A Very (Not So) Scary Television List

Okay, first – who am I kidding? We all know I tremble and cry and hide at scary stuff, so it’s very, very unlikely that anything on this list is actually very scary, but…well, the rhyme scheme fit with my “A Very Merry Television List” from 2015, so I decided to run with it!

Much like that first list, these are listed in no particular order. They are also not, by any means, the “absolute best” Halloween episodes. They’re my ten favorites. The ten episodes that, every October, I get excited to sit down and re-watch in order to get myself into the spirit of the season.

So without further a-BOO… (yeah, that was terrible), here are my Ten Very (Not So) Scary* Halloween-Themed TV Episodes.

*Okay, like, three of them are ACTUALLY scary. To big scaredy-cats like me.

The Office, Season 9: Here Comes Treble

If you’ve been reading this blog for a bit, you know I’m new to The Office, but even I know that it has some of the greatest Halloween episodes ever. It was really hard to narrow it down to which one, but this one has so many classic moments – Dwight’s pumpkin head, Erin’s disappointment when people think she’s a dog not a puppy, Pam’s strong female costume “Doctor Cinderella,” and – of course – Stephen Colbert (Broccoli Rob) stealing Andy’s thunder by singing his solo in “Faith.” Oh, and of course, Creed, covered in blood – “Oh, today’s Halloween? That’s lucky.”

(Creed is totally the Scranton Strangler, you guys.)

Parks & Recreation, Season Five: Halloween Surprise

Parks & Rec is another show I’m relatively new to, and another show that has amazing Halloween episodes. But Ron Swanson snapping his girlfriend’s daughter’s tiara because she broke her sister’s (“There. Now no one has one!“) is one of my absolute favorite moments of television. Plus, Leslie and Ann’s prank gone awry (poor Jerry) is one of those cringey-yet-amazing TV moments that Greg Daniels and Michael Schur write so well. And the ending of the episode, when… okay, I won’t spoil it if you haven’t seen it, but let’s just say this episode makes me happy cry every time and therefore it’s totally worth being on this list.

Home Improvement, Season Six: I Was a Teenage Taylor

Home Improvement is another show that does Halloween episodes extremely well (much like their Christmas episodes, which didn’t make it on my holiday list last time but totally could have…). I could’ve picked any of them, but this one takes it solely for the scene in this .gif.

Jonathan Taylor Thomas, as Randy Taylor, opens the door to two kids in costume. One is Buzz Lightyear (voiced by Tim Allen) and one is Simba (voiced by, that’s right, JTT himself). His full line is:

Randy: Alright, one candy bar for the spaceman, and seven for the cute little lion.

It makes me fall of the couch laughing every single time, which is why this episode makes the final cut.

Buffy the Vampire Slayer, Season 2: Halloween

Okay, pretty much any Buffy episode would be good for Halloween, and there are great Halloween episodes in later seasons as well, but I’ve got to stick with the original. The Scoobies find themselves renting costumes from a mysterious new costume shop that just happened to appear in Sunnydale right before Halloween (totally not suspicious, right?). And Buffy, in her newly forming relationship with Angel, decides to dress like the girls he would’ve been around when he was, you know, alive and stuff. Magic spells happen, chaos ensues, oh – and Spike is there, and I love Spike. Plus, this is the first time Oz sees Willow! Yes, I will pick all the episodes where something slightly (or overtly) romantic happens. It balances out the screams and the gore.

Supernatural, Season 4: It’s The Great Pumpkin, Sam Winchester

Okay, look, I hate being scared. So if I can suffer my way through Supernatural, you can too. Just look at the pretty demon hunters and watch it when it’s daylight so you can watch, I dunno, Frozen or Care Bears or that Home Improvement episode I recommended before you actually go to sleep.

Anyway, much like Buffy the Vampire Slayer, every day is basically Halloween for the Winchesters. Which probably explains why, in fifteen years, there’s only been ONE Halloween-themed episode. It’s this one. It has to be on the list.

