October 31st will mark the 60-year anniversary of an iconic, heartwarming Halloween episode of TV: “Trick or Treat” on The Beverly Hillbillies, in which the beloved Clampett family experiences their first Halloween. In the decades since the episode’s first air date in 1962, many other TV episodes about Halloween have been more heart than horror.
Despite being known for ghost stories and haunted houses, Halloween is often a holiday through which young friends bond, romance deepens, and families are brought closer together. For decades, TV shows set in the real world have been using Halloween as a vehicle to explore these dynamics between their characters in heartwarming ways.
10/10 “Tricks And Treats” – Freaks And Geeks (1999)
In the third episode of Freaks and Geeks, ninth-grader Sam wants to spend one last Halloween trick-or-treating before he’s officially too old. Even more excited about the holiday is Sam’s mother Jean, who plans to get in costume and hand out candy with her teen daughter Lindsay.
The episode is full of heartwarming moments. Romance blossoms between Lindsay and her crush Nick and the family are brought closer together after a heartfelt apology between Lindsay and Sam. Yet no scene is more heartwarming than Sam and his friends dressed as the Bionic Woman, Groucho Marx, and Gort asking for candy in one last attempt at holding onto their childhood.
9/10 “Chapter Two: Trick Or Treat, Freak” – Stranger Things (2017)
Stranger Things consistently mixes the high-stakes scary supernatural with relatable and wholesome relationship dynamics. In its Halloween episode, Will and his friends dress as Ghostbusters for trick-or-treating, Eleven has scary movie plans with Hopper, and Nancy goes to a party.
The episode’s stakes are more about emotions than monsters, which leads to many touching scenes. Hopper and Eleven are revealed to have a powerful father-daughter dynamic, Lucas and Dustin can’t believe their luck when the new character Max actually joins them to trick-or-treat, and Jonathan comes to Nancy’s rescue. These moments tug at viewers’ heartstrings, deepening the emotional investment that will make the stakes feel even higher once the characters return to fighting supernatural forces later in the season.
8/10 “Miracle On Dead Street” – Fresh Off The Boat (2015)
The Halloween episode of Fresh Off the Boat shows the Huang family experiencing their first Halloween in the suburbs. Louis wants to celebrate Halloween by making their neighborhood a hot spot for trick-or-treating, but his wife Jessica is focused on her investment home and isn’t interested in the holiday.
Because “Miracle on Dead Street” is focused on a second-generation immigrant family’s perspective, the episode highlights how American certain Halloween traditions are, which Louis describes as “the only thing white people do better than us.” The expectations of holiday newcomers make the story heartwarming for all of its “firsts.” Louis is adorably excited to be in costume as Mr. T, and he has a heartfelt realization about better supporting his wife.
7/10 “Mr. Peanutbutter’s Boos” – BoJack Horseman (2018)
“Mr. Peanutbutter’s Boos” is centered on BoJack Horseman‘s most heartwarming character, Mr. Peanutbutter, who is always positive and trusting. The episode is split into four different time periods, showing Mr. Peanutbutter at four different Halloween parties with four different partners – his three ex-wives and, in the current-day setting of the show, his girlfriend Pickles.
Mr. Peanutbutter’s earnest reflection on his previous relationships leads to a heartwarming episode of a show that is more known for its dark humor. Because the episode is in season 5, the flashbacks to younger versions of its familiar characters feel sweet and nostalgic (especially when BoJack and Diane meet each other for the first time). In an unexpectedly touching scene, Diane has some heartfelt real talk about Mr. Peanutbutter with a crying Pickles in the bathroom.
6/10 “Trick Or Treat” – The Beverly Hillbillies (1962)
The Beverly Hillbillies is an iconic 1960s sitcom about the Clampetts, a poor family that strikes oil and moves into a Beverly Hills mansion. In the episode “Trick or Treat,” the Clampetts introduce themselves to their neighbors, only to discover it is Halloween, a holiday they know nothing about.
The family sets out to introduce themselves to their neighbors, but the neighbors believe the Clampetts are trick-or-treaters (thinking their shabby clothes are costumes) and give them lots of candy. The misunderstanding continues when the Clampetts see children wearing ugly masks and don’t understand the masks are costumes. Most heartwarming is how the Halloween experience strengthens the family’s identity without them even realizing it.
5/10 “The 20’s” – This Is Us (2018)
In this emotional Halloween episode from This is Us, all three of Jack’s and Rebecca’s ten-year-old kids have dramatic Halloween experiences. In the later timeline (when those ten-year-olds are in their twenties), it’s October 31st and Randall struggles with anxiety over the fact that his wife Beth’s due date is one day away.
As is usually the case in This is Us, this episode consists of tear-jerking emotional beats. One of its more simple heartwarming features is the enthusiasm for Halloween from its parent characters, as Jack and Rebecca go all out to dress as Sonny and Cher. In the “twenties” timeline, Beth goes into labor and Rebecca delivers a heartfelt, emotional introduction of herself to her new granddaughter.
4/10 “Halloween” – Modern Family (2010)
In this Halloween episode of Modern Family, Claire is determined to turn their home into a haunted house that will make for an unforgettable trick-or-treating experience. Phil is more concerned with the news that their neighbor is getting divorced, which makes him worry about his own marriage.
Claire is prone to annoying her family members with her controlling personality, and she is peak “Claire” as she organizes all three generations of their family for the haunted house experience. The especially heartfelt moments in this episode are when characters reassure one another, from Jay reminding Gloria about why he fell in love with her to Phil reassuring his newly single neighbor: “That’s coconuts, you’re super delightful!”
3/10 It’s The Great Pumpkin, Charlie Brown (1966)
It’s difficult to find a Halloween story more heartwarming than the one of Linus spending all night in a pumpkin patch waiting to see the Great Pumpkin. In this Peanuts Halloween Special, the gang goes trick-or-treating as their familiar dynamics haunt them.
The special consists of one heartwarming moment after the next: Linus gets upset when Lucy cuts their new pumpkin into a jack-o-lantern. Charlie Brown accidentally cuts lots of holes into his ghost costume instead of just the two needed for eyesight. Snoopy accidentally kisses Lucy as she bobs for apples. But the most heartfelt storyline is Linus’s unwavering belief in the Great Pumpkin, who (despite missing him once again) Linus is sure will arrive next Halloween.
2/10 “Jacked O’ Lantern” – Black-ish (2015)
In this family-centered Halloween episode of Black-ish, which is known for its reliably funny cast of characters, the Johnson family is dressed as the Obama family and ready to host trick-or-treaters and family alike. Dre is nervous when his cousin June Bug shows up along with the Johnson kids’ cousins.
The episode turns into a sweet story about two generations of cousin relationships, as everyone learns their familial love runs strong. It’s full of heartwarming moments, including Rainbow complimenting a little girl dressed as a ballerina with a shout-out to Misty Copeland.
1/10 “Fairy Tales Can Come True” – Cheers (1984)
The first Halloween episode on Cheers is an unusually sweet one. While the episode is full of expected Halloween details like costumes and pumpkin decor at the bar, it’s ultimately a story of love rather than tricks and treats.
Cliff has an adorable Halloween night at the bar talking to a woman dressed as Tinker Bell. The two make a plan to go on a date the next day, and Cliff and Sam celebrate Cliff’s success. The episode becomes more about this heartfelt friendship than it does about romance, but Halloween has definitely brought out the love at Cheers.