As the longest-running animated series in American TV history, The Simpsons is absolutely jam-packed with iconic moments and episodes, even churning out the impressive The Simpsons Movie. However, one of the most notable things about The Simpsons is its Halloween specials, titled the Treehouse of Horror. From their earliest conception, these episodes have helped to bring audiences back every year, as they anticipate what scares the show will come up with next.
Each of these episodes often features parodies of iconic horror and sci-fi movies, though it sometimes features entirely original tales. While the best episodes of this collection are genuinely perfect, there are unfortunately an unfavorable amount of forgetful installments. So, in time for Halloween, here are all the Treehouse episodes ranked from worst to best
34 Treehouse of Horror XXXI – Season 32
This Treehouse of Horror episode features some great pop culture references, but it just doesn’t fit the usual Halloween tone at all. The first segment of the episode, “2020 Election”, takes a political turn as Homer fails to remember all the bad things Donald Trump has done throughout the years. While it wasn’t wrong in its portrayal of Homer’s stupidity and ignorance, the joke felt far too conspicuous. The worst segment in the episode by far is its parody of Russian Doll, titled “Be Wind, Rewind.” The whole thing is so ridiculous, that even Comic Book Guy struggles to find any enjoyment in the predicament the characters find themselves in.
33 Treehouse of Horror XXII – Season 23
Like the aforementioned episode, this Treehouse episode also feels widely disconnected from Halloween. Not only that, but it’s also incredibly sloppy with its references. One of the segments, “The Diving Bell and the Butterball”, is considered by many fans to be one of the worst Treehouse segments of them all. The segment parodies both The Diving Bell and the Butterfly as well as Spider-Man, although it doesn’t do anything effective with either material. Instead, it plays out as one extremely tedious fart joke. Additionally, it also pokes some fun at Avatar, recycling jokes that had already been made about the film during its release two years prior.
32 Treehouse of Horror XXIX – Season 30
While this Treehouse episode is one of the best of the ones released in the last few years, it’s a far cry from any of its predecessors. This is when it truly started to feel as though The Simpsons had started to run out of ideas for their Treehouse episodes, especially during the segment “Intrusion of the Pod-y Switchers.” It then happens for a second time during “Geriatric Park”, a parody of Jurassic Park, which The Simpsons had already had a go at in a previous season. Except that rather than making any improvements to their ideas, they feel muddled together onscreen.
31 Treehouse of Horror XXXII – Season 33
It’s amazing that The Simpsons managed to make five Treehouse segments instead of three feel empty, and yet that’s exactly what “Treehouse of Horror XXXII” did. It’s good that they acknowledged that the Halloween special needed more of a shakeup, but they completely ignored most of what fans missed. For example, like most recent Treehouse episodes, it barely parodies any horror movies. Instead, it spends its time imitating Bambi in its “Barti” segment, which is supposed to be a jab at Disney’s traumatic material. Even an interlude of Vincent Price reading a spooky poem to Maggie isn’t enough to save this episode.
30 Treehouse of Horror XXVI – Season 27
After years of wondering if Slideshow Bob would finally catch up to Bart Simpson, he manages to achieve his goal. In the episode’s first segment, “Wanted: Dead, Then Alive”, Slideshow Bob tricks Bart into the school’s music room, where he then murders him with a spear gun. This is a moment that should have felt more thrilling given the pair’s cat-and-mouse game for years, and yet it’s incredibly underwhelming. Even he gets bored himself, and brings Bart back to life multiple times over to relive his fantasy again. It doesn’t help that the rest of the segments are also incredibly dull and forgetful, making the premise feel like a missed opportunity.
29 Treehouse of Horror X – Season 11
While Treehouse of Horror has notably stepped away from horror in recent years, it made the grave mistake of doing so in the run’s 10th anniversary. In this episode, just two of the three episodes are horror-based. As a result, the episode’s first segment, “I Know What You Diddily-Iddily-Did” is easily its best, despite the fact that it feels far too clumped together as it not only spoofs slasher movies but also creature features. To make things work, the final segment, “Life’s a Glitch, Then You Die”, where several ‘boring’ celebrities are on a rocket headed towards the sun. One of these celebrities is acclaimed director Spike Lee, which feels extremely poor in taste.
