Our favorite comedies like to get dressed up for this holiday, and these seven shows wore their Halloween costumes best…
Garfield and Charlie Brown are the kings of recurring Halloween specials, but annual animated traditions are a dying breed, with fewer being broadcast every year. Fortunately, while you can’t count on too many new special presentations to appear, situation comedies have picked up that torch each and every year. Halloween is when normally staid sitcoms can drop their stale format, add in a little gore and costumes, and have some spooktacular fun in October. Though we’ll miss moments like this…
There have been so many great Halloween episodes that it was tough making this list and leaving out some great shows. Bob’s Burgers, Louie, Mary Tyler Moore, and The Adventures of Pete and Pete all barely missed inclusion on this list, so that should tell you how high the bar was set for these seven shows. Let’s begin with Adult Swim’s iconic collection of useless food products!
7. Aqua Teen Hunger Force – The Shaving
This episode is about the amazing time Master Shake, Frylock, Meatwad, and Carl had meeting Willie Nelson. No, not the stoner/singer/songwriter, but the weird onion-y, spidery creature that has always lived with the Aqua Teens. Just as Halloween descends on the New Jersey suburb, and Frylock and Meatwad put on costumes Shake deems “gay,” they meet the fourth roommate they never knew they had. Willie (voiced by radio/podcast legend Tom Scharpling) is a pretty chill dude – a tad too chill for Shake. The episode quickly escalates into Shake trying to make Mr. Nelson into the monster Shake expects him to be.
While Meatwad and Frylock watch in horror, Shake sets Willie on a path to scare Carl with potentially fatal pranks. Fortunately, they don’t work and Shake is maimed as Willie fails at being a monster. In an inspiring/fucked up twist, the true power to be a monster is revealed to be within Willie all along, as proven by his collection of human remains and craving for Carl’s blood. Surprisingly, the Aqua Teens let Willie stay in the attic — when Meatwad revisits the Aqua Teens’ home years after leaving in the finale, one of the parting shots is of Willie collecting the mail that he’d been denied for so long.
6. The Office (US) – Halloween
After a shaky first season that you’re honestly better off skipping, the US version of The Office really found its footing in its sophmore year. The show’s first Halloween special hit right when the show is firing on all cylinders. Pam and Jim are at their will-they-won’t-they best, Dwight shows off his geekier (but still creepy) side, and Michael is at the center, feebly trying to be a likeable boss when he’s forced to lay someone off. Most importantly, this episode marked the debut of Creed, one of the most dependable lunatics in all of Dunder-Mifflin.
Just about any still from this episode is great, just to see the aggressively mundane work space filled with costumed employees (this would be improved in later Halloween episodes). What made this one special is the focus Michael Scott’s pathetic neediness to be liked even when the situation demands he be a boss. Seeing Jim’s three-hole-punch version of himself and multiple women in the office dress as cats is just icing on the cake.
5. Roseanne – Halloween IV
In the early ’90s, no show was going to defeat The Simpsons for pure, Halloweeny goodness (more on that later), but Roseanne often came close. For most of its seasons the lower-middle class family indulged in holiday spooks, including a tense episode focused on Dan’s fear his son will be horribly beaten for dressing as witch. But Roseanne’s best Halloween adventure came when they combined it with one of the most overused holiday plots ever: Charles Dickens’ Christmas Carol.
In Halloween IV (not to be confused with the return of Michael Myers), Roseanne has lost her Halloween spirit and a trio of ghosts show Roseanne’s past, present, and future All Hallows Eve celebrations. There’s great jokes about babies choking and Rosie’s disgust at possibly becoming her mother, plus you get to see a teen representation of John Goodman dress as Fred Flintstone two years before he would be cast in the Flintstones film. It also confirms magic is real in Roseanne’s world, as the titular star actually hears everyone bagging on her Halloween cookies. Then again, the whole series is just a bunch of stories Roseanne wrote in her basement, right? I’m so confused…
What about Homer and Abed’s Halloween? Where do those shows rank? Read on to the next page to find out!