It’s a tradition of sitcoms to have holiday-centric episodes, and Halloween is usually one of the best each year. They give a chance for characters to wear goofy costumes and plots that have very little to do with whatever ongoing narrative is taking place that season; it’s fun for the cast and the audience. Here are some of the ones we think are the best Halloween episodes of all time.
7. Friends – The One With The Halloween Party
It wasn’t until Season 8 that Friends had a dedicated Halloween episode, but it was worth the wait. From the conventional costumes of Phoebe as Supergirl and Chandler as a Bunny, to Joey as Chandler and Rachel as a pregnant woman “who spent a lot of money on a dress and she wants to wear it because soon she won’t be able to fit in it,” the highlight is Ross as “Spudnik.” It’s a potato spud and the Russian satellite Sputnik.
The actual plot is looser than even a normal Friends episode, with Phoebe dealing with her twin-sister Ursula’s new fiancee, played by Sean Penn, and Rachel pretending to be the girlfriend of a trick-or-treater. It’s a delightfully stupid episode of the long-running sitcom with none of the problems that the later seasons tended to have (Joey and Rachel never happened.)
6. Two Guys And a Girl – Two Guys, A Girl, And A Psycho Halloween
Two Guys And A Girl is the forgotten sitcom that helped launch the careers of Ryan Reynolds and Nathan Fillion, but it had a lot of fun in two Halloween episodes that are non-canonical. That has to be emphasized because in the first, “Two Guys, A Girl, And A Psycho Halloween,” Reynold’s character, Berg, is replaced by an identical killer who escaped from a mental hospital. Luring his friends to the basement to get killed, this may be the only sitcom episode with a body count.
A last-minute twist reveal of the killer as Mimi (Kathy Kinney) from The Drew Carey Show, howling that now she has her own show, but nothing with the Halloween episodes does. The second one involves a Freaky Friday body swap and while it’s also funny, it lacks the dark bite of the first Halloween episode that even today, is unlike anything else shown on network television.
5. Boy Meets World – And Then There Was Shawn
Boy Meets World was the hottest teen sitcom of the 90s, so of course, it had a Halloween episode parodying two of the hottest teen slashers of the 90s, Scream and I Know What You Did Last Summer. “And Then There Was Shawn” starts out with the gang in detention, a few creepy messages, a suspicious janitor, and then one of their classmates is found murdered. From there, it’s a slasher parody, complete with a cameo by Jennifer Love Hewitt.
Despite the goofy premise, which includes murder by pushing over library shelves, even a Halloween episode of Boy Meets World manages to include a real emotional beat. Turns out, the killer is Shawn, or a duplicate of him anyway, and the whole thing was just a dream he was having over the guilt of feeling like he broke up Corey and Topanga. Few sitcoms can pull off the parody episode and make it feel worthwhile at the end, but Boy Meets World is one of the best of all time for a reason.
4. The Office – Halloween
The Office had a few good Halloween episodes, but it’s the first in Season 2 that we think stands out, and as usual, it’s because of Michael (Steve Carrell). Tasked with firing someone by the end of the month, Michael waits until the 31st to do it, letting go of Devon. The very last scene, we see Michael sitting at home, depressed over what he had to do, one of the earlier looks at how he really cares about his staff.
In the meantime, the rest of the staff are, as with all great sitcom Halloween episodes, decked out in costumes. The best is Jim’s (John Krasinski) three-hole punch, which is both lazy and creative at the same time. Dwight (Rainn Wilson) as a Sith is one fo the first times he brings his nerdy side into work, while having Pam (Jenna Fischer), Angela (Angela Kinsey), and Phyllis (Phyllis Lapin) all dressed as cats might be the most realistic gag in the show’s history.
3. How I Met Your Mother – The Slutty Pumpkin Returns
How I Met Your Mother lasted for nine seasons, and eight of them were any good, but before the final season, it had some classic sitcom episodes. The saga of the slutty pumpkin ran through the show’s two primary Halloween episodes, first in Season 1 and then again in “The Slutty Pumpkin Returns” in Season 7. The first time around, we never see the pumpkin, but the second time, she’s played by Katie Holmes, in what has to be a very odd acting credit to explain on her IMDb.
First off, extra credit for Ted’s “Hanging Chad” costume, which dates the flashback scene as taking place in 2001 about as clearly as holding up a sign that says “This is 2001.” Secondly, in “The Slutty Pumpkin Returns,” after waiting every year to meet her again, Ted finally does, and somehow, they start dating. It goes horribly, but each is too polite to actually break up, but as usual, the actual highlight of the episode is Barney discovering he’s part Canadian, which has disastrous results.
2. Community – Epidemiology
Community is another sitcom that took advantage of Halloween to have a parody episode, in this case, of every zombie movie ever made. In “Epidemiology,” Dean Pelton (Craig Rash) uses what he thinks is taco meat from an army surplus store for a Halloween party, but it turns out to somehow infect everyone with a rabies-like virus. Starting with Pierce (Chevy Chase), the party-goers are infected one by one, which goes unnoticed for a hilariously long time as the study group slowly realizes everyone is acting like they’re high on drugs.
The uninfected have to take shelter, which, of course, goes horribly wrong, but at least Troy (Donald Glover) gets to “be the first black man that makes it to the end.” Amazingly for a Halloween episode, and a testament to Community’s strong writing, every character stays true to their usual nature, even as a zombie uprising breaks out around them.
1. Brooklyn 99 – Halloween
Choosing a Brooklyn 99 Halloween episode is nearly impossible, but we have to go with the first one here; even if the finale is also a Halloween episode, the first has to be credited for starting the greatest annual tradition in the show’s history (sorry Doug Judy). Each year, starting with “Halloween” in Season 1, the precinct engages in a heist for the highest stakes ever imagined: being crowned the best detective/human.
While the costumes and heists get more elaborate as the years go by, eventually expanding to include most of the recurring characters, “Halloween” is a stand-out for surprising viewers with the ending montage that showed, for the first time, Jake Peralta (Andy Samberg) might not be all that stupid. It was also an early glimpse at Holt (Andre Braugher) letting his guard down and having some fun…in his own, very Holt sort of way.