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Spooky, Scary TV Recommendations for Halloween!

Two Jack-o'-lanterns face off in preparation for watching the best Halloween TV episodes.
Two Jack-o'-lanterns face off in preparation for watching the best Halloween TV episodes. By Courtesy of William Warby/Wikimedia Commons
By Taylor S. Johnson, Crimson Staff Writer

Autumn is a time of a myriad of significant traditions, but everyone knows who the shining star is. Halloween is officially here! Though Halloween unfortunately falls on a weekday this year, there are plenty of ways to celebrate the holiday through television. Here is a selection of the most notable Halloween themed TV episodes to check out this year.

1. “Four Scary Stories” (2001) from “Dawson’s Creek” (1998-2003)

“Dawson’s Creek” is a coming of age story about a group of childhood friends who are also sometimes lovers. No matter what their current opinions and feelings about each other are, they always come together to share their holiday traditions. For this Halloween episode, the main characters sit in a circle and try to scare each other after a horror film lets them down. While there is no gore or ghouls, there is an abundance of suspense. This uneasiness is mainly due to how realistic the stories are — they could all very well happen in the real world. Toeing the line between what is real and what is imagined makes for an excellent Halloween scare.

2. The Creepy Connie Trilogy: “Creepy Connie Comes a Callin’” (2011), “Creepy Connie’s Curtain Call” (2012), and “Creepy Connie 3: The Creepening” (2014) from “Jessie” (2011-2015)

Disney Channel’s “Jessie,” starring Debby Ryan as a nanny of a celebrity family is a show that is fondly remembered by much of Gen Z — and its Halloween episodes are no different. This trilogy is a subplot that guest stars Sierra McCormick as Connie Thompson, a lovesick, disturbed stalker who seeks the affections of Luke (Cameron Boyce). Overall, the episodes are retrospectively thrilling. As in, it was scary to the eight-year-olds who were the target audience, but this is an entertaining watch nonetheless. The first two parts are from season 1, and the third from season 3, but watch them in quick succession to get a good sense of the backstory. And, of course, to revisit this lovely children’s classic.

3. Every “Bob’s Burgers” (2011-present) Halloween Special (2012, 2013, 2014, 2015, 2016, 2017, 2018, 2019, 2020, 2021, 2022)

No cartoon does Halloween better than “Bob’s Burgers”! This adult cartoon series covers a quirky family who lives above their burger restaurant, and together they conquer the difficulties of adolescence, finances, and finding fun. All of the Halloween specials are great, but “Fort Night” (2013) and “The Hills have Fries” (2017) are especially enjoyable. They follow roughly the same framework: the children try to scam their way into getting more candy while sporting weirdly amusing costumes — Gene’s (Eugene Mirman) Queen Latifah costume is so accurate — and dropping witty quips about them. As a bonus, these episodes have extremely catchy outro songs — “Candy Randy” is a personal favorite from the entire series.

4. “MutANT Farm” (2011) from “A.N.T. Farm” (2011-2014)

Another nostalgic moment for 2000s Disney kids, this show follows Chyna Parks (China Anne McClain), a young musical prodigy who has been accepted to the Advanced Natural Talent, or A.N.T., Program. In this Halloween special, Chyna and all the other gifted students are monsters, and therefore, have the power to control the older high school students they once found scary. In an effort to bring them all together, Chyna petrifies — metaphorically, yes, but she is also literally a gorgon — all with her catchy song “Calling all the Monsters.” Her performance is the pinnacle of the episode, but it also serves to parallel the very first episode, adding on another layer of nostalgia. While not at all sinister, this episode is a perfect way to set the Halloween mood.

5. “Community” (2009-2015) Halloween Specials (2009, 2010, 2011, 2013)

Similarly to “Bob’s Burgers,” “Community” has some of the best holiday specials of any sitcom. It is a show that frequently references pop culture — mainly film and TV — both directly through dialogue, and indirectly through the structure of the episodes. The best of the Halloween episodes is 2010’s “Epidemiology” (2010), because it is brimming with chaos that comes from an unforeseen food poison epidemic, and also from the budding romantic tension between the main characters. “Horror Fiction in Seven Spooky Steps” (2011) also deserves a shout out. The group retell versions of popular horror movie tropes including: the cabin in the woods, the car with no driver, and the imprisoned man on the loose. These episodes feature more of the awkward, dry humor that “Community” is known for, but despite the lack of scariness, it is still a very humorous watch.

6. “The Ghost and Mr. Martin” (2010) from “Suite Life on Deck” (2008-2011)

If you could not tell by now, Disney is really good at making a memorable Halloween episode. “The Ghost and Mr. Martin” honors a tradition that spans the history of television — a whodunnit. Zack (Dylan Sprouse), being himself, neglected a homework assignment and thus, is unable to leave the ship and explore New Orleans like everyone else. He has an adventure of his own, however, as he is visited by the spirit of a captain. This episode and its twists and turns emulate the mystery aspect of Halloween, and again, is not too frightening.

7. “A Halloween Story” (1996) from “Sabrina the Teenage Witch” (1996-2003)

An adorable teenage witch learns how to control her newfound powers with the help of her friends and family. Need more be said? Watch this Halloween episode, where Sabrina (Melissa Joan Hart) and Salem (Nick Bakay) devise a plan to attend a Halloween party and a family gathering at the same time. Then, watch the rest of the series for a perfect balance of sitcom sweet and spooky.

8. “Chapter Two: The Dark Baptism” (2018) from “Chilling Adventures of Sabrina” (2018-2020)

The same teenage witch reimagined for the adolescents of today. “Chapter Two: The Dark Baptism” is a Halloween special where Sabrina (Kiernan Shipka) goes to a Halloween party with her friends before undergoing a dark ritual that will give her supernatural powers. This remake feels much darker than the original, so give it a try if you are looking for more of a fright.

9. “Haunted” (2009) from “The Vampire Diaries” (2009-2017)

This episode depicts a high school Halloween party gone wrong after Elena (Nina Dobrev) finds herself in the middle of some more vampire drama. That being said, the entire series has a great Halloween vibe. There is love, monsters, high school, heartbreak, danger, and most importantly, the supernatural. This is a fantastic show to watch for a drama filled Halloween evening.

10. “Summerween” (2012) from “Gravity Falls” (2012-2016)

Though it is a kids’ cartoon, Gravity Falls can definitely be creepy at times! Two twins — Dipper (Jason Ritter) and Mabel (Kristen Schaal) — uncover the unworldly secrets of a small town. On Summerween, a summertime version of the classic spooky holiday, they are visited by a monster with a demand that must be fulfilled before the night is over. This special is spectacular, but the entire show is Halloween-coded, so feel free to continue watching if you are in need of more frights.

11. “Episode 8” (2022) from “The Bastard Son & the Devil Himself” (2022)

It is not overtly a Halloween themed show, but this show is set in a fantasy world with witches and werewolves, and the relationship between these species is a key part in moving the story forward. The series finale is one of the scariest episodes; full of dark imagery, fight scenes, and jump scares. The only problem anyone could have with “The Bastard Son & the Devil Himself” is that it ends too quickly.

Consume these responsibly; there is still school on Wednesday. Happy Halloween!

—Staff writer Taylor S. Johnson can be reached at taylor.johnson@thecrimson.com.

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