Holidays aren’t just for celebrating in the real world; fictional characters often get in on the fun. Themed episodes of television series from sitcoms to dramas can be a blast – especially the Halloween ones. They involve costumes, haunted houses, tricks, and even some scares. Shows such as 30 Rock, Community, and Buffy the Vampire Slayer have all observed the spooky day as have dozens of others. Several series have gotten it just right, and I’ve revisited Halloweens of the past and rounded up seven of the most memorable Halloween-themed episodes on television. Who’s ready for a marathon?
Buffy the Vampire Slayer: “Halloween”
Let’s begin with an obvious choice! “Halloween” aired in Buffy’s second season and featured costumes, trick-or-treating, and a vampire slaying in a pumpkin patch. That’s called winning. The gang gets costumes from Ethan Rayne, and the crafty jerk curses the costumes so that the wearers become the costumes they’re wearing. Willow becomes an actual ghost, Xander becomes a solider, and Buffy becomes a weak 18th century noblewoman. There are the usual vampires, fights, and hijinks, and the episode has lots of mushy moments between Buffy and Angel.
Community excels when it tackles themes, and the second season episode “Epidemiology” is all about Halloween. The Greendale gang attend the annual Greendale Halloween party, and it’s hard to say who has the best costume. Pierce dresses as Captain Kirk, the Dean wears a Lady Gaga costume, and Troy and Abed wear costumes from Aliens. People start getting sick because of the “food” the Dean got from the army surplus store, and the infected turn into zombies. It happens. Hilarity ensues.
gif via Tumblr
Supernatural: “It’s the Great Pumpkin, Sam Winchester”
Horror isn’t an unfamiliar subject in Supernatural, but season four’s “It’s the Great Pumpkin, Sam Winchester” is set on Halloween. The Winchesters don’t chase after the headless horseman or black cats though; they’re up against the demon Samhain. The festival is tied into the roots of Halloween, and in demon form, Samhain will raise the worst of the worst from hell. That means bad things for humans. While kids are trick-or-treating, Sam and Dean hunt down Samhain.
How I Met Your Mother: “Slutty Pumpkin”
How I Met Your Mother had a Halloween episode in the first season, and “Slutty Pumpkin” introduces one of Ted’s obsessions. He goes to a Halloween party on his building’s roof and waits all night for a girl he met in 2001 who wore a slutty pumpkin costume. He does this every year. It’s sad and sweet, but this episode wins because Marshall and Lily dress as Jack Sparrow and a parrot in order to win a costume contest. They’re ridiculously adorable and memorable.
Angel: “Life of the Party”
Lorne throws a Halloween shindig in season five of Angel for all of Wolfram and Hart’s clients and employees, but things don’t go quite as smoothly as he’d planned. He gives advice to his friends, and they take everything he suggests literally. Everything implodes when Lorne turns into a Hulk-like demon brought to life from his own subconscious. Monsters, parties, and chaos. It’s everything that should happen at a Wolfram and Hart party.
The Simpsons: “Treehouse of Horrors”
I’m cheating and listing all of The Simpsons Halloween episodes. Some of them are better than others, but as a whole, I appreciate and respect the tradition. It’s a small touch, but one of my favorite aspects of the “Treehouse of Horror” episodes is that the cast and crew get scary names in the credits. The stories reference and parody all sorts of horror films including The Exorcist, The Shining, and Psycho. You can make a game out of watching the episodes and seeing how many homages you can spot.
Castle: “Vampire Weekend”
Castle‘s second season featured a bizarre case in “Vampire Weekend.” The story kicks off the day before Halloween and Castle’s holiday bash and takes weird twists and turns. The plot is okay, but I confess this episode makes my list of favorites because of the scene where Castle wears a space cowboy costume. It melts my Browncoat heart.
Chuck: “Chuck Versus the Sandworm” gets an honorable mention for not only featuring a sandworm costume from Dune but actually putting sandworm in the episode title.
Head to the comments and tell us which Halloween-themed episodes are at the top of your list.