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Western Animation / Treehouse of Horror

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"Hello, everyone. You know, Halloween is a very strange holiday. Personally, I don't understand it. Kids worshiping ghosts, pretending to be devils. Things on TV that are completely inappropriate for young viewers. Things like the following half hour! Nothing seems to bother my kids, but tonight's show, which I totally wash my hands of, is really scary. So, if you have sensitive children, maybe you should tuck them into bed early tonight instead of writing us angry letters tomorrow. Thanks for your attention."
Marge Simpson, introducing the first Treehouse of Horror.

These are The Simpsons' special annual Halloween Episodes. Earlier installments have the onscreen title of The Simpsons Halloween Special. Every season after the first (which premiered in December 1989 with a Christmas Episode) 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 Device of the Simpson children telling scary stories in their treehouse, hence the name. The next three had different framing stories (respectively, Homer, Bart, and Lisa having nightmares after eating too much candy; telling scary stories at a Halloween party; and a parody of Night Gallery), 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 and The Twilight Zone (1959) episodes. 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. As one can expect, the stories tend to lean more into fantasy and horror than one would find in the (relatively) mundane series proper, and the plots will often take full advantage of the fact that the episodes exist out of canon to kill off major characters during the course of the story, sometimes repeatedly.

In 2001, Fox Interactive, Software Creations, and THQ Inc. released The Simpsons: Night of the Living Treehouse of Horror for the Game Boy Color, which saw the Simpsons going through levels based off of the classic segments.

An annual comic book, The Simpsons' Treehouse of Horror, was also published by Bongo Comics during their existence, and is considerably Darker and Edgier.

Not to be confused with Halloween of Horror, the only canonical Halloween Episode of The Simpsons.

Recap pages
  1. Treehouse of Horror, featuring "Bad Dream House", "Hungry Are the Damned", and "The Raven".
  2. Treehouse of Horror II, featuring "Lisa's Nightmare", "Bart's Nightmare", and "Homer's Nightmare".note 
  3. Treehouse of Horror III, featuring "Clown Without Pity", "King Homer", and "Dial "Z" for Zombies".
  4. Treehouse of Horror IV, featuring "The Devil and Homer Simpson", "Terror at 5½ Feet", and "Bart Simpson's Dracula".
  5. Treehouse of Horror V, featuring "The Shinning", "Time and Punishment", and "Nightmare Cafeteria".
  6. Treehouse of Horror VI, featuring "Attack of the 50-Foot Eyesores", "Nightmare on Evergreen Terrace", and "Homer³".
  7. Treehouse of Horror VII, featuring "The Thing and I", "The Genesis Tub", and "Citizen Kang".
  8. Treehouse of Horror VIII, featuring "The HΩmega Man", "Fly Vs. Fly", and "Easy-Bake Coven".
  9. Treehouse of Horror IX, featuring "Hell Toupée", "The Terror of Tiny Toon", and "Starship Poopers".
  10. Treehouse of Horror X, featuring "I Know What You Diddily-Iddily-Did", "Desperately Xeeking Xena", and "Life's a Glitch, Then You Die".
  11. Treehouse of Horror XI, featuring "G-G-Ghost D-D-Dad", "Scary Tales Can Come True", and "The Night of the Dolphin".
  12. Treehouse of Horror XII, featuring "Hex and the City", "House of Whacks", and "Wiz Kids".
  13. Treehouse of Horror XIII, featuring "Send in the Clones", "The Fright to Creep and Scare Harms", and "The Island of Dr. Hibbert".
  14. Treehouse of Horror XIV, featuring "Reaper Madness", "Frinkenstein", and "Stop the World, I Want to Goof Off".
  15. Treehouse of Horror XV, featuring "The Ned Zone", "Four Beheadings and a Funeral", and "In the Belly of the Boss".
  16. Treehouse of Horror XVI, featuring "B.I.: Bartificial Intelligence", "Survival of the Fattest", and "I've Grown a Costume on Your Face".
  17. Treehouse of Horror XVII, featuring "Married to the Blob", "You Gotta Know When to Golem", and "The Day the Earth Looked Stupid".
  18. Treehouse of Horror XVIII, featuring "E.T., Go Home", "Mr. and Mrs. Simpson", and "Heck House".
  19. Treehouse of Horror XIX, featuring "Untitled Robot Parody", "How to Get Ahead in Dead-Vertising", and "It's the Grand Pumpkin, Milhouse".
  20. Treehouse of Horror XX, featuring "Dial 'M' for Murder or Press # to Return to Main Menu", "Don't Have a Cow, Mankind", and "There's No Business Like Moe Business".
  21. Treehouse of Horror XXI, featuring "War and Pieces", "Master and Cadaver", and "Tweenlight".
  22. Treehouse of Horror XXII, featuring "The Diving Bell and Butterball", "Dial D for Diddily", and "In the Na'Vi".
  23. Treehouse of Horror XXIII, featuring "The Greatest Story Ever Holed", "Unnormal Activity", and "Bart & Homer's Excellent Adventure".
