Entertainment

All 81 “Treehouse Of Horror” Segments Ranked From Worst To Best

I was saying “BOO!” (Urns.)

81. “The Diving Bell and the Butterball”

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Episode: “Treehouse of Horror XXII”
Year: 2011

A parody of The Diving Bell and the Butterfly feels tasteless — and worse, not seasonally appropriate. In recent years, too many “Treehouse of Horror” entries have focused more on movie parodies and less on Halloween. And this segment, an endless fart joke that gets even worse with a weak Spider-Man twist, is nearly unwatchable.

80. “In the Na’vi”

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Episode: “Treehouse of Horror XXII”
Year: 2011

From the same episode as “The Diving Bell and the Butterball” comes another movie parody that’s only slightly more competent. And while Bart and Milhouse do make great Rigellians in this send-up of Avatar, it’s neither funny nor engaging. Plus, the subplot about Bart getting an alien pregnant is actively uncomfortable. He’s 10!

79. “Untitled Robot Parody”

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Episode: “Treehouse of Horror XIX”
Year: 2008

The Simpsons takes on Transformers — again, not a horror franchise! Not only that, but Transformers is a bad franchise, and this segment does little to comment on the crappy movies themselves, instead focusing on mind-numbing robot battles and visual gags, only one of which (the crying nacho cheese machine) is memorable.

78. “Reaper Madness”

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Episode: “Treehouse of Horror XIV”
Year: 2003

There are few criticisms more damning to an episode of The Simpsons than “Family Guy did it first.” But in this case, it did! And better. There are some good moments of Homer as Death, indiscriminately killing people because of course he would, but there’s also Homer outrunning God on a motorcycle and Death chasing Bart while Benny Hill music plays. Yikes.

77. “Wiz Kids”

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Episode: “Treehouse of Horror XII”
Year: 2001

The problem with this Harry Potter parody is that it doesn’t feel like Harry Potter at all. It’s as though The Simpsons found an old “Treehouse of Horror” script about witchcraft and wizardry and punched it up with a few half-assed references to J.K. Rowling’s novels. Bart’s Frog Prince abomination is hilarious, though.

76. “Frinkenstein”

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Episode: “Treehouse of Horror XIV”
Year: 2003

There’s a lot of Professor Frink backstory here — far too much, really, for a Halloween episode, given that “Treehouse of Horror” isn’t canon. That aside, do we really care about Frink’s fractured relationship with his father? There’s ample violence, if you’re into that sort of thing, but there are also bad jokes and an oddly pat ending.

75. “How to Get Ahead in Dead-vertising”

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Episode: “Treehouse of Horror XIX”
Year: 2008

It’s unclear what the writers came up with first: that title or the excellent Mad Men opening sequence parody. Either way, everything else about this segment is lame and, frankly, baffling. Homer killing celebrities so they can appear in commercials is a plot that earns points for creativity, but that’s about it. And then it ends on a weak gay joke.

74. “Dry Hard”

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Episode: “Treehouse of Horror XXVII”
Year: 2016

If this segment just committed to being a Hunger Games parody, it might actually be solid — Homer as Haymitch alone is pretty brilliant. Instead, it also becomes a Mad Max: Fury Road parody, and shoves in a lot of visual gags about Springfield as a barren wasteland. All together, it’s overstuffed and instantly forgettable.

73. “Married to the Blob”

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Episode: “Treehouse of Horror XVII”
Year: 2006

Homer as the Blob feels like a match made in “Treehouse of Horror” heaven, but this segment is mostly just lazy. (Also lazy: The Simpsons used the title “Married to the Blob” for another segment several seasons later.) The ending to this story is just an excuse to work in a Dr. Phil cameo (why), plus a mean-spirited joke about Homer feeding exclusively on the homeless.

72. “Survival of the Fattest”

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Episode: “Treehouse of Horror XVI”
Year: 2005

Honestly, the idea of Mr. Burns hunting humans for sports doesn’t sound like something that needed to be relegated to a “Treehouse of Horror” episode. Condensed into this short segment, however, it’s really just an excuse to kill a lot of characters in quick succession. It’s not overly graphic, but it’s still relentless, without a lot of plot or jokes to counter the bloodshed.

