"The Headless Ghost" is the fifth episode of season two of the Goosebumps TV series, and the twenty-third episode overall. It premiered on September 21, 1996 on Fox during the Fox Kids block.



Duane and Stephanie love exploring Hill House, the most popular tourist attraction in town. It's dark and scary and haunted, they say, by the 100-year-old ghost of a 13-year-old boy. A boy who lost his head! Duane and Stephanie must help him find his head —or else he's going to have to borrow one of theirs!

Differences from the book

  • The episode includes the ghost of a bratty boy (Seth) who died falling down the dumbwaiter shaft to get his strawberry ice cream, his favorite ice cream flavor. In the book, Seth is Otto's nephew, and not a ghost.
  • Edna is omitted from the episode.
  • Andrew's sister and father are not mentioned.
  • In the book, Annabel, the wife of the sea captain, was said to have fled the house when her husband never returned  In the episode, it is said the captain actually returned, only to find his wife left him for another man, leading him to die of a broken heart.
  • In the television episode, Otto is depicted as really being the ghost of the sea captain who built the house. In the book, the captain's ghost has long since vanished before the events of the story take place.
  • Andrew is much nastier and brattier in the TV version than in the book, insulting and threatening Stephanie after she finds his head instead of thanking her, like in the book.
  • In the episode, Stephanie constantly annoys Otto and her fellow visitors to Hill House by pulling scary pranks on them and sneaking away to look for Andrew's head, with Duane roped along as a reluctant accessory who has concerns about the effects their pranks may have, especially on the younger children in the tour. Stephanie is also not above pranking Duane, continually pretending to see a ghost and then laughing when she gets him to look. Eventually Otto ejects them from the house, warning them that the ghosts have little patience for disrespectful visitors. In the book, they are nicer to Otto.
  • Duane and Stephanie only do pranks at Hill House in the episode, while in the book they went around the neighborhood to prank people while they didn't prank people in Hill House.
  • The climax is different from the book. In the book, Andrew simply took the head and the kids left. In the episode, after the confrontation with Andrew's ghost in the attic, Otto appears, revealing Seth as his assistant, then dismisses Duane but insists that Stephanie remain as he wishes to have a word with her. After Duane leaves, Otto reveals himself to be the ghost of the old sea-captain while Seth turns out to be the ghost of the boy who fell down the dumbwaiter shaft. The ghosts decide to punish Stephanie by painting her portrait with the Captain's cursed paints which, when they finish, will turn her into a ghost doomed to haunt the house forever. Duane rushes back upstairs to the attic, arriving just in time to save Stephanie by splashing her portrait with paint thinner. He and Stephanie then flee from the house with the angry Otto in pursuit.
  • The ending is different. In the book, Duane and Stephanie visit Hill House for old time sake but after they took the tour, they are informed by some police officers that the house was shut down months ago, and it is revealed that Otto is a ghost. In the episode, we see that the house been shut down as a museum and is up for sale, but as a couple interested in purchasing it ask about the rumors that it is haunted, the real estate agent comments, "Sure, and I'm a ghost." As he ushers his prospective clients into the house, he turns, revealing that he is Otto in disguise. He smiles evilly at the camera before slamming the door shut.

Other media

Goosebumps Presents

No. Cover Release date Pages
Tv book 07
December 1996 64

Home media

Title Release date Media type

The Headless Ghost

September 8, 2009 DVD

2-DVD Spookypack

September 11, 2012 DVD

3-Pack Thriller

August 26, 2014 DVD


  • This episode was adapted into Goosebumps Presents book #7.
  • Hill House may have been named after the haunted house of the same name in Shirley Jackson's famous novel, The Haunting of Hill House.
  • Andreanne Benidir (Stephanie Alpert) played Jillian Zinman in season three's "Bride of the Living Dummy".
  • This is one of three episodes featuring a custom closing theme, the other two being A Night in Terror Tower/TV episode and Bad Hare Day/TV episode .
  • The original Fox Kids and YTV airings of this episode featured a custom closing credits theme, utilizing a piano, drums and woodwind instruments fitting with the music of the episode. It is currently not available on any form of Home media, and any modern airing of the episode only features the normal closing theme.
  • Andreanne Benidir and Daniel Goodfellow, also worked together in couple of episodes of the children's show "The Adventures of Dudley the Dragon" as Dudley's human friends, Laura and Mickey.
  • Sean Ryan starred as Buzz Crocker in the very first Are You Afraid of the Dark? episode "The Tale Of the Phantom Cab".
  • The director of this episode, Brian R.R Hebb, is primarily a director of photography on the show, and this is the only episode he directed.




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