That time of the year is rolling around again: leaves are falling, pumpkin spice everything has come out in full force, and TV programming is gearing up for their annual Halloween specials. What’s not to love? With the 31st right around the corner, I’ve rounded up eight of my favorite Halloween specials ever, from classics like "Buffy" to modern laughs in “Parks and Recreation.”
How I Met Your Mother: “The Slutty Pumpkin”
Originally aired October 24, 2005 (season 1, episode 6)
Season one’s legen-wait for it-dary Halloween episode rightfully earns a place on this list. Ted heads to the annual rooftop Halloween party in search of the elusive girl he met years ago – the titular “Slutty Pumpkin,” as she’s known to the gang. (Spoiler alert: as we find out later in season seven, she’s played by Katie Holmes! And, no, she’s not the mother. Surprise, surprise.)
The Office: “Halloween”
Originally aired October 18, 2005 (season 2, episode 5)
“The Office” had six Halloween episodes, but nothing beats the show’s first one. Michael is forced to fire someone, putting a bit of a damper on the office’s Halloween party. Meanwhile, we see the debut of Jim’s famously minimalistic costumes (“Three Hole Punch Jim”), the early years of PB&J (Pam and Jim) and the rest of the office’s dysfunctional antics.
Buffy the Vampire Slayer: “Halloween”
Originally aired October 27, 1997 (season 2, episode 6)
“Halloween” features the debut of Ethan Rayne, who sells cursed Halloween costumes that turn the wearers into whatever they’re dressed as. Is there any better way to get into the Halloween spirit?
Sabrina, the Teenage Witch: “Good Will Haunting”
Originally aired October 30, 1998 (season 3, episode 6)
Hilda, Zelda, and Sabrina are invited to their Aunt Beulah's annual Halloween party. Since they’ve run out of excuses to not attend for the last 500 years, Hilda and Zelda reluctantly go, but find a surprise in store for them when they realize they’re trapped in an insane asylum. Meanwhile, Sabrina’s own party is terrorized by a talking doll sent over from the Other Realm by Aunt Beulah.
Boy Meets World: “And Then There Was Shaun”
Originally aired February 27, 1998 (season 5, episode 17)
To ‘90s kids, what’s known as one of the best Halloween-themed TV episodes of all time surprisingly wasn’t even a Halloween special (though it usually airs during Halloween lineups). In this scary movie parody, the gang finds themselves locked in their high school, terrorized by a crazed murderer picking them off one by one.
Pretty Little Liars: “This Is a Dark Ride”
Originally aired October 23, 2012 (season 3, episode 13)
Of all the PLL Halloween episodes, this one takes the cake. In “This Is a Dark Ride,” we find the girls on the Halloween “Ghost Train” – and because this is PLL, A manages to climb aboard and torment the liars. What else is new? Still, it’s one of the creepiest Pretty Little Liars episodes to date, back when we knew close to nothing about A. Oh, and Adam Lambert performed. You know, just your normal high school party.
Parks and Recreation: “Greg Pikitis”
Originally aired October 29, 2009 (season 2, episode 7)
The series’ first Halloween episode sets the standard: Leslie tails her “arch-nemesis” – high school student Greg Pikitis – all night, waiting for him to vandalize the parks and rec department as he does every Halloween. Leslie takes things to an extreme (ahem, getting drunk and TPing Greg’s house) and naturally, hilarity ensues. Meanwhile, Ann’s Halloween party is off to a boring start until Tom – dressed as T-Pain – arrives.
Friends: “The One with the Halloween Party”
Originally aired November 1, 2001 (season 8, episode 6)
Monica and Chandler throw a costume party, Chandler and Ross battle it out for worst costume (pink bunny vs. Spud-nik), Joey dresses up as Chandler, and Sean Penn guest stars as Ursula’s fiancé. As the only Halloween episode in the series, this one came through.