Goosebumps: Is Ephraim the Great Based on a Real Magician?

Hulu’s ‘Goosebumps’ is a perfect Halloween watch as it conjures a world of mystery and horror with loads of fun to keep the audience on the edge of their seats. With every episode, a new chapter of the story is unveiled. The sixth episode serves as an important puzzle piece in the story of Harold Biddle and what happened to him. At the beginning of the episode, a possessed Mr. Bratt takes them inside the Biddle House to tell them his story from the beginning. He starts with Ephraim the Great, whose actions reverberate through the years, eventually leading to Harold’s death. Here’s everything you need to know about him. SPOILERS AHEAD

Ephraim is an Important Character in R.L. Stine’s Goosebumps Books

The Hulu series is inspired by the books of R.L. Stine, and though it brings its own twist to the beloved stories, it stays in touch with the source material, most notably through its villains. A ‘Goosebumps’ story would be incomplete without Slappy, and sure enough, the evil doll shows up in the sixth episode, with Ephraim being his first victim in the Biddle family.

The flashback takes the audience to the 1940s, where Ephraim is a struggling magician. He is struggling because he is no good at magic and should’ve taken his wife’s advice when she asked him to get a real job. But his desire to prove himself leads him to a mysterious suitcase where he finds Slappy. The wooden doll comes to life when the magician inadvertently chants the incantation. The doll poses as his ally and brings him fame and riches. It takes a while for Ephraim to realize that Slappy is evil and should not be tinkered with.

There is no real-life counterpart for the character, but the readers of ‘Goosebumps’ would be familiar with the name because he is a significant character in the books. Unlike in the TV show, Ephraim in the books is a great sorcerer. About a couple of hundred years ago, he used to live in a village, hiding his magic from other people. He created wooden dolls and brought them to life through his magic to keep him company. He’d vowed never to use his magic for evil and mostly kept to himself. But when the villagers realized he was a sorcerer, they were scared of him and decided to kill him.

Angered by the actions of the villages, Ephraim broke his vow and created Slappy for the sole purpose of destroying human lives. Slappy was infused with evil because Ephraim wanted him to kill all the villagers who were trying to destroy his house and other creations. Thus, the sole purpose of Slappy’s life is to be evil, and that’s what he continues to do even when the sorcerer becomes remorseful of his actions.

The ‘Goosebumps’ series rewrites this story by making Ephraim a person who falls to Slappy’s promise of making him famous and successful. In the end, he, too, turns remorseful and tries to stop Slappy, but the doll is more powerful than he’d imagined, and eventually gets hold of his great-grandson, Harold. This change in the plotline, most likely, has to do with bigger villains that are to be introduced somewhere down the line. Still, mentioning Ephraim serves as a great reference to the R.L. Stine books, while the show spins its own mythology and origin story for the iconic villain.

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