South Park’s Halloween specials aren’t as renowned as that of The Simpsons, but that’s only because of a schedule change after three seasons. The back end of the fourth season didn’t air until after Halloween, and so we were bereft of the show’s Halloween episodes for some time. But a few years ago, the schedule changed again, so that Trey Parker and Matt Stone could produce the episodes the week they aired, and with that, the Halloween episodes returned. So, now that we have a few to choose from, here are The 5 Best (& 5 Worst) South Park Halloween Episodes.
10 Worst: Goth Kids 3: Dawn Of The Posers
The most disappointing episodes of South Park tend to be the ones that focus on anyone outside the main group of four boys. If the show deviates from Stan, Kyle, Cartman, and Kenny, it has to be for a really great character, like Randy or Butters. “Goth Kids 3: Dawn of the Posers” has a fun take on goth and emo culture, imbuing it with vampire fiction and a parody of Invasion of the Body Snatchers, but unfortunately, the goth kids just aren’t funny enough to carry their own episode. They’re okay for a one-off gag, or when Stan joined them after Wendy dumped him, but not on their own.
9 Best: Korn’s Groovy Pirate Ghost Mystery
Plenty of celebrities have guest-starred in South Park, but they’re usually used for an ironically small role, like when Jay Leno played Cartman’s cat. In “Korn’s Groovy Pirate Ghost Mystery,” the entire band Korn play themselves in a parody of Scooby-Doo.
From the Antonio Banderas sex doll that Cartman mistakes for a Christmas present to jokes about necrophilia, this episode is full of the inappropriate, hysterical humor that made South Park a cultural phenomenon in the first place. Plus, the spoofing of Hanna-Barbera’s animation style comes off brilliantly, with all the recognizable colors and quirks and visual reference points.
8 Worst: Dead Celebrities
In 2009, a ton of celebrities bit the dust: Michael Jackson, David Carradine, Billy Mays, Walter Cronkite, Bea Arthur, Ed McMahon, Farrah Fawcett etc. It became so ridiculous that it was termed “the Summer of Death.” South Park tackled this with a spooky parody of movies like Poltergeist and The Sixth Sense in which Ike can see dead celebrities. While there are some funny moments in the episode, the targets of beauty pageants and dead celebrities seem to be too easy for the show’s satirical edge to be truly sharp. It’s not terrible, but it’s also not a great Halloween episode.
7 Best: Pinkeye
“Pinkeye” was not only the first ever South Park Halloween episode – it was the seventh episode of the show altogether. Viewers were still getting to know the characters and the style of humor and animation, because it was all very new and unique and fresh and weird back then. “Pinkeye,” with its skewering of zombie movies, Worcester sauce, and Michael Jackson’s “Thriller” video, is a perfect example of how to blend the crude satire of the show with the spooks and frights of Halloween. It set the template for the rest of the show’s Halloween episodes in the best way possible.
6 Worst: The Scoots
“The Scoots” was the most recent South Park Halloween episode. The best episodes of South Park in general – at least the latest ones, when they’re produced the week they air – are the ones that take a few current events or cultural phenomena and make them fit into an engaging story. Sometimes they’re just crammed together, like the George Zimmerman trial and World War Z, and sadly, “The Scoots” is another example of that. Satirical takes on the e-scooter craze and Fortnite are crammed into a Halloween-themed parody of Alfred Hitchcock’s The Birds. The episode focuses on Mr. Mackey and Kenny, two of the show’s funniest characters, but it’s just not thrilling.
5 Best: Sons A Witches
In the fall of 2017, Halloween was the furthest thing from people’s minds. The focus was instead on the #MeToo movement, which finally exposed all the sexual abuse that had been happening in Hollywood for years. As the likes of Harvey Weinstein, Kevin Spacey, and Louis C.K. were exposed and quickly had their careers ended, other male celebrities like Liam Neeson and Woody Allen started calling it a “witch hunt.” So, South Park responded by allegorizing the movement with actual witches. All the men in South Park dress up as witches and then, when one of them starts kidnapping children, Randy tries to get women to see a distinction between “good witches” and “bad witches.” It’s great satire.
4 Worst: Spookyfish
Season 2’s “Spookyfish” has the makings of a great episode, without the substance. It’s presented in “Spooky Vision,” which just means Barbra Streisand’s face is on every corner of the screen, as a response to her negative comments about the show. But what’s in the episode doesn’t live up to that – the whole personification of Aunt Flo is more unpleasant than hilarious. Its parody of Star Trek’s Mirror Universe – complete with the goatees on the parallel versions of people – is pretty funny. Plus, the fact that everyone likes the Mirror Universe version of Cartman a lot better than the real one is a nice touch. But on the whole, this isn’t a strong episode.
3 Best: A Nightmare On FaceTime
Episodes with a focus on Randy tend to be the funniest. In “A Nightmare on FaceTime,” Randy buys a Blockbuster store as the company quickly goes out of business and expects Halloween to make him a ton of money as people rent “spooky movies.” He refuses to accept that video rental is a dead industry and devolves into full Jack Torrance mode.
The episode is a pitch-perfect parody of The Shining, nailing the framing and the camera movements and the facial expressions and the musical cues perfectly. The B-plot, involving Stan going trick-or-treating with the guys via FaceTime with his iPad strapped to a skateboard, isn’t as strong, but it still makes up the pieces of a great Halloween episode.
2 Worst: City Sushi
This one might not technically count as a Halloween episode, since it aired in June 2011 and its plot doesn’t revolve around Halloween, but there are enough spooky moments and horror movie spoofs in “City Sushi” to make it at least a semi-Halloween episode. It’s a real shame when episodes revolving around Butters turn out to be weak, but this one wasn’t much of a surprise, because a lot of season 15 was weak – from “Funnybot” to “Royal Pudding” to “Crack Baby Athletic Association,” there weren’t many gems hidden in the season. Considering it’s Butters starring in a parody of both Paranormal Activity and Psycho, we expected more from this.
1 Best: Hell On Earth 2006
After deciding My Super Sweet 16 was the “most disgusting, foul show ever made,” Trey Parker and Matt Stone parodied it with “Hell on Earth 2006,” which replaces the bratty teenagers on the show with Satan, who simply wants to plan the perfect Halloween party. With unabashedly dark humor, like depicting Ted Bundy, Jeffrey Dahmer, and John Wayne Gacy as the Three Stooges, “Hell on Earth 2006” is quintessential South Park. It sparked controversy for its Steve Irwin gag, but it’s not just shock value – it’s a smart joke. His “costume” is said to be in poor taste before it’s revealed to be the real Steve Irwin, and then he’s kicked out for not having a costume.