These are The Simpsons' special annual Halloween Episodes. Earlier installments have the onscreen title of The Simpsons Halloween Special. Every season but the first one has had one.The specials are anthologies of three short stories with a horror theme (there are exceptions, though, simply for the sake of Negative Continuity), all Played for Laughs. The first episode had a framing story of Bart, Lisa and Maggie telling scary stories in their treehouse, hence the name. The next three had different framing stories, but from the fifth onward, they were cut because of time constraints and the fact that the writers couldn't think of any good framing devices for the stories.Many of the tales feature Affectionate Parodies of contemporary Horror Films. Others are inspired by more traditional horror — there is even a Dramatic Reading of Edgar Allan Poe's "The Raven" in the first "Treehouse" episode.An annual Treehouse of Horror comic book is also published by Bongo Comics, and is considerablyDarker and Edgier.
Abnormal Limb Rotation Range: Done in "Treehouse of Horror XVI", in a parody of / Shout-Out to The Exorcist. A possessed Homer climbs on the wall and ceiling, and rotates his head around 180 degrees. When Marge says she'll call Mr. Burns that he can't go to work, he falls back on the bed in success, with his head still backwards.
In "Treehouse Of Horror I", Maggie turns her head around 360 degrees while looking for a knife.
Adults Are Useless: Invoked in "Treehouse of Horror V" where Bart and Lisa tell Marge about the cannibalism going on in their school, Marge promptly dismisses them telling them that she cannot fight all their battles- and they should forcefully scold the teachers to not eat them. It doesn't work.
Aesop Collateral Damage: Parodied in a "Treehouse of Horror" episode where the entire family suffered painful transformations all because Homer insulted a gypsy woman. All Homer had to do was apologize, and he would've resurrected his dead son.
All Just a Dream: A few stories end with it being revealed to be a dream or fantasy of one of the characters. The "Treehouse of Horror II" stories were explicitly set-up as nightmares that Lisa, Bart, and Homer have as a result of eating too much Halloween candy. Though Homer's leads into an Or Is It? moment.
Anal Probing: The short "Citizen Kang" from "Treehouse of Horror VII" saw Homer abducted by Kang and Kodos. Homer's reaction to this is to say, "I suppose you want to probe me. Well, you might as well get it over with" and immediately drop his pants and moon his alien captors. Kang and Kodos respond to this in shock horror, begging, "Stop! We have reached the limits of what rectal probing can teach us!"
Moe: Okay, this concludes this year's Halloween show. We hope you had as much fun watching our show as the Koreans did animating it. But there's one group for whom every day is Halloween. I'm talking about adult illiterates. For them, trying to read the morning newspaper is more terrifying than any goblin, ghoul, spook or spirit.
Lenny: So won't you please donate a children's book or something?
Dennis Rodman: Together, we can make reading a slam dunk.
Moe: Dennis Rodman, what are you doing here?
Dennis Rodman: Working off a speeding ticket. Happy Halloween, everybody!
And the Rest: In one "Treehouse of Horror" episode, Homer believes he's the last man alive and mourns each member of the "main" family and "all the rest", which includes the pets, Maggie and the TV.
Anthropomorphic Zig Zag: In the "Treehouse of Horror XXIII" segment "The Greatest Story Ever Holed," Snowball II sits on a throne in human fashion with her legs stretched out on Ralph Wiggum's head. She is a Nearly Normal Animal cat otherwise.
Anyone Can Die: Played for Laughs. It's mostly the supporting cast, however. The Simpsons family themselves mostly only die when the the plot needed them to. Its usually happening to Homer. Everyone else is fair game in the Cold Opening, however.
When Springfield is nuked by France, Homer danced naked in a church.
In the Y2K story, Homer didn't fix his computer and everything collapses: chaos ensues and widespread looting begins.
Army of The Ages: Bart uses a De Lorean time machine and changed history where Marge married Artie Ziff instead of Homer, and are rich. Homer tries to counter it with an army of Homers across history. They all get easily beaten up by Bart and Artie.
Arson, Murder, and Jaywalking: in Hell Toupee, Snake is sentenced to the electric chair under the 'three strikes' law. The three strikes in question are torching an orphanage, blowing up a bus full of nuns (it was self-defense), and smoking a cigarette in a no-smoking zone.
