October is a fun time of year that gets the cold-weather holiday season started and I personally love to get in the spooky spirit by watching Halloween-themed TV episodes. They’re just festive enough to conjure up the fun of costumes and thrills.
Here’s my list of favorites — enjoy them and, life hack, use them as inspiration: with short seasons being the trend, fewer streaming shows feature holiday episodes, which make for a fun spec script opportunity!
How I Met Your Mother
“The Slutty Pumpkin” (S1E6)
How I Met Your Mother slayed its holiday episodes. Like Barney’s Get Psyched playlist, they didn’t just rise and fall — they were all rise, starting with “The Slutty Pumpkin” in season one.
A play on It’s the Great Pumpkin, Charlie Brown, where faithful Linus waits for the Great Pumpkin to appear, this episode finds Ted hopeful once more that the girl he met one year at a party dressed like a slutty pumpkin will return to him.
From Marshall and Lily’s couples costumes to Barney’s devil-and-angel moment, the episode is Halloween-y all the way through.
Bonus: HIMYM has two more Halloween episodes, “Canning Randy” (S6E7) and, spoiler alert, “The Return of the Slutty Pumpkin” (S7E8).
Look. Something that is guaranteed to make me laugh is when someone I care about is terrified but safe. New Girl’s first Halloween episode features Jess working in a haunted house — the perfect environment to laugh at people who are genuinely afraid, and this episode does not disappoint.
Another great bit that I am genuinely jealous of because I wish I had thought of it for a short film is the scene where Jess is in a haunted room with two other costumed friends, talking about relationships in between screaming at children as they pass through. Great writing.
Buffy the Vampire Slayer
Halloween should be a quiet time on the Hellmouth unless a trickster comes into town and transforms children — and slayers — into their costumes. With Buffy a helpless 18th-century dame and half the children of Sunnydale transformed into demons, this episode is a classic turn-the-characters-on-their-heads bit (something Buffy was great at).
Bonus: “Fear Itself” 4×04 locks the scoobies in a house where a summoning circle conjures a demon that brings nightmares to life and feeds on the fear of its victims. Our heroes must face their worst fears, from being alone to…bunnies, and then defeat the ahem terrifying demon in the end.
It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia
“Who Got Dee Pregnant” (S6E7)
When the gang learns that Dee is pregnant, they unravel their spotty memories of Halloween to try to figure out if one of them is the father. This fantastic episode utilizes the “multiple viewpoints of the same event” storytelling device so well. The strength of this show is in laughing at the morally defunct characters and their Halloween party gives us plenty of opportunities for it.
This episode will appeal to anyone who has ever sat with their friends at IHOP the morning after a party trying to piece together their drunken escapades the night before…or, you know, anyone worried they may have accidentally knocked up their sister.
You can make streaming Halloween episodes of The Office a full-night event — with six Halloween episodes, they proved they knew the fun of festive episodes.
My favorite is probably “Halloween” where Michael is forced to fire someone by the end of the day and Creed gives one of his greatest (and most defining) performances yet.
This list could go on and on, from Community to Brooklyn Nine-Nine to Friends to Modern Family, you can enjoy (mostly) family-friendly Halloween content all October long. And if you like your spooks a little darker, you can dive into American Horror Story, The Simpsons, or South Park.
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Shannon Corbeil is a writer, actor, and filmmaker in Los Angeles with recent appearances on SEAL Team and The Rookie. An Air Force veteran, her articles have been published in Business Insider, We Are The Mighty, and Military.com. She has written and produced hundreds of digital videos with millions of views. You can read more about her on her website or come play on Instagram and Twitter!