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Ranking: Every Simpsons Treehouse of Horror Halloween Episode from Worst to Best

on October 23, 2019, 9:00am

20. Treehouse of Horror XVII

Season 18, Episode 4

treehouse of horror xvii Ranking: Every Simpsons Treehouse of Horror Halloween Episode from Worst to Best

Premiere Date: November 5, 2006

Best Line: “That’s what we call Jewish humor. You don’t have to understand it ’cause the words sound funny. Meshuggeneh! Hilarious!” –Golem

The Simpsons rarely courts controversy in its later years, but this episode caused a stir when the ending to its third segment — an amusing War of the Worlds parody — leaked. The story features Kang and Kodos invading after Orson Welles’ (Maurice LaMarche, reprising his impression from Ed Wood) radio hoax lulls Springfield into complacency. The leaked ending showed Springfield in ruins, featuring heavily-underlined parallels to the Second Gulf War and a closing line, “This sure is a lot like Iraq will be,” that was cut from the final broadcast. The other two segments are gentler and sillier. The first sees Homer eating a “space marshmallow” and turning into a voracious, cannibalistic blob who gets down to his own Sir Mix-a-Lot jam. And the second features Bart commandeering a golem voiced by Richard Lewis, giving the show plenty of opportunities to sprinkle in a little mayhem and riff on Yiddish lore. –Andrew Bloom

19. Treehouse of Horror IX

Season 10, Episode 4

treehouse of horror ix Ranking: Every Simpsons Treehouse of Horror Halloween Episode from Worst to Best

Premiere Date: October 25, 1998

Best Line: “I got a question for that gross thing, whatever it is.” –Audience Member “Homer?” –Jerry Springer “Nah, the green dude.” –Audience Member

The ’90s were pretty ugly, so it’s fitting that the final Treehouse of Horror from that decade showcases some of 1999’s least appetizing cultural artifacts. Some of these references, such as Snake’s three-strikes-induced execution in “Hell Toupée”, actually move the plot in a direction that’s both scary and satirical. Others, such as that segment’s reality TV nods and the extended Jerry Springer digression in “Starship Poopers”, only serve to remind us what a trashy drag that cultural moment could be. Also, I still haven’t forgiven the wasted opportunity of “The Terror of Tiny Toon”; you have a golden chance to send Bart and Lisa through a Stay Tuned-level TV hellscape, and the best you can do is a paltry bit with Regis and Kathie Lee? C’mon, gang. At least the Itchy and Scratchy bits landed, I guess. –Tyler Clark

18. Treehouse of Horror XXVII

Season 28, Episode 4

treehouse of horror xxvii Ranking: Every Simpsons Treehouse of Horror Halloween Episode from Worst to Best

Premiere Date: October 16, 2016

Best Line: “Man, who’d have thought a funeral for a couple of kids would be such a downer?” –Homer

“Treehouse of Horror XXVII” gets underway with a nod to the dystopian Hunger Games franchise. “Dry Hard” has Mr. Burns stepping in as the ruler of a post-apocalyptic Springfield where children must battle for a chance to win a day of fun at his private reservoir. Naturally, Ralph dies before the battle begins. “BFF R.I.P.” finds Lisa’s former imaginary friend Rachel murdering her childhood acquaintances (it’s hard to believe Lisa would really consider Sherri and Terri friends). The highlight comes when Rachel must deal with Homer’s own imaginary friend, Sargent Sausage. The James Bond parody “Moefinger”, rounds out the fairly unmemorable trio. Notable as the 600th episode of the show, “Treehouse of Horror XXVII” also brings back Frank Grimes (or “Grimey” as he liked to be known) in ghost form, who informs the Simpson family that, in hell, everyone is forced to watch all 600 episodes in a row. –Zack Ruskin

17. Treehouse of Horror X

Season 11, Episode 4

treehouse of horror x Ranking: Every Simpsons Treehouse of Horror Halloween Episode from Worst to Best

Premiere Date: October 31, 1999

Best Line: “Okay, Marge, you hide in the abandoned amusement park. Lisa, the pet cemetery. Bart, spooky roller disco. And I’ll go skinny-dipping in that lake where the sexy teens were killed a hundred years ago tonight.” –Homer

