The Simpsons remains a pop culture favorite because of its creative humor and memorable characters. But it’s also beloved because of its numerous parodies of films and TV shows, many of which come from the horror/sci-fi genres.
Many of these parodies come during the show’s annual “Treehouse of Horror” Halloween episodes. In a few weeks, the 26th “Treehouse” episode will air and three new stories will be added to the long list of popular tales.
While the third and fifth editions are highly regarded as the best in series history, the show hasn’t yet lost its touch when it comes to these Halloween specials. Together, these shows have created a successful sub-franchise inside the series.
From iconic movies like The Shining to classic literary pieces like The Raven, nothing is off limits and the fans wouldn’t want it any other way. Here’s our list of 10 Simpsons Treehouse of Horror Segments To Prepare You For Halloween.
The Shinning (1994)
You can’t have a “Treehouse of Horror” list without “The Shinning.”
This brilliant parody of The Shining took place during the fifth “Treehouse” episode and remains one of the series’ best parodies. In the Simpsons version of Kubrick’s classic film, Homer and family are asked to watch over one of Mr. Burns’s properties, but this one comes with its own past. It was the home of “Satanic rituals, witch-burnings and five Christmas specials featuring John Denver.”
While it starts off all well and good, Mr.Burns eventually cuts off the house’s cable TV and supply of beer, which sends Homer over the edge. This leads to multiple iconic quotes including “No TV and no beer make Homer…something something” and Homer’s amazing riff on Jack Nicholson’s famous “Here’s Johnny” line.
Clown Without Pity (1992)
“Krusty say die.”
During the third “Treehouse of Horror,” the show lampooned a Twilight Zone classic involving a toy that terrorizes its owner’s stepfather. In this case the toy is a talking Krusty the Clown doll and the victim is (naturally) Homer.
Granted, Homer brings this all on himself by buying the doll at a store named “House Of Evil.” But what makes this episode brilliant though is how it ended as it is revealed the doll’s switch was simply turned from “good” to “evil.” Once the easy change is made the Krusty doll essentially becomes Homer’s butler and the tables are turned.
The Simpsons remains a series that is able to take on current industry trends and incorporate new technologies in animation. In 1995, right around the time Pixar was breaking the mold with Toy Story, the Simpsons team was readying its own CGI experiment.
In the segment, Homer searches for a hiding place when Marge’s sisters Patty & Selma come for a visit. However Homer ends up entering a portal into the third dimension. As Homer travels further and further down the rabbit hole he ultimately ends up in our physical world as a yellow, big-headed, four-fingered 3D figure.
No matter how much CGI has enhanced animation, The Simpsons has proven there is still a place in our society for the traditional model. The segment is also fondly remembered because it was co-written by David X. Cohen, who would go on to co-create Futurama with Simpsons creator Matt Groening.
King Homer (1992)
Homer as King Kong.
This was an easy target for The Simpsons to tackle and it remains a fan favorite. What really makes this segment stand out though was like the classic film, this one was created in black-and-white.
The story follows the same basic premise as King Kong with Mr. Burns chartering an expedition to Ape Island with Marge as his un-knowing ape-bait. This version, however, has a happier ending, even though King Homer ate (or tried to eat) most of the characters.
The episode also produced one of the greatest exchanges between Mr. Burns and Smithers:
Burns: ”What do you think, Smithers?”
Smithers: ”I think women and sea-men don’t mix.”
Burns: ”We know what you think.”
Attack of the 50 Foot Eye-Sores (1995)
The Simpsons aren’t just known for their film/TV satires, they also are able to tackle social commentary. This particular segment went after the advertising industry in a completely creative way.
The episode centers on Springfield being attacked by the mascots of numerous brands that come alive following an electrical storm. Leading the pack is Lard Lad who is on a quest to recover the massive metal doughnut Homer stole out of his hand.