  24. Treehouse of Horror XXIV, featuring "Oh, the Places You'll D'oh", "Dead and Shoulders", and "Freaks No Geeks".
  25. Treehouse of Horror XXV, featuring "School Is Hell", "A Clockwork Yellow", and "The Others".
  1. Treehouse of Horror XXVI, featuring "Wanted: Dead, Then Alive", "Homerzilla", and "Telepaths of Glory".
  2. Treehouse of Horror XXVII, the 600th episode of the series, featuring "Dry Hard", "BFF R.I.P", and "Moefinger".
  3. Treehouse of Horror XXVIII, featuring "The Exor-Sis", "Cora-Lisa", and "MMM... Homer".
  4. Treehouse of Horror XXIX, featuring "Intrusion of the Pod-Y Snatchers", "Multiplisaty", and "Geriatric Park".
  5. Treehouse of Horror XXX, the 666th episode of the series, featuring "Danger Things", "Heaven Swipes Right", and "When Hairy met Slimy".
  1. Treehouse of Horror XXXI, featuring "Toy Gory", "Into the Homer-verse", and "Be Nine, Rewind".
  2. Treehouse of Horror XXXII, featuring "Barti", "Bong Joon Ho's This Side of Parasite", "Nightmare on Elm Tree", "Poetic Interlude", and "Dead Ringer".
  1. Treehouse of Horror XXXIII, featuring "The Pookadook", "Death Tome", and "Simpsonsworld"
  2. Treehouse of Horror XXXIV, featuring "Wild Barts Can't Be Token", "Ei8ht", and "Lout Break"

This series provides examples of:

  • 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.
  • Actor Allusion: The "Treehouse of Horror II" segment "Bart's Nightmare" parodies the episode "It's a Good Life" from The Twilight Zone (1959), with Bart cast in the role the bratty, powerful child Anthony had in the original story. Nancy Cartwright previously appeared in the "It's a Good Life" segment from Twilight Zone: The Movie, playing a sister of Anthony who ends up telported into a cartoon in TV much like Bart did to Homer when he refuses to change the channel while watching a football game.
  • Adaptational Villainy: Frequent; depending on the requirements of the short you'll see Skinner go from Dean Bitterman to a student-eating cannibal, Bart's troublemaking ramped up to Enfant Terrible-level criminality or Marge as a Wicked Witch.
  • 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, but since none of the karma actually befalls him, he doesn't learn anything.
  • Alien Abduction: Multiple shorts featuring Kang and Kodos show them kidnapping humans, including the whole Simpson family in the first "Treehouse of Horror" episode.
  • Alien Invasion: Some shorts with Kang and Kodos show them trying to conquer Earth as well, although just how competent they are at it varies.
  • Alternate Universe: None of the scenarios are considered canon.
  • 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.
  • Ambiguous Clone Ending: Averted in "Send in the Clones". The last of Homer's copies is surprisingly blunt when revealing the original was killed by Lisa's plan.
    Marge: Then the real Homer—!
    Homer's Clone: First over cliff.
  • 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!"
  • An Arm and a Leg: In the cold opening of "Treehouse of Horror XXII", Homer does this to most of his limbs after his arm gets trapped under a boulder, in a direct parody of Aron Ralston's plight. This ends in total Nightmare Fuel...
  • And Knowing Is Half the Battle: In "Treehouse of Horror XVI":
    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 Then John Was a Zombie: A few stories end with the Simpsons family still stuck in their monster-forms.
  • 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. It's usually happening to Homer. Everyone else is fair game in The Teaser, however.
  • Apocalypse Anarchy:
    • 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 DeLorean 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.
    • The 'Bus full of Nuns' line was even the original Trope Namer for this trope.
    • From "If I Only Had a Brain", when Mr. Burns' robot collapses on him;
      Mr. Burns: "Every bone... shattered, Organs... leaking vial fluids, a slight headache, loss of appetite. Smithers, I'm going to die."
    • Harry Shearer's name in many of the end credits is this, as he often forgoes a Halloween credit and just uses his real name.
  • The Artifact:
    • The Three Shorts format came because of the Framing Device within the episode, and would feature each segment being written and directed by a different team. After the first few episodes, they abandoned a framing device altogether and the segments would be written by the same team, functionally making it like a regular episode but continuing the Three Shorts format out of tradition.
    • The tradition came about partially because the early years of the show were adamant about trying to be consistent with their own presentation and being more grounded in reality compared to other cartoons (among other things, affirming that animals won't talk or the Amusing Injuries are not exaggerated). The "Treehouse of Horror" episodes were an opportunity to go all out with crazy adventures with the acknowledgement that it doesn't count against the Status Quo, even before Negative Continuity became a thing. Over time the show got Denser and Wackier on its own with exaggerated comedic adventures involving such things as aliens and Time Travel, eventually willing to have full-length non-canon genre episodes that resulted in TOH feeling more superfluous.
  • Artifact Title:
    • Only the first episode takes place in a treehouse.
