Does anyone else feel like the second the calendar switches from September to October, everything changes? Even though Halloween's still a week or two away, you can feel it coming. People are picking out costumes, planning parties. I myself plan on rocking a modest Black Canary costume based on her look in Young Justice, but with pants, not fishnets.
Around this time of year, some people also enjoy watching scary movies. Now, I'm not really one for out-and-out, mainstream horror. I'm more of a fan of psychological fear, but also just fun, Halloween-themed specials minus gore. So, I decided to make a list of 13 episodes of TV shows that should be watched around Halloween. Some are specially themed for the holiday, others are just spooky. Some have happy endings, others . . . not so much.
Let's get started . . . if you're up for it.
1. Haunted (Teen Titans)
Some episodes of the old Teen Titans are meant to be funny. This one, not so much. Robin is shocked when his old nemesis, Slade, returns (despite his apparent death at the end of season 2). Robin keeps seeing Slade and fighting him, only to realize that none of his teammates can see his foe.
Despite the fact that this story is told in cartoon form, the fights are very intense, and Robin suffers many beat-downs from Slade, leaving him battered, bruised, and more paranoid than ever. It's definitely one of the darkest Teen Titans episodes, and makes this list even ahead of the apocalypse episodes, simply because the intrigue and suspense is ever-present. Throughout the whole episode, you'll be wondering if Slade is real, or really only in Robin's mind.
2. Enter Zoom (The Flash)
Okay, so I guess I have a thing for episodes where people get beaten up.
In "Enter Zoom", Barry Allen (aka The Flash) and his friends attempt to set up a trap in order to catch an evil speedster named Zoom, who has been sending metahumans to kill Barry. The plan goes terribly wrong, and Zoom ends up beating Barry with in an inch of his life. It's not exactly a psychological thriller, but no matter who's under that mask (don't worry, I won't spoil), he's one scary guy. Just listening to his voice alone gives goosebumps.
3. The Ultimate Enemy (Danny Phantom)
Danny Phantom is a show about a half-ghost superhero, so really any episode would be good to watch around Halloween. However, "The Ultimate Enemy" stands out as one of the best and darkest episodes of the series.
It begins with a flash forward to Amity Park (the hometown of Danny) ten years in the future, revealing that somehow he has become an evil, destructive, and remorseless menace. A ghost named Clockwork, tasked with watching over and altering time, is tasked with killing Danny before he becomes a threat to both the Ghost Zone and his own world.
The episode explores how one wrong choice can lead to a disaster, and whether or not you can change your "destiny". It also contains some of the most gruesome scenes of the series, very clear deaths, and a cliffhanger ending.
Honestly, if you're only going to watch one episode of the show, this is probably the one to pick. It has a 9/10 rating on IMDB, and it's been voted the best episode by fans on TV tropes. Also, unlike most Danny Phantom episodes, it lasts 45 minutes instead of the usual 22.
4. One Good Scare Ought to Do It! (Phineas and Ferb)
This episode is one of the more light-hearted ones on this list, in case you just watched the last three and needed your heart rate to slow down. In "One Good Scare Ought to Do It!", Phineas decides to make the scariest haunted house ever, in order to cure Isabella's hiccups by scaring her. The musical number, as always, is lots of fun, as is watching Phineas and Ferb's friends dress up as their various fears in order to help. There's also a funny subplot with Candace, who finds herself tormented by her crush's diabolical little sister.
5. Mommy's Little Monster (Gotham)
Does this episode contain loads of spoilers? Yes. Do I care? No. Look, if you're only going to watch one episode of Gotham, this would be one of my top picks, especially if you're looking for a psychological thriller.
To be honest, I don't really care about the main plot of the episode, which focuses on Oswald Cobblepot's attempts to murder the man who killed his mother. What I'm really into is the subplot revolving around Edward Nygma, a man suffers from a split personality and eventually becomes the Riddler. In the previous episode, Nygma admitted to his girlfriend, Kristen, that he killed her previous boyfriend, Tom, after he (Tom) refused to stop abusing her. Shocked, she called Nygma a psychopath and tried to run away. He grabbed her by the throat in order to stop her from leaving, and accidentally ended up choking her (yes, I know it's not that realistic).
Anyway, in this episode, Nygma wakes up, only to find that the body has disappeared. His other self, more confident and less remorseful, informs him that he hid the body in GCPD precinct (where Nygma works as a CSI). If Nygma wants to find it before someone else, he'll have to solve a series of riddles scattered around the precinct.
While I'm not supporting the fridging of female characters, Kristen's death plays a big role in Nygma's villainous character development, and this episode does a really great job of showing the conflict between him and his alter ego. It's oddly satisfying to watch. But, if you'd prefer not to, here's a summary of Ed's story:
6. Blink (Doctor Who)
Fellow Whovians, you knew this was coming. Non-Whovians, allow me to explain.