71. “Hex and the City”

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Episode: “Treehouse of Horror XII”
Year: 2001

Here’s a great example of The Simpsons trying to do way too many things at once, one of the biggest crimes of the early 2000s episodes. Yes, Homer getting cursed provides a narrative reason for Marge to grow hair all over her body, Bart’s neck to stretch out, and Lisa to become a centaur. But also there’s a leprechaun, and then Yoda shows up? Meh.

70. “Mr. and Mrs. Simpson”

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Episode: “Treehouse of Horror XVIII”
Year: 2007

Another year, another movie parody that has absolutely nothing to do with Halloween. (Mr. and Mrs. Smith? Really?) Once again, this is all pretty on-the-nose, with Homer and Marge facing off against each other after discovering that they’re both assassins. The fight sequence goes on too long, and the only saving grace is that it’s nice to look at.

69. “Dead and Shoulders”

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Episode: “Treehouse of Horror XXIV”
Year: 2013

Remember when Mr. Burns got his head sewn on Homer’s body? What if Bart got his head sewn on Lisa’s? To this segment’s credit, it actually does more with the concept than the classic “Treehouse of Horror” episode did, but most of the gags fall flat. The show-and-tell scene is a real highlight, though.

68. “Wanted: Dead, Then Alive”

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Episode: “Treehouse of Horror XXVI”
Year: 2015

There’s something satisfying about seeing Sideshow Bob kill Bart after, as he puts it in a very funny line, “24 years of trying to kill a 10-year-old child.” But watching Bob desecrate Bart’s corpse over and over again quickly becomes unpleasant. Do we really need to see Bart’s intestines twice in the same segment? Add to that some very lazy jokes — did you know college students like to text and tweet? — and you have to wonder just how quickly this episode was rushed.

67. “Master and Cadaver”

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Episode: “Treehouse of Horror XXI”
Year: 2010

The funniest thing about “Master and Cadaver” is that it’s a parody of Dead Calm, a 1989 film that the vast majority of people watching the segment had likely never seen. There are other funny bits, of course, and Hugh Laurie turns in a great performance as a potentially homicidal stranger named Roger. It’s still just OK overall.

66. “The Fright to Creep and Scare Harms”

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Episode: “Treehouse of Horror XIII”
Year: 2002

Here’s another segment in which you have to believe the writers came up with the title first and worked backwards. There’s an oddly conservative message about gun control here, but that’s probably assigning too much method to the madness. All that aside, “Treehouse of Horror” generally does zombies well, and the Western theme — while out of place in Springfield — earns points for creativity.

65. “Moefinger”

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Episode: “Treehouse of Horror XXVII”
Year: 2016

James Bond is pretty well-worn territory for satire, although points for incorporating a Kingsman parody into things. The gratuitous violence is par for the course at this point, but a well-choreographed fight sequence would have been way more interesting. At least there are a few good jokes and a delightfully superfluous Donald Fagen cameo.

64. “The Island of Dr. Hibbert”

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Episode: “Treehouse of Horror XIII”
Year: 2002

This segment isn’t great, but then, neither was The Island of Dr. Moreau. In fact, the best thing about that movie was the freaky mutants, and the same holds true for the segment. While the story is lacking, we get plenty of memorable visuals, like Marge as an amorous panther, Professor Frink as a turkey being carved, and Flanders as a cow asking Homer to milk him. Who needs plot?

63. “Homerzilla”

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Episode: “Treehouse of Horror XXVI”
Year: 2015

Remember when Homer was King Kong? Well, here he’s Godzilla, and we’re in black-and-white, a style that helps “Treehouse of Horror” segments stand out. Watching Homerzilla’s rampage is admittedly fun, but there are some really unfortunate choices, like the white characters’ racist “Japanese” accents. The wraparound story is also a waste of time.

62. “You Gotta Know When to Golem”

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Episode: “Treehouse of Horror XVII”
Year: 2006

There’s nothing particularly hateful about the onslaught of Jew jokes on display here, but they do lose their punch after a while. On the other hand, kudos for honoring Krusty’s Jewish origins with a horror story about a Golem. This may be an unpopular opinion, but the segment could have used more of Fran Drescher’s voice.

61. “Telepaths of Glory”

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Episode: “Treehouse of Horror XXVI”
Year: 2015

What made the film Chronicle is that it took the familiar story of teenagers getting superpowers and put a dark and creative twist on it. But this segment — which is a parody of that movie — is not especially dark or creative. It’s actually too short to be much of anything. There are some nice moments, like Milhouse predictably going mad with power, but it’s mostly just squandered potential.

