Every October sees a new installment of “The Simpsons'” Halloween staple, which began in 1990 during the show’s 2nd season. The first “Treehouse of Horror” was appropriately titled “Treehouse of Horror.”
Most, if not every, sitcom has Halloween specials, but “The Simpsons'” “Treehouse of Horror” is definitely one of the most iconic and enjoyable, usually. All the “Treehouse of Horror” pertains to tackling different horror, science fiction, and supernatural stories. Since “Treehouse of Horror’s” conception, the writers have either created their own story or used outside works for inspiration, like “The Raven,” “A Nightmare on Elm Street,” “The Shining,” and more.
“Treehouse of Horror” was first inspired by the EC Comics Horror Tales, which are the comics the “Tales From the Crypt” show was based on. While they still do, the early “Treehouse of Horror” installments had more in common with “Tales from the Crypt,” as there was a story, or character, tying in the segment(s). The wraparounds used for the Simpsons varied, but “Tales from the Crypt” always had the Crypt Keeper telling.
In addition to a new “Treehouse of Horror, 2015 also saw the first time the show did a regular Halloween episode, “Halloween of Horror.” As bad as the show can be now, this was actually an enjoyable episode. The main plot involves Homer taking Lisa and Bart to Krustyland Halloween Horror Night, most likely inspired by Universal Studios’ Halloween Horror Nights.
Lisa gets scared and becomes terrified by Halloween, which causes Homer to take down his Halloween decorations preferred to as “Everscream Terrors.” Even though Homer’s not very smart, episodes like this one really shows how caring of a father he is.
Another thing about “Halloween of Horror” is that the episode is actually canon to the other “Simpsons” episodes, which is a first for “Simpsons” Halloween, as none of the “Treehouse of Horrors” are canon. This really allows a lot of creative freedom for the writers, as they can kill anyone or do anything they want. For example, 2015’s “Treehouse of Horror XXVI” saw the murder of Bart Simpson at the hands of Sideshow Bob. As disappointing as the episode kinda is, for a “Treehouse of Horror,” this is still cool to see given how Sideshow Bob trying to kill Bart is a long running storyline in the show.
Besides not being canon, the “Treehouse of Horror” episodes feature other trademarks. One that only lasted the first 4 years was the use of wraparounds, which I talked a little about above. Wraparounds is where the show would incorporate a story and setting to tie all the segments together. Ironically enough, the only episode to feature a treehouse as the wraparound was the first “Treehouse of Horror.” The Wraparounds were eventually cut when the episodes had to be shorter for air time.
Each episode opens with a different creative halloween title sequence, which is where some of the “scary names” are seen. These are variations of the cast and crew’s. While obviously usually listed as Matt Groening, he’s listed as “Bat Groening” too. Basically what people are doing on Twitter every Halloween now (me included).
The now famous “Simpsons” aliens, Kang and Kodos, made their first appearance on the show in one of the segments, of the first “Treehouse of Horrors,” “Hungry and the Damned.” The pair is pretty much exclusive to “Treehouse of Horror,” and have appeared in everyone one. Either they’re a big part of the story or just make a cameo. Funny enough, the cameos often just come from the people working on the episode remembering that they need to put them in the episode, even though they had all forgotten when making most of the episode. Kang and Kodos even have their own ride at Universal Studios, “Kang and Kodos’ Twirl ‘n’ Hirl.
Speaking of Universal Studios, let’s talk about that. “Treehouse of Horror” needs to come to Halloween Horror Nights.” Obviously, the specials aren’t very scary, but HHN could make them scary, and the production value would be out of this world, walking through the Simpsons house and other parts of Springfield. It could even be one of more jokey and fun ones.
One of my favorite “Treehouse of Horrors” is “Treehouse of Horror V” (“The Shinning,” “Time and Punishment,” and “Nightmare Cafeteria.) “The Shinning” and “Nightmare Cafeteria” work so well together as the plots seem like situations that could actually happen, with these characters on a bad day, in the regular episodes. The added level of realism really adds to the horror and hilarity. “Time and Punishment” is great for exploring all these alternate realities of “The Simpsons” that has gone horribly wrong, as well as poking fun at time travel. The ending too is just classic Homer.
My other favorite is “Treehouse of Horror VI” (“Attack of the 50-foot Eyesores,” “Nightmare on Evergreen Terrace,” and “Homer3”) because of the variety offered in “Attack of the 50-foot Eyesores” would be terrifying in real life, but the show pulls the concept off in such a unique, dark, and funny manner. “Nightmare on Evergreen Terrace” is actually scary for an animated show. The suspense felt in “A Nightmare on Elm Street” is actually felt here, due to the animation, music, and acting. “Homer3” allows the show to explore a different dimension, and the humor that comes from that. Even though the ending is left open, it still feels conclusiveness in a wonderfully weird way.
All in all, “The Treehouse of Horror Episodes” are some of my favorite episodes to watch. Even when they’re bad, the experience of watching something that only comes once a year is still felt. Some of the best episodes of the show, since it’s decline, have been the “Treehouse of Horror Episodes.” “Treehouse of Horror” blends scary and funny incredibly well, and, due to not being canon, the writers are obviously allowed for a lot more unique plot lines. Even as bad as the show is now, some of the best and actually good episodes, during “The Simpsons” decline in quality, have been “Treehouse of Horrors” They’re are the episodes that’ll keep bringing everyone back, even people who claims they’ve sworn off the show for good.