    • Many of the shorts only have a passing connection to horror, often exploring sci-fi, action, political thrillers and fantasy genres that barely include a Halloween theme. The only thing keeping them from being a regular episode is a willingness to have crazier endings like everyone dying.
  • Art Shift: The Mad Men title sequence to "How to Get Ahead in Dead-vertising" (part of "Treehouse of Horror XIX").
  • Autocannibalism
    • In one episode, Homer's head is turned into a donut. Homer being Homer, naturally keeps picking at it.
    • Also, in The Teaser spoofing 127 Hours, he eats most of his limbs. He comments that he tastes good at one point.
    • This is the entire premise of the "Treehouse of Horror XXVIII" segment "MMM...Homer".
  • Becoming the Costume: In "Treehouse of Horror XVI", a witch curses the townspeople into being whatever their costume is during a Halloween party.
  • Beware the Nice Ones: Ned Flanders turning evil (or being secretly already evil) is a frequent plot. So far he's been Satan (especially ironic since Ned is a devout Christian); a global dictator in an alternate timeline; an undead werewolf; Satan again; and a Well-Intentioned Extremist serial killer, though the last one was Homer’s fault.
  • Bewitched Amphibians: In a parody of Harry Potter, students are expected to turn frogs (presumably of original frog descent) into princes. 
  • Black Comedy: Also a main feature of many "TOH" shorts.
  • Bloodier and Gorier: Used to set the Halloween episodes apart from the usual episodes.
  • Body Horror: Often and usually Played for Laughs. One memorable example is "that fog that turns everybody inside out."
  • 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
  • Breaking Old Trends: 2022 will see two installments of Treehouse of Horror, the first one being a normal length episode focused on singularly parodying Stephen King's It.
  • Breakout Character: Despite appearing in just one segment of the first special, which was given no more prominence than the other two, Kang and Kodos have gone on to appear in every single special since then, even when they have nothing to do with the plot. Later on they even managed to appear in non Treehouse of Horror episodes as well, though they’re almost entirely restricted to appearing here.
  • Cannibal Larder: The teachers at school are eating the kids, and they keep the kids locked in small cages - except for a few "free range children" which are in a pen outside.
  • Can't Get Away with Nuthin': Homer in Treehouse of Horror XXII. He sneaks off with the candy that he was supposed to put at a Candy for Troops Drop Off, but he sneaks off with it to a place called Candy Eating Peak. After a boulder falls on his arm and he eventually chews off his arm, it turns out that Bart, Lisa and Maggie replaced the candy with vegetables offscreen with this note: Enjoy your veggies, homeboy
  • Captain Obvious: In the "Hell Toupee" segment from Treehouse of Horror IX:
    Lisa: Of course! Somehow Snake's hair is controlling Dad and making him-
  • 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.
  • Central Theme: What happens when Plot Armor won't save you from being Too Dumb to Live.
  • Characterization Marches On: The twist in Kang and Kodos's first appearance was that they actually were benevolent aliens (although a deleted scene confirms they were Evil All Along). In every subsequent appearance, they are antagonists in some way.
  • Chemically-Induced Insanity: In one story, Kodos and Kang spray Homer with rum so people will dismiss his alien-abduction story as drunken ravings.
  • Child Eater:
    • 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.
  • Close-Enough Timeline: A story from Treehouse of Horror V ends with everything normal, except for people having long snake tongues. Homer names the trope by saying this line.
    "Eh, close enough."
    • 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.
    Homer: Okay, that's good. Stop there.
  • Comedic Sociopathy: These specials take the show's more moderate Black Comedy and crank it up to eleven, with the main cast regularly maiming and killing each other at whim for gags. Of course it's all reset by the next segment.
  • 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..."
  • Content Warnings: The first five specials opened with a character warning viewers about the episode's potentially scary content. The first one was a sincere attempt to head off inevitable complaints from Moral Guardians, which Marge references in the second.
    Marge: Hello, everyone. Before last year's Halloween show I warned you not to let your children watch, but you did anyway.
  • Continuity Nod: Ironically given the premise of the specials - but the Couch Gag for Treehouse of Horror X has the family dressed as forms they ended up taking in previous specials. Bart is the fly boy from VIII, Maggie is her half-alien form from IX, Homer is his jack-in-the-box form from II, and Marge is the witch from VIII. Lisa's costume is original (which is probably why she gets zapped with a ray gun).
  • 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 have all 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.note 
  • 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. Fortunately, they all break out into "Hark the Herald Angels Sing.").
  • 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.
  • Curse Cut Short: Lisa gets bitten in "Night of the Dolphin". 
    Ow! Son of a -
    • Also in "The Ned Zone"
    Ned: OH YOU STUPID SON OF A — (explosion)
    • Homer getting abducted in “Citizen Kang”
    Son of a!—
  • Darker and Edgier: Because Anyone Can Die here (more than once) for the sake of some good ol' gore.
    • 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. Beginning with VI, the first under Mirkin's successors Bill Oakley and Josh Weinstein, the specials, while still having gory moments, weren't quite as intense.
