Holidays are always fun for television shows because they get to go outside their usual serial box and do something fun and interesting. Halloween gives shows the chance to get a little creepy and take things in directions that border on the macabre. Through the years, there have been some classic episodes that either brought the funny or were downright chilling.
Supernatural – It’s the Great Pumpkin, Sam Winchester
We’ve all grown up with those fears of the urban myths that surround Halloween including razor blades in the candy. I remember going to the hospital as a kid to have my candy X-rayed. Yeah, probably not the best idea at the time. Sam and Dean investigate a town where these myths are becoming a reality and people are dying. It turns out a witch is trying to resurrect the demon Samhain, which the holiday was based around, to help raise Satan out of Hell. The brothers end up fighting off a horde of zombies as Samhain rises. Luckily, Sam is juiced up on demon blood and takes out the powerful Samhain. This episode was not only awesome because they fight zombies, but also showed exactly how far Sam had come in his powers. The relationship between the brothers wasn’t quite the same after this.
Castle – Vampire Weekend
Anyone that was a fan of Joss Whedon’s Firefly knows why this episode is on the list. In 2002, Castle star Nathan Fillion played Captain Mal Reynolds in the hit, but short lived, television show and in the movie, Serenity. Firefly was a lot like a space western and Mal dressed accordingly. In 2009, Fillion donned what seemed like a very similar outfit as a Halloween costume for Castle and told his daughter he was a space cowboy. The back-and-forth between him and his daughter was priceless and the entire episode was filled with Buffy and other horror references. This is one of the reasons I really like Nathan Fillion as an actor, he’s not afraid to make fun of himself.
The Simpsons – Treehouse of Horror
No homage to Halloween television episodes would be complete without a shout out to the Treehouse of Horror. Every year, the Simpsons do a Halloween themed episode that have short features often paying homage to classic horror and science fiction stories. How can we forget about the Monkey’s Paw, Bart as the all powerful child that turns his father into a Jack-in-the-Box, a fog that turns people inside out and the aliens. While some years are better than others, it’s hard to pick out a single episode as best. I can’t imagine how difficult it must be to come up with new and interesting ideas after all these years.
Buffy the Vampire Slayer – Fear Itself
While many purists may say that Halloween is the classic Buffy episode, where everyone turns into the costumes they were wearing. Buffy becomes a whiny French aristocrat and Xander a super soldier, but Fear Itself delves much deeper into the characters than Halloween. Buffy has had a difficult time adjusting to university life, but decides to go to Halloween party at a local frat house. When decorating, the frat boys inadvertently use real occult symbols and end up raising a fear demon. The Scooby gang become trapped in the house and the demon uses their own fears against them. We see what really scares them and it’s isn’t monsters, but their own insecurities. In classic Joss Whedon fashion, the gang awaits the rise of this powerful demon only to find out is about a foot tall and Buffy squashes it. Giles feels like a fool when he translates a caption under a picture… “actual size.”
Quantum Leap – The Boogieman
This is by-far my favorite Halloween episode of all time. Sam Beckett leaps into a horror writer in 1964 and must unravel the mystery of several strange several deaths in the area. All the deaths seem to be accidental, but everyone is pointing fingers at same, who happens to be always near when the deaths happen. Meanwhile, Al seems to never use the imaging door and is always around when the murder happen too. We find out Al is actually the devil in disguise and tries to kill Sam, but he falls down the stairs and wakes up at the beginning of the episode. He saves the first guy from falling and then tells little Stevie King about horror writing. He finally leaps when Stevie calls a large St. Bernard “Cujo.” Classic!
Jack-O-Lantern by Grim Reeper