The best and worst Simpsons Halloween specials

As some of you might know, the Simpsons are among my favorite TV shows, and I’ve featured the show on this blog before. While I mostly prefer watching the older episodes, I sometimes check out the newer ones as well. So, in the spirit of Halloween, I decided to watch every single Simpsons Halloween special and give you a rundown of my favorite episodes.

Before I give you the list, let me explain my rating system. I rated each episode using three subjective values ranging from zero to ten. The three values are fun, spookiness, and nastiness. The fun variable describes how much I overall enjoyed watching the episode. With the nastiness factor, I tried to create a metric that covers things like blood and gore, cruel behavior, graphic imagery, and so on. The spookiness measures how well an episode manages to build and upkeep a tense atmosphere.

Now, I know that Halloween stuff is supposed to be creepy and/or disgusting, and I don’t mind that kind of stuff. But, if you’re a more light-hearted person, let me warn you that these episodes often show offensive, rude, violent, provocative, and gross stuff. Viewer’s discretion is definitely advised.

The overall funniest Halloween episodes

26/4: Treehouse of Horror XXV
In this episode, Bart visits a school in hell. With him being a truly evil soul, he can finally excel, and he quickly becomes one of the best students in his new school. The second part of this episode is a parody of clockwork orange. Lastly, ghosts of the past haunt the Simpson residence in the last story of the fourth episode of season 26. Overall, this episode is packed full of good jokes. However, it’s also fairly graphic and features blood and gore.

5/5: Treehouse of Horror IV
This is the fourth Simpsons Halloween special. Being an older episode, it’s quite light-hearted and family-friendly. In the first story, Homer desperately craves a doughnut. Therefore, he decides to make a deal with the devil. However, this deal quickly falls back on him, as he can’t control his urges. In the second part of this episode, we see how a gremlin follows Bart around and tries to kill him. This story is not really creepy, but it sets a great mood and is definitely worth watching if you haven’t seen it yet. In the last part of this episode, Mr. Burns invites the Simpsons family to dinner. While Homer doesn’t find the invitation suspicious, Bart and Lisa quickly uncover the real reason behind the seemingly friendly gesture. I liked this episode because it contained many fun references, jokes, and silly cartoon humor.

11/4: Treehouse of Horror X
In the first part of this episode, we see how Marge accidentally runs over Ned Flanders. In a clumsy attempt to cover it up, Homer creates a few funny situations. This story is full of good jokes and funny moments, and it also manages to set a creepy mood. The second part tells the story of how Lisa and Bart get irradiated by a malfunctioning X-Ray device. This event, in turn, gives the two children superpowers, and they end up fighting a Springfield resident who takes on the role of this story’s villain. The last part of this episode shows us how Homer fails to update the nuclear power plant’s computer system in time before new year’s eve. He then causes Y2K to hit the entire world. This episode is the first Simpsons Halloween special that I actively remember watching on TV as a child, and it’ll always have a special place in my heart. Regardless, I still enjoy the first of the three Halloween stories, as the jokes are timeless and clever.

The top three spookiest Simpsons Halloween specials

While I wouldn’t consider any of the Simpsons Halloween specials to be über spooky, I still found the following three episodes to be the eeriest ones:

8/1: Treehouse of Horror VII
The first part of this episode tells the story of a secret character who lives in the attic of the Simpson residence. Later, we learn who this character is and how he fits into the family dynamic. In the second story, Lisa accidentally manages to create life in a cup. The people she made see her as a god-like figure, and she gets transported into their miniature world, where she has to deal with someone the inhabitants of the cup-world see as the devil. Lastly, Homer gets abducted by Aliens. In their spacecraft, he learns about their sinister plans to take over the world.

14/1: Treehouse of Horror XIII
The first sub-episode tells the story of a magical hammock that can clone people. As homer finds out about this, he creates many clones of himself, and he plans to let them work for him. However, he quickly looses control over his creation. In the second story, we see how Lisa manages to convince the people of Springfield to trade their weapons for money. In the second story, we see Lisa convincing the Springfield residents to exchange all their guns for money. As soon as no one has a weapon anymore, however, it becomes apparent that the residents should have kept a gun or two for self-defense.

30/4: Treehouse of Horror XXIX
S30E4 is another new episode that really surprised me. I liked it because the episode managed to keep the tension up from the beginning to the very end of the episode. The first part of the episode tells the story of spores that spread across the town and kill the people of Springfield. In the second story, Lisa loses her mind and holds Bart, Nelson, and Milhouse as prisoners. As the boys manage to flee their cell, we learn what lead to this scenario in the first place. In the last story, Mr. Burns opens up a retirement home, where a questionable science experiment goes horribly wrong.

The three most disgusting Simpsons Halloween episodes

I found the episodes in this category to be fairly disgusting. If that’s a theme you want to pick up for your Halloween movie night, then I can recommend you watch the following three Treehouse of Horror specials.

17/4: Treehouse of Horror XVI
The first part of this episode revolves around Bart hurting himself in an accident. Homer and Marge decide to get a robot that moves in while Bart stays at the hospital. As Bart recovers, he’s more than unhappy to learn that his parents replaced him with a robot, and so he decides to become a robot himself. In the second story, Mr. Burns holds a hunting event to which he invites many familiar faces from Springfield. But instead of hunting animals, the guests become the hunted. The last part of the episode shows how a witch transformed the residents of Springfield into whatever their Halloween costume represents.

15/1: Treehouse of Horror XIV
While this episode is somewhat graphic, it’s overall a good Halloween special. In the first story, Homer accidentally kills the grim reaper. He then has to take on the task of death himself, which quickly leads to chaos and confusion. The second story outlines how Dr. Frink resurrected his father, who collects organs to become a stronger human. In the last sub-episode, Bart and Milhouse buy a watch that can stop time. The two boys cause a lot of mischief until they break the clock.

