Over the years, the Treehouse of Horror has become a Simpsons tradition. Every Halloween season, the writers produce an episode that ignores The Simpsons‘ usual rules and continuity and presents viewers with a collection of funny and spooky stories.
However, like the show itself, the Treehouse Of Horror has gone through many ups and downs, giving us some classic episodes and some utter stinkers.
If you’re in the mood for some scary Simpsons fun, here are the ten best Treehouse Of Horror episodes.
10. Treehouse Of Horror XIV (Season 15, Episode 1)
Featuring one great story, one good story, and one mediocre story, Treehouse of Horror XIV is a mixed bag. However, the best short, “Reaper Madness,” is so good that it will allow you to overlook the rest of the episode.
Homer accidentally kills the Grim Reaper and ends up taking his place as the new Reaper. Homer then decides to use the Reaper’s powers to solve all of his mundane problems, including lines at the DMV. However, when Homer is tasked with killing Marge, he has to attempt to trick God himself to get out of doing the job. Dark, witty, and full of great dialogue, this short is an excellent piece of storytelling.
“Stop the World, I Want to Goof Off” sees Bart and Milhouse get a stopwatch that can freeze time. The pair enjoy this power at first but quickly find that the rest of the town doesn’t appreciate their pranks, leading to a solid short with a few good laughs.
The final short, “Frinkenstein,” is the weakest of the bunch, casting Professor Frink as Frankenstein. When Frink tries to resurrect his father, his creation quickly goes on a rampage, forcing Lisa and Frink to stop the monster. While this short has some good ideas, it mostly proves that Frink doesn’t have enough character to be the focal point of an entire story.
9. Treehouse Of Horror X (Season 11, Episode 4)
The tenth installment of Treehouse of Horror is the episode that launched a million memes thanks to its “Desperately Xeeking Xena” short, which sees Bart and Lisa become superheroes after an X-Ray gone wrong. While in their superhero forms, the kids have to fight an evil Comic Book Guy to save Xena actress Lucy Lawless. However, this episode is likely most known for the “a wizard did it” sequence, where Lawless answers inane questions from nerds.
The other two shorts in the episode are also pretty good. They include “I Know What You Diddily-Iddily-Did,” a pitch-perfect parody of I Know What You Did Last Summer, with Homer finally killing Ned Flanders only to end up being stalked.
“Life’s a Glitch, Then You Die” pokes fun at Y2K fears with a computer virus destroying civilization on New Year’s Eve. However, despite being funny in places, it’s hard to ignore how dated this short feels. Thankfully it doesn’t detract from the excellence of the other two.
8. Treehouse Of Horror VIII (Season 9, Episode 4)
Famous for its opening sequence that shows a Fox censor getting murdered, Treehouse of Horror VIII includes some very different shorts that open up new avenues for comedy.
This includes “The HΩmega Man,” which sees Homer as the last living human. This short shows just how funny and likable Homer is. And this story feels like an extension of the classic episode “Homer the Heretic.”
“Fly vs. Fly” is a unique take on The Fly that sees Bart’s head getting put on a fly’s body and vice-versa. This forces Bart and Lisa to stop the fly from absconding with Bart’s body in an amusing chase sequence.
The final sketch, “Easy-Bake Coven,” is a fun historical romp. It tells the story of the first Halloween with a fun take on the Salem witch trials that sees Marge and her sister taking the role of the witches in one of the most original and unique shorts ever featured in the series.
7. Treehouse Of Horror II (Season 3, Episode 7)
The second installment of the Treehouse Of Horror saw the writers and producers flexing their creative muscles with unique shorts that pushed the boundaries of what they could get away with on TV.
This includes “The Monkey’s Paw,” which finds the family acquiring a monkey’s paw that grants four wishes. However, the family quickly learns that these wishes come with a cost and often feature a sting in the tail. This segment also stands out for its excellent meta-humor, poking fun at the problems that come with popularity.
“The Bart Zone” sees Bart develop god-like powers only to instantly start misusing them. He spreads fear throughout the town and torments his father, all while trying to find the limits of his new abilities in this surreal and amusing short.
“If I Only Had A Brain” sees Mr. Burns turning into a mad scientist. Burns plans to build an army of robots to do his bidding. However, while looking for a brain for his robot, he accidentally steals Homer’s, leading to a less-than-perfect robot.
6. Treehouse Of Horror I (Season 2, Episode 3)
The first Treehouse of Horror was meant to introduce viewers to the idea of non-canon Halloween specials that were more grotesque than average episodes of the animated sitcom. Thus, the producers put their best foot forward with three excellent shorts.
