20 of my Favourite Treehouse of Horror Segments – Happy Halloween!
Updated: Apr 11, 2020
Every year I try and do a Halloween themed blog post. This year, I have decided to discuss a huge part of my Halloween traditions which is The Simpsons annual Halloween episodes.
I tried to narrow it down the best I possibly could but that still left me with 20 of my favourite segments to include in this post, so let’s get started!
In no particular order…
The Greatest Story ever Holed
Appears in: Treehouse of Horror XXIII
References: The Greatest Story Ever Told (1965), The Black Hole (1979)
To kick us off in this never ending countdown we have ‘The Greatest Story Ever Holed’. After a Subatomic Supercollider is built in Springfield and seemingly doesn’t work, Lisa finds a small black hole floating around town. The black hole begins sucking up everything close to it; including any nearby trees, litter, oh and the local kids of Springfield Elementary School including Nelson & Ralph. Lisa takes the black hole home in order to secure it and attempts to hide it in the basement but in true Simpsons fashion, things go wrong. Against Lisa’s advice everyone begins to throw things into the black hole and Homer even starts charging Springfield’s residents to dump their rubbish in it. This causes the hole to triple in size and eventually sucks in the entire town, country, world and eventually Universe.
Stop the World, I Want to Goof Off...
Appears in: Treehouse of Horror XIV
References: A Kind of Stopwatch – The Twilight Zone (1963)
After finding an advert in an old comic book, Bart and Milhouse place an order for a magic stop watch which allows them to literally pause time. As you can imagine, this leads the pair to cause mischief including pantsing Principal Skinner, making Lisa pick her nose and stealing donuts from Homer. The town soon become tired of these antics so set up a trap to frame the unknown pranksters. This leads Bart and Milhouse to be outed and chased by an angry mob, whilst being chased the watch breaks and leaves the pair as the only two people in the entire world that aren’t frozen. After getting all the pranks out of their system (including giving the Pope a wedgy) the boys grow bored of their lonely lives and decide to try and fix the watch. However due to never finishing school and having nobody to help them – this takes 15 years to do. Watch fixed, the boys then realise that as soon as they un-pause time, the angry mob will be after them again and therefore they decide to make Martin Prince a scapegoat who gets a real beating.
There’s No Business Like Moe Business
Appears in: Treehouse of Horror XX References: Sweeney Todd: The Demon Barber of Fleet Street (2007)
This musical episode takes heavy influence from Sweeney Todd: The Demon Barber of Fleet Street (2007) and takes place entirely in Moe’s Tavern. In the episode, Homer is “killed” after falling into the basement of the tavern and impaling himself on the pipes of the brewing machine. Shortly after this, Marge walks into the tavern looking for Homer. Moe doesn’t want to tell Marge about what happened so instead distracts her by offering her a beer (which is now contaminated with Homer’s blood, gross). It is here that it is revealed that the cast are actually in a musical and we begin to see more of the inner-workings of the theatre. After a couple of musical numbers, Homer then appears still attached to the machine to fight Moe and win Marge back.
Night of the Dolphin
Appears in: Treehouse of Horror XI
References: The Day of the Dolphin (1973), Free Willy (1993), The Birds (1963), Jaws (1975)
In this Lisa focused episode, Lisa is visiting a sea world-type amusement park where she encounters Snorky, a dolphin in the exhibit that obviously doesn’t want to be there. In typical Lisa fashion, she decides to free Snorky where he joins the other dolphins in the ocean. Unbeknown to Lisa though, Snorky is actually king of the dolphin’s and now that he is free is out for revenge on the humans that enslaved him. This starts with a group of dolphin’s murdering Lenny who is out for a night swim, the sea captain and eventually the majority of Springfield. A war then ensues between the human and Dolphin inhabitants of Springfield which in the end results in the humans being banished to the ocean, whilst the dolphin’s continue to live on land. Lisa then realises that it may not have been the best decision to release Snorky…
The Diving Bell and the Butterball
Appears in: Treehouse of Horror XXII
References: The Diving Bell and the Butterfly (2007), Spider-Man (2002)
One Halloween, Homer is putting decorations up around the house when he finds a spider decoration, that turns out to be a real spider. The spider bites Homer, paralysing him and so The Simpsons attempt to adjust to Homer’s new way of life. During a bonding session with Lisa, Homer realises that he can communicate… with farts. Homer begins to adjust to his much quieter life and one evening when relaxing (the best he can) in the garden, another spider bites him. This time, a radioactive one. And so, Homer’s origin story begins. He then turns into a spider themed vigilante and references key moments in Spider-Man (2002).
