REVIEW: The 5 best ‘Treehouse of Horror’ segments from ‘The Simpsons’

The top horror stories from the town of Springfield


“Simpsons Treehouse of Horror” by IronHide is licensed under CC BY-ND 2.0

Bradley Hinkson

With Halloween quickly approaching, why not spend that time recommending some horror films (or for this week, television shows) to get everyone in the mood for the spooky season?

First and foremost you must know that “The Simpsons” is my ultimate comfort show. I can’t tell you the amount of times I would pop the DVDs into the family computer as a kid and rewatch so many episodes. The early seasons of the show (how is it on its 32nd season?) are some of my favorite pieces of television. While I had episodes that I would watch many times, “Lisa’s First Word” was a big favorite of mine, and the “Treehouse of Horror” episodes were always ones I loved and still do. 

These episodes allow the writers to go all out and tell some fun and unique stories they could never do in a regular episode. From film parodies to their own crazy stories, these episodes are some of the most fun and memorable of the whole series. But which ones are the best?

1. “The Shinning” from “Treehouse of Horror V”

There’s no wonder that this is the fan favorite of the bunch. This is the epitome of any of the film parodies this show has ever done. The Simpson family finds themselves in a parody of “The Shining” where Mr. Burns tasks them with watching over his summer estate. He and Smithers cut the cable and take the whole supply of beer, which leads Homer to go crazy.

With just a roughly seven-minute runtime, there are so many jokes thrown out and they all land. From Homer forgetting twice to lock the doors after leaving, to Groundskeeper Willie asking Bart if he wants to get sued for even mentioning the word “shining.” Even for just being a segment in a longer episode, it stands as one of the best things ever done on the show.

Homer: “Well, what do you think, Marge? All I need is a title. I was thinking along the lines of ‘No TV and no beer make Homer… something, something…’”

Marge: “Go crazy?”

Homer: “Don’t mind if I do!”

Story continues below video.

2. “Homer³” from “Treehouse of Horror VI”

In a parody of the “The Twilight Zone” episode “Little Girl Lost,” Homer finds a strange portal in the wall of his house that sends him to a strange 3D world.

This episode shows the writers and animators having so much fun with a brand new style of animation. While the series now will dabble with other forms of animation outside of 2D, this was the first instinct of them really doing something with it. Sure, by today’s standards the animation hasn’t aged all that well, but thankfully the writing has. Honestly, one of the highlights of the segment is seeing characters like Patty, Selma, Ned and Chief Wiggum all working and bouncing off of each other while trying to help Homer find his way back.

Also, the ending of the episode is the best way to cap it all off.

Homer: “Mmm, unprocessed fish sticks.”

Story continues below video.

3. “Clown Without Pity” from “Treehouse of Horror III”

We all know that if you put a doll in a horror film, more than likely that thing is evil. Even if it’s a Krusty the Klown doll.

After Homer forgets to buy Bart a birthday present, he goes to a strange store called House of Evil and purchases a cursed Krusty doll, though it does come with free frozen yogurt. Pretty quickly, the doll turns on Homer and tries to kill him, while the voice and personality of Krusty is also still in the doll.

There’s just something so entertaining about seeing a tiny Krusty try to kill Homer and of course have no one believe him. It’s a perfect blend of a genuinely fun and creepy premise, but with the great satirical writing of the show. The perfect amalgamation of this is in the shop that Homer visits. It’s a store filled with many different cursed and evil items, but also sells frogurt. Though do be careful as the sprinkles contain potassium benzoate… that’s bad.

Homer: “The doll’s trying to kill me and the toaster’s been laughing at me!”

Story continues below video.

4. “Time and Punishment” from “Treehouse of Horror V”

Any episode that starts with Homer having his hand stuck in a toaster for an unexplained reason is probably going to be pretty good.

After Homer breaks the toaster, he repairs it but accidentally turns it into a time machine. He keeps going from the prehistoric age to the present, constantly changing the universe by only making tiny mistakes in the past. In a sense, Homer must deal with the butterfly effect.

The changing universes here are a joy to watch. From a Ned Flanders-run dystopia to an almost seemingly perfect one if doughnuts had existed in it (well, maybe if they weren’t falling from the sky). It’s obvious the writers are having a lot of fun thinking up all these different universes for Homer to visit and knew the possibilities they had were endless. It’s a segment so good, it’s able to still be one of the best, even while being in the same episode as “The Shinning.”

Homer: “I’ve gone back in time to when dinosaurs weren’t just confined to zoos.”

Story continues below video.

5. “The Raven” from “Treehouse of Horror”

In just its first Halloween special, “The Simpsons” proved its knack of blending these characters into classic horror stories.

Narrated by James Earl Jones, Edgar Allan Poe’s classic poem “The Raven” is flipped with Homer as the nameless protagonist and Bart as the titular raven. Instead of the original protagonist’s sanity being tested, here it’s Homer’s own patience with Bart. It’s a very funny turn on the story that surprisingly puts on a new perspective of the plot.

It also has just the right mood and atmosphere for the story that feels like the perfect watch for the Halloween season. Despite its comedic elements, this is just the right thing to watch around October to get in the spooky spirit.

Narrator: “Quoth the raven…”

Bart: “Eat my shorts.”

Story continues below video.

There are many Halloween specials out there and we’ve all got some that we watch yearly. For me, the “Treehouse of Horror” episodes of “The Simpsons” are the perfect ones to watch. They perfectly blend horror and comedy. You’ll be trying to catch every joke and almost forget how dark and twisted these episodes can get. Even as a kid, the “Nightmare Cafeteria” segment from “Treehouse of Horror V” was a bit too much for me. Binging all of these are a ton of fun and will definitely put you into the Halloween spirit.

You can currently stream “The Simpsons” on Disney+.