Halloween specials—a trick and a treat?
Exploring some of pop culture’s most memorable and hilariously spooky TV Halloween episodes.
When I think of Halloween TV specials, I think of The Addams Family (1991) theme song—they’re creepy, kooky, mysterious, and all together spooky.
Mid-series Halloween episodes are a famous TV trope that play off of the holiday’s yearly traditions. Often, our beloved characters appear in costumes, trek through haunted houses, and decorate schools and offices in a black and orange ribbon extravaganza. Through revamped theme music and cameos from ghosts and ghouls, Halloween specials offer a nostalgic celebration.
The absence of normality makes a Halloween episode special. Most shows do not follow their usual series programming when featuring our favourite spooky holiday. The special is often treated as either a prank or a dream to invalidate any odd or supernatural happenings. Monsters and magic can take over a full 30-minute episode without creating any long-lasting impacts. This way, Halloween specials do not interfere with the story arc of a series.
Whether you choose to watch them at random or every time October 31 rolls around, one of the best things about Halloween specials is that you’ll never get bored of them. From the kings and queens of sitcoms to Disney’s biggest stars, here are a few of the most horrifyingly humorous Halloween specials of all time.
The Suite Life of Zack and Cody—(Season 1, Episode 19) “The Ghost of Suite 613”
For many Family Channel fanatics, this episode is a Disney Channel classic and one of the most popular Halloween episodes of all time. We follow the Martin brothers, Zack (Dylan Sprouse) and Cody (Cole Sprouse)—along with our Tipton regulars—as they investigate a rumour surrounding the infamous Suite 613. On the whim of a $5 bet, and with the help of Esteban Julio Ricardo de la Rosa Montoya Rodriguez (Adrian R’Mante), the gang attempts to connect with the ghost of Irene—a guest who supposedly died in the room. While the twins initially don’t believe the haunted tale, they are forced to investigate the rumour when their friends and belongings disappear.
Friends—(Season 8, Episode 6) “The One with the Halloween Party”
With Monica Geller (Courteney Cox) as the ultimate party host, our six beloved friends learn how to throw an adult Halloween party. From classic costumes like Monica’s Catwoman and Phoebe’s (Lisa Kudrow) Supergirl, to kooky costumes like Ross’ (David Schwimmer) Spud-nik and Chandler’s (Matthew Perry) unfortunate attempt at the Velveteen Rabbit, the Central Perk crew entertains us through yet another memorable night in Apartment 20. Don’t blink! You might miss everyone’s favourite evil twin, a cameo from Sean Penn, and an arm wrestle without a winner.
Peanuts—”It’s the Great Pumpkin, Charlie Brown”
Considered a “TV movie,” this special has been a Halloween re-run for over 40 years. From 1966 to 2022, our adorable Peanuts favourites have taken us on timeless adventures. Some activities—like raking leaves with Charlie (Peter Robbins) and Snoopy (Bill Melendez) and searching a pumpkin patch to find the perfect jack-o-lantern with Linus (Christopher Shea) and Lucy (Sally Dryer)—will forever tug on our inner-child heartstrings.
Halloween specials allow us to embrace the strange and the spooky—all while celebrating with our favourite TV characters. No matter the series, each fictional character deserves a day of candy-filled festivities just like we deserve ours. This year, don’t forget to play some tricks, stick your fangs into some treats, and enjoy a night in or out with your best boo’s. Remember: you’re never too old to celebrate Halloween.