“Bad Dream House” features the Simpsons family moving into a haunted house that quickly tries to get rid of them. This includes a hilarious sequence where the house possesses Homer, Bart, and Lisa.
“Hungry are the Damned” introduces Kang and Kodos, who abduct the Simpsons and take them to a strange planet in an excellent parody of the classic Twilight Zone episode “To Serve Man.”
However, the best short in this bunch is “The Raven.” Inspired by the poem penned by Edgar Allan Poe, this segment takes a unique approach to parody as it uses most of the original poem, parodying it by altering the tone and visuals rather than the content.
5. Treehouse Of Horror IV (Season 5, Episode 5)
One of many Treehouse Of Horror episodes carried by a single sketch, this episode features the famous “The Devil and Homer Simpson” sketch, which sees Homer making a deal with the devil, who happens to be Ned Flanders. However, when Homer messes up, he and the devil must fight for possession of his soul.
The other shorts in this episode, while less iconic, are still fantastic. They include “Bart Simpson’s Dracula,” a parody of the classic book, complete with some excellent jokes about Mr. Burns. This collection also includes “Terror at 5+1⁄2 Feet,” a parody of the famous Twilight Zone episode, but rather than Shatner on a plane, this version features Bart in a school bus.
4. Treehouse Of Horror VI (Season 7, Episode 6)
Treehouse of Horror VI is a fascinating time capsule as one of the shorts had a lot of prerelease hype. However, this episode is far from a one-trick pony.
“Attack of the 50-Foot Eyesores” is an excellent kaiju parody featuring giant advertising mascots attempting to crush Springfield. Packed full of inventive visual gags and a hilariously random Paul Anka cameo, this short is light on scares but heavy on belly laughs.
“Nightmare on Evergreen Terrace” features Groundskeeper Willie transforming into a Freddy Krueger parody. This segment, while being an excellent parody, also features some genuinely disturbing designs for evil Willie, leading to an expertly executed fusion of horror and comedy.
“Homer³” was the Simpson’s first foray into 3D computer animation and was heavily promoted before release. (It also got a theatrical release as part of the Cyberworld collection of shorts). It sees Homer accidentally falling into a 3D world as the family tries to save him, leading to some astonishing visuals and funny one-liners.
3. Treehouse Of Horror VII (Season 8, Episode 1)
This episode starts with a surprising segment that parodies the horror cult favorite Basket Case. This short sees Bart learning about his evil twin that lives in the attic. This is followed by an excellent Twilight Zone homage in the form of “The Genesis Tub,” a short that sees Lisa accidentally create life in miniature, only for things to go very wrong.
However, without a doubt, the most famous short of this trio is “Citizen Kang.” Not only is this the first full-length short for the iconic aliens Kang and Kodos, but it is also a perfect mockery of American politics that is still relevant today. It is also very quotable and several lines from the short have entered the pop culture vernacular.
2. Treehouse Of Horror III (Season 4, Episode 5)
While all the shorts in Treehouse of Horror III are good, one of them is legendary, making this one of the most memorable Simpsons episodes ever.
“King Homer” is a fun King Kong parody that hits all the right notes while working in some quick and snappy dialogue, even if it isn’t as ambitious as other Treehouse Of Horror shorts. “Dial ‘Z’ for Zombies” is much the same. It sees Bart discovering a book of black magic in his school and accidentally raising the dead when he messes up a spell.
However, this episode is most known for the short “Clown Without Pity,” which is a silly, fun Chucky parody. It sees Homer rushing to buy Bart a birthday present only to accidentally buy an evil Krusty the Clown doll. The segment where Homer buys the toy is one of the funniest Simpsons moments ever, instantly elevating this episode while making it very memorable.
1. Treehouse Of Horror V (Season 6, Episode 6)
One of the most referenced and quoted episodes of The Simpsons Treehouse Of Horror V features three excellent segments that expertly fuse horror, character, and humor.
It includes the excellent “Time and Punishment,” a time-travel pastiche that features Homer jumping around time, messing it up in various ways due to his ineptitude in a short inspired by the Ray Bradbury story A Sound of Thunder. “The Nightmare Cafeteria” segment is an excellent homage to Soylent Green that features some pretty disturbing moments.
However, this episode is likely most famous for “The Shinning,” a parody of The Shining. It follows the family as they go to look after Mr. Burns’ summer estate. But, when Homer learns that there is no beer and no TV, his sanity quickly unwinds. This short is a tour de force with excellent moments of parody and some interesting character moments. Rather than twisting Homer to fit The Shining, the writers altered The Shining to fit Homer’s established character, putting this head and shoulders above other Treehouse Of Horror shorts.