At the thought of a “Halloween movie,” many fan-favorite films may pop into your head: Hocus Pocus, Halloweentown, The Night Before Christmas. The list of Halloween movies is a never-ending cycle of horror masterpieces and lighthearted ghost or witch-driven features. But what about Halloween TV episodes?
Maybe you don’t want to sit at your couch for a committed hour and a half, constantly getting up to open the door for trick-or-treaters every five minutes. Or maybe you have other Halloween plans and just want to indulge in watching a short Halloween episode while eating your favorite piece of candy. You’re in luck—here are 17 episodes that either take place on Halloween day (which makes things all the more Halloween-y), or have a spooky enough vibe to make you think of ghosts, witches, or whatever you think about on the spookiest day of the year.
“21 is the loneliest number,” Gilmore Girls (6×07)
The episode may reference Halloween, but the main focus of “21 is the loneliest number” is Rory Gilmore’s (Alexis Bledel) 21st birthday. Still, the episode’s not without it’s Halloween moments.
There’s definitely no “spooky vibe” here. But we do see Babette (Sally Struthers) and Morey (Ted Rooney) holding Halloween supplies for their annual gallow. Behind them, the town square—including the local grocery store, Dooses—is decorated for Halloween. Babette tells Lorelei (Lauren Graham) her Halloween plans, which just includes hanging with Morey like they do every year. Lorelei’s plan involves hanging caramel apples from the trees and answering the door for trick-or-treaters.
Cut to several scenes later, Babette shows Lorelei her fake hanging station with a fake giant spider, spider webs, neon green skeletons, and a purple glow-in-the dark web on the trees. Later, Lorelei jokes with Luke (Scott Patterson) and tells him her new Halloween plans: a bit that continues throughout the episode and keeps getting more gruesome and far-fetched to the point it’s absolutely ridiculous. There’s not too many Halloween scenes in this episode, but Gilmore Girls, like always, can put you in a good fall mood. —Chelsie Derman
“And Then There Was Shawn,” Boy Meets World (5×17)
“And Then There Was Shawn” doesn’t take place on Halloween, but it’s Boy Meets World’s spookiest installment, paying tribute to the slasher films of the 1990s (Jennifer Love Hewitt, fresh off her role in I Know What You Did Last Summer, makes a cameo). Trapped in detention, the gang is haunted by a killer running through the halls of John Adams High School. Just like the characters from Scream, Shawn (Rider Strong) is convinced his knowledge of horror movies will save the day. A rare genre-honoring episode for the otherwise chipper sitcom, “And Then There Was Shawn” plays with the tropes of horror films while retaining Boy Meets World’s classic laughs. —Claire Di Maio
“Claudia and the Phantom Phone Calls,” The Babysitter’s Club (1×02)
A home invader on the news has characters all worked up. Mary Anne (Malia Baker) tells the fellow members of the babysitter’s club that the home invader makes creepy anonymous phone calls within someone’s own homes.
Kristi (Sophie Grace) ends up babysitting Watson’s kids because he and her mom are going to be spending the night at a Halloween Party. Watson’s daughter, Karen, decides to throw a wake for a doll and acts so proper and serious in her old fashioned nightgown to the point it’s downright hilarious. Then, an unknown number calls Kristi; both she and Karen stare eye-wide, terrified, at the phone, believing it to be the phantom caller.
