All 93 Simpsons Treehouse of Horror Segments, Ranked

10. Bart Simpsons Dracula

  • Treehouse of Horror: IV
  • Year: 1993
  • Synopsis: The Simpson’s go to dinner at the home of Mr Burns, who is a vampire.
  • Rating: ★★★★☆
  • Best Gag: Homer: “Bart is a vampire.  Beer kills brain cells.  Now, let’s go back to that building where our beds and tv is.”

Another great example of parody done right. This episode has another of the most quotable Homer lines ever and is straight-up funny from start to finish. It also makes great use of background gags, of which Mr Burns shadow (again, a pitch-perfect satire of Bram Stoker’s Dracula) is one of the best examples in the whole show.

9. King Homer

  • Treehouse of Horror: III
  • Year: 1992
  • Synopsis: A parody of King Kong
  • Rating: ★★★★☆
  • Best Gag: Mr Burn: “Alive,  We can put him on Broadway!  Dead, we can sell him as steaks to the army!”

We’re getting to another point in the rankings where the segments are separated by so little that it might not actually matter. This is also where I admit that King Kong is one of my all-time favourite movies, which might influence how high this one landed, but the parody is a well-executed, perfect fit.

8. The Genesis Tub

  • Treehouse of Horror: VII
  • Year: 1996
  • Synopsis: Lisa creates a civilization in a butter tub
  • Rating: ★★★★☆
  • Best Gag: “We have listened to you speak since the dawn of time, oh creator and we have learned to imatoot you exarktly.”

This is one of the loosest adaptations of any of the Twilight Zone adaptations they’ve done, but also a very effective one. Everything from the tiny peoples’ evolution to the fact that they have their own Frink is great. In addition, there’s a great throwaway joke later in the episode when Lisa asks for shoes, and someone in the background says, “she probably wants socks, too”.

7. Nightmare Cafeteria

  • Treehouse of Horror: V
  • Year: 1994
  • Synopsis: The teachers at Springfield Elementary start eating the kids.
  • Rating: ★★★★☆
  • Best Gag: “Grade F meat:  Common circus animals;  Some filler.”

Another loose adaptation of the source material, but it turns out that Soylent Green is children. I love how each meal is themed from each kid, and I love Skinner trying to convince the kids that Uter isn’t missing with this solid gold:

I’ve got a gut feeling Uter’s around here somewhere. After all, isn’t there a little Uter in all of us? In fact, you might even say we just ate Uter, and he’s in our stomachs right now!

6. Lisa’s Nightmare

  • Treehouse of Horror: II
  • Year: 1991
  • Synopsis: Homer buys a monkeys paw that can grant wishes.
  • Rating: ★★★★☆
  • Best Gag: “Your superior intellect is no match for our puny weapons!”

Lisa’s Nightmare is one of the most generically named segments but one of the most imaginative adaptations of its source material. Whatever you think of its relative merits, it has by far one of the best endings when Homer tries to wish into existence the perfect turkey sandwich to prove that not every wish turns bad, but then the turkey turns out to be a little dry. Foul and cursed thing, indeed.

5. Hungry are the Damned

  • Treehouse of Horror: I
  • Year: 1990
  • Synopsis: Aliens abduct The Simpsons and cook them delicious meals.
  • Rating: ★★★★☆
  • Best Gag: Kang: “I am actually speaking Rigellian. By an astonishing coincidence both of our languages are exactly the same.”

The first, and one of the best, appearances of Kang and Kodos, and one of the best Twilight Zone parodies they have done to date. Almost every line is iconic, and in addition to Kang and Kodos, there is an alien played by James Earl Jones called “Serak the Preparer”, whose breakdown at the end of the segment is one of the funnier moments of the entire episode.

4. Time and Punishment

  • Treehouse of Horror: V
  • Year: 1994
  • Synopsis: Homer time travels via a toaster and changes the space-time continuum.
  • Rating: ★★★★★
  • Best Gag: Homer: “This shouldn’t be too hard to fix, with the right tools!”

Ah yes, chaos theory. Change one thing in the past, and the consequences to the present are completely dire. There is so much to love about this segment, from the opening when Homer’s hand is inexplicably jammed in the toaster, only for it to immediately be jammed in there again once he pulls it out, to the end when he is resigned to the universe he has created that is close enough to the one he left. Everyone remembers the universe where Ned Flanders is the world dictator (I love the Re-Ned-Ucation centre, where the elite meet to have their spirits broken!) and Homer’s line the first time he travels back: “I’ve gone back to when dinosaurs weren’t just confined to zoos!”.

As with all the five-star segments, there’s basically no part of this one that isn’t great.

