Ever since I got my teenage hands on a tattered copy of Resident Evil: Caliban Cove, I have always sought out the novelizations of my favorite video games. In the 2000s, this was Resident Evil. However, since the mid-2010s, it’s been Five Nights at Freddy’s.
The FNAF franchise delivers on video games and books, offering an unsettling experience regardless of the medium. A significant reason for this consistency is that FNAF creator Scott Cawthon has been at the helm from the start. As a result, even as the franchise has evolved, new entries have stuck to Cawthon’s vision.
That said, the books and games aren’t mirrors of each other. They might be part of the franchise, but each medium often goes its way. So, to keep you from being confused, I have compiled the key differences between the FNAF games and books to look out for.
Bottom Line Up Front
While the FNAF games and books have similar settings and characters, the books follow a different continuity. So, there are parts from the books that mirror the games, but other segments that are entirely different and contradict each other.
Before looking at the games, it’s essential to know the development history of the FNAF games and books. This should give you a better understanding of both mediums.
- Game Releases: FNAF 1, FNAF 2
- Book Releases: None
2014 was the year that started it all. Scott Cawthon introduced us to Five Nights at Freddy’s and its scary animatronics. FNAF 1 quickly gained a cult following and was a hit on YouTube with countless “Let’s Play” videos.
Cawthon didn’t rest on his laurels. Shortly after the release of FNAF 1, he started to tease a sequel. In November 2014, Cawthon released the more challenging FNAF 2.
- Game Releases: FNAF 3, FNAF 4
- Book Releases: The Silver Eyes
Continuing his hot streak, Scott Cawthon released FNAF 3 on March 2nd. He followed the game with FNAF 4 on July 23rd.
In December, Cawthon released his first FNAF book: The Silver Eyes. However, since the book didn’t seem to follow the games’ lore, Cawthon cleared the air by saying that the books would still be canon but follow a different continuity.
- Game Releases: FNAF: Sister Location
- Book Releases: None
Despite the popularity of The Silver Eyes, Cawthon didn’t release a book this year. Instead, he continued the FNAF franchise with Sister Location, which focused on Circus Baby.
- Game Releases: Freddy Fazbear’s Pizzeria Simulator
- Book Releases: The Twisted Ones
- Game Releases: Ultimate Custom Night
- Book Releases: The Fourth Closet
Cawthon released his third novel in 2018 and Ultimate Custom Night, which should have initially been an add-on for Freddy Fazbear’s Pizzeria Simulator.
- Game Releases: Help Wanted, Special Delivery
- Book Releases: Fazbear Frights #1: Into The Pit
2019 was a busy year for Cawthon. He co-wrote the first Fazbear Frights book with Elley Cooper. The book has three short stories: Into The Pit, Count The Ways, and To Be Beautiful.
Cawthon also released two games this year: the mobile game Special Delivery and the VR game Help Wanted.
- Game Releases: None
- Book Releases: Fazbear Frights #2: Fetch, Fazbear Frights #3: 1:35 AM, Fazbear Frights #4: Step Closer, Fazbear Frights #5: Bunny Call, Fazbear Frights #6: Blackbird
Scott Cawthon didn’t release any games in 2020. However, he went wild regarding books, releasing five anthologies in the same year.
- Game Releases: FNAF: Security Breach
- Book Releases: Fazbear Frights #8: Gumdrop Angel, Fazbear Frights #9: The Puppet Carver, Fazbear Frights #10: Friendly Face, Fazbear Frights #11: Prankster
In 2021, Scott Cawthon released his last FNAF game before announcing his retirement. He also released four more Fazbear Frights books.
- Game Releases: None
- Book Releases: Fazbear Frights #12: Felix the Shark, Tales from the Pizzaplex #1: Lally’s Game, Tales from the Pizzaplex #2: HAPPS, Tales from the Pizzaplex #3: Somniphobia, Tales from the Pizzaplex #4: Submechanophobia
After retiring from game development, Scott Cawthon turned his focus to writing. He released a further five books in 2020.
To ensure the list is exhaustive, I looked at differences from various aspects. The aspects include:
1. Lore: even though the games and books are set in the FNAF universe, they have different continuities. This means the books have a lore that differs from the games.
2. Characters: the books and games have similar characters, like William Afton. However, many characters are also different (or their stories have changed, like Circus Baby’s).
3. Locations: the games and books share some locations, like Freddy Fazbear’s Pizza. However, they also have different areas or reimagining of the places.
Let’s dive into the key differences between the FNAF games and books without further ado!
The Key Differences: Lore
As I mentioned earlier, FNAF lore differs between the games and the books though they are both in the same universe. For example, the FNAF games focus on William Afton and his son, Michael Afton.
