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TV Halloween Costume Contest! 22 Characters Compete for Best Dressed

TV Halloween Costume Contest! 22 Characters Compete for Best Dressed

The rules are simple: We make the rules. You vote for the winner.

Indiewire has gathered many of our favorite TV characters and pitted them against each other in what we’re referring to as the…drum roll, please…2015 TV Halloween Costume Contest! Are all the costumes from 2015? No. Are all the shows still airing? No. Does a great new costume for a character make a show great? Maybe. Judgment is based mainly on the glee you feel when these TV icons don whatever outfits best suit them, but bonus points are given for creativity and remaining true to the character.

But our grades are just that: ours. Of course, they’re well-reasoned, utterly objective and absolutely correct, but you, dear readers, get to vote for the winner in the poll at the bottom. So let’s get to it.

“Bob’s Burgers”

Give credit where credit is due: These three kids have come up with some spot-on, moderately inventive costumes designed with specific purposes. Tina is finding the horror in everyday life. Louise is flirting with danger. And Gene…well, Gene remains a mystery. It’s unclear whether the fart-crazed keyboardist even knows who, exactly, he’s portraying, but specificity in costume is always worth some bonus points.

Grade: B+

“Brooklyn Nine-Nine”

Every year, Charles Boyle (Joe Lo Truglio) attempts a costume that will impress his co-workers, and every year he fails miserably. This year’s attempt at Vegas-era Elvis Presley was particularly sad. In general, “Brooklyn” is always a bit of a let-down when it comes to creative costuming. Given just how good “Parks and Recreation” (“Brooklyn’s” older sister) was at Halloween, we can only hope things improve in future seasons.  

Grade: C+ 

“Buffy the Vampire Slayer”

In the second season episode “Halloween,” Buffy’s (Sarah Michelle Gellar) feeling insecure about her femininity — after all, maintaining one’s feminine charms can be tough when you’re slaying demons every night. So when it’s time for her to take a night off, she decides to dress up as a girly old-timey lady, so as to better impress her crush Angel (David Boreanaz). Buffy looks stunning, but unfortunately things go awry when everyone in Sunnydale becomes their costumes. Buffy goes from being a capable ass-kicker to a whiny and bigoted idiot who, this time, is the one in need of rescue. Once things return back to normal, Buffy’s not only happy to be back in her standard apparel, but she’s learned An Important Lesson about how being feminine and being strong aren’t mutually exclusive — especially to Angel.  

Grade: B+


Is there anything more endearing than an actor who embraces their past? Nathan Fillion may have punched his meal ticket when signing onto “Castle,” the long-running ABC romantic dramedy on ABC, but he’s never forgotten his roots. Maybe we’re partial after being charmed by the man in a recent interview (or merely convinced of how cool it is to embrace your inner geek), but this costume is one mega meta-message that begs to be loved. Give in.

Grade: A


“Community” was a show that consistently nailed its Halloween episodes, but damn, were Troy and Abed’s couples’ costumes the standouts, every time. We literally can’t pick our favorites, though the top three are definitely Calvin and Hobbes, Alien and Power-Lifter Ripley and (yet another fictional series-within-a-series) The Inspector and Constable Reggie of not-at-all-related-to-“Doctor Who”-how-dare-you-suggest-such-a-thing “Inspector Spacetime.” What matters is that while Abed and Troy always lived in their own little world, Halloween was the one time a year we saw it externalized, to joyful results. 

Grade: A


Oh, Ross. How very Ross of you to combine the semi-root word of your favorite satellite (Sputnik) with the least common term for a potato. The resulting costume may win you some points among your scientist friends (though, really, anyone with a PhD. should be able to do better than this), but Joey summed up the consensus opinion by labeling you “doodie.” And no, “space doodie” isn’t any better.

Grade: F+

“Happy Endings”

Halloween costumes need to be clever, creepy or both, but in the quest for the most poppin’ ‘tume at the party, many people forget one final requirement: Your costume has to be functional. So as much as we love the “Happy Endings” gang’s Jackson Five group get-up, the fact they couldn’t get out the door with it would keep them from entering any actual costume contest.

Grade: B+

“It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia”

Ignoring the glorious Luigi mustache on Dennis’ face for a second, let’s take some time to revel in a) the gang’s constant ridiculing of Dee for looking like a bird, and b) her ignorance in indulging their opinion by wearing a costume with wings. I mean, come on, Dee. That’s masochism. Any insults — and there were many — you had coming.

Grade: F

“Modern Family”

I find it a bit sad when the best costumes appearing on a show whose main characters claim to love Halloween aren’t actually worn by the main characters. Sure, Claire is more focused on frights and gross-out gags than clever costumes, but that’s hardly an excuse for a sitcom with a stacked cast. Hailee’s outfits are all geared toward the same endgame, Gloria never gets into the holiday and the most memorable thing Mitchell has worn is a Spider-Man suit. Come on, Dunphys. You can do better.

Grade: C

“The Office” (UK)

Technically, the employees of Slough’s saddest paper company weren’t dressing up for Halloween in the penultimate episode of Season 2. They were instead dressing up for British charity event Red Nose Day. But that doesn’t matter. What matters is seeing Ricky Gervais, on one of the worst days of his life, dressed in the most humiliating way. If Halloween is all about the scares, then losing your job is pure terror: The ostrich-riding costume is beautiful in its simplicity, but the fact that it’s what he’s wearing when his basically-inevitable firing comes to pass makes the moment all the more brutal. 

Grade: B+

“The Office” (US)

There’s something to be said for simplicity on Halloween. An active imagination can be more impressive than spending hundreds on a replica costume, and that’s what Dwight found out every year (even if he never learned his lesson). Jim was the king of the passive Halloween costume, showing up as everything from the above “Three-Hole Punch Jim” to “a guy named Dave.” His first effort, shown above, may not be enough to win him the contest, but it’s charming in its lack of effort. Now if he had done this for Halloween…

Grade: B+

“Parks and Recreation”

What made Halloween on “Parks and Recreation” so great was that the characters not only wore costumes befitting who they are, but the writers went the extra mile to make those costumes hilarious. What makes Chris Traeger’s so compelling is the enthusiasm behind it, which, of course, Chris Traeger(!) brought to everything he did. Yet his utter joy at portraying his favorite literary character was nicely paired with the horror on Jerry’s face — and many at home — when we watched the greatest detective of all time grinding on the dance floor. The dancing is all Chris. The costume is pretty close to perfection.

Grade: A-

“The Simpsons”

Over its decades on the air, “The Simpsons” has dressed its iconic characters up in no shortage of ensembles, but one of the most striking was perhaps in the third installment in the series’ “Treehouse of Horror” series because — despite the show’s normally family-friendly approach — it was a reference that no one under the age of 17 would (hopefully) get. Dressing Bart up like one of “A Clockwork Orange’s” droogs was one of those great adult touches that those of us who grew up with the show came to appreciate in future years, while our parents just smiled in amusement. 

Grade: B+

30 Rock

Not only is Liz Lemon’s Harry Potter ensemble a winner at Kenneth’s sparsely-populated Halloween party, but it’s a damn fine costume overall. From the layers to the lightning bolt scar to the side-part in her hair, Lemon really went for it with one of her true passions in life, and the effort pays off, as fans of both properties should be pretty proud of the ensemble. Now if only she could escape that apple-faced goon and wear it somewhere worthwhile…

Grade: A-

READ MORE: 12 Haunting (and Hilarious) TV Homages to ‘The Shining’

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