60. “BFF R.I.P.”

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Episode: “Treehouse of Horror XXVII”
Year: 2016

Sarah Silverman lends her vocal talents to Rachel, Lisa’s evil imaginary friend. It feels like a bit of a waste to have her in such a tiny, dull role, but she does elevate a fairly run-of-the-mill story. Still, the funniest part of the segment is the beginning: a cavalcade of “random” deaths as Lisa’s best friends keep biting it.

59. “War and Pieces”

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Episode: “Treehouse of Horror XXI”
Year: 2010

What starts as a parody of Jumanji — not exactly timely, but hey, who doesn’t love Jumanji? — becomes an excuse to do a whole mess of board game gags. Most of the references come across as half-assed, but there are also bits of genuine horror in the form of some very imposing giant game pieces.

58. “Desperately Xeeking Xena”

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Episode: “Treehouse of Horror X”
Year: 1999

Long before they gained superpowers in “Telepaths of Glory,” Bart and Lisa got Fantastic Four–style powers in this segment, which offers some sharp jabs at nerd culture (“A wizard did it”) alongside some of the worst lines in any “Treehouse of Horror” episode (“Xena needs xex”). Plus, Bart and Lisa end up sidelined to make room for Lucy Lawless.

57. “Life’s a Glitch, Then You Die”

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Episode: “Treehouse of Horror X”
Year: 1999

Few segments are more dated than this one about Y2K — you know, that whole collapse of society that was supposed to happen when we hit the year 2000. The funny thing is, nostalgia is the only thing that really works about “Life’s a Glitch, Then You Die.” It’s amusing primarily as a time capsule, because the onslaught of visual gags and celebrity cameos is really just annoying.

56. “The Ned Zone”

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Episode: “Treehouse of Horror XV”
Year: 2004

If the title didn’t clue you in, this is a clear send-up of The Dead Zone. And it’s fairly well done, with some legitimately haunting moments. (Flanders’ vision of shooting Homer repeatedly is jarringly realistic.) And then, like so many early 2000s episodes, it goes too far: Homer destroys Springfield, and we get an unfunny coda that takes place in heaven.

55. “Dial D for Diddly”

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Episode: “Treehouse of Horror XXII”
Year: 2011

Another Ned-centric parody, this take on Dexter is moderately more successful. (And even more violent!) The best part about it is the opening, a pitch-perfect homage to Dexter’s opening credits. (Toward the end of the series, those opening credits were the best thing about Dexter, too.) But God and the Devil showing up at the end really puts a damper on things.

54. “Tweenlight”

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Episode: “Treehouse of Horror XXI
Year: 2010

“Tweenlight” works best when it’s actually parodying Twilight, but like the admittedly much worse “Wiz Kids,” it falters when it moves into more generic territory. There’s so much to work with in terms of Twilight alone, particularly when you have Harry Potter himself playing the Edward stand-in, so why bring Dracula into the mix?

53. “The Others”

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Episode: “Treehouse of Horror XXV”
Year: 2014

Conceptually, “The Others” is brilliant, to the extent that you can forgive a lot of the crappy execution. The Simpsons encountering their late ’80s selves is great: Seeing the original designs and hearing those voices is a real treat for longtime fans. But beyond that, the plot leaves a lot to be desired, and the Simpsons as Minions is not something we’ll ever be able to unsee. Shudder.

52. “E.T., Go Home”

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Episode: “Treehouse of Horror XVIII”
Year: 2007

It’s kind of surprising that it took “Treehouse of Horror” until 2007 to do an E.T. parody with Kodos as the stranded alien. (It’s also nice to see the Rigellian in more than just another cameo.) The shot of Kodos on Bart’s bike with the classic E.T. theme swelling is perfect. But watching Kodos get shot and then smothered to death is less so.

51. “Unnormal Activity”

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Episode: “Treehouse of Horror XXIII”
Year: 2012

It was smart to do a Paranormal Activity parody at the height of that craze, and found footage is something “Treehouse of Horror” hadn’t explored up to that point. It’s surprisingly effective and, at times, actually really scary. Then things take a turn when the Moe-looking demon shows his face, and there’s a really unpleasant ending involving Homer having a demon threeway.