“Whenever you notice something like that…a wizard did it.” Even if there were nothing else to champion from “Treehouse of Horror X”, that immortal dismissal of nerd nitpickery would still make this one worthwhile on its own. Thankfully, Bart, Lisa, and Lucy Lawless deliver plenty more comedy in their wild and wacky Superfriends parody. The tale of Stretch Dude and Clobber Girl is rife with amusing geek gags, and is the rare middle segment that proves to be the strongest of the bunch. The episode’s first story is an I Know What You Did Last Summer spoof, which brings some quality gallows humor when Marge accidentally runs over Ned Flanders. But the segment goes off the rails a bit after the reveal. And the final story is a dated, Y2K-inspired disaster romp that trades in a decent if too-quickly-escalating premise for a bevy of weak celebrity jabs. –Andrew Bloom

16. Treehouse of Horror XXV

Season 26, Episode 4

treehouse of horror xxv Ranking: Every Simpsons Treehouse of Horror Halloween Episode from Worst to Best

Premiere Date: October 19, 2014

Best Line: “The bed is lifting me! The elevator at work can’t even do that!” –Homer

It seems like the only reliable predictor for the quality of latter-day Treehouse of Horror episodes is whether or not the show is approaching a milestone anniversary. While not as good as the surprisingly excellent 20th edition, “Treehouse of Horror XXV” still stacks up better than most of its contemporaries. “School Is Hell” leverages an original concept into ghoulishly fun character designs and genuinely clever jokes; “A Clockwork Yellow” strikes the right balance of homage and goof in its take on the Kubrick classic; and “The Others” takes a potentially limp plot idea (Evergreen Terrace is haunted…) and injects it with a dose of unexpectedly effective meta-humor (…by the ghosts of the Simpsons from The Tracey Ullman Show!) As anniversary content goes, it’s a fitting victory lap. As a Halloween episode, it ain’t too shabby, either. (Plus, I’ll take all the guest spots from Dr. Marvin Monroe that I can get.) –Tyler Clark

15. Treehouse of Horror XI

Season 12, Episode 1

treehouse of horror xi Ranking: Every Simpsons Treehouse of Horror Halloween Episode from Worst to Best

Premiere Date: November 1, 2000

Best Line: “Hmm, Bottlenose bruises. Blowhole burns. Flipper prints. This looks like the work of rowdy teens. Lou, cancel the prom.” –Chief Wiggum

Ah yes, the one with the dolphins. Believe it or not, “Night of the Dolphin” is actually based on a 1973 George C. Scott film that’s even more insane than this Simpsons parody that also borrows from Free Willy and The Birds. The concept is classic Simpsons, as Lisa’s attempt to do right by Snorky by releasing him from captivity immediately backfires. Also featured in “Treehouse of Horror XI” is “Ghost Dad”, where Homer’s horoscope informs him he will die today (and receive a compliment from someone at work). Broccoli is the culprit, which Dr. Hibbert explains is “the deadliest plant on Earth—why it even tries to you itself with its terrible taste!” Fairy tales galore populate “Scary Tales Can Come True” and recalls the tragic incident involving Joey Jo-Jo Junior Shabadoo (“The Last Temptation of Homer”) with Suzanne the Witch’s suspiciously named boyfriend George Cauldron. –Zack Ruskin

14. Treehouse of Horror XIII

Season 14, Episode 1

treehouse of horror xiii Ranking: Every Simpsons Treehouse of Horror Halloween Episode from Worst to Best

Premiere Date: November 3, 2002

Best Line: “Then after World War II, it got kind of quiet till Superman challenged FDR to a race around the world. FDR beat him by a furlong. Or so the comic books would have you believe. The truth lies somewhere in between.” –Grampa

One Homer is plenty. That’s the lesson of “Treehouse of Horror XIII” and its opening tale, which sees Homer buying a magic hammock that lets him duplicate himself to epidemic proportions. The steady escalation of the clone escapades, enjoyable jabs at Family Guy and The Simpsons’ earlier years, and a Twilight Zone-style twist make it a winner. The middle segment is a confused story about Billy the Kid and his zombie cowboy cohorts coming back to take over Springfield after Lisa’s campaign to rid the town of guns. It lacks a real perspective despite its gun-control focus. And the final segment, an Isle of Dr. Moreau spoof, is mainly an excuse to reskin Springfield’s residents in animalistic splendor, but the exercise is a fun one, and the zoological jokes land. Sadly there’s no spooky credits in this one, but it does feature the return of a ghoulish Maude. –Andrew Bloom

