Trick or Treat or TV: Halloween Favorites
October means cooler weather, the cooler fashions that go with cooler weather, leaves changing, pumpkin spice lattés, and the best excuse to eat candy all year round: Halloween! I love Halloween. I can’t get enough of all the pumpkin, witch, and skeleton themed decorations. I adore the costumes. I cherish my many pairs of Halloween themed novelty socks. And most of all, I love all the Halloween themed episodes on TV. In the past, I’ve compiled Thanksgiving and Christmas themed lists, but this year I realized that I had never made one for Halloween. To rectify this great wrong, I have been working hard all month to create the best list that I could. It has been a lot of work, and my original list had 38 titles, but I was finally able to narrow things down to 18. So, grab something chocolaty and take a look at this list of my Halloween favorites. I’ve organized it alphabetically by show title, rather than ranked. Warning: these episode descriptions contain spoilers! After all, how can I talk about what I loved about these episodes without talking about what happened?
1. ANGEL: “Life of the Party,” episode 5×05, originally aired October 29th, 2003
This is not only one of my favorite Halloween episodes, but one of my very favorite Angel episodes. “Life of the Party” takes place during the time when Angel and company are running Wolfram & Hart. Lorne is in charge of the entertainment division, and is tasked with planning the firm’s Halloween party. His colleagues are resistant to attending the party, and Lorne is overtasked and undervalued. This leads him to remove his sleep, which has mystical consequences … for everyone. A Lorne-centric storyline? Love. Wes and Fred drunk? Best thing I have EVER seen. “You walk alone!” Gunn marking his territory? Weirdly hilarious. Angel and Eve having sex? Um … I won’t hold that against this stellar episode. Ghost Spike compelled to be positive? Priceless. Bonus: Harmony! Definitely put this on the Must-Watch-List.
2. BONES: “Mummy in the Maze,” episode 3×05, originally aired October 30th, 2007
While I haven’t been loving Bones as much in the recent seasons, I really did love those first three years. “Mummy in the Maze” is an example of everything the show does right. Also, Halloween costumes! Brennan dresses as Wonder Woman (amaaaaaazing!), Angela as Cher, Cam as Catwoman, Zach as a horse’s ass (I’m not making this up), Hodgins as the captain of the Titanic, and Booth as a Squint. Love love love. The case of the week is also compelling. The discovery of a mummified girl in a Halloween themed hay bale maze (in Stars Hollow, hay bale mazes were more a Spring Fling thing, but I guess hay is pretty versatile) leads to a second mummy in a fun house. Someone is scaring girls to death. And one of the suspects is Shawn from Boy Meets World!
There are some great character moments all around. Booth and Bones have both humorous and emotional scenes, and Bones even gets to mistakenly shoot her partner. (Bones + guns is never a good idea.) Also, Angela and Hodgins have hired a P.I. to find Angela’s husband, and the P.I. is played by Azura Skye—Cassie from Buffy! She is absolutely hilarious in this episode, pitch perfect as she continually describes the perfection of Angela’s husband. “He smelled like a fresh wind after a summer storm and you can practically see the lights of Havana from the porch of that cottage. […] Did I mention that he’s the most beautiful man I’ve ever seen?” Hee.
3. BUFFY THE VAMPIRE SLAYER: “Halloween,” episode 2×06, originally aired October 27th, 1997
So, I’m not ranking these episodes, but if I were, “Halloween” would be at the top. It is one of my favorite episodes of Buffy for sure. It’s one of those endlessly rewatchable episodes–it never ceases to amuse me. The premise: Buffy and her friends buy Halloween costumes at a new costume shop, and then proceed to turn into whatever costume they are wearing. Fun times. Unfortunately, this also happens to all the kids in town who are dressed as demons. Uh oh. And Buffy did not have the foresight to dress as Xena. Double uh oh. But with help from Sexy Ghost Willow and Soldier Xander, the meek version of Buffy survives the night. And when she turns back into her real slayer self and kicks some demon ass, it is perfection. “You know what? It’s good to be me.”
“Halloween” also features our first introduction to Ethan, and more importantly, Ripper Giles. Oh, and it features one of the patented “Who is that girl?” lines from Oz. Swoon. There is also a great exchange between Spike and Dru. “Do you love my insides? The parts you can’t see?” “Eyeballs to entrails, my sweet.” As Giles would say, “How very droll.” This episode is just chock full of wonderful little moments that you will enjoy experiencing over and over and over again.
