10 Underrated Halloween Episodes & Specials That'll Put You in the Spooky Spirit

The Flintstones, NBC, Dawson's Creek, The WB
NBC; The WB

Everyone knows and loves the classic special It's the Great Pumpkin, Charlie Brown and Friends’ Season 8 episode, “The One With the Halloween Party.” Some may even say that the spooky season isn't fully kicked off until watching some of the more beloved All Hallows' Eve specials or episodes. And good Halloween-themed TV has led to numerous references throughout pop culture and some very memorable costumes (The Office’s Jim Halpert [John Krasinki] was a three-hole punch in one episode that fans recreate every year). 

However, there are still so many spooky small-screen moments that don't get as much recognition around this time of year, so we rounded up 10 of our favorite Halloween specials and episodes that we think are deserving of just a little bit more love, including vintage cartoons, Disney Channel specials, and memorable musical numbers. 

The Flintstones Meet Rockula and Frankenstone

In 1979, our favorite animated Stone Age family won a trip outside of their comfy prehistoric town of Bedrock and ventured to Rocksylvania. That’s right, the entire gang of the Flintstones and Rubbles got to visit the spookiest of mythical Halloween creatures, Count Rockula and his servant, Frankenstone. While fans loved seeing the iconic sitcom characters go outside of their comfort zone, the characters themselves did not enjoy their visit because someone gets mistaken as Rockula’s wife, causing infamous, generation-spanning chaos to ensue. 

Available to stream on Prime Video

“The Rocky Horror Glee Show” / Glee (Season 2, Episode 5)

Never one to shy away from a ground-breaking musical, Fox's musical dramedy Glee took 1975’s boundary-crossing flick, The Rocky Horror Picture Show, and made it wholeheartedly their own. The appropriately titled “Rocky Horror Glee Show” aired the week of Halloween in 2010, but remains as one of the most rewatched and beloved episodes – even a decade later. In perfect glee club manner, the cast was decked out in spot-on costumes (including iconic transvestite scientist, Dr. Frank-N-Furter) and released an accompanying soundtrack covering seven of the most recognized Rocky Horror classics. With cameos from Meatloaf and Barry Bostwick (the film's original Eddie and Brad), an over-the-top performance by guest star John Stamos and a Halloween edition orange-and-black show opener, this special episode is on its way to being a timeless Halloween classic.

Available to stream on Netflix

“Night of the Day of the Dead” / Lizzie McGuire (Season 1, Episode 24)

Very few shows accurately portrayed melodramatic middle school moments as well as Disney Channel's Lizzie McGuire did. In this Halloween-centric episode of the sitcom, Lizzie McGuire (Hilary Duff) is crushed to be playing a measly, childish clown in her seventh grade Fright Night celebration. The youthful predicaments don’t stop there, because soon after Lizzie is turned into a zombie, life-size skeletons get in on the action and other kids go missing. If you’re looking for a silly, only borderline scary Halloween episode, Lizzie has you covered with that, too. 

Available to stream on Disney+

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Halloween is Grinch Night

Although it won a Primetime Emmy for Outstanding Children’s Program in 1978, this Whoville-set story has been outshined by the popular Christmas tale, How The Grinch Stole Christmas!. Unlike its festive prequel, The Grinch (voiced by Hans Conried) is not the unlikely underdog of a hero in this story. If anything, The Grinch is, just as he wants to be, the evil villain, once again trying to ruin a holiday for the townsfolk of Whoville. Seuss-specific word play, a creepy, yet harmonious original soundtrack, and head-spinning animation makes this Grinch spin-off the perfect balance of 1970s nostalgia and timeless musical horror.

