The 10 Best Treehouse of Horror Episodes of The Simpsons

A couple of weeks ago, I dived into the sewer containing the worst of what a Simpsons’ Halloween had to offer, but now the spookiest night of the year has arrived, I think it’s time to take a look at the best. These episodes capture the height of the writing team’s creativity and hilarity. Even standing up as some of the best Simpsons episodes out there, Halloween or otherwise.

10 – Treehouse of Horror XIII

Original Airdate: 3rd November 2002
Segments: Send in the Clones; The Fright to Creep and Scare Harms; The Island of Dr Hibbert

Send in the Clones is an absolute classic. I never thought that watching Homer interact with himself could be so fun to watch, but it’s absolutely perfect for this segment. Homer hits the right level of stupid here, still feeling competent enough to make some of the more complex jokes work. The supporting cast does a great job at framing the problem and gives Homer more to bounce off of so his star shines all the brighter.

The Fright to Creep and Scare Harms is the least interesting of the bunch, but it’s not bad by any stretch. It focuses quite heavily on the plot, which means that there aren’t many grand jokes or parodies. Speaking of, as this isn’t a parody of anything, most of the jokes are quite simple, but a handful of them still got a giggle out of me. It’s certainly not making any remarkable satirical statements about gun violence, but I don’t think it needed to either, The Simpsons’ has covered that topic far better elsewhere.

The Island of Dr Hibbert is one of those segments that always stuck out in my mind growing up, but no-one else seemed to remember all that fondly. What I find funniest about this is how deliberately oblivious they play all of the characters, especially Homer. It might be pretty obvious writing, but I still find it funny that all of this clearly suspicious stuff is going on around then and Homer seems to meet it with willful ignorance, asking instead about timeshares. The animal thing is a bit of a weird gimmick, but they get some good jokes out of it and know when to call it quits. It rounds out an episode that might not be totally incredible but is definitely worth a rewatch.

9 – Treehouse of Horror VIII

Original Airdate: 26th October 1997
Segments: The HΩmega Man; Fly vs Fly; Easy-Bake Coven

The HΩmega Man is definitely the best segment of this episode. The set-up is dumb, but they throw in enough good jokes along the way that I’m willing to overlook the problems. Sure, Homer becomes a selfish arsehole the moment he realised he’s the last man alive, but let’s be honest here, you would, wouldn’t you? I know I would. They even managed to make Homer grieving over his family funny with the baseball bat joke. Overall, a super memorable segment that you should definitely seek out.

Fly vs Fly is just as funny, if a little less memorable. The yard-sale at the start was a good way to cram some quickfire jokes into minimal space, all of which land. I’d even argue this is the funniest Professor Frink has ever been. The transporter opens the door for another round of quickfire jokes which are even funnier than the first set. Marge telling Homer off for using it to pee will always make me giggle. The stuff with Bart and the fly is the weakest part of it, but even that has some good jokes, leading up to the final joke of Homer chasing Bart with the axe, which I think may be the funniest joke in the whole thing.

Easy-Bake Coven is a lot weaker in my eyes, but the strength of the other two segments is what keeps the episode on the list. There are some funny jokes at the start about the Salem witch trials, but it loses me after that. It’s not a bad segment by any stretch of the imagination, I just don’t think the ‘candy instead of children’ punchline is all that interesting. You should still go back and watch this episode, but maybe skip this last segment if you’re short on time.

8 – Treehouse of Horror I

Original Airdate: 25th October 1990
Segments: Bad Dream House; Hungry are the Damned; The Raven

Bad Dream House is a segment that seems to have been largely forgotten compared to the other two, but it’s definitely still a very good segment. It has fewer out-right jokes than we’re used to in these episodes, instead choosing some subtle warpings of the ‘haunted house’ formula to bring the laughs, something it does to great success. Something like Marge scolding the house like it was a misbehaving child is just a really funny joke that plays to the strength of the characters.

Hungry are the Damned is far and away the funniest segment of the episode, with a whole bunch of iconic jokes thrown in there. Homer needing two tractor beams to pull him up, the ominous double-talk of the aliens, the bit with the space dust on the ‘How to Cook Humans’ book, all of them are hilarious jokes that don’t lose any of their sting on a rewatch. Given that after this, the aliens would be mostly relegated to cameo roles, this is a solid segment to introduce them in. It understands the stereotypes and how to subvert them perfectly to great comedic effect.