4. BUFFY THE VAMPIRE SLAYER: “Fear Itself,” episode 4×04, originally aired October 26th, 1999
While inferior to “Halloween,” this Buffy episode is still well worth a rewatch. A definite classic. Buffy is suffering from post-Parker depression disorder (don’t let PPDD happen to you or your loved ones!), but thankfully, this episode provides her with a distraction from her angst. The Scooby Gang attends a frat party and end up trapped, forced to face manifestations of their fears. Things get ugly.
My favorite part of the episode is probably Anya’s bunny costume. Xander told her to dress as something scary, so she did. The scariest. Also, Oz dressed as God is classic, and some clever planning in case the events of “Halloween” were to repeat themselves. Willow dresses up as Joan of Arc, because of her close personal relationship to God. Hee. Giles … um, he wears a sombrero. A really really big sombrero. Love love love. The episode is also immensely quotable. Go ahead and watch. Just remember, always pack your basket full of weapons. And don’t taunt the fear demon. That’s just tacky.
5. BUFFY THE VAMPIRE SLAYER: “All the Way,” episode 6×06, originally aired October 30th, 2001
The weakest of the 3 Buffy Halloween episodes, “All the Way” is somewhat Dawn-centric. The littlest Summers lies to Buffy and goes out on a double date on Halloween. Unfortunately, the boys end up being vampires. But before that big reveal, Dawn has her first kiss … with a vampire. Oh, those Summers girls really have a type, huh? As usual, Buffy and the Scoobies have to save Dawn. Must be Tuesday. Dawn does manage to save herself in the end, however, and gets to stake her first vamp (at least I think it was her first). This also means that she killed the first boy she ever kissed. This will make a great story at parties when she goes off to college. Plus, Spike metes out a well-deserved lesson to a fellow vampire about the importance of respecting tradition. Demons causing trouble on Halloween? How gauche!
There is also some great Halloween themed stuff at The Magic Shop in the beginning of the episode, including Anya dressed as a special kind of Angel, The Charlie. “We don’t have wings. We just skate around with perfect hair fighting crime.” At closing time, Anya and Dawn do the dance of capitalist superiority. Plus, Xander and Anya finally announce their engagement in this episode. Less happy, however, is Willow’s continuing overuse of magic. She and Tara fight over it, and Willow majorly crosses the line by putting a spell on her girlfriend to make her forget. This will come back to bite Willow in the next episode, “Once More with Feeling.”
6. CASTLE: “Vampire Weekend,” episode 2×06, originally aired October 26th, 2009
“Vampire Weekend” is basically a love letter to Whedon fans, who followed Nathan Fillion from his work on Firefly and Buffy, to his latest role as Rick Castle. Plus, it’s also just a really good episode of TV. The opening scene features Castle and Beckett called to a graveyard, where the dead body in question is sporting fangs and has a wooden stake through its heart. Dun dun dun! In the course of solving the murder, Castle models THE BEST HALLOWEEN COSTUME EVER, his old Captain Malcolm Reynolds costume from Firefly. Sniffle. Oh, memories. Relive Castle in his space cowboy glory below:
7. CHARMED: “All Halliwell’s Eve,” episode 3×04, originally aired October 26th, 2000
This season three episode of Charmed features time travel and lots of super cheesy Halloween witchiness. If you like that kind of thing, this is a fun holiday choice. First off, I loved the Halloween costumes: Piper as Glinda the Good Witch, Brenda Prue as some kind of wood nymph, and Phoebe as Elvira. Phoebe is not a fan of Halloween. She is annoyed with the pop culture perception of witches, and is protesting. Her sister points out: “I am so impressed that you can make a protest statement and show cleavage all at the same time.” Hee.
On Halloween, the veil between worlds thins, and the three sisters get sent back in time to 1607. While back in colonial times, they must save a baby and encounter witch hunters, dark magic, and a disguised Balthazar. All of this teaches Halloween skeptic Phoebe to “embrace the cliché.” Also, part of the happy ending is that the heroic hottie who saves the girls back in 1607, has a modern day doppelgänger. He and Brenda Prue hit it off in both timelines. Also, things are heating up between Phoebe and Cole. Unfortunately, he is the demon Balthazar and is working secretly to sabotage them. Don’t you hate when that happens? That poor girl has the worst luck in love.