50. “Freaks, No Geeks”

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Episode: “Treehouse of Horror XXIV”
Year: 2013

Sure, it’s not exactly timely — Freaks came out in 1932 — but doing a very direct parody of the Tod Browning classic was an inspired idea. The real problem with this segment is that it’s just not that funny. There’s a lot of attention to detail with few good jokes. The How I Met Your Mother ending, however, is a hilarious surprise.

49. “Four Beheadings and a Funeral”

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Episode: “Treehouse of Horror XV”
Year: 2004

If you love bad Cockney accents and even worse Cockney slang, you’ll probably at least get a kick out of “Four Beheadings and a Funeral,” in which Lisa and Bart are recast as Eliza (a Sherlock Holmes stand-in) and Dr. Bartley. The distinctive look of the segment is great, and the murders are gruesome, but the mystery-solving itself isn’t worth more than a shrug.

48. “Heck House”

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Episode: “Treehouse of Horror XVIII”
Year: 2007

It’s always nice to see a “Treehouse of Horror” story that’s actually about Halloween, even if only to see the characters’ costumes. Plus, hell houses are an inherently ridiculous concept that the segment is able to have some fun with. The real disappointment is bringing back the idea of Flanders as the Devil, but not having him be the same Devil. Seriously, what gives?

47. “The Greatest Story Ever Holed”

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Episode: “Treehouse of Horror XXIII”
Year: 2012

This is an odd segment, both in terms of concept and execution. It’s way more sci-fi than horror, but it’s definitely weird enough to fit into the “Treehouse of Horror” canon. “The Greatest Story Ever Holed” is pretty much just a showcase for some great visual gags and sequences. Good thing seeing Springfield get sucked into a black hole is so satisfying.

46. “There’s No Business Like Moe Business”

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Episode: “Treehouse of Horror XX”
Year: 2009

For a musical theater fan, the idea of a Sweeney Todd parody is thrilling. If only the music were better. I mean, this was never going to be Sondheim, but it all feels a little rushed. (And that song about Homer being gay? Yeesh.) Still, there’s something clever about the way it’s all staged (with an audience watching the musical), and again, it’s a Sweeney Todd parody. That’s nerdy-cool.

45. “Stop the World, I Want to Goof Off”

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Episode: “Treehouse of Horror XIV”
Year: 2003

Who hasn’t dreamed of ordering something from the back of a comic book and discovering that it actually worked? The basic concept of Bart and Milhouse acquiring a stopwatch that stops time is a good one, but the follow-through is hit-or-miss. And in the grand tradition of early 2000s episodes, the writers went overboard. Bart and Milhouse aging into adulthood is one step too far.

44. “In the Belly of the Boss”

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Episode: “Treehouse of Horror XV”
Year: 2004

Other animated series have done riffs on the Fantastic Voyage story, and they’re usually a lot of fun. This segment does have its moments — Marge’s revealing outfit, made more so when it’s attacked by white blood cells, is a great bit — but it also spends too much time outside of Burns’ body. More wacky shrunken-down hijinks, please!

43. “A Clockwork Yellow”

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Episode: “Treehouse of Horror XXV”
Year: 2014

The language of A Clockwork Orange is perfectly captured here, along with some really well-done visual references. If the segment stuck with that, it might actually be great, but unfortunately, it devolves into a long string of Kubrick references. Some are good, some are not, all contribute to the segment feeling a little overstuffed.

42. “B.I. Bartificial Intelligence”

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Episode: “Treehouse of Horror XVI”
Year: 2005

Speaking of Kubrick, nearly a decade before “A Clockwork Yellow,” “Treehouse of Horror” took on A.I. While that film ended up being helmed by Spielberg, it retained plenty of Kubrickian touches, and those glimpses of darkness are what elevate this segment. However, there’s edgy that works and then there’s just uncomfortable — like Homer learning he can strangle his new robot son even harder, for example.

41. “Scary Tales Can Come True”

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Episode: “Treehouse of Horror XI”
Year: 2000

Honestly, “Scary Tales Can Come True” should be so much better than it is. There’s so much good material to mine when you’re doing a fairy tale mashup segment, and there are some very funny bits: Goldilocks’s gruesome death and Bart basting himself for the witch come to mind. But the segment as a whole never really comes together, perhaps because the ending is so silly.

