Halloween -- it's the holiday for chills, frights, and screams.
It's the most thematically appropriate time of the year to watch shows featuring supernatural beings, copious amounts of blood splatter, and horrifyingly twisted endings.
Even non-genre shows will air "scary" and "supernatural" episodes in honor of Halloween.
Of course, horror isn't everyone's favorite genre. For non-horror fans, Halloween can create a TV viewing dilemma. What can you watch to get yourself into the Halloween spirit without worrying you'll be way too freaked out to sleep at night?
Actually, there are plenty of TV options for those who opt-out of horror. Lots of shows remember Halloween is about candy, costumes, (funny) hijinks, and partying with your friends.
Plus Halloween episodes can be just as heartwarming and romantic as Christmas, Thanksgiving, and Valentine's Day episodes.
First things first, we need to discuss
the elephant the Snoopy in the room.
No matter how old or young you are, no matter how times you've seen it before, no Halloween is complete without at least one viewing of It's the Great Pumpkin, Charlie Brown.
Animation has greatly advanced since this Peanuts special's debut in the 1960s, but it's always endearing to watch Linus waiting for the Great Pumpkin, Snoopy's antics as an ace WWI pilot, and the other Peanuts more traditional festivities of trick-or-treating and having a party.
Combined with brilliant writing that can be simultaneously funny, sad, and thoughtful, it's not surprising It's the Great Pumpkin, Charlie Brown has remained popular for decades.
It's the Great Pumpkin, Charlie Brown is undoubtedly awesome, but it's not lengthy enough to make up a full night of Halloween themed programming.
Fortunately, if you are looking for something longer to watch there are plenty of TV series featuring magic, monsters, witches, and gothic interior design on a regular basis -- practically any and all their episodes could be a Halloween episode.
Two great, classic examples are The Addams Family and Bewitched. Both series never let the horror aspects of their premises unbalance the show while always generating laughs.
The Addamses are a family living in a decrepit mansion near a cemetery and enjoying things typical people would think of as bizarre and gruesome. On any given episode you can watch them play with dynamite, throw knives, or spend quality time with their pet lion and octopus.
Their gleeful yet matter-of-fact attitude towards their interests is what makes them fun to watch. Also, they are one of the most loving TV families to spend time with.
Bewitched is the story of a witch who married a mortal. Much of Bewitched's success stems from its heroine -- Samantha Stephens. She was smart, compassionate, and a wiggle of her nose meant something awesome was about to happen onscreen.
Thanks to Sam, the acting, and the writers' ability to make magic a source of drama and wonder without losing sight of the characters, Bewitched made typical sitcom plots spellbinding.
If you're looking for something more recent, though, you can't go wrong with Lucifer.
How can you not love a show where the Devil ran away from Hell to Los Angeles and solves crimes? Since Lucifer is a procedural drama/dramedy, it features gore, violence, and the horrors of hell.
Despite those trappings, Lucifer never feels like a horror show thanks to the charm of the actors and characters, the absurdity of the situations (such as seeing the Devil perform highly choreographed musical numbers and a demon taking a child trick-or-treating) and gut-busting dialogue.
On the other end of the spectrum are the shows that only aired the one or the occasional Halloween episode. It doesn't mean their contributions to the holiday should be overlooked.
For a Halloween episode, The Brady Bunch Season 4 Episode 6, "Fright Night," is pretty understated, but it is very Brady. Watching the kids plan and carry out their prank war will make you yet again wish you were a part of the Bunch.
Everybody Loves Raymond Season 3 Episode 6, "Halloween Candy," had a typical Everybody Loves Raymond premise. Ray wants to be intimate, and Deborah is too overwhelmed.
It's the added Halloween elements, like seeing Frank (in a nod to Peter Boyle's role in Young Frankenstein) and Marie dressed as Frankenstein's Monster and Bride of Frankenstein, which makes this episode stand out.
Also, Ray's freakout upon realizing Frank wasn't passing out candy to trick-or-treaters needs to be witnessed.
