Some of the most memorable TV moments over the years have come courtesy of a “seasonal episode.” You know, those few times a year when the fictional world of television aligns perfectly with reality to celebrate Thanksgiving, Christmas, New Year’s, Valentine’s Day, and if you’re really lucky, maybe even St. Patrick’s Day, too.
Of course, Halloween has also been a regular in the mix, and it’s safe to say comedies tend to take the cake in that category. Check out some favorites below, and for simplicity’s sake, the list was reserved for just live action. My apologies to “The Simpsons.”
Happy Endings | “Spooky Endings”
The short-lived “Happy Endings” got great use out of its stellar ensemble while it had the chance. Though it was cut down in its prime, at least the loyal fanbase was able to spend at least one Halloween with the gang that knew how to properly celebrate the “Super Bowl of Drinking.”
How I Met Your Mother | “The Slutty Pumpkin”
Sure, this episode was better when we didn’t know Katie Holmes would ultimately portray the “Slutty Pumpkin,” but nevertheless, if “How I Met Your Mother” did one thing right, it was seasonal episodes like this one.
The Office | “Halloween”
“The Office” typically knocked theme episodes out of the park, and this one from early in Season 2 proved to be a worthy precursor to more fantastic costumes, booze-filled Christmases, and heartfelt Valentine’s Days witnessed down the road. Unfortunately, it was difficult to find a good clip at the time of posting, but hopefully one will pop up eventually.
Modern Family | “Halloween”
Most shows tend to stumble in the early going, but it was evident almost immediately that “Modern Family” was certainly not most shows. So, by the time the second season rolled around it came as no surprise that it was already firing on all cylinders like a seasoned vet, and in the process, produced one of the best episodes of the series.
Scrubs | “My Big Brother”
Though in traditional “Scrubs” fashion the episode contains some serious underlings, the running gag in which no one can figure out who is in the gorilla costume pays off nicely at the end.
Best Part (spoilers):
30 Rock | “Stone Mountain”
The dreaded celebrity death “Rule of Three” plagues Tracy, while the writers are intent on getting an invite to a first-class Halloween party, and a recommendation from Kenneth sends Jack and Liz on a road trip down south to find a potential new cast member.
Community | “Epidemiology”
If there’s one time of the year quirkiness shines brightest, it’s Halloween. Why? Not sure, but it’s what comes to mind in thinking back to this fantastic “Community” episode in which ABBA, zombies, and an ambiguously dressed Shirley make for some great entertainment.
Friends | “The One with the Halloween Party”
In 10 seasons of “Friends” this was the only Halloween-themed episode, surprisingly, but it certainly was a good one. Though Chandler was a regular source for jokes amongst the group, Joey’s costume takes the running gag to a whole new and hilarious level.
Parks and Recreation | “Greg Pikitis”
Just like in my compilation of the best TV weddings, “Park and Recreation” deservedly gets two slots on this list as well. This gem came seven episodes into Season 2, and among other things, showcases a charming Louis CK, Tom Haverford in his element, and of course, Leslie Knope at her finest.
Best Part (spoilers):
Parks and Recreation | “Halloween Surprise”
It will be tough to top the mother of all Halloween episodes, most likely because the best part of all had nothing to do with Halloween. From a near-tragic “fart attack” to some sassy live tweeting from Donna, this perfectly designed episode comes equipped with enough twists and turns to make audiences forget all about the promised “surprise.” That is, of course, until the very end in what I can only describe as the absolute sweetest TV proposal of all time.