Community, Season 2: Epidemiology

See, this is Halloween I can handle. Yes, it’s scary. Yes, it’s creepy. But it’s also FUNNY, and you know everyone is going to be totally okay by the end. I almost picked a different Community episode to take this spot, but truthfully, while they always do Halloween well, they never do it quite as good as this. Besides, I quoted this episode in my Master’s Thesis. It’s clearly important.

Troy: I’m a sexy Dracula.
Abed: You mean vampire.
Troy: I don’t know which Dracula to know I’m a Dracula. Nerd.

Also, Troy and Abed quote Star Wars, George Takei narrates, and Shirley and Chang…well, again, spoilers. But it’s a great episode.

Brooklyn-99, Season 5: HalloVeen

Okay, confession: I just started watching Brooklyn-99. In fact, I started with all five “Halloween Heist” episodes before watching any other episode because everyone said they were sooooo good.

You know what? Everyone was right.

I loved the episodes even though I knew nothing about the characters and even though watching all five of them totally spoiled some major plot points (but if you know me you know I don’t mind spoilers, and also, I knew a lot of the spoilers anyway – ’cause I read entertainment blogs and magazines and tweets – I just didn’t know they came in these particular episodes).

Anyway, much like my Parks & Rec selection, this one makes me happy cry.

How I Met Your Mother, Season 1: The Slutty Pumpkin

I quote TV shows a lot. I quote specific TV shows a lot. I quote specific TV episodes a lot. I don’t quote anything as much as I quote “The Slutty Pumpkin” from Season 1 of How I Met Your Mother. If you’ve met me, I guarantee I have quoted this episode to you, and you probably just don’t realize it. Things like:

Marshall: Fifty dollar gift certificate for the bar!

Barney: Here’s the plan, and I crap you not.

Marshall: Oh, good. I don’t know why people are so cynical about Ewoks. The rebellion would’ve failed without the Ewoks.

Barney: What’s that left hand? Right hand sucks? Word. (Self-Five)

Ted: It’s not about the odds! It’s about believing!

And more. So many more. Plus, this episode is everything that is good about this show. Yes, Barney is lecherous and creepy, and also hilarious (and looks good in a flight suit). Lily and Marshall are peak cute couple goals. Robin is fiercely independent, and Ted is the ultimate hopeless romantic. And it’s Halloween! And they make hanging chad jokes! When was the last time you heard a good hanging chad joke? (Answer: the last time you watched this episode.)

Psych, Season 1: Scary Sherry – Bianca’s Toast

Psych can actually get pretty scary sometimes, and one of its best freak out episodes is its first Halloween episode – “Scary Sherry: Bianca’s Toast.” Jules is undercover working a potential murder case at a sorority house and calls on Shawn and Gus to help her out. The episode involves fake ghosts (and fake psychics) and very real, tense crime. But, like all Psych episodes, it manages to still make you laugh.

Shawn: Gus, what’s the word?
Gus: That would be ‘mum.’

Sabrina the Teenage Witch, Season 6: Murder on the Halloween Express

As expected on a show about witches, there’s a great Halloween episode every single season (except the last one), but my absolute favorite is Season 6’s “Murder on the Halloween Express.” I have no particularly good reason other than I love murder mystery parties, and this plays exactly that note.

PLUS, Douglas Sills guest stars. Yeah, that’s a Broadway deep cut for most people, but again, this is my list of my favorites, so of course I’d grab on to an episode featuring the guy who played The Scarlet Pimpernel.

And that’s my Top Ten! There are others I watch every year (like “The One with The Halloween Party” (Friends) and “The Middle Earth Paradigm” (The Big Bang Theory)) and there are new ones I consider throwing in (Veronica Mars, Lucifer), but this felt like the most representative of what I pick to put me in a pumpkin-y mood.

What are some of your favorite Halloween-themed episodes? Leave me a comment or tweet me at @ThatColette.

Happy Halloween!

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Writer who loves dogs, wine, and pop culture. First novel in process. She/her.