Available to stream on YouTube

“The Ghost of Suite 613” / The Suite Life of Zack & Cody (Season 1, Episode 19)

Unlike Lizzie McGuire, The Suite Life of Zack & Cody has a Halloween episode that has haunted kids, teens and adults alike for years. The children’s program released an über-spooky episode 15 years ago featuring, but not limited to, ghost stories come to life, broken mirrors, paranormal activity, Poltergeist references and people being pulled into the shadows. Disney Channel utilized having a show set in a hotel to their fullest extent when they crafted this October episode, making it all things spooky, relatable, memorable and suspicious.

Available to stream on Disney+

The Halloween Tree

Ray Bradbury’s fantasy tale The Halloween Tree was brought to life in 1993 in an animated adaptation of the same name that originally aired on ABC, but is now most often seen on Cartoon Network. Bradbury himself narrates the hour-long special that follows a group of children whose trick-or-treating adventures take a turn as they learn firsthand the origins of Halloween traditions. This special covers a lot of ground in a fun, ageless cartoon when it comes to topics like commercialization and the significance of The Day of the Dead and Celtic rituals in England’s Stonehenge. The Halloween Tree, both the book and special, is equally entertaining and educational, which should make it a staple October viewing. 

Available to stream on YouTube TV

“BOO!” / Roseanne (Season 2, Episode 7)

The first of many Roseanne Halloween-themed episodes, “BOO!” is often the most highly regarded when it comes to the holiday itself, plot and comedic timing. What Roseanne did right for many of its seasons was interperse just enough heart into the quick-witted cynicism and middle-class realism to make it lovable, laughable, and approachable. You could relate to Roseanne (Roseanne Barr), her husband Dan (John Goodman) and their children, especially when they took the idea of dressing up and scaring people for the holiday to another level – a personal level. “BOO!” let the Conners rip into each other in a charismatic, familial way: through hilarious and devious pranks.  

Available to stream on Prime Video 

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“Spooky Hooky” / Our Gang

Original Our Gang films were always clever, heartwarming and comedic in all of their black-and-white glory. “Spooky Hooky,” a 1936 short saw The Little Rascals doing everything they could to sneak out of class to go see the circus in town. While not a Halloween-themed episode necessarily, the edge-of-your-seat suspense is very real as you watch Buckwheat (William Thomas Jr.), Spanky (George McFarland), Alfalfa (Carl Switzer) and Porky (Eugene Gordon Lee) sneak around in school, in the dark, after hours, with a ready-to-pounce janitor wandering the halls. As the title of the short states, it’s spooky, but fun, in all the right ways. 

Available to stream on YouTube

“Glasgowman’s Wrath” / Law & Order: SVU (Season 16, Episode 6)

The very un-real story of Slender Man created a very real nightmare scenario in 2014, five years after the fictional foe became popularized on the Internet as a creepypasta story, when two young girls wanted to prove his existence by luring a classmate into the woods for a violent, but thankfully not fatal, attack. In Law & Order: SVU fashion, they took this horrific, chilling news story and portrayed a version of it on screen as a Halloween episode. It’s an introspective episode with a narrative that is as twisted as the real event but still showcases the societal and cultural impact of youth on the Internet. For spookiness with a hint of crime and a dash of reality, “Glasgowman’s Wrath” is the Halloween showing for you.

Available to stream on Hulu and Peacock

“Escape from Witch Island” / Dawson’s Creek (Season 3, Episode 7)

Teen soap opera Dawson’s Creek is modernly known for two things: the infamous Dawson crying meme and their exaggerated, adult-like language. No 16-year-old in real life ever talked like the teenagers on the early 2000s drama – let alone experience the roller-coaster emotions and events that the characters went through. One episode in particular, though, touches on the genuine youthfulness of these teens. Dawson (James Van Der Beek), a student by day, filmmaker by night, decides to take inspiration from The Blair Witch Project and explore a nearby island with his friends. But only so much documenting gets done before the teens get swept up in the mythical, magical hauntings of the forgotten land. This episode is a millennial throwback and a monumental moment in the series that comes with a surprisingly high dose of fall leaves and catastrophe.

Available to stream on YouTubeTV, Prime Video, and Hulu