is known for prodding at pop culture, but its skewers are at their sharpest every October, when the show airs its annual Treehouse of Horror anthology. These episodes have become a Halloween tradition, allowing writers and animators a Purge-style free pass to maim, murder and otherwise humiliate the citizens of Springfield. With three off-the-wall segments in every Treehouse, there have been more than a few horror movie parodies in the show’s decades-long run. We’ve narrowed The Simpsons’ many slasher send-ups down to just its 10 best.
10. The Ned Zone
Episode: “Treehouse of Horror XV”
Ned Flanders might seem like an odd substitute for Christopher Walken in a riff on Stephen King’s The Dead Zone, but he’s the perfect character to bestow with the power to see how someone will die. Similarly, it might seem like we’ve spoiled Homer’s fate with the picture above, but it wouldn’t be Halloween without a goofy twist ending.
Ned: “Homer, stay away from the nuclear plant.”
Homer: “Fine, I’ll never go back… starting tomorrow. Today is Lenny’s birthday and they’re having ice cream cake.”
Ned: “But you’re gonna kill us all!”
Homer: “But ice cream cake!”
9. Bad Dream House
Episode: “Treehouse of Horror I”
Airing in 1990, the very first Treehouse segment is a fun pastiche of haunted house flicks like Poltergeist and The Amityville Horror. It’s got some of the awkward timing issues and animation kinks you’d expect from a second season episode, but here those quirks work in its favor.
Marge: “I’m not going to live in a house of evil just to save a few dollars.”
Homer: “Don’t be so stubborn! We’re not talking about a few dollars, we’re talking about a few thousand dollars!”
8. I Know What You Diddly-iddly-Did
Episode: “Treehouse of Horror X”
After years of undue torture at the hands of Homer, the Simpsons cap it off by accidentally running over their neighboreeno Ned Flanders—though if you’re familiar with I Know What You Did Last Summer, it’s no surprise when Ned returns for vengeance. It’s common for Ned to be cast as an unlikely villain in Treehouse episodes, but his manslaughter almost makes you root for him to give Homer’s noggin a floggin’. The ending is a bit of a letdown, but the segment more than makes up for it with the morbid Weekend at Bernies shenanigans in the opening minutes.
Homer: “Okay Marge, you hide in the abandoned amusement park; Lisa, the pet cemetery; Bart, spooky roller disco; and I’ll go skinny dipping in that lake where the sexy teens were killed 100 years ago tonight.”
7. Nightmare on Evergreen Terrace
Episode: “Treehouse of Horror VI”
One of the best parts of any Treehouse parody is seeing how legendary movie monsters graft to the world of The Simpsons. In this case, Groundskeeper Willie is an uncanny stand-in for the iconic Freddy Krueger. A killer still haunts the lethal nightmares of children, only now there’s more lawn equipment and bagpipes. And plaid. Lots of plaid.
Lisa: “Bart, don’t you realize what this means? The next time we fall asleep, we could die!”
Grandpa: “Eh, welcome to my world.” [snores]
6. Bart Simpson’s Dracula
Episode: “Treehouse of Horror IV”
You could argue that this segment holds up better than the source material. Whereas Francis Ford Coppola’s uneven take on Bram Stoker’s Dracula suffers from wooden performances by Winona Ryder and Keanu Reeves, The Simpsons has no such problem. Oldman, Langella, Lugosi and Nielsen be damned—there is no more perfect Dracula than Mr. Burns.
Homer: “Oooh, punch!”
Lisa: [sniffs] “Ew, dad, this is blood!”
Homer: “Correction—free blood.”