The official trilogy, meanwhile, follows Henry Emily’s daughter, Charlie. Plus, the Fazbear Frights and Tales from The Pizzaplex stories tell different short stories in the FNAF universe.
In the FNAF games, Henry Emily and William Afton became partners and established a kid-friendly diner with animatronics: Fredbear’s Family Diner.
After the success of this store, the two founders launched other stores with similar premises, including Freddy Fazbear’s Pizza and Circus Baby’s Pizza World: they focused on kids first and used animatronics for entertainment.
However, William Afton’s motive wasn’t just to make profits: he was secretly a child murderer.
At Freddy Fazbear’s Pizza, William Afton dressed up as Spring Bonnie to lure children, then killed them. In 1982, Afton killed five kids, including:
To hide the bodies, Afton stuffed them into animatronics, including Freddy, Golden Freddy, Chica, Foxy, and Bonnie. The souls of the murdered children, however, didn’t rest. Instead, they possessed their respective animatronics and became vengeful souls. So naturally, this incident led to the closure of Freddy Fazbear’s Pizza.
Even though William Afton was a monster, he still had a soft spot for his daughter, Elizabeth. Elizabeth found Circus Baby (the main animatronic at Circus Baby’s Pizza World) intriguing. However, Afton warned her not to get too close to the animatronic.
Elizabeth defied her father’s warning, and Circus Baby killed her. Circus Baby’s Pizza World soon closed because of how distraught Afton became after losing his daughter.
Meanwhile, during a birthday party at Fredbear’s Family Diner, a bullied child (called the Crying Child, but there’s speculation he could be Afton’s son) became another animatronic victim. The Crying Child’s bullies forced his head into the mouth of Golden Fredbear, but the mouth malfunctioned and crushed the boy’s head, killing him. This incident led to Fredbear’s Family Diner’s closure.
After so many incidents in their restaurants, Henry and William Afton had a falling out and went their separate paths. William continued killing, and his next victim was Henry’s daughter, Charlie. Charlie’s soul then possessed The Puppet.
However, William Afton wasn’t done. He killed more kids in the next few years. When 1987 came, William had five new victims. But he wasn’t the only killer in FNAF: in 1987, a security guard called Jeremy Fitzgerald was the victim of an animatronic bite into his head.
Miraculously, Jeremy didn’t die. However, because of the damage to Jeremy’s frontal lobe, he was likely left in a vegetative state.
After his murders, William Afton became a victim of his crimes. The souls of William’s victims pursued him, and he hid inside a Spring Bonnie suit. However, the suit malfunctioned and killed him. However, William didn’t stay dead. His soul lingered in the suit, and he tried returning to life as Glitchtrap.
The FNAF book trilogy focuses on Henry Emily’s daughter, Charlie. Unlike the games, William Afton didn’t kill Charlie (this is where the lore between the games and books becomes different). When Charlie was 7, her friend Michael and four other kids were killed at Freddy Fazbear’s Pizza. Charlie’s father, Henry, was the main suspect, and he committed suicide by letting an animatronic kill him.
Ten years later, Charlotte reunites with her surviving friends. When Charlie encounters a corpse with wounds resembling a springlock failure, she later sees a body that looks identical to her.
The teenagers return to Freddy Fazbear’s Pizza and encounter William Afton disguised as the security guard with a new alias: Dave Miller. Unfortunately, he kidnaps one of them, and when they return, the teens encounter haunted animatronics. After a struggle, Charlie kills Afton when he’s inside the Spring Bonnie suit.
One year later, Charlie is in a new town and college. However, William Afton—now fused to Spring Bonnie to become Springtrap—still hunts for her.
The books and games have similar characters, though the books have many more characters—especially if you consider the short stories from Fazbear Frights and Tales from The Pizzaplex. So, instead of looking at all these characters, let’s look at how the FNAF books and games differ regarding significant characters.
In the games, William Afton died after escaping from the ghosts of his victims. He hid inside a Spring Bonnie suit, but it malfunctioned and killed William. William returned as Springtrap and Glitchtrap.
In the book trilogy, William still wore the Spring Bonnie suit, but the suit didn’t kill him when it malfunctioned. However, Charlie killed him when she set off the Spring Bonnie suit’s spring locks. After his death, William returned to life as Springtrap and went after Charlie.
In Fazbear Frights, things get crazy—this is different even from the novel trilogy. For starters, people knew that William Afton was a child killer. There’s also a story—The Man in Room 1280—where William survived the Freddy Fazbear Pizza Place’s fire.