Brain Food: The zombies in "Dial Z for Zombie" (part of "Treehouse of Horror III") crave delicious brains. Amusingly, they turn down Homer because apparently, he has no brains. He actually is offended by this and starts yelling at the zombies over it.
Breaking and Bloodsucking: In the parody of Bram Stoker's Dracula. Bart and his friends are flying outside Lisa's window, telling her the silly perks of being a vampire. Bart then tells her she has no choice, smashes through, and is about to bite her when Homer walks in and warns him about biting his sister.
Censor Decoy: There's a Fox Network censor in the teaser for TOH VIII, whose name happens to be Fox Censor. The unintentional effect was that he became a literal censor decoy, as the folks doing the DVD commentary admit to a very violent opening act.
In the "Nightmare Cafeteria" part of Treehouse of Horror V, Springfield Elementary is suffering from both overcrowding in detention and food budget cuts. To solve both problems, the faculty starts eating the children one by one and sending the kids to "detention" for even minor infractions to process them as cattle.
The Salem Witch trial parody in another Halloween episode had Marge and her sisters, being witches for the act, take up the Flanders idea that they would eat children. They even ate a bunch of kids off-screen before they reached the Flanders.
A similar thing happens in Treehouse of Horror XIV when Lisa ends up changing the appearances of Homer, Marge, Bart and Maggie, eventually getting to a point where they're their normal selves, but they spin hula hoops around.
Consolation Backfire: In an episode, after an army of Homer clones destroys Old Gil's farm, Old Gil sighs and says "At least I still have my health." Cue the Homers eating him alive. His skeleton is left behind to say "Awwww..."
Contrived Clumsiness: Bart uses the "My finger slipped" excuse when Lisa's science experiment turns into a miniature civilization, and he keeps crushing buildings in it.
Couch Gag: The first few specials(3-10) featured a darker spin, such as the family being zombies, the family shown dead and hanging from nooses (with Maggie being barely alive enough to suck on her pacifier), or dropping dead in front of the Grim Reaper who was waiting for them on the couch... One time they didn't make it to the couch at all (which was for the best since Freddy Krueger and Jason Voorhees were waiting on the couch for them).
Covered in Mud: In a Treehouse of Horror episode parodying Orson Welles' The War of the Worlds broadcast: Springfield is terrified of being invaded by Martians. Sideshow Mel tells everyone to take off their clothes and wallow in the mud. That way the Martians will leave them alone, not realizing that they're people.
Creative Closing Credits: "Treehouse of Horror V" has the Simpson family (who has been turned inside out by toxic gas) singing a Broadway-style song. In fact, nearly all of the "Treehouse of Horror" episodes have credit gags in the form of Halloween-ized staff names.
Cruel Twist Ending: Happened in a lot of older stories, such as Terror at 5 1/2 Feet ( Bart manages to keep the Gremlin from crashing the bus but gets institutionalized for his efforts, with the Gremlin coming back to torment him) and Bart Simpson's Dracula ( The Simpsons stake Count Burns in the heart but Marge turns out to be the head vampire and the family attacks the somehow still-human Lisa).
Crying Wolf: "The Day the Earth Looked Stupid" has the residents of Springfield listening to Orson Welles' War of the Worlds radio broadcast in 1938 and panicking. Then they learn it was only a hoax. Then Kang and Kodos launch a real invasion, reasoning correctly that the townspeople will dimiss it as another hoax.
In particular, Treehouse of Horror IV and V fell into this, a conscious choice by (then) showrunner David Mirkin, who claimed that Halloween specials should be both scary and funny. Starting from VI and onward, the specials, while still having gory moments, weren't quite as intense.
Deal with the Devil: In Treehouse of Horror IV, Homer sells his soul to Devil!Flanders for a donut.
In Treehouse of Horror XXIII, Marge made a deal with Devil!Moe back when she was a kid to give her favorite child to him in the next 30 years in exchange for leaving her sisters alone. However, when that day comes, Marge is too attached to them to let any of them go. Homer then offers a compromise...by doing a threesome with Devil!Moe and another devil.
Deliberately Monochrome: The "King Homer" segment in "Treehouse of Horror III" (a parody of King Kong) and the long segment Dial M For Murder or press # to Return to the Main Menu in Treehouse of Horror XX.