The Raven is an odd one. I wouldn’t say it’s at all funny, which is what I want from a Treehouse of Horror episode, but it’s undeniably iconic. Sure, it’s essentially just an animatic of an Edgar Alan Poe poem, but A) It’s the only reason I ever learnt of the poem in the first place and B) It’s really good. While it does throw in comedic tones with Bart complaining about how unscary it seems in the modern-day, the animation used to tell the story is quite beautiful. It’s able to capture the dark and ominous mood of the poem, while still throwing in some comedic beats with how Homer and the raven move and act. It’s an oddity compared to everything else in this series, but it’s quite a pleasant one.

7 – Treehouse of Horror IX

Original Airdate: 29th October 1998
Segments: Hell ToupéeThe Terror of Tiny Toon; Starship Poopers

Hell Toupée is the kind of segment that I never remember, but always enjoy whenever I see it. Snake is a character with so much untapped comedic potential. Even his spotlight episode(s) don’t really make the most of what this character has to offer, and I think this is the closest her ever got. We get some classic Chief Wiggum jokes right at the start, alongside the world’s double-standard when it comes to smoking. From there it’s a lot of murder-humour and visual gags, which aren’t my favourite, but I still find them funny here. I don’t know why it doesn’t stick in my mind very much, but it’s still worth seeking out.

The Terror of Tiny Toon, to the contrary, is one of the most memorable segments the show has ever done. Despite being a cartoon, The Simpsons odes it’s best to stick to fairly realistic rules (at least during this era of the show), so removing those restraints was a great move. The writers have used Itchy & Scratchy to take the piss out of kids cartoons before, but this was a step up. Actually taking us into that world, we see not only a deep understanding of what made cartoons like Tom & Jerry funny, but also a clear love from the animators for their style. It comes across as a love letter to those old cartoons, and it really funny to boot.

Starship Poopers is a bit of weird segment because, by all rights, I feel like it shouldn’t work, but it just does. Homer is what makes it to me. The alien stuff is funny, but it’s been done better before or since. Homer’s initial obliviousness to the situations (“Maggie lost her baby legs!”) followed by his righteous indignation is excellent stuff. The Jerry Springer scene is definitely the highlight, he plays a ridiculous kind of straight man that gives a good parody of those types of shows. You could argue those jokes have long since been played out, but I still get something out of them.

6 – Treehouse of Horror XX

Original Airdate: 18th October 2009
Segments: Dial ‘M’ for Murder or Press ‘#’ to Return to Main Menu; Don’t Have a Cow, Mankind; There’s No Business Like Moe Business

As the most recent entry on this list, it’s rare to see such brilliant episodes come out of the later seasons. Yet, for this one, they managed to nail it.

Dial ‘M’ for Murder or Press’#’ to Return to Main Menu, is an excellent parody of Hitchcock films (even if I don’t know a huge amount about them) while still standing up as a funny segment, even if you don’t know anything about the source material. The “Criss-Cross” joke might be a bit simplistic, but it gets a giggle out of me every time. The tenseness in the music compared to the juvenile actions on the screen give the whole thing a wonderfully comedic tone, and even the way Lisa ends up killing Bart is funny.

Don’t Have a Cow, Mankind, is a segment that has remained fresh in my mind ever since I first saw, and I’m not entirely sure why. The Simpsons have done zombie parodies before, but they made sure to do this one differently to before. It feels like they’re breaking out to tread new ground rather than imitating their greatest hits. The idea of the burger-squared is so stupid that I can’t help but laugh, and there’s something ironically funny about what it does to people. It’s definitely not very smart humour, but it’s still done in a way that I find funny. Just about everything Apu does, for example, gets a giggle out of me, even though they are fairly obvious jokes.

There’s No Business Like Moe Business is utter genius writing. Not only does it have a strong sense of plot where jokes are crammed in at every opportunity, but it expands the scope to that of a stage play, and makes a bunch of meta-jokes about theatre, all of which are brilliant. Stuff like Homer’s makeup not being ready in time, so Moe has to stall; the set being incredibly janky or anything any of the audience members had to say was laugh-out-loud funny. Then, of course, there are the musical pieces which give the whole thing a fun tone that translates so well with the jokes being told. It’s one of those segments that I firmly believe that had it been in one of the early seasons, would be seen today as an all-time classic.

5 – Treehouse of Horror VI

Original Airdate: 29th October 1995
Segments: Attack of the 50-Foot Eyesores; Nightmare on Evergreen Terrace; Homer³

Attack of the 50-Foot Eyesores is one of the weaker segments on this list. It’s very plot-heavy, and many of the jokes are visual gags of the monsters destroying stuff, which is fine, but it’s not really for me. There is still a bunch of funny stuff in there though. Homer’s non-reaction to the whole situation is out of character for him in one of the funniest ways possible. At the same time, the solution of creating a catchy jingle is a surprisingly intelligent and accurate takedown of the advertisement industry. This is a good segment, but it’s definitely not the main reason to watch this one.

