very reason but you assume that this is just part of the dream. But at the same time you are highly curious. So you decide to try it out and choose what to dream about. But you must remember at all times to keep calm and make sure the dreams do not get out of control since the dream is real and they are still not completely under your control...

Side story C

In Story A, instead of trying to escape the Sleep Master you decide to confront him and listen to what he has to say. He begins to tell you of how he began as an ordinary child from the real world until he fell asleep and became the Sleep Master. He is unable to return to the real world because of the ruler of the Dream World: Lord Morphos. Who is not allowing him due to trapping people while they dream in order to keep them there.

The Sleep Master then tells you that you may be able to escape, if you can defeat Lord Morphos. Which of course, is way easier said then done considering he can manipulate the dream world whenever he pleases...

List of endings

There are thirty-three bad endings and seven good endings.

Bad endings

Ending Paths

Using a wrong method with Dr. Morphos' Sleep Remedies causes you to fall into a deep slumber for 70 years!

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You lead the Sleep Master's army against Lord Morphos's troops. But Lord Morphos makes your soldiers deaf and they can't hear your command. Your horse is also deaf and can't hear your order to stop, so it takes you forward to battle alone against 10,000 enemies.

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During a sword fight with Lord Morphos, he turns your sword into chocolate, then decapitates you.

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Trapped in a nightmare of being on stage, wearing only your underpants, in front of a huge audience. The audience then laughs at you, obviously, and the Sleep Master tells you are trapped in this nightmare forever.

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You wake up from your dream but your head is the size of a beach ball.

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Lord Morphos boils you in a pan of spaghetti. You don't know whether you will drown, or boil to death first.

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You're trapped forever in a nightmare of falling through the air without ever hitting the ground.

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You are sucked into a sink hole and buried alive.

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The Sleep Master tricks you into saying the wrong words, and now you can never leave the dream world.

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You wake up, but you're still in the Sleep Master's world. He claims that this is and has always been your reality; the life you knew before was just a dream.

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After pressing the "Rewind" button on a remote control, you're forced to re-live your entire dream backwards, and then your real life before you entered the dream.

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You wake up, but your parents have been replaced by alien lookalikes.

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Trying to wake your parents traps them in your dream world, and now none of you can ever escape.

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You're in a meadow and decide to swim in a nearby lake. This makes your dream change so you are now in a desert and the lake is just a mirage. You are then burned up by the sun's heat.

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You are ejected from a building through a chute that sends you plummeting 100 stories to the ground.

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You wake up in the real world but you have been turned into a French fry, since you fell into a fat fryer during your dream.

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Trapped alone inside a fast-food restaurant as the place fills up with mustard, which will drown you within moments.

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You're "vaporized" by a laser.

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You and your parents are trapped in a black hole. Somehow your teacher is there as well, so you still have to go to school.

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Switching places with the gargoyles for forty years.

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You ignite a match (trying to light an oil lamp with it), but your dream changes so that you're sitting on a pile of dynamite, and are blown up in an instant.

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You wake up to find that your parents have bought the inn and you'll all be living there from now on. You beg them to let you sleep in their room.

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You're killed by the force of the sound coming from a giant loudspeaker.

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Turning your parents into robots in a dream - also turning yourself into one in the process. You are unable to change back, because robots do not dream.

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In your dream, you fail a test and have to spend eternity in kindergarten.

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Answering an exam question about "why did the chicken cross the road?" literally turns you into a chicken trying to cross the road. You are then hit by a truck.

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You spend the rest of your life in hospital with delusions of being the principal of a school.

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You're turned into a plate of food and eaten.

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You're trapped in a computer, forced to play chess against a child. The match lasts an eternity to you because time is so much faster for a computer than a human.

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You're about to be killed by a knight during a jousting match.

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In your dream, you're playing championship football (soccer), and accidentally score an "own goal" against your team. They violently beat you for making them lose the championship.

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Alternatively, they win the game and you become a football (soccer) star playing in the World Cup. You wake up in the real world, but it is presented as a bad ending - you remember your dream as a nightmare, because you were playing for free and didn't get any lucrative sponsorship deals.

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You and your family end up in a theme park for little children. Your parents force you to go on all the silly rides and have your photo taken with a parody of Mickey Mouse.

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Good endings

Ending Paths

You defeat Lord Morphos and go home. Suddenly, home becomes a spaceship with you and your parents as the crew. The Sleep Master is free now, but he can still change things even while awake. You decide this new reality is really cool.

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After defeating Lord Morphos, you and the 'Sleep Master' stay in the dream world, as its new ruler.

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The phone rings, and it's your dentist, who tells you that you need your tooth removed. You joyfully realize that this can't be a dream, so you must be back in the real world.

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You wake up but choose to go back to sleep for the rest of your life, because you were having a wonderful dream of being rich and famous.

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Waking up from your dream as a salamander - it is implied that you were always one. This is presented as a good ending because you're happy to be back in your real life.

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You wake up at the inn, but you still have a million dollars that you acquired in your dream.

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You wake up and are told that you never have to go to school again, for being so intelligent.

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International releases

No. Book Country/Language Translated title Release date Publisher

It's Only a Nightmare!

It's Only a Nightmare! - UK Cover.jpg
United Kingdom


It's Only a Nightmare! August 17, 2001 Scholastic



  • Despite these books usually using gender-less pronouns as both boys and girls read them, you are referred to as "He" at least once during the book.
  • This book has the largest number of bad endings in the entire Give Yourself Goosebumps series, with a total of thirty-three bad endings.
  • The name of King Morphos bears resemblance to that of King Morpheus, the benevolent king of dreams from the old comic strip, video game, and movie entitled Little Nemo: Adventures in Slumberland.
  • The tagline is a play on the phrase "Life is but a dream."
  • The cover art is reused on the cover art of It Came from the Internet as a poster on the wall.
  • The ending involving the reader's dentist is presented as good because tooth extractions tend to be painful, and that one cannot suffer pain in dreams.
  • In one ending, it says "you should have watched Goosebumps instead."
  • This book references MTV.

Reference in other Goosebumps media

  • An achievement in Goosebumps: The Game is called "It's Only a Nightmare!", which is earned by completing the game without ever using the cell phone.
  • The Sleep Master is an unlockable character in Goosebumps HorrorTown, and there is a questline based on the book, where the Gargoyle makes an appearance.