The Doll Episode: In "Treehouse of Horror III", Homer gets Bart a cursed Krusty doll from a Chinese man's curio shop filled with cursed and weird objects from around the world.
But it comes with a free frogurt!note That's good!
The frogurt is also cursed.note That's bad.
But you get your choice of topping!note That's good!
The toppings contain potassium benzoate. note ...That's bad.note Can I go now?
And the doll wasn't even cursed, despite coming from an occult curio shop run by a strange Chinese man. The doll had a "good/evil" switch on its back that someone flipped on "evil".
Mr. Burns: (as The Cryptkeeper) Hello, boils and ghouls! I am The Cryptkeeper, or should I say "master of scare-a-monies"! Smithers: Hahaha, priceless, sir. You made the word "ceremonies" frightening. Mr. Burns: I know what I did!
Double Speak: Parodied in an episode, where, in a Strangers on a Train parody, Bart and Lisa agree to "prank" each others' teachers and "ding-dong-ditch" them. Of course, by prank, Bart means kill, and by ding-dong-ditch, he means throw the ding-dong in a ditch.
Burns of course parodies the '92 version of him in Bart Simpson's Dracula. Drac also shows up at the beginning of Treehouse of Horror XX (dressed up as Iron Man at one point) with the wolfman, Frankenstein's monster and the mummy.
Driven to Suicide: Professor Frink and Marge in Treehouse of Horror XXI. Bart in Treehouse of Horror XII.
Principal Skinner: "I've got a gut feeling Uter's around here somewhere. In fact, isn't there a little Uter in all of us? In fact, you could say that we ate Uter, and he's in our stomachs right now! ...wait, scratch that one."
In another tale, "Hell Toupée," Snake is sent to the electric chair for smoking inside the Kwik-E-Mart (it was part of a "three-strikes" offense stipulation). After Snake's body has been burned, Homer buys Snake's hair and wears it as a wig to cover his baldness. What he didn't realize was that Snake's soul was still inside the wig, and once the wig was on the soul gained access to Homer's brain and overrode his personality, forcing Homer to take revenge on all the witnesses who got Snake sentenced to death - including Bart. Homer, finding the murdered bodies of Apu and Moe and not realizing that Snake was behind the killings (and, more to the point, that he is himself Snake when the wig is on), promises to protect Bart by boarding up the door to his room. "There," he reassures Bart, "now nobody can get in." Then Snake takes over his mind and he sneers: "Or out."
Fog of Doom: "Treehouse of Horror V" ends with a fog entering the house and turning the Simpsons inside-out.
Gainax Ending: On occasion such as Bart Simpson's Dracula where the vampire family go to attack Lisa then suddenly do a parody of A Charlie Brown Christmas and I've Grown a Costume on Your Face where Maggie turns the whole town into pacifiers.
God Guise: Happens to Lisa in one Treehouse of Horror episode. An accident with her science fair project creates a race of miniature people, who think she is God for stopping Bart from destroying them.
Gorn: The annual "Treehouse of Horror" series has this in a many installments.
In a Treehouse of Horror segment Professor Frink kills his father this way as the only organs he didn't have were testicles.
In another Treehouse of Horror, when attempting to stake the Vampire-Burns, Homers nailed him in the crotch first, before Lisa corrected him.
Gypsy Curse: The premise of "Hex and the City" (part of "Treehouse of Horror XII").
Halloween Episode: The annual "Treehouse of Horror" episodes, every year since 1990. The creators have mentioned that they actually wish they could stop doing these, or at least wish they could change the anthology format, but that it became such an iconic part of the show that they felt they had no choice but to continue. They're Played for Laughs... most of the time.
Oddly enough, due to the Fox network's commitment to televising baseball's World Series, few of the "Treehouse" episodes since 2000 have aired anywhere near Halloween itself. For most of the 2000s they were scheduled after Halloween, in November; since 2010 they've typically aired earlier in October.
Homer also tries to fly back to the house, but he ends up falling down and (possibly) also dies from falling from a great height.
He's Got a Weapon!: In one of the early episodes, Kang runs past in the background yelling, "He's got a board with a nail in it!" He's being pursued by Moe, who does indeed have a board with a nail in it.