Nightmare on Evergreen Terrace is most certainly one of the main reasons to watch this episode. As easily one of the show’s most easily comedic characters, Willie is a great villain in this one. He’s violent and savage-looking enough for it to be believable, while his character comes with an inherent patheticness that makes so many of his jokes work. The backstory scene is easily the highlight here. We’ve got “Do not touch Willie”, the Smarch joke and the taking turns to speak joke. The fight at the end isn’t all that interesting, but they still throw in a bunch of jokes to keep us going until the end, even managing to take the piss out of the ‘killer isn’t actually dead’ trope of horror films.

Homer³ is easily the most memorable segment on this list, purely because of how different it looks. Even before the 3D stuff happens, we get some brilliant jokes as Homer make a mad dash to find a hiding spot. Then, we get to the 3D world and hilarity ensues. Homer’s reaction to seeing his ass in 3D for the first time is brilliant, and the meta-joke about how expensive the 3D area is one of my favourites. We get a quick cascade of secondary characters in to try and solve the problem, and finally, we top the whole thing off with a trip to the real world. It’s got plenty of amusing moments throughout, along with being a genuinely iconic moment in Simpsons’ history.

4 – Treehouse of Horror IV

Original Airdate: 28th October 1993
Segments: The Devil and Homer Simpson; Terror at 5 & 1/2 Feet; Bart Simpson’s Dracula

The Devil and Homer Simpson is one of the all-time great segments. Flanders as a cheery version of the devil is utterly hilarious, and Homer’s interaction with him is perfect. It’s the kind of segment where all I can really do to describe it’s greatness is list jokes. Jokes such as: Homer claiming to be smarter than the devil; Homer eating all the doughnuts in the world; THE TRIAL SCENE. It’s a Treehouse of Horror segment with Lionel Hutz in it for God sake, it’s just brilliant. It doesn’t try to do anything overcomplicated, it just creates a simple premise and stuffs it to the brim with hilarious jokes.

Terror at 5 & 1/2 Feet, on the other hand, is one of those segments I never really got. There still some great jokes in there, don’t get me wrong, pretty much anything Skinner has to say is worth watching the whole thing, but other than that, I just find it a bit uncomfortable. I don’t know why, because I’ve never been in this situation, but the idea of desperately pleading with someone to believe you, only for everyone to think you’re crazy is just quite distressing to me. I still enjoy this segment, but it comes with a bit of baggage I can never cast from my mind.

Bart Simpson’s Dracula is another one of the greats. Burns being evil is always comedy gold, and now we get to throw some vampire humour over the top of it. Once again, the family’s complete obliviousness of the danger of the situation is an extremely fertile ground for jokes, and it’s used to its full potential. Other than that, once again, it’s just a list of hilarious jokes. Grampa wanting to kill the boy; the super happy fun slide, and the fact that the whole thing ends on a Christmas carol. I know they’d pull this joke out too many times in the later seasons, but this was the first time they did it, and it was still funny.

3 – Treehouse of Horror VII

Original Airdate: 27th October 1996
Segments: The Thing and I; The Genesis Tub; Citizen Kang

The Thing and I is prime Simpsons’ Halloween material. It gives us an actual mystery that feels like it pays off, before turning into a tense action scene and shoving as many funny jokes as possible along the way. Homer & Marge’s suspicious acting is ripe for comedy and the kid’s insistence on knowing what’s going on plays of it great. The over-curiousness that we all know children can have is played for laughs in an amusing way that still serves the further the mystery. The resolution & ending is classic stuff too. The “left twin” always being evil, the revelation that it was actually Bart the whole time, and then the flipping of the scenario to end things off. It’s tense, it’s funny, and it’s an absolute classic.

The Genesis Tub was the segment I always remember liking the most as a kid. I don’t know why, but something about the premise really appealed to my child-self. We get plenty of funny interactions between Bart & Lisa, with Lisa eventually having the kind of funny moments we don’t often get from her. Her delight at creating Lutherans, or the indignation with which she treats Bart. They even manage to squeeze in a completely irrelevant joke about a waffle iron and make it hilarious. Lisa very rarely gets a chance to shine in the Halloween segments, her character doesn’t really fit with their tone, but this was the perfect way to make use of her.

