2020’s Best Halloween Costumes for TV and Movie Lovers: ‘Tiger King,’ ‘Cobra Kai,’ ‘Knives Out,’ and More

From "Star Wars" to "Cats," we show you how to recreate your favorite 2020 film looks for your Halloween costume this year.
Chris Evans in "Knives Out"
Courtesy of Claire Folger/Lionsgate

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Halloween 2020 is going to look very different than years past, but there’s no rule against dressing up and staying home in your costume. (That’s what Instagram is for, isn’t it?) Here at IndieWire, we’ve put together a few incredibly easy-to-replicate Halloween costumes based on some of 2020’s biggest film and TV characters. The best part: A lot of them include items you can incorporate into your regular wardrobe afterward, because who doesn’t love a multitasking purchase?

In fact, a lot of them you can create from stuff you already own — plus a strategic Amazon purchase or two. Read on for our list of the best Halloween costumes for pop culture lovers, based on 2020’s biggest films and shows.

Tiger King Netflix
“Tiger King: Murder, Mayhem and Madness”Netflix

Joe Exotic and Carole Baskin from “Tiger King”

What You Need: gaudy animal print, mullet wig or flower crown, stuffed tiger

We hate to break it to you, but you definitely will not be the only Joe Exotics and Carole Baskins this Halloween. But you can dress up as the troubled yet colorful reality stars nonetheless using a pair of blue jeans, the gaudiest animal print you can find, a mullet wig, mustache, and earrings — this Amazon kit has everything you need (shiny blue and turquoise shirt, wig, mustache, fake earrings, and necklace) for the currently incarcerated Joe. For Baskin, you’ll want this floral and animal print tunic ($27 from Amazon) and a flower crown. Top each of them off with a stuffed tiger, just in case people can’t tell your dress-up costume from your everyday clothes. (But if this is the case, we have questions.)

Paul Mescal and Daisy Edgar-Jones, “Normal People”BBC Three/Hulu

Connell (Paul Mescal) and Marianne (Daisy Edgar-Jones) from “Normal People”

What You Need: pretty normal clothes, but most importantly a silver chain

This one’s a real “pull from the closet at the last minute” situation. Really anything will work, but if you want to recreate this specific one here’s what you’ll need: for Marianne, an orange sweater (this knitted Amazon one’s just $24) and a pair of jeans; for Connell, you’ll want jeans and a blue tee from your closet, plus a green track jacket. The most important touch, though, is the most iconic supporting character of the series: Connell’s chain. We suggest this silver number, which is $21.03 and also what comes up first when you search “Connell’s chain” in Amazon.

VANCOUVER, BC - JANUARY 27: Scottie Pippen #33 and Michael Jordan #23 of the Chicago Bulls sit on the bench during the game against the Vancouver Grizzlies at General Motors Place on January 27, 1998 in Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and or using this photograph, User is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement. Mandatory Copyright Notice: Copyright 1998 NBAE (Photo by Andy Hayt/NBAE via Getty Images)
Scottie Pippen #33 and Michael Jordan #23 of the Chicago Bulls, “The Last Dance”Andy Hayt/NBAE via Getty Images

Michael Jordan, Scottie Pippen, and the Chicago Bulls from “The Last Dance”

What You Need: a vintage Jordan Bulls jersey (or any player of your choice)

Here’s another easy-to-accomplish costume, with two bonuses. First, the comfort factor: You’re literally going to be wearing a basketball jersey and roomy shorts. Second, the lack of cold weather: When you’re dressing up for yourself in your living room, no need to worry about your costume being weather-appropriate. But thanks to complicated NBA licensing deals, it’s difficult to find a cheap Michael Jordan jersey or really any sort of Chicago Bulls throwback situation. But there are still a few options. There’s a kids’ #23 jersey and shorts set ranging in price from ($18.98 to $25.98), there’s this sequined “basketball vest” in women’s sizes for $30 (because women need sparkles to identify with sports, duh!), then there’s this plain jersey of questionable provenance (beware shipping times and quality), and this Chicago Bulls tank top. Not a Jordan kind of person? Try this $110 Scottie Pippen jersey instead.