  • Deal with the Devil:
    • In "The Devil and Homer Simpson from Treehouse of Horror IV, Homer sells his soul to Devil!Flanders for a donut, leading to his going on trial to try and get it back.
    • In "Un-normal Activity" from 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... a threesome with Devil!Moe and another devil.
  • The Death of Death: The premise of "Reaper Madness" is that Homer kills the Grim Reaper which effectively creates a world without death. In order to restore balance, Homer takes up the mantle.
  • Deliberately Monochrome: The "King Homer" segment in "Treehouse of Horror III" (a parody of 1933 version 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 first part of the "Homerzilla" segment in "Treehouse of Horror XXVI" is this as well, but it switches to color halfway through.
  • Demoted to Extra: Since it is an unwritten rule that Kang and Kodos have to appear in every Treehouse episode, as the years go by, their roles have been gradually diminishing to this. While the writers attempt to give them speaking lines lampshading their lack of focus, their most recent appearances have been mainly obligatory.
  • Devil in Plain Sight: Kodos (the Destroyer) in, ''E.T., Go Home".
  • Devious Dolphins: Justified in "Night of the Dolphin": their violent rampage against humans is a response to humanity's various crimes against them.
  • Don't Explain the Joke: During the cold open to "Treehouse of Horror XVII":
    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.
  • Downer Ending: A lot of TOH shorts have these.
  • Dracula: He's the father of TOH XXI's Edmund.
    • 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. 
  • Dub Name Change: Likely because Treehouse of Horror is such an unusual title on its own, other language dubs of the series have gone with alternative names:
    • In French, it becomes the Simpson Horror Show.
    • In Italian, it becomes La Paura Fa Novanta (idiomatically, "fear makes the unthinkable happen")
  • Early-Installment Weirdness:
    • The first TOH has three separate commentary tracks.
    • Up to Treehouse of Horror XIV, each segment was written by a different writer (IV also had a fourth writer for the framing stories); beginning with XV, one writer is responsible for the entire episode. (The change was made because having a different writer for each story was resulting in a hugely over-long first draft which was nigh impossible to edit down to length.)
    • Also, the first four have framing stories told by the main characters. The first three make varying attempts to fit the show's canonicity; the fourth, a take-off of Night Gallery, less so. They were eventually dropped because they took up too much time that could be used for the stories instead.
    • The first few specials opened with a character (usually Marge) on a stage warning parents about the content that was about to follow.
    • The first five also contained a shot in the opening credits where the tombstones in the cemetery had amusing messages - such as the names of dead celebrities or cancelled TV shows. Treehouse of Horror V has one reading 'Amusing Tombstones', signalling that the tradition was going to be stopped.
    • The first TOH uses the standard Gracie Films Vanity Plate audio, while the second and third have the organ music but not the woman's scream.
    • The first TOH had a different director for each segment, and lacked the scary names for the cast and crew which would become standard (scary names were absent from "Treehouse of Horror XII" and "XIII", though).
    • While the series has always used the title "Treehouse of Horror", it wasn't until thirteen installments in that they started using it on the actual title cards, though the first one to do it called it "The Simpsons Treehouse of Horror". Before that, it was simply "The Simpsons Halloween Special".
  • Eat the Camera: Done at the end of Bart's nightmare in Treehouse of Horror II, when Bart wakes up screaming due to Homer kissing him in his dream, out of all things.
  • Eskimos Aren't Real: Homer does it in "Treehouse of Horror IV":
    Homer: Lisa, vampires are make-believe, just like elves, gremlins, and Eskimos.
  • Evil Chef: Lunchlady Doris is usually a Lethal Chef at worst in the regular continuity, but in "Nightmare Cafeteria", she starts to cook the school's children on Skinner's orders and serving them to the staff.
  • Evil Laugh: Kang and Kodos in various appearances. Often used as an Overly-Long Gag.
  • Evil All Along: Marge does a pretty good job of concealing the revelations that she's both a witch, and the Head Vampire. See also Beware the Nice Ones.
  • Evil Teacher: In 'Nightmare Cafeteria', the third segment of "Treehouse of Horror V", the faculty of Springfield Elementary become cannibals to solve the overcrowding of students in detention and food budget cuts.
  • Evil Twin: Hugo is a subversion. Bart turns out to be the evil twin.
    Bart: Oh, don't look so shocked.
  • Expendable Alternate Universe: Characters lose their Plot Armor meaning they often die in gruesome ways while the majority of the segments have a Bittersweet Ending.
  • Explosive Decompression: Bart and Homer by the end of "Life's a Glitch, Then You Die", as part of a Gory Discretion Shot; Bill Clinton and Bob Dole suffer a much more realistic version of this trope in "Citizen Kang".
  • Eye Shock:
    • In "The Terror of Tiny Toon" (part of Treehouse of Horror IX) where Bart and Lisa are caught inside Itchy & Scratchy's show.
    • Also seen at the beginning of "Nightmare on Evergreen Terrace" (part of Treehouse of Horror VI) when Bart first sees Willie in his dream.