Later, Mary Anne ventures into her dark house and says “hello?” like the beginning of a horror movie, with the floor creaking underneath her. The scene plays with horror techniques in a not-so-horror episode. Aside from the phantom caller paranoia, the episode features a school Halloween Hop-off dance where students attend in their creative costumes. “Claudia and the Phantom Phone Calls” is a great family-friendly Halloween episode. —Chelsie Derman
“Epidemiology,” Community (2×06)
Community is known for it’s genre-bending episodes, but “Epidemiology” takes it a step further with its zombie apocalypse story. What starts out as a typical Halloween costume party soon turns into a fight for survival as the packaged meat the Dean ordered for the party turns out to be toxic, turning everyone into zombies. Of course, this show is set at a community college, and a zombie apocalypse breaks the reality of their setting a little too much. By episode’s end, everyone’s forgotten their strange jaunt into brain-eating but we’ll always remember Troy’s “I love you” and Abed’s “I know.” Plus, the entire episode is set to ABBA and the Dean’s grocery list. —Katey Stoetzel
“Fear Itself,” Buffy the Vampire Slayer (4×04)
Season 4’s “Fear Itself” works as a companion to Buffy the Vampire Slayer‘s Season 1 episode “Nightmares.” Both involve bringing our characters’ fears into the real world, but “Fear Itself” does more with the genre and the Halloween of it all, while also still keeping it character-focused. The Scooby Gang gets invited to a Halloween frat party, but when they get there, they immediately enter a frat house that’s already turned haunted by an accidental summoning of a fear demon. As the gang ventures further into the house, their fears become more apparent, and soon, the house traps everyone inside.
The title of the episode is pretty much a dead giveaway for the theme of the episode—once they each confront their own fears, they realize that it’s only the “fear itself” that put them in peril in the first place. This is played to comedic affect when the fear demon turns out to only be 2 inches tall. The haunted house vibe, as well as the deeper insights to Buffy, Willow, Xander, and Oz’s season arcs make this episode a perfect Halloween watch. There’s also a great runner about Willow’s Joan of Arc costume and Oz’s God costume (pictured above) that rates this episode even higher. —Katey Stoetzel
“Friday Night Frights,”Greek (1×06)
For a show grounded in real life to a random ‘ghost’ episode with eerie blackouts, character jump scares, and a seance with glowing candles, this early Season 1 episode of Greek is worthy enough to be considered a Halloween episode.
The episode hints at paranormal forces. At the Zeta Beta Zeta sorority house, a sister-bonding slumber party with trust falls turns into a fright fest with ghost stories, seances, and unusual blackouts. The girls believe a sister who died from a suicide is haunting them. Then, at the Kappa Tau house, the fraternity gets an odd visitor from a gothic stranger who claims her car broke down.
There’s more to the stranger than meets the eye; she acts like she’s either a vampire who’s going to suck people’s blood, or she’s a serial killer who’s going to cut someone’s throat out. Meanwhile, at the Omega Kai’s fraternity house, Evan (Jake McDorman) and Calvin (Paul James) spend their night chasing a mouse with flashlights, acting like a monster is going to jump in front of them and they won’t make it out alive. —Chelsie Derman
“Girth,” Pushing Daisies (1×05)
Much of what makes Pushing Daisies such a delightfully peculiar series is its ability to smoothly meld genres. With a picture book aesthetic and fairytale framing, it manages to deal with themes such as death, loss, and unrequited love in a manner that never seems precious or contrived. In the fifth episode of the first season, “Girth,” the show demonstrates this ability to play with tones marvelously as the core characters all deal with wildly different storylines.
While Olive and Chuck’s adventure showcases the show’s more fantastical elements, Ned is dealing with the emotional turmoil lingering from being abandoned by his father as a child. It isn’t the most obvious Halloween themed episode—though it is set during Halloween as the decorations of the shop indicate—but it’s one to return to year after year regardless. In one of the show’s finest moments, it even ends with Chuck dressed as a ghost so she’s able to see her beloved Aunts without letting them know she’s alive. Wickedly charming and vibrantly told, “Girth” more than anything captures the Halloween/autumnal atmosphere better than most shows have been able to manage. —Allyson Johnson
“Halloween,” Brooklyn 99 (1×06)
This episode kicks off perhaps the most iconic bit in the entire show—the Halloween heist. A battle of wits between Jake and Captain Holt is always imminently watchable. Throw in Amy, our resident Halloween humbug, who has her fair share of quips and shenanigans, and you have a full cast! This is another funny, not scary, Halloween experience, if you’d rather laugh than scream. —Abby Petree
“Halloween,” Buffy the Vampire Slayer (2×06)
Like all good Buffy the Vampire Slayer episodes, “Halloween” is a great representation of the “high school is hell” motif seen throughout the series. Driven by their insecurities, Buffy, Xander, and Willow dress up as how they wish they were viewed: Buffy as an 18th century noblewoman (because vampire boyfriend Angel is from that era), Xander as an army guy (to prove his masculinity), and Willow as a ghost (because she’s not comfortable in the revealing outfit Buffy told her to wear).