40. “The Raven”

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Episode: “Treehouse of Horror I”
Year: 1990

“The Raven” isn’t bad at all — in fact, it’s a noble experiment. But truth be told, it doesn’t really work. It’s probably remembered so fondly because it was the final segment in the first ever “Treehouse of Horror,” and because James Earl Jones is an excellent narrator. The real issue with “The Raven” is that the visuals weren’t where they needed to be for such a light-on-dialogue story.

39. “Homer’s Dream”

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Episode: “Treehouse of Horror II”
Year: 1991

Here’s another segment that gets more credit than it probably deserves. Everyone remembers the final moments, in which Homer wakes up to discover that Mr. Burns’ head has been grafted onto his neck. And that’s great! But there’s a lot that comes before that, namely Burns creating a Frankenstein-esque robot with Homer’s brain, and that is not so great.

38. “Bart & Homer’s Excellent Adventure”

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Episode: “Treehouse of Horror XXIII”
Year: 2012

Despite the title, this segment is way more Back to the Future than Bill & Ted. Either way, there’s a lot to enjoy here, namely the callback to the classic Simpsons episode “The Way We Was.” It’s always a treat to see scenes we know and love from new perspectives. The segment ultimately covers all-too-familiar terrain, but at least we get Jon Lovitz back as Artie Ziff.

37. “School Is Hell”

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Episode: “Treehouse of Horror XXV”
Year: 2014

This segment, with a nice title reference to Matt Groening’s comic strip, is a visual treat. It just looks great, and there’s a great blend of humor and horror in the hell version of Springfield Elementary. The story itself is a little flat, though it’s nice to see a bit of role reversal, with Lisa finding herself popular among the demons and Bart excelling in torture class.

36. “Send in the Clones”

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Episode: “Treehouse of Horror XIII”
Year: 2002

The trope of Homer buying something dangerous despite repeated warnings is a “Treehouse of Horror” favorite, and it works well here. Homer’s clones are terrifyingly inept, which makes his family’s failure to recognize them as clones all the more delightful. Things get less interesting as the clone numbers swell, but it’s still a lot of fun throughout.

35. “G-G-Ghost D-D-Dad”

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Episode: “Treehouse of Horror XI”
Year: 2000

There’s nothing special about the story of “G-G-Ghost D-D-Dad,” which — despite being about a ghost — isn’t really horror. And yet, the jokes just land, whether about broccoli being the deadliest vegetable (“It tries to warn you itself with its terrible taste”) or Homer accidentally killing Agnes Skinner and then claiming she was going to be the next Hitler.

34. “I’ve Grown a Costume on Your Face”

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Episode: “Treehouse of Horror XVI”
Year: 2005

Again, traditional Halloween segments of “Treehouse of Horror” are just fun, and we get to see a lot of characters in costume here. That’s actually the point, as a witch casts a spell that turns everyone into whatever they’re dressed up as. It’s not a terribly original story, but there are so many great visual gags (Hans Moleman turning into an actual mole, Apu as APU-D2). In this case, the silliness works.

33. “Oh, the Places You’ll D’oh”

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Episode: “Treehouse of Horror XXIV”
Year: 2013

A Dr. Seuss parody feels like an odd choice for Halloween, until you realize that the Cat in the Hat was always super creepy. No matter, the style for this segment is just too great to ignore. It looks and sounds just like Dr. Seuss, which is extra unsettling when things take a turn. It never really feels like “Treehouse of Horror,” but it’s easy to forgive when the rhymes are so good.

32. “The Day the Earth Looked Stupid”

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Episode: “Treehouse of Horror XVII”
Year: 2006

Given how rarely The Simpsons takes a stand politically, it’s honestly pretty refreshing that “The Day the Earth Looked Stupid” turns into a very clear allegory for the Iraq War. That aside, it’s a fun story about Orson Welles (voiced by the great Maurice LaMarche) riling up Springfield with his War of the Worlds broadcast. It would be unremarkable if not for the long overdue political satire.

31. “Don’t Have a Cow, Mankind”

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Episode: “Treehouse of Horror XX”
Year: 2009

Another zombie segment, but one that owes more to 28 Days Later than George Romero. And it’s actually quite frightening, with these zombies (or “munchers”) feeling like a very real threat to the Simpsons and to Springfield as a whole. There’s also a bit of Children of Men here — it’s an intense and stressful segment, minus the silly ending.