Jacob Bertrand, William Zabka, and Xolo Maridueña, "Cobra Kai"
Jacob Bertrand, William Zabka, and Xolo Maridueña, “Cobra Kai”Guy D'Alema/YouTube/Courtesy of

Johnny Lawrence (William Zabka) from “Cobra Kai”

What You Need: Cobra Kai merch, hachimaki headband

Listen, we’re fully aware that “Cobra Kai” first came out in 2018. But it wasn’t actually on a platform that most people could access until Netflix acquired it this year, so we’re counting it for 2020. (Let us have this.) If you want to dress up as one of karate’s most notorious d-bags-turned-underdogs for Halloween this year, you definitely should. You can go the lazy route with this Cobra Kai t-shirt ($20.50 on Amazon) and pair it with a Karate Kid-themed hachimaki headband ($11.39 on Amazon). If you really want to commit, buy the full costume for $59.

PEN15 -- "Play" - Episode 206 -- The school play has been cast. Maya has the opportunity to get her actual first kiss. Anna struggles to find herself. Anna Kone (Anna Konkle) and Maya Ishii-Peters (Maya Erskine), shown. (Photo by: Lara Solanki/Hulu)
Anna Konkle and Maya Erskine in “PEN15”Lara Solanki / Hulu

Anna (Anna Konkle) and Maya (Maya Erskine) from “PEN15”

What You Need: layers, cargo pants or bell-bottoms, crushing insecurity

Anna Konkle and Maya Erskine’s comedy essentially re-enacting their own turn-of-the-century middle-school years came back for Season 2 this year, and the 30-somethings-playing-13-year-olds were just as awkward (and hilarious) as ever. To recreate their look, first go through your own closet for any Limited Too, Express, or otherwise 2000s-era clothing. Then throw it all together. Like, alllll of it. Pair cargo pants (these are $30 from Amazon) or flared jeans (these Levis are $19.45-$33 at Amazon) with a t-shirt (this blue striped one like Maya’s wearing in the above photo works) and a tank top (this multi-colored ribbed one paired with the t-shirt will assault your eyes, which is kind of the goal). Got any chunky soled shoes? Put ’em on! The final step is reliving your own tween trauma, which is optional but will make the costume extra authentic.

WHAT WE DO IN THE SHADOWS -- "Resurrection" -- Season 2, Episode 1 - Pictured (l-r): Harvey Guillén as Guillermo. CR: Russ Martin/FX
Harvey Guillen in “What We Do in the Shadows”FX

Guillermo (Harvey Guillien), Nadja (Natasia Demetriou), and Laszlo/Regular Human Bartender Jackie Daytona (Matt Berry) from “What We Do in the Shadows”

What You Need: for Guillermo, a sweater and glasses; for Nadja, puffy sleeves and a high collar; and for regular human bartender Jackie Daytona, blue jeans and a toothpick

A show like FX’s movie-turned-Emmy-nominated comedy means there are truly endless options for halloween costumes. We’ve tried to narrow it down to a couple of our favorites that are easily recreated with everyday clothing (unless you’re into ornate gothic gowns as your day-to-day fashion, in which case we support your life choices but most people simply don’t have that kind of gear lying around their homes). If you want to be the world’s most timid vampire hunter/familiar, Guillermo, you’ll need a comfy dad-type sweater (this Amazon one is $50), a simple white button-down underneath (this one’s $15), these $9 gold glasses frames, and a stake (fashion yourself out of cardboard and probably don’t buy fake weapons off the internet). For Nadja, try to imitate the kinds of silhouettes she wears: This high-collar, puffy-sleeved dress is the cute, modern version of something she would wear, so start with that as your base and then over-accessorize. And you could go as Laszlo, but why not take that puffy white shirt ($25 from Amazon) and black waistcoat ($24 from Amazon) and add Jackie Daytona’s signature disguise: a toothpick (1000 for less than $6 at Amazon — that’s a lot of disguises). Laszlo who?

"The Mandalorian"
“The Mandalorian”Disney

The Mandalorian (Pedro Pascal) from “The Mandalorian”

What You Need: Mando helmet, baby Yoda

It’s hard to believe, but The Mandalorian premiered less than a year ago. Can you remember a time before Baby Yoda was in your life? Probably, but do you want to? Of course not. Be the most paternal bounty hunter in the galaxy with your Mandalorian mask (this one is $35 from Amazon) and tiny little Baby Yoda doll (check out this list for the best “Star Wars” toy selection — yes, there are many Baby Yoda options).

