Halloween is just around the corner, which means it’s time for pumpkin carving, cobweb hanging, and costume shopping. But if you’re looking to spend the holiday curled up on the couch with a bowl of candy instead of braving the chilly evening to trick-or-treat, you’re going to need some good viewing material.
While there are dozens of
Halloween movies to choose from when deciding what to watch, TV episodes are a great way to get a slightly quicker fix. Halloween isn’t as much of a staple in the realm of television as, say, Thanksgiving or Christmas, so not every show bothers to make a Halloween-themed episode. Consistently, sitcoms have churned out some of the best. Their Halloween episodes typically fall somewhere on the scale from mildly to incredibly absurd while still managing to strike the ideal balance between scary, silly, and sentimental. So while they may slightly creep you out, they’ll also leave you with a warm fuzzy feeling that makes watching alone a bit less scary. Plus, they might have some good inspo for costume ideas — whether you want to steal something a character wore or dress as them.
Read on for the 12 best TV episodes to queue up this Halloween.
Brooklyn Nine-Nine Season 3, Episode 5: “Halloween III” Brooklyn Nine-Nine’s delightfully silly and unpredictable Halloween episodes are one of its best running bits. Each year, Jake Peralta (Andy Samberg) and Captain Holt (Andre Braugher) attempt to outwit the other and steal a prize in order to win the title of “amazing detective slash genius.” In the third season, Jake and Holt split their coworkers into teams to help them during the heist, adding exponentially more chaos into the mix. Friends Season 8, Episode 6: “The One With the Halloween Party”
Though Friends is better known for its Thanksgiving episodes, it also had a handful of Halloween-themed episodes throughout its 10 seasons. When Monica (Courteney Cox) and Chandler (Matthew Perry) throw a costume party for their friends in Season 8, Ross (David Schwimmer) and Chandler find themselves engaged in a hilarious and sad arm wrestling contest to impress their girlfriends — while dressed as “Spud-nik” and a fluffy pink bunny, respectively.
Buffy the Vampire Slayer Season 2, Episode 6: “Halloween”
The vampire-slaying trio’s Halloween doesn’t go as planned when a spell turns all of the residents of Sunnydale into real versions of their Halloween costumes — making Buffy (Sarah Michelle Gellar) a powerless noblewoman, Xander (Nicholas Brendon) a U.S. soldier, and Willow (Alyson Hanigan) a crop-top wearing ghost. All the while, Spike (James Marsters) is conspiring to take down Buffy with his love Drusilla (Juliet Landau), which is enough to send shivers down anyone’s spine.
The Office Season 2, Episode 5: “Halloween” The Office has no shortage of Halloween episodes (who could forget when Dwight got his head stuck in a pumpkin?), but the show’s first one remains a standout. Though Michael Scott (Steve Carrell) was told at the beginning of October that he had to fire someone by the end of the month, he unsurprisingly put it off until the very last minute — putting a bit of a damper on everyone’s holiday festivities. There’s also a papier-mâché head involved. New Girl Season 3, Episode 6: “Keaton”
Schmidt (Max Greenfield) is down in the dumps after getting broken up with by Cece (Hanah Simone). When his roommates decide to cheer him up before Jess’ (Zooey Deschanel) Halloween party, things get out of hand very quickly when it’s revealed that Nick (Jake Johnson) has been catfishing Schmidt for years by pretending to be actor Michael Keaton — a ruse started by Schmidt’s mom when he was just a kid. “Keaton” is less Halloween-themed than some of the other entries on the list, but it’s still delightfully weird.
Sister Sister Season 3, Episode 7: “Halloween”
When Tia (Tia Mowry) and Tamera (Tamera Mowry) are grounded over Halloween, they decide to steal Ray’s (Tim Reid) car in order to take their friends to a Halloween rave and somehow find themselves in Canada. Ray’s evening also doesn't go to plan after lets Lisa (Jackée Harry) convinces him to show up to a Halloween party in a giant fluffy bunny costume.
Grey’s Anatomy Season 4, Episode 5: “Haunt You Every Day”
The popular 18-season medical soap has done a handful of Halloween episodes over the years, but one of the best is when Meredith (Ellen Pompeo) thinks she’s being haunted by her mother’s ashes and decides to keep them with her while she decides what to do with them —including bringing them to the hospital. Of course, the hospital is even more chaotic than usual thanks to the chainsaw pumpkin-carving contest, and things get gory when a man uses one of the chainsaws to amputate his own leg. There’s never a dull moment at Seattle Grace!
Stranger Things Season 2, Chapter 2: “Trick or Treat, Freak”
Though most episodes of
Stranger Things are at least a little bit creepy, the show took a slightly less intense approach for this Halloween episode, giving the kids some space to be teenagers away from the usual horrors of Hawkins. If a drunken high school Halloween party and a couple of messy love triangles aren’t enough to entice you, tune in for the boys’ absolutely adorable Ghostbuster costumes. Bob’s Burgers Season 6, Episode 3: “The Hauntening”
Despite her best efforts, Louise (Kristen Schaal) has never been scared in her life, so Bob and Linda decide to try to remedy that by creating a haunted house of their own. Their attempts at scaring their children unfortunately fall short, but when the family’s car gets a flat tire and weird noises start coming from the basement, the Belchers’ haunted house starts to get a little too real. If that sounds too spooky for you, don’t worry — the episode ends with a very silly
Thriller-esque Boyz4Now song. The Simpsons Season Episode “Treehouse of Horror V”
In its 33 seasons of television,
The Simpsons has aired a remarkable number of Halloween episodes as part of its “Treehouse of Horror” series, and “Treehouse of Horror V” is widely considered one of the best. This particular spooky episode contains three shorts, including a parody of Stephen King’s The Shining called “The Shinning,” a segment about a cannibalistic school cafeteria, and Homer (Dan Castellaneta) discovering time travel. Community Season 2, Episode 6: “Epidemiology”
After the food that the Dean brought for the campus Halloween party seemingly starts turning everyone into zombies, it isn't long before Greendale Community College is overrun with violent, questionably undead beings. The study group desperately tries to stick together and avoid getting bit until help arrives, but shockingly, they aren’t the best-equipped to survive the zombie apocalypse! Also, ABBA is playing.
The Middle Season 4, Episode 6: “Halloween III”
This Halloween episode offers some classic Heck family mayhem as Axl (Charlie McDermott) prepares to vote for the first time, Sue (Eden Sher) tries to learn how to drive, and Brick (Atticus Shaffer) temporarily loses his ticks after eating all of his Halloween candy in one night. As a bonus, Frankie’s (Patricia Heaton) half-mouse, half-Raggedy Ann doll Halloween costume makes her look like an early draft of a Teletubby.
Black-ish Season 2, Episode 6: "Jacked O'Lantern"
Dre (Anthony Anderson)
loves Halloween, and this episode combines the best of Black-ish with plenty of holiday festivities. The Johnsons dress as the Obamas, guest star Michael Strahan wears a scene-stealing 50 Cent costume, and the usual family shenanigans ensue when Dre gets a surprise visit from his cousin June Bug (Strahan) and his kids aren’t happy to see their own cousins.
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