While a scary movie is always a safe bet to embrace the Halloween spirit, don’t forget about some classic holiday episodes from some of your old TV favorites.
From beloved comedies like “Community” to dramatic teen soaps like “Pretty Little Liars,” these top picks will bring laughter, music and fright into your Halloween season. So grab some candy corn, caramel apples or just plain popcorn, and relive these iconic television moments.
“Brooklyn 99,” Season 1, Episode 6: “Halloween”
In this Halloween-themed episode, Brooklyn 99 brings the trick to trick-or-treat and the comedy to the workplace when a prank war erupts between characters. Dubbed the Halloween Heist, the conspiring precinct officers navigate Halloween parties full of Brooklyn hipsters and young trick-or-treaters to gain access to their boss’s office, where they hope to steal the medal of valor. But that’s not before they sneak through vents and crash through ceilings on their journey. This is the ideal episode for anyone looking for a marathon of easy laughter, perhaps with a side of candy.
“Pretty Little Liars,” Season 3, Episode 13: “This is a Dark Ride”
All aboard the “A” Train for a spooky ride like no other. Based on the book series by Sara Shephard, “Pretty Little Liars” boasts consistent spooks with creepy dolls and suspenseful, if not ridiculous, storylines that heighten the stakes during the annual Halloween episode. The third season’s fall holiday installment goes big with fear, opening at a sanatorium and culminating when Aria, one of the Little Liars, wakes up in a wooden crate with a dead body for company. Full of jump scares, coffins, ghosts and corpses, grab your blanket and friend with a hand to hold during the scream-producing moments – you will need it!
“Modern Family,” Season 8, Episode 5: “Halloween 4: The Revenge of Rod Skyhook”
“Modern Family,” a revolutionary comedy about a diverse, intergenerational family, narrates the preteen transition from annual trick-or-treating to Halloween party-going. When Luke Dunphy organizes a party, his parents, Claire and Phil, panic when they realize that no one will attend. They sneak into the stereotypical popular group’s Halloween party and convince them to come to their son’s by making his party seem like the ultimate haunted Halloween experience. This “Modern Family” episode puts the fall holiday on display in the always-sunny California to prove that embracing the spooky season without a chill in the air is possible.
“Glee,” Season 2, Episode 5: “The Rocky Horror Glee Show”
In its Halloween episode, the members of the show’s titular Glee Club perform the eerie 1975 musical “The Rocky Horror Picture Show.” Though the club doesn’t perform for a full audience due to the show’s inappropriate nature for a school musical, the music makes this episode a must-watch as the cast revives classic songs like “Time Warp” and “Dammit Janet” with enthusiastic, modern voices. Take the opportune time to watch this episode in preparation for Forbidden Planet Production’s annual production of “Rocky Horror” on campus this fall.
“The Haunting of Hill House,” Season 1, Episode 8: “Witness Marks”
This gory, suspenseful story follows a six-person, nuclear family living in a haunted isolated mansion during the 1990s. Half ghost story and half psychological thriller, I would recommend watching the whole 10-episode series in the days leading up to Halloween to embrace the spooky spirit through the show’s reliance on ghosts, crunchy leaves and thunderstorms. This episode includes the most major reveal of the limited series – viewers leave knowing the true identity of the Bent Neck Lady, a threatening presence who haunts the children’s nightmares! Get ready for a 10-hour commitment, terrific for a dark and stormy night.
“Gilmore Girls,” Season 6, Episode 7: “21 Is The Loneliest Number”
The autumnal decor of jack-o-lanterns, witches and hay bales strung throughout this episode makes viewers ache for the traditional Halloween spirit. This episode comes at a particularly scary time in the series – Rory and Lorelai, the titular mother-daughter pair, have stopped talking! The episode follows their journey to reconnect in time for Rory’s 21st birthday, featuring lots of trick-or-treaters and autumn leaves. Just as Lorelai yearns for a less-complicated relationship with her daughter, this episode will leave you yearning for the Halloweens of your childhood, with simple costumes instead of sexy ones, pumpkin carving instead of spiked cider and a bag full of candy instead of party vomit.
“Community,” Season 3, Episode 5: “Horror Fiction in Seven Spooky Steps”
What happens when you find out a close friend of yours qualifies as a psychopath? In the third-year Halloween episode of the sitcom that follows the comedic community college study group, one of the students named Britta administers a personality test to each person in the group to uncover potential disturbing and homicidal tendencies as part of a psychology class assignment. She quickly discovers that one psychopath test turns back positive. The friends tell their most horrific stories – all of which occur in an isolated, log cabin at night – to find out who is the outlier. Whoever tells the most haunting story is clearly the most disturbed and therefore the psychopath. The show’s take on Halloween appeals to viewers who seek a nontraditional Halloween fright. Unlike the other shows on this list, which create a spine-chilling aura with jump scares and spooky motifs, this episode dives into the unhinged side of human behavior.