Even though he was burned and taken off life support, William refused to die. Even the nurses’ attempts to kill William didn’t work—he was immortal. In another Fazbear Frights story called Blackbird, William’s soul fused with other animatronics: Foxy, Ella, Plushtrap Chaser, and Fetch. The merged entity was called The Agony.
Michael Afton is William’s son and the main guy we root for in the FNAF games. However, in the novels, Charlie is the main character. We don’t read much about Michael in the books.
In the games, Charlotte Emily (or Charlie) is a minor character. She appears in a FNAF 2 minigame called Take Care to the Children. Charlie’s spirit then possessed The Puppet.
In the novels, Charlie is the main character. However, in The Fourth Closet, we learn that the real Charlotte Emily was William Afton’s victim. Because of her father’s immense grief, Charlie’s favorite doll became sentient. Henry remade Charlie as several lifelike robots representing her life stages if she was alive. The robotic copies believed they were the real Charlie.
Circus Baby was Circus Baby’s Pizza World’s mascot in the games. William Afton programmed Circus Baby to kill children if they were alone. However, she killed William’s daughter, and her soul possessed the animatronic. In the novels, Circus Baby is the mascot of a similar restaurant called Circus Baby’s Pizza. She disguised herself as Charlie. Circus Baby also helped William Afton test Funtime Freddy when making the animatronic.
Foxy the Pirate
Foxy was an entertainer at the first Freddy Fazbear’s Pizza in the games. Unfortunately, one of William Afton’s victims possessed him: a boy called Fritz.
In the books, Foxy’s story is identical. However, the difference comes when Foxy encounters Charlie. He cuts Charlie’s arms but later gets deactivated. Foxy also makes minor appearances in the Fazbear Frights stories and Tales from the Pizzaplex.
Freddy Fazbear is the main animatronic villain in the FNAF games. He is possessed by another William Afton victim called Gabriel. The FNAF books mirror this, but he fights Springtrap alongside other animatronics in The Twisted Ones. Like Foxy, Freddy also makes minor appearances in the Fazbear Frights stories.
The FNAF games and books also share similar locations to Freddy Fazbear’s Pizza. However, let’s dive into the differences in these major locations!
Freddy Fazbear’s Pizza
In the games, there are several Freddy Fazbear Pizza restaurants. The restaurant’s main performers in both games and books are Freddy Fazbear, Chica, and Bonnie, while Foxy is decommissioned. In The Silver Eyes, Freddy Fazbear’s Pizza was abandoned, and an incomplete mall was built around it. William Afton made a different Freddy’s restaurant underground in The Twisted Ones.
He filled it with several new animatronics like Twisted Freddy and Balloon Boy. The restaurant is also the central location for a bunch of Fazbear Frights and Tales from the Pizzaplex stories.
Circus Baby’s Pizza
In the FNAF games, Circus Baby’s Pizza World was home to various animatronics, including Circus Baby, Funtime Freddy, Funtime Foxy, Ballora, and their small companions. Unfortunately, the restaurant shut down because Circus Baby killed William Afton’s daughter, Elizabeth.
In the books, William Afton built Circus Baby’s Pizza on top of the underground Freddy’s Fazbear Pizza. The restaurant also sold novelty glasses that let you see invisible animatronics like Ballora.
Freddy Fazbear’s Pizza Place
Freddy Fazbear’s Pizza Place is the primary location of Security Breach and Freddy Fazbear’s Pizzeria Simulator. The restaurant’s entertainers include Funtime Chica, Rockstar Animatronics, and Trash and the Gang.
In Fazbear Frights, Henry Emily burns down Freddy Fazbear’s Pizza Place to kill William Afton. However, William survives the fire. The burnt-down restaurant also appears in some Tales from the Pizzaplex epilogues: Lally’s Game, Happs, and Somiphobia.
Fredbear’s Family Diner
In the books, this restaurant is where William Afton kidnaps and kills Henry’s daughter Charlie (though to Charlie, it’s her twin Sammy who was abducted). The restaurant closed down shortly after this incident.
Question: What is the Chief Difference Between the FNAF Games and Books?
Answer: The main difference between the FNAF games and books is that the story is different. There are several similar characters and locations, but they have slight differences between the mediums.
Question: Are the FNAF Books Related to the Games?
Answer: Not entirely. Even though the books and movies are in the same universe, they each have their lore.
Question: Was FNAF a Book or a Game First?
Answer: Five Nights at Freddy’s started with video games in 2014. However, because of the major success of the games, Scott Cawthon soon started releasing books.
Question: When did Scott Cawthon Retire?
Answer: Scott Cawthon retired from making video games in 2021. FNAF: Security Breach was the last game he developed. However, his Tales from the Pizzaplex books are still being released.