3. Citizen Kang

  • Treehouse of Horror: VII
  • Year: 1996
  • Synopsis: Kang and Kodos attempt to gain control of the world by taking the place of Bill Clinton and Bob Dole immediately prior to the election.
  • Rating: ★★★★★
  • Best Gag: Homer: “Don’t blame me, I voted for Kodos!”

This episode feels a little stranger than usual today because it’s such a perfect sendup of American electoral politics, from Kodos as Bob Dole trying to figure out if the crowd supports abortions to Kang as Clinton twirling, twirling towards freedom, every campaign stop is solid gold.

When Kang and Kodos are finally revealed, the people realizing they’re trapped by the two-party system leads to one of the funniest lines in the entire series: As someone declares they’ll vote for a third party, Kang declares “Go ahead! Throw your vote away!“. The following reveal that the world is enslaved because Kang has won the election is perfect.

This segment also contains one of my favourite offhand jokes in the whole Treehouse of Horror canon, when it is revealed that Kang and Kodos are brother and sister.

And no, I don’t know of a better way to exchange long protein strings.

2. The Shinning

  • Treehouse of Horror: V
  • Year: 1994
  • Synopsis: The parody of Stanley Kubrick’s The Shining
  • Rating: ★★★★★
  • Best Gag: Mr Burns describing the sordid history of the hotel: “This house was built on an ancient Indian burial ground and was the setting of satanic rituals, witch-burnings and five John Denver Christmas specials”

The Shinning is, by far, the best parody of anything that The Simpson’s ever produced. It is a perfect send-up of The Shining crossed with the comedy sensibilities of a show at its peak.

Every gag lands, from the opening when Homer has forgotten to lock the door, to Willie explaining The Shinning to Bart (“Don’t you mean ‘the shining’?” “Shh, do you want to get sued?”), to Marge finding the typewriter and recognizing that what Homer has type as being a window into his soul (“Feelin’ fine”), to arguably the most famous Simpson’s line of all time: “No TV and no beer make homer something something”.

Above all, you can also tell that the people who wrote this love the source material, which is always the best place to approach parody from.

It’s also worth noting that Treehouse of Horror V is the best overall episode. The Shinning landed at #2, Time and Punishment is also in the top five at #4, and Nightmare Cafeteria is in the top ten at #7.

It isn’t #1, though, which means that honour can only go to one other segment:

1. The Raven

  • Treehouse of Horror: I
  • Year: 1990
  • Synopsis: Edgar Allen Poe’s The Raven as read by James Earl Jones
  • Rating: ★★★★★
  • Best Gag: This whole segment.

The Raven isn’t just my favourite of the Treehouse of Horror segments; it’s my favourite rendition of The Raven, full stop. Everything about The Raven works. It has two solid performances, too. Everyone remembers James Earl Jones narrating the poem, but Dan Castellaneta gives one of his best performances, too. In particular, during the section of the poem where homer frustratedly implores the raven to “Take thy beak from out my heart, and quit the bust above my door.

If you watch carefully, there are a bunch of great Edgar Allen Poe references throughout, from an open cask of amontillado on the table beside Homer while he’s nearly napping to the books the raven pulls off the shelf.

The Raven is, hands down, not only the best Treehouse of Horror segment, but it’s also one of the best things that The Simpson’s ever produced.


Conclusion

So what I have learned from watching 93 Halloween stories from The Simpsons?

First, yes, I definitely prefer the earlier seasons. Let’s take a look at this totally scientific chart of all the episodes by their average segment rating:

Chart of all Simpson’s Halloween Specials by the average of the ratings of their component three segments. Science!

Yup, totally scientific. As you can see, there’s a definite higher average rating in the first seven years than in all the years after. Treehouse of Horror V is by far the best overall episode, with Treehouses of Horror I and VII not that far behind. From volume VIII on, the ratings definitely go up and down, but most of them are fine, really. Volume XXII is the worst episode and sits at the bottom of a pretty obvious valley, but there are good segments throughout the run. There were a lot of episodes I hadn’t seen and a lot of pleasant surprises –especially in the last two years.

There’s a lot of talk about the decline in quality of The Simpson but I have held the notion for a few years now that it isn’t so much bad as it is changed to suit changing target demographic. A target demographic and my generation mostly grew and changed out of. I don’t know if that’s 100% true, but it sounds nice.

Second, Homer is the funniest character. Sure, that seems obvious, but it’s true. He has the most funny lines and the best –for lack of a better term– physical humour too.

Third, After having watched 31 episodes of The Simpsons over the course of just a couple of weeks, I am a little Simpson’s out. I probably won’t watch again until next years Treehouse of Horror. Will I rank those segments? Only time will tell.

What do you all think? Did I choose your favourites or shun them? Let me know in the comments or on Twitter.


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