Best Simpsons Treehouse of Horror Episodes
Ever since the second season of their approximately 78,903 seasons The Simpsons has treated viewers to the annual tradition of the Treehouse of Horror. Each episode sees the cast of Springfield characters satirizing a number of science fiction and horror flicks with the aliens Kang and Kodos inevitably appearing in the mayhem. Given the prominent spot in pop culture the Simpsons holds these yearly spooky episodes have become crowd favorites usually one of the most popular episodes of a given season. With the Simpsons now easier to watch than ever let us look at the best Treehouse of Horror episodes.
Treehouse of Horror I (1990): The episode that started it all laid a solid bedrock for all the others which followed. Beginning with their take on the haunted house genre with “Bad Dreams House” riffing on the likes of Poltergeist and The Amityville Horror. This finds the perfect balance of humor and genuine creepiness few other segments would ever capture again. Series mainstays Kang and Kodos invite the Simpsons to their ship in “Hungry are the Damned”. For most fans the most memorable bit is still their classic adaptation of Edgar Allen Poe’s The Raven.
Treehouse of Horror II (1991): Opened with a presentation from Marge al’a Edward Van Sloan in Frankenstein, this episode turned a one-off episode into a tradition. Wrapped around the narrative of the Simpsons clan slumbering after their Trick or Treat haul. Homer purchases a Monkey’s Paw…..which is cursed. This unleashes terrible horrors upon the world culminating with a turkey sandwich which is a little dry. Bart gets to do his best Billy Mumy impression while Mr. Burns learns a mechanized work force may not be for the best.
Treehouse of Horror IV (1993): Eating a forbidden donut puts Homer’s soul at stake in the hilarious “The Devil and Homer Simpson”. Satan/Ned Flanders puts Homer before a Jury of the Damned but not before we get the hilarious gag of the Simpson patriarch eating Hell out of donuts. As a Twilight Zone fan I really dug on “Nightmare at Five 1/2 Feet” and their parody of Francis Ford Coppola’s Dracula is nothing short of hilarious.
Treehouse of Horror V (1994): The late great Wizard Magazine once declared this episode the best of the Treehouse of Horrors and they had a definite case. Serving as caretakers for Mr. Burns, the Simpsons find themselves relying on Bart’s “Shinning” in one of the Treehouse’s funniest stories. A hand stuck in a toaster throws Homer into a series of distorted timelines that he must navigate. “Nightmare Cafeteria” presents a solution to the food problems at Springfield Elementary. Whatever you do beware the fog that turns your skin inside out.
Treehouse of Horror VI (1995): Every time I watch this episode, Paul Anka’s “Just Don’t Look” effortlessly gets stuck in my head thanks to “Attack of the 50 Foot Eyesores”. A short which finds that perfect balance of hilarious and creepy is their take on A Nightmare on Elm Street “Nightmare on Evergreen Terrace”. The most iconic segment is easily the parody of the classic Twilight Zone episode “Little Girl Lost” which sends Homer into the 3rd Dimension and proves to be a genius showcase for the then burgeoning CGI animation style.
Treehouse of Horror VII (1996): “…upwards and not forwards. And always twirling, twirling, twirling towards freedom” those are some of the words Kang and Kodos used when they successfully exploited our country’s stupid political system to take over the world. The biting satire of this episode is still somehow relevant almost 25 years later. That is not all as Bart is featured in the Simpsons take on Basket Case “The Thing and I”. In “The Genesis Tub” Lisa does as so many mad scientists when her aspirations in research comes back to bite her in the head.
Treehouse of Horror VIII (1997): Homer gets to indulge in his greatest dreams….until the mutants show up in “Homega Man”. Bart’s dream of using Professor Fink’s transporter for gain turns into a nightmare in their The Fly parody “Fly vs. Fly”. We also see how Marge and her witch sisters Patty and Selma play a part in the creation of Trick or Treating with “Easy Bake Coven”.
Treehouse of Horror X (1999): Featuring the classic moment revealing that Lucy Lawless can indeed fly, “Desperately Xeeking Xena” sees Bart and Lisa become superheroes to take on Comic Book Guy as The Collector. Ned Flanders’ dark lyncanthropic secret is revealed in “I Know What You Diddily-Did”. Aside from Halloween we get a horrifying look at a New Years where Y2K strikes and Homer attempt to save himself fails.
Treehouse of Horror XI (2000): For those who ever wanted to know what the most dangerous food is “G-G-Ghost Dad” proves it is broccoli which takes out Homer forcing his soul to find redemption. “Scary Tales Can Come True” is a brilliant take on Hansel and Gretel, but it is the final segment “Night of the Dolphin” which truly steals this episode as the killers of the sea return to the surface thanks to Lisa.
Treehouse of Horror XVI (2005): Bart must contend with a robotic menace in “B.I. Bartificial Intelligence” which is ambitious but does not quite fulfill its promise. It is made up for by “Survival of the Fattest”which is funnier than it should be. “I’ve Grown a Costume to Your Face” easily ranks among the best Treehouse segments as the citizens of Springfield are transformed into their Halloween costumes.
Treehouse of Horror XVII (2006): The episode kicks off with a parody so obvious in its potential for comedy its amazing nobody had done it before by having Homer be the focus of a The Blob parody in “Married to the Blob”. “You Gotta Know When to Golem” is a hilarious take on the silent classic The Golem which is a must see for anyone who has wanted to see a tradition-filled Jewish wedding with monsters. The third segment brings a Springfield approach to one of the most iconic moments in Halloween history; when Orson Welles presented War of the Worlds.
Treehouse of Horror XIX (2008): From the very start the violent encounter between Homer and the voting booth establishes the hilarity of this episode. Speaking of violence and Homer “Celebrity Heaven” sees him become become an assassin on behalf of ad execs leading to a fantastic climax. Easily the highlight of this episode is “The Grand Pumpkin” a brilliant riff on the holiday classic It’s the Great Pumpkin Charlie Brown. This segment sees Milhouse in the role of Linus as the Grand Pumpkin emerges from the pumpkin patch to wreak havoc.
Treehouse of Horror XX (2009): To celebrate two decades the Simpsons gives us one of the best Treehouse of Horrors, kicking off with classic monsters trying to fit into modern Halloween. “Dial M for Murder or Press # to Return to the Main Menu” is a hilarious and brilliant salute to the Master of Suspense Alfred Hitchcock. The fun “Don’t Have a Cow Mankind” is the perfect Simpsons take on modern zombie flicks and “There’s No Business Like Moe Business” is a brilliant parody of Sweeney Todd: The Demon Barber of Fleet Street.
Treehouse of Horror XXIV (2013): This episode deserves a spot on this list based on its opening alone. Crafted by the great Guillermo del Toro, this Halloweenized take on the classic Simpsons intro is a feast for horror fans, filled with Easter Eggs covering the width and breadth of the genre. This Treehouse of Horror proved to many that after some lackluster editions the Simpsons still had it. There was a bonkers Dr. Seuss parody with “Oh, the Places You’ll Do’h” and the fun “Dead and Shoulders” sees Bart and Lisa closer than ever. The best segment is probably their take on Tod Browning’s controversial horror masterpiece Freaks with “Freaks, no Geeks”.