I Have a Family: Parodied and subverted in "Treehouse of Horror VII", when Homer first meets Kang and Kodos:
Homer: Don't hurt me! I have a wife and kids; eat them!
I'm a Humanitarian: A number of the stories revolve around many people being eaten. These include portraying Homer as a man-eating giant blob (and as a parody of The Blob), and another episode where due to budget cuts and the rise in delinquent students, the staff decides to use the bad kids as a new food source. Treehouse of Horror XX features a play of Moe using Homer's blood as an ingredient in a delectable beer.
Played for laughs in an episode parodying The Most Dangerous Game, where Homer suggests they resort to cannibalism after a 'few minutes' of being hunted, even though there's fruit all around them. Also in another episode where Marge is a witch and she and Patty & Selma decide they're going to eat Springfield's children as revenge for casting Marge out. At first it appears that Flanders has persuaded them that inventing trick or treating is preferable to doing so... then Marge comments she wishes they hadn't filled up so much on other kids before getting to the Flanders before burping, at which the three fly away.
Incriminating Indifference: Parodied in Treehouse of Horror X, after Marge accidentally runs Ned Flanders over, resulting in his death. At his funeral, Homer warns the family that appearing too sad might seem suspicious, so they enter the wake with bright smiles.
Kill the Poor: In the Treehouse Of Horror XVII short "Married To The Blob," Mayor Quimby and the town of Springfield reach a compromise with Homer, who has gained an insatiable appetite after becoming The Blob: They keep Homer inside a new "homeless shelter," and any vagrants who enter are immediately fed to him. In a very twisted way, this is effectively supposed to kill two birds with one stone.
Homer, as the Grim Reaper, uses a bum to demonstrate reaping for Lisa's class on Career Day in TOH XIV.
The Maker: Lisa Simpson did a school science experiment which created microscopic 'life'. note It was done by putting a baby tooth into a bowl of soda, with Bart giving the tooth an electric shock from static cling.
Mayan Doomsday: The basis of XXIII's cold opening. It turned out it happened because the Mayans sacrificed the wrong person (they intended to sacrifice their own Homer, but their own Moe ended up sacrificed instead).
Mundane Wish: In the second Treehouse of Horror, Homer gets a monkey's paw good for four wishes. The first wish is used by Maggie, who wishes for a new pacifier. The second is used by Bart, who wishes for the Simpsons to be rich and famous. Third is Lisa, who wishes for World Peace. (Homer: "Lisa, that was very selfish of you!") After aliens Take Over the World because nobody knows how to fight back (due to the world peace thing), Homer decides to use the final wish by getting very specific so it won't backfire.
Homer: "I wish for a turkey sandwich, on rye bread, with lettuce and mustard, and, and I don't want any zombie turkeys, I don't want to turn into a turkey myself, and I don't want any other weird surprises. You got it?"
[The monkey's paw closes its finger in understanding. A turkey sandwich materializes. Homer takes it.]
Homer: "Hey!" *digs in* "Not bad. Nice, hot mustard. Good bread. The turkey's a little dry." *In realization* "The turkey's a little dry! Oh, foe, the cursed teeth! What demon from the depths of hell created thee!?"
Nothing Is Scarier: Invoked in the re-telling of "The Raven" (when the protagonist finds "darkness there and nothing more" behind his chamber door) - only to be promptly dismissed.
Bart: Y'know what would've been scarier than nothing? Lisa: What? Bart:Anything!
Not in the Face!: The "Treehouse of Horror XV" segment, "The Ned Zone", has Flanders seeing a future in which he kills Homer.
Lisa: Well, you can't fight fate. But if you must shoot our father, please remember our family motto, "Not in the face."
Ominous Fog: The short featuring werewolf-Flanders parodies the hell out of this trope. "Guess I forgot to put the fog lights in!" Also, the short song with the fog that turned people inside out featured some Ominous Fog.
The Operators Must Be Crazy: In "Treehouse of Horror III," Marge tries to let the toy company know a Krusty Doll is attempting to drown her husband as she speaks. She holds and gets a song about how much fun it is to be clown.
Opium Den: In "Four Beheadings and a Funeral" (part of Treehouse of Horror XV).
Parody Magic Spell: In one episode, Bart reads a spell from a magic book that's basically a list of odd brand names and famous surnames.