Out leading various groups of trick-or-treaters, the Scooby Gang is caught off guard when a warlock’s spell soon turns everyone into their costumes. Now, their very insecurities turn them into a liability—Buffy is an out-of-time 18th century noblewoman scared of the modern world, Xander is the embodiment of toxic masculinity, and Willow, though she’s the only one who remembers who she is, can’t interact with the real world when she “dies” and turns into an actual ghost. “Halloween” is a great example of a character-driven episode, where the journey of each character has implications for later in the season. It also introduces a new character in Ethan Rayne, and has the single greatest moment of Giles being absolutely terrified. —Katey Stoetzel
“Halloween,” Frasier (5×03)
A show that thrives on farcical comedy, Frasier’s Season 5 Halloween episode centers on one of the series’ funniest misunderstandings. At a Halloween party, Niles (David Hyde Pierce) mistakenly believes his unrequited crush Daphne (Jane Leeves) has gotten pregnant by Frasier (Kelsey Grammer). Appalled at Frasier’s flirting with other guests, Niles drunkenly attempts to take care of a bewildered Daphne. It’s a plot that could’ve happened any time, but it’s so much funnier with everyone in costume—Niles’ passionate wooing is hysterical when you factor in his prosthetic nose (he’s dressed as Cyrano de Bergerac). It’s an episode full of classic Frasier gags—mistaken identity, highbrow literary references, dramatic declarations—and one of its finest holiday episodes. —Claire Di Maio
“Halloween,” The Middle (2×06)
The Middle aired Halloween episodes nearly every year of its 9-season run, but Season 2’s inaugural “Halloween” installment set a high bar. Sue (Eden Sher) ends up at a church “Holy Hayride,” Axl (Charlie McDonnell) encounters car trouble on the way to a party, and Frankie (Patricia Heaton) can’t get Mike (Neil Flynn) to dress up. But the episode’s best storyline comes from the youngest child, Brick (Atticus Shaffer), whose costume—a Scottish war hero from World War I—goes unrecognized. Mistaken for Hannah Montana, “anyone from Gossip Girl,” and a Catholic schoolgirl as he trick-or-treats, Brick’s quest to be recognized garners the episode’s biggest laughs and sweetest moments. —Claire Di Maio
“Haunted,” The Vampire Diaries (1×07)
Halloween in Mystic Falls is hectic, full of fake blood, real blood, and costumes.
“Haunted” deals with the aftermath of Damon (Ian Somerhalder) turning Vicki Donovan (Kayla Ewell) into a vampire. Why? Because he’s bored and wants a little entertainment to spice up his day. Now the newbie vampire needs to learn self-control before she tears her teeth into someone’s neck and kills them. One thing leads to another and Vicky decides to meet her human boyfriend, Jeremy Gilbert (Steven R. McQueen,) at the high school Halloween party. Vicky’s reckless decision puts Jeremy and other characters in peril.
We also see Bonnie (Kat Graham) coming to terms with her witch powers. She dresses up as a witch and borrows Caroline’s (Candice King) yellow crystal necklace, which is an old relic of the Benettt lineage. The necklace bursts with power. When Damon tries to pull Bonnie’s crystal off her neck, the attempt backfires and the crystal burns him. From the Halloween party to Bonnie’s witch powers (not to mention her dressing in a stereotypical witch costume complete with a pointy hat), “Haunted” is the perfect episode to watch on Halloween. —Chelsie Derman
“It’s The Great Pumpkin Charlie Brown”
Granted, the iconic “It’s The Great Pumpkin Charlie Brown” is not technically a Halloween-themed TV episode as it’s more of a short, half hour film. But “It’s The Great Pumpkin Charlie Brown” airs every year on Halloween and is a cute, family-friendly indulgence. To leave out such a classic Halloween special from this list would be unthinkable.
