October is upon us, which means that Halloween is rapidly approaching. To celebrate the spookiest time of the year, I thought it would be a good time to rank the top ten Halloween-themed sitcom episodes of all time.
10) Friends – Season 8, Episode 6: The One with the Halloween Party
Friends may be an overrated show (you heard me), but their one Halloween special suffices. Most of this episode is pretty meh honestly, but it is saved by the most unlikely of sources: Ross. His “Spud-nik” costume – a cross between a potato and the Russian satellite Sputnik – is probably the most ridiculously hilarious costume from any character on this list. And he puts it to good use, besting the pink bunny suit-wearing Chandler in the most depressing arm-wrestling contest ever shown on television.
Spooktacular Quote: “Well, is it fair that all you had to do was put on a cape and now I have to give you free stuff?” – Rachel
9) Freaks and Geeks – Season 1, Episode 3: Tricks and Treats
The arrival of Halloween causes a panic among parents and kids alike here, as rumors circulate that hippies have been infusing heroin into candy bars in an anti-establishment political statement. Though only on the air for one season, Freaks and Geeks quickly found its niche of walking the fine line between significant coming-of-age moments and equally significant fits of awkwardness. With Lindsay beginning her transition between friend groups and Sam experiencing the tribulations of trick-or-treating as 9th grader, this episode achieves both.
Spooktacular Quote: “Rich people traditionally give out the cheapest candy. That’s how they stay rich.” – Neal
8) The Office – Season 8, Episode 5: Spooked
It took a lot of courage for me to choose a post-Michael Scott Office episode, but hear me out. Season 8 MVPs — Erin, Robert California, and Gabe, in that order — are each given their chance to shine here, with Erin at her most poignant, Robert at his most mind-boggling, and Gabe at his most insane. It is a touching episode that is contrasted with Gabe’s horrifyingly hilarious Cinema of the Unsettling. Couple this with a newfound bromance between Dwight and Robert California’s ten-year-old son Burt, and we have an unforgettable Dunder Mifflin Halloween celebration.
Spooktacular Quote: “You don’t live as long as I have without a healthy fear of snakes, Bobby.” – Creed
7) It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia – Season 6, Episode 7: Who Got Dee Pregnant?
Most of the time, all It’s Always Sunny has to do to make me laugh is give Danny DeVito something funny to wear and have him waddle around a bit. In this episode, his Man-spider costume (not to be confused with Spiderman) fits the bill. Beyond that, though, this one belongs to the McPoyle’s: Liam McPoyle chugging a glass of milk and screaming “YOU WILL CALL HER!” to Mac after he slept with Liam’s sister will never not be funny.
Spooktacular Quote: “Without my Mario I’m just a creepy, Italian plumber. I look like an asshole here.” – Dennis
6) How I Met Your Mother – Season 1, Episode 6: Slutty Pumpkin
From Ted’s hanging chad costume to the random Angel just trying to get some weed, “Slutty Pumpkin” is an absolute classic. Ted has always been a hopeless romantic, and his attempt to reunite with the penguin-loving, pumpkin-wearing Antarctic voyager who supposedly invented mixing Kahlua with root beer is probably the most blatant example of that. Elsewhere, Barney and Robin’s respective escapades remind us how much better the show was before they got together (This is almost a hot take, but not quite).
Spooktacular Quote: “We love tiramisu. Am I wrong for saying that?” – Mike “Well it’s not really a group activity, is it?” – Robin
5) Curb Your Enthusiasm – Season 2, Episode 3: Trick or Treat
Like any Curb episode, Larry David’s social miscues get him into trouble with a number of furious adversaries. To name a few: he unintentionally whistles a song written by Hitler’s favorite composer in front of a Jewish man, refuses to give candy to kids who appear to be above the trick-or-treating age threshold, and substitutes out every cobb salad ingredient in front of the grandson of the inventor of cobb salad (turns out he was lying). Unlike most Curb episodes, though, this one sees Larry get his rightful revenge in an epic finale.
Spooktacular Quote: With all due respect, Officer, you are not bald. You’ve chosen to shave your hair, and that’s a look you’re cultivating in order to look fashionable, but we don’t really consider you part of the bald community…with all due respect.” – Larry
4) Community – Season 2, Episode 6: Epidemiology
I’m a simple man. If you give me multiple ABBA songs in your Halloween special soundtrack, I will rank you higher up on the list. After some mystery meat turns everyone at a costume party into zombies — and “S.O.S” transitions seamlessly into “Dancing Queen” — hilarity ensues as everything devolves into absolute chaos. Come for the jumpy cat that steals the show, and stay for Ken Jeong trying to bait unsuspecting partygoers into racism by wearing a Peggy Fleming costume (he’s not Michelle Kwan or Kristi Yamaguchi, of course).
Spooktacular Quote: “Leonard, you better back that pumpkin ass up or I’m gonna make a pie.” – Shirley
3) Parks and Recreation – Season 2, Episode 7: Greg Pikitis
The Joker leaves behind a playing card, the “Wet Bandits” from Home Alone leave the faucets running, and Greg Pikitis leaves a peach pit. All of these supervillains know how to make their mark after a crime, and I’ll be damned if Pikitis isn’t the dastardliest of them all. Leslie Knope would certainly agree, as she spends the entirety of this episode ruthlessly trying to arrest her teenage foe. I still can’t believe the bastard hired a fake mother to bail him out. Brilliant.
Spooktacular Quote: “Look – I’ve been very civil so far. But I will waterboard you!” – Leslie
2) Brooklyn Nine-Nine – Season 4, Episode 5: Halloween IV
Brooklyn Nine-Nine’s annual tradition of Halloween-themed heist episodes made it difficult for me to pinpoint the best of the bunch, but, after agonizing over the decision for minutes, I have concluded that the fourth installment reigns supreme. The MVP of the episode is undoubtedly Captain Holt, who is an energetic force unlike ever seen before – viciously breaking through a glass window, threatening to slit Jake and Amy’s bodies from mouth to anus, and constantly referring to Boyle as a “porkchop”. With an elaborate con dating back to the 4th grade by Gina, and Jake hiring a sketchy guy to pretend to be Boyle, this is Brooklyn Nine-Nine at its absolute best.
Spooktacular Quote: “I’m the third in a lot of marriages. I got a nice, soft face so I don’t intimidate the other husbands.” – Fake Boyle
1) Modern Family – Season 2, Episode 6: “Halloween”
Modern Family now is not nearly the show it once was, but this episode is a reminder that it was once an unbeatable entity come awards’ season. The Dunphy family attempts to put on a haunted house for trick- or-treaters, but Claire’s valiant efforts are ruined by a number of factors, including Gloria suddenly losing her accent, Phil desperately trying to rekindle a marriage that has shown no signs of needing rekindling, and Haley dressing up as “Mother Theresa before she was hot”. The episode’s peak, though, is Mitch rappelling down a drainage pipe in a Spiderman costume after finding out that the only people in his office who dress up for Halloween are “tools and douches”.
Spooktacular Quote: “Unfortunately, Halloween for me personally was marred by an incident long ago. Now it’s just a day I have to get through.” – Cam