  • Failure Is the Only Option: Even in an anything-goes Darker and Edgier Halloween special, Sideshow Bob will never get the last laugh on Bart, as seen in Treehouse of Horror XXVI.
  • False Reassurance:
    • Parodied in "Treehouse of Horror V":
      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 gets Snake's hair grafted to his head to cover his baldness. What he didn't realize was that Snake's soul was still inside the hair graft, and once the hair 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 Snake when the hair is in control), 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.
  • For Halloween, I Am Going as Myself: Subverted in XX when Dracula, the Wolfman, the Mummy and Frankenstein head out to do their usual scaring on a Halloween night and are made fun of by Jimbo, Dolph and Kearney for their "old fashioned" costumes. They rectify it by going into a nearby costume shop and come out dressed as Iron Man, Harry Potter, Jack Sparrow and Spongebob Squarepants respectively.
  • Forgotten Framing Device: "Treehouse of Horror III" and "Treehouse of Horror IV" end without returning to their frame stories.
  • Framing Device: Used for the first few episodes.
    • The first "Treehouse of Horror" has Bart and Lisa exchanging spooky stories in their backyard treehouse while Homer eavesdrops.
    • "Treehouse of Horror II" has Lisa, Bart and Homer experiencing Acid Reflux Nightmares after eating too much Halloween candy.
    • "Treehouse of Horror III" has the family throwing a Halloween party for the neighborhood kids, with scary stories once more being exchanged.
    • "Treehouse of Horror IV" features a Night Gallery parody, with Bart showing viewers different paintings, each of which segues into a different horror story.
  • Furry Confusion: Scratchy (the bipedal Funny Animal cat) and Snowball II (the normal quadrupedal cat) show up together in "Treehouse of Horror IX" segment, "The Terror of Tiny Toon". The two cats are at such differing levels of anthropomorphism that Furry Confusion ensues. As Scratchy is male and Snowball II is female, this also inverts Humanoid Female Animal hard.
  • Gainax Ending: Many segments end like this. Examples include 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.
  • Genre Anthology: Parodies of Night Gallery and other horror related TV shows were common.
  • 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.
  • Grave Humor: These were used as openers for the early ones; the last one to use them actually had a tombstone reading "Amusing Tombstones", signaling the retirement of the gag.
  • Groin Attack
    • 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.
    • Bart in “You Gotta Know When To Golem”: “I didn’t say ‘kick Homer’s WALLS’”.
  • 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 change up the anthology format, but they've become such an iconic part of the show that they feel they have 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.
    • Season 27's "Halloween of Horror" was notable for bucking tradition and being an ACTUAL Halloween Episode that was intended to be part of the show's canon, and they playfully mention the "scary treehouse stories". The next episode was a normal "Treehouse of Horror" installment.
  • Harmful to Minors: Happens to Bart and Lisa in TOH XX or TOH IIX...
  • Headless Horseman: The opening segment of "Treehouse of Horror VI" shows Krusty the Klown in the persona of the Headless Horseman.
  • Hell Is That Noise: You will NOT like that bloodcurdling scream used in the Gracie Films logos unique to these specials.
  • Heroic Sacrifice: Subverted when Apu holds off the zombies. The family leaves thinking he sacrificed himself, while Apu complains that they were supposed to wait for him to get back.
  • 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.
  • Homeworld Evacuation: One episode has 2 ships to leave the earth with various stars. One goes to Mars, and the other to the Sun.
  • Horror Comedy: Definitely skews far on the "comedic" end of the spectrum, though the David Mirkin-era episodes (IV and V) were closer to the middle.
  • Horror Doesn't Settle for Simple Tuesday: Mostly averted. Outside of the wraparounds, which are all set on Halloween, most of the stories could theoretically take place on any random day of the year. There are a few exceptions, including "The Terror of Tiny Toon", "I've Grown a Costume on Your Face", "Heck House", "It's the Grand Pumpkin, Milhouse", "The Diving Bell and the Butterball", and "Oh, the Places You'll D'oh"note ; "Citizen Kang"note ; "Easy Bake Coven"note ; "Life's a Glitch, Then You Die"note ; and "Untitled Robot Parody"note .
  • Idiot Ball: Justified in order to both tell these episodes from the main canon (which still has a lot of Idiot Ball, just not to this extent) and rack up a big body count (with Groundskeeper Willie being this side of Kenny McCormick in the fifth special), which in turn also tells the halloween episodes apart from the canonical ones.
  • 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 an 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.
  • 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.
  • Ironic Echo: When the cannibalistic staff of Springfield Elementary corner the Simpson kids.
    Principal Skinner: I'm going to enjoy devouring you, Bart Simpson. I'll think I'll start, as you so often suggested, by eating your shorts.