Citizen Kang is another all-time classic. Homer rules the roost in this one, and he shines like you wouldn’t believe. His determined, but utterly incompetent, drive to stop the aliens makes for all kinds of hilarious moments, and this is where the aliens get all the chance in the world to shine. Their misunderstanding of Earth culture and the ease with which they sway the masses is funny in a way that feels oddly more relevant in the modern-day. Then, the final gag about it being a two-party system is some really on-the-nose satire that is as funny as it is depressing. Then, of course, we cap things off with the iconic line “Don’t blame me, I voted for Kodos,” which sums up politics better than years of satirical cartoons ever could.

2 – Treehouse of Horror III

Original Airdate: 29th October 1992
Segments: Clown Without Pity; King Homer; Dial ‘Z’ for Zombie

Clown Without Pity brings the laughs in all the right places. Homer at the evil store is a hilarious scene, featuring the “That’s good, that’s bad” bit, which is genuinely one of the most well-structured jokes I’ve ever heard. The rest of the segment isn’t quite as funny, but they still get a lot of good jokes from the doll trying to kill Homer, and Homer trying not to die. Then, the thing wraps up in another great joke with the doll’s switch being set to evil.

King Homer is the second-best film parody the show has ever done. As where the Godzilla parody that I talked about in the ‘worst’ list took the easy way out with its jokes – taking some outdated shots about Japanese films & then swerving into a Hollywood satire – this one is a lot more clever with what it does. For one thing, it’s a lot more faithful to the source material and actually commits to the bit. For another, instead of making wide-stretching jokes about the film industry, it relies on the characters to do the heavy lifting. Things like Smithers saying that “women and sea-men don’t mix” or Marge finding King Homer’s oafishness weirdly attractive is the kind of character-based humour that the show is brilliant at and should always be at the core of the writing.

Dial ‘Z’ for Zombie is just a 7-minute long list of great jokes. There’s technically a plot, but after about 2 minutes it ceases to matter and is just a vehicle to get the characters to places where we can make jokes. Sure, it’s not a super-strong segment, but when you’ve got jokes like Homer shooting Flanders, Zombie Shakespear and anything Bart does, who cares? It’s hilarious, and that’s all that matters.

1 – Treehouse of Horror V

Original Airdate: 30th October 1994
Segments: The Shinning; Time and Punishment; Nightmare Cafeteria

Let’s be honest, there was never any question as to number 1.

The Shinning is not only the single best Treehouse of Horror segment, but it may also be the best thing The Simpsons have ever produced. For one thing, I really like The Shining, and this absolutely nails the parody aspects. So many of the jokes in this are absolutely iconic. The “all work and no play” bit, the “urge to kill bit” and anything Burns & Smithers have to say to one another. Ultimately, Homer is the star of the show in this one, and he’s perfect as the Nicholson character that slowly goes crazy, with just the right amount of Homer oafishness mixed in. However, the other characters are on great form too. Marge, Burns, Smithers, Willie, even Chief Wiggum all have some of their best jokes in this segment. It really is an all-time classic.

Time and Punishment takes us from the best segment of all time to the second-best. Homer once again dominates the segment and brings an endless string of laughs. The pacing is excellent and makes the 7-minute long segment feel like a fully fleshed out episode of the show. Homer’s visits to the past serve not only to break up the action but also give us a brief insight into Homer’s deteriorating mental state. Then, the alternate dimensions that Homer visits all have something hilarious to offer us. The longer sections like the Flanders’ universe and the perfect universe are broken up by quick little looks into ones like the giant universe, or the one where Willie knows. It makes the most of its concept and packs it with as many jokes as possible, leaving it to stick in the mind forever.

Nightmare Cafeteria is the weakest segment of this episode, but it’s still top 5 of all-time levels. Firstly, it’s genuinely quite creepy. The glee with which the teachers seem to consume the segments is disturbing, especially when combined with how weird they look as fat-slobs. While this is technically a segment about the kids, Skinner is undoubtedly the MVP when it comes to bringing the funny, with how calmly he tells the teacher about cooking Jimbo, or the big rant about Uter. Outside of that, we get the payoff to the running joke of all three segments, with Willie failing to save the day. Then the whole episode wraps up with that inside-out gas segment which I find really uncomfortable to watch, but it’s still funny in that kind of way.

To put it simply, Treehouse of Horror V is the only instalment in the series that I think is flawless and easily ranks as one of the best Simpsons episodes of all time.

And there you have it! Thank you very much for taking the time to read this. Please, let me know what your favourite Treehouse of Horror episodes/segments are, either in the comments below or on Twitter @10ryawoo. Finally, make sure you come back here this time next Friday, where I’ll be covering AEW’s Full Gear Pay-Per-View!