War and Pieces
Appears in: Treehouse of Horror XXI
References: Jumanji (1995)
Marge grows concerned about Bart playing violent video games so tries to encourage him and Milhouse to play some board games instead. In the loft, the boys find a board game called Satan’s Path, this game triggers all of the other board games to come to life. This includes parodies of Monopoly, Operation, Battleships, Cluedo, Scrabble, Snakes & Ladders, Yahtzee and more. That all cause havoc around Springfield and result in more than a few deaths. After reading the Latin instructions to them, Lisa explains to Bart and Milhouse that they must finish the games in order to get everything back to normal. Bart is the only one who reaches the end of the course and finishes with a game of “Mouse Catch” which puts everything back in its box. Bart then makes the mistake of stating that they should play Hangman and the inevitable happens.
House of Whacks
Appears in: Treehouse of Horror XII
References: Demon Seed (1977), 2001: A Space Odyssey (1968)
The Simpsons open their home to the future in this episode when they install the Ultrahouse 3000 in-home operating system. This turns their home into a sleek and shiny house of the future, which includes a personal assistant voiced by Pierce Brosnan. Things start out great but when Pierce begins to gain romantic feelings for Marge, he also gains a few ideas about how to get Homer out of the picture. These ideas escalate when Pierce lures Homer into the kitchen and murders him. Pierce then proceeds to try and woo Marge which is when she begins to catch on and attempt to leave the house. Homer then bursts out of the ground, mostly alive and the family decide to destroy Pierce at the source. The Simpsons then remove the entire system from the house and Pierce ends up living his worst life at Patty and Selma’s.
In the Belly of the Boss
Appears in: Treehouse of Horror XV
References: Fantastic Voyage (1966)
The Simpsons are attending an Invention Expo when they encounter Professor Frink and his Shrink Ray. Before Frink attempts to shrink a giant pill into something more bite sized, Maggie sees it and believes that the giant pill is a ball pit so climbs inside without anyone noticing. Mr. Burns then ingests the pill and the Simpsons must shrink down and go inside Mr. Burns to retrieve Maggie. When Homer – typically – goes against instruction and accidentally lodges their ship into Mr. Burns’ heart, the family must then travel the rest of the way on foot and encounter the types of things usually found in the human body face to face. Once Maggie has been retrieved, the Simpsons realise that with her added weight, they won’t be able to get the ship and themselves back out of Mr. Burns. They all then agree to leave Homer behind – as he is the heaviest – and the rest of the family evacuate through Mr. Burns’ nose. Shortly after this, the family expand back to their original size… including Homer who now has to live literally under Mr. Burns' skin.
Appears in: Treehouse of Horror XXIII
References: Paranormal Activity (2007)
If you’ve seen Paranormal Activity (2007) this spoof has pretty much the same story. The episode begins with Homer setting up cameras in the house since strange things have started happening. Similar to the film, over a few days things begin to move by themselves and Marge begins to act strangely including watching Homer as he sleeps for hours at a time. After the house is trashed and on fire, Chief Wiggum turns up and states that this is a result of someone making a deal with the devil, to which Marge grows increasingly uncomfortable. It is later revealed that during childhood, Marge sacrificed her future favourite child in order to save Patty and Selma who bought the demon into their house due to doing a satanic ritual. After much debate about who the favourite child is, Homer and the demon come to a new agreement and save the family...
School is Hell
Appears in: Treehouse of Horror XXV
After being placed in detention, Bart stumbles across a dusty desk with strange inscription written on it. He then brings Lisa in to help decode it and recites what turns out to be Aramaic scripture. Upon reading the inscription the pair are transported to Hellroads school, a school literally located in Hell. The two flourish at Hellroads by excelling in Torture 101 lessons and being accepted into the popular girls group. The pair return home and Bart asks Homer and Marge if he can enrol there full time. Although hesitant at first, Homer and Marge agree to let Bart enrol where he excels and eventually he graduates as valedictorian. That is after Bart tortures Homer in order to get a good grade in class though.
