The Simpsons Halloween Specials are a tradition in my household and possibly the main reason why I love The Simpsons so much. I don’t care who you are, if you are lucky enough to be spending Halloween with me, this is what we will be doing! As a fan of horror/sci-fi anthology shows such as Tales from the Crypt, The Twilight Zone and kids show Goosebumps, how could I not enjoy a Treehouse of Horror marathon at any stage of the year, and not just October 31st? I have watched all of the Halloween Specials countless times, and have here for you, a list of the best 15 segments, not episodes, that demonstrate how time and time again, The Simpsons have conquered the cartoon, delivering some frightful and memorable horror themed episodes every year since its second season. Get in the mood for Halloween and watch the best Simpsons segments of all time!
15. Bart’s Nightmare/The Bart Zone - Treehouse of Horror II - Season 3
“I’m not nodding, it’s the air conditioning” - Homer
A segment of Twilight Zone-esqe quality in which Bart controls the entire town of Springfield due to his telepathic and supernatural powers. We see Bart changing American history, forcing Krusty the Clown work on a 24/7 basis and Homer hilariously turned into a jack-in-a-box. In this season, like its two former, the focus of many episodes still revolve mainly around Homer and Bart, and this segment demonstrates this, and is significant in Simpsons history.
14. Bart Simpson’s Dracula - Treehouse of Horror IV - Season 5
“Lisa, vampires are make believe like elves, gremlins and Eskimos!” - Homer
A parodic adaptation of Bram Stoker’s Dracula which is very memorable with fans of the show. With classic comedy moments, it deserves a spot on this list. The Simpsons are invited to stay at Mr. Burns’ house where Bart and Lisa learn he is a vampire, but of course, the family are never safe in these non-canon episodes, not even safe from the ‘Super Fun Happy Slide,’ which ironically leads to Burns’ lair where his immortal body rests.
13. Homer3 - Treehouse of Horror VI - Season 7
“It’s like he just disappeared into fat air.” - Selma
In this, The Simpsons creators use a 3D animation as Homer goes behind a bookcase and enters another dimension in attempt to hide from Marge’s sisters. Many of the Simpson’s characters gather to discuss how to help Homer escape. Of course, as always, Homer manages to mess everything up and collapses the dimension, taking him to a “better place” (a live action Los Angeles).
12. Starship Poopers - Treehouse of Horror IX - Season 10
“Someone needs to show your green ass some responsibility!” - Random woman in Jerry Springer audience.
Kang and Kodos are iconic characters in the non-canon Treehouse of Horror stories and undoubtedly make the episodes that little more interesting and humorous. After we learn that Maggie was conceived by Marge and Kang, instead of Homer, a custody battle begins. They all appear on the Jerry Springer show, where of course, nothing gets solved. The final segment of my all time favourite Treehouse of Horror episode.
11. The Terror of Tiny Toon - Treehouse of Horror IX - Season 10
“Momma took those batteries, she took ‘em away. Momma took those batteries, size AA.” - Homer (singing with harmonica)
Marge takes Maggie trick-or-treating but orders Bart and Lisa not to watch any episodes of Itchy and Scratchy. They then find a “highly unstable” substitute for the remote battery and end up in the cartoon itself. After finding a scene of the cartoon funny, Itchy and Scratchy decide to get their own back and plot to kill Bart and Lisa.
10. Nightmare on Evergreen Terrace - Treehouse of Horror VI - Season 7
“Bart, don’t you realise what this means? The next time we fall asleep we could die.” - Lisa
“Hey! Welcome to my world!” *falls asleep* - Grandpa
A brilliant adaptation of Nightmare on Elm Street, Groundskeeper Willie is haunting the children of Springfield’s dreams. Once most of the children realise that they are all having nightmares about him, they try to come together and beat him. After many of the children dying, Bart and Lisa try to help each other by staying awake for as long as possible. Eventually they enter the dream and try to beat him once and for all.
09. I Know What You Diddily-Iddily-Did - Treehouse of Horror X - Season 11
“When I think about Ned, I can’t help but remember the look on his face when Marge drove over–” - Homer
In this parody of I Know What You Did Last Summer, The Simpsons kill Ned Flanders and decide to keep it a secret from the town. However, like many Treehouse of Horror episodes, Flanders is some form of supernatural being, and here, stalks the family before revealing his true werewolf form. With many memorable quotes, this is a classic segment that deserves a top ten spot.
08. Dial ‘Z’ For Zombies - Treehouse of Horror III - Season 4
“Martin Prince, report to my office at once; and bring that big, juicy, chess-club brain of yours along with you.” - Principal Skinner
Bart stumbles across the ‘occult section’ of the Springfield Library, and decides to try a spell that will wake the Simpsons beloved cat, Snowball I. Instead, he ends up raising the entire dead population of Springfield. This segment features one my favourite Treehouse of Horror moments: “Spare my family, take me, take me.” Homer’s self-sacrifice is dismissed asthe Zombies knock on his head and walk away, not interested at all with Homer or his lack of brain.