30. “The Terror of Tiny Toon”

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Episode: “Treehouse of Horror IX”
Year: 1998

The bits of “The Terror of Tiny Toon” that seemed most impressive when it aired — Bart and Lisa entering the “real world” by way of Regis and Kathie Lee — are now the least interesting. The segment works best when it’s just Bart and Lisa being terrorized by Itchy and Scratchy. There’s also a Poochie cameo, and that’s never a bad thing.

29. “Night of the Dolphin”

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Episode: “Treehouse of Horror XI”
Year: 2000

It’s always fun to see Lisa’s good intentions backfire horribly. “Night of the Dolphin” is definitely one of the sillier “Treehouse of Horror” segments — it is, after all, about a dolphin army fighting back against humanity — but the lighthearted tone makes the moments of genuine horror so much more shocking. Willie getting a dolphin beak through the heart is particularly brutal.

28. “Bart’s Dream”

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Episode: “Treehouse of Horror II”
Year: 1991

Who knew The Twilight Zone would become such frequent fodder for “Treehouse of Horror”? “Bart’s Dream,” which borrows heavily from “It’s a Good Life,” is a fairly strong start. There are lots of great bits involving various Springfielders being forced to appease Bart’s 10-year-old whims, and that makes up for a less-inspired conclusion.

27. “Bad Dream House”

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Episode: “Treehouse of Horror I”
Year: 1990

“Bad Dream House” is the first ever “Treehouse of Horror” segment, and it set the stage for so much of what was to come. It doesn’t shy away from horror or creepy visuals, but it still maintains a distinctly Simpsons sense of humor. That having been said, the haunted house story isn’t exactly reinventing the wheel, so the plot itself is not the selling point.

26. “Hell Toupée”

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Episode: “Treehouse of Horror IX”
Year: 1998

This segment probably shouldn’t work as well as it does: It’s about Homer getting possessed by Snake after a hair transplant and then murdering all the witnesses who got Snake sentenced to death. That’s not a logline that inspires much confidence, and yet it works, if only because hearing Snake’s voice coming out of Homer is truly terrifying — particularly when he’s trying to kill Bart.

25. “It’s the Grand Pumpkin, Milhouse”

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Episode: “Treehouse of Horror XIX”
Year: 2008

Like “Oh, the Places You’ll D’oh,” this segment is so stylistically close to its source material that it’s scary. In this case, it’s Peanuts, of course — and while the story is mostly a pretty direct parody, it does take some sharp turns, namely the Grand Pumpkin seeking revenge against mankind. Plot aside, it’s relentlessly charming and a joy to watch for fans of Peanuts (and The Simpsons, natch).

24. “House of Whacks”

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Episode: “Treehouse of Horror XII”
Year: 2001

It’s obvious from early on — and because this is a “Treehouse of Horror” segment — that the Ultrahouse 3000 is going to become evil. But it’s undeniably appealing having a robot do everything for you, especially when it has the voice of Remington Steele himself, Pierce Brosnan. The plot here is predictable but executed well enough that it doesn’t really matter.

23. “Dial ‘M’ for Murder or Press ‘#’ to Return to Main Menu”

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Episode: “Treehouse of Horror XX”
Year: 2009

While this segment is a direct parody of Hitchcock’s Strangers on a Train, it takes a page from the Kubrickian “A Clockwork Yellow” and incorporates other elements of the director’s work. What follows is a delightful pastiche of Hitchcock, from the North by Northwest theme to the Vertigo effect. It’s a sharp and visually arresting segment, especially fun for Hitchcock fans.

22. “Fly vs. Fly”

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Episode: “Treehouse of Horror VIII”
Year: 1997

Bart’s head on a tiny fly’s body is cool, but nothing beats a fly’s head on Bart’s body, especially when the fly tries to take off by flapping Bart’s arms. Like Cronenberg’s The Fly, this segment is unnerving and gross — that giant fly is so slimy — though there’s naturally a lot more humor here. The bit about Homer misusing the teleportation device is a comedic highlight.

21. “I Know What You Did-Iddly-Did”

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Episode: “Treehouse of Horror X”
Year: 1999

This might be controversial, but I Know What You Did Last Summer is one of the weaker ’90s slasher offerings. This parody, however, works really well, perhaps because it’s played so straight. There are plenty of funny bits, like Homer using Flanders’ corpse as a puppet, but what’s most impressive is how scary the segment becomes.