The 10 Worst Treehouse of Horror Episodes of The Simpsons

Every year, when Halloween rolls around (or sometimes over Christmas depending on when that year’s season starts) The Simpsons’ writers get a chance to flex their creative muscles a bit more than usual. As much as the show slowly gets wilder & wilder each year, it does its best to stick to the universal laws that govern the real world. However, for one episode every year, those rules are thrown out of the window, and the writers go wild with crazy stories that are at least tangentially related to Halloween (sometimes).

We’ll cover some of the brilliance this has given us later on this month, but tonight, we look at the crap. As with any creative endeavour, there are bound to be missed, especially over the course of over 30 years. So today, we’re running down the 10 worst ever episodes of The Simpsons’ Treehouse of Horror series.

NOTE: I haven’t yet seen Treehouse of Horror 30, as while it has aired in the UK already, it’s not available on-demand, so I won’t be including it in this ranking.

10 – Treehouse of Horror XV

Original Airdate: 7th November 2004
Segments: The Ned Zone; Four Beheadings and a Funeral; In the Belly of the Boss

This is one of the episodes that falls into the “just fine” category. It’s nothing exceedingly terrible, but I’m never going to go out of my way to watch it, or even really remember it.

The first, best, and most memorable segment – The Ned Zone – is a fun concept that I don’t think the writers got as much out of as they could have. Flanders is always a fun character to play around with in a horror setting, as his uptight nature allows for plenty of more risque jokes at his expense. The highlight of it is undoubtedly the Homer/Ned interactions which carry a large chunk of the segment. However, it’s far from their best work.

Four Beheadings and a Funeral is easily the most forgettable of the three. It’s a story set in Victorian England that assumes it can just pull elements from all sorts of different stories set in that era and just get away with it. It’s technically a parody of 1990s graphic novel From Hell, but it takes most of its jokes and tropes from Sherlock Holmes. You then pile on a title stolen from a romance film that has nothing to do with anything, and it creates a bit of a mess. No-one even dies via beheading in it.

In the Belly of the Boss is incredibly dull. It’s a parody that has already been done so much better by Futurama. All of the jokes are basic, and not all that amusing. It’s a kind of story that needs some tension to properly work, but this is a Treehouse of Horror episode, we’re all fully aware that there are no stakes during this. Not to mention, the ending doesn’t land at all. I get the gruesome imagery they were going for, but it just feels a bit uncomfortable to look at. It’s not even slightly funny.

It comes out as an episode that’s an ok watch if it happens to come on the TV late one night, but there’s absolutely no reason to seek it out.

9 – Treehouse of Horror X

Original Airdate: 31st October 1999
Segments: I Know What You Diddily-Iddly Did; Desperately Xeeking Xena; Life’s a Glitch, Then You Die

The earliest episode on this list (and one of only two to actually air on Halloween), this episode was more of a precursor to the steep dive some of these episodes would end up taking.

I Know What You Diddily-Iddly Did is a pretty funny segment with a terrible ending. Most of the jokes got a good laugh out of me, and the plot moves at just the right pace to make things feel meaningful. I can easily imagine a modern version of this episode where they spend almost the entire thing on the ‘Weekend at Bernie’s’ stuff and throw away all the other opportunities. The ending with Flanders becoming a Werewolf is pretty dumb though. Partly because it’s completely out of nowhere for the plot, but also because I really hate the way Werewolf-Flanders was drawn. I can’t quite put my finger on it, but it just looks wrong.

Desperately Xeeking Xena is definitely the weakest of the three segments. There are some funny jokes at the start surrounding nerd culture and the shows they like (and yes, I’m well aware of the irony here), but once it gets going, there’s not a lot to love. For one thing, Bart & Lisa are entirely irrelevant to the plot. Everything important that happened would’ve happened with or without them. It seems like such a waste to take the concept of those two going on superpowered adventures just so you can give your celebrity guest some more lines. Most of the superhero jokes this segment made were already played out, even by 1999, which leads to a segment that just isn’t very funny.

Life’s a Glitch, Then You Die is pretty much the definition of ‘alright’. Doing a segment on the 2K virus was a good call, and weirdly on-time for The Simpsons. It has a handful of good jokes but definitely doesn’t get as much out of the concept as it could’ve. Between the pop-culture references at the start and all of the plot stuff at the end, we don’t get much of technology going crazy, which is where I felt all the funniest stuff was. I know that you don’t want to go to the same well too many times, but surely there was more ground to cover there?

