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Thursday, Feb. 29, 2024
The Observer

Best Halloween TV Specials

Halloween episodes on television have always been more successful with a little humor involved. Looking back on shows both old and new, I want to highlight some of my personal favorite Halloween specials. They may not be considered by all to be the best, but they're definitely entertaining.


Oh, "Community," you're always delivering on the laughs, but rarely on the ratings. This isn't the time to tell you why you should watch this hilarious NBC cult comedy, but for now I'll say their Halloween special "Epidemiology" is a series highlight. Greendale Community College's loveable gang of misfits attends a Halloween dance where a batch of government-issued taco meat causes a zombie-like outbreak among the students. Between rapid-fire pop culture gags, flying cats and a zombie smack down to the tunes of ABBA, what more could a reasonable person ask for in a Halloween special? Especially when George Takei is narrating. 

The Simpsons

Ok, so the annual "Treehouse of Horror" special episode of "The Simpsons" has brought a lot of hits and misses over the years (what do you expect from a show in its 24th season?). Still, their Halloween episodes have delivered some of the show's most memorable moments. If you haven't experienced an army of dolphins taking over Springfield, Homer selling his soul for a doughnut or shooting down the zombie Ned Flanders ("He was a zombie?"), then I highly recommend putting some of these episodes on your pre-Halloween watch list. If there's a standout, it's the show's "The Shining" spoof from the Season 6 "Tree House of Horror" segment "The Shinning." Trust me, it's worth eight minutes of your time. 

Boy Meets World

"Dun, dun, dun!" In the episode "And Then There was Shawn," Cory Matthews and the crew are stuck in detention after disrupting Mr. Feeny's class (nobody disrespects Feeny). Detention soon takes a frightening turn as the gang finds itself in a horror movie-like scenario. With masked murderers, creepy janitors, blood-written messages on the chalkboard and a student named Kenny being impaled by a pencil ("Oh my gosh, they killed Kenny!"), this is sitcom horror done right - minus a pretty stupid ending. 

How I Met Your Mother

It's "The Slutty Pumpkin," Ted Mosby! See what I did there? In the first season of HIMYM, the show takes on the classic Charlie Brown special as we learn how Ted waits every Halloween for a mysterious girl dressed as a sexy pumpkin whose number he lost years ago. The episode is filled with plenty of funny moments, from effeminate pirates and rooftop Ivy League a cappella groups to Barney's various costume changes, which enable him to hit on the same girl. There's even a follow-up to the episode in Season 7 where Katie Holmes plays the Slutty Pumpkin (good grief). 

Hey Arnold!

Remember the good old days of mischievous and prank-filled Halloween nights - like fooling your town about an alien invasion and nearly getting your friends dressed as aliens killed? No? Then Arnold and his friends clearly have way too much free time on their hands. More importantly, it makes for a great episode from everyone's favorite football-headed cartoon. Paying tribute to Orson Welles' "War of the Worlds" radio drama, Arnold and his odd friends scare the pants off their neighbors to prove they can be as frightening as the adults. If only my friends and I were that creative back in 4th grade - and that awesome. 

Modern Family

"Modern Family" is one of the funniest shows currently on TV (and it has the Emmys to back it up). However, the episode "Halloween," delivers a well-written and well-acted installment, even by the show's own high standards. The episode revolves around three storylines: Claire setting up a haunted house, Mitchell stuck at work as Spiderman (when no one else is in costume) and Gloria attempting to lose her accent to avoid ridicule (unsuccessfully). In traditional "Modern Family" style, the three storylines merge in the end and everyone learns a lesson (including why you should dress as a sexy cat for Halloween). The family even manages to put together a pretty stellar haunted house. I can't do it justice in this article, but trust me, it's worth your time.