Halloween is right around the corner, and that means it’s time for one of the best parts of fall, the annual Simpsons Treehouse of Horror episode. Just like trick or treating and pumpkin carving, The Simpsons are practically an institution around this time of year. The Treehouse of Horror episodes are mini-anthologies of horror, comedy, and parody that range from being absolutely terrifying to utterly innovative. More so than horror movie marathons or themed sitcom episodes, the Simpsons Treehouse of Horror episodes remain the definitive television event of the Halloween season.
Though fans debate the quality of the current Simpsons seasons, the Treehouse of Horror episodes often maintain the same quality that they have in the past. Even longtime fans who have essentially stopped watching the show still tune in every year for the annual Halloween themed episode. The show has covered so much ground with these episodes, yet they still manage to produce fresh, original content that keep people tuning in year after year. This season (the show’s 27th overall) marks the 26th offering in the series, titled Treehouse of Horror XXVI in keeping with the naming format of these episodes, and will reportedly feature Sideshow Bob finally getting the ultimate revenge he’s always sought against Bart Simpson. Fans will no doubt want to tune in to see if Sideshow Bob will actually succeed in killing Bart (or if perhaps he’ll be thwarted by a rake) and how it will happen.
Over the years, The Simpsons have expertly parodied movies, TV, and literature to make their horrifying and humorous Treehouse of Horror episodes. Though there has been much discussion over the best or the scariest Treehouse of Horror episodes, there are definitely episodes and segments that stand above the rest. One of the best movie parody segments they’ve ever done was in Treehouse of Horror V, titled “The Shinning” which features the often-quoted, “No TV and no beer make Homer go crazy.” This segment is a perfect send up of The Shining, and features just the right amount of humor to balance out the scary moments, making it one of the best segments the show has ever done.
Some of the fun of these segments is that anything can happen, since these one-off episodes have no bearing on the overall canon of the show. That’s why we see things like the Simpson family being turned into vampires, Homer killing the zombie Flanders (“he was a zombie?”), or Homer entering the human world. In the Treehouse of Horror VI segment “Homer Cubed”, Homer enters a 3D dimension and eventually makes his way into the real world. The segment was groundbreaking at the time and remains one of the most innovative things on television from that time period and that The Simpsons has ever done. Though none of the other Halloween episodes have ever attempted something in quite that same vein, the Treehouse of Horror episodes continue to take risks in ways that other episodes of the show do not.
Probably the best thing about the Treehouse of Horror episodes, though, is the comfort they bring during this time of year. There’s something nice about knowing that every year there is one of these episodes to look forward to. Now in its 27th season, The Simpsons won’t be on the air forever, so we should try to enjoy these episodes while we can. It’s hard to imagine a world without Kang and Kodos or the “scary” names that roll during the credits, and thankfully, at least for the moment, we don’t have to.
The Simpsons Treehouse of Horror XXVI premieres on Sunday October 22nd at 8pm EST/PST on Fox.