07. Lisa’s Nightmare/The Monkey’s Paw - Treehouse of Horror II - Season 3
“The turkey’s a little dry” - Homer
An adaptation of the short story by W.W Jacobs. After a trip to Morocco (originally thought by Homer to be Monaco), Homer is enticed by a strange monkey’s paw, which he was advised not to buy. It is said to grant wishes, but with grave misfortune as its consequence. The Simpsons obviously ignore this and and try for themselves; their wishes including a pacifier for Maggie, wealth and fame, peace on earth and finally, the perfect sandwich.
06. The Ned Zone - Treehouse of Horror XV - Season 16
“But, you’re gonna kill us all!” - Ned “But, ice cream cake!” - Homer
A worthy episode simply for its adaptation of The Dead Zone, that proves even later Treehouse of Horror is capable of having top quality horror-comedy. Ned Flanders, again as a character with supernatural powers, develops the ability to see visions of peoples deaths when in contact with them. This segment is brilliant in portraying Homer at his ignorant, selfish best, and emphasises a frustrated friendship between him and Flanders that is commonly seen in the canon episodes.
05. The Genesis Tub -Treehouse of Horror VII - Season 8
“It worked! The de-bigulator worked!” - Professor Frink
Lisa uses one of her baby teeth for a science project, which actually turns into a miniature world where she is God. It begins to develop at a rapid rate and soon creates technology to exit the tub in which they originally existed. They consider Bart to be the Devil and try to destroy him, as well as shrinking Lisa with no possible way of resizing her. Bart steals Lisa’s invention whilst she is in it and uses it for his own project, and Lisa faces the rest of her life in the miniature world.
04. The Shinning - Treehouse of Horror V - Season 6
“No TV and no beer make Homer go something, something” - Homer
“Go crazy?” - Marge
“Don’t mind if I do!” - Homer
A very funny and dedicated adaptation of The Shining. Homer begins down the path of Nicholson-style insanity as the Simpsons work as caretakers in a secluded mansion. Some of The Simpsons’ finest comedy moments feature in this tiny segment, and Treehouse of Horror V is regarded by most as the best Treehouse of Horror episode.
3. Time and Punishment - Treehouse of Horror V - Season 6
“Marge dear, would you kindly pass me a donut?” - Homer
I’m a sucker for time travel, so this segment naturally has to be one of my favourites. In this, the Simpsons’ toaster has broken, so Homer spends an unhealthy amount of time fixing it. Instead, he creates a time machine which takes him back to the age of the dinosaurs. Not following Grandpa’s advice about leaving everything untouched, Homer squishes a bug and returns back to the present day. Upon his return, Ned Flanders is the world ruler, much to Homer’s dismay and he attempts to go back and return everything back to how it was. After many unsuccessful attempts, Homer settles for what he feels is “close enough”. I have to mention, along with ‘The Shinning’ from the same episode, that I specifically love the presence of Groundskeeper Willie, who appears in each segment of Treehouse of Horror V.
02. The Devil and Homer Simpson - Treehouse of Horror IV - Season 5
“Homer, stop picking at it!” - Marge
“Aw, but I’m so sweet and tasty. - Homer
Homer’s donut craving is so severe he signs a contract with the Devil (Ned Flanders) in exchange for his soul. He tries to outsmart the Flanders by not finishing the last bite, but of course he cannot help himself, and in a sleepwalk state, eats the remainder. The Simpson’s demand a fair trial, but before this, Homer spends the day in Hell, eating an unlimited supply of donuts. This segment is packed with hilarious moments, notably an animated Richard Nixon on the Devil’s “jury of the damned”.
01. Hell Toupée - Treehouse of Horror IX - Season 10
“Freeze Hairball!” - Chief Wiggum
Snake is one of my favourite characters, and possibly the coolest. Who else could comb their hair with Kwik-E-Mart nacho cheez and still rock the bag-boy image? This specific segment is obscure but not one to be missed! It oozes classic Simpsons at a time where their innuendos and mature themes were at their best. Such genuine humour never really to be seen to that extent again, especially not from the canon episodes. It features on a VHS I bought called Too Hot For TV, and even as a child I recognised just how adult themed the collection of episodes was on that tape. After Snake gets executed for attempted robbery of the Kwik-E-mart, his vengeance is taken out beyond the grave through Homer, who was given his hair though a transplant. Apu and Moe are the first victims but Bart was also at the crime scene.
Honourable mentions: Hungry are the Damned (season 2), Nightmare Cafeteria (season 6), Citizen Kang (season 8), The HΩmega Man (season 9), Desperately Xeeking Xena (season 11) and Night of the Dolphin (season 12)