Precrime Arrest: Milhouse goes on a Roaring Rampage of Revenge against students who wronged him in the past. When he's about to humiliate a kid, who says today is their first day at the school, Milhouse says the kid will do something bad to him in the future, so he's still going to need revenge. ("It's called pre-venge!")
Prophecy Twist: Ned thinks in The Ned Zone that he must avoid his scary vision about Homer, instead he's forced to shoot Homer to stop him causing a nuclear meltdown-which then happens anyway. Also see, For Want of a Nail.
Put Off Their Food: Parodied in "Treehouse of Horror IX". In the "Starship Poopers" segment, Homer and Lisa lose their appetite after seeing Maggie's fang. Homer then suddenly grabs Lisa's food and exclaims, "Wait, mine came back."
Real World Episode: Homer goes through a mysterious portal behind the bookcase and ends up doing this at the end of the seventh-season "Treehouse of Horror VI."
Running Gag: Each story in "Treehouse of Horror V" features Groundskeeper Willie getting killed with an axe to the back after saying he'll help.
Snorky: [in high pitched voice]Snorky ... talk ... man ...[clears throat and reverts to deep male voice] I'm sorry, let me start over. Eons ago, dolphins lived on the land. Then your ancestors drove us into the sea, where we suffered for millions of years. I, King Snorky, hereby banish all humans to the sea!
In Bart Simpson's Dracula, when Bart and Lisa are running up the stairs to escape Burn's vampire minions. Bart comes across a lever for a "Super Happy Fun Slide". He lampshades he knows its a trap, but figures what the hey and pulls it. Leading to him sliding back down into the vampire lair, getting captured, bitten and turned. Homer nearly does the same thing later in the episode, but Lisa stops him.
Bart: I know I shouldn't, but when will I be here again?
In another early Treehouse of Horror episode, the aliens' cookbook "How to Cook For Forty Humans" caused Lisa to think they were going to eat The Simpsons, first thinking the dust covered title was "How to Cook Humans" until Kang blew some dust off to reveal that it said "How to Cook For Humans" until Lisa blew more dust off revealing "How to Cook Forty Humans" before the final dust was blew off revealing its full title. Unfortunately, Lisa's distrust ruined their chances of being pampered by the alien civilization and they were returned to Earth.
Sdrawkcab Alias: In the credits of ''Treehouse of Horror VII, Dan Castellaneta's name is spelled backwards.
Silence, You Fool!: TOH VII segment, "Citizen Kang", has Kang (or is it Kodos?) say this trope, TOH VIII segment, "The HΩmega Man", has Mutant Sideshow Mel saying this trope (subverted in that Mel quickly follows with: "...You're talking too loud."), TOH X has Maggie(in a different voice) say this to Lisa in the episode's couch gag, and near the end of the TOH XI first segment, "G-G-Ghost D-D-Dad", has the devil say "Silence, Sinner!" to ghost Homer.
Homer offers himself to a zombie horde so that his family can escape. He's ultimately rejected, as he doesn't have a brain for the zombies to eat.
Inverted in another episode: "Don't eat me! I have a wife and kids. Eat them!"
Talking with Signs: Seen in "Nightmare on Evergreen Terrace" (part of Treehouse of Horror VI"): After seeing Groundskeeper Willie (playing the role of Freddy Kruger) for the first time, Bart holds up a sign that reads: "Eep."
In VI, when Homer tries to describe the dimension he's trapped in by asking "Did any of you see the movie TRON?" everyone in the room replies "no" — with the exception of Chief Wiggum, who then immediately tries to backpedal and claim he hasn't seen it either.
The Teaser: The first two and the fifth had homages to Frankenstein (1931), with Marge addressing the audience. These Cold Openings were common place after the framing stories were dropped, though each varies in length and characters.
Thirteen Is Unlucky: The Treehouse Of Horror story "Nightmare on Evergreen Terrace" starts "on the thirteenth hour of the thirteenth day of the thirteen month" with a meeting to discuss the misprinted calendars bought by the town.
Homer: Lousy Smarch weather!
Too Dumb to Live: Happens from time to time, such as Bart pulling the switch for the "Super Fun Happy Slide" leading right back to Count Burns' chamber, the entire US still voting for Kang or Kodos after Homer exposes them (poor Ross Perot), permitting them to take over the world, or Homer plunging to his death (with the rest of his clones) in a gorge, in an effort to catch enormous doughnuts.