29/4: Treehouse of Horror XXVIII
For me, this was by far the most revolting episode. While the first two stories were exceptional, the third one did it for me. The first episode shows how Maggie got possessed and how the Simpsons called a priest to perform an exorcism. This story was fantastic, and I think it’s worth watching on Halloween.

The second story was also well-written. In it, Lisa discovered a secret parallel universe with a few eerie details. Both of these stories manage to build and keep tension, and they both emit a creepy vibe. The third story is undoubtedly the most offputting thing I’ve ever seen in an episode of the Simpsons. Trust me when I say that I’ve seen my fair share of nauseating things throughout my two years working as a paramedic. Maybe that’s why this story made me feel very uncomfortable. In this sub-episode, Homer discovers his lust for human flesh. The episode shows how he slowly loses his ability to control himself as he devours the meat of a beloved Springfield resident.

The worst Simpsons Halloween specials

Until now, I’ve discussed my top-three picks of each category. How about we look at the episodes I enjoyed the least?

21/4: Treehouse of Horror XX
I think this episode was alright, but just neither particularly good nor bad in any way. In the first story, Bart and Lisa agree to take revenge on each other’s teachers. However, the situation quickly gets out of hand as Lisa gets drawn deeper and deeper into a misunderstanding. In the second story, Krusty’s new Burger causes a Zombie apocalypse. Bart turns out to be the only cure to the epidemic. Then the Simpsons family ventures into a safe zone where scientists are believed to be working on a cure. In my opinion, the third story is easily the most boring one, and I typically skip that one if I see it on TV. Here, an accident causes Moe to find a secret ingredient that makes his beer taste better.

23/3: Treehouse of Horror XXII
In the first story, Homer has an accident that turns him into a paralyzed spider-man who can only communicate through farting. In the second story, Homer pretends to be god, and he convinces Flanders to do various bad things. The last story is a lazy Avatar parody. This is another TOH episode that I tend to skip when I see it, as I find it incredibly dull.

28/4: Treehouse of Horror XXVII
I think the first story is not even worth discussing as it’s just a lame hunger games knock-off. The second story isn’t actually all that bad. Here, we see how all of Lisa’s friends die in mysterious ways, and we later also learn who’s at fault. I think this is a parody of another movie, but I can’t figure out which one. Anyway, the third story is pretty boring again, as it is a parody of agent movies like James Bond. Overall a mundane episode, but I liked the middle part, as it’s a mysterious and somewhat spooky ghost story.

32/4: Treehouse of Horror XXXI
The most recent Halloween episode on Disney+ (or at least on the German version of Disney+) is among my least favorite Treehouse of Horror episodes. It’s neither spooky, nor funny, nor nasty in any way. It’s just plain uninteresting. I find it a pity, as the newer Simpsons Halloween specials constantly surprised me with good Halloween content. Regardless, the first story is a parody of Toy Story. This one was pretty lame, but the art style was fantastic. So at least it was visually interesting to watch. In the second story, Homer creates clones of himself. I think that we’ve seen that before somewhere. However, here the clones are from different multiverses. Therefore, the second part is another lame story that we’ve already seen. The last part tells a ‘Groundhog Day’ type of story. As I already didn’t like the 1993 movie with Bill Murray, this one just wasn’t for me. But the last story was admittedly the best of the three.

Now that I look at rottentomatoes, Groundhog Day overall received good ratings, so maybe it’s time for me to revisit this classic on Halloween. Or I might finally find myself watching Forrest Gump, as I’ve to admit that I haven’t seen the movie before.

The complete list with my personal ratings

Season / EpisodeFunSpookinessNastinessNotes
3 / 6210Quite boring, but very family-friendly.
4 / 5631
5 / 5832
6 / 6635
7 / 6222Overall a weak episode
8 / 1363
9 / 5512
10 / 4316
11 / 4833
12 / 1313
13 / 1205
14 / 1556
15 / 1448Overall a good episode
16 / 1325
17 / 4338
18 / 4426
19 / 5606
20 / 4407Graphic
21 / 4147
22 / 4535
23 / 3101My least favorite. Incredibly boring episode.
24 / 2645
25 / 2107Another one I don’t particularly like. I just find it to be relatively boring.
26 / 4857Good spook factor; fairly graphic content; overall fun to watch
27 / 5258The 1st story was very nasty; the 2nd one was cool; The 3rd one was overall weak.
28 / 4246The second story was alright; the rest was lame.
29 / 47810Surprisingly good episode; The third story was extremely upsetting
30 / 4786One of my favorites
31 / 4443
32 / 4103Pretty boring, but the first story had a cool art style

Summary

These were the best and worst Simpsons Treehouse of Horror episodes, at least according to my opinion. As I’m not an avid fan of the newest couple of seasons, I have to admit that I was surprised to find some of the best Halloween specials here. Season 29 had a great special, even though the last story was atrocious. Season 30 featured one of my favorite Treehouse of Horror episodes. However, I also want to mention that some of the classics, such as season 11, are still worth watching. In general, the newer episodes tend to be more shocking, while the older ones are also appropriate to watch as a family with younger children. Do you agree with my picks? Let me know which episode you enjoyed the most! Until then, happy Halloween!

Image Sources / Disclaimer

The material on this site is provided for educational and informational purposes only without generating any profits. I don’t own any rights to the images shown (including the banner that’s also displayed outside of this page). However, as this article is a review, I believe that this constitutes a fair use of any copyrighted material as provided for in section 107 of the US Copyright Law. In accordance with Title 17 U.S.C. Section 107, the material on this site is distributed without profit to those who have an interest in using the included information for research and educational purposes. All images taken on Disney+.

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