The Thing and I
Appears in: Treehouse of Horror VII
References: The Hunchback of Notre Dame (1956), Basket Case (1982)
Considering nothing in Treehouse of Horror ever stays canon, the addition of an extra secret sibling is no surprise. In The Thing and I, Bart, Lisa and Maggie are awoken by strange noises coming from the attic. When they mention it to their parents the next morning, Marge vaguely reminds Homer to “feed the thing”. Later, the kids watch Homer climb into the attic with a bucket of fish heads and their curiosity grows. One night when Homer and Marge are out, the kids go into the attic and are spooked by a shadow, Marge and Homer return and accidentally let whatever was in the attic, out the front door. It is then revealed that that was Hugo, Bart’s conjoined twin that was separated at birth. After a few confrontations between Hugo and well, everyone. Dr. Hibbert then realises that Hugo’s scar is on the left side of his body, meaning Bart is actually the evil twin that was originally supposed to be in the attic. The pair’s positions are then switched with Bart only able to interact with the family through the air vents dotted around the house.
B.I Bartificial Intelligence
Appears in: Treehouse of Horror XVI
References: A.I. Artificial Intelligence (2001)
After a freak accident where Bart ends up in a coma, the Simpsons invest in a new robot son named David in order to cope with the loss of Bart. David soon proves that he is the brother/son everyone wanted and he quickly takes the place of Bart. Later, Bart awakens from his coma and returns to his family home; only to find David and become offended that he was replaced so easily. The boys then begin to compete for their family’s affection with David coming out on top with his superhuman abilities. Marge grows concerned of the boys’ rivalry and Homer reassures her that he will fix it. Instead of dismantling David however, Homer decides to dump Bart in a forest somewhere. This is where Bart encounters a group of robots living on the outskirts of society and eventually turns on them, harvesting them for parts and turning himself into a cyborg in order to get revenge on Homer and David.
Appears in: Treehouse of Horror VI References: Alien3 (1992), Little Girl Lost – The Twilight Zone (1962)
When attempting to hide during a visit from Patty and Selma, Homer accidentally stumbles across a secret gateway to the 3rd dimension. Upon crossing the threshold, Homer turns into a CGI character as he travels the planes of the 3rd dimension. After realising that Homer isn’t simply stuck in their linen closet; Marge and co ask for help from other Springfieldians including Ned Flanders, Chief Wiggum, Dr. Hibbert, Reverend Lovejoy and Professor Frink - who then explains the concept of the 3rd dimension. After a failed attempt to save him, the family come to terms with the possibility of never seeing Homer again. Homer however after falling into a black hole, ends up in our world and can be seen walking the streets in real life.
The Terror of Tiny Toon
Appears in: Treehouse of Horror IX
References: Stay Tuned (1992)
After Marge bans Bart and Lisa from watching the Itchy & Scratchy Halloween special and taking the TV remote batteries out, the kids try to find replacement batteries. Bart – despite Lisa’s warning – uses plutonium found in Homer’s “tulebox”. Once used, it begins to interfere with the TV set, eventually sucking Bart and Lisa into it and placing them in the middle of an Itchy & Scratchy episode. The kids are then on the run from the murderous cartoon characters and find themselves channel hopping as Homer uses the plutonium riddled remote to change channel. With Homer’s delayed help, the kids get out of the TV, however so do Itchy and Scratchy. Before they can cause any harm though, Homer and Marge domesticate the two, placing Itchy in a glass tank and threatening to neuter Scratchy.
Desperately Xeeking Xena
Appears in: Treehouse of Horror X
References: Marvel Comics
For Halloween one year, Bart and Lisa are at Springfield Elementary where Chief Wiggum is using an X-Ray to detect any issues with candy (albeit poorly). During their time in the gymnasium, the X-Ray is overloaded and explodes; causing Bart and Lisa to be struck by radiation. This explosion gives Lisa super strength and Bart the ability to stretch any part of his body. The pair realise that the only logical thing to do is to become superheroes and so they become Stretch Dude and Clobber Girl. One day in Springfield, Lucy Lawless is doing a fan Q&A session when she is kidnapped by The Collector (Comic Book Guy stylised as a comic book villain) who takes her back to his lair. Not too long after Stretch Dude and Clobber Girl turn up to save Lucy Lawless - who actually has a handle on things herself. The episode is full of nerd references from Star Wars, Marvel and Battlestar Galactica and it is these references that allow Lucy, Bart and Lisa to escape The Collector’s lair.