13. Treehouse of Horror XVI

Season 17, Episode 4

treehouse of horror xvi Ranking: Every Simpsons Treehouse of Horror Halloween Episode from Worst to Best

Premiere Date: November 6, 2005

Best Line: “Homer, Burns has only been chasing us for six hours and you already resorted to cannibalism.” –Carl “And there’s bananas in that tree up there.” –Lenny “Uh, they look a little green.” –Homer

Before this review, I remembered this edition of Treehouse of Horror best for its opener, in which Kang and Kodos finally take aim at the baseball games that once regularly pushed these Halloween traditions well into the first weekend of November. Respect to those aliens, but on my most recent rewatch, I found plenty of other bits to like, too, especially when it comes to some of Springfield’s bit players. While the evil cyborg brother schtick of “B.I. Bartificial Intelligence” never gets fully off the ground, the episode’s other segments shine: “Survival of the Fattest” gives Homer the chance to play both buffoon and betrayer with some of the town’s other menfolk during Mr. Burns’ The Most Dangerous Game-style hunt, while “I’ve Grown a Costume to Your Face” sets loose a stupidly simple premise (what if everyone in Springfield dressed up for Halloween, and then actually became their costume?) and lets it play out to its satisfying, sight-gag-heavy conclusion. –Tyler Clark

12. Treehouse of Horror XII

Season 13, Episode 1

treehouse of horror xii Ranking: Every Simpsons Treehouse of Horror Halloween Episode from Worst to Best

Premiere Date: November 6, 2001

Best Line: “Hey, you know what’s even better is Jesus. He’s like six leprechauns!” –Lenny

I think it’s fair to say that we would all love to live in a house with the voice of Pierce Brosnan. In the “Treehouse of Horror XII” segment “House of Whacks”, this fantasy comes to life after the Simpsons give their home an upgrade. Of course, Pierce, aka Ultrahouse 3000, goes all 2001: A Space Odyssey on the family, spurred on by a major crush on Marge (it’s cool Ultrahouse 3000, we’ve all been there). Kudos are also due to Matthew Perry for voicing himself as an inferior option that the Simpsons quickly move on from. A Harry Potter spoof was inevitable, and “Wiz Kids” delivers for the most part, from Milhouse turning his toad not into a prince but rather a lewd drunk who flirts with Edna Krabappel to Montymort’s weakness being an enchanted shin. Never one to pass up a cheap Irish joke, “Hex and the City” goes all in with the Simpsons strolling through Ethnictown and Homer later tormented by a squirrely leprechaun. –Zack Ruskin

11. Treehouse of Horror XXVIII

Season 29, Episode 4

The Simpsons, Treehouse of Horror XXVIII (Fox)

Premiere Date: October 22, 2017

Best Line: “Spider wife, dead son, two girls with button eyes – I think this marriage has finally gotten out of its rut!” -Homer

The best Treehouse installment of the ’10s boasts winners in all three of its installments. While “The Exor-sis” suffers slightly from a creaky setup, Maggie’s inevitable possession produces plenty of fun, particularly Homer’s Pazuzu lullaby and the accompanying sight gags of Maggie’s now-haunted toys. By contrast, “Coralisa” is strong throughout, building upon a classic series character trait (in this case, Lisa’s feeling like the odd Simpson out within her family) to produce a creative Coraline riff complete with a suitably eerie animation switch that Lisa notes by exclaiming, “Woah! For a Halloween show middle segment, this is amazing!” “Coralisa” would be this episode’s easy winner if not for the closer: “MMM… Homer” might be the grossest segment ever produced for a Treehouse of Horror episode. After a days-long binge leaves Homer nothing to eat but himself, we’re treated to an inspired body-horror montage of the Simpson patriarch hacking himself to bits, all set to a jaunty jazz-funk soundtrack. It’s genuinely, surprisingly unsettling, and a great bit of freshness from the venerable series. Perhaps the scariest part of all? The segment also includes a cameo by now-disgraced chef Mario Batali, proving once again that the worst monsters are the ones that come in human form. –Tyler Clark