Don’t you love when your favorite animated TV show does a Halloween special? If you love cartoons like I do and Halloween like anyone with a soul does, then Halloween episodes of cartoons should leave you in trick-or-treat heaven. Of course, not all cartoons do Halloween specials right. These are examples of the best.
A Pinky and the Brain Halloween
As usual, the Halloween adventures of this duo begins when a misguided plan by the Brain to take over the world. It fails, of course, and that’s when things turn a bit dark. “A Pinky and the Brain Halloween” plays out as a homage to “The Devil and Daniel Webster.” Meaning that Pinky, once again showing a loyalty verging on the psychopathic, seeks to help Brain realize his dream of taking over the world to the point of selling his soul to the devil. If you think this Halloween episode of “Pinky and the Brain” is a bit dark, well, yessss!
Life with Louie: Louie’s Harrowing Halloween
If you don’t know “Life with Louie” then shame on you. Louie Anderson may be a bit tough to take in real life, but in cartoon form he is absolutely hilarious. As both his child self and his own father. He is particularly hilarious as his father. “Louie’s Harrowing Halloween” also references a classic bit of literature. In this case, “The Tell-Tale Heart” by Edgar Allan Poe, although the literary influence does not intrude quite so obviously as the literary inspiration behind “A Pinky and the Brain Halloween.” While the Halloween episode of “Life with Louie” does attempt to teach a message, the message does not hit you over the head and is tempered by some truly offbeat comedy.
Hey Arnold: Arnold’s Halloween
The Halloween episode of what remains arguably the best cartoon ever made for Nickelodeon also has a literary inspiration by way of radio adaptation. Maurice LaMarche voices not not Helga Pataki’s dad as usual, but also exhibits himself once again as the finest Orson Welles impersonator ever. “Arnold’s Halloween” is a magnificent parody of Welles’ “War of the Worlds” broadcast and the Halloween special manages to do what the big screen movie could not: give almost every one of the regular characters at least one moment in the spotlight.
Invader Zim: Halloween Spectacular Spooky Doom
To be perfectly honest, almost any regular episode of “Invader Zim” could be a Halloween episode. “Invader Zim” was wonderfully weird and well beyond its time and channel. Airing on Nickelodeon, it would have been more at home as part of Fox Animation Domination until Seth MacFarlane ruined that for anyone but those who turn the channel once “The Simpsons” ends. “Halloween Spectacular Spooky Doom” is appropriately weird enough for Halloween and as a Halloween episode of “Invader Zim” it even manages to be weirder than most regular episodes.
Angela Anaconda: The Haunting of Angela Anaconda and Boo Who?
Two Halloween episode of “Angela Anaconda.” What more could you want? What’s that, you say? You aren’t familiar with “Angela Anaconda” you say? Well, shame on you. The look of this shamefully short-lived cartoon was utterly unique. Yes, true, the plots tended to follow a formula that could not have been maintained much longer. Get started with “Angela Anaconda” by watching “The Haunting of Angela Anaconda” and “Boo Who?” These two Halloween episodes make for a comedically pleasing introduction to Angela, Johnny Abatti, Gina Lash and Angela’s nemesis, Nanette Manoir.
Futurama: The Honking
What could be a better plot device for a Halloween episode of “Futurama” than the oldest trope in the book? As per Uncle Vladimir’s last will and testament, the robot Bender must spend the night in a creepy castle. Since Bender is pretty much a cowardly robot, he doesn’t even come close to making it through the night and after he flees in terror into the night, “The Honking” turns into a parody of “The Howling’ with Bender into a werecar. While not directly a Halloween episode, “The Honking” has more than enough references to classic horror films to qualify it as the Halloween of the future.