The Halloween special is truly a time honored tradition of sitcoms everywhere, so here are five of our favorites to ring in the spooky season!
There’s a lot, and I do mean a lot, of Halloween episodes out there. For anyone with a pulse, there is almost certainly something out there for you, but today, we focus on America’s favorite subgenre of television: the sitcom. The following five episodes are ones that we believe truly capture the potential of a good Halloween special,—being unique within the series, while still maintaining the heart we’ve all come to know—doing something beyond what might be readily expected of a holiday episode, or are just downright charming.
Sabrina The Teenage Witch – “A River of Candy Corn Runs Through It”
When Sabrina is coerced by her friend Valerie to throw a Halloween party, things quickly go awry as witchy shenanigans ensue (such as the river of candy corn in the kitchen). Sabrina the Teenage Witch is one of those series that, at its core, is already “Halloween-y” to begin with, giving it a little extra edge over the competition when it comes to a true blue Halloween special.
“A River of Candy Corn Runs Through It” is the show’s second Halloween special, but one that’s incredibly memorable as the show had hit its stride in its second season. Not to mention the appearance of the band, 10,000 Maniacs, and I’d never deny points for a musical appearance (or that really convincing line delivery from Asher).
Bojack Horseman – “Mr. Peanut Butter’s Boos”
An unconventional Halloween special for an unconventional sitcom. “Mr. Peanut Butter’s Boos” follows Mr. Peanut Butter throughout the years, examining his many relationships through the lens of his yearly Halloween party. Not only is it a fun romp through decades of popular Halloween costumes and a moment to remember he was canonically married to Jessica Alba, but it is also an insightful analysis of his character.
It shows how even though Mr. Peanut Butter doesn’t seem to understand why all his relationships eventually fail, “Mr. Peanut Butter’s Boos” show a clear pattern in which he always tries to be the “fun” guy. The man who marries these young adult women to make himself feel young and is terrified of any of the actual responsibilities of marriage. It’s an incredibly creative and funny episode and a worthy addition to the Halloween special canon.
Brooklyn 99 – “Halloween III”
It truly does not get more sitcom than this. Brooklyn 99, during its run, had a yearly tradition: The Halloween Heist. The Halloween Heist entails the group coming together to steal one item without being caught, and whoever does so is declared the winner. However, the third Halloween Heist only took place between Jake and Captain Holt, as they competed to break the tie between them and earn the title of “Ultimate Detective/Genius”. Their plans are quickly and hilariously undermined.
Brooklyn 99’s Halloween Heist episodes are truly a loving tribute to what the show is about—the relationship between the characters and the hijinks that ensue when they are together—while still adding something fresh each year. While it might not be something traditionally Halloween, it fits well within the tone of Brooklyn 99, in its comedy meets procedural format.
Community – “Epidemiology”
Community has always been the odd one in the sitcom world. It was weird, experimental, and often struggled to find an audience while on air. However, in more recent years, it has since become a cult classic as it’s reached streaming and with a movie on the way, Community has become a bit of a zombie itself. While it has many Halloween episodes though, “Epidemiology” is truly the best of the best.
In a parody of the classic zombie movie, the gang gets caught in the middle of a school Halloween party that’s come down with a lethal case of food poisoning. The study group is forced to fight for their lives as Abba blares throughout the show’s runtime. This episode is truly fantastic, with not a single joke missing its mark and the production truly feels through the roof while staying within the confines of the library. “Epidemiology” screams Halloween in all the ways that matter and then some, it is truly a joy to see the cast work in this episode.
The Simpsons – “Treehouse of Horror V”
There’s been a lot of Simpsons and a lot of “Treehouse of Horror”. At this point, if you know about The Simpsons, you probably know about “Treehouse of Horror”. However, “Treehouse of Horror V” has always ranked among the best.
Including some of their best work with a parody of The Shining and the classic “Nightmare Cafeteria”, these segments are connected by how the groundskeeper, Willie, fails to save anyone involved in the aforementioned horrors. This episode is as weird and gruesome as one could only hope for from the early Simpsons, perfect for scaring the crap out of the uninitiated, while still having some of the sharpest jokes in the series. Every voice actor is truly on their A-game, delivering their lines with perfect timing that will make you laugh even if you just saw something disgusting.