Here we are once again with another Geekade Top Ten, this time around highlighting what may be the most obvious column we’ve never done. First hitting the air way back on October 25th, 1990, the “Treehouse of Horror” Halloween specials have become a part of the very fabric of American Halloween celebrations. The Simpsons, at this point the longest running animated show AND longest running sitcom AND longest running scripted primetime show in American history, has been many things over the years. And while the quality of show has been all over the map the last few years, the “Treehouse of Horror” episode has consistently been a highlight of each season. Looking back over the segments we’ve gotten brought back some amazing memories and a few cringes. Ranking the top ten episodes seemed a bit silly, since it’s a special based around individual segments. So, obvious choice being obvious, Geekade.com proudly brings to you the definitive top ten segments from the “Treehouse of Horror” ever.
#10: The Raven – Treehouse of Horror
With any list like this there are bound to be disagreements and no one segment may split people more than this one. A straight reading, by the excellent James Earl Jones, of Edgar Allen Poe’s “The Raven,” this segment is light on gags or inventiveness. What we get, and why I love it so, is a wonderfully animated version of one of the greatest poems ever written. Bart as the titular raven is as iconic an image as the show has ever produced.
#09: Homer3 – Treehouse of Horror VI
When this episode first aired, it was a huge deal. There had simply never really been anything like this before on network television, much less on a cartoon. The visual gags are still great, even if computer animation isn’t the holy-shit-big-deal they were when they first showed up. Plus, the moments of everyone trying to find Homer are great. Definitely one of my favorites and deserving of a spot in this top ten.
#08: Clown Without Pity – Treehouse of Horror III
One word: frogurt. This episode brought frogurt mainstream, for better or worse, as a result of a hysterical exchange between Homer and a horribly stereotypical Chinese man. Homer had neglected to get Bart a birthday present, see, and like any good yet regretful father, he rushes right out to the local oddities shop owned by the mysterious foreigner. The Krusty he buys turns out to be, in the words of Grandpa, evil… EEEVVVVIIIILLLLL. Damn good stuff here.
#07: Oh the Places You’ll D’oh – Treehouse of Horror XXIV
One of the more recent segments that made this list, “Oh the Places You’ll D’oh” is odd even for a Treehouse of Horror segment. Being a parody of Dr. Suess was never going to be easy, but the writing on this segment is so sharp, it’s as if the man himself was contributing. Add in the fact that the animation is fantastic and the realization that The Cat in the Hat is actually super creepy and you have a slam dunk segment.
#06: A Clockwork Yellow – Treehouse of Horror XXV
The other more recent segment on this list, “A Clockwork Yellow” makes this list higher than a lot of other, better, segments because of the slew of Kubrick references contained within. The language hits spot on, the visual gags are great, and the depth of the references are obscure in the best of ways. This is a dense segment that requires multiple viewings. If you are a Kubrick fan though, there’s more than enough to love.
#05: Bart Simpson’s Dracula – Treehouse of Horror IV
Bram Stoker’s Dracula is one of the more iconic horror flicks of all time and this parody does the source material justice. There are some very, very good jokes in this episode with none being more iconic than the, “He’s a vampire…” line. It’s still hilarious today and something my friends and I quoted to death back in school. This segment gets bonus points for being pretty creepy as well, with the image of Bart floating outside of Lisa’s window being particularly scary.
#04: Nightmare Cafeteria – Treehouse of Horror V
One of the bloodiest segments ever aired, “Nightmare Cafeteria” plays on an old trope of humans being delicious which, to be fair, we probably are. Due to budget cuts, the school cafeteria needs a new source of meat and it just so happens that misbehaving students fit perfectly in the meat grinder. The adults in the school go a bit overboard and start killing kids left and right, leading to Principal Skinner delivering one of the most hilarious moments in the history of the show. Alas, poor Uter. So delicious.
#03: Time and Punishment – Treehouse of Horror V
Oh, time travel. So hard to do well because of all of the possible consequences inherent in changing one little thing in the past. A concept so beautifully realized by Homer when he’s had enough of trying to find his way back the “right” way. There are some truly disturbing timelines in this segment, some truly hilarious ones, and Homer left-hooks a giant mosquito. What more do you need? Also, more James Earl Jones.
#02: Citizen Kang – Treehouse of Horror VII
The Simpsons have always done their part to criticize and critique culture. It may not have always been “in the moment,” but the message was clear. Citizen Kang however went right at the election of 96 featuring both Bob Dole and President Clinton. The episode has some truly poignant commentary on our political system as well as some of my favorite lines in the series, “Don’t blame me, I voted for Kodos” and “Twirling towards the future” have been part of my shtick since.
#01: The Shinning – Treehouse of Horror V
I’m not sure there was any doubt in my mind that this would be number one. As soon as I said I would write this top ten, this was my choice for number one. It’s just absolutely perfect storytelling. The jokes hit big, the visuals are gorgeous, the delivery is wonderful, and it is as quotable as could be. This is movie parody done right. It’s an episode that manages to be tense, dramatic, and silly all at the same time.
So there you have it; the definitive guide to the top ten Treehouse of Horror segments ever. All of “Treehouse of Horror V” made the cut and was the primary reason it made more sense to break these up by segment than episode. Only two newer segments made my top ten, but a bunch of others were damn close. What’s your top ten? Follow me on twitter and instagram, @geekadedan, and let me know and make sure to drop us a line at firstname.lastname@example.org to let us know what you think. As always feel free to share and spread the word, please and thank you.