28 Treehouse of Horror XVII – Season 18
A lot of “Treehouse of Horror XVII” is a bunch of jokes made in poor judgment. Of course, most shows of this likeness do the same, however, in this instance, it especially feels crass. The first segment, “Married to the Blob”, is essentially just one long fat joke. It attempts to gross the audience out, but instead recycles the same gags over and over. The second goes a bit more extreme, chucking in an eye-brow-raising amount of Jewish jokes that never land. It begins to take a bit of a turning point during the final segment, “The Day the Earth Looked Stupid”, which utilizes the show’s iconic aliens Kang and Kodos to make a relevant jab at America’s involvement in the Iraq war.
27 Treehouse of Horror XIII – Season 14
The first segment of this Treehouse episode, titled “Send in the Clones,” is practically just a running gag of Homer jokes that you could make. After Homer discovers that his new hammock clones whoever sits on it, he decides to use it to his advantage. However, what are the actual benefits of a bunch of Homer clones, really? The episode manages to slightly get better in the final segment, “The Island of Dr. Hibbert”, though it’s nothing special enough to make it stand out. Especially since this episode is the first officially titled Treehouse of Horror.
26 Treehouse of Horror XVI – Season 17
Every single segment in “Treehouse of Horror XVI” is mediocre at best. In the first segment, “B.I. Bartifical Intelligence”, the family takes in a robotic boy, David, while Bart is in a coma. Following on from that is a spoof of The Most Dangerous Game, where Mr. Burns hunts down the men in the show for sport. The episode finally decides to get in the Halloween spirit during its final segment, a parody of “The Masks” from The Twilight Zone, in which residents of Springfield turn into their costumes. At least its opening sequence is fun, with show runners expressing their frustration with the MLB playoffs for pushing back their Treehouse episodes until November.
25 Treehouse of Horror XXIII – Season 24
Yet again, it’s no surprise that a more recent Treehouse episode has moved away from horror. Albeit, its second segment, “Un-normal Activity”, does make fun of Paranormal Activity, none of the jokes feel entirely refreshing, nor do they add anything that the films already hadn’t. It makes it worse that this segment is sandwiched between two very un-scary and un-funny ones, with its final one completely butchering Back to the Future. Given the fact that The Simpsons has had no issue with using Homer and Bart’s father-son feud to tell a good story, and yet in this segment, their behavior feels incredibly out of character for the both of them.
24 Treehouse of Horror XXX – Season 31
The first segment of “Treehouse of Horror XXX” is by far one of the most visually stunning to date. A spoof of Netflix’s Stranger Things, it does a genuinely good job of creating Springfield’s Upside Down. However, that’s where the enjoyability of the sequence ends, to be replaced by an abundance of overused ’80s references. Again, as a running theme here, the second segment, “Heaven Swipes Wipe,” pays no attention to the fact it’s supposed to be a Halloween special, in a parody of Heaven Can Wait. At least the final segment’s attempt at a Shape of Water spoof was bearable, showcasing a blossoming romance between Aunt Selma and Kang.
23 Treehouse of Horror XIV – Season 15
It’s a shame that this Treehouse episode is fairly low on this list, especially since it features one of the best segments of them all. In “Reaper Madness”, Homer becomes the Grim Reaper, where he dutifully takes on his predecessor’s role until he finds out that the next soul to claim on his list is Marge. It’s an incredibly unique segment, and one that helps to bring the Treehouse episodes back to their roots once more. However, it completely falls flat after that. Even its Frankenstein (1931) parody doesn’t bring it back from death, with the episode wasting some potentially incredible ideas.
