In the spirit for more spooky stories? Check out our Halloween series!
It’s officially spooky season, and we’ve been trapped in an endless real-world nightmare for months. And it’s not likely to end anytime soon. To help you party in your pajamas – safe and socially distant in your room with a cup of hot chocolate that you can cry into if life gets overwhelming – here’s a list of 21 iconic appropriate-for-Halloween episodes from some of your most beloved TV shows, new and old. Or you can party in a cool Halloween costume and party with all your friends on Zoom, and then you can watch these episodes!
Disclaimer: Iconic is interpreted veeerrryyy broadly.
1. The Suite Life of Zack & Cody – “The Ghost of Suite 613″ (2005)
All true Halloween fans know this one. It’s all fun and games in Tipton Hotel till Zack, Cody, London, and Maddie encounter angry spirits in a suite on the 6th floor. 15 years later (yikes!) this episode still has some of the best jump scares in Disney Channel history.
2. Parks and Recreation – “Halloween Surprise” (2012)
This one’s more heartwarming than anything else, but it also marks a major and pretty daunting turning point in the life of our favorite government employee, Leslie Knope. Plus, the unparalleled Ms. Retta as Donna teaches you a thing or two about live-tweeting your disbelief while watching scary movies.
3. My So-Called Life – “Halloween” (1994)
Listen, My So-Called Life was THE coming-of-age show for me when I was angsty and in my feelings at 15 so I have to include it. Claire Danes as the very relatable Angela ponders the fragility of life as she has visions of a high school student who died years ago. The episode also pays homage to Kurt Cobain who’d passed away only months before the episode aired.
4. Rock Lee & His Ninja Pals – “Autumn Shinobi Safety Lessons! / Deidara’s Art is Always a Blast!” (2012)
In my humble opinion, Naruto didn’t exactly do justice to the enduring institution that is Rock Lee, but hey, at least we got this bite-sized spin-off with 51 episodes which are definitely not canon. Tiny Rock Lee and his pals prepare for Halloween in Konoha, but troublemakers from the evil Akatsuki are determined to create chaos.
5. The Office – “Here Comes Treble” (2012)
This is the TV classic featuring a random a capella crew and Dwight getting his head stuck inside a carved pumpkin. Need I say more?
6. Kim Possible – “October 31st” (2002)
Lying to your family and friends to go hang out with your crush? We’ve all done it, but Kim’s lies threaten to have scary consequences. Halloween or not, Kim just can’t catch a break.
7. Kingdom – Seasons 1 & 2 (2019 – Present)
If like me, you’re a fan of gory zombie horror, political intrigue, and period drama, then Kingdom is the show for you. In fact, this show is superior to all other zombie-related content that will be included in this list. Watch all 12 episodes of this critically-acclaimed, extremely unsettling Korean-language series for an unforgettable experience. Nightmares may or may not be included.
8. True Blood – “Me and the Devil” (2011)
Now technically, this episode itself has nothing to do with Halloween. However, True Blood is a sexy Southern Gothic horror with lots of good-looking vampires, especially the 1000-year-old Eric Northman (played by Alexander Skarsgård). I mean, he loses his memories and is a lost (beautiful) puppy in this episode, instead of his usual murderous self. Plenty of feel-good and what the hell moments to pick from.
9. Shadowhunters – “The Beast Within” (2019)
Demon outbreak or not, the only Shadowhunter drama I care about is between Alec and his warlock boyfriend Magnus. This special episode is a rollercoaster ride for all Malec stans, and I would gladly hop on it again.
10. Doctor Who – “The Impossible Planet/The Satan Pit” (2006)
This two-part arc isn’t even the most stressful story in this expansive series (if you still feel wrecked by “Blink”, raise your hand!), but I’m personally a fan of David Tennant’s Doctor and Billie Piper’s Rose, teaming up to face the Devil himself. Biblical metaphors, fiery beasts, demonic aliens, and of course, a black hole – before you know it, you’ll get sucked into a dizzying fantasy adventure.
