10 Best TV Halloween Specials To Re-Watch This Year
If there’s one thing a television series loves it’s the chance to do a Halloween special. Whether it ramps up the horror or just sticks to a hilarious Halloween party concept, they’re bound to be memorable.
These 10 classic shows outdid themselves with their special episodes creating moments that will stick in our minds for years – whether we want them to or not.
1. Buffy the Vampire Slayer – “Hush” (S4 E10)
Kicking it off with a personal favourite, this episode of Buffy constantly appears on “Best of Buffy” lists and was the series’ only episode to be nominated for an Emmy for Outstanding Writing in a Drama Series.
Having been praised for the writing of his dialogue, series creator Joss Whedon decided to do something entirely different – and wrote an episode almost completely devoid of speech.
This episode sees one of the entire series’ scariest villains, The Gentlemen, visit Sunnydale intent on cutting out residents’ hearts. Whilst the townspeople sleep, The Gentlemen steal their voices and lock them in a box. Upon waking the whole town discover they cannot speak and Buffy and her gang have to try and stop the brutal murders whilst being unable to verbally communicate. Luckily, Buffy and her friends triumph and, after getting her voice back, Buffy screams until The Gentlemen’s heads blow up…the episode certainly finishes with a bang – and a lot of brain goo!
The eerie lack of speech and intense soundtrack really make this episode what it is, but the real genius is the concept of the villains. Floating, Victorian-dressed creatures that smile as they cut your heart out – they are definitely the stuff of nightmares.
Watch the behind-the-scenes featurette of the episode here:
2. How I Met Your Mother – “Slutty Pumpkin” (S1 E06) and “The Slutty Pumpkin Returns” (S7, E08)
There’s nothing How I Met Your Mother likes more than flashbacks and running motifs. The first season’s Halloween special became a running joke for the entire series with writers discussing how the “slutty pumpkin” would feature in each season.
The first episode focusses on a Halloween party on the rooftop of Ted’s apartment. For Ted, the evening is spent waiting for the “slutty pumpkin” to turn up, having met her in 2001 and lost her phone number the same night.
A whole six seasons later “The Slutty Pumpkin Returns” when Ted is able to track her down through the costume shop that rented her pumpkin costume. Katie Holmes guest stars as Naomi, wearer of the slutty pumpkin outfit. Their ensuing relationship is awkward and not what they both expected, but having searched for each other for so long they are both reluctant to break it off.
These episodes do what How I Met Your Mother does best and provides us with all the expected laughs from a Halloween special along with edging us a little closer to finding out who the mother is – if only by eliminating one more girlfriend. Separate to the main storyline, Barney discovering he is one-quarter Canadian gives Neil Patrick Harris is absolutely hilarious.
3. Family Guy – “Peternormal Activity” (S14 E04)
The latest of three Family Guy Halloween specials (previously “Halloween on Spooner Street” and “Quagmire’s Quagmire“), “Peternormal Activity” is a play on the Paranormal Activity film series.
Our favourite Quahog four, Peter, Joe, Cleveland and Quagmire set out to write their own horror film at Quahog Asylum. When they get scared and try to escape, they accidentally end up locked in. What they aren’t expecting to find is an old, creepy man with a hook for a hand. Naturally they decide to beat him to death, before discovering he was the property’s caretaker. They bury him in a nearby hill and agree to keep quiet about it.
Peter suffers during the night when things start happening in spookily similar circumstances to the murderous night. When Quagmire repeatedly denies being involved in the murder, Peter decides to frame him for it. He sets off to the asylum, only to discover that everyone has had the same idea and is attempting to pin it on each other.
In a genius move, by Peter’s standards, he decides this will make the perfect horror film, releasing it under the title Cereal Killer.
4. Modern Family – “Halloween” (S2 E06)
The most viewed episode of the second series, the Halloween special of hit comedy series Modern Family, was aptly titled “Halloween“.
Claire is a big big fan of the holiday and decides to design an elaborate haunted house for neighbours to come and visit. Phil learns that their next door neighbour has divorced his wife and convinces himself that Claire has also fallen out of love with him.
Mitchell has everybody’s worst work nightmare by turning up dressed as Spiderman and finding out that only the “tools and douches” wear costumes.
