Themed episodes of our favorite TV shows put us in the mood to trick-or-treat, dress up, or hide under our blankets. Many of these, despite being kids shows, are creepy in their own right.
For me these are the episodes that stick with me to this day. Some aren’t Halloween related but create a creepy atmosphere or involve a scary element. And most of them are kids show related. Because I’m a wimp.
1.) Hey Arnold: “The Haunted Train”
Grandpa tells the kids a story he heard while working on the railroad. An engineer went mad one day, driving the train off the tracks, and every year lures passengers onto the train with a blinding light to take them to the fiery underworld. They’ll smell rotten eggs and hear haunting music. Arnold, Gerald, and Helga go to prove they’re not afraid.
Of course everything Grandpa told them comes true: they enter the train with a blinding light, smell rotten eggs, and find themselves in a zone of darkness. Finally they see flames and think they’re in the underworld but a man tells them it’s a steel mill. When it’s all said and done Arnold tells Grandpa he made up the story but Grandpa wouldn’t say that. The episode ends with the ghost of the engineer riding on the front of the ghost train singing a song Arnold played with his harmonica and Gerald sung, adding to the creepy tone of the episode.
2.) Archie’s Weird Mysteries: “Scarlet Night/I Was a Teenage Vampire/Halloween of Horror”
Many people grew up reading Archie comics. For me I got introduced through Archie’s Weird Mysteries, which are exactly what they sound like. A supernatural aspect is brought into the Archie world through killer potatoes. No joke, but that’s not what I’m talking about today.
This three-parter revolves around vampires and everyone being turned into one. From the start they go after Veronica who carries an amulet that’s supposed to rid the vampires once and for all. It’s a ride as they try to defeat the vampires while uncovering who is one.
3.) Recess: “Terrifying Tales of Recess”
Children of the Cornchip, When Bikes Attack!, and Night of the Living Finsters are three stories told by the character Butch. Of course each are a parody but my favorite is When Bikes Attack!
Parodying Christine, the tale starts with Mikey taking care of his bike Pegasus and feeling bad that he leaves it out during a storm. Lightning strikes and the bikes come alive. At first it’s cool but then they attack the students and trap them inside. A bus rescues them but has no driver. The lesson is to always treat your bikes with respect, but all I remember is the looming threat of dozens of bikes trying to break into the school to harm the kids. Each are memorable in their own right but this story always stuck out to me.
4.) Gravity Falls: “Summerween”
Because Gravity Falls takes place during the summer a Halloween episode seemed far-fetched, until the idea of Summerween came to be. They use jack-o-melons instead of pumpkins since they’re not in season and trick-or-treat because they love Halloween so much.
To make it creepy, a monster known as the Summerween Trickster goes around eating kids who lack spirit. The scarecrow-type monster chases the kids, specifically Dipper who thinks he’s too old to trick-or-treat. In the end the monster corners them and the kids discover its made up of all the leftover Halloween candy that no one wants.
5.) Suite Life of Zack and Cody: “Ghost of Suite 613”
I remember the day this episode aired. A supposed Suite in the Tipton, 613, is haunted by a ghost of a woman who accidentally killed herself after her husband left her for another woman. London just happened to leave a bunch of money in the suite prompting everyone to rush in to get it. After that mayhem ensues. The suite looks as if time stands still, with the mirror the woman killed herself with still in shards.
After Esteban holds a séance and gets taken over by the spirit everyone gets taken down one-by-one until Zack remains. He gets scared but in the end finds out it’s a prank pulled by Cody. However the actual twist of the episode is the end when the real spirit of the woman helps Cody retrieve his lost blanket.
6.) Avatar the Last Airbender: “Puppetmaster”
Not a Halloween episode but arguably considered one. This episode of Book Four takes place in the Fire Nation as Team Avatar is in hiding. They come across an old woman, Hama, who is a water-bender from the Southern Water Tribe, like Katara. They bond but the rest of the group tries to solve the mystery of disappearing townspeople.
The episode takes one hell of a turn as we learn Hama, who got captured by the Fire Nation and taken prisoner, escaped through blood-bending. Controlling a body but only under a full moon. She tries to teach Katara, who refuses. In the end she tries to hurt Aang and Sokka forcing Katara to blood-bend. Blood-bending is a controversial topic in the Avatar world and eventually we learn Katara gets it banned. But not until she uses it later in the season.
- Spongebob Squarepants: “Scaredy Pants”
- The Wild Thornberrys: “Spirited Away”
- My Life as a Teenage Robot: “Return of Raggedy Android”
- It’s the Great Pumpkin Charlie Brown
- Hey Arnold: “The Headless Cabbie/Friday the 13th”
What are your favorite spooky television specials?