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13 Halloween TV Episodes That Are Both Classic and Creepy

13 Halloween TV Episodes That Are Both Classic and Creepy

American Horror Story

“Halloween” (Season 1, Episodes 3/4): This first season two-parter brimmed with genuinely uncomfortable, terrifying moments, interspersed with camp melodrama — par for the course, when it comes to Ryan Murphy’s wicked creation.

The two-episode scarefest kicked off with a flashback to Chad (Zachary Quinto) fighting with his lover Patrick (Teddy Sears) before their deaths, accompanied by an appearance from the Rubber Man. Flash-forward to present day, where the blossoming couple of Tate (Evan Peters) and Violet (Taissa Farmiga) get down with a ouija board while Tate proceeds to give the eerie backstory of the house’s original owner Charles Montgomery (Matt Ross), who was an abortion doctor during the 1920s. The boyfriend of one of Charles’ female patients gets revenge in the sickest way possible — kidnapping and dismembering Charles’s infant son — and driven mad by grief, Charles too calmly sews together the limbs of his deceased child. (Cue the crescendoing ’80s B-grade horror music accompanying Tate’s narrative).

Meanwhile, Constance Langdon (Jessica Lange) has to confront the death of her own daughter who is ran over by a car during a bout of trick or treating and the nature of Tate’s dark past starts to come to light — because what is a Halloween without the vengeful spirits of the death stirring trouble?

Available on Netflix and Amazon (Streaming)

READ MORE: The 13 Best New Indie Horror Movies to Watch at Home on Halloween

“Bob’s Burgers”


“Full Bars” (Season 3, Episode 2): The Halloween episode from Season 3 of “Bob’s Burgers” is a blast to watch, because it really gets to the heart of the show’s engagement with the debate (or lack thereof) about class in America. In “Full Bars,” when Tina, Louise and Gene decide to go trick-or-treating in a wealthy neighborhood nearby, they come face-to-face with the class debate after being harassed by a group of rich teenage bullies. Because children are not conscious of class differences in the same way that adults are, their naivete actually enables them to pursue action when class tries to get in the way of what they are trying to achieve — the Belcher kids have nothing to lose and everything to gain when they decide to face off against the rich kid bullies. When it comes to financial issues, though, adults — even Bob and Linda, who have occasionally demonstrated wiles when confronted by a threat — do not have the same luxury of throwing caution to the wind the way children might, because they have a lot more at stake. Needless to say, “Full Bars” does an excellent job of balancing an enjoyable, adventure-filled storyline with just enough of a progressive flavor to make you, dare we say, think critically.

Available on Netflix, Amazon (VOD) and iTunes

Buffy the Vampire Slayer


“Halloween” (Season 2, Episode 6): Joss Whedon’s iconic vampire dramedy loved to set up its own rules for not just the vampire mythos, but the supernatural world in general. So in this first episode to take on the holiday most thematically appropriate to the show, it’s established that Halloween is considered a “day off” for creatures of the night — but that doesn’t keep the Scooby gang from getting into trouble when their magically treated costumes transform them into their personas (Xander becomes Army Guy, Willow literally becomes a ghost). What could be light fun gets a strong emotional hook thanks to Buffy’s (Sarah Michelle Geller) choice of costume: Worried that love interest Angel (David Boreanez) doesn’t think she’s feminine enough to be desirable, she dresses up as a classy old-timey lady. While she’s completely useless when transformed, in the end it does bring her and Angel closer together, as he reassures her that he prefers her as the modern and strong woman she is.

Available on Amazon (Streaming), Hulu Plus, Netflix, Amazin Video, iTunes, Vudu

Castle

“Vampire Weekend” (Season 2, Episode 6): “Castle,” appreciated on its own merits, is a fun show, if only because it knows better than to take itself too seriously. Case in point — the below extremely meta reference to star Nathan Fillion’s old job as a “space cowboy.”

For the non-nerds in the crowd, this was just a cute scene between Richard and his daughter, but if the only reason you started watching “Castle” is because you were a “Firefly” fan, it was epic in its hilarity. The rest of the episode is standard procedural detective drama (albeit with vampire references), but the reaction of Alexis (Molly Quinn) to seeing her father in that costume “you wore five years ago” is worth the whole thing.

Available on Amazon (VOD), iTunes, Vudu

Community


“Horror Fiction in 7 Easy Steps” (Season 3, Episode 5): While Dan Harmon’s post-modern sitcom isn’t afraid of obscure references, it’s really the show’s diverse characters who sell this endearingly ridiculous comedy. And that stood out in the Season 3 Halloween episode “Horror Fiction in 7 Easy Steps,” when Britta discovers that someone in the group who took her anonymous psychology test has homicidal tendencies. She sits everyone down to find out who it is, resulting in a great Halloween celebration that takes the “Community” characters we love and turns their personalities into the horror stories they tell — all of which poke fun at the Halloween movies clichés being celebrated.