The costumes and elaborate set of the Dunphy’s haunted house is enough to get this episode into any top 10, let alone the infallible witty dialogue.
5. Friends – “The One with the Halloween Party” (S8 E06)
Any Friends fan would struggle to pick out a top 10 from each season let alone from the entire series. However, when it comes to holiday specials, they know what they’re doing. “The One with the Halloween Party” gets all of our favourite friends together for a fancy dress party at Monica’s apartment.
There’s no need to provide a synopsis because it’s almost guaranteed every person in the world has seen it. Friends is just that show isn’t it? Suffice to say it involves Ross in a potato outfit, Rachel paying children not to cry and an epic arm wrestle.
Check out some of the best bits here:
6. American Horror Story – “Halloween” (S1 E04&05)
Taking a steer away from comedy, American Horror Story is happy to provide us with an actual scary Halloween TV special. Ignoring the fact that the whole series is incredibly spooky, “Halloween” adds a whole new level of creepy.
We first see couple Chad and Patrick preparing for their Halloween party which they hope will encourage someone to buy their house. After arguing about Patrick’s infidelity, the threatening Rubber Man appears and kills them both, making it look like a murder-suicide.
Flashforward a year and we see Ben and Vivien discussing how to sell the house with realtor Marcy. Marcy believes the house needs “fluffers” to come in and spruce up the house; after all, its image as a “murder house” doesn’t do well in an advert. Lo and behold, who should turn up, but Chad and Patrick.
What follows is a lot of drama. When the dead are allowed to roam freely, its guaranteed to cause a few problems.
7. The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air – “Hex and the Single Guy” (S4 E07)
The classic 90s sitcom starring Will Smith takes on Halloween in this comic episode.
After Hilary’s fiancée tragically dies in a freak bungee-jumping accident, she takes the Banks’ family to a séance to try and contact him. Will is skeptical and causes the spiritualist to kick them out, cursing the family as they go.
Chaos ensues as the hex takes effect. Uncle Phil is accused of accepting bribes, Carlton has a hair dye disaster, Geoffrey is deported, Ashley breaks her ankle, and to Will’s complete horror, Hilary and Jazz get engaged. It is up to Will to plead with the psychic to lift the curse.
8. The Simpsons – “Treehouse of Horror” (S2 onwards)
The first of this Halloween series was back in 1990 in the second season of the US animated TV series. Since then there have been a total of 27 “Treehouse of Horror” episodes.
Each episode is split into three segments and plunges the family and other residents of Springfield into some sort of supernatural or horror setting. Over the years several trademarks have emerged and appear in most Halloween specials; aliens Kang and Kodos are particular favourites as well as the “scary names” in the credits.
In “Treehouse of Horror XXIV” Guillermo del Toro tried his hand at creating the opening “couch gag”, featuring many of his famous creations.
9. The Big Bang Theory – “The Holographic Excitation” (S6 E05)
This Halloween special from the sixth season of popular sitcom The Big Bang Theory features a good old-fashioned Halloween party.
Held at Stuart’s comic book store, Raj is head party planner and takes charge of the spookily themed food and TARDIS photo booth whilst Amy and Sheldon argue over their couples’ costume.
Meanwhile, everyone is getting sick of Howard and his endless astronaut tales, which puts him in a particularly bad mood, made very comical by his Papa Smurf outfit. Buzz Aldrin makes a charming guest appearance in a supposed Youtube video at the end of the episode, showing Howard his potential tragic future.
10. Toy Story of Terror
This made-for-TV special follows on from where Toy Story 3 left us, and was broadcast on ABC on 13th October 2013.
The 21-minute Halloween special sees the toys take a road trip with their new owner Bonnie. When a flat tire leads her and her mother to spend a night in a motel, Mr. Potato Head goes missing and the gang find themselves on a mysterious and terrifying quest to find their friend.
The special contains all our favourite characters and introduces us to newbie “Combat Carl” voiced by actor and former NFL player Carl Weathers.
The humour and pacey dialogue from the original big screen trilogy remain in this TV edition and it has been highly praised, gaining a rating of 92% on Rotten Tomatoes.
If you’re looking for something to watch with the little ones this Halloween, or if you’re just a big kid yourself, nothing can beat Woody and Buzz.