The “Treehouse Of Horror” episodes of The Simpsons are one of the finest Halloween traditions around. The 25th entry recently aired, and to honor the occasion, I’m ranking every episode in the series from worst to best. Will “Treehouse Of Horror V” take the cake on the strength of “The Shinning,” or will Homer’s trip to the third dimension take the top honor? Read on to find out!
25. “Treehouse Of Horror XVII” – Original Air Date: November 5, 2006
Well, one of these had to be the worst, and there just wasn’t that much to enjoy here. In the first segment, Homer becomes a giant blob, which isn’t all that scary, and kind of happens in every episode, anyway. Then, the segment with Bart using Krusty’s golem to torment his bullies falls flat, and under-utilizes Richard Lewis. Finally, the take on War Of The Worlds references the infamous Orson Welles broadcast, in which people thought Earth was really being attacked by aliens, but rather than adding anything new, it just re-tells the story, adding some weak political satire at the end. The Halloween specials are normally brilliant, but there wasn’t much to like about this one.
24. “Treehouse Of Horror XXII” – Original Air Date: October 30, 2011
A huge part of why this episode is so low is the first segment, “The Diving Bell And The Butterball,” which is by far the worst THOH segment ever. It’s an inexplicable parody of The Diving Bell And The Butterfly, in which Homer communicates through farts, and absolutely no laughter is produced. Things get a little better in the next segment, a spoof of Dexter in which Homer has Flanders kill his enemies by pretending to be God. But the final segment is a questionable Avatar parody which seems to exist simply for the sake of existing. There just isn’t much to get excited about here.
23. “Treehouse Of Horror XIV” – Original Air Date: November 2, 2003
This one just felt like a lot of wasted opportunities. In “Reaper Madness,” Homer plays Death, but frankly, it was done better on Family Guy. Then, in an inspired bit of casting, Jerry Lewis plays Professor Frink’s father, but the segment doesn’t really go anywhere. The only enjoyable segment is the third one, where Bart and Milhouse have a watch that can stop time. Their antics with this watch are thoroughly enjoyable, even if the source material (the 2001 flop Clockstoppers) was likely lost on most viewers. Still, one good segment can only raise this one so much.
22. Treehouse Of Horror XVI – Origial Air Date: November 6, 2005
The first segment, which parodies A.I.: Artificial Intelligence, came four years too late and didn’t make any sense. Things got a little better when Homer and the power plant workers were hunted as Mr. Burns played The Most Dangerous Game. Really though, the only enjoyable segment here was the final one, in which in angry witch turns the citizens of Springfield into their costumes. That was not only funny, but actually a bit frightening. Still, this one was a disappointment overall.
21. “Treehouse Of Horror XV: Original Air Date: November 7, 2004
It’s difficult to enjoy a THOH segment if all you’re thinking about is how much better it was done on Futurama, and that’s what was running through my head during the Fantastic Voyage spoof in this episode. The Sherlock take is also kind of bland, and tries to pack too much storytelling into too little time. Still, this one isn’t without its charms. The parody of The Dead Zone that begins the show is quite enjoyable, with Flanders gaining the ability to see people’s deaths. Overall, this one was pretty mediocre, but certainly not a total waste of time.
20. “Treehouse Of Horror XVIII: Original Airdate: November 4, 2007
I mean…did we really need a parody of Mr. And Mrs. Smith? Let’s be honest, that movie is pretty much only noteworthy for spawning the Pitt-Jolie union. The E.T. parody was also pretty uninspired, with the joke about Kang’s 700 testicles being the only memorable thing about it. But hey, at least we get a pretty funny Se7en parody to close things out. It was particularly enjoyable to see Flanders reprise his role as the devil.
19. “Treehouse Of Horror XXI: Original Air Date: November 7, 2010
I’ll be honest, when I started putting together this list, this was the only episode where I actually had to think just to remember what even happened. But once my memory was jogged, I remembered that the Jumanji parody was quite enjoyable, mostly because Jumanji was practically built for The Simpsons to riff on. I got less mileage out of the parodies of Dead Calm and Twilight, though, with the only memorable thing about the latter being the inherent humor of Daniel Radcliffe playing the Edward Cullen character. Overall, not necessarily a bad episode, but not all that memorable either.