When you sit down for a Halloween-themed TV viewing experience, it’s often about the spooky, creepy, and downright thrill-inducing (Stephen King’s It, anyone?) But it doesn’t have to be. Some of the best TV series have aired fun Halloween-themed episodes that will have you laughing instead of crying in fear.
If you feel like watching something a bit lighter after you’ve indulged in some of the scariest Halloween movies, consider checking out one (or more) of these great Halloween-themed television series episodes.
‘Bob’s Burgers,’ ‘Full Bars’
In the animated series’ first holiday-themed episode, Bob attends a Halloween party and ends up in a fat suit, thinking he may have accidentally killed a pet guinea pig. The kids, meanwhile, head out trick-or-treating on their own. When they decide to travel to a more posh neighborhood for better treats (full-sized candy bars!), they encounter some menacing teenagers looking to terrorize young trick-or-treaters and, of course, hilarity ensues.
‘The Office,’ ‘Halloween’
Michael has to fire someone before the end of the month, but has been putting it off. After unsuccessfully attempting to fire several members of the team, he finally bites the bullet and fires Devon, on the day of the Halloween party. Fittingly dressed as a two-headed version of himself, Michael tells the man dressed in a vampire costume that he can “spread his wings and fly wherever he wants.” Ouch.
‘Parks and Recreation,’ ‘Greg Pikitis’
There’s no shortage of classic episodes in the Parks and Rec catalog, but this one is notable for a number of reasons. First, it features the great Louis C.K. in his endearingly awkward role as Leslie’s (Amy Poehler) boyfriend. Second, it’s the first ever (and possibly funniest ever) appearance of Andy Dwyer’s (Chris Pratt) signature character, “Burt Macklin, FBI.” Finally, it introduces us to criminal-mastermind-in-training and Leslie’s intrepid nemesis, Greg Pikitis. For a cherry on top, we get to watch Tom Haverford (Aziz Ansari) dawn a ridiculous/impressive T-Pain costume.
‘South Park,’ ‘Korn’s Groovy Pirate Ghost Mystery’
Leave it to South Park to transform one of the weirdest and most melodramatic bands of its age, nu-metal band Korn, into something completely wholesome, namely, the Scooby-Doo crew. The episode from the classic adult animated series features everything from an Antonio Banderas sex doll to a lynch mob and necrophilia. It’s not for everyone, but fans of the show will appreciate the brilliant cocktail of morbid humor and child-like wonder that only South Park can achieve.
Mystery meat served at the on-campus Halloween party makes several attendees sick with zombie-like symptoms, and hilarity ensues as they try to contain the “infected.” Seeing it all go down with our favorite characters dressed as David Beckham, Lady Gaga, and Captain Kirk adds to the fun of this typically creative episode from the mind of Dan Harmon (Rick and Morty).
‘Friends,’ ‘The One With the Halloween Party’
Remember that time when Chandler ended up in a pink bunny costume, somehow no one understood Ross’ Spud-nik costume, and Phoebe causes the break-up of her twin sister, Ursula, and newly minted fiancé Eric, played by guest star Sean Penn? Even better from this episode was Rachel’s attempt at giving out candy that turned into her doling out money and writing checks for kids, and posing as a young boy’s girlfriend. It’s full of the typical series hijinks, kicked up a notch by the silly costumes.
‘How I Met Your Mother’, ‘The Slutty Pumpkin Returns’
Referenced early in the series, the “slutty pumpkin” is a girl Ted met at the rooftop Halloween party one year, who was dressed in a frumpy pumpkin costume with cleverly positioned cutouts. He accidentally lost her number, and had attended the event every Halloween since in hopes she would return. In this episode, he finally finds the subject of his adoration (played by Katie Holmes) and discovers that (surprise!) they weren’t meant to be. The best part of the episode is Barney’s stand against discovering he’s one-quarter Canadian by dressing up in the most patriotic costume imaginable.
‘Modern Family,’ ‘Halloween’
The Dunphys are readying their annual Halloween party and haunted house, but nothing seems to be going right in spite of Claire’s best efforts. Related storylines add to the fun, including Phil’s worries about not being spontaneous and sexy, and Gloria’s insecurities about her accent. Most hilariously, Mitchell shows up to his new job in a superhero costume, mistakenly thinking everyone would be dressing up, then squeaks around to hide his ultra-tight getup under a spare suit he had in the car.
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‘Curb Your Enthusiasm,’ ‘Trick or Treat’
In his typical surly style, Larry has zero interest in handing out candy to teenagers who come knocking without wearing costumes. The kids retaliate by toilet-papering his house and spray-painting some not-so-nice words on his door. Citing an earlier altercation that saw Larry accused of being a “self-loathing Jew,” he deems the incident a hate crime against bald people.
‘The Simpsons,’ ‘Treehouse of Horrors’ Episode XIX
It’s hard to choose just one of these 28 annual episodes as the “best,” since they’ve all been pretty excellent, with countless parodies of iconic movies, books, radio or TV shows, ranging from The Twilight Zone to The Shining. But one of the best is 2008’s episode XIX, which includes How to Get Ahead in Dead-vertising. It parodies Mad Men, with Homer having to kill celebrities so that advertisers can freely use their likenesses. there’s also It’s the Grand Pumpkin, Milhouse, which spoofs It’s the Great Pumpkin, Charlie Brown, which you’ll find later on our list.
Not currently streaming
‘Brooklyn Nine-Nine,’ ‘Halloween’
When Jake boasts that he would make a better criminal than many of the ones they arrest, Holt puts him to task to try and steal his Medal of Valor before the clock strikes 12. Jake accepts, and puts into motion an elaborate scheme. The episode inspired a tradition, whereby each subsequent season’s Halloween episode sees officers in the precinct duke it out to determine who can pull off an elaborate fake heist.
‘Peanuts,’ ‘It’s the Great Pumpkin, Charlie Brown’
No list of great Halloween TV episodes would be complete without this Charlie Brown outing. In this iconic animated special, which first aired in 1966, Linus is convinced that there’s a “Great Pumpkin.” After writing and mailing a letter to the Santa-like character, he decides to forgo trick-or-treating and a Halloween party to wait hopefully in the local pumpkin patch for the arrival of the supposed holiday figure.
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