Halloween on TV: How your Favourite Shows celebrate the Night of Horror

Happy Halloween! If you’re still undecided about how to best honour the night of the living dead, here are a few suggestions from popular TV shows of the last 20 years. And yes, putting Sabrina first was a conscious decision.

1. Sabrina the Teenage Witch

What episode are we talking about? Season 1, Episode 5, “A Halloween Story”

What happens? Sabrina (Melissa Joan Heart) is faced with a dilemma when Harvey invites her to his Halloween party, but she has a prior engagement in the Other Realm. In order to be in both places at once, she follows Salem’s advice and duplicates herself, sending her clone to Harvey’s party in her stead.

How scary is it? 🎃

Barely. Although that mean little cousin of Sabrina’s who likes to put people that bother her in jars is fairly scary. What a brat!

2. Buffy the Vampire Slayer

What episode are we talking about? Season 2, Episode 6, “Halloween”

What happens? When a sinister shop owner casts a spell on the Halloween costumes he sells, everyone in Sunnydale assumes the identity of their costume. This poses a problem when vampires and demons attack Buffy (Sarah Michelle Gellar), who, in an attempt to get Angel’s (David Boreanaz) attention, decided to dress up as a 16th century gentlewoman and has no recollection of being the Slayer.

How scary is it?  🎃🎃

I’m an adult now (you can’t tell anyone, okay?), and those yellow-eyed contorted demon faces still make me jump.

3. The Simpsons

What episode are we talking about? Season 13, Episode 1, “Treehouse of Horror XII”

What happens? In one chapter, the Simpsons get an OS for their house (which comes with the voice of Pierce Brosnan) and it soon becomes infatuated with Marge and decides to kill Homer. There’s also a sketch where Lisa and Bart attend Hogwarts.

How scary is it? 🎃🎃

You can laugh all you want, but computer systems taking over and trying to kill us is a very real fear of mine.

4. Charmed

What episode are we talking about? Season 3, Episode 4, “All Halliwell’s Eve”

What happens: The Halliwell sisters travel back to the 1600s to protect a coven in danger of extinction and meet one of their ancestors. They also learn about the origin of Halloween and what it means for witches.

How scary is it? 🎃🎃

I remember finding it somewhat scary, as all Charmed episodes seemed to me back in the day.

5. Boy Meets World

What episode are we talking about? Season 5, Episode 17, “And then there was Shawn”

What happens: Technically it’s not a Halloween special, but the episode pays hommage to 90s slasher films such as Scream and I know what you did last summer – it even guest stars Jennifer Love Hewitt! When the fight between Corey (Ben Savage) and Topanga (Dannielle Fishelle) escalates in Feeny’s classroom, the kids end up in detention. The situation takes a turn for the worse when they find a note on the chalkboard that says “Noone gets out alive” and soon after, one by one the kids end up dead. 

How scary is it? 🎃🎃

Although it’s clearly a comedic take on horror film conventions, some of them are still effectively scary.

6. Stitchers

What episode are we talking about? Season 1, Episode 11, “When Darkness Falls”

What happens?  The team stitches into a young man who is believed to have abducted a missing girl. Usually Kirsten (Emma Ishta) is tough as nails when investigating death and the dead, but this particular job leaves her spooked, to the point where she begins to feel like she is being haunted by the kidnapper’s ghost…

How scary is it? 🎃🎃

Fairly scary. That haunted house gave me the creeps.

7. Scream Queens

What episode are we talking about? Season 1, Episode 05, “Pumpkin Patch”

What happens? Chanel instructs #3 and #5 to build a replica of the maze from The Shining for her pumpkin patch. Of course the Red Devil later slaughters someone there. It’s like they were asking for it.

How scary is it? 🎃🎃🎃🎃

This show frequently has me rolling on the floor with laughter,  but people getting chased through a maze by a hedge shears wielding masked murderer is literally the stuff that nightmares a made of.

8. Pretty Little Liars

What episode are we talking about? Season 3, Episode 13, “This is A Dark Ride”

What happens? The Liars attend an over the top Halloween party on a train that quickly turns murderous when A traps them there and abducts babyface Aria (Lucy Hale).

How scary is it? 🎃🎃🎃

The lengths to which this anonymous bully will go to torture four teenage girls is way more disturbing than any ghostly apparition could ever be.

9. Malcolm in the Middle

What episode are we talking about? Season 2, Episode 2, “Halloween Approximately”

What happens? When Francis comes home for a post-Halloween visit, he helps his brothers get back into the spirit by building a giant slingshot on the roof of their house to terrorize the neighborhood.

How scary is it? 🎃

Not as scary as my infatuation with Reese.

10. That 70s Show

What episode are we talking about? Season 2, Episode 5, “Halloween”

What happens? The gang goes to their old school to tell ghost stories but gets caught up in their permanent records.

How scary is it? 🎃

Granted, being confronted with your past self is a little scary. But I love going to my old school with my group of friends and reminiscing about the good old days.

11. How I met your Mother

What episode are we talking about? Season 1, Episode 6, “The Slutty Pumpkin”

What happens? Ted (Josh Radnor) tells the story of a mysterious stranger he met at a Halloween party and has been hoping to run into again ever since. There’s a corresponding episode in Season 7 where “The Slutty Pumpkin Returns”.

Robin: Wait, how can a pumpkin costume be sexy?
Ted: It was carved in strategic places…

How scary is it? 🎃

The only thing that’s scary about this episode is Ted’s poor taste in costumes.

12. Dawsons’s Creek

What episode are we talking about? Season 1, Episode 11, “The Scare”

What happens: Actually, the episode takes place on Friday the 13th but since Dawson (James van der Beek) is such a pretentious cinephile, he has to make a big deal about it by playing scary pranks on everyone. The teenagers are further troubled by the fact that there is a serial killer on the loose. 

How scary is it? 🎃🎃

It’s pretty fucking scary when you think about the fact that Joey has a random encounter with a man who later turns out to be the serial killer. If I were her, I would sign up for therapy in a heartbeat.

13. One Tree Hill

What episode are we talking about? Season 3, Episode 3, “An Attempt to tip the Scales”

What happens? The Scott brothers and their friends attend a Halloween party at TRIC that causes a lot of drama for Hayley (Bethany Joy Lenz) and Nathan (James Lafferty), and Lucas (Chad Michael Murray) and Brooke (Sophia Bush) respectively.

How scary is it? 🎃

One Tree Hill only delves into scary when it’s exploring the infinite abyss of the human soul. By contrast, this episode, like most of the show, is centered around relationship dramas and Peyton being emo – not that scary.


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