At a time when very few things are constant and the world’s always changing, there’s one thing that remains the same: Every year, without fail, your favorite television show will feature a themed holiday episode. Be it broken hearts on Valentine’s Day or even going as far as 30 Rock’s epic takes on Earth Day and Leap Day, it’s always fun to see your favorite show get into the holiday spirit. And when the stars align, theme episodes can turn out to be one of the standouts of the season.
So as we enter just under a week until Halloween night, we’ve put together a list of some of the best (and mostly streamable!) Halloween episodes from our favorite shows.
Freaks and Geeks “Tricks and Treats”
Episode 3: on Netflix
If you’re looking to get your nostalgia on, this is the Halloween episode for you. The episode is split between Sam and the nerds going out trick or treating, and Lindsay opting to stay home with her mom and later ditching her to go out and roll with the cool kids who are egging the neighborhood (and, consequently, her brother). It’s a classic example of what ’80s Halloween was like, and how when you grow older the things you look to do on the holiday change—though sometimes, you might find yourself missing those innocent early days when you just got to enjoy things.
South Park “Pinkeye”
Season 1, Episode 7: on Hulu
After Kenny is killed by the Mir Space Station falling to Earth directly on top of him, there’s a mistake in the way that he’s embalmed and he becomes a zombie. As all the kids are dressed up for Halloween, nobody notices—and as the zombie apocalypse spreads, it’s believed to all merely be a case of pinkeye that’s taking over the town. After a while it becomes clear that there’s only way to solve the problem that has all of South Park in jeopardy: Kill Kenny again, of course.
Buffy the Vampire Slayer “Fear, Itself”
Season 4, Episode 4: on Netflix
After the demon Gachnar is accidentally conjured while Oz and Xander are prepping for a Halloween bash, the party goes horribly awry. As the gang attempts to banish him back to whence he came, every single attempt to do so fails miserably, and the worst-case scenario is realized—until they actual encounter the demon himself, and realize collectively the importance of not giving into one’s fears.
How I Met Your Mother “Slutty Pumpkin”
Season 1, Episode 6: on Netflix
MacLaren’s Pub is having its annual Halloween party and the whole group dresses up. They encounter their usual hijinks, though the central focus of the episode is on Ted and Robin’s search for love in the big city. Robin is struggling to understand how to cope with her boyfriend’s desire to do “couple” things—he does, ultimately, break up with her of course—and Ted spends the entire episode waiting for the eponymous Slutty Pumpkin, a girl whose number he lost in 2001 and can’t quite get over.
The Office “Halloween”
Season 2, Episode 5: on Netflix
The Office is one of those shows that does almost every single holiday almost every single season and almost always gets away with it—but this episode was especially great. Michael is tasked with letting someone go and as usual has held onto it until the very last moment, specifically at the office Halloween party. As he agonizes over the decision, several employees mull over the idea of leaving Dunder Mifflin, though in the end Michael is convinced by a gloriously creepy Creed to fire a random guy in the office, leaving everyone safe to sell paper another day.
Parks and Recreation “Greg Pikitis”
Season 2, Episode 7: on Netflix
There are two distinct plotlines going on in this episode: Leslie attempting to take down her arch-nemesis, Pawnee high school student Greg Pikitis, and Ann attempting to throw a Halloween party. Ann is ultimately saved by Tom and his (still wife) Wendy who turn up the volume and get a dance party going, and Leslie is saved by FBI agent Burt Macklin, also known as Andy. It’s glorious, and exemplifies all the reasons why Parks and Recreation had the perfect cast with the perfect characters.
The Adventures of Pete & Pete “Halloweenie”
Season 2, Episode 7: buy on Amazon
In the same way that Freaks and Geeks tackles the struggle of growing up and wanting to be a kid, Pete & Pete attempts to show the different options one has when they’re a high school kid on Halloween. Little Pete is attempting to break the record for the most houses visited during trick-or-treating in the town, and Big Pete must decide if he wants to hang out with his brother and do the thing they both love, or if he should join the cool “pumpkin eaters” as they terrorize the neighborhood “halloweenies” like Little Pete.
Modern Family “Halloween”
Season 2, Episode 6: on Amazon
It’s not just us who think this episode is amazing—it was also nominated for multiple Emmy awards in the year that it aired. Focused around the transformation of the Dunphy house into a haunted house for neighborhood trick-or-treaters, it also shows the fears, anxieties, and complexities of many of the characters as they attempt to navigate the team effort of running a spooky event.
Curb Your Enthusiasm “Trick or Treat”
Season 2, Episode 3: on Amazon
In typical Larry David fashion, he manages to simultaneously get himself into trouble with two groups: the neighborhood kids whom he refuses to give candy to, and fellow attendees of a friend’s movie premiere. But when the two things become inextricably intertwined, Larry must swallow his pride—or face the consequences.
Friends “The One with the Halloween Party”
Season 8, Episode 6: on Netflix
When Monica and Chandler host a Halloween party, Phoebe invites Ursula (her twin) and her fiancé, Eric, but Phoebe is confused to realize that not only has Ursula been lying about herself to Eric, but that she has developed a crush on Eric as well. The other characters bicker in silly costumes and Rachel is reduced to handing out money to the kids after she runs out of candy, and it’s an all-around great episode of the long-running series.
Reno 911! “Halloween”
Season 1, Episode 14: on Amazon
If you’ve ever watched Reno 911!, you know that there’s very little plot and a whole lot of crazy—all of which adds up to one hell of an amusing show. The good news? This Halloween-themed episode kicks the crazy up to a level you never even though possible.
Are You Afraid of the Dark? “The Tale of Station 109.1”
Season 5, Episode 3: buy on Amazon
Are You Afraid of the Dark? always makes for the most excellent Halloween viewing, but this episode in particular will leave you thinking about it for days after you watch it. A teenager is obsessed with death, but realizes that maybe he’s not ready to die when he finds a direct line to the afterlife via a radio station that turns on when he’s locked inside a hearse. Not sold? Here’s the kicker: This episode stars a very young and very cute Ryan Gosling.
It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia “Who Got Dee Pregnant?”
Season 6, Episode 7: on Netflix
When Dee tells the gang she’s pregnant, they all scramble to figure out who the father is: But the problem is, the night in question was their Halloween party and they really have no idea what happened. As each of them recounts the events as they recall them, it becomes clear that while all three versions are hilarious and ridiculous, none of them actually explain how Dee is pregnant (spoiler: It’s unrelated to the party).
The Simpsons “Treehouse of Horror” (many)
Various seasons and episodes: on Simpsons World
There are 27 episodes of “Treehouse of Horror” and each one contains three individual segments and every single one of them is worth watching. Though the strongest ones are those that parody other things, we highly recommend you look through the episodes and find the perfect one for your Halloween pleasure.
Bonus: Dead Set
Full miniseries: available on Netflix
So this isn’t a special Halloween episode—nor is it a single episode!—but it does check off two boxes: It’s the perfect Hallloween watch, and it’s the show that Charlie Brooker made before working on Black Mirror. The series takes place on-set at the Big Brother house, but when the set is attacked by insane zombies, the cast and crew has to fight to survive while at the same time keeping the supposedly live-on-air television program moving.