Available on Hulu Plus, Amazon (VOD) and iTunes

“Don’t Trust the B in Apartment 23”


“Love and Monsters” (Season 2, Episode 2): Taken from us far, far too soon, ABC’s short-lived comedy was a master class in making you love truly terrible people, and it turns out that terrible people are at their best on Halloween. For years, against the backdrop of a deliberately non-scary Halloween party thrown by James van der Beek (James van der Beek), Chloe (Kristen Ritter) has ruined the lives of those she finds mildly annoying, until the year her worst fears come true. Because this is “Don’t Trust the B,” this also means that she might have found true love — and really, what’s scarier than that?

Available on Netflix, Amazon (VOD), iTunes, Vudu

“The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air

“Hex and the Single Guy” (Season 4, Episode 7): Hilary (Karyn Parsons) drags everyone to a psychic named Scorpius for a family séance to say goodbye to her dearly departed finance, Trevor. Will (Will Smith) doesn’t believe the psychic (played by an awesomely creepy Glenn Shadix) is for real and continually mocks the guy. Scorpius, not down with big Willy’s style, puts a curse on the poor Fresh Prince and terrible things begin to happen to him and the entire family, including Geoffrey getting arrested and Hilary inexplicably falling in love with Jazz (Jeffrey A. Townes). Though Shadix and Smith play well off of each other, the best part of the episode is probably seeing Carlton (Alfonso Ribero) dressed up as his idol: Macaulay Culkin.

Available on Amazon (VOD), iTunes, Vudu

Friends

“The One With the Halloween Party” (Season 8, Episode 6): It took “Friends” eight seasons to have a Halloween episode. Let that sink in for a second. Sure, it did its fair share of holiday episodes, but it waited until it was the most popular sitcom on television to finally cave and give audiences what they wanted: Ross dressed up like doodie. Not only did they build a memorable bottle episode around six friends, who only hang out with each other, pretending to know enough people to fill a massive New York apartment, but they brought in one of the show’s most special of special guests, Sean Penn.

Yes, Sean “Jailbird” Penn was on “Friends.” I know, I’m giving you a lot to roll over in your mind. Penn couldn’t have been more sheepishly playing against type as Phoebe’s love interest with a slight sweat problem. He even managed to pull off some brief but effective chemistry with Lisa Kudrow, effectively carrying the B-plot while we waited to see if Ross or Chandler would win the arm-wrestling challenge. Ah, the glory days of the sitcom.

Available on Amazon (VOD), iTunes, Vudu

Happy Endings

“Spooky Endings” (Season 2, Episode 5): By Season 2, David Caspe’s modernized version of “Friends” had hit its creative stride. All the couples were lining up after the cast had sunk (synced?) as a group during the first season: Dave (Zachary Knighton) and Alex (Elisha Cuthbert) had moved past being awkward ex-lovers and into friends who kinda, sorta, still want to see each other naked. Brad (Damon Wayans Jr.) and Jane (Eliza Coupe) proved to be the most epic of power couples: One that could sustain its own storyline. And Penny (Casey Wilson) and Max (Adam Pally) had morphed into the sassy friends prone to just-this-side-of-unbelievable hijinks.

Each of these aspects hit their peak in “Spooky Endings.” Dave and Alex non-flirted by failing to hit on other people at a Halloween party, while Penny and Max paired up as a mother and her baby Bjorn in the ultimate non-couple couple’s costume. Brad and Jane took a tired plot of city vs. suburban living and turned it into a candy war gone too far with the neighborhood kids, all before the gang reunited at the end of the night — bookending the episode with ensemble power.

Available on Amazon (VOD), iTunes, Vudu

How I Met Your Mother

“The Slutty Pumpkin” (Season 1, Episode 6): Like Linus waiting for the mysterious Great Pumpkin, Ted (Josh Radnor) spends the entirety of a rooftop Halloween party waiting for the elusive “Slutty Pumpkin,” a hot girl with “strategically placed holes” in her pumpkin costume. Ted had developed a huge crush on her years before, but lost her phone number when Lily ate the Kit Kat bar on which it was written, so every year he’s waited at the same party, dressed in the same lame ass costume (a hanging chad) hoping the “slutty pumpkin” will be there. This Season 1 episode never revealed who the slutty pumpkin was — no, kids, we had to wait all the way until season 7 for “The Slutty Pumpkin Returns” to find out that it was Katie Holmes. And even then, Ted wasn’t compatible with her. (Big shocker there.)