  • Jury of the Damned: "Treehouse of Horror IV" ("The Devil and Homer Simpson" segment), when Homer sold his soul for a doughnut, included a jury consisting of John Wilkes Booth, Lizzie Borden, John Dillinger, Blackbeard, Benedict Arnold, the starting lineup of the 1976 Philadelphia Flyers, and Richard Nixon (who, at the time of the show's premiere, was still alive, making this dialogue a mix of Harsher in Hindsight and Hilarious in Hindsight):
    Nixon: But I'm not dead yet! Uh, in fact, I just wrote an article for Redbook.
    Satan (Flanders): Hey, listen, I did a favor for you!
    Nixon: (meekly) Yes, master.
  • Just Ignore It: "Attack of the 50-Foot Eyesores."
  • 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.
  • "King Kong" Climb: In "King Homer". (Predictably.)
    • He doesn't make it to the top, and falls down in exhaustion. Cut to the planes flying around the top of the tower, with the pilots looking confused.
  • Leaning on the Fourth Wall: In Homer³:
    Homer: (trapped in a CGI world) Man, this place looks expensive. I feel like I'm wasting a fortune just standing here. (Beat — he scratches himself) Well, better make the most of it. (burps)
    • In "Treehouse of Horror V", one of the tombstones from the opening sequence is for "Amusing Tombstones". This was the writers' way of showing that they were tired of coming up with ideas for humorous tombstone messages. Similar sequences had been used as introductions in all four previous "Treehouse of Horror" episodes, but have not been used since this episode.
  • Lighter and Softer: Oddly enough, this does happen on occasion, like in "Homer³", "The Island of Dr. Hibbert", and "War and Pieces".
    • The Treehouse of Horror episodes as a whole starting with Treehouse of Horror XIV.
  • Lightmare Fuel: It goes without saying that these are Halloween Episodes of an animated comedy series.
  • Lobotomy: In one alternate reality, Ned Flanders is an Overlord. Several people have a part of their brains removed and claim it feels good and they appear relaxed. Homer escaped.
  • Logo Joke: The Gracie Films fanfare is played on a pipe organ and is preceded by a scream, though this isn't always the casenote .
  • Loose Canon: In general, Treehouse of Horror is treated as an Elseworld, separate from The Simpsons' normal universe. But sometimes the line between canon and non-canon can get blurry, and certain Treehouse elements can bleed over into the regular series, and will be treated as though they were already there to begin with. Indeed, Kang and Kodos, the German exchange student Uter, and the Lard Lad mascot all started as canon foreigners here, but later found their way into The Simpsons proper and became canon immigrants.
  • Losing Your Head: Homer in "Treehouse of Horror XVI".
  • The Maker: Lisa Simpson did a school science experiment which created microscopic 'life'. note 
  • The Many Deaths of You: Occasionally, a Treehouse segment will experiment with how many times a character can be killed, then brought back, in the same story. Bart ("Wanted: Dead, Then Alive"), Homer ("Heaven Swipes Right"), and Lisa ("Be Nine, Rewind") all get this treatment at different points, but each manage to come out with a Surprisingly Happy Ending.
  • 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, thanks to their own Marge, their own Moe ended up sacrificed instead).
  • Meet Your Early-Installment Weirdness: The overall plot of "The Others", where the Simpsons are antagonized by their Tracy Ullman-era counterparts.
  • Millennium Bug: Happens in the "Treehouse of Horror" X story "Life's a Glitch, then, You Die", on a Downer Ending, but this happened to air in 1999.
  • 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, foul accursed thing! What demon from the depths of hell created thee?!
  • Musical Segment: "There's No Business Like Moe Business" in Treehouse of Horror XX. Done as a Milestone Celebration, which is given a Lampshade Hanging at the end of the episode.
  • Negative Continuity: These episodes always take place out of the normal continuity of the show, and aren't even in continuity with each other.
  • Next Sunday A.D.: "Life's a Glitch, Then You Die" aired on Halloween of 1999, but took place two months after that point.
  • Nightmare Sequence: In a "Treehouse of Horror", Bart and Lisa, in a parody of A Nightmare on Elm Street, are being terrorized by Groundskeeper Willie in their dreams.
  • No Ending: Subverted in Homer³. Homer is trapped forever in the live action dimension, but he is happy when he finds a bakery that sells erotic cakes.
    • Played straight with some of the framing devices for the stories as they end up having no resolution, such as the Halloween party in the third special.
  • Nothing Exciting Ever Happens Here: Unless...note 
  • 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!:
    • "Dial Z for Zombies", from "Treehouse of Horror III", has a brief gag of the zombified Jimbo, Dolph and Kearney kicking around zombie-Skinner's head like a soccer ball, prompting him to cry "Ow! Careful, not 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."
  • Not-So-Harmless Villain: Many of the series antagonists like Sideshow Bob or Snake's various crimes, which are normally unsucessful despite the Fridge Horror about how bad what they are doing is, are often Played Straight here and can be downright disturbing with predictable results with one episode having Bob finally and not only kill Bart but raise him again to repeat the crime no less than 24 TIMES!
