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File:TreehouseofHorrror 3323.jpg

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, 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 due to the running time.

Many of the shorts were 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 published by Bongo Comics.

Tropes used in Treehouse of Horror include:

 "Eh, close enough."

  • Contrived Clumsiness: Bart uses the "My finger slipped" excuse when Lisa's science experiment turns into a miniature civilization.
  • Couch Gag: The first few specials 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 Freddie Krueger and Jason were waiting on the couch for them).
  • Cruel Twist Ending: Happened in a lot of older TOH stories, see the Terror at 5000 Feet and Bart Simpson's Dracula
  • Defictionalization: The annual Treehouse of Horror comics
  • 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.
  • 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!
    • The frogurt is also cursed.
    • But you get your choice of topping!
    • The toppings contain potassium benzoate. [1]
      • 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".
  • 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...
  • Evil Twin: Hugo is a subversion. Bart turns out to be the evil twin.

  Bart: "Oh, don't look so shocked."

  • 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.
  • Genre Anthology: Parodies of Night Gallery and other horror related TV shows were common.
  • Halloween Episode: Played for Laughs... Mostly
  • Harmful to Minors: Happens to Bart and Lisa in TOH XX or TOH IIX...
  • 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.
  • 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.
    • 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.
  • 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 (who, for your information, are arguably much worse than the rest of these guys), and Richard Nixon (who, at the time of the show's premiere, was still alive, making this dialogue a mix of Funny Aneurysm Moment and Hilarious in Hindsight)

 Nixon: But I'm not dead yet! In fact, I just wrote an article for Redbook.

Satan (Flanders): Hey, listen, I did a favor for you!

Nixon: Yes, master.

  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)

 Bart: Y'know what would've been scarier than nothing?

Lisa: What?

Bart: Anything!

  • 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.
  • 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.
  • Portal Door: Memorably in "Homer³":
  • Prophecy Twist: Ned thinks in The Ned Zone that he must avoid his scary vision about Homer, instead Homer causes a nuclear meltdown and Ned was forced to shoot him. 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."
  • 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! Oh... I'm bad at this.

  • Sapient Cetaceans: In one Treehouse of Horror episode, dolphins invade the land and take over. 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!

  • Self-Deprecation: In one segment, D-list celebrities are going to get shot into the sun. Tom Arnold voices himself here and proves to be a good sport.
  • Shout-Out: See the ever so convenient Whole-Plot Reference.
  • 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.
  • 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. ("When am I gonna be here again?") 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.
  • 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!"
  • Take That: XXI contains one directed at the Tabletop Game Mouse Trap, in which a parody called "Mouse Catch" is referred to as "the game so lame no one's ever finished it".
  • The Teaser: The first two and the fifth had homages to Frankenstein, with Marge addressing the audience. These Cold Openings were common place after the framing stories were dropped, though each varies in length and characters.
  • The Maker: Lisa Simpson did a school science experiment which created microscopic 'life'.
  • 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...
  • Vampire Monarch: In a parody of Bram Stokers Dracula, in order to de-vampirize Bart they have to kill the head vampire. Lisa figures Burns to 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.

  • When Animals Attack: Dolphins of all animals, and it was Lisa's fault it happened...
  • Whole-Plot Reference: Often Hitchock references, fairy-tales and The Birds, also see 28DaysLater... There should be a whole list of Shout Outs right here...
  • 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.
  • 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.

  • 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.
  • Zombie Apocalypse: A common staple of Treehouse of Horror episodes... It happened twice...

Notes

  1. That's bad.
  2. You were in a Treehouse of Horror episode...
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