Top 10 Halloween (or Vaguely Halloween Related) Episodes

Mek and I have been watching scary movies — mostly bad ones — this October, but we’ve also been revisiting some of our favorite Halloween themed TV episodes as well. Because I am who I am, I decided to make a list.

It’s not a perfect list. I’m going to admit that upfront. It feels a little wrong not to include a single Treehouse of Horror from The Simpsons, but I just don’t remember them that well anymore, certainly not enough to differentiate between episodes. Also, three different shows have multiple episodes here, either because I need to expand my horizons or because these TV shows just have a lot of awesome pop culture references. Regardless, here it is:

Top Ten Halloween (or Vaguely Halloween Related) Episodes

Disclaimer: Mild spoilers below. Also, as always, the order of this countdown is subject to change at my whim.

10. “You Don’t Know How It Feels” – Cougar Town


This isn’t one I watch every October, but I do enjoy it. There’s the whole emotional content stuff that Cougar Town likes to surprise you with now and again as Jules tries to connect with her emotionally distant father. There’s also all the wacky costumes: half the gang dresses up as each other (which is pretty funny, except for the regrettable brownface). Meanwhile, Jules is a princess, Grayson is Prince, Andy is Burt Reynolds, and Bobby — who obviously wins — is Windy Guy, literally, a guy being blown around in the wind.

It is also the episode that gave us “dead baby lasagne,” which makes me so happy. Because I am a terrible person.

9. “This Episode Sucks” – Psych

psych vamp

Psych is the King of Awesome Guest Stars and Pop Culture References. (Okay, they share the title on references. Unless they’re from the 80’s — Psych automatically wins anything from the 80’s.) And this vampire episode not only guest stars both Kristy Swanson (from the original Buffy the Vampire Slayer) and Corey Feldman (from The Lost Boys), it has Shawn dressing up as Lestat from Interview with the Vampire and Gus as Blacula from, well, Blacula. (Thank you, SFSU, for providing a Vampire Fiction class so I actually knew that reference.) And they even name drop Dracula 2000, which is one of my very favorite guilty pleasure movies!

For that alone, I would love this episode. But this is also the first time we meet Marlowe (Swanson), and I was really happy she kept coming back as Lassie’s prison GF and eventual wife. And Juliet is typically awesome. The show’s consistency wavered some after the first four seasons, but Maggie Lawson just got better and better. I really hope to see her in more things.

8. “Halloween” – Buffy The Vampire Slayer

buffy costumes

It’s always fun to see characters play against type. Dainty and Ridiculous Buffy is kind of hilarious, and Competent Soldier Xander is pretty cool. (And I love how his magically induced military knowledge will come in handy for future episodes.) We get our first introduction to Giles’s Shady Past. And I won’t lie: I’m all about Willow’s ghost costumes, both the Kid Friendly and the More Sexy one.

Also, Oz is all crushing on Willow from afar, and screw Buffy/Angel or Buffy/Spike — Willow/Oz is my OTP. (I mean, I really like Tara too. But at the end of the day, yeah. It’s gotta be Oz.)

7. “And Then There Was Shawn” – Boy Meets World


My nostalgia pick. A lot of the humor here sails past silly and lands firmly into cornball, but I can’t help myself: I still like this episode. After all, how many episodes deal with the emotional ramifications of your best friend’s messy breakup by playing around with horror tropes? Not enough, obviously. Also, you know what doesn’t happen enough in television? People dying from pencil-inflicted stab wounds. “We’ll always remember he was this tall.”

Heh. That still makes me laugh.

6. “Bad Blood” – The X-Files


Okay, I’m sure that when other people pick X-Files episodes to watch in October, they go for the actually spooky ones . . . but if it hasn’t already become readily apparent, I tend to like my horror with a healthy dose of humor mixed in. And comparing Scully’s version of How Mulder Came to Stake a Kid With Fake Vampire Teeth to Mulder’s version is pretty hysterical. Favorite parts include Scully’s profoundly unenthusiastic autopsies, Magic Fingers, and Mulder’s song. Also, it’s Luke Wilson! And that kid from The Sandlot!

You know, I always liked Scully, but I don’t know if I appreciated her enough when I was young. Maybe one of these days I’ll go back and watch this show from the beginning again.

5. “Scary Sherry: Bianca’s Toast” – Psych

psych axe

I’m not crazy about Lassiter’s temporary partner subplot — I like the payoff with the team more than the actual goofy scenes leading up to it — but I love seeing Juliet undercover at the sorority house, and there is something about her scene where she’s gotten the upper hand over the bad guy, and Shawn and Lassie have to show up in time not to rescue her but to stop her using the axe herself . . . I don’t know, I just love it. Henry laughing at the boys for their unnecessary, twenty-year-old psychological trauma is pretty hilarious too.

Also, this monologue from Gus: “I will not enter a room first. I will not enter a room last. I will not investigate any suspicious noises or go looking for a fuse box, and you will not under any circumstances leave me by myself without a weapon of some kind. Do you understand and agree to my terms?”

Good for you, Gus. I mean, it doesn’t end up helping you very much in the end, but still. Good for you.