Liu Yifei in “Mulan”Disney

Mulan (Liu Yifei) from “Mulan”

What You Need: red robe, sword, inexplicably perfect blowout

While you can definitely purchase a Mulan costumes on Amazon (this one’s $50.03 and comes complete with robe, tunic, and armored belt attachment), you can also put it together piecemeal. For that, you’ll pretty much just need a cool red robe (buy a nice luxurious bathrobe if you want to treat yourself afterwards, or snag this red silk robe for just $12.99 on Amazon), a belt from your closet, and a sword. The sword is probably the most important part, and since Disney is selling it as a children’s toy you can pick it up for $29.99 or just buy a random cheap plastic sword for $4.99 and call it a day. And finally, instead of chopping all her hair off to disguise herself as a boy soldier, in this version, Mulan just ties it up so that in the pivotal battle scene, she lets it down, and it’s perfectly coiffed. So in order to achieve that look, you’ll want to spend an hour giving yourself as professional a blowout as you can with a round brush (this one’s $11.99 and comes with four clips from Amazon) and a nice blow dryer ($27.63 from Amazon). Hair looking voluminous and bouncy? Now you’re ready for battle!

Chris Evans in “Knives Out”Courtesy of Claire Folger/Lionsgate

Ransom (Chris Evans) from “Knives Out”

What You Need: a big, cozy, chunky off-white cable knit sweater

Chris Evans has said he can’t wear cable knit sweaters anymore after his iconic, cozy costume from “Knives Out” made waves last year. But guess what? You totally can, and you’ll be cozy while you’re at it if you go as Evans’ Ransom this year in a lovely $29.50 off-white sweater from Amazon. It’s not like you’re headed to a big Halloween bash anyway, so you might as well go for comfort. Plus, you can incorporate it into your wardrobe afterwards and channel some of that Captain America swagger in your everyday life.

"Uncut Gems"
Adam Sandler in “Uncut Gems”A24

Howard Ratner (Adam Sandler) from “Uncut Gems”

What You Need: rimless glasses, mustard polo, leather jacket, and some bling

Great news: You don’t even need to simulate the constant state of unease and terror that permeates the entire running time of “Uncut Gems,” since that’s pretty much 2020’s entire deal. All you need to complete your costume as Adam Sandler’s ill-fated Howie is a pair of early-’00s chic rimless glasses (get the lowest magnification of these reading glasses, available for $13.99 on Amazon), a mustard polo shirt (this cheap one on Amazon costs between $7.28 and $12.00 depending on the size you choose), and a leather jacket (this faux one from Authentic Apparel on Amazon costs just $34.95). Don’t forget some gold chains (this pair of lightweight, chunky faux gold chains is $14.99 on Amazon) and a big rock or something (free from your backyard!) to play the titular uncut gem.

"Birds of Prey"
Margot Robbie in “Birds of Prey”Warner Bros.

Harley Quinn (Margot Robbie), “Birds of Prey”

What You Need: um, probably just buy this one outright

Listen, we’re all about the DIY costume. It’s a lot of fun to put together the perfect combination of items that you already own (plus a few key Amazon purchases) to look just like your favorite character. But sometimes it just makes a lot more sense to buy a costume, and Harley Quinn from “Birds of Prey” is one of those times. That fringed jacket is just not something you can buy normally, and unless you started working on making your own a few months ago, you’re probably not going to finish by October 31. This Harley Quinn costume for $49.99 from HalloweenCostumes.com is what you’re looking for, and you can make it extra authentic with a couple of key accessories (necklace, mallet) for the complete look. You can also invest in a wig, or just put your hair into pigtails and call it a day. However, if you’re really into creating your own costume, you can do it halfway with these gold overalls from Amazon (though they’ll cost you the same $49.99 as the other full outfit).

Bill & Ted Face the Music
Keanu Reeves and Alex Winter in “Bill & Ted Face the Music”YouTube/screenshot

Bill and Ted (Keanu Reeves and Alex Winter) from “Bill & Ted Face the Music”

What You Need: jeans, sneakers, and a collared shirt or a t-shirt under a flannel shirt (depending on your character preference)

Whoa, dudes and babes. After 30 years you probably don’t need instruction to mimic the sartorial style of these time-traveling California boys, but if you want to dress as the versions of the characters from 2020’s “Bill & Ted Face the Music,” you can do it pretty easily. For Bill, pair jeans and sneakers with a blue t-shirt (this Amazon Basics one is $7.53) and a blue and yellow flannel on top (this blue and yellow plaid dress shirt is $15.58 at Amazon, and this blue and yellow flannel is $19.99 at Amazon). For Ted, all you’ll need is a pinky button-down long sleeve shirt, like this one that’s just $17.31 at Amazon. Excellent.

