As Halloween approaches, many look for their own ways to celebrate. Some hold parties, others hit the streets for delicious candy, and others bundle up and watch whatever spooky goodness the TV offers. Even now as an adult, this is my favorite time of year, and it’s mainly due to the media this season offers. Unfortunately, I feel much modern television shows increasingly water down their Halloween episodes every year. Growing up, TV shows would take these episodes as an opportunity to do something truly special. Get weird, get creative and most importantly, get spooky. Sure, shows like “Modern Family” and “Brooklyn Nine-Nine” have made Halloween episodes yearly traditions, but they can’t hold a candle to these classics from our childhoods.
1.”The Ghost of Suite 613″ – The Suite Life of Zack and Cody
While the Sprouse twins have gone on to have very different careers, to those growing up in the early 2000s, they’ll always be Zack and Cody. Nothing was better than tuning in weekly for the twin’s misadventures as they ran through the hallways of the Tipton Hotel. And as enduring as their adventures were, none was more memorable (and in some cases traumatizing) than this Halloween episode from season one. When Zack won’t stop teasing Cody for being a scaredy cat, they challenge each other to spend a night in the supposedly haunted Suite 613. What ensues is arguably one of the most iconic episodes to come from any of the Disney Channel sitcoms. The seance with a possessed Esteban (Adrian R’Mante) will forever be seared in my mind for its easily quotable lines and genuinely creepy (for a kid) imagery.
“The Suite Life of Zack and Cody” is streaming on Disney Plus.
2. “The One with the Halloween Party” – Friends
“Friends” may be more well known for their Thanksgiving episodes, but this season eight outing makes quite an impression nonetheless. When Monica (Courtney Cox) and Chandler (Matthew Perry) decide to host a Halloween party, each of our characters finds themselves in a festive situation. Mainly, Phoebe (Lisa Kudrow) is mistaken for her twin sister Ursula by fiancee and guest star Sean Penn. From an A-list cameo to Chandler’s pink bunny getup, this episode is perfect simply for the costumes our titular friends are wearing. Plus, I still hold out hope that one fateful Halloween I’ll see someone out on the town dressed in Ross’ (David Schwimmer) “Spud-nik” outfit.
“Friends” is streaming on HBO Max.
3. “And Then There Was Shawn” – Boy Meets World
I blame “Boy Meets World” for setting my standards of high school and college life too high, and even though this episode aired in February, it also set the standard for Halloween episodes high as well. Spoofing the slasher genre at the time, Cory (Ben Savage), Shawn (Rider Strong), Topanga (Danielle Fishel) and the rest of their friends are trapped in detention with a psychotic killer. On top of being hilarious, this episode wraps up with an emotionally satisfying conclusion. For some, the ending might seem like a cop-out, but this was the perfect way to do a story like this while also having it connect to where our characters were at this point in the season. Plus, this episode was guaranteed a spot on this list simply for an amazing cameo by Jennifer Love Hewitt, fresh off of “I Know What You Did Last Summer”.
“Boy Meets World” is streaming on Disney Plus.
4. “Terror Tales from the Park” – Regular Show
On this list, you won’t find the yearly “Simpson’s Treehouse of Horror” episodes as everyone already knows they’re great and have already become traditions for most people. If you’re looking for a new series of anthology episodes to get you in the spooky mood then you can’t go wrong with this collection of episodes from “Regular Show.” Similar to earlier, “Treehouse of Horrors,” each episode finds our characters on Halloween telling one another scary stories. While always having the same comedic edge, these episodes allowed the creators to go much darker and more violent than your usual episodes. The standout segment from this series will always be from their very first outing. Entitled “In the House,” Rigby eggs a wizard’s house (trust me it makes sense) and is dealt an ironic, and slightly horrific, punishment.
“Regular Show” is streaming on HBO Max.
5. “Summerween” – Gravity Falls
“Gravity Falls” was a show soaked in the supernatural, but its summer setting led many to assume it was impossible for them to do a Halloween episode. Thankfully, the creators used this to their advantage and gave us Summerween. The townsfolk of Gravity Falls love Halloween so much that they celebrate it twice a year, Christmas in July style. However, the town also has an urban legend of being known as the Summerween Trickster. A monster that punishes all those who lack the Summerween spirit. Dipper and Mabel of course end up crossing paths with the beast, all the while Grunkle Stan attempts to scare some persistent trick-or-treaters. The episode is responsible for some of the best moments of season one with easily one of the most memorable monsters. The Summerween Trickster’s origin is so funny I dare not spoil it here.
“Gravity Falls” is streaming on Disney Plus.
6. “Scaredy Pants” – Spongebob Squarepants
“Spongebob” is one of those shows that loves to get experimental with their Halloween episodes, but their first one is easily the best, while also being the most simplistic. Spongebob is the laughingstock of town on Halloween, given that he’s terrified by everything. With the help of Patrick, he attempts to do some scaring himself. I originally was going to have the episode “Graveyard Shift” here as the Hash Slinging Slasher is arguably one of the most iconic episodes of the entire series, but I had to give it to the episode actually set on Halloween. Plus, this was the episode that introduced us to the spookiest character of the seven seas, The Flying Dutchman.
“Spongebob Squarepants” is currently streaming on Paramount Plus.
By Adam Beam