Image: American Horror Story/FX
October has arrived. There’s a nip in the air and all things pumpkin are temporarily available for the asking. It’s also time to binge-watch our favorite slasher movies (you’re not supposed to root for the killer, right?) Besides movies, some TV shows have gotten it right—bringing forth episodes with the right mix of humor and horror. Read on for a list of some of the best Halloween episodes in television history.
- Buffy the Vampire Slayer – Season 2, Episode: “Halloween”
No “Best Halloween tv episode” list would be complete without the inclusion of our favorite slayer and her Scooby gang. The beloved vampire dramedy lived by its own rules when it came to all things supernatural. Why should the way it deals with All Hallow’s Eve be any different? In this very special episode, we find out that vampires take a much deserved night off on Halloween. Buffy and company decide to take advantage of the threat-free night by letting loose and enjoying a night of dressing up. The Scooby gang end up with magically-treated costumes that 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 Boreanaz) 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 that she already is.
2. American Horror Story – Season 1, Episode: “Halloween 2”
The episode plays up the haunted house aesthetic when Hayden’s (Kate Mara) ghost returns to haunt Ben (Dylan McDermott) and torment Vivien (Connie Britton) with classic scares like creepy mirror messages and microwaved pooches. Out on a date, Tate (Evan Peters) and Violet (Taissa Farmiga) run into a group of gorily-dressed teens who claim they know Tate from high school. When Violet (finally) realizes that their bullet holes and mangled bodies aren’t actually costumes, she confirms one of the season’s most successful plot twists: Tate is a ghost himself, and his dreams of shooting up his school actually happened. His victims are using the Halloween-mandated dead-shall-walk rule to exact revenge on him in the after-life. By episode’s end, the various Murder House ghosts return and are once again confined to haunting within the premises.
3. Dead Like Me – Season 2, Episode: “Haunted”
It’s Halloween and reaper legend has it that the reapers can be seen as they were when alive; a serial killer stalks a neighborhood, the reapers collecting his victims as he goes, George getting the bad guy; Joy and Reggie pay a late night visit to George’s grave. So does George.
4. Community – Season 2, Episode: “Epidemiology”
In the cult favorite’s sophomore season, the students of Greendale are dropped right into a traditional zombie-B movie quarantine nightmare when Dean Pelton (Jim Rash) mistakenly orders a brain-numbing, zombifying virus along with the cheap military food reserves he purchased for his costume party. It’s like the finest of paintball melees, only this time wth zombies, outstanding costumes, and the obligatory sacrificial decoy. The award for most original costume goes to Chang of course who dresses up like a figure skater, Peggy Fleming.
5. Roseanne – Season 4, Episode: “Trick Me Up, Trick Me Down”
When Dan and Roseanne play a gruesome Halloween prank on Kathy Bowman, Roseanne is worried that Kathy might get her revenge later that night. At the lodge’s Halloween party, Jackie discovers that the moose she has been flirting with is really Booker.
6. Castle – Season 2, Episode: “Vampire Weekend”
As per usual in the ABC procedural, Castle and Beckett are trying to solve the murder of a man who was staked through the heart. Cue their entrance into the sordid world of the underground vampire fetish community. At one point, Rick Castle delivers a not quite subtle shout out to the audience and Browncoats throughout the world when he dons a familiar brown duster coat as his costume in the episode. Oh, Captain Tightpants lives!!!
7. Louie – Season 2, Episode: “Halloween/Ellie”
Louie goes against his better judgment and lets his daughters continue trick-or-treating in the city after dark. Clearly not the best idea that Louie ever had. This becomes especially evident when Louie and his daughters run into two ghoulish baddies. He steps up and takes care of business after his youngest daughter takes a stand against the bullies first.
8. Hawaii Five-0 – Season 3, Episode: “Mohai”
Think Texas Chainsaw Massacre or The Hills Have Eyes meets … well Hawaii Five-0. A gruesome murder on Halloween night appears to be related to a Satanic ritual, and Five-0 must find the killer before he claims a second victim. Miles Teller guests in this episode and his performance is something special.
9. Chuck – Season 4, Episode: “Chuck Versus the Aisle of Terror”
Chuck, Sarah, Casey, and Morgan must stop a scientist from releasing a nightmare-inducing toxin. Damaging information regarding Chuck’s mother is discovered. Devon’s mother pays a visit. Jeff and Lester deck out the Buy More for Halloween.
10. Fresh Prince of Bel Air – Season 4, Episode: “Hex and the Single Guy”
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.
11. The Simpsons – Season 6, Episode: “Treehouse of Terror V”
Heeeeeeeeeere’s Homer! This installment of The Simpsons’ annual horror episode takes on The Shining when the family’s job at Mr. Burns’ country estate goes awry when Homer goes mad. Meanwhile, Homer’s attempt to repair a toaster results in inadvertent time-travel, and Bart and Lisa face becoming dinner when the school staff turn cannibalistic.
12. My So-Called Life – Season, Episode: “Halloween”
Angela Chase worries that Jordan Catalano might be expelled from school. But things get crazy when she discovers her textbook belonged to a former student who died a violent death at her high school’s gym in the 1960s. Costume-wise, we see Rayanne as a sexy vampire, Ricky as the ever-so-nerdy Brian Krakow, and Angela as a 1960s student (see what they did there?)
13. Dexter – Season 1, Episode: “Let’s Give the Boy a Hand”
The mysterious Ice Truck Killer escalates his killing spree by leaving body parts of his latest victim at sites that relate to memories from Dexter’s childhood, leading Dexter to confront his dark personal history. As Halloween approaches, Rita takes drastic steps to quiet a barking dog from its cynical owner who keeps her children up at night. Lt. Laguerta seeks a way to comfort the mother of the latest Ice Truck victim. Angel cannot find the right anniversary gift for his wife, who is currently separated from him. Also, the heat against Sgt. Doakes escalates when Guerrero’s thugs begin tailing him.
14. Supernatural – Season 4, Episode: “It’s the Great Pumpkin, Sam Winchester”
There’s a witch intent on sacrificing unsuspecting victims in the hopes of summoning a dangerous demon. Sam and Dean are on the case as college students succumb to a strange “accidents” like the girl who drowns while bobbing for apples.
So, what say you? What Halloween-themed episodes topped your personal list? Hit the comments section below.