20. “Homer3”

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Episode: “Treehouse of Horror VI”
Year: 1995

“Homer3” was a big deal when it first aired, because whoa, computer animation. Obviously a lot has changed since then. The story itself is lacking, but it still deserves credit for how cool it looks when Homer enters the third dimension. (Again, less cool now, but that’s OK.) Plus, the scenes of everyone trying to find Homer are very funny.

19. “The Thing and I”

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Episode: “Treehouse of Horror VII”
Year: 1996

For a character with very little screen time, Bart’s long-lost conjoined twin Hugo left a big impression. A lot of that is due to the character design and his subtle vocal differentiation from Bart. The rest is thanks to the pigeon-rat he created. Either way, he’s intensely creepy, and he makes this segment an effective little mystery with a hilarious resolution. (Poor Bart and his fish heads.)

18. “Easy-Bake Coven”

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Episode: “Treehouse of Horror VIII”
Year: 1997

There’s a lot of great detail in the reimagining of 1649 Springfield, which is a stand-in for Salem in this segment. The twist, of course, is that Marge really is a witch — and she’s well-prepared to wreak havoc on the town. “Easy-Bake Coven” turns out to be a Halloween origin story. The final dark joke is perfect, as the witches lament filling up on children before they start going door-to-door for candy.

17. “Starship Poopers”

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Episode: “Treehouse of Horror IX”
Year: 1998

It’s hard to live up to such a perfect title, but “Starship Poopers” does an admirable job. Maggie’s transformation into a Rigellian alien, the secret “love” child of Marge and Kang, is frightening and funny. And while the Jerry Springer Show conclusion is dated now, it’s still a great reminder of the crap we watched on TV in the late ’90s. (As opposed to the crap we watch now.)

16. “Hungry Are the Damned”

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Episode: “Treehouse of Horror I”
Year: 1990

The first introduction of Kang and Kodos is worth celebrating: They’re such great characters, and so well designed, it’s no wonder “Treehouse of Horror” decided to incorporate them every year. The reveal of the book cover How to Cook for Forty Humans is, of course, a reference to The Twilight Zone’s “To Serve Man,” but it’s become a classic reference in its own right.

15. “The Homega Man”

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Episode: “Treehouse of Horror VIII”
Year: 1997

The setup for this segment is absurd even by “Treehouse of Horror” standards, but really, who cares why there’s a nuclear war between France and…the city of Springfield. It’s all about the aftermath, in which the Simpsons are forced to run from vengeful mutants. Marge turning on the mutants after extending an olive branch is great, but nothing beats Comic Book Guy’s iconic line, “I’ve wasted my life.”

14. “Nightmare Cafeteria”

FOX

Episode: “Treehouse of Horror V”
Year: 1994

There’s something especially upsetting about this segment, perhaps because there’s nothing supernatural about it. The teachers at Springfield Elementary simply decide to start cooking and eating the students. “Nightmare Cafeteria” has lots of great lines, but it also ramps up the violence and becomes bloodier and more terrifying as it progresses.

13. “King Homer”

FOX

Episode: “Treehouse of Horror III”
Year: 1992

The first black-and-white “Treehouse of Horror” segment, “King Homer” is a very straightforward take on King Kong that works well because Homer has always been a big dumb ape. This was an early example of how “Treehouse of Horror” could play with the format to accomplish something distinctive and cinematic. It also features Smithers’ best line ever: “I think women and seamen don’t mix.”

12. “Lisa’s Dream”

FOX

Episode: “Treehouse of Horror II”
Year: 1991

There’s nothing particularly original about a “be careful what you wish for” storyline, or the monkey’s paw variant. But the reason “Lisa’s Dream” stands out is because of how the wishes play out. Most interesting is the wish for the Simpson family to become famous, which predicts the kind of oversaturation in pop culture that The Simpsons would soon enjoy.

11. “Attack of the 50 Foot Eyesores”

FOX

Episode: “Treehouse of Horror VI”
Year: 1995

This is one of the more random classic “Treehouse of Horror” segments: Giant advertisements come to life and wreak havoc on Springfield because of an electrical storm. Well, that, and Homer stole the giant Lard Lad donut. It’s impressive how menacing these advertisements are, and once again, how adept the show is at balancing scares and laughs.