8. COUGAR TOWN: “You Don’t Know How It Feels,” episode 2×06, originally aired October 27th, 2010
This is the most recent episode on the list. See, I sometime like current shows too! My love of Cougar Town has been well-documented on Twitter and the blog, and this episode definitely ranks among my favorites. Jules’s father visits during Halloween time, and after some tension filled issues cause them to argue, they finally have an amazingly sweet and touching father-daughter moment. However, this is a comedy, so there is also a lot of funny to be had. My favorite? Ellie and Laurie dress as each other for Halloween. See the magic below:
9. FELICITY: “Spooked,” episode 1×05, originally aired October 27th, 1998
I love everything about this episode. Here are some of my favorite things about “Spooked.” 1) Felicity and her hair dressed as the Bride of Frankenstein. Perfection. 2) Ben and Felicity having all-nighter heart-to-hearts, with Ben getting all emotionally vulnerable. 3) Ben giving Felicity THE NECKLACE. 4) Felicity meeting Javier for the first time! He is THE BEST! 5) Felicity puking on Noel after he gives her a heartfelt speech. Hee. 6) Elena hooking up with the Tin Man. 7) Ben dressed as a member of the Rat Pack. This episode is really the gift that keeps giving.
10. GILMORE GIRLS: “Twenty-One Is the Loneliest Number,” episode 6×07, originally aired October 25th, 2005
This episode serves double duty as both a birthday episode and a Halloween episode. It is drama filled. This one takes place during the days when Rory had dropped out of Yale, and was living at her grandparents’ pool house, hard at work on her community service. I mean, I don’t want to have to remind you about that whole boat stealing thing, but some things just can’t be helped. Things were going just fine, ho hum, but then Richard and Emily figure out that Rory and Logan are sleeping together. They are not happy. Richard complains, “I paid $40,000 to redecorate her sex house. I bought her her sex mattress. Her sex box springs.” Richard is so upset that he goes to Lorelai for help, but she reminds him that they have both been there and done that and he ruined her plan. Go Lorelai!
As Richard sulks in his office, Emily is hard at work planning Rory’s 21st birthday party. (Don’t worry, Emily will make sure that all the candlesticks are exactly 6 inches apart). Rory is unenthusiastic about the party, as she and her mom had big plans for her 21st birthday that did not involve lace and pearl encrusted invitations. Lorelai is bummed for the same reasons. You see, this is when they are still not speaking to each other. My apologies for bringing up this dark time. But this episode is great, because it is the first step in repairing the Gilmore girls’ broken relationship. It is a light in the dark tunnel!
However, there is also a Halloween related subplot. Babette and Maury, it seems, have an annual tradition of making Lorelai feel bad at Halloween. They go all out in staging a scary hanging to frighten the children, so Lorelai decides she wants to do something too. She plans an elaborate skit in which a mad scientist (Lorelai) will pull intestines (sausages) out of a patient (Luke). Luke says no over and over again, but after the emotional birthday party, where Lorelai faces her estranged daughter, comforts her: “Hey, you can pull link sausages out of me if you want.” Awwww.
But the best part of the episode is probably the part where Rory dreams that Madeleine Albright is her mother. This dream includes the same dialogue as “Rory’s Birthday Parties” in season 1, when Lorelai followed her birthday tradition of sneaking into Rory’s room at in the middle of the night to tell the story of Rory’s birth. Albright relates, “And while some have called it the most meaningful experience of your life, to me it was something more akin to doing the splits on a crate of dynamite.” Classic. What other show featured a lead character dreaming that the other lead character was Madeleine Albright? No other show, that’s what. This show is special. Worst part of the episode: Logan’s horrible “distressed” blazer. You know the one. (Okay, I know that this entry was the longest one, but Gilmore Girls is not just a show to me. It is a way of life. It deserves extra attention.)
11. HOW I MET YOUR MOTHER: “The Slutty Pumpkin,” episode 1×06, originally aired October 24th, 2005
In this early episode, we learn that every Halloween for the past few years, Ted goes to the same Halloween party on the roof, and waits for the Slutty Pumpkin. “Wait, how can a pumpkin costume be slutty?” you ask. “It was cut in strategic places.” Also, every year Ted dresses in the same costume, so that she’ll recognize him: a hanging chad. Hee. Oh, wow, hanging chads. Memories. 2000 was so long ago. That was the first election that I ever voted in. Now I feel old.