  • Oddball in the Series'':
    • "Treehouse of Horror II" is the only "Treehouse of Horror" special where the individual segments don't have onscreen titles. In this episode, the Framing Device is Lisa, Bart, and Homer having candy-induced nightmares, so the episode guide only refers to the segments as "Lisa's Nightmare", "Bart's Nightmare", and "Homer's Nightmare".
    • "Treehouse of Horror XXXII" has five segments instead of the usual three.
  • Offering Another in Your Stead: Facing down Kang and Kodos, Homer says, "Please don't eat me, I have a wife and kids... eat them instead!"
  • 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.
  • Only the Leads Get a Happy Ending: Most any story where the Simpson family makes it out okay, usually means someone else ends up dead or suffering as a result. A perfect example is "Hell Toupée", which kill off Moe and Apu, but still secures an "Everybody Laughs" Ending.
  • 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").
  • Paper-Thin Disguise: Kang and Kodos disguise themselves as newlyweds hitchhiking to "Earth's Capital" in the 6th one; their disguises are rather ridiculous.
  • Parody Assistance: "Treehouse of Horror XXXIII" has the animesque segment "Death Tome" spoofing the Death Note anime that is being animated by the same studio responsible for the original anime.
  • 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.
  • Parrot Exposition: From XI's "Night of the Dolphin":
    Kent Brockman: Our top story: killer dolphins.
    Lisa: Killer dolphins?
  • Poking Dead Things with a Stick:
    • In Treehouse of Horror X, the "I Know What You Did-Iddly-Did" segment sees Marge accidentally run over Ned Flanders with the car. Homer ascertains that he's dead in a super-technical medical way—poking him in the eye with a stick.
      Homer: [Squelch] He's dead alright. [Squelch, squelch]
      • Later, when Ned catches up with the family and is revealed to be undead, Homer again pokes him in the eye with the stick.
      Homer: [Squelch] He's undead alright.
    • In "Treehouse of Horror XIV", in the segment "Reaper Madness", after Homer kills the Grim Reaper with a bowling ball, Lisa has a stick in hand and uses it to poke the Grim Reaper's bare skull.
      Lisa: Dad, do you realize what you've just done? [Poke] You've created a world without death!
  • 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.
  • 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."
  • Reference Overdosed: "A Clockwork Yellow" is an Affectionate Parody of everything Stanley Kubrick.
  • 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.
    Willie (In the final short) I'll save ya kids! *axed* DAH! Och... I'm bad at this.
    • Ned Flanders also tends to be killed off fairly often during the course of the entire series.
    • The first five specials all feature a disclaimer by Marge (or Homer, in the case of III) about the episode's content (the first of which was a sincere attempt to warn the viewers), and an opening sequence featuring a pan across Springfield Cemetery (in homage to the usual opening sequence's swoop over Springfield), passing several humorous tombstones. These were both dropped as they were becoming difficult to write and were eating into the time for the stories themselves, although they both make later returns as a Mythology Gag: Lisa gives a very similar disclaimer before the "Mmm... Homer" segment of XXVIII, and the tombstones make a return in XXIX.
  • Sapient Cetaceans: In one episode, dolphins invade the land and take over, also they can speak English.
    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!
  • Schmuck Bait:
    • 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.
  • The Secret of Long Pork Pies: Treehouse of Horror XX features a play of Moe using Homer's blood as an ingredient in a delectable beer.
  • Sent Into Hiding: The fate of Bart's twin brother Hugo, who is hidden away in the attic.
  • See You in Hell:
    • "I'll see you in Hell yet, Homer Simpson!" ("Treehouse of Horror IV", Flanders/Satan)
    • "See you in Hell." "Still pushing that boulder?" "Uh-huh." ("Treehouse of Horror III", various zombies returning to their graves)
  • Self-Deprecation: In one segment, D-list celebrities are going to get shot into the sun. Tom Arnold voices himself here and proves a good sport about it.
  • Severed Head Sports: Also happens on one of the "Treehouse of Horror" episodes, again with Moe as the victim of a Mayan sacrifice. His head rolls down the stairs and is used by kids as a soccer ball.
    • Zombie Jimbo, Dolph and Kearney kick zombie Skinner's head around in TOH III. He can feel it, too.
  • Shout-Out: See the ever so convenient Whole-Plot Reference.
    • At the end of "The Day the Earth Looked Stupid", the scene shows the ruins of Springfield while "I Don't Want To Set The World On Fire" by The Ink Spots plays. Fallout, anyone?
  • 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.
  • Sliding Scale of Comedy and Horror: Sure, THOH is Better than a Bare Bulb, but then again, it never finds its home at any point of the sliding scale. Which, according to main THOH writer David X. Cohen, is entirely the point: THOH episodes must be both scary as hell and funny as hell, at the same time.
  • Smart People Know Latin: In the parody of A Nightmare on Elm Street, Nerd and TV Genius Martin is seen Asleep in Class dreaming about conjugating Latin verbs.
  • Sound Off: The dolphin army in "Night of the Dolphin".
  • Space Whale Aesop: Guns are the only way we can protect ourselves from cowboy zombies.
