EJ Moreno on the best Halloween-themed TV episodes…
As long as television has been around, there’s been Halloween episodes. Just like its cheerful Christmas counterpart, creators know there’s time for intense drama and hilarious comedy on Halloween night. To get into the spooky spirit, let’s dive into some of television’s greatest All Hallows’ Eve adventures.
The only requisite for this list is the episode MUST BE about Halloween. There is plenty of great horror-themed episodes of shows, like Doctor Who’s “Blink” or even Boy Meets World’s “And Then There Was Shawn,” but those are not solely about the holiday.
With that out of the way, let’s dive into the best Halloween episodes of television shows!
Parks and Recreation – “Greg Pikitis”
American Dad – “Best Little Horror House in Langley Falls”
MASH – “Trick or Treatment”
10. Home Improvement – “Haunting of Taylor House”
One of the more underrated sitcoms of the 90’s, Home Improvement used its construction-bases premise to build great Halloween scares. The show had plenty of great episodes, but the standout is the series first venture into Halloween. “Haunting of Taylor House” showcases the amazing sets the series is known for using, as well as crafting heartwarming moments from Tim Allen and his character’s family. Also, seeing Tim, Al, and Wilson exact revenge on the young douchebag Danny adds another hilarious layer to the episode, with some good sitcom scares.
9. It’s Always Sunny – “Who Got Dee Pregnant?”
What makes It’s Always Sunny so exciting is how they subvert genre expectations each time they do an homage. Instead of going the horror route, “Who Got Dee Pregnant?” is a mystery surrounding a costume party and Dee’s baby daddy. Seeing each of these characters dressed up in costumes and dealing with a party at the bar feels like a wonderful treat for viewers, and the only trick played is on the boys as Dee plays with their mind the entire time. Also, the wonderful Artemis cameos in the episode as the person to piece together the story and brings some major laughs!
8. Stranger Things: “Chapter Two: Trick or Treat, Freak”
The Netflix original series builds quite a bit of itself around nostalgia. And lucky enough for Stranger Things, very few things feel as nostalgic as Halloween time in 1984. The episode features the gang dressing up like Ghostbusters, providing a fantastic homage. With the ending involving one of the kid’s finding a mysterious creature, you also get a bit of an E.T. vibe as well. All around, this is an excellent episode with so much 80’s horror references and pure Halloween fun that a fan of either of those things will be pleased.
7. Buffy the Vampire Slayer – “Fear Itself”
For being one of the only shows on this list that’s considered horror, Buffy the Vampire Slayer doesn’t have that many Halloween episodes. During its seven-season run, there are only three choices, but that doesn’t take away from this strong pick. “Fear Itself” is the show’s second venture into Halloween and takes a very different route for the show. This episode plays more like a haunted house movie than Buffy’s usual action/comedy vibe. Each member of Buffy’s gang deals with their fears manifesting, and it gets dark. Things do finish with a hilarious spin on conquering these little fears.
6. The Office – “Halloween”
Sometimes The Office makes Michael Scott the villain, and the downsizing plot on Halloween makes for a damn good example of that. This episode stands out as the second directed by Paul Feig, and you can tell as the comedy is sharp even in the most mundane situations. Seeing the characters outside of their usual boring clothing is a pleasant surprise with each character dressing as something so close to their roles in a weird way. The two-headed Michael, Sith lord Dwight, and Jim in lazy costume all standout for the right reasons and add to the joy of the episode.
5. Brooklyn Nine-Nine – “Halloween III”
Not many modern shows embrace the beauty of a Halloween episode. There are a few shows out there, but none quite make the holiday a true spectacle like Brooklyn Nine-Nine. Out of the five Halloween episodes, the first and the third standout as the best examples. The third entry edges out the original because this was the first time things went to another level. After this, each episode tries to recapture this magic but doesn’t get anywhere close. Part III highlights the bond between Jake and Captain Holt but also involves the rest of the crew in on the action. Pure Brooklyn Nine-Nine insanity!
4. American Horror Story – “Murder House: Halloween Part 1 & 2”
If there was any series made for Halloween episodes, American Horror Story is the one. That makes picking the very best Halloween-themed AHS impossible, but for this instance, I went for the very first one. This two-parter is more focused than other entries and sets up a mythos that you feel in nearly every season. The dead can roam free, or even come together in one place if you remember Devil’s Night in Hotel. This concept makes for a great Murder House’s episode that is thrilling and haunting. From a demon baby to Columbine references, you won’t forget this!
3. The Simpsons – “Treehouse of Horror V”
One of the only television shows to make an event out of Halloween episodes; The Simpsons created one of the best yearly Halloween moments with “Treehouse of Horror.” The fifth entry is the fan-favorite and lands on this list for more than that reason. This episode is brilliant and pulls no punches with the horror references. The segments Time and Punishment and Nightmare Cafeteria are both great, but the shining star is the Stanley Kubrick parody, The Shinning. Seeing Homer going insane on his family, but motivated by this film works so well.
2. Roseanne – “Boo”
Roseanne Barr was once the queen of Halloween episodes. The original run of her sitcom boasted an impressive Halloween episode nearly every season, and it was hard to land on just one for this list. “Boo” places so high on this list and above the rest of the other specials simply because you can feel the pure love of the holiday. The show embraces all things spooky and scary with a pranking war, countless horror references and some good original scares of its own.
1. It’s The Great Pumpkin, Charlie Brown
Young, old. Horror fanatic or cartoon lover. The Peanuts Halloween special is one of the most watchable things for the holiday. “It’s The Great Pumpkin, Charlie Brown” reaches all viewers with its hilarious look at one bizarre night for the beloved Peanuts characters. From the titular Charlie Brown having the worst night of Trick or Treating ever, and the adventures of Linus and Sally waiting for The Great Pumpkin, there’s so much to enjoy. But for me, the best part is seeing Snoopy fly his doghouse to fight The Red Baron; it’s one of the franchise’s best moments ever.
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