TV has always had a great tradition when it comes to Halloween. The things that make the holiday fun—wearing costumes, going to parties and acting all out of character—translate well to TV, not to mention when the shows try to actually scare you. It also allows the writers to get more creative than other holidays, such as Christmas or Thanksgiving, which are usually “very special episodes.”

Though I’m sure the tradition goes back further, one of the most notable Halloween episodes is It’s the Great Pumpkin, Charlie Brown, one of my favorite Peanuts TV specials. You really can’t beat Charles Schulz.

Of more recent shows, the two series that do Halloween better than anyone else are Buffy, The Vampire Slayer and The Simpsons.

For the latter, the annual “Treehouse of Horror” special (which almost never seems to be shown on Halloween weekend, because of the baseball playoffs) is three vignettes built around The Simpsons universe, but containing all sorts of parodies ranging from “The War of The Worlds” radio broadcast to Mad Men. Great literature ranging from Poe’s “The Raven” and “The Monkey’s Paw” also have been parodied by The Simpsons. Though some have argued that the show has long since passed its expiration date after more than 20 years on the air, the “Treehouse of Horrors” usually still hits all the right notes.

Buffy was even better when it came to the holiday, not really a surprise in a series built around vampires, werewolves, and witches. The first Halloween themed episode came in Season 2, appropriately titled “Halloween,” and featured the characters becoming their costumes. Buffy became an 18th century noblewoman, Willow became a ghost, Xander a soldier, and various kids around town became demons. The episode introduced the popular villain Ethan Rayne to the series, and had its best moment when Spike (James Marsters) saw all the chaos and said, “This…is neat!”

Season 4 gave us “Fear Itself,” in which the gang goes to a Halloween costume party at college, only to be trapped inside a haunted house by a demon who is two inches tall. The highlight was the gang picking costumes in case they were turned into their costume characters once more. Xander wore a tux and told people he was James Bond, while Oz wore a tag that read “Hellow, My Name Is God.”

Season 6 delivered “All The Way,” a slightly less humorous tale in which Dawn goes out on a date with what turns out to be a vampire. As Spike tells the young vampire crew, “only posers go out on Halloween.”

Thinking back on those episodes, it’s easy to remember why Buffy is remembered as an all-time classic TV series.

How do you feel about Buffy the Vamire Slayer, The Simpsons, and Charlie Brown? What is your favorite Halloween episode? Post in the comments.


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