  • Special Edition Title: Featuring the requisite spooky imagery as well as a Theremin-style arrangement of the theme music.
  • Speech-Impaired Animal: Subverted in "Night of the Dolphin" — when Snorky takes the podium and begins his speech, he at first speaks in a squeaky, stilted voice with You No Take Candle dialect, but then he clears his throat and begins speaking more eloquantly.
  • Square-Cube Law: Professor Frink (or his Japanese equivalent) lampshades the impossibility of a creature Homerzilla's size capable of actually being able to thrive on land. He's instantly crushed by the monster.
  • Supporting the Monster Loved One: One episode reveals that Bart has a monstrous, murderous Evil Twin who the family keeps chained in the attic and feeds fish heads. But then he escapes...
  • Take Me Instead
    • 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 Krueger) for the first time, Bart holds up a sign that reads: "Eep."
  • Take That!
    • XXI contains one directed at the Tabletop Game Mouse Trap (1963), in which a parody called "Mouse Catch" is referred to as "the game so lame no one's ever finished it".
    • 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. 
    • After Sam Simon left the series, he was always credited as "Sam 'Sayonara' Simon". However, after his untimely death, out of respect, he was never given a scary name.
  • 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.
  • 13 Is Unlucky: "Nightmare on Evergreen Terrace" begins "on the thirteenth hour of the thirteenth day of the thirteenth month", with a public meeting to discuss the misprinted calendars purchased by the town.
    Homer: Lousy Smarch weather!
  • Title Confusion: As this collage shows, the first twelve episodes called this series The Simpsons Halloween Special. The thirteenth episode changed it to The Simpsons Treehouse of Horror, and afterwards just Treehouse of Horror. As far as episode guides are concerned, however, it always has been Treehouse of Horror.
  • 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, 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 with ...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. 
  • Transhuman Treachery: Bart as a vampire in IV. Well, it's Bart.
    Bart: Come join us, Lisa, it's so cool. You get to stay up all night drinking blood!
  • Transformation Trauma:
    • Cat-Marge and Werewolf Flanders.
    • And when the family turned inside-out from the strange, viral cloud that got into their home due to cheap weather stripping.
  • Troubling Unchildlike Behavior: Bart and Lisa in TOH XX...
  • Ultraterrestrials: Downplayed with the dolphins in "Night of the Dolphin". They weren't always aquatic: they just had to adapt to the sea after humans forced them down there.
  • Universal Remote Control: In the short "The Terror of Tiny Toon", Marge takes the batteries from the TV remote to stop Bart and Lisa watching an Itchy and Scratchy Halloween special, and Bart replaces them with a piece of plutonium he finds in Homer's toolbox. Afterwards, the remote starts displaying reality-warping properties including messing with Lisa's skin color with the Color buttons, sending Bart and Lisa into the cartoon when Enter is accidentally pushed, and reversing time with its Rewind button.
  • The Unpronouncable: In the first Treehouse 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 Hickey: In IV's story, Bart Simpson's Dracula, after Bart is captured by a vampire Burns in his crypt hideout, they return to the dining hall to show Homer and Marge that everything is alright... despite Burns having blood dripping from his fangs and the two obvious puncture wounds on Bart's neck.
    Lisa: Mom! Dad! Mr. Burns is a vampire! And he has Bart!
    Burns: (Comes in with a clearly bitten Bart) Why Bart's right here.
    Bart: (Droning, having a blank expression) Hello mother, hello father, I missed you during my uneventful absence.
  • 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)
    Lisa: Mom?!
    Marge: Well I do have a life outside this house, you know.
  • Villain Protagonist: Homer is often this.
  • 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.
  • Whole-Plot Reference: Individual segments often reference the premises of movies or television shows.
  • Wingding Eyes:
    • 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.
    • In the opening for "Treehouse of Horror XX," Homer gets the dead Xs version of this after his head is torn off by the Universal Monsters' angry wives and lands in the punch bowl. The eyes make up the Roman numeral in the title afterward.
  • Writing Around Trademarks: This bit from Treehouse of Horror V.
    Willie: You got the Shinning!
    Bart: You mean the Shining.
    Willie: Shh, you want to get sued?
  • Wrong Genre Savvy: Marge and Lisa, usually the Only Sane Man in the series proper, often find their usual logic fails within the far more surreal situations of the specials. Lampshaded in "Attack of the 50 Foot Eyesores" when Marge's voice of reasoning only makes things worse:
    Homer: Don't you get tired of being wrong all the time?
    Marge: *glum* Sometimes.
  • X Called; They Want Their Y Back: From Treehouse of Horror XX:
    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).


TS [Sore Loser Devil]

The Simpsons - Ep 86 [Treehouse of Horror IV (The Devil and Homer Simpson)]: Homer sells his soul for a donut and the only way to save him is to have a trial. Things look to be going badly until Marge reveals Homer pledge his soul to her. This cost the Devil his prize but he isn't one to lose gracefully which Homer finds out the hard way.

How well does it match the trope?

4.58 (19 votes)

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Main / SoreLoser

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