The Big Bang Theory occasionally aired Halloween episodes. Check out these:
The Big Bang Theory Season 1 Episode 6, "The Middle Earth Paradigm," The Big Bang Theory Season 5 Episode 7, "The Good Guy Fluctuation", The Big Bang Theory Season 6 Episode 5,"The Holographic Excitation" and The Big Bang Theory Season 12 Episode 6, "The Imitation Perturbation.
Seeing the characters' Halloween costumes -- Raggedy C-3PO is a personal favorite -- automatically makes watching the episodes worth it.
The Halloween episodes are also good episodes for Leonard/Penny shippers.
The Big Bang Theory Season 1 Episode 6 had their first kiss.
Finally, The Big Bang Theory Season 12 Episode 6 bookends things when Leonard and Penny's first kiss becomes a plot point.
If you want more than a one-off or the occasional Halloween episode from a show, try a series that makes its Halloween episodes an annual event.
Halloween was always an important holiday to the Conners on Roseanne.
They always went all out on the costumes, decorations, and pranks. Seriously, it is worth pausing to gawk over Dan's Three Stooges get up and his and Jackie's joint costume as a headless Marie Antoinette.
Best of all, Roseanne Season 4 Episode 6, "Trick Me Up, Trick Me Down" has George Clooney wearing a moose costume. Granted, like the show itself, the Halloween episodes become more tired as the series went on. Roseanne Season Season 9 Episode 7, "Satan, Darling," is not worth anyone's time.
Due to scheduling issues, Community was unable to air a Halloween episode during every season.
Still, four episodes out of a six-season run isn't bad especially when the episodes themselves are so good. Community Season 1 Episode 7 ,"Introduction to Statistics," has the least amount of horror elements and features Abed as Batman.
Even Community Season 4 Episode 2, "Paranormal Parentage," has its merits despite taking place during the gas leak year.
If you can't bring yourself to watch a Season 4 episode try substituting it with Community Season 3 Episode 7, "Foosball and Nocturnal Vigilantism," to continue watching the adventures of Abed as Batman or Community Season 3 Episode 12,"Contemporary Impressionists," for another opportunity to see the cast in costume.
Even when shows produce more than one Halloween episode, they tend to be standalone, one-off affairs.
Maybe a later episode will reference an earlier one, but it's rare and usually doesn't continue plotlines from those previous outings -- not the case with Brooklyn Nine-Nine
Its Halloween episodes: Brooklyn Nine-Nine Season 1 Episode 6, "Halloween," Brooklyn Nine-Nine Season 2 Episode 4, "Halloween II," Brooklyn Nine-Nine Season 3 Episode 5, "Halloween III," Booklyn Nine-Nine Season 4 Episode 4, "Halloween IV," and Brooklyn Nine-Nine Season 5 Episode 4, "HalloVeen," center around the squad's attempt to pull off the ultimate heist and claim bragging rights.
Each one builds off one another, and the next installment always attempts to have more wacky schemes and shocking twists than the last.
Do the heist episodes need to be set during Halloween?
Not really, but Halloween themed subplots like Boyle's frustration over everyone mocking his costumes provide more comedic gold for the show to mine.
Also the heist itself very much captures the joy of Halloween without needing to say so outloud.
Don't leave out Brooklyn Nine-Nine Season 6 Episode 16, "Cinco de Mayo." It may not set during Halloween, but it's very much a Brooklyn Nine-Nine Halloween episode.
Celebrating Halloween does not mean you have to watch non-stop blood and gore. You can watch something funny and/or romantic instead while getting into the Halloween spirit.
The shows discussed above only represent a tiny fraction of the great, non-horror Halloween episodes ready for your viewing pleasure. With so many choices, one night won't even be close to seeing them all.
Over to you, TV Fanatics!
What will you be watching this Halloween?
What other shows made great non-scary Halloween themed episodes?
Hit the comments below.
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Becca Newton wis a staff writer for TV Fanatic. She retired in February of 2023