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The Simpsons and Halloween

An annual tradition is a special Halloween episode consisting of three separate, self-contained pieces. These pieces usually involve the family in some horror, science fiction, or supernatural setting; they always take place outside the normal continuity of the show (and are therefore considered to be non-canon), and completely abandon any pretence of being realistic. Regular Simpsons characters play humorous special roles, occasionally being killed in gruesome ways by zombies, monsters, or even each other. These Halloween segments have parodied many classic horror and science fiction films; often one of the segments spoofs an episode of The Twilight Zone.

Episodes spoofed:

  • "Nightmare at 20,000 feet"
  • "To Serve Man"
  • "It's a Good Life"
  • "Little Girl Lost"

The tradition began in the second season episode "Treehouse of Horror", with Bart and Lisa telling scary stories to each other in their tree house while Homer secretly listened in. Neither Bart nor Lisa was scared, but Homer was terrified.

In later years the series dropped the framing device of characters telling stories, but kept the Treehouse title; for several years the characters broke the fourth wall and introduced their pieces directly to the audience. In Treehouse of Horror II the writers decided to give the cast and crew of the show scary names in the opening and closing credits (like "Mad Matt Groening" and "James Hell Brooks"). This also became a tradition, and has been done in every Halloween episode except I, XII and XIII. The names have changed in subsequent seasons. Another mainstay of the Halloween shows is the appearance of the two space aliens Kang and Kodos, introduced in the second segment of the first "Treehouse of Horror."

In a section of Treehouse of Horror VI called Homer³, Homer and Bart go into a three-dimensional world created by Pacific Data Images, a computer animation company. This segment from the Halloween show was also used as a segment of a film shown in the IMAX cinema in London. This was one of the few times The Simpsons have strayed from their traditional 2D animation, along with a live action cameo by Regis and Kathie Lee in Treehouse of Horror IX, a couple of claymation scenes in 'Tis The Fifteenth Season featuring The California Prunes and Jimmy Stewart, and a live action couch gag consisting of a sketchbook being flipped by a hand to make the characters run towards the couch and sit down. Another recent episode featured a CGI trailer for a comedy about humanoid playing cards.


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