Best Halloween TV: From Friends to The Simpsons, how sitcoms got frightening

Glee, Family Guy and Buffy also have classic Halloween episodes to enjoy

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The Independent Culture

If your Halloween plans stretch to curling up on the sofa with a few sweets left over from the trick-or-treaters, you’re in luck.

Thanks to the beauty of the long-running US TV series format, there are plenty of episodes to get you in the mood for the scary season.

Buffy and Family Guy have more than three Halloween specials for fans to choose from, but nothing compares to The Simpsons’ yearly Treehouse of Horror installment, now in its 26th year.

For a trip down memory lane, Dawson's Creek, Sabrina The Teenage Witch and Desperate Housewives all offer entertaining Halloween special episodes as well.

The Simpsons – ‘Treehouse of Horror’

In last year’s annual "Treehouse of Horror Halloween" special, The Simpsons took on a Guillermo del Toro-movie theme. This year Springfield’s favourite family are all visited by ghosts of their former selves as Bart finds his ideal school in hell.

Glee - ‘The Rocky Horror Glee Show’

Glee’s Halloween special pays tribute to the 1973 musical The Rocky Horror Picture Show by staging it as a school musical, which cheerleading coach Sue Sylvester inevitably tries to sabotage.

Buffy – ‘Halloween’

Costumes bought from Chaos worshipper Ethan Rayne's shop turn the wearer into a much more realistic version of that costume. Willow becomes a ghost, Xander a soldier and Buffy an 18th century noble woman.

Family Guy – ‘Halloween on Spooner Street’

The third of four Family Guy Halloween specials sees Stewie and Brian go trick-or-treating, but despite their best intentions Stewie is confronted by bullies who steal his candy (perhaps as a comeuppance for being rude about ‘Jewish sweets’).

Friends - ‘The One With The Halloween Party’

Rachel finds it hard to say no to trick-or-treaters and ends up giving away all the flat’s candy, resulting in having to write cheques out to 7-year-olds. Phoebe also meets her twin Ursula’s fiancé Eric, played by Sean Penn, for the first time.

Sabrina the Teenage Witch – ‘A Halloween Story’

For a witch, Sabrina struggles to come to terms with “enjoying” Halloween. After being forced to go to a family Halloween party, she chooses to send a clone in her place who inadvertently agrees to strip to liven things up.

Desperate Housewives – ‘Now I know, Don’t Be Scared’

Brie’s pregnant daughter Danielle turns up to a costume party dressed as Brie – despite her mother’s desperate attempts to keep her in hiding. Things get even scarier when she goes into labour in the middle of the party.

American Horror Story – ‘Halloween’

If you’re not spooked out enough by the series, try the two-part Halloween special from the first season, which sees a Rubber Man terrify a gay couple in their home.

Dawson’s Creek – 'Living Dead Girl '

Todd and Natasha fool Dawson into believing he is seeing the ghost of a legendary film actress when Dawson assists Todd in throwing a Halloween Party.

Supernatural – ‘It’s the Great Pumpkin, Sam Winchester’

A few days before Halloween, Sam and Dean launch an investigation into two mysterious deaths. Sam is later forced to use his powers to exorcise a demon – a relatively usual occurrence in the drama series made all the better at Halloween.

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