What makes this one so memorable is how the town stopped the rampage; they ignored the mascots. To quote the episode: “Advertising is a funny thing. If people stop paying attention to it, pretty soon, it goes away.
The Raven (1990)
This is one of the segments from the original “Treehouse of Horror” back in 1990.
While it isn’t known for being the funniest of all the Treehouse segments, it is very memorable because of its creativity. Narrated by James Earl Jones (who had a role in all three segments of the initial edition), this is a Simpson-ized retelling of the classic Edgar Allen Poe poem.
In this version, Homer is tormented by Bart, who takes on the role of the (sarcastic) raven. The piece is more emotional than one would expect from the series and that’s probably part of why it sticks in the mind of viewers.
Time and Punishment (1994)
Inspired by the classic Ray Bradbury piece “A Sound of Thunder,” the segment sends Homer on a gaffe-filled journey through time.
While repairing his toaster, Homer somehow turns it into a time machine and ends up altering the course of history. Whether it is by sneezing or killing a bug, Homer drastically changes the future during each trip back into the past.
In one scenario, Flanders becomes a Big Brother-like dictator while in another, Homer finds himself wealthy and without problems, but decides to leave when he realizes this universe doesn’t have donuts. Ultimately, Homer does get back to a normal reality, but it turns out humans now eat with lizard-like tongues. Still, all things considered, he decides that’s good enough and settles into dinner with his family.
The Devil and Homer Simpson (1993)
Most people have an Achilles’ heel and for Homer Simpson it is a love of doughnuts and beer. In this segment it was focused on doughnuts as Homer sells his soul to the devil for the tasty treat.
Inspired by The Devil and Daniel Webster, the story casts Flanders as the Devil who comes to collect his bounty. Lisa eventually intervenes and convinces Devil Flanders to hold a trial, but he stacks the jury with untrustworthy historical figures like Benedict Arnold and Richard Nixon.
Still, even with the odds against him, Marge’s love of Homer again saves the day. Marge reveals Homer promised her his soul at their wedding, which nullifies the Devil’s deal. Where the episode becomes instantly memorable though is as payback the Devil turns Homer’s head into a doughnut; which Homer keeps trying to eat.
Citizen Kang (1996)
In 1996 The Simpsons chose to use a segment of their Halloween episode to lampoon the Presidential election. Due to its elongated production schedule, it’s hard for the series to do topical jokes tied to politics, but this one was perfectly timed. The writers crafted a situation where Bill Clinton and Bob Dole (the respective Democratic and Republican candidates of that year) were kidnapped and replaced by aliens.
The aliens, of course, were series staples Kang and Kodos. Yet what makes the episode stand out was the political humor injected into the conclusion. Even after it is revealed Kang and Kodos were trying to enslave the human race, they are still voted into power (and enslave the human race).
The episode also remains special to many Simpsons fans as it featured frequent guest star Phil Harman in a non-traditional role. Instead of Hartman voicing one of his usual characters, he brought his trademark Saturday Night Live impersonation of Clinton into the mix.
Nightmare On Evergreen Terrace (1995)
In 1995 the series took on the iconic Nightmare On Elm Street series with Groundkeeper Willie in the Freddy Kruger role. In addition to being one of scarier installments, the episode tuned out to be one of the most intensive for the series animators.
Willie’s character goes through many forms over the course of the episode as he stalks the children Springfield through their dreams. The writers also showed off their creativity in the sheer brutality of how Willie kills his victims (i.e. using Nelson’s head as a floor-buffer) and takes on different forms in the process.
Throughout it all though the episode keeps its trademark humor in tact with its equally clever opening that introduced the month of Smarch. “It all started on the 13th hour of the 13th day of the 13th month. We were there to discuss the misprinted calendars the school had purchased.”
Did we miss any of your favorite Treehouse segments? Is there a pop culture parody you want to see the show take on? Hit the comments and let us know below.
The Simpsons 26th “Treehouse of Horror” episode will air Sunday October 25 on Fox.