Following several lawsuits between Scholastic and Parachute Press, R.L. Stine's contract with Scholastic was not renewed for the year 2000. Early in the year 2000, all Goosebumps series were abruptly halted.
One of the leading factors in the schism between Parachute Press and Scholastic was the battle for marketing rights. Both organizations held rights to elements of the Goosebumps franchise.
Scholastic believed that Parachute had overstepped their rights to the franchise by authorizing several business deals and press conferences. Parachute accused Scholastic of hindering their ability to profit on the franchise and decreasing their potential revenue.
Scholastic claimed that Stine was employing ghostwriters for many Goosebumps books.
According to Scholastic, Stine's 1996 Publication Agreement stated that he would be the sole writer of each main series book. Scholastic alleged that Stine wrote the first sixteen books in the series independently, after which he began to employ freelancers. Scholastic accused Stine of allowing freelancers to make the majority of his creative decisions while he contributed "minimal" changes. Scholastic went as far as to accuse ghostwriters for the declining popularity of the series.
While Stine and Parachute deny ever allowing ghostwriters to write their main series, Parachute claimed that they employed freelancers to help create outlines. However, they claimed that the initial concept and final books were written by Stine. Parachute also argued that the sole writer clause in Stine's Publication Agreement was designed to prevent plagiarism, not to prevent Stine from receiving assistance.
Alleging that Parachute Press violated Stine's contract, Scholastic began withholding payments from Parachute Press in the late 1990's. This prompted Parachute Press to take legal action against Scholastic.
In the late 1990's and early 2000's, Parachute Press, Inc. and Scholastic Entertainment Inc. were involved in several lawsuits. The legal disputes were technically spurred on by Parachute Press, specifically Joan Waricha, and R.L. Stine's wife, Jane Stine. On March 15, 1996, the two women demanded the marketing rights to the Goosebumps series from Scholastic on behalf of Parachute Press.
Parachute's first action against Scholastic was technically part of a class action suit on August 1, 1997 captioned "Scholastic Corporation Securities Litigation, 97 Civ.II 2447 (JFK)". This suit alleged that Scholastic had mismanaged the Goosebumps franchise, causing a loss in revenue from missed business deals.
Parachute filed suit again with "Parachute Press, Inc. v. Scholastic Inc., Scholastic Productions, Inc. and Scholastic Entertainment Inc., 97 Civ. 8510 (JFK)". While legal proceedings commenced November 14, 1997, it was not until January 29, 1999 that the case was dismissed. In August 2000, the dismissal was appealed and brought back to court.
On February 1, 1999, Scholastic filed suit the same day with the case captioned "Scholastic Inc. and Scholastic Entertainment Inc. v. Parachute Press, Inc., Parachute Publishing, LLC, Parachute Consumer Products, LLC, and R.L. Stine (Index No. 99/600512)". The suit claimed that Stine had breached his standard-issue publishing contract. Parachute would also file another suit the same day captioned "Parachute Press, Inc .v. Scholastic Inc., Scholastic Productions, Inc. and Scholastic Entertainment Inc. (Index No. 99/600507)". In this document, Parachute demanded approximately $36.1 million in financial reparations, claiming that Scholastic was being excessively strict regarding their contract with Stine.
While Parachute and Scholastic fought over the rights to the Goosebumps franchise, many Goosebumps oriented business deals were stalled or cancelled. At the time, a Goosebumps film had been discussed, but was ended — reportedly due to the legal battle. In addition to the problems brought forward by the legal dispute, Goosebumps sales began to decline in late 1997; Scholastic's stock market value dropped more than fifty percent in that year. However, Scholastic began to recover in 1998. Stine's contract with Scholastic was not renewed in early 2000, and Stine left Scholastic.
By 2003, Scholastic agreed to purchase all rights to the Goosebumps franchise for $9.65 million. This decision led to the first set of Goosebumps reprints and eventually the Goosebumps revival in 2008. In 2003, Jane Stine was quoted as saying, "I'm happy with the way things turned out and excited about the future."
Following Stine's exodus from Scholastic, several planned Goosebumps books had to be completely scrapped.
According to one comment from Stine, Goosebumps Series 2000 was — at one point — planned to consist of at least 40 books. The twenty-sixth book in the series, The Incredible Shrinking Fifth Grader, was cancelled prior to publication. However, series illustrator Tim Jacobus had been commissioned to create a cover for the book; this artwork remained unseen by the public until it was shared online in 2017. Later in the same year, R.L. Stine confirmed that the plot for The Adventures of Shrinkman, one of his standalone books, had evolved from The Incredible Shrinking Fifth Grader.
In an interview, Give Yourself Goosebumps illustrator Craig White revealed that he had been commissioned to create a forty-third cover for the Give Yourself Goosebumps series. White released the cover, but the title and plot of this book remain unknown.
R.L. Stine stated that he had been working on a third entry for the Goosebumps Triple Header series. Artist Tim Jacobus was commissioned to create an illustration featuring Lefty, Righty, and Slim — the mascot of the series — in a car, but this illustration was never used.
After Goosebumps Series 2000 ended, Goosebumps Gold was announced. Goosebumps Gold was supposed to be a twelve book series published by HarperCollins Children's Books and was scheduled to launch in October 2000. Several titles and cover illustrations were released by Tim Jacobus, the illustrator for the series. The three books mentioned on Jacobus's website were The Haunted Mask Lives!, Happy Holidays from Dead House, and Slappy New Year. For unknown reasons, possibly licensing issues, the series was never published. Stine has since stated that none of the Goosebumps Gold books were ever written or completed.
- "Scholastic Reaches 'Goosebumps' Accord With Parachute" (mirror)
- "Scholastic Inc. -v- Parachute Press (Index No. 600512/99)" (mirror)
- "The Goosebumps' Deal Goes Bump In The Night" (mirror)
- "Scholastic settles 'Goosebumps' suit" (mirror)
- "Scholastic is Growing" (mirror)
- "Scholastic Corporation History" (mirror)
- "‘Goosebumps’ Rises From the Literary Grave" (mirror)
- "The Bumps" — "Ask R.L. Stine!" December 15 (archived)
- "The Incredible Shrinking Fifth Grader - BIG NEWS!"
- R.L. Stine confirming that the "lost" Goosebumps Series 2000 book turned into The Adventures of Shrinkman. (Mirror.)
- An interview with illustrator Craig White
- "The Bumps" — "Ask R.L. Stine!" September 15 (archived)
- Goosebumps Gold section on Tim Jacobus' website. (mirror)