It’s Halloween weekend, and October’s finally going full force. If you’re feeling more like staying in, or just want something to keep you in the mood between fantastic Halloween events in our area, we’ve got just the thing. Here’s eleven of our favorite Halloween themed episodes of popular TV. There’s some real throwbacks in there, but they’re also gems. Nothing beats the cold or the out-of-candy blues like your favorite characters dressed up like ghouls and goblins.
Boy Meets World
This show was a favorite for me both when it originally aired and when I was older and it was in reruns. It’s heartfelt, truly funny and a lot less campy than many of its compatriots (Full House, Family Matters, I’m looking at you.) Season 5, Episode 17, entitled “And Then There Was Shawn” makes a lot of lists for best Halloween episode. In fact, it’s not strictly “Halloween themed” in that the show’s not set on Halloween; but it still fits the bill, because it’s a family show turned slasher flick. It has all the trademark humor and quirks of Boy Meets World on a regular day, coupled with a whole lot of Scream inspired scary fun. There’s even a surprise appearance by Jennifer Love Hewitt. Stream it on Hulu.
This FOX procedural always had a lot of heart, and while it suffered in later seasons, the character development was so good you came to really love the core cast. Season 3, Episode 5 aired when the show was still in its prime, and “The Mummy in the Maze” finds us in a corn maze gone wrong with a real mummy taking the place of a prop. Your favorite team of crime fighters and “squints” must solve the crime and get to the costume party on time, which makes for some truly silly takedowns and interactions, since they will inevitably already be in costume when the baddie’s ready to be busted. Stream it on Hulu.
NCIS is a show people love to make fun of these days, but its incredibly long run on TV and consistently high ratings are evidence enough that there’s something there. “Witch Hunt” (Season 4, Episode 6) is when the cast was full to the brim with fan favorites and the chemistry was at its peak. This is a TV show that loves Halloween, and has a themed episode almost every year, but “Witch Hunt” is the best of them all as there are tons of silly gags between main characters and some truly standout costumes, like Pauley Perrette’s Marilyn Monroe. Stream it on Netflix.
Season 5 of Angel sees the Buffy spinoff a little past its prime, but Episode 5, “Life of the Party” switches the Whedon charm back on in a big way, as the various demons, ghouls and goblins (and of course, vampires) working at Wolfram and Hart get together for a Halloween bash. If you’ve ever wondered if vampires and werewolves do the monster mash, this is that sort of episode. Stream it on Hulu.
Star Trek: The Original Series
We took a trip way back in time for this one. Back in Star Trek’s second season, there was “Catspaw.” Episode 7 of the series that would become an iconic franchise sees the intrepid team on the USS Enterprise ensnared by an alien race that has access to their subconscious and therefore, their fears. This “spooky” episode has it all: black cats, castles, cackling witches and wizardry, and some truly clever trickery on Kirk’s part as he helps his team escape. Stream it on Netflix.
Buffy the Vampire Slayer
Buffy’s entire run could be considered Halloween-themed, but they still dedicated 3 episodes to it across their seven seasons. We’ve got two favorites here.
As you may already know, Halloween is supposed to be a quiet time for real demons and other creatures of the night, but somehow something always crops up at the Hellmouth. In “Halloween” (Season 2, Episode 6) everyone prepares for a fun night off, save for volunteering to help take kids trick-or-treating. Things go wrong when they choose the wrong costume shop, and suddenly, people become the things they’re dressed as. This essentially neutralizes our hero, as she becomes a courtesan, but gives Xander, one of the only “Scoobies” (as hard-core fans call Buffy’s gang of friends) with no real power an upgrade, as he becomes a soldier and manages to steer the gang towards safety.
Another fantastic Halloween episode comes in Season 4, Episode 4 with “Fear, Itself.” This time, the gang hits up a frat house party featuring a haunted house. Things get a little too real and soon each character is forced to face their deepest fears. It’s a great way to reveal more about each character and has an ending I won’t spoil that’s a great play on the name. Stream both eps on Hulu.
30 Rock is hilarious out of the gates and never lets up. In Season 4, Episode 3, “Stone Mountain” we see Jack and Liz Lemon travelling to Kenneth Parcell’s hometown to find what “average people” think is funny, as back home in New York, the gang schemes at how to get into the “Gay Halloween Party” which is the finest in the land. Tracy Jordan is troubled by two recent celebrity deaths and is certain he’ll be the third in the Rule of Threes. All of this together makes for a cornucopia of classic 30 Rock moments, from a great Jeff Dunham sendup starring the man himself to some wonderful back and forth between a very ill Liz and a very smug Jack, and some hilarious cameos with people like Betty White and Jimmy Fallon to round out the fun. Stream it on Hulu.
Friends had some truly amusing holiday episodes during its ten seasons, from a weird Phoebe-centric flashback Thanksgiving dinner to holiday dinners with Brad Pitt. “The One with the Halloween Party,” Season 8, Episode 6, brought us a Halloween episode full of goofiness. Rachel is pregnant and trying to embrace her maternal nature, Ross shows up dressed like a potato, Chandler is a giant disgruntled pink bunny and it all goes downhill from there. It’s an absurd, popcorn episode of a show we have lasting affection for. Stream it on Netflix.
Frasier is another fun one, and they too, had quite a few holiday episodes that were worth tuning into. Our favorite of three Halloween-themed episodes of this smart comedy was simply titled “Halloween,” Season 5, Episode 3. This episode has everything going for it, including a spider’s web disaster of a rumor mill, plenty of fantastic wordplay, major plot reveals and just utter silliness throughout what was supposed to be a sophisticated, literary-themed Halloween party. Baseline knowledge of the characters helps a lot, but even going in cold will send you away with some great laughs. Stream it on Netflix.
“Epidemiology” is some of the best of Community. This Halloween party gone wrong starts out simply enough until Pierce gets ill. Before long, it’s a full-on zombie apocalypse at Greendale Community College. George Takei narrates as everyone tries to escape the bite of their fellow classmates and simultaneously guess what the hell Shirley came dressed as. The costumes are incredible, with Dean Pelton as Lady Gaga, Pierce as Captain Kirk and Jeff as David Beckham. The Halloween horror find its hilarity enhanced with an ABBA soundtrack. Stream it on Hulu.
These are just a few favorites to check out if you’re in the Halloween spirit, or need help getting there. So get your candy ready for the neighborhood kids, kick up your feet and treat yourself to some streaming fun.