To Serve Man: Parodied and Zig-Zagged in "Hungry Are the Damned." The cookbook's title is revealed to be not How to Cook Humans but How to Cook for Forty Humans. (Matt Groening wanted the full title to end ...and Then Eat Them, but was outvoted.) Kang and Kodos, upset at Lisa's accusation, returns the Simpsons to Earth.
Touch Telepathy: In an episode Ned spontaneously develops the ability to see a vision of how someone will die when touching them.
The Unpronouncable: In the first Treehouse of Horror special, one of the aliens remarks that in order to pronounce his name correctly, he'd have to rip out their tongue.
Unrealistic Black Hole: In Treehouse of Horror XXIII. The mini black hole created by the particle accelerator is actually way too big. A black hole with the mass of the Earth would only be about 1/3 of an inch in radius.
Vampire Monarch: In a parody of Bram Stoker's Dracula, in order to de-vampirize Bart they have to kill the head vampire. Lisa figures Burns must be it since he bit Bart. So the family sneak back into his castle and stake him. However...
Lisa: (At the end of the end when the family reveals they're vampires) What?! No, we killed Mr. Burns!
Homer: You have to kill the head vampire.
Lisa: (Gasps and points) You're the head vampire?
Marge: No, I'm the head vampire. (Laughs manically)
Marge: Well I do have a life outside this house, you know.
Wacky Cravings: In the 'In the Na'Vi' segment of "Treehouse of Horror XXII", Kang reveals that pregnancy is particularly difficult for females of his species as their planet has no pickles and their only ice cream is butterbrickle.
Wasteful Wishing: In the monkey's paw segment of "Treehouse of Horror II", Homer uses his wish by asking for a turkey sandwich. He regrets it when he realizes the turkey's a little dry.
Parodied in the "Treehouse of Horror XV" segment "The Ned Zone": When Homer hears about Flanders's ability to predict peoples' deaths, his eyes turn into skulls, then dollar signs, then American flags and finally a dog chasing a cat before his normal pupils return.
Jimbo: The classics called! They want their costumes back!
Yank the Dog's Chain: The ending of XI's "G-G-Ghost D-D-Dad". With one minute left to perform a good deed in order to get into Heaven, Homer saves a baby from a runaway carriage. Unfortunately...
Homer: Did you see that?! I did the deed! Open up! Saint Peter: Oh, I'm so sorry. I wasn't looking. Homer: Hey, I thought you guys could see everything! Saint Peter: No, you're thinking of Santa Claus. Homer: Well, I'll be damned. Saint Peter: I'm afraid so, yes.
You Can't Fight Fate: In "The Ned Zone" from XV, Ned gains the power to foresee peoples' deaths after being hit in the head with Homer's bowling ball, and has a vision of himself shooting Homer to death. He believes he's managed to stop this, only to have a vision of Homer self-destructing the power plant's core and destroying Springfield. In the process of stopping this second vision, he ends up causing the original vision to happen, but Homer still manages to blow up the plant anyway.
Your Brain Won't Be Much of a Meal: In "Treehouse of Horror III", a zombie horde clamoring for "Braaaains" inspects Homer's head, then abandon him in disgust. Most ridiculously, the zombie taps Homer on the head and a very hollow sound is heard before it moves along.
Your Head Asplode: In "Life's a Glitch, Then You Die" of "Treehouse of Horror X", Homer and Bart realize they're on a rocket that's heading into the sun with various celebrity has-beens. Rather than spend another five minutes with Rosie O'Donnell and Tom Arnold, they eject themselves into space, where their heads swell up as they give a blissful sigh of relief and then pop.
Your Mom: In "Starship Poopers" (part of "Treehouse of Horror IX"), Kang delivers one of these to Homer while on The Jerry Springer Show.
Kang: Well (bleep) hyperbolic parabaloid (bleep) yo mama!
Zombie Apocalypse: Two Treehouse of Horror stories have this: one where Bart uses an occult spell book to try and reanimate Snowball I ("Dial Z for Zombies" in III) and another where Krusty Burger's latest sandwich turns the people into "munchers" (cannibalistic zombies; "Don't Have a Cow, Mankind" in XX).