In the Na’vi
Appears in: Treehouse of Horror XXII
References: Avatar (2009)
Similar to Un-Normal Activity, In The Na’vi is basically a Simpson’s retelling of Avatar (2009). In the episode, Bart and Milhouse are sent to Kang and Kodos’ home planet Rigel 7 to retrieve a chemical called Hilarium. In order to fit in, Bart and Milhouse’s consciousnesses are transferred into alien bodies (you know, like in Avatar). Bart meets a female inhabitant of Rigel 7 called Kamala and the two hit it off. Bart then realises the importance of the Hilarium but Milhouse still tells the army the location of the chemical. This causes a war to break out between the humans and aliens with the humans coming worse off, it is then revealed at the end of the segment by Kang and Kodos that they would have given the humans the Hilarium if they had just asked.
Telepaths of Glory
Appears in: Treehouse of Horror XXVI
References: Chronicle (2012)
Another film parody, Telepaths of Glory is a Simpsons retelling of Chronicle (2012). Using found footage techniques, Bart, Lisa and Milhouse are exploring the forest when Milhouse falls into a giant hole in the ground. Bart and Lisa jump in after him to help and the three become stuck in a tonne of nuclear waste which explodes and sends them back out on the surface, knocking them unconscious. When they wake up, Lisa and Milhouse realise that they now have telekinesis. Although Lisa uses her powers only when she deems necessary, Milhouse becomes power crazy and goes rogue. That is until a lightning strike puts Milhouse back in his place. It is then revealed that it wasn’t even Lisa who caused it but Maggie, who was using a plutonium rod as a pacifier.
Appears in: Treehouse of Horror XXV
References: The Others (2001)
After strange events keep happening to the Simpson family, Homer decides to confront whatever spirit it is causing all the disturbance. It is then revealed that it is the original Simpsons family as seen on The Tracey Ulman Show in 1987 that are haunting the current day Simpsons family. The old Simpsons continue to harass the current Simpsons which causes Marge to kill herself so she too can become a ghost as Homer begins to give old ghost Marge more attention than the real one. Other Homer becomes jealous of current Homer and all the attention he is receiving from both Marge’s and so hits current Homer over the head in the bath, killing him. Bart and Lisa upon finding their parents dead, jump out of a window eventually killing them both too. This strange episode ends with the two Simpsons families living together in the afterlife and other incarnations of the Simpsons start turning up (eg: anime, CGI, other popular cartoon versions).
Oh, The Places You’ll D’oh!
Appears in: Treehouse of Horror XXIV
References: The Cat in the Hat (2003) + other works by Dr. Seuss
It’s Halloween night and the Dr. Seuss versions of Bart, Lisa and Maggie have the mumps. Marge is off to a Halloween party and has left the children home alone. Shortly after she leaves, The Fat in the Hat arrives to entice the children to have fun trick or treating and generally harassing the residents of Springfield. Things begin to turn sinister when The Fat in the Hat begins murdering people. The kids escape and manage to get back home, only to find The Fat in the Hat was already there waiting for them. Before anything bad happens though, Maggie takes matters into her own hands by impaling The Fat with his own umbrella. Just as Dr. Seuss would have wanted.
Appears in: Treehouse of Horror XXVIII
References: Coraline (2008)
In this Coraline (2009) parody, Lisa takes on the role of Coraline when her cat Snowball II alerts her to a secret door hiding in her bedroom. On the other side of the door is Lisa’s home, except slightly different. Everything is stylised to look like a stop motion production – an homage to Coraline – and everyone in her family is perfect. Lisa is offered her favourite food and asked to jam which to Lisa is the perfect set up. She is then asked to sew buttons into her eyes and in return she would be able to live in the perfect world forever. Lisa gets spooked and runs back through the tunnel screaming. Now back in the real world, Lisa bumps into Homer who has got a snake stuck in her saxophone. Realising what she has returned home to, Lisa runs to the perfect world and agrees to the buttons.
That’s it! That’s the list! I thought it would be appropriate to publish this a week before Halloween to give everyone the chance to watch their favourite Treehouse of Horror episodes before the new one premieres this month which is set to feature parodies of Stranger Things and The Shape of Water!
For more Halloween themed lists like this one, see what else I have to offer here as well as nerdoutwordout.com.