Judi Dench as Old Deuteronomy in "Cats," co-written and directed by Tom Hooper.
Judi Dench as Old Deuteronomy in “Cats”Universal Pictures

Old Deuteronomy (Judi Dench) in “Cats”

What You Need: a light fur coat, cat ears, and human hands with your wedding ring

Digital fur technology is not necessary to dress up as a perennial Halloween costume favorite of theater kids across the globe. But you will need to prepare a little bit to dress up as one of the cats from Tom Hooper’s disastrous live-action version of “Cats.” While each digitally altered cat is horrifying in its own way, we’re partial to Judi Dench’s Old Deuteronomy, particularly the shots (pre-cleanup edit) where you can see her full human hand, complete with her wedding ring. All you’ll need: a big furry coat (this faux shawl is just $34.99 from Amazon), some furry cat ears (this headband is $21.99 on Amazon), and literally no other effort. You’re done!

"Bad Boys for Life"
Will Smith and Martin Lawrence star in Columbia Pictures’ “Bad Boys for Life”Kyle Kaplan; © 2019 CTMG, Inc.

Detective Lieutenants Mike Lowrey (Will Smith) and Marcus Burnett (Martin Lawrence) from “Bad Boys for Life”

What You Need: just, like…some clothes from your closet

The top-grossing movie in the U.S. this year is still “Bad Boys for Life,” and the great news is that it will probably take incredibly little effort to dress up as Martin Lawrence or Will Smith from the film. Truly, Mike wears black pants, a belt, and a black henley (this one’s $19 from Amazon if you don’t already own one) in the film. And for Marcus, just throw a maroon bomber jacket (this one’s $36.99 from Amazon) over a black shirt and pants. Cap off Mike’s look with a pair of aviators (this two pack is $14.99 on Amazon), and Marcus’ with a silver cross necklace (this one’s $10.99 on Amazon). That’s it! You’re ready to protect and serve.

“The Irishman”Netflix

Anybody from “The Irishman”

What You Need: a suit and maybe a fedora?

Buying a full suit for a Halloween costume in 2020 feels like an absolutely wild thing to do, so this is really only a suggestion for those who already own suits. Basically, in order to channel pretty much any character in Martin Scorsese’s Netflix epic “The Irishman” all you need is a full suit, maybe a nice tie clip (this four-pack is just $10.99 at Amazon), and a fedora if you feel so inclined (this trilby’s just $15.49 on Amazon). Robert De Niro-style shoe lifts are optional too. Depends on who you want to look taller than.

"Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker"
“Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker”Disney

Finn (John Boyega), Rey (Daisy Ridley), or Poe (Oscar Isaac) from “Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker”

What You Need: khakis and leather for the dudes, a bedsheet and leather for Rey

Come on, you’re a “Star Wars” fan and you want to put together a costume for the first time in honor of the final movie in the new trilogy? We’re assuming you’ve already got some paraphernalia hanging around, or maybe you want to go as a different character this year. Finn’s “Rise of Skywalker” look can be replicated with jeans, a brown leather belt, a brown shirt, and either a fancy replica vest or really just any cargo vest (this fly fishing one has a lot of pockets and is available on Amazon for $29.88). Poe’s is similarly safari-friendly, with cargo pants, belts, and this $35 Carhartt khaki safari shirt from Amazon. Rey is the most challenging, so we’ll recommend white pants and a white tank top, a cleverly folded white scarf or sheet, and some brown leather belts. (You can also just buy a Rey costume online, like this $52.71 number from Amazon.)

"Sonic the Hedgehog"
“Sonic the Hedgehog”Paramount

Sonic the Hedgehog (Ben Schwartz) from “Sonic the Hedgehog”

What You Need: a lot of blue stuff, a plush blue hat

Behold, our final Halloween costume suggestion for 2020 — and it is probably as low-effort as you can get. Sonic the Hedgehog costumes on Amazon are all geared toward children, which is weird since there are a lot of adults who played Sonic the Hedgehog on their Sega Genesis every day after school who would not be opposed to dressing up like the furry blue character either. This blue plush Sonic cap is available on Amazon for $17.17 and will give you the character’s famous blue mohawk for very little effort. Pair it with blue clothing from your closet (or not! who cares!) for the ultimate low-effort Halloween costume. Dress your kid up as Dr. Robotnik for a very adorable parent-child costume pair.

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