Ah the seasonal episode. There’s something so charming (usually) when your favorite sitcom abandons its premise and celebrates whatever season is happening when the episode airs. My personal favorite iteration? The Halloween special. Across any TV show format, the Halloween special episode is perfect for visual gags, a spooky atmosphere, and a bit of good old-fashioned fun.
So, with Halloween right around the corner, we’ve rounded up some of the best Halloween TV episodes to get you in the spooky mood. If you’re looking for a whole series to watch, we’d recommend checking out shows like X-Files, Over the Garden Wall, or The Twilight Zone. But, for individual episodes of great Halloween fun, you’ve come to the right place.
Below are our favorite Halloween specials from TV shows. Enjoy!
Bob’s Burgers, “Full Bars” (Season 3 Ep. 2)
Few shows do Halloween better than Bob’s Burgers. To date, there have been at least 10 episodes across its 12 seasons. And while they haven’t all been perfect, they deliver wonderful puns and provide us with some fantastic costumes from the kids. Full Bars, though, has to go down as the best one. The kids trick or treat on Kingshead Island, where, as we all know, rich people give out the best candy. And, of course, comedy ensues. The costumes are unforgettable, particularly Gene as Queen Latifah during her U.N.I.T.Y. phase but it’s the one-liners that really get me. “There’s a lot of carrots in that stew.” Incredible.
The Office, “Halloween” (Season 2 Ep. 5)
The Office has plenty of Halloween gags throughout the series but more often than not they’re reserved for the cold open. Episode 5 from season 2 simply titled “Halloween” commits to the premise for the full episode. Michael is stuck having to fire someone by the end of the work day, and it happens to be the spookiest day of the year. In this episode, we get some classic The Office beats. Jim’s simple yet excellent Halloween costume (Three Hole Punch Jim), a Dwight prank, and the introduction of Creed’s shenanigans. Imagine if Michael had actually fired him! And, perhaps the best moment, is Dwight’s frustration at not being appreciated for his costume. “What are you, a monk?” “I’m a sith lord.”
Community, “Epidemiology” (Season 2 Ep. 6)
Community takes a stab at the Zombie movie genre with this classic Halloween episode. It’s chaotic and hilarious with costume jokes and horror movie tropes flying left and right. Fans of Community will appreciate the banter but it’s a pretty accessible episode for those who haven’t seen the show.
WandaVision, “All-New Halloween Spooktacular!” (Season 1 Ep. 6)
It feels odd to pick an episode from a single show, but WandaVision’s Halloween episode nails the late 90s sitcom aesthetic and makes for a compelling episode of modern TV. Plus, we get the Scarlet Witch and The Vision in their comic book-accurate costumes, tights and all. The visuals and eeriness are fantastic maintaining the show’s central mystery and keeping viewers on their toes.
Cheers, “Fairy Tales Can Come True” (Season 3 Ep. 4)
Halloween is extra sweet in this charming episode of Cheers. The regulars gather at the bar and Cliff hits it off with a woman dressed as Tinkerbell. They make plans to meet each other without their costumes the next night. But, they never follow through. Ultimately, though, this episode is one of the shows sweetest and shows a more sensitive side of Cliff.
Curb Your Enthusiasm, “Trick or Treat” (Season 2 Ep. 3)
Halloween episodes of TV sometimes just feel like filler. A brief reprise from the series’ main thrust. But, Trick or Treat is peak Larry David. This episode sees him firmly rooted to his principles as he refuses to give candy to two girls who aren’t wearing costumes. But, of course, it ends bitterly for him. “They were just using Halloween to get candy!” Classic stuff.
Stranger Things, “Trick or Treat, Freak” (Season 2 Ep. 2)
The entire show of Stranger Things is basically one long Halloween episode. So, it’s particularly fun that the creators decided to devote an episode to the spooky holiday. The Ghostbusters costume is wonderfully nostalgic and, unlike most of the picks on this list, the episode is genuinely frightening. It might not be an integral episode of the season, but it nails the Halloween spirit.
The Simpsons, “Treehouse of Horror” (Season 2 Ep. 3)
While we probably could’ve picked any of the annual Halloween specials from The Simpsons, we decided to go with the original Treehouse of Horror. Not only do we get the introduction of the green aliens Kang and Kodos, but the writers show their literary chops with a faithful, if not unnerving, rendition of Edgar Allen Poe’s The Raven. Seeing Bart in raven form absolutely sold us on this.
It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia, “Who Got Dee Pregnant?” (Season 6, Ep. 7)
The plot of this episode was really just a ploy to mask the fact that actress Kaitlin Olson was actually pregnant. But, the show commits to its manic, amazing Halloween premise. The terrible costumes (and terrible understanding of what they’re actually dressed as) are wonderful and ridiculous. And the hazy flashbacks are peak It’s Always Sunny.
Parks & Recreation, “Halloween Surprise” (Season 5, Ep. 5)
Like the aforementioned Cheers episode, this one is more charming than spooky. The A-Plot ultimately results in Ben proposing to Leslie and the B-Plot is a hilarious fiasco of Trick or Treating. It’s silly, ridiculous, and sweet. Just like Parks & Rec itself. The highlight has to be Andy practicing his observation skills. “Man dressed as a nerd. Female dressed as… crazy witch.” “We’re not in costume.”
It’s the Great Pumpkin, Charlie Brown
I know this is more of a TV special than it is an episode of television, but hey. It still counts. If you’re going for family-friendly charm this Halloween season, turn this on. It’s got all the classic Charlie Brown beats. The Red Baron, Charlie trying to kick a football, and Linus monologuing about something. In this case it’s his religious fervor for the Great Pumpkin. But, the true pinnacle of this Halloween TV special is of course the kids going trick or treating and Charlie Brown dejectedly reporting “I got a rock.”