8 – Treehouse of Horror XI

Original Airdate: 1st November 2000
Segments: G-G-Ghost D-D-Dad; Scary Tales Can Come True; Night of the Dolphin

G-G-Ghost D-D-Dad is the saving grace of this episode, and I’d honestly say it’s worth seeking this one out on its own. Its brisk pace keeps the jokes coming thick and fast, with the writers knowing just the right amount to get out of each subject. Highlights include the ways in which Homer almost dies, the way in which he actually dies, and the segment’s portrayal of Saint Peter.

Sadly, I can’t be as complimentary of the other two segments. The first of which is Scary Tales Can Come True, which is just an awful title. The ‘get in, get out’ pace was a good idea, and it would’ve worked if the jokes were anything worthwhile. Unfortunately, it’s the most basic humour you could possibly think of to mock any of the ‘Grimm’s Fairy Tales‘ stories. Hey, what if the three bears behaved like real bears? Wouldn’t it be excruciating for a full-grown man to use your hair as a rope? What if the troll under the bridge just wanted to make friends? Why aren’t you laughing? The jokes aren’t creative, and the plot is a threadbare excuse to fit in way too many parodies.

Night of the Dolphin isn’t much better either. This is technically a parody of a film where Dolphins are trained to kill the president (don’t ask), but you won’t actually find any jokes in here to do with that. Instead, the writers did their own thing with it. This sounds like a good thing, but honestly, a parody of dolphins being trained into assassins probably would’ve been funnier than what we got. Instead, the joke is just dolphins killing people in generic and uninteresting ways. The joke where Homer pulls a big speech to get people to fight back, only to be instantly shut down by the horde of dolphins staring at them in silence is utterly hilarious, but that’s the only good joke in the whole thing.

7 – Treehouse of Horror XVIII

Original Airdate: 4th November 2007
Segments: E.T. Go Home; Mr & Mrs Simpson; Heck House

An E.T parody that’s at least a decade too late, this show’s first segment seems desperate to explain all of its jokes to you before it makes them. It feels terrified that no-one watching is going to have seen or remembered anything about E.T, so they make a point of having the characters more or less directly point out when they’re parodying famous scenes from the movie. The joke that none of The Simpsons realises that Kodos’ plan is obviously evil gets overplayed, and then no-one even pretends to care when it gets put into effect. I find it so strange that, despite all being roughly the same length, some segments feel so rushed, while others feel lengthy and deep.

Mr & Mrs Simpson is actually a pretty good segment. The gimmick wears itself out almost immediately, and I don’t care for the big fight scene, but almost all of the banter between Marge & Homer got me laughing. The final ‘they have sex’ joke was quite an obvious and unexciting punchline, but everything else was pretty enjoyable to watch.

Heck House is bland and forgettable. The first half is spent setting up the kid’s downfall, but it’s not funny in the slightest. They just got an upbeat track and had the kids destroy stuff while Lisa shakes her head. There aren’t even any jokes in it, at least not funny ones. It goes hard on the horrific imagery for the next part, but it’s not even slightly entertaining. I don’t get much out of that stuff at the best of times, but this isn’t even a good version of it. Then it wraps thing up on a ‘FOX is bad’ joke, which had been overplayed for about a decade by the time this episode aired.

Maybe watch the middle segment if it sounds like your thing, but the other two are definitely not worth your time.

6 – Treehouse of Horror XVII

Original Airdate: 5th November 2006
Segments: Married to the Blob; You Gotta Know When to Golem; The Day the Earth Looked Stupid

This is an otherwise fine episode pulled into the mud by one awful segment.

Married to the Blob absolutely terrible. There are barely even any jokes in it, it just makes one joke over and over. That joke being ‘Homer eats someone’, and it’s not even funny. Eating the random space blob is a very ‘Homer’ thing to do, and that’s about the only funny thing in the whole segment. Call me a prude, but I don’t see how Homer eating every resident in Springfield is in any way fun to watch. They throw in the world’s most basic Dr Phil cameo, and then end the whole thing on another ‘Homer eats someone’ gag, only now it’s institutionalised. Way to make the hard-hitting political satire there.

You Gotta Know When to Golem is alright, but a lot of the jokes go right over my head. This is probably one of the segments with the strongest sense of plot, but that actually turns out to be more of a negative when it takes precedent over the jokes. Ultimately, this is one that I just forget about, and am mildly entertained by when it comes on.