Other highlights of the episode include Lily and Marshall dressed up as a parrot and a pirate, respectively, and Barney dressed up as a pilot from Top Gun. Robin doesn’t dress up, but her poor date does, and she proceeds to … really not like him. Goodbye, Mr. Lederhosen. I hope that you find someone who’s willing to share her ice cream sundaes. Or learn how to buy your own damn ice cream. There is also talk of Ewoks. Love.
12. JEM AND THE HOLOGRAMS: “Trick or Techrat,” episode #033, originally aired October 30th, 1987
You guys, there is a Jem and the Holograms Halloween episode! So exciting, right? The plot revolves around an old opera house that is in danger of being torn down. The Holograms want to save it, by paying for the restoration with the proceeds of a benefit concert. Ah, a benefit concert. The Holograms LOVE those. Surprise, surprise, the Misfits try to sabotage it. Now, it’s Halloween-y because the concert takes place on Halloween, and the girls wear costumes. Jem is a witch, Kimber is a skeleton, Aja is Elvira, Shana is a devil, Raya a mummy, and Danse is a … girl in a mask? Also, at the beginning of the movie, the band watches a scary movie with the Starlight girls. Turns out that the star of that movie runs the opera house. Other highlights of the episode include the girls’ colorful overalls, while working on renovations. Hee. The songs featured include Jem and the Holograms numbers “It’s Fun to be Scared” and “We Can Change It,” plus the Misfits’ ”Don’t Look Now.” There is not enough Techrat, but it is still a fun trip down nostalgia lane.
13. MAD MEN: “The Gypsy and the Hobo,” episode 3×11, originally aired October 25th, 2009
I recapped this episode once upon a time, and it is big frakin’ deal. This is the one where Betty confronts Don about the box she found in his desk. You remember, THE BOX. She knows that his real name is Dick Whitman, and that he lied to her for years. Betty’s forceful conviction completely changes the dynamic between her and Don, for the first time in the series. It is powerful to watch. And Don’s reaction? I mean … it is just heartbreaking perfection. He completely forgets about his schoolteacher girlfriend waiting in the car, and breaks down over his guilt about his brother’s suicide. Betty is clearly moved by this, and is driven to a couple rare moments of understanding and compassion. When the Draper family goes trick or treating together at the end of the episode, it is just fraught with so much tension and subtext. Especially when their neighbor (oh hi, Kris Polaha!) asks, “And who are you supposed to be?” Who indeed.
Also, this is the episode where Joan breaks a vase over her husband’s head. And a thousand GIFs were born. Such a satisfying moment that I could watch over and over again. For that moment alone I would give this episode an A+. In a slightly related plot-line, we realize that Joan is “the one” for Roger, despite his recent marriage to Lois Lane’s little sister. I should not be as moved by this as I am.
14. MY SO-CALLED LIFE: “Halloween,” episode 1×09, originally aired October 27th, 1994
While somewhat uncharacteristic of My So-Called Life, due to the paranormal aspect, “Halloween” maintains the heart and charm of the show. Take, for, example, the Angela voice over at the opening: “When I was little, I like, worshiped Halloween. And truthfully, part of me still does, cause it’s your one chance all year to be someone else. [...] I wanna be someone else. But to wear an actual costume to school is like, too scary.” Truer words. Nevertheless, Angela does end up dressing up, in response to Rayanne’s prompting. She sports a vintage 60s style outfit, though with her red hair plus the mohair, I thought, “That is totally something Willow Rosenberg would wear.” She even finds a ticket in the pocket for the class of ’63 Sock Hop. Rayanne dresses as a vampire, proving that Rayanne did everything cool on TV before it was cool. But Angela’s sister Danielle wins the prize with her Angela costume, complete with spot on Angela impression. Rickie’s Brian costume is a close second. Hee. Sharon is a cat. Angela’s parents dress as Rapunzel and a Pirate. (The less said about that, the better.)
On Halloween, Angela, Rayanne, and Brian sneak into the school at night. Rickie begs out because he’s smart. Once inside, Angela is drawn by the ghost (?) of Nicky Driscoll, a kid who died at Liberty High on Halloween night of 1963. Let’s just say that he has some similarities to a certain Jordan Catalano. Meanwhile, Brian and Rayanne fight … and then get closer. He gets caught looking at Rayanne (as in looking). He tries to cover: “Look, I’m … my hobby is photography. So I’m like, trained … to notice stuff.” Rayanne: “Being the stuff people notice is like, my hobby. It’s what I live for.” Ha!