4. “Horror Fiction in Seven Spooky Steps” – Community

community spooky

I love all the stories, of course, but I think Abed’s has to be my favorite. Bringing a radio for news reports when you’re staying near an insane asylum with an outdated security system? Standing in the center of the room, back, to back, with knives? LOVE IT. After years of watching people in horror movies make the dumbest choices they can possibly make, Abed’s ghost story was both funny and refreshing. Although Annie’s enthusiasm for gore and viscera was also pretty awesome.

And, of course, I love that almost everyone in the group is a dangerous psychopath. Because really, that seems accurate.

3. “Fear Itself” – Buffy the Vampire Slayer

buffy fear

I don’t know if I have too much to say about this one, other than I like it. (In fact, my only critique is that it’s during the Everlasting Parker Woe. Ugh. Fucking Parker.) But here are a few of the things I especially love:

Oz’s God costume
Anya’s Bunny costume
Everyone being haunted by their personal fear (I’m always a sucker for that — though I will admit to liking Willow’s fears better in “Restless” than in this one.)
Giles in a sombrero and Giles with an axe (sadly, not at the same time)
Taunting the fear demon.
And, of course, “actual size.”

2. “Epidemiology” – Community

Quite possibly my favorite episode of Community ever, which isn’t exactly an easy choice. I love how this show has forever managed to link zombies and ABBA in my brain, like that’s not creepy or anything. Also, I laughed SO HARD when Troy utterly fails to fight the zombies with the Power of Imagination, like, his line, “Okay, I don’t know why I thought this would work,” had me in tears. And you have to love a zombie virus that can be cured merely by turning on the A/C, right? Also: George Takei’s beginning and ending narration.

I’ve never been so disappointed that my parents didn’t inexplicably name me Kevin in my whole life.

1. “Tuesday the 17th” – Psych

psych killer

Oh, God, you guys. This was so hard. Trying to pick between my favorite Community episode and my favorite Psych episode? It’s too much. In fact, I might make a different call tomorrow.

But for today . . . I can’t begin to tell you how much I love Psych’s Friday the 13th parody. I love everything about it: the Rick Astley piñata, the MANY spot-on homages, the Deep Blue Sea reference, Juliet saving the day (again), and of course, “Let’s twist this.” It’s also got one of my favorite continuity gags ever: in an earlier episode (from an earlier season, even), a fugitive badly pretends to be one of Shawn and Gus’s childhood camp counselors, and he’s forced to improvise a Camp Tikihama song, which they utilize again in this episode, all creepy like. Cracks me up every time.

Honorable Mentions:

“The Rocky Horror Glee Show” – Glee, primarily for Kurt as Riff Raff.
“Heeeeere’s Lassie” – Psych
“Lassie Jerky” – Psych
“Let’s Get Hairy” – Psych
. . . and every other horror tribute episode of Psych I failed to mention. Because there are a LOT of them. God bless you, Psych.

Have your own favorite Halloween episodes? Tell me about them in the Comments.

11 thoughts on “Top 10 Halloween (or Vaguely Halloween Related) Episodes

  1. Alright, you win, I’ll properly try out Psych. Or at least their horror tribute episodes.

    I’m not an ABBA fan, but it really works in the episode. I have a special respect for things that make me like the use of a song – or songs – that I hate. This isn’t even the first thing to do that specifically with an ABBA soundtrack, as Muriel’s Wedding was also pretty awesome in that regard. I feel like Mamma Mia (the film, I haven’t seen the play) had terrible enough ABBA musical numbers to make up for both of them, though.

    Troy’s thematically-appropriate-but-logically-unsound plan failing so utterly is one of my favourite moments of the show, ever, and represents a lot of what I love about Community.

    I’m on Season 4 of The X-Files, and somewhat struggling. But I’m determined not to quit without having seen Small Potatoes and Bad Blood. Plus, there’s this brilliant X-Files recap comic I love called Monster Of The Week. If I stop watching, I won’t be able to understand it!

    • Bwa-ha! I hope you like Psych, if you do end up checking it out. Seasons 2-4 are probably my favorite, though I do like episodes in the first and later seasons as well. (I meant to do this big retrospective after the show wrapped up, but I just never finished it.) I hope you’re ok with 80’s references, because seriously. The show’s about ninety percent 80’s references. And tribute episodes. They have so many awesome tribute episodes, not just to horror but to, like, all the things. (I started making that list too and failed to complete it. I am the girl who does not finish shit.)

      I have no especial feeling towards ABBA one way or the other, but I just love that when I hear ABBA on the radio now, I think of zombies, maybe 9 out of 10 times. It’s particularly funny if it takes me a minute to realize who’s singing and wonder why I’m suddenly thinking of zombies. This has seriously happened to me, more than once. It’s like scent memory, but more hilarious. (And I’m skeptical that my scent memory works properly. I don’t associate perfumes or flowers or anything with people. I’ll blame my lousy sinuses.)