The Day the Earth Looked Stupid is a good segment, and it’s a shame I have to lump it into this list. However, this should go to show just how much I hate Married to the Blob. There’s a lot of good jokes in this one, it nails the tone of a 1920s Springfield, and I can totally believe that town is dumb enough to believe a radio hoax. The only thing that I didn’t like was the ending, which I think was supposed to be a dig at the Iraq war, but it was so out-of-nowhere that I honestly can’t be sure.

5 – Treehouse of Horror XVI

Original Airdate: 6th November 2005
Segments: B.I.Bartificial Intelligence; Survival of the Fattest; I’ve Grown a Costume On Your Face

B.I. Bartifical Intelligence is an interesting one. This is one of the longer segments, at just under 10 minutes, so there’s a much broader scope when it comes to the plot. Events actually feel like they have time to breathe, and there’s more room for the writers to get out the jokes that they want. So it’s a shame that very few of those jokes land. A couple of the one-liners are pretty funny, but most of it is ground that other comedies have covered better before and since. Then, to end it, it hits us with an “all a dream” ending and the world’s laziest Exorcist parody.

Survival of the Fattest isn’t much better. The downside of the first segment getting 10 minutes becomes clear throughout the next two, as the whole thing feels extraordinarily rushed. There’s very little in the way of interesting jokes here. The whole thing is just a murder followed by a quip. Maybe it would’ve worked if the jokes were funnier, but it’s all just some basic jokes based on things we’ve known about the characters for years. It’s not terrible, but you won’t get much out of watching it more than once.

I’ve Grown a Costume On Your Face barely feels like it should even count as a segment. The shortened length becomes a problem here, as nothing gets a chance to breathe. The whole thing is crammed to the brim with mediocre jokes about various Halloween costume. We don’t get a chance to take anything in because the segment is so desperate to rush us to the finish, we only get about 90 seconds to enjoy the humour of everyone having turned into their costumes before the episode hands us the solution. The ending is just awful too. If it was meant as a joke, then it doesn’t land, but if it was meant to be serious, then it’s even worse.

I still wouldn’t go quite so far as to say this episode is a properly terrible one yet, but we’re definitely getting there.

4 – Treehouse of Horror XXIII

Original Airdate: 7th November 2012
Segments: The Greatest Story Ever Holed; Unnormal Activity; Bart & Homer’s Excellent Adventure

The Greatest Story Ever Holed is just desperate to explain all of its jokes to you. Thankfully, it’s relatively light on the pop-culture references, but it goes for the base-level humour where the writers don’t seem to have to confidence that the audiences will get their jokes. Instead of letting Homer wrap his long fingers around Bart’s neck and leave it as a visual gag, they have to have Homer exclaim that he’s nature’s choking machine. It’s an extra joke which is a very thinly veiled attempt at explaining the visual gag we just witnessed. It’s the kind of trope that I despise shows like The Big Bang Theory for, and it feels like the writers just didn’t have confidence in their jokes.

Unnormal Activity is definitely the best segment of this episode, but it’s still not great. The opening is quite funny, and Homer generally fooling around while trying to record everything going on was a good series of gags, but that’s pretty much all there is to like about it. As a parody of Paranormal Activity, it’s ok and hits all of the beats you’d expect it to, but it doesn’t go beyond that to create anything super memorable, which, as we’ll discuss in a couple of weeks, is what makes the best segments.

Bart & Homer’s Excellent Adventure is just plain boring. There was so much potential in a time-travel story, especially with a show like The Simpsons which has so comprehensively covered all of the significant historical events of its characters. I can see a version of this segment that plays wonderfully off of classic Simpsons’ moments in a loving, but fresh nostalgia trip for all of us. Sadly, we only got one scene of that, and then it devolves into how Marge’s life would’ve been so much better if she never married Homer. Which is a joke that wasn’t funny in the first place because of how obviously true it is, and it hasn’t gotten any funnier being constantly repeated. Making a joke out of your show’s flaws isn’t witty comedy if you do nothing to fix those flaws.

3 – Treehouse of Horror XXVI

Original Airdate: 25th October 2015
Segments: Wanted: Dead, Then Alive; Homerzilla; Telepaths of Glory

Wanted: Dead, Then Alive is one of the biggest wastes of potential I’ve seen in one of these segments. Giving Sideshow Bob his own segment was the chance to go truly off the rails with his schemes, give him something really out there and horrifying. Instead, it’s mostly the same joke over and over. I don’t see what I’m supposed to get out of watching Bart get murdered in a bunch of gruesome ways. What’s supposed to be the entertainment value there? Sure, these characters are pretty loose by this point, but he’s still a child. Plus, murder isn’t actually a punchline unless you set it up to be one, which this segment definitely doesn’t do.