11. Penny Dreadful – “Séance” (2014)
I could make a separate list of all the shocking moments from just Season 1 alone, but Vanessa Ives’ possession in a circle of witches (depicted superbly by Eva Green) really sent a chill down my spine. Overall, I’m just grateful for this bubbling cauldron of a show that brings together all my favorite Gothic fiction protagonists for an irreverent and astounding story. Definitely don’t watch this alone.
12. Euphoria – “The Next Episode” (2019)
This Halloween special is a goldmine of throwbacks and classic pop-culture references. Watch it even if you’re not a Euphoria fan (which you should be because it’s brilliant, duh) for Shakespearean metaphors, blasphemous nuns, and of course, Zendaya.
13. American Horror Story: Murder House – “Halloween” (2011)
Hauntings are quite normal at the Harmons’, especially on Halloween night when all kinds of vengeful ghosts descend, revealing that it is in fact the living who are capable of unspeakable terror. This two-part episode is darker than most other suggestions on this list and isn’t for the faint of heart.
14. American Horror Story: Coven – “The Magical Delights of Stevie Nicks” (2014)
There was no way I wasn’t going to talk about an episode from Coven, which is arguably one of the best seasons in the American Horror Story anthology. Coven is all about powerful and dangerous women, and it references the infamous Salem Witch Trials. Angela Bassett as Marie Laveau dominates, and a guest feature by Stevie Nicks makes this an instant pop culture classic.
15. Dear White People – “Chapter I” (2017)
Dear White People is a cultural shift as it unapologetically calls out how racism is perpetuated within institutions, and also normalized in greater pop culture. The main action in the series is set in motion by college student and radio show host Samantha “Sam” White (played by Logan Browning) who goes an elite school where blackface at Halloween parties thrown by predominantly white student groups seems to be the norm (not too far from reality). Watch as Sam takes this apart and schools us on how our entertainment is steeped in appropriation and discrimination: “Top of the list of unacceptable costumes? Me.”
16. Psych – “This Episode Sucks” (2011)
In case you didn’t realize it, this episode involves vampire-related drama. In particular, I’m obsessed with Shawn‘s take on Tom Cruise’s Lestat from Interview with the Vampire. Keep an eye out for all the vampire-related pop culture references (yes, Twilight is in this).
17. Buffy the Vampire Slayer – “Fear, Itself” (1999)
This list would be incomplete without Buffy spitting some great one-liners as she tackles supernatural creatures that just won’t let her chill. A demon is accidentally summoned after a ritual gone wrong, and it is up to Buffy and the gang to save the day while facing their greatest fears.
18. The Powerpuff Girls – “Boogie Frights” (1998)
A Boogie Man monster attempts to destroy the sun and replace it with a giant disco ball so that he and his monster friends can turn the world into a nightclub and boogie forever (get it???!!!). It’s up to the Powerpuff Girls to save the day (and night)
19. That’s So Raven – “Don’t Have a Cow” (2003)
Another Halloween party, another botched spell. But nothing beats watching Raven and Chelsea race against time to avoid turning into… cows??!!
20. One Tree Hill – “An Attempt to Tip the Scales” (2006)
All boy drama aside, Peyton and Brooke as the Angel of Death and Sexy Red Demon respectively were two of my early girl crushes, and I will rewatch this episode till the end of time for the very specific scene where they chill by the bar at a party. Nothing else matters, except the Fall Out Boy cameo.
21. The Proud Family – “A Hero for Halloween” (2002)
An extension of the original The Proud Family series, The Proud Family: Louder and Prouder, was officially announced this year, and I’m ready to revisit this childhood staple, starting with this special episode where Penny Proud gets superpowers and finally overcomes her indifference to holidays like Halloween.
If you want to check out Halloween films to watch instead, read this:
Get The Tempest in your inbox. Read more exclusives like this in our weekly newsletter!