“It’s The Great Pumpkin Charlie Brown” follows the peanuts on Halloween as they visit the pumpkin patch, rake leaves, write letters to the Great Pumpkin, put on their Halloween costumes, go trick-or-treating, carve jack-o-lanterns, and look for the Great Pumpkin.
The special is less plot-driven than some of the other TV episodes listed here, but the Charlie Brown special sure knows how to capture the Halloween spirit in a limited time frame. —Chelsie Derman
“It’s The Great Pumpkin, Sam Winchester,” Supernatural (4×07)
Sam (Jared Padalecki) and Dean Winchester (Jensen Ackles) may hunt ghosts, demons, and a wide range of supernatural entities all the time, but we don’t get a true Halloween episode until “It’s The Great Pumpkin, Sam Winchester,” in Season 4.
The Winchesters investigate a witch case where a man gets choked to death by candy with a razor-blade lodged inside. Sam and Dean soon discover a years-old witch sacrificing people to summon a demon named Samhain. This witch plans to summon him on Halloween, the day on the Celtic calendar where the veil is the thinnest between the living and the dead. Samhain’s goal is to raise evil beings from hell.
“It’s The Great Pumpkin, Sam Winchester” displays the brother’s outlook on Halloween. Sam despises the holiday and feels like the day’s like any other day. They fight monsters anytime, so people dressing up as monsters is nothing special. Dean, on the other hand, gets more into the Halloween spirit. This Halloween episode had everything from trick-or-treaters walking around to zombies to witches and their hex bags. —Chelsie Derman
“Mint Condition,” Supernatural (14×04 )
Supernatural comes back with a Halloween-specific episode ten years later in Season 14. “Mint Condition” mimics a classic slasher film with the bad guy, Hatchet Man.
In the episode, there’s a comic book shop where action figures are coming to life and attacking people. The life-sized Hatchet Man comes to life, too, and on Halloween Sam and Dean must fight the fictional, plastic monster. Ironically, in the beginning of “Mint Condition,” Dean’s in his room in the bunker watching slasher movies, namely Hatchet Man, which is an in-universe slasher franchise that he loves.
“Mint Condition” also reveals where Sam’s real hatred toward Halloween comes from, his reason different from all those years ago. The episode has just the right Halloween vibe with fright, slasher characters, and of course, ghost possession. —Chelsie Derman
“Scary Sherry: Bianca’s Toast,” Psych (1×15)
This episode opens on Halloween night, 1987, when little Shawn and Gus witness a woman in a white nightgown jump to her death from the window of a mental institution. Fast forward to present day, and Scary Sherry has become an urban legend—an urban legend someone just replicated. Shawn and Gus are on the case, and creepy hijinks ensue. This episode has nothing too scary, so it’s perfect for scaredy-cats like me! The mental institution and a candlelight vigil is a perfect Halloween night setting. —Abby Petree
“October 31,” Evil (1×06)
It feels like Halloween in almost every episode of Evil; it’s hard not to when your main characters are always investigating possible demon possessions. So when Evil titled their Halloween-themed episode “October 31,” the show was clear—this is just another day for Ben, Kristen, and David. However, this Season 1 episode still manages to add an extra spook to its proceedings, as well as some comedy. David and Kristen attend an exorcism, which is creepy enough but it’s also just work. Ben is guest starring on a ghost hunting show, where he meets Vanessa, his soon-to-be girlfriend in episodes to come. Meanwhile, Kristen’s four daughters—Lynn, Lila, Lexis, and Laura—invite some friends over to tell scary stories to each other.
The exorcism is gruesome and fascinating to watch, and Ben’s dead-pan comedy never gets old. But the girls’ story in “October 31” exists more in the fantastical. A girl named Brenda comes over, but keeps her Halloween mask on all night, telling everyone a story about a girl whose face was burned by her parents. Brenda convinces all the girls to follow her to the graveyard, and even creepier hijinks ensue. It’s a classic horror tale that Brenda takes us on, and it’s dark fairy tale origins brings a new kind of horror tone to Evil. —Katey Stoetzel