Homerzilla feels like an attempt to recapture the magic of segments like King Homer but fails to understand what made a segment like that so funny. Yes, there’s a big element of parody in those things, but that isn’t all that’s there, we still have character-based jokes and a lot of clever punchlines. This segment focuses purely on the concept of parody and doesn’t look any further than that. I even rolled my eyes at a couple of the jokes in here because of how dumb they were. Then, because the writers just can’t help themselves, they go and make a satire of Hollywood remaking things, which is so unbelievably lazy and feels more like an excuse to pad the runtime.

Telepaths of Glory is fine, I guess. There just aren’t many jokes involved. The montage is a bit of fun, but that’s really it. The ‘Maggie did it’ punchline has been done before, and so much better, even on this very list. Ultimately, I just don’t have a lot to say about it, and probably will forget about it again once I end this sentence.

2 – Treehouse of Horror XXV

Original Airdate: 19th October 2014
Segments: Wanted: School is Hell; A Clockwork Yellow; The Others

School is Hell is all the proof you need that original ideas don’t work for these kinds of episodes. Yes, I’ve moaned about a lot of the bad parodies these episodes have given us, but almost all of the best segments are parodies too. The same cannot be said for the original concepts like this. Bart being evil is a very played-out punchline, but I can appreciate that they tried to take it to its logical extreme here. There were some funny jokes about what a school would be like in hell, but there was a lot of lazy visual gags and jokes that explain their punchlines.

A Clockwork Yellow is perhaps the laziest pun-name they’ve ever come up with for one of these segments, and the parody doesn’t get much more interesting from there. The parody of the sped-up sex scene where Homer just eats a lot was a very funny joke, but that’s the only time I laughed during the whole thing. Everything else just hits all the beats parodies like this need to. They spoof the most famous scenes and vaguely hold onto the direction of the original plot. Also, there’s a bunch of terrible cockney accents, but I’m willing to overlook that, as I’m not petty. Sometimes.

The Others didn’t even bother to come up with a pun-name, which is somehow worse than a bad one. In terms of content, its a nice trip down nostalgia road, and it’s nice to see a show acknowledge its roots, but there’s not much to enjoy in the way of laughs. The episode seems to favour the plot over the jokes, which isn’t the way you want things to go in these segments. Unless you count all of the family members killing themselves as jokes…which I definitely don’t.

1 – Treehouse of Horror XXII

Original Airdate: 30th October 2011
Segments: Wanted: The Diving Bell and the Butterfly; Dial D for Diddly; In the Na’Vi

The Diving Bell and the Butterfly is a fart joke. For 5 minutes. That’s it. There’s literally nothing else to it. The joke is that Homer farts, over…and over…and over. Don’t get me wrong, I’m not a prude, I still find farts funny, but a fart on its own isn’t a joke, it’s just a bodily process. Oh, and it becomes a Spiderman parody at the end for reasons I still can’t even begin to comprehend. Literally the only nice thing I have to say about it is that it’s incredibly short.

Dial D for Diddly is mostly fine. Which should go to show you just how awful the other two segments are to drag this episode down to the worst. The opening segment of Ned doing evil-looking things only for them to turn out to be innocent is well done if a little cliche. The rest of the episode feels just a little below average, Homer & Flanders interacting is always a good thing, the only real problem is the ending. It’s not necessarily bad, it’s just upsettingly predictable. God shows up, then the Devil shows up, then it turns out God is the Devil’s bitch, then just to put the cherry on things, Maud is sleeping with the Devil. Great, who cares?

In the Na’Vi is the worst parody The Simpsons has ever done, plain and simple. Despite being the highest-grossing film of all time until 2019, Avatar left a minimal cultural impact on the broader scope of pop-culture, which is a massive problem for a parody like this, especially when it’s coming in two years late. I didn’t laugh once during this. Every joke is either boring or dumb. They’ll go from referencing the wrong movie to making a joke about the different plug shapes around the world for no reason, and then quickly throw in all the essential plot beats to wrap it all up. The big fight scene at the end is ridiculous, and the whole thing ends on a word-play that makes me roll my eyes every time. It’s almost the perfect distillation of everything I dislike about modern Simpsons and an absolute failure of a Treehouse of Horror segment.

So there you have it! Thank you very much for taking the time to read this. Please, let me know what you think of these episodes, either in the comments below, or on Twitter 10ryawoo. I’ll be counting down my favourite Treehouse of Horror episodes on Halloween night in a few weeks, but until then, make sure you come back this time next week for my rundown of Doctor Who Series 8!