      Also, I have never seen either Muriel’s Wedding or Mamma Mia. But now I’m trying to think of moments where people use music that I hate and make me like it b/c of how they used it. I’m sure there are examples of this, but I’m failing to come up with any off the top of my head.

      Yeah, Troy’s RipleyFail is one of my favorite moments, too. I adore it. I laughed so, so hard the first time I saw it.

      I came into The X-Files pretty late. Not, like, Doggett late, but a good few years after everyone else I knew started watching it. I started catching up on them, but never fully got there, and then Doggett DID come, and I was like, well, I”m out. So, there’s a bunch of episodes I’ve never seen and a bunch more I barely remember because I’ve only seen them once. I always kind of wanted to go back and watch from the beginning, but . . . just . . . SO MANY SHOWS.

      • I don’t dislike 80s references, I’m just not always that great at understanding them. I was born in ’91 and I live in Australia, so I might not be able to appreciate a reference to 1980s American culture like you can, you elderly Yank. 🙂

        The tribute episodes, though, are totally fine. Especially the horror ones. So far I’ve watched Scary Sherry, Bounty Hunters (so I could hear the original version of the Camp Tikihama song), Ghosts (it sounded horror-y!) and Tuesday The 17th. I can’t say I’m all in yet, but I’m enjoying it enough, and there were a few things I really loved. Some stuff you didn’t mention:

        -Gus’s last scene in Scary Sherry – mostly for Shaun going back for Gus only to haunt him instead, but I also love Gus’s belt flailing becoming more exhausted, sobby belt flailing.
        -Shaun having visted Scary Sherry: Bianca’s Toast’s killer in prison to get help brainstorming his fake haunting in Ghosts. (I need to see that scene now – is there fic of this?).
        -The April Fools Day reveal in Tuesday The 17th. Complete with the party montage from that movie!
        -Although in April Fools Day I was pleased they committed to the twist and didn’t backtrack on it, I actually really liked that Tuesday The 17th did the opposite. Psych being a comedy, and me not having kept an eye on the time, I genuinely thought Shaun had solved the mystery for a minute there. Also, having one of the guniea pigs start killing people for real after the big twist was the alternate ending to April Fool’s Day, so that was pretty cool.

        Even if you never get round to the rest, I recommend watching the Darin Morgan episodes of The X-Files, if you haven’t seen them already. That’s S02E20 Humbug, S03E04 Clyde Bruckman’s Final Repose, S03E12 War Of The Coprophages, and S03E20 Jose Chung’s From Outer Space. I love this guy – written by his hand, the show takes on a much weirder, more comedic tone, and I feel like he writes Scully markedly better than anyone else. Perhaps he’s just more interested in her, whereas the show as a whole seems much more interested in Mulder and his epic quest for aliens.

        • Ha! You’re a baby! Actually, I don’t understand all the 80’s references either, since I was born near the very end of’85 and really wasn’t paying a heavy amount of attention to pop culture before kindergarten. I’m way more comfortable with the 90’s references. Still. Knowing that I’m six years your senior, I now know that I can simply claim wisdom whenever we disagree on something and then yell at you to get off my lawn.

          I don’t think I’ve read fic of Shawn visiting Alice in prison, but that certainly doesn’t mean there isn’t any. I haven’t read any Psych fic in years, and I easily could have missed it.

          I haven’t actually seen April Fool’s Day, so I didn’t know the party montage was an actual homage. That’s cool. I just knew they took the music from Scream.

          I may have to check out these X-Files episodes. I do like the weird comedy. Also, Scully. If you continue to watch random Psych tribute episodes, I would recommend the Hitchcock one if you like Hitchcock at all . . . except you absolutely have to watch “An Evening With Mr. Yang” first. (Which is fine because it’s awesome.) And you should probably watch “Murder? . . . Anyone? . . . Anyone . . . Bueller?” before Mr. Yang, which I also like a lot. That particular episode is a tribute to every John Hughes high school movie ever made.

      • I am amused that you seem so amused by my age – you make it sound like I’m in middle school, heh. How old do I come across?

        I haven’t seen anymore Psych yet, although I’ll probably watch those three episodes.

        • Honestly, I never gave the matter much thought. I tend to blindly assume everyone’s my age until proven otherwise. But I’m also still getting used to not be the youngest one in the room anymore — most of my friends are older than me, and for the last eight years, I’ve primarily worked with people who have children about my age — so maybe that’s why I was amused. Approaching thirty, man. Hell of a thing.

  2. Bad Blood is fantastic. Second only to “Jose Chung’s From Outer Space” in the X-Files humor department.

    My personal favorite Halloween episode is “Haunted,” the season 2 finale of Dead Like Me. Granted, it’s more fulfilling if you’ve been following the series but it’s a fitting denouement. If you haven’t watched that show yet, you should!

    • I watched some of Dead Like Me, but never finished it — I don’t think I made it quite as far as the season 2 finale. I did like the show, though. I can’t remember exactly why we stopped watching it . . . possibly just picked up something else and never quite got back to it. I think George did occasionally drive me nuts, but it was a fun show.

      • the second season is exponentially better than the first. once Laura Harris came aboard, it opened up and got really great. you should revisit it!

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