En español | There's just something about Halloween that makes it ripe for great sitcom episodes: elaborate costumes, mistaken identities, eerie set pieces and, let's face it, everyone acts a little zanier when they're hopped up on candy. This year, we're expecting to get invited to a lot fewer Halloween parties than normal — so it's a perfect opportunity to kick back and relive some favorite moments from sitcoms past. Here, a streaming watch list with suggested treat pairings that will do just the trick.
The show: The Beverly Hillbillies
The episode: "Trick or Treat” (1962)
The plot: Just how backwoods were the Clampetts before they moved out west? It turns out their little Ozarks town was so secluded that they'd never even heard of Halloween! Homesick and lonely in Beverly Hills, the family goes door-to-door to make friends, and their everyday country attire gets mistaken for costumes.
The treat: Black licorice, as a nod to the “black gold” that made them so rich.
Where to watch: Sling TV
The show: The Dick Van Dyke Show
The episode: “The Ghost of A. Chantz” (1964)
The plot: One of the legitimately creepier entries on this list, the episode sees Rob (Dick Van Dyke), Laura (Mary Tyler Moore), Sally (Rose Marie) and Buddy (Morey Amsterdam) spending the night in a possibly haunted cabin, complete with chairs that rock themselves, an unsettling caretaker and even a mustachioed face that appears in the mirror. There's a twist ending, but we won't spoil it for you.
The treat: Maple walnut fudge, as an homage to the hilarious Season 2 episode “It May Look Like a Walnut,” during which Laura slides out of a closet on a mountain of walnuts.
Where to watch: Hulu
The show: Bewitched
The episode: “The Witches Are Out” (1964)
The plot: Let's face it: Every episode of Bewitched is basically a Halloween episode. But of the five official episodes to tackle the holiday, you'll love this surprisingly poignant story about stereotypes and prejudice. Samantha (Elizabeth Montgomery) hates Halloween because of the way it perpetuates the image of witches as wicked and ugly. But for a show that was a metaphor for interracial marriage at the height of the civil rights movement, you can read between the lines.
The treat: Haribo's new limited-edition gummy witches’ cauldrons
Where to watch: Amazon Prime
The show: The Addams Family
The episode: “Halloween With the Addams Family” (1964)
The plot: America's spookiest family — sorry, Munsters! — goes all in on the family festivities, including bobbing for live crabs and dressing up in “much too startling” costumes: Wednesday (Lisa Loring) dons pigtail ribbons and a cute dress, Pugsley (Ken Weatherwax) a mustache and a business suit. Adding to the mischief are two bank robbers, one of whom is played by Don Rickles, who take refuge at the house when their car breaks down out front.
The treat: When Gomez (John Astin) carves the likeness of Uncle Fester (Jackie Coogan) into a jack-o-lantern, you'll crave good ol’ candy pumpkins.
Where to watch: Amazon Prime
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The show: Happy Days
The episode: "Haunted” (1974)
The plot: In the only episode to ever be directed by series creator Garry Marshall, the gang throws its annual Halloween party, but instead of the usual spot, Arnold's, they opt for the abandoned old Simpson house. It may be haunted, but that's half the point: As Ralph (Donny Most) puts it, “When chicks get scared, they need comforting — I love comforting.” Richie (Ron Howard) thinks he sees a headless ghost, everyone dresses up, but the best part of an episode like this is simply reliving your own memories of teenage parties gone by.
The treat: Anything retro
Where to watch: CBS All Access
The show: The Jeffersons
The episode: “Now You See It, Now You Don't” (1979)
The plot: In this two-part episode, the Jeffersons and the Willises dress up as classic Hollywood movie stars for a costume contest. Louise (Isabel Sanford) makes for an especially glamorous Mae West, while George (Sherman Hemsley) dons a bowler as Charlie Chaplin. But the festivities are disrupted when Weezy sees a man dressed as a killer rabbit murdering someone outside...
The treat: Only a 100 Grand bar will do to honor the couple who moved on up to a deluxe apartment in the sky.
Where to watch: YouTube TV
The show: M*A*S*H
The episode: “Trick or Treatment” (1982)
The plot: The doctors of the 4077th trade ghost stories as a series of bizarre cases puts their makeshift party on pause. Charles (David Ogden Stiers) tends to a Marine with a billiard ball stuck in his mouth (played by Cheers’ George Wendt), while Father Mulcahy (William Christopher) discovers a shocking surprise as he delivers last rites to a dead soldier — he's not dead!
The treat: Jelly Belly Camo Beans — 25 cents from the sale of each bag is donated to U.S. veterans and their families.
Where to watch: Hulu
The show: Cheers
The episode: “Fairy Tales Can Come True” (1984)
The plot: Not all Halloween episodes have to be scary. In fact, this romantic half hour is as sweet as candy. Dressed as conquistador Ponce de León and donning a mask, Cliff (John Ratzenberger) has immediate chemistry with a woman in a Tinker Bell costume. But will they still hit it off, he wonders, when they're out of costume? Fun fact: Tinker Bell was played by Bernadette Birkett, now 74, the real-life wife of George Wendt and voice of Norm's never-seen wife, Vera.
The treat: Boston Baked Beans, of course.
The show: The Simpsons
The episode: "Treehouse of Horror” (1990)
The plot: TV's longest-running prime time scripted series has aired a whopping 32 “Treehouse of Horror" episodes — an annual holiday special comprising three sci-fi, horror or supernatural shorts. You could make a marathon of those episodes alone, but if you're looking for a good starting point, you can't go wrong with the first outing, which includes a spoof of Edgar Allan Poe's “The Raven” narrated by James Earl Jones and the introduction of the octopus-like green aliens Kang and Kodos, who have since appeared in more than 50 episodes.
The treat: Butterfingers — remember that Bart used to be a spokes-cartoon for the brand.
Where to watch: Disney+
The show: Frasier
The episode: “Halloween” (1997)
The plot: You can always expect to learn something from this most erudite of sitcoms, and Halloween episodes are no different. In this fifth-season installment, everyone dresses as their favorite literary character: Frasier (Kelsey Grammer) as Geoffrey Chaucer, Daphne (Jane Leeves) as the Wife of Bath from The Canterbury Tales, Martin (John Mahoney) as Sherlock Holmes, Niles (David Hyde Pierce) as Cyrano de Bergerac, and Roz (Peri Gilpin) as O from the French erotic novel Story of O. Having trouble spotting Bulldog (Dan Butler) in the crowd? That might be because he's dressed as Waldo of Where's Waldo? fame.
The treat: Haribo gummy eggs make for a perfect substitute for the theme song's “Tossed Salad and Scrambled Eggs."
Nicholas DeRenzo is a contributing writer who covers entertainment and travel. Previously he was executive editor of United Airlines’ Hemispheres magazine and his work has appeared in the New York Times, Conde Nast Traveler, Travel & Leisure, Sunset and New York magazine.