The episode revolves around Weeping Angels, monsters that appear to be statues of angels. They can only move when no one's watching them. If one touches you, it will send you back in time in order to feed off your temporal energy.
The brainchildren of Stephen Moffat, these villains are often ranked as some of the scariest creatures on Doctor Who, which is saying something considering that together, the original show and reboot contain 35 seasons.
While the Weeping Angels appear in several episodes, I choose this one because it introduces them. Other stories that include the angels, such as Time of the Angels and The Angels Take Manhattan, don't give them as much focus, due to other conflicts (such as a rift in space-time or the Ponds leaving the Doctor). Also, this episode is just flat-out amazing. The writing, the plot, the dialogue . . . I love it all.
7. The Man In Yellow (The Flash)
Yes, I'm including multiple episodes of the same shows. So sue me.
Despite the fact that this episode actually takes place during Christmas, I'd rank it among one of the most intense of the series, even compared with "Enter Zoom". In "The Man In Yellow", Barry confronts his worst fear: the man who killed his mother and left his father to take the blame.
As he fights the unknown speedster, Barry's faced with how little he knows about his past and his future.
Also, a word of advice: You'll really want to stick around for the ending.
What happens when you mix accidentally-summoned zombies with a karaoke party? Only one of the best episodes ever. In "Scary-Oke", Dipper tries to convince government agents that the journal of paranormal conspiracies he found is telling the truth. To prove his point, he reads a spell that summons a horde of zombies, which he can't control. They wreak havoc on the Mystery Shack's Grand Re-Opening After-Party, and the twins, along with their Great Uncle Stan, have to figure out how to stop them.
This episode is funny, and the zombies aren't seriously scary, but it's entertaining, and contains some fun fight scenes. If you like people trying to beat up zombies with baseball bats, brass knuckles, and glitter cannons, tune in.
This two-parter is not only the best story from the 9th Doctor's run, but also just one of the best stories since the show's revival in 2005.
The Doctor and his companion, Rose Tyler, end up in London during the air raids, after chasing an unidentified alien object through time. While looking for it, they encounter people with gas masks fixed to their face, who only say "Are you my mummy?" If one touches you, you become like it. As Rose and the Doctor search for an explanation, they also meet Jack Harkness, a time-travelling con man.
(Okay, I know that explanation is rubbish, but trust me: these episodes are a lot better than they sound.)
These episodes are also written by Stephen Moffat, and despite the eeriness of the monsters, there is ultimately an amazing, happy ending. You'll spend half the time screaming, and the other half laughing.
10. Failsafe (Young Justice)
In this episode, Earth is attacked by aliens, who prove too powerful even for the Justice League. It's up to the black ops team of sidekicks to come up with a counterattack to the invasion, but they soon realize that they're completely outgunned.
The episode is intense and the ending is unforgettable. Trust me: just press play, and don't let anything move you for the next 22 minutes. Once you reach the end, you'll realize why this was on the Halloween list.
11. Dr. Horrible's Sing-Along Blog
This is actually a miniseries and not an actual TV show, but it doesn't take that long to watch.
Ever feel like you're the villain of your story and not the hero? Dr. Horrible can relate, as he struggles to be accepted by the Evil League of Evil, while also trying to catch the eye of his crush, Penny. Unfortunately, she falls for his nemesis, the much-loved Captain Hammer.
The story is told with funny dialogue, great music, and scenes that will genuinely make you feel for Dr. Horrible, even though he's a self-professed villain. And, once again, do not skip the ending.
I REPEAT: DO NOT SKIP THE ENDING.
12. The Puppetmaster (Avatar: The Last Airbender)
Arguably one of the most iconic episodes of ATLA, "The Puppetmaster" is definitely the spookiest. In it, the main characters rest in a Fire Nation village, and learn that several people from the village have been disappearing recently. They end up discovering that the culprit is a waterbender who has learned to control blood, as well as water, and has been using her skill to manipulate people's movements and imprison them.
This episode contains not only intense fighting and amazing animation, but also questions of revenge, and whether or not it's right to make your enemies suffer.
13. Phineas and Ferb: Night of the Living Pharmacists
Doctor Doofenshmirtz's latest device, a Repulse-inator designed to make his brother (the mayor) utterly repulsive, instead turns him into a zombified verson of Doofenshmirtz, that can only say "Lots of me". When he touches someone, they become a zombie as well. Because of their labcoats, these monsters are mistaken for pharmacists, as Doofenshmirtz himself often is.
The 45-minute-long episode is filled with Halloween shenanigans, and is a good way to relax after watching one of the more high-stress options on this list. Also, it contains references to Die Hard, as well as voice cameos from Shaun of the Dead.