Available Amazon (Streaming), Netflix, Amazon (VOD), Itunes, Vudu

Louie

“Halloween/Ellie” (Season 2, Episode 10): Louie CK’s surrealist sense of humor, which tackles illogicalities of every day common sense, has captivated the laughs of American audiences for a few years now, and in the Season 2 episode “Halloween/Ellie,” we see that humor filtered through some actual terrifying situations: His children threatened by two male adults while trick-or-treating — are they just pretending because it’s Halloween? Or when a vice president of Paramount Pictures promise’s to change Louie’s life at lunch, but after hearing his story idea, ditches him for another table at the restaurant — did he miss his big chance? This is a great episode with which to celebrate Halloween if you want to channel real life fears.

Available on Amazon (Streaming), Netflix, iTunes, Vudu

New Girl

“Halloween” (Season 2, Episode 6): Trivia time! What actor appeared in both the first “New Girl” Halloween episode and the “Happy Endings” episode mentioned earlier on this list? If you guessed Damon Wayans Jr., who appeared in the “New Girl” pilot and is now a series regular, you’re dead wrong. David Walton is the correct answer, as he plays Jess’ prospective boyfriend in “Halloween,” and is also the guy who mistakes Alex (Elisha Cuthbert) for a transvestite on “Happy Endings.”

Now then, for those of you that don’t care about such inane bits of aughts-era sitcom match-ups, “Halloween” worked quite well for “New Girl” because all the characters actually had something meaningful to do — a rare occurrence in Season 2. Each character is forced to face their greatest fear (at the time) and conquer it: Nick (Jake Johnson) and Winston (Lamorne Morris) break up with former dream girls while Schmidt (Max Greenfield) comes to terms with Cece (Hannah Simone) dating someone else, going so far as to give her new beau his costume. Meanwhile, Jess (Zooey Deschanel), usually each episode’s rogue agent, tells her sex buddy she has feelings for him. It’s a simple motif for a Halloween episode, but “New Girl” uses it to effectively generate both character development and laughs.

Available on Netflix, Amazon (VOD), iTunes, Vudu

Parks and Recreation


“Greg Pikitis” (Season 2, Episode 7): “Parks and Recreation” has a long history of exceptional — and important — Halloween episodes: “Halloween Surprise” took us to operatic highs with Ben’s (Adam Scott) proposal to Leslie (Amy Poehler) in Season 5, while the following year took us all the way back down in the Halloween-themed “Recall Vote,” where Leslie lost her city council chair. But despite these historic episodes (not to mention Season 4’s “Meet ‘n Greet,” featuring Ben and Andy’s epic fight of passive resistance and a reference to Ben owning a Batman costume thanks to Treat Yo’Self Day), none can trump the series’ first October 31 venture, “Greg Pikitis.”

Though the episode takes place before Ben and Chris (Rob Lowe) show up in Pawnee, IN — aka, before the show truly found its footing — “Greg Pikitis” kept us entertained thanks to the original cast mixing together in the most delightful fashion. Ann (Rashida Jones) throws a Halloween party that’s more bust than boom until Tom (Aziz Ansari) shows up to drop a fat beat with DJ Roomba. (Okay, the iPod-docked floor sweeper doesn’t appear, but we like to pretend he was there in spirit). Meanwhile, Leslie stalks her nemesis with the help of Louis C.K.’s Officer Dave, only to be foiled once more by the prankster known only as Greg Pikitis. “Peach pit” will never have the same meaning again.

Available on Amazon (Streaming), Hulu Plus, Netflix, Amazin Video, iTunes, Vudu

The Simpsons” (Honorable Mention)

“Treehouse of Horror” (Seasons 2-????): These mini-horror anthologies technically exist outside “Simpsons” canon, but have been a mainstay of this iconic series. And despite maddeningly NOT being called “Treehouse of Terror” (which is clearly the superior title because alliteration), they deserve a mention. Because the “Simpsons” writers feel free to cut loose on a level beyond the usual antics of Homer, Marge, Bart and Lisa, “Treehouse of Horror” has always served as a memorable mix of intense pop culture parody and animated mayhem.

Available on Amazon (VOD), FOX, Hulu, iTunes, Simpsons World

READ MORE: The 11 Best Horror Film Scores to Haunt You This Halloween

Zainab Akande, Casey Cipriani, Kat Delby, Shipra Gupta, Liz Shannon Miller and Ben Travers contributed to this list. 

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