Halloween is a special time in TV land, where shows go crazy with spooky, scary theme episodes unencumbered by the heartwarming tinge required of Christmas episodes. No, Halloween episodes tend to just be fun departures, and we're generally big fans of them. This year, Castle kicked off the week's festivities with last night's awesome, Firefly-referencing episode, and upcoming previews show 30 Rock and The Office getting into the game later this week as well. So, in honor of all the Halloween excitement on TV right now, we thought we'd look back at our ten favorite Halloween episodes of years past.
10. Bones, "Mummy in the Maze" (2007)
Not only do we get to see the cast in their Halloween costumes -- including Brennan as Wonder Woman and Booth as a nerdy "Squint" -- they have to wear them while they do their bone-analyzing business, investigate two mummified women left in Halloween-themed locations and trying to prevent a third girl from being killed.
9. Supernatural, "It's the Great Pumpkin, Sam Winchester" (2008)
When Halloween fun turns deadly (razor blades in candy, bobbing for apples in boiling water), Sam and Dean discover a witch's hex bags at the scene of each crime. The angels believe she's trying to raise Samhain, a demon who's one of the 66 seals that will raise Lucifer, and want to nuke the town, but the brothers convince them to let them handle it. They fail to stop Samhain from rising, but masks made of blood keep them alive long enough to exorcise the bastard.
8. South Park, "Korn's Groovy Pirate Ghost Mystery" (1999)
The rock-metal band Korn. Scooby-Doo's Mystery Machine. Pirate Ghosts. An inflatable Antonio Banderas doll. Robocop's ED-209. Necrophilia. What do all of these things have in common? Absolutely nothing, and yet they all fit together in this hilarious episode of South Park, which combines the gang's sick and twisted revenge on the fifth-graders with Korn's Scooby-Doo-style adventures, for some reason.
7. Freaks and Geeks, "Tricks and Treats"
There are a lot of great things about this episode -- Bill Haverchuck's costumed Bionic Woman one-man show in his bedroom, Neal's "I'm looking for Chaplin; only seeing Hitler" line while applying his Groucho mustache, Mama Weir's perfectly dorky "Monster Mash" rendition -- but it's the way that Lindsay's apprehension about rebelling with her new freak friends and blowing off her good girl handing-out-candy duties for the first time, and the consequences of that rebellion, were handled in that cuts-you-to-the-core way that only this show could, that elevates it to legendary status.
6. The Simpsons, "Treehouse of Horror VI"
A lot of the early Treehouse of Horrors are great, but this one is by far the weirdest and most memorable of them all. The first part, "Attack of the 50-Foot Eyesores," sees all of Springfield's advertising statues come to life to attack the town's inhabitants, and is resolved with Lisa and Paula Anka killing them all with a catchy duet. The second has Groundskeeper Willie terrorizing children in their dreams like a Scottish Freddie Krueger that turns into a giant bagpipe spider, which is somehow even more terrifying than regular Freddie Krueger, but it's the third installment that really had everyone "WTF?!"-ing from their couches. In it, Homer hides from Patty and Selma behind a bookcase and somehow enters a 3-D world and becomes trapped inside a Tron-like existence for a little while. Which was trippy enough, but when he finally busted out through a black hole, he entered the real, live action world, and walked down the sidewalk as a 3-D computer generated Homer, whimpering as regular humans gave him strange looks. Then he found a cake store and loved his new life, of course, as would we all.
5. The Big Bang Theory, "The Middle Earth Paradigm"
Noteworthy for also being the episode that brought us Penny and Leonard's first (very drunken, on her part) kiss, the episode had a lot of great little gems in it. In preparation for Penny's "Boy-Girl" Halloween party -- the boys' first co-ed event in a while -- Wolowitz filled his Peter Pan costume's quiver full of condoms, Sheldon dressed as the layman-confusing Doppler Effect, Koothrappali went as Thor (because what? He has to go as an Indian god?), and Leonard endeared himself to all of us by going as Frodo, a choice which, after kissing Penny in front of her caveman ex-boyfriend, enabled him to taunt "That's how we roll in the Shire." Also, Koothrappali got to have sex with one of Penny's friends, just for being "such a good listener." Heh.
4. The Office, "Halloween"
This was early on in the second season, when the show was finally, slowly, coming into its own, and the kernels for the greatness that it blossomed into later that year are definitely at work here. Jim and Pam put an inflated version of Dwight's resume on Monster.com, and prankish hilarity ensued; every woman in the office dressed as a cat, which was a nice little jab at the laziness that goes with that costume; Dwight's makeup with his Sith Lord costume was just way too good, and there were other little things, but it was a scene in Michael's office where the paper-maché head on his costume kept telling him to fire Dwight and Dwight's simultaneous freakout and indictment of said paper-maché head that made it a truly special Office Halloween episode.
3. Roseanne, "Halloween IV"
Roseanne always treated Halloween episodes like big events, and they're all some of the series' strongest episodes, but this Christmas Carol-inspired one is the most fun, with Roseanne traveling back to the Halloween party where she (played by a very young Sara Rue) met Dan as a teenager and terrorized his then-girlfriend, a Halloween Present where Dan dressed as a headless Marie Antoinette, and Jackie as his severed royal head, and a Halloween Future in which Roseanne has turned into a fun-hating, man-pleasing Stepford wife who does the unthinkable -- hands out toothbrushes to trick 'r treaters. Needless to say, she vows never to refuse to celebrate Halloween again at the end.
2. How I Met Your Mother, "Slutty Pumpkin" (2005)
Every year, there's a party on Ted's building's roof, and four years ago, Ted met the perfect girl. She was dressed like a sexy jack-o-lantern, with inappropriately placed holes, and she even gave Ted her number on a candy bar... which Lily accidentally gave to a trick-or-treater. So now, every year, just like Linus in the Peanuts Halloween special, Ted, dressed as a hanging chad (it was timely four years earlier), waits for this one girl to come back. Meanwhile, Barney tries to get Ted to move on, and changes costumes regularly so that if he strikes out with a woman, he can try again. Brilliant!
1. Buffy the Vampire Slayer, "Halloween" / "Fear, Itself" (Tie)
As a series based entirely around killing vampires and demons, any episode of this show could probably qualify, but of the few that actually took place on Halloween, these two are the best. The first had Buffy and Co. -- and the rest of the town -- buy cursed costumes, turning them into whatever they were dressed as: a helpless damsel (Buffy), a soldier (Xander) and a ghost (Willow). They flee real vampires (including the trying-to-help Angel) until Giles convinces the curser, an old pal, to reverse the spell. Two years later, a fear demon is accidentally invoked at a Halloween party, turning a haunted maze into a real house of horrors, and we see Giles shed his festive poncho and sombrero in order to cut through the wall with a chainsaw and save the day again.
Your favorite Halloween episodes? Reminisce a little in the comments, why don't you? It's (sort of) the holidays!
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