Sure, there are a lot of well-loved Christmas episodes in television history, but the Yuletide doesn’t have a lock on memorable holiday outings. As the spooky season is upon us, let’s take a look back at some of the best Halloween episodes that television has to offer.
10. Bob’s Burgers — “Full Bars”
This Halloween-themed episode perfectly captures what Halloween is like as a kid: the desire to strike out on your own with your friends, the general uneasiness that comes from being around kids older and seemingly wiser than yourself, and the fact that nothing is as miraculous as houses that give out full-size bars. When the Belcher kids end up in an unfamiliar neighborhood, the whole episode unfolds like a urine-soaked monster chase, luckily with home and victory waiting on the other side.
9. The Office — “Halloween”
Make-believe meets real-life horror when Michael (Steve Carell) has to fire someone, and he predictably put it off until the last possible minute. If you think waiting around to hear your professional fate is bad enough, imagine the indignity of doing it dressed up like a cat. Despite the grim premise, Michael’s insane second head and Dwight (Rainn Wilson) slinking around the office as a Sith Lord are some of the best visual gags the show has ever done. Side note: the Three-Hole Punch Version Of Jim is and always will be the lamest costume. It’s cool to try sometimes.
8. 30 Rock — “Stone Mountain”
Any episode that gave the world “Werewolf Bar Mitzvah” had to be on this list. Tracy (Tracy Morgan) becomes increasingly paranoid as he’s worried that he will fall victim to the celebrity “rule of threes,” with each corner of the TGS set seemingly teeming with death traps. Add in Kenneth (Jack McBrayer) as an increasingly deathly specter and Jenna (Jane Krakowski) slavishly trying to secure her place on the writers’ good side and “Stone Mountain” stands out as a holiday great.
7. New Girl — “Halloween”
In its prime, New Girl was an excellent vehicle for absurd humor, and the Halloween episode is a perfect example. On one hand, you’ve got Schmidt (Max Greenfield), somehow making a costume that works both as Abraham Lincoln and Magic Mike. On the other, you have all of the major couples on the show going through growing pains, ending up with nearly everyone breaking up on Halloween night. And somewhere in the middle, you have Nick (Jake Johnson). His Bee Arthur costume would be good enough on its own, but his high pitched screams at the clown in the haunted house secure this episode its spot on this list.
6. Brooklyn Nine-Nine — “HalloVeen”
Brooklyn Nine-Nine‘s dedication to Halloween heists is one of the best running gags on the show, but the latest outdoes even the impressive earlier entries. While viewers may have been missing out on the usual Linetti (Chelsea Peretti) charm, they did get the return of Cheddar the corgi, Terry (Terry Crews) unwittingly eating an alarming amount of tracking devices, and the delightful culmination of Jake (Andy Samberg) and Amy’s (Melissa Fumero) relationship. If you don’t get a little choked up at the realization that Jake basically spent his entire time in prison planning his proposal, you might be a heartless monster.
5. Parks And Recreation — “Halloween Surprise”
Few shows managed to mix heart with actual jokes quite as well as Parks and Recreation, and “Halloween Surprise” is a perfect example. On top of one extended fart joke (Jerry/Gary/Larry’s fart attack!), Ron Swanson (Nick Offerman) also had to endure his own personal hell to take Diane’s (Lucy Lawless) girls trick-or-treating. Yes, it was funny to see the man’s man trying to appease to crying princesses, but it was also proof of how much Ron had grown as a character. That willingness to change while still remaining true to the character is a beautiful thing.
4. Freaks And Geeks — “Tricks And Treats”
Freaks and Geeks perfectly encapsulates the awkwardness of growing up, and that is never more clear than on Halloween night. The geeks are just on the cusp of being a little too old for trick-or-treating, and while they would have been better off staying home, it did give us Bill Haverchuck (Martin Starr), best kid ever on television, as the Bionic Woman. Lindsay (Linda Cardellini) is also faced with a choice: to either hang out with her mom or go on a vandalism spree with her new friends. It’s a scary choice that every adolescent has to make at some point, making that fear of change truly universal.
3. Buffy The Vampire Slayer — “Halloween”
Despite establishing that Halloween is usually a slow one in the demon-slaying world, nothing is ever really chill on Buffy the Vampire Slayer. When Giles’ (Anthony Head) old pal-turned-nemesis Ethan Rayne (Robin Sachs) opens a costume shop in Sunnydale that makes every turn into their chosen persona, chaos reigns supreme. The episode serves as a showcase for the Scoobies to play against type and reminded Buffy (Sarah Michelle Gellar) that Angel (David Boreanaz) likes her just the way she is, not as a helpless maiden from his past life.
2. The Simpsons — “Treehouse Of Horror”
No Halloween list is complete without The Simpsons. The various installments of “Treehouse of Horror” have achieved a cult-like status, with the creative opening sequences, horror and sci-fi parody, and, of course, Kang and Kudos. The pop culture awareness on display in The Simpsons is unparalleled, and yet they somehow manage to make something completely new from the references. While there’s endless debate of which episode is actually the best one, the one thing that everyone can agree on is that “Treehouse of Horror” is and will always be a Halloween touchstone.
1. Community — “Epidemiology”
Not only did this episode of Community show the cracks starting to form in the friendships of the study group, but it also managed to send up action and horror tropes while also perfectly executing them. When tainted “meat” leads to a temporary zombie outbreak at Greendale, Troy (Donald Glover) and Abed (Danny Pudi) try and fight their way through, hopefully, to find a cure or at the very least a little help. As the duo deal with sick students (“Jeff Winger… still cool as a zombie.”), their own differences, and an insane cat, it’s not only Community‘s best episode, but also the best Halloween episode of all time. It’s hard to compete with a sexy Dracula.