So, what’s our favorite guy-who-leans up to? Well, not going to class, that’s for sure. A teacher (wearing a Jedi costume, mind you) is fed up and asks, “Does anybody know Jordan Catalano?” Angela voice over runs with this: “Does anybody know Jordan Catalano? that question like, got to me.” Me too, Angela. ME TOO! Angela is worried that he will be expelled so she gives him a message from the teacher: “She says you have to start showing up to class or she’s gonna have you kicked out.” Jordan: “So what’s the message?” Oh, Jordan. Keep leaning, sweetie. After a heart-to-heart with Rickie under the bleachers (ah-mah-zing!) and another encounter with Angela, Jordan comes around. Awww. Bonus: Tino references. I live for Tino references. He is the biggest unsolved mystery on television.
15. SUPERNATURAL: “Monster Movie,” episode 4×05, originally aired October 16th, 2008
While “Monster Movie” is not technically the Halloween episode of season 4–it aired 2 weeks earlier than “It’s the Great Pumpkin, Sam Winchester”–it definitely deserves a spot on this list. I’m not sure any episode is as Halloween-y. Plus, it was filmed in black and white, and written by Ben Edlund, people! It is a very beautiful thing. The Winchesters head to Pennsylvania for a case, and discover that something is killing people in a variety of classic monster movie styles. Turns out it is a Shifter with a theatrical style. Shifter episodes are always good. Bonus: the boys get to enjoy a little Oktoberfest fun, and Dean discusses how he’s been re-hymenated.
16. SUPERNATURAL: “It’s the Great Pumpkin, Sam Winchester,” episode 4×07, originally aired October 30th, 2008
In this Halloween themed episode, the Winchesters investigates mysterious deaths in a small town, and it turns out that a witch is planning to resurrect Samhain, the origin of Halloween. Said witch is played by Amber Benson, pre Pretty Little Liars fame. Aw, Hanna, nice to see you playing evil. Fun times. Also, one of the deaths is played out like the “razors in the Halloween candy” urban legend. COMPLETELY HORRIFYING! I’m still disturbed days later after rewatching. Shudder. It might put me off of Halloween candy for the season. (Except for Reese’s Peanut Butter Cups. I’m sure no one put razors in those. They wouldn’t dare!)
This episode also services the season long angel arc. Sammy is adorably excited about meeting his first angel. However, after meeting Castiel and Uriel, he begins to agree with Dean that angels are dicks with wings. Turns out that the raising of Samhain is one of the 66 seals, so the angels are prepared to level the whole town in order to serve their long-term anti-apocalypse goals. The Winchesters are not okay with this, and in the end we get to see how powerful Sam really is.
17. THE BIG BANG THEORY: “The Middle Earth Paradigm,” episode 1×06, originally aired October 29th, 2007
I love Halloween costumes, and our beloved geeks on The Big Bang Theory don’t disappoint in their selections for Penny’s Halloween party. Leonard dresses as Frodo, Raj as Thor, Howard as Peter Pan (he thinks he’s Robin Hood), and Sheldon as the Doppler Effect. Penny is a cat–not Catwoman, but a generic cat. In the words of Sheldon, “That’s the kind of sloppy costuming that results from a lack of rules and competition.” At the party, Leonard clashes with Penny’s ex-boyfriend, the jerk who wouldn’t give Penny her TV back. “That’s right, you saw what you saw. That’s how we roll in the Shire.” Also, there is paintball humor and a Jane Goodall reference.
18. THE VAMPIRE DIARIES: “Haunted,” episode 1×07, originally aired October 29th, 2009
I wrote a recap for this episode 2 years ago. Ah, the days when I actually thought the show was going to follow the books, and I found Damon intriguing. I hardly recognize myself. “Haunted” is a significant episode for TVD. It marks Vicki’s death, which has had far reaching consequences for the show all the way up through season 3. We learn the rules surrounding vampire transition, and watch Vicki go through it. It also features a plot driving necklace (no, not that one–the one before that one), Jeremy gets his memories erased, and Damon learns about Zach providing vervain to the Council. Bonus: costumes! I can never get enough.
Are you in the Halloween spirit now? Did I miss anything major? Share your favorite Halloween episodes in the comments. And pssst… Angel, Bones, Buffy the Vampire Slayer, Charmed, Felicity, Mad Men, My So-Called Life, and The Vampire Diaries are all available on Netflix Instant.