22 Treehouse of Horror XXI – Season 22
The first segment of this Treehouse episode, “War and Pieces,” feels as though the writers went around the room making board game puns to each other, but forgot to come up with a coherent plot to tie them all together. It plays out as a spoof of Jumanji, although it focuses on various different board games rather than just the one, with the entire thing feeling like a gigantic mess. It also has a go at a Twilight parody, in which Bella is replaced by Lisa and Edward is replaced by Daniel Radcliffe. Given Twilight‘s YA audience, the jokes aren’t good enough to be appreciated by a younger crowd, whose own memes of the film far surpass the episode’s segment.
21 Treehouse of Horror XII – Season 13
Some fans of The Simpsons might be shocked to see this episode so low on this list, however, it is primarily due to the fact that its first segment contains an unnecessary slur. Obviously, this is partly due to the fact that the episode is dated, however, the best episodes of Treehouse maintain their relevancy without being overly offensive. Even without it, the episode is still unable to stand on its own two feet, with a majority of it feeling incredibly weak in comparison to others. However, it does redeem itself with its hilarious depiction of modern smart houses.
20 Treehouse of Horror XVIII – Season 19
In this Treehouse episode, The Simpsons plays around with E.T. in the segment “E.T., Go Home”, which still isn’t enough to save it. Kodos lands in the Simpsons’ backyard, where he befriends Bart, though he drops so many hints about not being evil that the gag quickly becomes unfunny. The episode also parodies the non-horror Mr. and Mrs. Smith, which essentially plays out exactly as you think it would. Its only slight redemption is its final segment, “Heck House”, which is only because it actually has spooky elements.
19 Not It – Season 34
This would have been a great Treehouse episode, had it been released in 1990, 2017, or 2019 instead. While creating a spoof a few years after its relevancy isn’t always a bad thing, it is when you do nothing inventive with the material. In this episode, Krusty the Clown is the new Pennywise, except he’s now called Krusto. The episode plays out in the same way as the novel and films, with one timeline in the 1990s of the characters as kids and another in 2017 of them as adults. Unlike other times The Simpsons have tackled work by Stephen King, “Not It” fails to demonstrate that it actually cares about any of his stories.
18 Treehouse of Horror XIX – Season 20
This Treehouse entry could have been a perfect spooky addition with its segment, “It’s the Grand Pumpkin, Milhouse”, which follows the myth of the Grand Pumpkin among the children of Springfield. However, it’s easy to lose interest in this segment when the first one was centered on being a pointless Transformers spoof and the second is a cameo party. It isn’t terrible by any means, but it also isn’t going to stick with fans after watching it.
17 Treehouse of Horror XXVII – Season 28
Again, this episode departs from a Halloween theme in order to poke fun at films like The Hunger Games and Mad Max: Fury Road. While it’s definitely not one of the worst Treehouse episodes in recent years, it’s definitely one of the most forgetful. It’s expected that not all the Treehouse episodes will fare well against others, however, more could be expected from what was the show’s 600th episode. It should have been a moment for The Simpsons to have done something different to mark such a significant milestone, and yet it just felt sloppy and as though they’d forgotten it themselves.
16 Treehouse of Horror XV – Season 16
The opening to this Treehouse episode features Kang and Kodos making a joke about the episode being postponed until after Halloween, which is ironic given that the episode barely has any horror-based segments at all. Its closest comes in the form of its second (and strongest) segment, “Four Beheadings and a Funeral”, which is a parody of the Jack the Ripper film, From Hell. If you can get past the terrible British accents, it’s a nice nod to the Whitechapel murders and Sherlock Holmes. However, this is about where any enjoyment ends, as the other two segments are incredibly forgettable.
15 Treehouse of Horror IX – Season 10
This is perhaps the first Treehouse episode on this list that isn’t truly bad, but it still lacks any ambition. What really lets it down is that it’s far too oversaturated with celebrity cameos, which indicates that the writers didn’t feel like putting too much effort into any of the segments. However, its creativity really shines with its second segment, “The Terror of Tiny Toon.” In it, Bart and Lisa are sucked into the world of Itchy and Scratchy, where they are then hunted down by the duo. It also has an incredibly fun opening sequence, in which Freddy Krueger and Jason Voorhees are waiting for the Simpsons on their iconic sofa.