10. “The Genesis Tub”

FOX

Episode: “Treehouse of Horror VII”
Year: 1996

Who hasn’t wanted to play God or accidentally create life with static electricity and a tooth in some soda? It’s thrilling to watch Lisa’s tiny civilization develop, but the segment is funniest when she gets shrunk down and meets the townspeople, who revere her as a deity. The alternate-universe Professor Frink is also a delight.

9. “Nightmare on Evergreen Terrace”

FOX

Episode: “Treehouse of Horror VI”
Year: 1995

It’s been 20 years since this “Treehouse of Horror” segment aired, and I still haven’t been able to look at Willie the same way. Turning him into a Freddy Krueger stand-in was perhaps too effective — he always seemed so angry and resentful of children that it all kind of made sense. “Nightmare on Evergreen Terrace,” which uses a lot of style to create memorable nightmares, is truly terrifying.

8. “Time and Punishment”

FOX

Episode: “Treehouse of Horror V”
Year: 1994

Time travel is inherently scary: You can easily mess up one thing in the past and screw up the future forever. “Time and Punishment” takes that butterfly effect concept and runs with it, offering a series of funny and deeply disturbing alternate versions of Springfield. The one with Ned as the supreme leader is especially creepy, even before he forces the Simpsons to get lobotomies.

7. “Bart Simpson’s Dracula”

FOX

Episode: “Treehouse of Horror IV”
Year: 1993

There are so many good jokes in “Bart Simpson’s Dracula”: the burning of Egyptian artifacts when the police mistake vampire attacks for mummy attacks, Bart taking the Super Fun Happy Slide to his doom, the “He’s a vampire?” bit… And since we’ve given credit to segments that are both hilarious and frightening, it’s worth drawing attention to the insanely unsettling shot of Bart floating outside Lisa’s window.

6. “Terror at 5 1/2 Feet”

FOX

Episode: “Treehouse of Horror IV”
Year: 1993

Speaking of legit terror, Bart’s nightmare at the beginning of this segment — a realistic depiction of a school bus crash — is a lot to handle. And things only get scarier from there. The design of the gremlin is a lot freakier than whatever that thing on The Twilight Zone was, but nothing is more distressing than Bart’s complete mental breakdown.

5. “Dial ‘Z’ for Zombie”

FOX

Episode: “Treehouse of Horror III”
Year: 1992

Before “He’s a vampire,” there was “He was a zombie?” In both instances, it’s a great joke. This is a fairly straightforward zombie story — well, once you get past the fact that Bart and Lisa were actually trying to raise their dead pets — but it’s filled with solid jokes and just the right amount of darkness, exactly what a “Treehouse of Horror” segment should be.

4. “Clown Without Pity”

FOX

Episode: “Treehouse of Horror III”
Year: 1992

Evil doll stories have been done to death, but it’s hard to beat the horror of an evil Krusty doll. (He’s a doll and a clown!) Again, it’s a nice mix of funny and scary — that image of the Krusty doll wielding a kitchen knife is nothing to be laughed at — and perhaps most importantly, it feels like a complete story, something later “Treehouse of Horror” segments are lacking.

3. “The Devil and Homer Simpson”

FOX

Episode: “Treehouse of Horror IV”
Year: 1993

Having Homer sell his soul for a donut was a brilliant idea, but nothing was more inspired than casting Ned Flanders as the Devil, because it’s always who you least suspect. We get a very memorable depiction of the underworld — nothing since then has matched it — and a wonderful Lionel Hutz bit. Of course, no Simpsons fan will ever forget the image of Homer with a donut for a head.

2. “Citizen Kang”

FOX

Episode: “Treehouse of Horror VII”
Year: 1996

Prior to this segment, the rule was that “Treehouse of Horror” segments, which existed outside of continuity anyway, would not mention current events. (That’s something The Simpsons has long since dropped.) “Citizen Kang” may have been instantly dated, but it is such a perfect political satire with so many memorable lines (“Don’t blame me, I voted for Kodos”) that it is remembered more fondly than Dole.

1. “The Shinning”

FOX

Episode: “Treehouse of Horror V”
Year: 1994

And then we have “The Shinning,” the best movie parody “Treehouse of Horror” ever pulled off — and the best segment overall. It’s a tense, disturbing send-up of Kubrick’s film. As with Jack Nicholson, Homer has always looked a little like he might snap, and that’s what makes “The Shinning” so effective. His ax-wielding rampage was basically inevitable.

UPDATE

This post has been updated to include 2016’s “Treehouse of Horror XXVII.”

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